Monthly Archives: September 2010

A blog you should take a look at

Hi

Earlier this year I was very fortunate to spend an hour with James Staten from Forrester at a Conference in Washington. James spoke very eloquently about virtualization and the future of IT.

Since then I have followed his blog and today I pulled down a tremendously insightful post entitled Will IT Fall Beneath The Shadows? | Forrester Blogs.

If you look at this post you will see James describe something Forrester have been articulating for a while now called IT to BT ( Business Technology).

Bottom line according to Forrester is that  the IT to business relationship that works today will not work 5-10 years from now.

I suppose this is not a surprise but as I have been advocating to anyone who cares to listen, this transformation only works if the person has a conscious approach to their IT. If people are still in the ‘we have done IT for years’ and we know what we are doing and all this new stuff is not for us’ then it is likely that this IT to BT relationship will not be evident.

Now does this matter? Possibly not but there is evidence out there that suggests that the most successful companies’ are those that spend less on IT as a percentage of their overall revenue. I wager a bet that these companies have one thing in common – THEY ARE VERY CONSCIOUS ABOUT THEIR iT TO BT RELATIONSHIP.

Thanks James for the reminder.

cheers

paul.

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Is cloud just good for Public Relations? just like Y2k and Green were slated as being good for saving the world?

It got me thinking that for many years’ now we have had compelling events that have driven technology behaviour. Take Y2k. We all knew about the threats and awful damnation that would fall upon the world if we didnt fix our BIOS and date problem. Then there was Green computing. Driven by the threats of global warming, melting icecaps and freaky weather, we are all on a green journey.

But for some both Y2K and Green computing are at best just a PR exercise and lack any tangible business benefit. Sure both consume huge amounts of investment and are brilliant for vendors and suppliers, but for many, it is often a bucket of cash that is hard to demonstrate true value.

So does Cloud present a similar PR only situation? Many people will use cloud as a throw away comment such as ‘we are in the cloud’ or ‘we have a cloud strategy’. Yet they will say such things with little conviction and true cash investment. They may purely be saying this to satisfy shareholders or Annual Reports, and really do not have any realistic cloud strategy.

This could be interesting for people selling cloud therefore, I have talked many times on my blogs about how people selling cloud need to step up with their conversation. Cloud isn’t easy to describe sometimes, and knowing the difference between a PR discussion and a real discussion about business transformation and agility is paramount.

For example, people see cloud as a way to save operational and capital costs, yet still need to see what ‘it will look like when we get there’. They are saying effectively that even if cloud promises a number of benefits, there is still a way to go to actually ‘move into the cloud’. I suspect over time the groupings of people having a Cloud PR strategy and a Cloud FOr Real strategy will stabilise and those who aren’t ‘in the cloud’ will continue to manage their own infrastructures and focus on optimising what they have already got.

The great thing is that no one is an expert and only time will tell.

Paul.

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What is Platform As A Service – and it isn’t virtualization

Why this post? Well some people get confused and think that because they offer virtualised hosts, for people to run servers and applications with storage and networking, that this is Platform As a Service.

To be honest it isn’t a big deal other than the fact that when speaking to customers it can get confusing when you talk about something that isn,t strictly true. In my experience

Confused Customers Do Not Buy

and cloud is a topic that needs to be simply explained otherwise it will be complicated – and confusing.

So here are a few things to think about if you want to talk about Platform As a Service.

  • It is Middleware
  • It is the piece between Infrastructure As A Service (IaaS) and Platform As A Service (PaaS)
  • It is where the programming model and application architecture is defined
  • It is the defined by DBMS, ESBs, Portals, Messaging, BPM and other middleware technologies

If it were on premise then it would be delivered by vendors such as Oracle with Fusion, IBM, RedHat, SAP, Tibco and many others.

To an application ISV the Platform is vital. They have to find someway of converting their applications from single-tenant on-premises model to multi-tenant cloud model. This isn’t going to be easy nor cheap and I suspect for many ISVs cloud will not be viable.

The more strategically-thinking ISVs will turn to PaaS providers.  This is the same as the developers of new on-premises applications would use a third-party application server and other middleware rather than develop their own. 

So Google AppEngine, AMazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure may be the route for these ISVs to go along it at all. Of course SalesForce have been right out there for many years.

So stop thinking that because you can fire up an Oracle VM or a SQL VM for a customer to run their application in a hosting center is Platform As A Service. All you are doing is moving their server to your racks, virtualising them and looking after them. That is more Infrastructure As A Service if anything. There is a difference,

Cloud doesn’t mean you have to try and be all things to all men. Be good at what makes you money and stop confusing customers. You will be more successful with Cloud if you break it down into things you can do today. There is enough clouds to go round.!!

my rant is over for another day.

paul.

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What does CIO stand for?

Surely CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER.

Probably. But how about CHIEF INFRASTRUCTURE OPTIMIZATION OFFICER (CIOO).

Optimizing what a CIOO has it typically the fundamental reason for getting up in the morning. It is thing that ‘keeps a CIOO awake at night’ and it is thing that is sublimely present in all business case presentations and budget planning round. Doing more with less and maximising assets both technological and human are the paramount consideration.

Some CIOOs are very good at this and others arent. Some people talking to such people are equally very good and not.

Point made do you think?

Paul.

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The Gartner clock and the Dusk of Obsolescence

These guys are amazing. As if we need anymore indicators, hype cycles or demons in our head, they have come up with a way to measure the adoption of specific technologies as below which shows the IT Market Clock for client computing.  Can you not wait for the Dusk of Obsolescence? I cant. It sounds breathtaking.

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Now can you imagine a Clock for Cloud computing? I cant wait for that nor the Dusk of Obsolescence or the Dawn of Standards. I love it. Just got to get into the next conversation I have about cloud. Be warned!!!!!

Paul.

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How do we make IT decisions?

I decided to revisit a post I did a while ago mainly because I believe so strongly that people selling and buying technology need more help than ever in this aspect of technology today.

My approach to this subject is based on two fundamentals that you may say ‘so what Paul I knew that’. I hope you do in fact because it means you are way ahead of the game.

Firstly the Consciousness of the person making the decision is fundamental; I don’t mean whether they are awake but I mean whether they have a plan. Do they know what success looks like? Have they anticipated what they expect to see from deploying technology? Do they tell you or expect you to tell them? Can they write down what they want? Or do they simply say ‘you are the supplier so you tell me’ or ‘I cant tell you what success will look like but I just have to reduce IT spending by 20%’.

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I believe all decisions ( especially cloud based ones ) have the following four pillars or characteristics;

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I believe if you can structure your conversation in this manner it will give you context and a level playing field to tease out with a customer the relevant desired outcomes and will help you consider alternatives and different options. It will let you consider innovative ideas and stack up different options side by side, You can formalise this as well into a scorecard where you may feel one pillar takes priority over the other. So for example, security of data may be paramount because of legal restrictions around exporting data outside UK borders whilst the actual round trip performance of the application may be a nice to have.

The great bit about this approach if you are a consultant or sales guy is that you can build assessment techniques and questionnaires that you can go and down the discussion quite easily. So if you are speaking to an IT pro your questions will be very technically focused no doubt, whilst the discussion with a CFO or CIO may have a more business focus. This is OK because both discussions still need a framework and governance.

I have to mention cloud here. Too much noise about whether people will or will not jump into the cloud and not enough is spent on actually hepling them make an informed decision. Well I believe my simple MAPS approach will get the conversation off the ground and allow you to stack on cloud with the other options such as Doing Nothing, Doing it on premise or Some Form of Hybrid.

Good luck.

Paul.

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What happended to 3 screens and a cloud? Eh Microsoft.

Do you remember back in May 2009 when Ray Ozzie, the Microsoft Chief Technology Officer, coined the above phrase to talk about the paradigm shift in technology that cloud computing is delivering? No. Well here is a snippit of what he said back then….

Ray said “……. in order to get things going across the company you need meetings, you need to say things, say them again, and say them again. So we say three screens and a cloud, three screens and a cloud, three screens and a cloud, throughout the company. And what that means is everything we deliver, from a user experience perspective, will be – will have some aspect of its value delivered across the PC class of device, the phone class of device, and the TV class of device. Every one of them will have something, and all will be connected to the cloud. That will bring them all together.”

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The context of his statement was in a Churchill Club meeting back in June 2009, and he was referring to how the cloud message needed to be on the lips of all the people in Microsoft. The 3 screens comment was his way of making the message hit home, although he was clearly saying it wasnt going to be overnight success.

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/exec/ozzie/06-04-09ChurchillClub.mspx for the full extract

So I wonder what Ray says today, and do we think Microsoft employees really understand what he meant?

Off to use one of my three screens!!!!

paul.

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Tracking cloud performance is like trying to hold water

This is a bit unfair on the guys who produced what I’m about to show you but It did make me think that as cloud matures and the wealth of solutions and servicex grow exponentially each year, the task of tracking which vendor does what in cloud terms, is a little like trying to hold water in your hand – you hold some of it, but eventually it always drips onto your keyboard!

See what I mean.?

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Could you read that. It is a summary of a Cloud Computing Ecosystem Map and looks like this when blown up a bit.

No doubt the cloud catalog will mature and be of use to CIOs who want to look up the answer to their problems I’m not too sure personally but good work nonetheless by these guys. Thanks to Troy Angrinon for all this good work

Paul.

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Google Image Swirl

What the hell?

Not one to only bang on about Microsoft ( i try hard not to – honest ) I noticed this little nugget so I popped in the words Cloud Computing ( topical eh!) and this is what I got….basically it is a graphical rpresentation of all the images relating to the search term and lets you drill into each part of the wheel in quite a fun way.

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 Try it yourself at Google Image Swirl

 Paul.

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Business intelligence back in WWII

Strange one but I caught reading this in a magazine I picked up on my train home.

it seems during WW II to improve pilot survival rates, RAF research people kept careful records on all damage sustained to planes returning from combat flights. Thry tool this date and mapped it onto a model of a Spitfire to determine if there were specific parts of the plane targeted.

The BI showed them several locations were affected so they added additional armour but bizarrely, this esulted in more losses not few. Then a clever person looked at the raw information and spotted the flaw. It wasn’t the hole damage that was causing a lot of the losses, but the damage sustained in other locations that bought the planes down, Of course those planes had crashed and therefore there was no data to compile, so they moved the armour to places where the Spitfires did not have damage when they returned, and eureka! – they suffered fewer losses.

The point is that despite having raw data they didn’t solve the issue. As they analysed the data and applied more focus, they got business intelligence and made a startling discovery that saved lives!

Smart.

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