The Age Of The Customer Will Reshape Your App Dev & Delivery Landscape

As outlined in Technology Management In The Age Of The Customer, the age of the customer will fundamentally change how app-dev groups operate and interact with business leaders. This post is intended to open a discussion around the likely changes that the age of the customer will bring in the next few to several years — a reasonable planning window. I’ve seen a fair amount of change in this industry. As background, my tenure in the IT industry dates back to 1982, when at the tender age of 25, I left the Cambridge Institue for Computer Programming with a full head of hair and a fire in my belly to do great (programming) things. My first job as a batch programmer for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health lasted long enough to land my next job at Boston University, where I wrote batch and online Natural/Adabas code for a few years. In 1985, I joined Cullinet Software in Westwood, Mass. to develop commercial ERP applications in ADSO/IDMS (before the “ERP” acronym even existed). Online, fully integrated manufacturing, HR, and financial apps based on a network DBMS — it was cutting-edge technology at the time, as were the IBM PCs that began gracing our desktops circa 1987. Ironically, today my iPhone has more power than these early XT machines.

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Dell Bolsters Its Apps Mod Street Cred By Acquiring MAKE Technologies And Clerity

Dell made two bold moves last week that bolster its apps modernization street cred. Since MAKE Technologies and Clerity Solutions may not be household names to you, here are our observations about the moves and some rumination on what it means to you.

Who Dell Bought

  • MAKE Technologies (MAKE) - Vancouver, BC-based MAKE brings powerful application analysis, apps portfolio management, and advanced re-engineering capabilities to Dell.
  • Clerity Solutions (Clerity) - not to be confused with CA-Clerity - the PPM tool, it was one of the last remaining COBOL compiler vendors in the business of rehosting COBOL applications to Unix and Microsoft operating systems. It and Micro Focus arguably owned the lion's share of the market.
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What Would You Ask Your Future Self (2020)?

Following on the earlier seeds planted by Champions Of Change: The App Dev & Delivery Role In 2020 and Your Apps Portfolio In 2020: How Do You Get There From Here? imagine you have the opportunity today to ask your future self five questions about life in 2020 as an Application Development & Delivery professional: What would you ask? Here are some ground rules:

  • Stay on topic - this isn't about how to retire rich or hit the winning lottery numbers; it's about life as an IT professional.
  • Think before you speak - many things will be very, very different than they are today: teams, devices, organization, business models.
  • Think well outside the box - throw your first set of ideas away; they simply extended today forward a few years.
  • Don't confine the questions to yourself - imagine you can ask any IT, BT, or business leader two questions.

Get those creative juices flowing - what are you dying to know about the future?

The Great Platform Debate Is "Shipping Up To Boston" At #ADF11!!!!

Sorry folks but as a Murphy, I just can't resist the temptation - Irish rockers "The Dropkick Murphys" sing a song called "Shipping Up To Boston" - and that is exactly what I and my colleagues are doing September 22nd and 23rd to participate in Forrester's Application Development & Delivery Forum - a collection of the best and brightest folks in our industry. 

I am both a Murphy AND originally from the Boston area - Ahhhlington to be precise (that's Arlington for you non-native speakers), so I could not resist a reference to The Dropkick Murphys. Never heard of them you say? Boston Red Sox fans recall fondly how in 2007, Jonathan Papelbon danced a jig to "Shipping Up To Boston" when the Red Sox beat the Anaheim Angels to clinch the American League East title. Red Sox fans still treasure the moment, our friends in LA - not so much.

Why should you join us in "Shipping Up To Boston"? 

  • Because we've entered an age where customer experience is king, but our applications are troublesome pawns on the IT chessboard - processes and data trapped in silos that do not fit the "outside-in" perspectives of customer-experience driven change.
  • Because you're being pressured to keep pace with the business change driven by customer-experience, but you're falling behind a little bit more every day - you can't make any progress on tomorrow because you are consumed by today's issues.
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Your Apps Portfolio In 2020: How Do You Get There From Here?

In Champions Of Change: The App Dev & Delivery Role In 2020, we began to think about the business climate in the year 2020 and how it affects the application development and delivery role. Building on that theme, turn your attention for a moment to your existing application portfolio.

UGH! Yes, that dark, dank, ugly bucket into which you've been dumping applications, enhancements, and upgrades for decades - that place where even though it is overflowing, only a few intrepid souls have the courage to look. What do you see? Duplication? Yes. Waste? Yes. Needless heterogeneity? Yes. A tangled mess of point-to-point, siloed, marginally integrated apps and data seething and roiling with cost, complexity, and other innovation-crushing-demons?

If you are both truthful and like most of your peers, there is only one answer: Yes, to all of the above! OK, so let's stipulate that's at least partially true for all of us and that there is a chasm between that "place where demons be" and where your business leaders would like to be today. How will you begin to sort it out, state its health and future usefulness, then reshape it toward the future that awaits us in 2020? Do you even try? Here are a few schools of thought meant to spur debate:

Scenario 1 - You don't even try, because you know you'll rewrite all those apps before 2020

  • May I just point out that your predecessors said the same thing about those 35-year-old COBOL programs still in your portfolio today?
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Champions Of Change: The App Dev & Delivery Role In 2020

Can you remember what life was like 10 years ago? How were your personal life and professional life different than they are today? Here are a few reminders about life in 2001:

  1. Smartphones weren't nearly as smart or ubiquitous, and the iPad, iPod, iTunes, and App Store didn't exist yet.
  2. Social media wasn't very social — Twitter was a verb, not a social media outlet, and Facebook was an odd way to refer to a photo album.
  3. The World Trade Center twin towers still stood in Manhattan.
  4. The financial meltdown over subprime mortgages hadn't yet occurred.
  5. East Timor, Montenegro, Serbia, and Kosovo were not yet independent nations.
  6. To even conceive that the Arab Spring revolutions could occur in one country, let alone several . . .
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Application Portfolio Management - Are You Doing It? Using Tools? Doing Without Tools?

  • If so, did you buy one?
  • What features did you find compelling? Lacking?
  • Was price a barrier to entry?

Are you using any form of APM tool today?

What Is The Definition Of An "Application"?

What is the definition of an "application"? We are "applications development and delivery professionals" - surely we have this question nailed, don't we? The question keeps coming up in different contexts, and since there are many potential opinions, a blog is the perfect place to spur debate. Here are some (simplistic) questions to generate debate:

  • Is a Web page an application?
    • If not, how many Web pages does it take until I consider it an application - 10, 100, 1,000?
  • Does size matter? (Please behave yourselves with this one.)
    • Is the size of the code base a pertinent factor?
  • What about SharePoint sites, Access databases, and spreadsheets? Are they applications?
  • Where do COTS and packaged apps fit?
  • Does the technology I use affect the definition?
    • If I use a scripting language for a quick-and-dirty task, is that an application? 
  • Does SOA erode the definition of an application?
    • Do we cease thinking about applications as entities and think about them more as containers that hold collections of SOA services?
  • How does open source affect the definition?
  • How does my role affect my perception of an application?
    • Do developers and users use similar definitions?

I have my opinions - in fact I just finished a draft piece of research on it that will be published in January, but what are your opinions?

As Application Rationalization Grows Hotter In 2011 - Vendors Will Play Catch-Up

In his report on the top technology trends to watch in 2011 to 2013, my colleague Gene Leganza called out application portfolio management (APM) as one of a number of "planning and analysis tools to manage the future." Forrester clients seem to agree with Gene; in fact they aren't even waiting until 2011 - their interest has been building steadily throughout the second half of 2010.

One case in point: thousands of unique client hits in Q3 alone on a new report entitled Assessing Your Applications - Metrics That Matter Drive Better Rationalization Decisions. I noted similar levels of interest in the companion workbook, Forrester's Application Scoring Workbook, in Q3. Together they indicate that clients have a strong interest in educating themselves on how to streamline and rationalize their application portfolios.

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IBM's zEnterprise Is A Game Changer For Application-Platform Choice

A quick note on a big announcement today by IBM that is being rolled out as I write this. No, I don't have a crystal ball - my colleague Brad Day and I spent a day in Poughkeepsie in late June for the full scoop - provided under NDA. The announcement is massive, so I'll just lay out the high points and a few of my thoughts on what it means to apps folks. I'll leave the deeper I&O/technical details to Brad and others in subsequent posts and research. My goal here is to get a conversation going here on what it may mean to apps people in your IT shops.

What's in the zEnterprise announcement?

  • It's a new computing environment that unifies Linux, AIX, and z/OS on a new server complex that includes mainframe servers, x86, and Power7 blades under a single set of management software: the zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager (URM).
  • A 10 Gb private data network joins the new z server (z196) and zBX - an ensemble that houses racks of x86 and Power7 blades. It also includes an intra-ensemble network that is physically isolated from all networks, switches, and routers - permitting removal of blade firewalls.
    • One client claims a 12-to-1 reduction in network hops by eliminating blade firewalls.
  • The z196 permits up to 96 Quad-core 5.02 ghz processors, 80 available for customer use, and 112 blades.

What is the impact on applications people and application-platform choice?

zEnterprise is a monster announcement that heralds a long laundry list of improvements - it would be impossible to cover all of the ramifications in a single blog post; however, a brief glimpse of some of the most notable improvements that affect applications folks include (zEnterprise as compared to z10):

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