Facebook M, Proving That Smart Business Decisions Require Both People and Machines

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

• A new digital assistant from Facebook seeks differentiation from Apple Siri, Google Now and others through combined human- and AI-informed actions.
• Likewise, IT buyers considering the application of AI within big data projects should invest in people who know both data and the business itself.

Tucked away within the original run of 60s television series Star Trek (the one with Kirk, Spock and crew), there’s a gem of an episode entitled “City on the Edge of Forever,” which was written by noted science fiction author Harlan Ellison. In that episode, the Enterprise stumbles upon a mysterious, powerful, perhaps even omnipotent machine of sorts called The Guardian of Forever. When Kirk innocently asks his colleagues what it is, the mysterious, mechanistic entity that has the power (as we later discover) to reveal earth’s living past replies:

“A question! Since before your sun burned hot in space and before your race was born, I have awaited a question.”

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Google’s Alphabet Shakeup Is a Huge Improvement; I Don’t Like That

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • With Alphabet now holding the reins of Google, a more traditional, more focused vision should make products like Google Apps for Business more appropriate for the enterprise by introducing a more stable evolution of capabilities.
  • But, with a tighter focus within Google itself, will the industry lose out on what were frequently disruptive, sometimes crazy but quite often game-changing innovations from Google proper?

I’ve had some time to think about the recent corporate reorganization at the company formerly known as Google but now referred to as Alphabet, and while I was initially skeptical, I now truly believe that this move will make products like Google Apps for Business much more appealing to enterprise buyers. With high-value interests like Search, Android, YouTube, Apps, Maps, and Ads all housed within a single corporate entitle (Google), enterprises of all sizes (not just those within the long tail) will be able to look forward to many improvements such as a more consistent and transparent rate of innovation as well as improved cross product synergies… perhaps a [cough!] unified API. Read more of this post

No Access to the Executive Telepresence Suite? Try a Huddle Room Instead

Tim Banting

Tim Banting

Summary Bullets:

  • As teams become more geographically dispersed (and inclusive of customers, partners and external agencies), organizational requirements for ad-hoc meetings are increasing; consequently, this democratization of video is resulting in the redesign of the physical workspace.
  • To maximize productivity, small informal meeting places (known as “huddle rooms”) need to incorporate the right physical attributes (adaptable furniture, white boards, Internet access, power, etc.), hardware (screens, speaker phones, video cameras) and software.

It’s hard to deny that the modern workplace is changing. The place we work is more varied than it has ever been. We work in airport lounges, serviced offices, homes, customer sites and, of course, our offices. Offices, with their fixed spaces (such as large conferencing rooms and cube farms), oftentimes detract from a team’s ability to work productively. As the two biggest cost centers in most businesses are people and property, more forward-thinking organizations are starting to combine these two elements in a more strategic way to optimize both. Read more of this post

Docker Takes the Next Big Step in Hardening Its Container Ecosystem

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • Open source containers may actually live up to the hype of becoming a viable alternative technology for hosting distributed applications.
  • Docker’s container technology will only succeed if it continues to build out a similarly strengthened and reliable management framework equal or greater to that of existing application environments.

Many IT decisions for enterprises are heavily based on reliability. They have to be, because the typical enterprise customer doesn’t have the time, budget, staff, or patience to deal with the fiddly-bits of making a fledgling system run, especially if there’s a Tier 1 vendor solution already available that meets most of the criteria. This has always been the open source dilemma for enterprise IT managers; is it worth the risk of reaching for the shiny brass ring of low-cost open source software when it’s just as easy to stay safe on the vendor pony? Well, sometimes it is, and the brass ring of container technology is getting closer and closer at a surprising rate. Read more of this post

Commitment to Unified Open Source is Critical for OpenDaylight Success in Your Enterprise

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

• The temptation to modify open source software outside of a project is often well intentioned but brings a number of significant drawbacks.

• If you’re in enterprise IT, don’t buy products based on open source projects like OpenDaylight without a guarantee that the vendor won’t fork the code in the future.

In a strong rope, lots of underlying threads share a heavy load in the very same way that strong ideas form a great movement. Over the last few weeks, I’ve picked up on a couple of threads that I believe need to be at the core of the Open Source SDN implementations to insure the strength it really needs. At the OpenDaylight Summit, I had a chance to speak with a number of vendors about the future of OpenDaylight (ODL) and my desire to see every vendor making a controller based on ODL commit to not make any changes to the distribution that doesn’t come from the project. In other words, don’t fork the code because doing so presents a number of deleterious issues such as:

• Changes from outside the project make it more difficult for vendors because those changes may conflict or introduce new bugs with the updated ODL code

• Increasing the time it takes import changes from ODL into the forked code due to increased testing and validation

• Impacting integration from other products due to unexpected changes to the controller behavior

• No improvements to the overall health or functionality of the OpenDaylight code if changes aren’t up-streamed.

Colin Dixon, Chair of OpenDaylight’s Technical Steering Committee and a Principal Engineer at Brocade; and Devlin Avery, also from Brocade, spoke at length in Best Practices and Pitfalls for Building Products Out of OpenDaylight about the discipline needed to not clone and fork the code base. Brocade is demonstrating leadership in SDN by making a public commitment to not fork the Open Daylight code at all. It’s tempting for vendors to make changes that they think can be reverted later, but in reality, doing so instills bad habits and complicates their software development lifecycle. Perhaps more importantly it will create problems as the project matures and software vendors try to maintain consistent code bases that diverge more and more. There is also no guarantee that products that integrate with ODL will work properly against a forked version.

So you’re thinking, “Well, that’s great Mike, but what can I do to change this?” The answer is to speak with your wallet. At F5’s Agility 2015 conference, General Colin Powell (Ret.) gave the keynote. He’s an entertaining speaker and draws on his experience in the military and government work. Midway through his keynote, he expressed his frustration with the gridlock in Congress and made a pointed statement that while Congress is dysfunctional, it is we, the voting public, who put our representatives there, and we can vote them out as well. Changing Congress is hard, but this principle is actually easier to implement for enterprise IT.

When it comes to support for standards and open source software, you “vote” with your wallet. I don’t think there are many networking professionals evaluating ODL today that really want to be locked into a particular vendor’s product line, but once you buy into a fork of an open source software project that’s exactly what you’ve done and you will may well have signed on to have fewer timely updates and far less seamless integration in the future. Trust me, you don’t want that. The solution is to tell your networking vendors that are shipping software based on open source software that you don’t want forked code; and if they can’t deliver project-consistent code, you’ll be shopping elsewhere.

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The Shortage of Mobile/Cloud Developers Drives Low-Code and RAD Tools, as well as OSS

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:
• Future mobile acquisitions will be driven by pure plays involved with OSS ecosystems (e.g., HP/Stackato).

• Modern app developer shortage leads to less sophisticated toolsets aimed at helping traditional developers be productive in B2E app development.

Vendors of mobile app platforms and platform services are realizing an apparent shortage of mobile and cloud savvy developers. As a result, the industry can expect to see a number of initiatives and solutions rolling out over the next 12 months, based around mobile services, low-code, rapid app development tools, and open source code and toolsets.

A recap of recent events illustrating this growing trend (which were also covered by Current Analysis):

• HP’s acquisition of Stackato PaaS offering by partner ActiveState was largely driven by Stackato’s integration with the Docker ecosystem, including its native use of Docker as a container engine. Read more of this post

SDN Needs Just One Good Application

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • SDN needs new applications to make it relevant to enterprises and spur adoption.
  • Enterprises need to think of how a SDN can unlock new business and improve existing processes.

Gaining big benefits often comes with big disruptions, and that is true with SDN as with any other technology. One observation that struck me at both the OpenDaylight Summit and Open Networking Summit is that the potential for SDN is just starting to grow in the application space; and when it starts to pick up steam, the SDN movement will suddenly become very interesting for enterprises. Today, the SDN drivers for the enterprise are still relatively vague, only offering improved network automation and virtual machine movement. Microsoft has also been very aggressive in integrating Lync with traditional and SDN network products, which is also useful. These applications are beneficial, to be sure, but not too exciting. If SDN use cases just stayed at server virtualization support or incrementally better unified communications support, adoption would be slow and accretive. What will make SDN truly exciting are applications that enable new businesses and new capabilities. Two come to mind. Read more of this post

MEAP Leaders Repurpose Middleware as They Seek IoT Opportunity

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

• Mobile application platform providers target Internet of Things with middleware gateways, advanced APIs

• Red Hat leverages JBoss integration, messaging; while Kony taps MBaaS MobileFabric

Mobile app platform providers are quietly assembling IoT strategies and solutions, based on their flagship middleware technology, in hopes of providing an important middle tiered component between devices and data centers. Here’s a quick peek into the early IoT efforts of Red Hat and Kony.

Red Hat refers to that middle tiered component as the control tier or the gateway. These gateways handle the data pre-processing necessary to stream aggregated data sets; and real-time analytics for rapid insight into the data in order to trigger business rules which control the actions at the device. Included in Red Hat’s set of middleware IoT building blocks is its Data Grid in-memory computing technology, its FUSE integration technology, and its A-MQ messaging to support data transport. And though it’s not required, of course Red Hat claims the most optimal experience is achieved when combined with the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) operating system. Red Hat’s belief is that gateways provide the mechanism which allow the IoT to scale, solving latency problems between the device and the data center.

Red Hat does not offer a formalized IoT solution, rather it has assembled a set of building blocks based primarily on JBoss technology for enterprise customers building IoT solutions. The company has created a new subscription pricing tier to accompany these efforts, based on one to multiple workloads leveraging its gateways and RHEL. The pilot program is expected to be formalized within a year and I expect Red Hat will partner where necessary to fill technology gaps for issues such as systems level security.

Leading mobile app platform pure play Kony will leverage advanced API technology within its mobile app platform to connect to the slew of wearables hitting the market (think Apple Watch combined with Apple HealthKit). Like Red Hat, Kony sees its role as providing value around improving data streaming between the device and data center (i.e., at the event collection/orchestration level). Specifically, it is evolving its MBaaS technology, MobileFabric, to provide integration and messaging services to enable connection to the sensors used in wearable technology. (Please see Kony Addresses Agility, DevOps Concerns via API Management, Analytics, July 23, 2015).

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The Age of Attacktivism: It’s Here, and It’s Only Just Begun

Summary Bullets:

  • Recent attacks signal a new ‘attacktivism’ era, in which cyberattackers seek to destroy target businesses.
  • To survive an attack, at-risk enterprises must conduct advance cybersecurity, business continuity and disaster recovery planning.

Just a few months ago, the November 2014 cyberattack against Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) seemed like a one-of-a-kind event. This attack was perpetrated by an alleged state-sponsored group that gained unauthorized remote access to SPE’s computer network, obtaining and publicly releasing many terabytes worth of sensitive intellectual property, including executive emails, employee information, salary spreadsheets, sales tallies and even unreleased motion pictures. The attackers also used “wiper” malware to destroy more than 3,000 computers and 800 servers, a crippling move that placed SPE’s survival in jeopardy. Read more of this post

Gonna Carve Me a (Hybrid) Mountain

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • The hybrid cloud could benefit from a strong, open-source model upon which to base future development.
  • Projects of this magnitude depend on a clear vision that can be shared across large groups.

For the last few weeks I’ve been deeply involved in research regarding open-source cloud, and in so doing I ran across a quote from Jim Whitehurst of Red Hat that compared the challenges of OpenStack to those faced during the creation of the Interstate-90, way back in 1956. I know many of us weren’t around then, but his point was well taken, it was a massive undertaking that ultimately benefited the entire nation and it led me to considering other projects that could serve as a simile to the creation of an open cloud framework. The Hoover dam came to mind, as did the space program, but just as I was pondering this a TV show came on about the carving of Mount Rushmore. BINGO! GENIUS! Read more of this post

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