Who In Your Company Is The Most Enthusiastic About Cloud? Nope, It's Not Your Developers

It's not the business leaders or the rank employees either. While all of these choice make sense and all are, according to our Forrights surveys, more excited by it than infrastructure & operations professionals, it's the person who supposedly has the most to gain from it -- your CFO.

One of the things that truly differentiates Forrester Research from other analyst firms is the breadth of conversations we have with clients and the range of employees in an enterprise that we survey. We serve not only those in IT roles across the world but those in marketing, sales and strategy roles too. And our Forrsights surveys complete the picture by talking with CFOs, CEOs, workplace professionals and of course consumers. This breadth gives us the ability to present 360-degree views on certain key topics such as mobility and cloud computing. And it is through this holistic view that you get a real psychograph of the enterprise and can examine and respond to these differences in opinion and consumption. 

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Scoring Our 2011 Cloud Predictions

Around this time last year, Forrester published its predictions for what we expected to happen in the cloud computing market in 2011. While some of those prognostications were on the mark, in general we learned once again that markets move much slower than any of us would like.

It might be best to think of last year’s predictions as less about what would happen in a twelve month period and more about trends we identified that we felt would have lasting impact on the infrastructure & operations (I&O) professional and the market in general. Thus we felt progress was made along most of these lines. Here's a quick look at what we predicted and where we went astray:

1.       And The Empowered Shall Lead Us. Correct. Forrsights surveys and discussions with clients continue to show that the early adopters of cloud services are not I&O, and this gap rose in 2011. And the trend of Empowered employees and developers not telling I&O about their use of cloud continued in 2011. Thankfully we saw more I&O leaders begin to proactively engage these leaders by demonstrating how I&O can make their use of these services more predictable and productive. Far more of this type of engagement is still needed as the pressure on business to move more quickly and autonomously grows as the risk of a double-dip recession rises.

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Public Clouds Prove I&O Pros Are From Venus And Developers Are From Mars

Forrester just published parts I & II of its market overview of the public cloud market and these reports, written primarily for the Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) professionals, reveal as much about you – the customers of the clouds – as it does about the clouds themselves.

As discussed during our client teleconference about these reports, clearly the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) market is maturing and evolving and the vendors are adapting their solutions to deliver greater value to their current customers and appeal to a broader set of buyers. In the case of pure clouds such as Amazon Web Services, GoGrid and Joyent, the current customers are developers who are mostly building new applications on these platforms. Their demands focus on enabling greater innovation, performance, scale, autonomy and productivity. To broaden the appeal of their cloud services, they aim to deliver better transparency, monitoring, security and support – all things that appeal more to I&O and security & risk managers (SRM).

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Are You A Highly Effective IT Ops Leader?

 

Pop quiz: How many of your company’s top business leaders do you talk to on a daily basis? How many know your name? And finally, how many of them do you engage to brainstorm on how to leverage the latest technologies to drive up revenues and profits?

If that was an uncomfortable test, it's time to wake up to the changing realities in today’s corporate world. If you aren’t having these types of conversations and instead your day is filled with managing the systems of record in your company, you may be on a path to corporate irrelevancy.

For the past year Forrester has been talking ad nauseam about the Empowered employee and their self-directed embrace of technology. As Forrester’s esteemed analysts on our Application Development & Delivery team have so clearly pointed out, it is these empowered employees who are creating the new systems of engagement our companies are using to reach new customers, define new workflows, and generate new revenues. And these new systems they are building are pulling away from the old systems of record – the ones you are in charge of maintaining.  

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What Are Enterprises Really Doing In The Cloud?

You know there are developers in your company using public cloud platforms, but do you really know what they are doing? You suspect it’s just test and development work, but are you sure? And if it is production workloads are they taking the steps necessary to protect the company? We have the answers to these questions and you may be surprised by how far they are going.

It’s tough being an infrastructure & operations professional these days. According to our ForrSight surveys, for every cloud project you know about there could be 3 to 6 others you don’t know about. Business unit leaders, marketing and sales professionals and Empowered developers are leading the charge. They aren’t circumventing I&O as a sign of rebellion – they simply are trying to move quickly to drive revenue and increase productivity. While every I&O professional should be concerned about this pattern of shadow IT and its implications on the role of I&O in the future, the more immediate concern is about whether these shadow efforts are putting the company at risk.

The bottom line: Cloud use isn’t just test and development. In fact, according to our ForrSight research there’s more production use of IaaS cloud platforms than test and development and broader use is coming (see Figure 1 below). The prominent uses are for training, product demonstration and other marketing purposes. Our research also shows that test and development projects in the cloud are just as likely to go to production in the cloud as they are to come back to your data center.

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Oracle Finally Gets Serious About Cloud, But It's IaaS, Not PaaS

 

After three days of cloudwashing, cloud-in-a-box and erector set private cloud musings at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco this week, CEO Larry Ellison chose day four to take the wraps off a legitimate move into cloud computing. 

Oracle Public Cloud is the unification of the company's long-struggling software-as-a-service (SaaS) portfolio with its Fusion applications transformation, all atop Oracle VM and Sun hardware. While Ellison spent much of his keynote taking pot shots at his former sales executive and now SaaS nemesis, Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff, the actual solution being delivered is more of a direct competitor to Amazon Web Services than Force.com. The strongest evidence is in Oracle's stance on multitenancy. Ellison adamantly shunned a tenancy model built on shared data stores and application models, which are key to the profitability of Salesforce.com (and most true SaaS and PaaS solutions), stating that security comes only through application and database isolation and tenancy through the hypervisor. Oracle will no doubt use its own Xen-based hypervisor, OracleVM rather than the enterprise standard VMware vSphere, but converting images between these platforms is quickly proving trivial.

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OpenStack: Time To Capitalize On The Momentum

In the IaaS market the open source torch has officially been passed from Eucalyptus to OpenStack, a community effort that is showing strong momentum in both vendor participation and end user interest. But now it needs to start showing staying power, and that's just what I expect to see at this week's OpenStack Design Summit in Boston. What started as an effort to leverage the open community to help advance the technologies started by Rackspace and NASA has now turned into a vibrant community advancing IaaS technologies at a rapid pace. What it was lacking up until this summer was solid go-to-market momentum. But now:

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Now This Is How To Do The App Internet Right — Autodesk Cloud Shows The Way

Much of the discussion around integrating applications with the Internet has centered on mobile applications connected to web backends that deliver greater customer experiences than mobile apps or web sites could by themselves. But the real power of this concept comes when a full ecosystem can be delivered that leverages the true power and appropriateness of mobile, desktop and cloud-based compute power. And if you want to see this in action, just look to Autodesk. The company, we highlighted in this blog last year for its early experimentation with cloud-based rendering, has moved that work substantially forward and aims to change the way architects, engineers and designers get their jobs done and dramatically improve how they interact with clients.

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First Sign Of A Cloud Bubble Ready To Pop - An ETF

On July 5th, First Trust launched an exchange traded fund (ETF) designed to help investors capitalize on the growing market for cloud computing. I'd be excited about this sign of maturity for the market if the fund let you invest in the companies that are truly driving cloud computing, but most of them aren't publicly traded. Now don't get me wrong, there are clearly some cloud leaders in the ISE Cloud Index, such as Amazon, saleforce.com and Netflix, but many of the stocks in this fund are traditional infrastructure players who get a fraction (at most) of their revenues from cloud computing, such as Polycom, Teradata and Iron Mountain. The fund is a mix of cloud leaders, arms dealers and companies who are directionally heading toward the cloud - dare I say "cloudwashing" their traditional revenue streams. 

The bigger question, though, is should anyone invest in this fund? Ignore the name and why not. Many of these stocks are market leaders in their respective areas, so if you are looking for a good technology fund, this is probably as good as any. 

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The Cloud Computing Market Grows Up

Mark this date. While it isn't an anniversary of anything significant in the past, it is a day where our beloved cloud computing market showed significant signs of maturing. Major announcements by VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft all signaled significant progress in making cloud platforms (infrastructure-as-a-service [IaaS] and platform-as-a-service [PaaS]) more enterprise ready and consumable by I&O professionals.

* VMware updates its cloud stack. The server virtualization leader announced version 5 of its venerable hypervisor and version 1.5 of vCloud Director, its IaaS platform atop vSphere. Key enhancements to vCloud include more hardening of its security and resource allocation policy capabilities that address secure multitenancy concerns and elimination of the "noisy neighbor" problem, respectively. It also doubled the total capacity of VMs service providers can put in a single cloud to 20,000. VMware also resurrected a key feature from its now defunct Lab Manager — linked clones. This key capability for driving operational efficiency lets you deploy new VMs from the image library and the system will maintain the relationship between the golden image and the deployed VM. This does two things; it minimizes the storage footprint of the VM, much as similar technology does in virtual desktops, and second it uses the link to ensure clones maintain the patch level and integrity of the golden master. This alone is reason enough to consider vCloud Director.

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