Microsoft’s Surface Promotion Signals the Growing Importance of Tablets in Chinese Schools

Bryan Wang

Microsoft recently announced an education promotion for its Surface RT tablets that offers deep discounts to schools and universities.  Under the program, Microsoft will offer Chinese students the 10.6” Surface RT tablet at $199 (versus a list price of $499), with official Office applications standard.  With e-education a critical part of education reform, Forrester sees two key trends driving strong tablet adoption in the education sector:

·       Continuous government investments in e-learning.  At both the central and local government levels, e-learning programs are underway to improve students’ information literacy as well as narrow the education resource gaps across the different regions in China.  For example, the “Digital Education Resources Full Coverage Project" was launched in November 2012 by the central government with funding of RMB 308 million ($49 million) to equip digital education devices for teaching venues across China.

·       Explosive growth in tablet adoption.Forrester forecasts the number of tablets for business, government or educational use to increase from about 19 million in 2012 to more than 83 million in 2016 in APJ, with China as one of the key growth engines. Noticing this growing opportunity, multiple city governments (e.g. Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Guangzhou, etc.) have announced projects to purchase tablets for students’ usage in class.

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Systems of Engagement vs Systems of Reference – Core Concept for Infrastructure Architecture

Richard Fichera

My Forrester colleagues Ted Schadler and John McCarthy have written about the differences between Systems of Reference (SoR) and Systems of Engagement (SoE) in the customer-facing systems and mobility, but after further conversations with some very smart people at IBM, I think there are also important reasons for infrastructure architects to understand this dichotomy. Scalable and flexible systems of engagement, engagement, built with the latest in dynamic web technology and the back-end systems of record, highly stateful usually transactional systems designed to keep track of the “true” state of corporate assets are very different animals from an infrastructure standpoint in two fundamental areas:

Suitability to cloud (private or public) deployment – SoE environments, by their nature, are generally constructed using horizontally scalable technologies, generally based on some level of standards including web standards, Linux or Windows OS, and some scalalable middleware that hides the messy details of horizontally scaling a complex application. In addition, the workloads are generally highly parallel, with each individual interaction being of low value. This characteristic leads to very different demands on the necessity for consistency and resiliency.

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What APAC Infrastructure & Operations professionals should learn from recent natural disasters

Sudhanshu Bhandari

The recent flooding in Uttarakhand, India reminded me of last November 2012, when I was in Boston during hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the US East Coast. There’s a lot of similarity I can draw between New York and Mumbai - both have a large number of key data centers in close proximity to business centers, both are quite vulnerable to floods, and both have a history of terrorist attacks.

Regardless of continent and country, the number of natural disasters is increasing. As stated by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) Head for Asia Pacific, extreme weather events are likely to become both more frequent and severe in the future. Asia Pacific (AP) in particular is the world's most disaster prone area. Apart from Uttarakhand there have been a number of natural disasters in the last decade, including the Tsunami and Earthquakes in Japan, Floods in Thailand, and the Mumbai Floods in 2005. Floods are the most common natural disaster, followed by extreme storms and earthquakes. In the case of hurricane Sandy, dozens of data centers in the New York City metropolitan area were impacted.

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Embedded Connectivity Adds New Spin To Colt's IT Offering

John Rakowski

Recently Dan Bieler and I attended a Colt Technology Services analyst day in London. It was great to see a technology services provider who is trying to embrace both disruptive ICT trends and challenges facing enterprise IT. Here is a high level summary of our views from the event:

  • Dan: Colt views its network assets not as its key differentiators - but its IT services. Although IT services today account for only a small fraction of Colt revenues, Colt views its network infrastructure assets as a means to an end to support IT services. Whilst we agree that network infrastructure runs the risk of commoditisation, Colt’s network helps to differentiate Colt’s offering from both IT service providers without network infrastructure and carriers with a less impressive network footprint. Quality network infrastructure is the basis for developing reliable, secure, and compliant ICT solutions. Maybe Colt ought to view itself more as a communications integrator than an IT Services provider.
     
  • John: Colt provides a strong European IaaS offering. One of the presentations focused on Colt’s European datacenter footprint. At Forrester we get many inquiries on hosting and IaaS-specific options for Europe as many clients have to address regulatory and business requirements for data to reside in specific countries. Colt has a substantial number of data centers in European countries including the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland.
     
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A New Microsoft Emerges. Leader Again or Still Fast-Follower?

David Johnson
Today's re-org at Microsoft comes amidst mixed success as they straddle the gap between capricious individual consumers and the cash-strapped, risk-averse needs of enterprise IT buyers who find themselves years behind the demands of their own capricious workers, who are also consumers when they go home. Windows 8 shows us that Microsoft has more learning to do about where to place those bets, but we also think their work on server, cloud and hybrid cloud is excellent, and that their longer-term strategy is viable. We see this organizational re-alignment as very positive.
 
The Server and Tools Business becomes Cloud and Enterprise Engineering Group
Satya Nadella and Scott Guthrie both have done a great job of driving Agile development and continuous delivery into every team in STB and that is resulting in faster moving and more compelling products and services. They deserve a lot of credit for this and so putting even more under them seems a good thing. The key is whether it is the right things.
 
For perspective: one of Microsoft's greatest strengths is that they give smart people development tools that are extremely easy to use and deceptively powerful. So much so that generations of developers will commit themselves and careers to mastery of Visual Studio, for example. Microsoft democratizes software development by lowering the barriers to entry like no other company. The shift to cloud gives them the chance to do it again, and the improvements in Visual Studio 2013 shown at BUILD in San Francisco are superb and stretch smoothly from the datacenter to the cloud.
 
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The Deadly Sins of IT Maturity Assessments

John Rakowski

On the 7th August I will be taking part in a webinar that looks at how to ‘Boost Your IT Maturity With ITSM’ and I have a confession to make – I love IT Maturity Assessments. You may also love them but my love comes from the fact that I used to be an enterprise system and service management consultant and today I want to confess my sins. 

As you may know, maturity models and assessments are a cornerstone of many System Integrator service offerings. During my time as a consultant on a number of ‘IT transformation’ projects in the UK, the companies that I worked for would use maturity assessments as part of their standard go-to-market offerings. In terms of my role, I would use ITIL and systems management maturity models and my promise to the customer was that working with me would get them to that next level of maturity. While I believed I was truly helping the customer, I knew, deep down, that maturity models were a way of cementing continued business and that unfortunately within a year I would be on another project meaning I would not be there to see the improvement roadmap move forward. 

But today I want to start my rehabilitation. I still believe that IT maturity assessments hold a lot of value for Enterprise IT but I&O professionals needs to be aware of the following 5 deadly sins:

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Taking Stock of Linux – Maturation Continues

Richard Fichera

Having been away from the Linux scene for a while, I recently took a look at a newer version of Linux, SUSE Enterprise Linux Version 11.3, which is representative of the latest feature sets from the Linux 3.0 et seq kernel available to the entre Linux community, including SUSE, Red Hat, Canonical and others. It is apparent, both from the details on SUSE 11.3 and from perusing the documentation on other distribution providers, that Linux has continued to mature nicely as both a foundation for large scale-out clouds as well as a strong contender for the kind of enterprise workloads that previously were only comfortable on either RISC/UNIX systems or large Microsoft Server systems. In effect, Linux has continued its maturation to the point where its feature set and scalability begin to look like a top-tier UNIX from only a couple of years ago.

Among the enterprise technology that caught my eye:

  • Scalability – The Linux kernel now scales to 4096 x86 CPUs and up to 16 TB of memory, well into high-end UNIX server territory, and will support the largest x86 servers currently shipping.
  • I/O – The Linux kernel now includes btrfs (a geeky contraction of “Better File System), an open source file system that promises much of the scalability and feature set of Oracle’s popular ZFS file system including checksums, CoW, snapshotting, advanced logical volume management including thin provisioning and others. The latest releases also include advanced features like geoclustering and remote data replication to support advanced HA topologies.
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Our Voice-Controlled Computing Future: How Workers Use Voice Commands Today

JP Gownder

Voice-controlled intelligent assistants offer a tantalizingly productive vision of end user computing. Using voice commands, users can extend the computing experience to not just mobile scenarios, but to hyper-mobile, on-the-go situations (such as while driving). With wearables like Google Glass, voice command promises even deeper integration into hyper-mobile experiences, as this video demonstrates. And voice controlled intelligent assistants can also enable next-generation collaboration tools like MindMeld.

In spite of this promise, there remains a lurking sense that voice control is more of a gimmick than a productivity enhancer. (As of the time I posted this blog, a Google search for Siri+gimmick yielded… “about 2,430,000 results”). To see where voice control really stands, we surveyed information workers in North American and Europe about their use of voice commands.

Information workers’ use of voice control today:

In reality, many information workers with smartphones are already using voice commands – at least occasionally. Our survey revealed that:

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Backup Data Growth Is Out Of Control, Make Sure You Have The Right Tool To Manage It!

Rachel Dines

Have you heard the big news? Data is growing at an insane pace. Ok ok, this isn't really news, I hear this almost every day. But what many people don't realize is that one of the guiltiest culprits behind data growth is actually backup data. Between 2010 and 2012, the average enterprise server backup data store grew by 42%, while file storage (which is often the scapegoat of data growth) grew by 28%. And with more and more mobile workers, it's no surprise that PC backup storage is also growing at an explosive rate, almost 100% over the past two years.

Backup data growth being what it is, it's no surprise that a lot of people are re-evaluating their enterprise backup software. That's why I recently embarked on Forrester's first Wave on Enterprise Backup and Recovery Software. As part of that report, I developed a list of key criteria that are necessary to evaluate your backup and recovery software. At a high level, here is what I came up with:

Product offering:

  • Data reduction capabilities and scalability. What data reduction techniques does the product support, and how well do these techniques scale?
  • Backup targets. What targets and backup methods does the solution support?
  • Advanced backup options. What advanced backup options does the solution support?
  • Encryption. What are the native backup encryption and encryption key management capabilities? What encryption solutions does the product integrate with?
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Q&A with Tod Pike, Senior Vice President, Samsung Enterprise Business

JP Gownder

Today, Samsung places much greater strategic emphasis on its enterprise business, which is now a “top three priority” globally for the company. Symbolizing this new commitment to enterprise customers, on June 11th Samsung opened a new Executive Briefing Center (EBC) in its Ridgefield Park, NJ office. The EBC offers enterprise customers and Samsung’s many partners an opportunity to experience Samsung’s vertically-optimized enterprise offerings in context.

I attended the opening, which enjoyed executive-level support from the President and CEO of Samsung Electronics North America Yangkyu (Y.K) Kim, President of Samsung Electronics America Tim Baxter, and Senior Vice President, Samsung Enterprise Business Tod Pike. I also spent an hour learning more about the Samsung value proposition for enterprise customers from Tod, including the excerpted Q&A below.

Samsung’s Enterprise Business Division focuses on a vertical strategy that includes Education, Healthcare, Retail, Financial Services, and Hospitality... and which isn’t just about devices, though their product offerings in hospitality TVs, notebook and tablet PCs, virtualization, wireless printers, and digital signage play a prominent role. Samsung also brings together enterprise-savvy partners like Crestron and Nuance Communications – along with numerous systems integrators and other channel partners – to deliver software, content, and services along with those devices.

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