Good Tidings We Bring….As The Customer Is King

John Rakowski

As well as an adaptation of a festive song this could be one of the guiding jingles for ServiceNow.

This week I have been attending, along with my colleague Stephen Mann, the Knowledge11 conference in Frankfurt. ServiceNow is one of those companies that ITSM practitioners have an interest in because of their phenomenal growth and go-to-market model.

So what are their secret ingredients that make the solution so appealing?

Is it simply, that their key differentiator is that they provide a SaaS-based model and have experienced a bit of luck with the ‘cloud’ computing phenomenon? Is it that they have a great company name which lends itself well to becoming a brand? Is it that their sales and account managers have mythical powers?

My answer to you, after spending time with their clients, is that, firstly, they have inherent or at least portray a focus on the end ‘customer.’ They understand that their customers are looking for fast integration that will link in and improve their current ITSM and other business workflow processes. Also, the majority of their customers adopt the SaaS-based solution; it means that they can’t hide behind the age old cloak of “It must be the users infrastructure/network/environment/processes, etc.” If there is a problem with the software they have to fix it because the chances are that another customer will experience the same issue.

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I Know It Works, But It’s Time To Move Off Your Old Rotary Phone, That Is, Homegrown DDI Solution

Andre Kindness

I was watching “60 Minutes” last night and started chuckling a little bit over the show’s report about piracy. Stealing isn’t funny, but Leslie Stahl trying to explain how criminals do it is. Take for example the dialogue between a former Justice Department official and Stahl.

"And when we get that complete movie, the technology will rearrange all those little pieces into one complete film that is watchable," John Malcolm, a former Justice Department official, explained.

"There's a technology that automatically puts it in the right order?" Stahl asked.

Yes, Virginia. Technology can do that.

Anyway, the report got me thinking about where we were with multitiered applications and virtualization, and how it won’t be too long before applications can be broken up across servers much the way BitTorrent does with files on the Internet. This dissemination of applications in the data center will force the "dial tone" of IT — an always-on, always-available service for connecting to data and applications — to evolve from a clunky and manual process into an automated one. Much of IP, Dynamic Host Communication Protocol(DHCP), Domain Name Services(DNS) management requires too much hand holding; administrators spend time allocating addresses, capturing unused ones, uploading new records, or checking for errors. On average, it takes two days to allocate a set of addresses for the deployment of new servers when it’s 5 minutes of work.

Infrastructure and operations professionals will have to quickly wean their administrators off manual, script-based, or kludgy homegrown tools soon if they’re going to be ready for:

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When Will We Have IaaS Cloud Standards? Not Till 2015

James Staten

 

Guest post from I&O Researcher Lauren E. Nelson

If you’re sitting on the sidelines waiting for IaaS to become more standardized, stop it. You’ll be waiting there till 2015, while everyone else is building fundamental skills and ramping up their cloud knowledge. So jump in the game already!

In Forrester’s latest report, The State Of Infrastructure-As-A-Service Cloud Standards, we took a long look at the efforts in place today that drive cloud standardization and were not impressed. While there’s lots of effort taking place, progress thus far is miniscule. But that shouldn’t be a big surprise to anyone familiar with the standardization process since:

a.       Standards are always in arrears of best practice maturity

b.      Collaboration is often time consuming, delaying the creation and ratification process

But why 2015? Standards organizations are still exploring the market needs — which means that by the time they identify where to focus and actually develop a proposed standard it will be at least a year for now. From there it will be a long year of committee meetings to vet and vote on the standard itself and build momentum for its release. And if the standard makes it to release and there’s enough market momentum behind that proposed standard, it will be another year or two before there’s significant adoption where it actually becomes a market standard.  The standards timeline is easily three to four years out.

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Putting HR Into I&O - Future Skill Requirements For I&O Leaders

John Rakowski

As we move toward 2012, I can guarantee that many I&O leaders will have reviewed/defined what their strategy priorities are for the coming year, 3 years and maybe 5 years are. Hands up though: Who has had in-depth planning conversations around I&O people skill requirements?

I am not just talking about what technology skills are required to support these strategy initiatives but about I&O professional or soft skills required to ensure that your I&O function survives and prospers during the evolution currently happening in the world of enterprise IT - How many hands are still up?

During a recent Forrester I&O Leadership Council meeting, I led an interactive session based on my recent I&O Council exclusive report entitled "Tomorrow’s I&O Leaders Require An Equal Blend Of Technology And Business Acumen." This session utilized the results of an I&O Council Leadership survey to analyze what skills are required by successful I&O leaders and which skills should I&O executives be looking for when recruiting high-performing teams. From a high level the results show the following:

The results may already be pretty clear to you but how will you develop business and industry experience personally? How will you work with HR to ensure that these skills are uncovered during future recruitment processes? Also take a look at the executive-level skill requirements - do you think that these are easily applicable to a CEO role as we progress through this decade?

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Microsoft's Shrinking Window For Tablets: Its Fifth-Mover Product Strategy Is Late

JP Gownder

Forrester is bullish on Windows 8 as a product for consumers. With Windows 8, Microsoft is adapting Windows in key ways that make it better suited to compete in the post-PC era, including a touch-first UI, an app marketplace, and the ability to run natively on SoC/ARM processors. This pivot in product strategy and product design makes sense as we move deeper into an era when computing form factors reach far beyond traditional desktops and laptops.

But in a new reportSarah Rotman Epps and I look at Windows 8 tablets, specifically, through our product strategy lens. What do we see? On tablets, Windows 8 is going to be very late to the party. Product strategists often look to be “fast followers” in their product markets. Perhaps the most famous example is the original browser war of the 1990s: Microsoft’s fast-following Internet Explorer drove incumbent Netscape out of the market altogether.

For tablets, though, Windows really isn’t a fast follower. Rather it’s (at best) a fifth-mover after iPad, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP’s now-defunct webOS tablet, and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. While Windows’ product strategists can learn from these products, other players have come a long way in executing and refining their products — Apple, Samsung, and others have already launched second-generation products and will likely be into their third generation by the time Windows 8 launches.

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The Nook Boutique: How Channel Matters To Product Strategists

JP Gownder

The link between product strategy and channel is often overlooked, but strong: In our most recent survey of product strategy professionals, 33% say that they, personally, define the channel strategy for the products they sell. In other organizations, product strategists must work with more specialized channel strategists. Either way, channel is a determinant of success in any product strategy.

In the consumer electronics industry – and more specifically, the rapidly changing tablet market – channel presents a major challenge to product strategists. Most product strategists sell their tablets at Best Buy, a retailer that receives high foot traffic from engaged buyers, but which contains a lot of competing models. It’s easy for any individual tablet product to get lost at Best Buy, particularly when the retailer is offering plenty of Android tablets with limited meaningful differentiation among them. Buying end caps (which are expensive, if differentiating) can help, but it’s not always clear that the Blue Shirts can explain every tablet’s value equally.

Apple has this quandary beaten: Its Apple Stores form the core of its retail channel, and after a product like the iPad has been popularized, Apple also sells via mass-market retailers like Wal-Mart and Target. Competitors haven’t been able to match Apple’s winning formula, though Microsoft is starting to roll out its own stores.

Barnes & Noble offers the most interesting test case: As Sarah Rotman Epps has written, the brick-and-mortar stores play a very central role in the product strategy of the Nook Tablet. The new Nook Boutique has finally launched (see photo below); how is it stacking up?

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Top 10 Cloud Predictions For 2012: The Awkward Teenage Years Are Upon Us

James Staten

As 2011 begins to wind down, we can look back on the progress made over the last 11 months with a lot of pride. The market stepped significantly forward with big gains in adoption by leaders Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Rackspace, significant growth in the use of clouds for big data, training, test and development, the creation of landmark new services, and the dawning of the App-Internet era. Cloud technologies matured nearly across the board as did transparency, security, and best practice use and adoption. But there’s much more growth ahead as the cloud is no longer a toddler but has entered the awkward teenage years. And much as found in human development, the cloud is now beginning to fight for its own identity, independence, and place in society. The next few years will be a painful period of rebellion, defiance, exploration, experimentation, and undoubtedly explosive creativity. While many of us would prefer our kids go from the cute pre-teen period straight to adulthood, we don’t become who we are without surviving the teenage years. For infrastructure & operations professionals, charged with

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Christmas 2011: The First Mass Customized Holiday Season

JP Gownder

Ah, Black Friday: What would the post-Thanksgiving shopping bonanza be without a visit to the local mall? This year, I was keen to perform some gumshoe research on a theme I've been talking about all year long: mass customization, a product strategy that's ready for prime time across multiple industries.

A trip to the Natick Mall (yes, "Mall," no longer "Collection," New Englanders) reveals that mass customization isn't just the future; it's the present. In fact, it's hiding in plain sight. Build-a-Bear Workshop, Hallmark, Lego, and LensCrafters are all stores in the Natick Mall that offer significant customization for consumer products. Burberry is the latest Natick Mall vendor to offer mass customization; I am quoted in Time magazine this week (here, but subscription required to view the link; page 82 in the December 5 paper edition) discussing how luxury clothing and customization fit together well. As I've written before, one of the benefits of employing mass customization is that it empowers consumers to create products that express their personalities -- a particularly relevant feature for clothing and apparel products.

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HP Expands Its x86 Options With Mission-Critical Program – Defense And Offense Combined

Richard Fichera

Today HP announced a new set of technology programs and future products designed to move x86 server technology for both Windows and Linux more fully into the realm of truly mission-critical computing. My interpretation of these moves is that it is both a combined defensive and pro-active offensive action on HP’s part that will both protect them as their Itanium/HP-UX portfolio slowly declines as well as offer attractive and potentially unique options for both current and future customers who want to deploy increasingly critical services on x86 platforms.

What’s Coming?

Bearing in mind that the earliest of these elements will not be in place until approximately mid-2012, the key elements that HP is currently disclosing are:

ServiceGuard for Linux – This is a big win for Linux users on HP, and removes a major operational and architectural hurdle for HP-UX migrations. ServiceGuard is a highly regarded clustering and HA facility on HP-UX, and includes many features for local and geographically distributed HA. The lack of ServiceGuard is often cited as a risk in HP-UX migrations. The availability of ServiceGuard by mid-2012 will remove yet another barrier to smooth migration from HP-UX to Linux, and will help make sure that HP retains the business as it migrates from HP-UX.

Analysis engine for x86 – Analysis engine is internal software that provides system diagnostics, predictive failure analysis and self-repair on HP-UX systems. With an uncommitted delivery date, HP will port this to selected x86 servers. My guess is that since the analysis engine probably requires some level of hardware assist, the analysis engine will be paired with the next item on the list…

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Another Reason Not To Cloud Wash - Real Cloud Services Are Maturing Fast

James Staten

We know that enterprise infrastructure & operations (I&O) professionals are under tremendous executive pressure to get to yes on cloud computing and that this can be an uncomfortable proposition. Understanding the security, maturity and return on investment from cloud services can be challenging, and in many cases you might argue that you provide the same capabilities from your own data center. But there's no denying that enterprises are increasing their consumption of these services and that their value proposition is unique and compelling - if not to I&O directly.

Since cloud became a household word, vendors and enterprises alike have jumped to declare victory on cloud with services and infrastructure implementations that really don't deliver cloud value but have the same foundation - something we call "cloudwashing." This is a dangerous gambit as you claim legitimacy but don't activate the same economics, deliver the autonomy that cloud services offer to your internal users and aren't standardized or automated enough to deliver transformative agility. In other words you claim cloud but are achieving only incrementally better value. 

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