As The Economy Recovers, Spend Your Time On “PPT” (And I’m Not Just Talking About Fancy Presentations)

Doug Washburn

Whether you love it or hate it, Microsoft PowerPoint — aka slides, deck, .ppt or PPT (which I prefer) — is arguably the de facto medium for communicating complex information using charts, graphics and bullet points. And we’ve all been the victims and perpetrators of PPT eye charts and spaghetti diagrams … this of course excludes Forrester analysts (wink).

But this over reliance on PPT is a rising cause for concern — not just from the good people of BOTOX® warning us about the wrinkle damage caused by squinting to read small text — but from our armed forces. In a recent article in The New York Times, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the leader of American and NATO forces in Afghanistan, explained that PPT is “dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control.” He banned the presentations when securing the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, and even likened them to an internal threat. The most infamous of these “spaghetti” diagrams depicts the complexity of American strategy in Afghanistan, which General McChrystal remarked, “When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”

So what does PPT have to do with making IT infrastructure and operations investments (I&O)? Everything. But in this case, the PPT I’m referring to is People, Process, and Technology – and excess is encouraged.

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CMS Pockets Of The Truth Or CMDB Unified Ambiguity?

Glenn O'Donnell

I've had many discussions with clients and others about CMDB (configuration management database), not surprising as I am coauthor of a book called The CMDB Imperative. These discussions almost always come back to questions about how this thing called a CMDB looks. How is it built? What tool(s) do I use? Which "database" is best? There are many more.

My first response is usually, "I hate the term CMDB, so let's try to kill it off in favor of the ITIL v3 notion of a CMS." If you pursue a CMS (configuration management system) as opposed to a CMDB, a few things become evident:

  • The CMS implies a distributed (federated) model consisting of many management data repositories (MDRs). Each of these MDRs hold data relevant to the scope of coverage for the tool that encompasses that MDR (e.g., a network discovery tool is a network domain MDR and an application dependency mapping tool is the key MDR for the application domain).
  • While a CMDB can certainly be formed in a similar federated fashion, the term "CMDB" has become tainted by the implication that it is a database. The natural assumption here is that this database is one big monolith that holds every detail being tracked. This is unwieldy at best and almost always destructive.
  • The CMS has a more complex structure, but because it enables a divide-and-conquer approach to the overall system, it is a more pragmatic approach. You can bite off each piece and gradually build out your CMS. A "big bang" is not needed and certainly not recommended.
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The Evolution Of Green IT: Key Takeaways For I&O Professionals From Interop Las Vegas 2010

Doug Washburn

The green IT track at Interop Las Vegas kicked off with a session from yours truly on “The Evolution Of Green IT: Projects That Cut Cost, Avoid Risk, And Grow Revenues” to help IT professionals plan for green IT’s current and future state, backed up with a number of real-life examples. Here are the key takeaways that I&O professionals should pay attention to:

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Key Takeaways From Interop Las Vegas 2010 For I&O Professionals

Doug Washburn

This week is Interop Las Vegas 2010, arguably the largest industry conference in North America targeting IT professionals. While the event has its roots in networking, today’s Interop has 13 tracks ranging from cloud computing and virtualization, to mobility and video conferencing, to governance, risk, and compliance. I’ve had the pleasure of chairing the data center and green IT tracks at the last three Interop Las Vegas and New York events.

Don’t have the opportunity to be at Interop in person? Forrester has you covered…

Fellow Forrester analyst, Rachel Dines, and I are onsite at Interop and we will be posting the key takeaways for IT Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) professionals here on Forrester’s I&O blog. We encourage you to check the blog over the next few days for Forrester’s insights on the following data center and green IT sessions:

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Why Will Consumers Pay More (For A Mac)?

JP Gownder

Product strategists struggle with the issue of value all the time: What constitutes a revenue-maximizing price for my product, given the audience I’m targeting, the competition I’m trying to beat, the channel for purchase, and the product’s overall value proposition?

There are tools like conjoint analysis that can help product strategists test price directly via consumer research. However, there’s a bigger strategic question in the background: How can companies create and sustain consistently higher prices than their key competitors over the long term?

The Mac represents a good case study for this business problem. Macs have long earned a premium over comparable Windows PCs. Though prices for Macs have come down over time, they remain relatively more expensive, on average, than Windows-based PCs. In fact, they’ve successfully cornered the market on higher-end PCs: According to companies that track the supply side, perhaps 90% of PCs that sold for over $1,000 in Q4, 2009 were Macs.

Macs share common characteristics with Windows PCs on the hardware front – ever since Apple switched to Intel processors about four years ago, they’ve had comparable physical elements. But the relative pricing for Macs has remained advantageous to Apple. At the same time, the Mac has gained market share and is bringing new consumers into the Mac family – for example, about half of consumers who bought their Mac in an Apple Store in Q1, 2010 were new to the Mac platform. So Apple is doing something right here – providing value to consumers to make them willing to pay more.

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IT Is Industrializing – What Does That Mean To Me?

Glenn O'Donnell

 

Like many movements before it, IT is rapidly evolving to an industrial model. A process or profession becomes industrialized when it matures from an art form to a widespread, repeatable function with predictable result and accelerated by technology to achieve far higher levels of productivity. Results must be deterministic (trustworthy) and execution must be fast and nimble, two related but different qualities. Customer satisfaction need not be addressed directly because reliability and speed result in lower costs and higher satisfaction.

IT should learn from agriculture and manufacturing, which have perfected industrialization. In agriculture, productivity is orders of magnitude better. Genetic engineering made crops resistant to pests and environmental extremes such as droughts while simultaneously improving consistency. The industrialized evolution of farming means we can feed an expanding population with fewer farmers. It has benefits in nearly every facet of agricultural production.

Manufacturing process improvements like the assembly line and just-in-time manufacturing combined with automation and statistical quality control to ensure that we can make products faster and more consistently, at a lower cost. Most of the products we use could not exist without an industrialized model.

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Introducing Forrester’s Hot Air Index: How IT Blowhards Are Offsetting Green IT Gains One Breath At A Time

Doug Washburn

Consider the following: AT&T expects to save $12 million per year and 123,000 tons of carbon emissions per year using 1E's PC power management software to turn off PCs at night. By turning up the temperature in the data center from 69°F to 74°F, KPMG realized a 12.7% reduction in cooling energy usage. And Citigroup expects to save $11 million and 3,000 tons of greenhouse gases annually by simply enabling duplex settings on printers and copiers.

How are they achieving this? Green IT. Even in the face of a weak economy, Green IT is on the rise with approximately 50% of organizations globally enacting or creating a green IT strategy plan. And don't be fooled: green IT is as much about the greenbacks as it is about reducing the environmental impact of operating IT and the business. In fact, financial motivation — not environmental motivation — is the driving force behind the pursuit of greener IT (see Forrester’s “Q&A: The Economics Of Green IT”).

But despite the optimism, IT “blowhards” across the globe are negating the carbon reduction benefits of green IT one breath at a time. While virtualizing servers or powering down your PCs will reduce energy spend and CO2 emissions, Forrester finds that these jabber mouths — speaking fast, loud, and out of turn using unnecessarily wordy vocabulary — are creating a zero sum game.

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Windows 7 Early Adopters Were Satisfied Upgraders

JP Gownder

We've just published two new reports concerning Windows 7 adoption and satisfaction, leveraging Forrester's Consumer Technographics(R) data. 

The reports show that Windows 7 penetrated the consciousness of the market by the end of 2009, with a strong majority of US consumers aware of the product.  We also found that consumers who adopted Windows 7 in Q4 were generally very satisfied with their Windows 7 PCs. 

Perhaps the most interesting finding of the reports involves upgrade behaviors. Historically, most consumers have not upgraded their PCs with new OSes -- though Mac users and some technophile consumers have been an exception on this count.  Instead, the majority of consumers have acquired new OSes when they purchase their new PC.  These are known as "replacement cycle upgrades." 

With Windows 7, however, upgrade behavior was much stronger.  Why?  In short, Windows 7 is a thinner client program than was Windows Vista, meaning that it works well on older hardware configurations.  In the past, OSes were designed with Moore's Law as an underlying assumption -- that is, that newer PC hardware would be significantly faster and more powerful than the previous generation's hardware. Windows 7, however, is a less burdensome OS than Windows Vista.  The rise of Netbooks, the physical assets of multi-PC households, and an attachment by many consumers to their Windows XP machines all contributed to the need for a sleeker, thinner Windows OS, which Windows 7 delivered. 

Among early adopters of Windows 7, in Q4, for the first time upgrading behavior matched replacement cycle purchasing, as this Figure shows:

 

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Now IBM’s getting serious about public IaaS

James Staten

IBM has been talking a good cloud game for the last year or so. They have clearly demonstrated that they understand what cloud computing is, what customers want from it and have put forth a variety of offerings and engagements to help customers head down this path – mostly through internal cloud and strategic rightsourcing options. But its public cloud efforts, outside of application hosting have been a bit of wait and see. Well the company is clearly getting its act together in the public cloud space with today’s announcement of the Smart Business Development and Test Cloud, a credible public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offering. This new service is an extension of its developerWorks platform and gives its users a virtual environment through which they can assemble, integrate and validate new applications. Pricing on the service is as you would expect from an IaaS offering (and free for a limited time). If you are testing with IBM software you can either bring your licenses or check out the equivalent instances from their service catalog. There’s even a new version of Rational Software Delivery Services for shops familiar with Jazz.

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IBM Is Innovating In Servers Again

James Staten

It’s good to see IBM has returned to the world of x86 server innovation with its latest eX5 line of servers announced this week.

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