Get Application Optimization Right in the Cloud Era

There’s a new and refreshing trend in my conversations with CIOs and IT leaders — acknowledgement that cloud services are here to stay and a desire to proactively start taking advantage. But to get this right takes the right approach to application portfolio optimization. And we’ve just released a new version of our Strategic Rightsourcing tool that helps you do just that.

The decision to proactive embrace cloud services is quickly followed by two questions:

  • How to prepare my IT organization to be cloud-forward?
  • What apps to move to the cloud?
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Can Pricing Actions Make Google’s Cloud Platform Worth A Look?

Usually when a product or service shouts about its low pricing, that’s a bad thing but in Google’s case there’s unique value in its Sustained-use Discounts program which just might make it worth your consideration. 

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How is an earthquake triggered in Silicon Valley turning your company into a software vendor?

A movement that began in Silicon Valley, is starting to have profound impacts on corporations throughout the world that are far from obvious but critical to your success and maybe even your company’s survival. This is a massive shift that all CIOs need to start preparing for - a seismic shift that is documented in my latest report released to clients this week. 

As we enter the age of the customer we are leveraging cloud, mobile and big data technologies to build better and more complete experiences with our customers. In doing so we are creating new digital experiences, radically different interactions, and redefining what our companies do and how they should be viewed. Nike’s FuelBand is both a device and a collaboration solution (that’s why Under Armour bought MapMyFitness). Siemens Medical’s MRI machines are both a camera (of sorts) and a content management system  Heck, even a Citibank credit card is both a payment tool and an online financial application. Any company that is embracing the age of the customer is quickly learning that you can’t do that without software. 

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When Too Much Control Is a Bad Thing

I know, more control is an axiom! But the above statement is more often true. When we're talking about configuration control in the public cloud it can be especially true, as control over the configuration of your application can put control in the hands of someone who knows less about the given platform and thus is more likely to get the configuration wrong. Have I fired you up yet? Then you're going to love (or loathe) my latest report, published today. 

Let's look at the facts. Your base configuration of an application deployed to the cloud is likely a single VM in a single availability zone without load balancing, redundancy, DR, or a performance guarantee. That's why you demand configuration control so you can address these shortcomings. But how well do you know the cloud platform you are using? Is it better to use their autoscaling service (if they have one) or to bring your own virtual load balancers? How many instances of your VM, in which zones, is best for availability? Would it be better to configure your own database cluster or use their database as a service solution? One answer probably isn't correct — mirroring the configuration of the application as deployed in your corporate virtualization environment. Starting to see my point?

Fact is, more configuration control may just be a bad thing.

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Rackspace Starts A Process Microsoft Just Finished

With Satya Nadella now warming the CEO seat at Microsoft, executive recruiters can shift their attention to another cloud leader — Rackspace — who bids adieu to its 14-year leader, Lanham Napier. While both companies are clearly cloud platform leaders chasing the same competitor, the similarities in the top job stop there. Rackspace's needs in a CEO center more around how it tells its story than concerns about its strategy. 

Where Microsoft is struggling to ensure its ongoing relevancy in a world that is shifting away from the desktop and the on-premise enterprise, Rackspace has strong cloud credibility. Its issues are more around the fact that it isn't a cloud pure play, isn't another managed services cloudwasher, isn't an incumbent enterprise IT supplier, and no longer runs OpenStack. So if you're looking for companies to compare it to in order to value its stock, there aren't good comparisons. And if you’re looking for metrics to use to judge its success, the ones being disclosed don't paint a rosy picture. If you want to understand Rackspace, you'll have to really understand the company and why it isn't what it isn't. So let's start there:

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Cloud Computing Predictions for 2014: Cloud Joins the Formal IT Portfolio

In 2013 enterprises got real about cloud computing. In 2014 we will integrate it into our existing IT portfolios - whether IT likes it or not. The moves by DevOps and line of business aren't going to stop and can't be ignored. So 2014 will be the year IT Ops relents, stops fighting and gets with the program formally by developing real strategies for embracing the cloud, managing cloud-based application deployments and empowering the business to keep being agile. As the Age of the Customer arrives, all the focus shifts to the Systems of Engagement and the agility in refining these critical customer tools. Cloud technologies and services represent the fastest way for the business to reach new buyers and breathe new life into aging applications. In 2014 cloud leverage will be both traditional and disruptive as the business and IT put cloud to work.

Below are the top ten cloud actions we predict will happen in enterprise IT environments in 2014. Recommendations for what Forrester clients should do about these changes can be found here. Our predictions are:

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Grading our 2013 Cloud Predictions

At this time 12 months ago, we released our predictions for what changes in the market would be brought about by the maturing of cloud computing. Looking back on the year, we can now see that, while the promise of a maturing market was strong, maturity was by no means uniform and thus our predictions proved to be a mixed bag.

1.     We’ll finally stop saying that everything is going cloud.
Grade: A. While the C-suite might still be preaching this as a long-term vision, we got real about what should and should not go to the cloud given its current maturity and capabilities. The guiding principles of architecture and economic model served as sufficient evidence that many traditional workloads have no business on the public cloud. And we started to see early signs of enterprises recognizing that the private cloud isn’t the new name for virtualization but is indeed a separate environment and not all apps in the data center are destined for this pool.

2.     Cloud and mobile will become one.

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CenturyLink May Finally Have Figured Out the Cloud

After a couple less-than-home-runs in the cloud game, it looks like CenturyLink might just have a real contender. The US midwestern telecommunications leader pulled the trigger on yet another acquisition this morning - Tier 3, a legitimate cloud platform provider. The real question is whether this is the latest in a long string of acquisitions that have failed to hit the mark, or a sign that they finally got it right.

CenturyLink is a Lego company built through a string of acquisitions all bolted together. It rolled up several telecom players to get to its current size and presence in that market. And it has bought now three cloud companies. 

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Cloud computing and highly secure data DO mix

Every client (especially every government client) who says I’ll never use cloud services with highly secure data needs to hear this story. In no more sensitive a place than law enforcement is just such a value proposition playing out.

Police departments in 18 states in the US, and soon Canada, are dramatically increasing the efficiency of commercial use of highways through a disruptive SaaS solution that costs a fraction of the incumbent service and mixes well with their permitting and inspection databases.

If you drive toll roads or bridges you know the value of Drivewyze. In rush hour, you can wait 10-25 minutes to pay your toll with cash or you can sign up for an electronic toll system that lets you breeze past. Drivewyze does the same for commercial trucks and fleets but not at toll booths but weigh stations, that take much longer to get through. And in the trucking business every minute lost at a weigh station can cost thousands of dollars in lost delivery time.  For law enforcement the value is even higher as any time lost inspecting a safe truck is time not spent stopping an unsafe one.

The system works by helping known-good drivers and trucks register with the weigh station wirelessly as they approach it on the highway, get an all-clear, then drive right by. Trucks send their credentials to the weigh stations using any mobile device they happen to have – iPhone, Android, Blackberry. Anything with a cellular connection will do the trick. At the weigh station, they receive the information about the driver over whatever equipment they have – aging PCs and laptops are most common. The system checks each driver and truck against long-standing databases of safety records, expired licenses, past weigh station checks and other information that would indicate an unsafe driving circumstance.

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Are cloud platforms saying goodbye to the hypervisor?

OpenStack, CloudStack, Dell, IBM SoftLayerand othersare pushing a new agenda in cloud computing, one that eschews the hypervisor. Is this the future of cloud platforms or just another feature?

So far the latter seems to be the prevailing trend as the majority of public cloud platforms and private cloud software solutions start with the foundation of server virtualization. The bare metal options are being positioned more for two purposes:

  • Auto-provisioning new nodes ofthe cloud - bare metal installation of the cloud solution and the hypervisor

  • New compute resource types inthe cloud - using new automation capabilities to add a complete physical server to a customer’s cloud tenancy, as if it were just another virtual machine.

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