The Planning, Preparation, And Players In Cloud-Based Email

Christopher Voce

Companies of all industries and sizes are considering, planning for, and implementing cloud-based solutions in their infrastructure. One of the first questions that comes up is: “Where do we start?” Email is one — if not the first — significant resource that is cited. Why? It’s a relatively discrete piece of infrastructure where many companies can realize typical cloud benefits like upfront infrastructure cost avoidance, an easier route to being on the latest platform, and the opportunity to offload responsibility to a domain specialist. And then there’s ongoing operational costs: Infrastructure and operations pros, along with their business peers, look at what it costs to run email themselves and compare that with the cost of the provider and struggle to see how they can match provider economics.

Another question that often comes up is: “How real is this trend?” When was the last time you saw vendors like Microsoft, IBM, Google, AT&T, Verizon, Cisco, and Oracle sink billions into the same market? Organizations large and small, like GlaxoSmithKline, Manpower, Panasonic, the US General Services Administration, and a host of others, have made moves to the cloud. That’s a lot of major players and customers, and that’s a good indicator that this isn’t a fad.

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Mobile Cloud Services Present New Vendor Opportunities

Michele Pelino

Enterprises of all sizes are challenged with supporting a wide range of mobile devices and applications. In addition, empowered employees are circumventing the IT organization by purchasing their own mobile devices and downloading applications used for work from mobile app stores sponsored by mobile device manufacturers. Adding to this complexity are the accelerated mobile device release and application update timelines, which often occur in a matter of months, not years. Mobile cloud services are emerging as a method for the corporate IT department to address these challenges, while still maintaining control of the firm’s mobile device and application environment.

Cloud services have been available in a traditional software and hardware arena for the past few years. However, now vendors and service providers in the mobility ecosystem are offering new types of mobile cloud services to help firms simplify and manage the complex mobility landscape. The key characteristics today’s mobile cloud services include:

  • Standardized, on-demand mobile services delivered in a public or private cloud environment. Today’s mobile cloud services tend to focus on helping firms deliver mobile applications. However, mobile cloud service deployment will evolve over time to include other services such as storage, security billing, governance, and reporting capabilities.
  • Mobile cloud services are delivered in an “as a service” manner, and promise to deliver operational savings by only requiring firms to pay for the software, platform, and infrastructure resources used. The software as a service “SaaS” delivery model is commonly used to distribute mobile applications, and infrastructure as a service components include mobile network and storage which can be incorporated into public clouds or private clouds.
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Forrester's Marketing Forum 2011: Innovating Your Marketing For The Next Digital Decade

JP Gownder

We're only a couple weeks away from Forrester's Marketing Forum 2011, April 5-6 in San Francisco, California. (You can view the event details and sign up to attend here). The theme is "Innovating Your Marketing For The Next Digital Decade," which will help attendees navigate the rapidly changing world of digital experiences. Rapid innovation is creating radical shifts in the methods and media that people use to engage with your company, brand, and products. From connected TVs to Microsoft's Xbox Kinect to tablet PCs to mobile-based location awareness, the panoply of emerging platforms and techniques gives powerful new means of creating rich product experiences and engaging with your customers.

For Consumer Product Strategy professionals, we've focused our sessions around a research theme called Total Product Experience. Developed by the amazing James McQuivey, the Total Product Experience thesis is that digital channels are no longer being used just to deliver marketing messages. Instead, they are swiftly being enlisted to simulate and stimulate product trial and use. Already, using Kinect for Xbox, marketers can enable you to kick the virtual tires of a car; tomorrow, with a tablet PC app, marketers will let you take pictures of yourself and dress your own body in virtual clothes. Welcome to the Era of Experience, a time in which product strategists and product marketers must collaborate to deepen the digital customer relationship and extend the total product experience to create value.

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ARM Servers - Calxeda Opens The Kimono For A Tantalizing Tease

Richard Fichera

Calxeda, one of the most visible stealth mode startups in the industry, has finally given us an initial peek at the first iteration of its server plans, and they both meet our inflated expectations from this ARM server startup and validate some of the initial claims of ARM proponents.

While still holding their actual delivery dates and details of specifications close to their vest, Calxeda did reveal the following cards from their hand:

  • The first reference design, which will be provided to OEM partners as well as delivered directly to selected end users and developers, will be based on an ARM Cortex A9 quad-core SOC design.
  • The SOC, as Calxeda will demonstrate with one of its reference designs, will enable OEMs to design servers as dense as 120 ARM quad-core nodes (480 cores) in a 2U enclosure, with an average consumption of about 5 watts per node (1.25 watts per core) including DRAM.
  • While not forthcoming with details about the performance, topology or protocols, the SOC will contain an embedded fabric for the individual quad-core SOC servers to communicate with each other.
  • Most significantly for prospective users, Calxeda is claiming, and has some convincing models to back up these claims, that they will provide a performance advantage of 5X to 10X the performance/watt and (even higher when price is factored in for a metric of performance/watt/$) of any products they expect to see when they bring the product to market.
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HP And Microsoft Ride The Converged Infrastructure Wave With Integrated Application Appliances

Richard Fichera

In another token that the movement toward converged infrastructures and vertically integrated solutions is becoming ever more mainstream, HP and Microsoft recently announced a line of specialized appliances that combine integrated hardware, software and pre-packaged software targeting Exchange email, business analytics with Microsoft SharePoint and PowerPivot, and data warehousing with SQL Server. The offerings include:

  • HP E5000 Messaging System – Microsoft Exchange mailboxes in standard sizes of 500 – 3000 mailboxes. This product incorporates a pair of servers derived from HP's blade family in a new 3U rack enclosure plus storage and Microsoft Exchange software. The product is installed as a turnkey system from HP.
  • HP Business Decision Appliance – Integrated servers and SQL Server PowerPivot software targeting analytics in midmarket and enterprise groups, tuned for 80 concurrent users. This offering is based on standard HP rack servers and integrated Microsoft software.
  • HP Enterprise Data Warehouse Appliance – Intended to compete with Oracle Exadata, at least for data warehouse applications, this is targeted at enterprise data warehouses in the 100s of Terabyte range. Like Exadata, it is a massive stack of integrated servers and software, including 13 HP rack servers, 10 of their MSA storage units and integrated Ethernet, Infiniband and FC networking, along with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse software.
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Intel Fires The First Shot Across The Bows Of ARM

Richard Fichera

Intel, despite a popular tendency to associate a dominant market position with indifference to competitive threats, has not been sitting still waiting for the ARM server phenomenon to engulf them in a wave of ultra-low-power servers. Intel is fiercely competitive, and it would be silly for any new entrants to assume that Intel will ignore a threat to the heart of a high-growth segment.

In 2009, Intel released a microserver specification for compact low-power servers, and along with competitor AMD, it has been aggressive in driving down the power envelope of its mainstream multicore x86 server products. Recent momentum behind ARM-based servers has heated this potential competition up, however, and Intel has taken the fight deeper into the low-power realm with the recent introduction of the N570, a an existing embedded low-power processor, as a server CPU aimed squarely at emerging ultra-low-power and dense servers. The N570, a dual-core Atom processor, is being currently used by a single server partner, ultra-dense server manufacturer SeaMicro (see Little Servers For Big Applications At Intel Developer Forum), and will allow them to deliver their current 512 Atom cores with half the number of CPU components and some power savings.

Technically, the N570 is a dual-core Atom CPU with 64 bit arithmetic, a differentiator against ARM, and the same 32-bit (4 GB) physical memory limitations as current ARM designs, and it should have a power dissipation of between 8 and 10 watts.

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Who Are Your Anchor Vendors?

Glenn O'Donnell

Every day we read about technology vendors making acquisitions and merging with their competitors. Some recent examples: Verizon acquired Terremark for $1.4B to take a leadership role in IaaS, NetApp acquired Akorri to move up the virtualization stack, and the highly popularized "storage shoot out" in late 2010 between Dell and HP for 3PAR (ending with HP’s winning bid of $2.4B). Since there is no evidence to suggest a decrease in the pace of these acquisitions, it’s important for infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals to keep a keen eye on these proceedings. 

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If You Don’t Manage Everything, You Don’t Manage Anything

Jean-Pierre Garbani

I’m always surprised to see that the Citroen 2CV (CV: Cheval Vapeur, hence the name Deux Chevaux) has such a strong following, even in the United States. Granted, this car was the epitome of efficiency: It used minimum gas (60 miles to the gallon), was eminently practical, and its interior could be cleaned with a garden hose. Because the car was minimalist to the extreme, the gas gauge on the early models was a dipstick of some material, with marks to show how many liters of gas were left in the tank. For someone like me, who constantly forgot to consult the dipstick before leaving home, it meant that I would be out of gas somewhere far from a station almost every month. A great means of transportation failed regularly for lack of instrumentation. (Later models had a gas gauge.)

 This shows how failure to monitor one element leads to the failure of the complete system — and that if you don’t manage everything you don’t manage anything, since the next important issue can develop in blissful ignorance.

The point is that we often approach application performance management from the same angle that Citroen used to create the 2CV: provide only the most critical element monitoring in the name of cost-cutting. This has proved time and again to be fraught with risk and danger. Complex, multitier applications are composed of a myriad of components, hardware and software, that can fail.

In application performance management, I see a number of IT operations focus their tools on some critical elements and ignore others. But even though many of the critical hardware and software components have become extremely reliable, it doesn’t mean that they are impervious to failure: There is simply no way to guarantee the life of a specific electronic component.

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You Must Go Further To Get Private Cloud Right . . . But How Much Further?

James Staten

 Lately it's starting to seem like private clouds are a lot like beauty – in the eye of the beholder. Or more accurately, in the eye of the builder. Sadly, unlike art and beauty, the value that comes from your private cloud isn’t as fluid, and the closer you get in your design to a public cloud, the greater the value. While it may be tempting to paint your VMware environment as a cloud or to automate a few tasks such as provisioning and then declare “cloud,”organizations that fall short of achieving true cloud value may find their investments miss the mark. But how do you get your private cloud right?

For the most part, enterprises understand that virtualization and automation are key components of a private cloud, but at what point does a virtualized environment become a private cloud? What can a private cloud offer that a virtualized environment can’t? How do you sell this idea internally? And how do you deliver a true private cloud in 2011?

In London, this March, I am facilitating a meeting of the Forrester Leadership Board Infrastructure & Operations Council, where we will tackle these very questions. If you are considering building a private cloud, there are changes you will need to make in your organization to get it right and our I&O council meeting will give you the opportunity to discuss this with other I&O leaders facing the same challenge.

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Cisco Sends A Recall On Its Cloud Email Strategy

Christopher Voce

Infrastructure & operations executives have shown a tremendous interest in looking for opportunities to take advantage of the cloud to provision email and collaboration services to their employees – in fact in a recent Forrester survey, nearly half of IT execs report that they either are interested in or plan on making a move to the cloud for email. Why? It can be more cost effective, increase your flexibility, and help control the historical business and technical challenges of deploying these tools yourself.  

To date, we’ve talked about four core players in the market : Cisco, Google, IBM, and Microsoft. According to a recent blog post, Cisco has chosen to no longer invest in Cisco Mail. Cisco Mail was formerly known as WebEx Mail – and before that, the email platform was the property of PostPath, which Cisco acquired in 2008 with the intention of providing a more complete collaboration stack alongside its successful WebEx services and voice.  I've gathered feedback and worked with my colleagues Ted Schadler, TJ Keitt, and Art Schoeller to synthesize and discuss what this means to Infrastructure & Operations pros and coordinating with their Content & Collaboration colleagues.

 So what happened and what does it mean for I&O professionals? Here’s our take:

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