Get Ready for Cloud-borne BI That’s Both Scalable and Free, Mostly

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Though traditional business intelligence (BI) players have been slow to adopt the cloud, they are moving in that direction with alacrity, targeting both departmental buyers and CxO decision makers.
  • BI solutions are beginning to combine a freemium data discovery and visualization user experience with pay-as-you-go data storage and processing, all delivered via the cloud.

The cloud reminds me of the sea. Not in the sense that it smells of brine and brims with mystery at what lies beneath those soothing waves, but rather in how the sea evolved into an economic engine, driving society forward through powerful but invisible trade routes. Like the sea, the cloud has evolved to carry commerce at scale. This is especially true with enterprise data and analytics. Only instead of mega-vessels carrying staggeringly massive numbers of shipping containers (think 18,500 of them on the Maersk Triple E class of ships), we have cloud platform providers like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon building mega-scale data repositories capable of storing, processing and carrying petabytes of information. Read more of this post

Preparing for Life Beyond Patch Tuesday with Windows Update for Business

Summary bullets:

• Microsoft’s Windows Update for Business will provide software updates for Windows 10 enterprise, end-user devices in a more fluid, flexible manner.

• Patch Tuesday isn’t ending tomorrow, but vulnerability management vendors should begin preparing now for Windows Update for Business, particularly in regard to system classification, distribution and auditing.

Microsoft last week introduced Windows Update for Business, a new software-update mechanism for its upcoming Windows 10 operating system.

With Windows Update for Business, Microsoft hopes to provide software updates for Windows 10 enterprise, end-user devices in a more fluid, flexible manner. Key features include distribution rings that will offer more flexibility regarding when and how quickly software updates are deployed. This includes maintenance windows to better align update distribution with mission-critical uptime requirements as well as other planned maintenance and configuration periods; peer-to-peer delivery to reduce bandwidth utilization at branch offices and remote sites; and integration with existing tools like System Center and Windows Server Update Services.

Despite the media hype that Windows Update for Business will end Patch Tuesday as we know it, this is far from the case.

First, the upcoming Windows 10 release will be client-only. The software giant typically releases both client and server versions together when debuting a new version of Windows, but Microsoft announced in January that the next version of Windows Server has been delayed until 2016. The initial Windows Server technical preview codenamed Windows Next released last fall included the underpinnings to support Windows Update for Business, but even early adopters are likely 18 months away from dealing with these changes; most Windows Server customers may be years away.

Additionally, this week’s announcement has no impact on legacy Windows clients and servers. It remains to be seen whether a more fluid update mechanism can or will be added to previous releases, but for now monthly bulletins will continue to be released on the second Tuesday of each month, and critical bulletins will be provided on an as-needed basis.

However, this announcement signals the beginning of a feeling-out period. Microsoft is clearly transitioning to a more rapid, iterative software update paradigm that isn’t tied to a monthly cycle. Over the long term, this is a good thing. Competitors like Google and Amazon Web Services have proven for years that rapid, iterative releases deliver security updates faster and just as smoothly as Microsoft’s monthly waterfall update cycle.

This transition period should serve as an opportunity for all Windows stakeholders. Microsoft, smartly, is formally soliciting feedback from enterprise customers regarding the development of Windows Update for Business via its Windows 10 Insider Program. Enterprise buyers may have a new incentive to not only accelerate their Windows 10 implementations, but also to begin the long-range planning process in regard to classifying client systems into update classes and aligning software update periods with business requirements.

Vulnerability management vendors should look to get out in front of these changes by assessing how their products align with Windows Update for Business, particularly in regard to system classification, distribution and auditing. Windows Update for Business will provide enterprises using Windows 10 with greater flexibility and an opportunity to align Windows software updates with other third-party software and system updates like never before. Doing so creates an opportunity for vulnerability management vendors to serve as that “single pane of glass” for Windows 10 organizations. While Patch Tuesday isn’t going away tomorrow, vendors should begin strategizing now for the implications of its slow but sure demise.

Eric Parizo is Senior Analyst, Enterprise Security in the Business Technology and Software group at Current Analysis. Contact him at eric.parizo@currentanalysis.com.

Networking Came to a Fork in the Road

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Dell is leading the competitive market in disaggregated switching with four switches and three (soon to be four) OSs supported.
  • Any networking vendor could equal Dell’s early lead in a few months, but catching up with Dell’s integration strategies will take longer.

While Cisco and VMware are squabbling over ACI and NSX and other networking vendors are trying to gain mind and market share with enterprise IT, Dell has taken a turn away from all of its competitors by committing its future data center switch lines to its ‘open networking’ (ON) strategy that may very well be a significant differentiator in the future. Read more of this post

Can Operators Monetize MEAP/MADP? Changes in the EMM Landscape Suggest Unresolved Issues

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • Three years ago MEAP/MADP services were a standard part of Tier 1 operators’ enterprise mobility offerings
  • Many report problems monetizing MEAPs, while others have disbanded them altogether

Current Analysis recently updated our bi-annual profiles of the global managed mobility services offered by U.S. and European operators. While burgeoning use of mobile applications in the business segment is a hot topic, it is not clear that the operators are faring that well as the providers of these applications, in spite of initiatives announced years ago to enable application development and back-end integration through mobile enterprise application platforms. The term “MEAP” is not used very widely any more in the application platform provider community, discarded in favor of mobile application development platforms (MADP); more importantly the market has evolved as cloud-enablement has spurred on “as a service” offers provided directly to enterprises rather than resold through the carrier channel. Mobile back-end as a service (MBaaS) from companies such as Kony and FeedHenry, and platform as a service (PaaS) offerings such as Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Red Hat OpenShift, and VMware vCloud Air are being adopted directly by businesses to allow them to develop business applications, to readily provide mobile access to these apps via the cloud or build native mobile B2B/B2C apps that may reside on the mobile device. Cloud-based app platforms are also leveraged by ITSPs such as IBM, Accenture, CSC, and HP to develop mobile apps for their business customers. PaaS provides opportunities for the ITSPs looking to support the infrastructure enterprises need to support agile and rapid mobile app development. At the same time pre-built mobile applications by companies such as SAP, and IBM together with Apple, are saving time and effort for operators, ITSPs and other channel partners, and enterprises themselves. Read more of this post

Instead of Waiting on Ideas Like IoT, How About Building the Internet of Data Today?

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • The vast amounts of data promised with big data efforts like IoT will greatly increase our ability for rapidly and correctly predicting the best way to run our businesses.
  • Yet, that’s nothing compared to the value currently locked away within closed data repositories. And it’s high time we opened those up.

Anyone familiar with the popular Waze mobile app (now owned by Google) understands the power of data not just collected, but data shared. Originally, this clever mobile app encouraged users to personally report on traffic loads, construction delays, even gas prices. The collective, net results were maps accessible to all Waze users, maps made more powerful and much more accurate through this shared data. Read more of this post

What Matters Most in Networking with Custom or Merchant Silicon

  • Mike Fratto

    Mike Fratto

    The debate over custom and merchant silicon is an old one, but it’s gaining steam driven by developments in software.

  • What matters to IT buyers is that the product provides adequate performance, and vendors using custom silicon need to make their case.

There is something of an intellectual debate occurring in networking over the need of custom versus merchant silicon. It’s not a particularly new debate, but the rise of white box switching, an ever increasing number of switching products coming to market using merchant silicon and the increased focus of software for both advanced features as well as tight integration with the rest of the environment is making the debate far more relevant. Read more of this post

Cloud Leaders’ Advanced Microservice Agendas Illustrate Importance of PaaS

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets:

  • Cloud leaders VMware and Microsoft separately announce new microservices including containerization management and orchestration.
  • Currently, there is no better example highlighting the importance of PaaS than microservices, given their ability to simplify and automate the ‘under the covers’ tasks of app development/management such as ensuring scalability of high-performance and/or high-demand applications.

Two cloud heavyweights, VMware and Microsoft, have introduced their microservice efforts, unveiling unique strategies aimed at offering enterprises scalable cloud services. Numerous application platform and cloud providers are racing to build out their microservice architectures which intercept SOA and API technologies, an approach which decomposes complex applications into independent processes exposed through APIs. Currently, there is no better example highlighting the importance of PaaS than microservices for their ability to simplify and automate the ‘under the covers’ tasks of app development/management such as ensuring scalability of high-performance and/or high-demand applications. Read more of this post

Shaping the IVR of the Future Will Require New Technology and Some Common Sense

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • As any customer service satisfaction survey will reveal, today’s interactive voice response (IVR) systems, which were designed to encourage self-service, cut costs and speed up interactions, are brimming with problems and often result in an increase in customer calls to live agents and diminished overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • While there has clearly been an increase in the technological tools and data applications available to boost IVR performance, it is also clear that common sense often remains the key missing ingredient in many implementations.

As I have discussed in previous blogs, despite the intent to make customer service faster and better, I believe IVR systems continue to cause more problems than they fix in today’s customer service marketplace. Without a doubt, they continue to be the source of a growing amount of frustration in the minds of the customers they were designed to help. While there is little doubt that the expanding set of technological advances ranging from the ubiquitous nature of cloud applications and services to the availability of big data analysis and context-related personalization will help, we should not overlook the benefits of common sense to improve customer service using today’s available tools and those yet to be introduced. Read more of this post

Coming Sooner or Later: The First Fully Virtualized Global Carrier

Brian Washburn

Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Can a startup build global WAN facilities using nothing but the cloud? It may be impractical, but economics are trending toward possible.
  • Despite serious roadblocks today, the idea of sourcing/scaling facilities on-demand, and using them on a pay-as-you-use basis, seems tempting.

As a thought exercise, imagine what network function virtualization (NFV) will look like when the technology reaches its theoretical end state. Instead of switch/routers running on purpose-built hardware, the routing function could run entirely on software in virtual machines. These virtual machines in turn run on generic high-performance computing platforms located in large regional data centers and strategically distributed worldwide. What’s more, those large regional data centers happen to have plenty of competitive fiber linking them. That means plenty of carrier competitors to offer commodity priced, flexible high-performance switched Ethernet connectivity between sites. The result is a completely virtual global WAN operator, one that can ramp up and tear down both router horsepower and corresponding capacity, based on customer need. There would be no networking sunk costs – the primary investment would be in orchestration software, and in operations support/billing systems. Read more of this post

Mobile App Framework Powerhouses, Adobe and Sencha, Take Two Different Marketing Approaches

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

• The red hot application development framework market continues to thrive with two major announcements this past week, both aimed at helping enterprises more quickly and efficiently tackle their backlog of mobile app development projects in an effort to transform businesses.

• Both Adobe and Sencha represent leading mobile development framework providers, catering to JavaScript developers, but each has taken a different tack in their product positioning. Sencha, speaking this week to hundreds of its loyal following of developers during SenchaCon, targets the sophisticated Web based developers with advanced tools, while Adobe is reshaping its authoring tools via marketer-oriented analytics to help business users deliver continuous mobile app content.

Adobe is leveraging its mobile services to go after marketer customers looking to build business opportunity, largely by leveraging authoring tools with analytics that help them understand and react to users’ buying habits. In a strategic move to remain competitive, Adobe has merged its application development framework with its MEAP/MADP technology under the wing of Adobe Digital Marketing, highlighting the importance of the business user needs in keeping mobile apps updated. Mobile Services, part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud, is a comprehensive mobile application lifecycle including app development and management technology as well as an ecosystem for partner technologies will enhance its overall offering. At the heart of the mobile services are Adobe Experience Manager Apps and Adobe PhoneGap Enterprise, Adobe Analytics (Mobile Apps and Adobe Target), and various app tools from partners.

Sencha completed the merging of two of its flagship app development tools into a unified platform that supports web-based app development for any device/screen. Sencha Web Application Lifecycle Management Platform extends web app development tools from desktop to mobile development, while addressing lifecycle management issues such as analytics and debugging. The company’s merging of its popular JavaScript web development framework, Sencha Ext JS v6 with Sencha Space management solution addresses key complexity issues involved in the front-end mobile app design, development, and deployment process. The move also helps Sencha gain the attention of CIOs and IT departments because the new platform, including application management capabilities, supports standardization of app development across all platforms throughout the enterprise.

Despite their different go-to-market methods, both companies agree that key to success is their ability to attract the attention of CIO/IT departments in a top-down approach, versus continuing to merely attract developers with best-of-breed tools and platforms through a bottoms-up approach.

As proof of this trend, last fall, all the major application platforms conferences featured announcements around application development frameworks, helping illustrate the importance of the role of front-end tools in helping enterprise developers create compelling applications that help transform their businesses and remain competitive. (Please see Next-gen Development Frameworks Drive Democratization of App Development, October 23, 2014).

Read more of this post

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