MWC16: Be Careful What You Wish For

Summary Bullets:

• The security versus privacy security is a growing threat to mobile operators, so they need to enter the debate to ensure customers continue to trust them.

• Success may be an even more pernicious problem, but the industry is showing its mettle in finding solutions.

As you read this, the madness and mayhem of MWC16 is winding down. But one of the key debates that will shape the future of the industry was taking place in the US between Apple, Google and Facebook, and the FBI. The issue is the balance between public security and personal privacy. Read more of this post

It Takes More Than Technology to Knock Down a Silo

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • The IT industry needs to acknowledge that institutional silos are a human construct rather than specifically a technology problem and realize that technology isn’t always the solution for purely human-based challenges.
  • To actually banish silos, a company needs to evolve its management philosophy and change its corporate culture from adversarial to cooperative, so that managers are no longer forced into wasteful turf wars over budgets and resources.

Many vendors are still using the ‘break down the IT silos’ message to sell their convergence message. Silos are not a new idea – I first learned of them over 20 years ago – and I believe they are not necessarily a byproduct of technology. Silos develop in every corporate environment through a combination of groups that are tasked with substantially different missions and driven by the competitive forces of budgeting, corporate power, bragging rights and other territorial pressures. It is a very human condition, and as such not a problem likely to be solved by technology. 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

Attack and Defense Together Drive Enterprise Analytics Strategies

Jerry Caron

Jerry Caron

Summary Bullets:

• The motivation for high levels of data and analytics initiatives may be as much about worry over the implications as it is about innovative differentiation.

• The demand for better business-grade data to drive insightful analytics will merge with the capabilities being developed by suppliers to create a very important and exciting era of strategic IT.

Organizations of all sizes and types are preparing themselves for a new wave of strategic IT initiatives driven by big data and analytics—quite often linked to Internet of Things (IoT) programs—according to a recent Current Analysis global study. But to be fair, the motivation for this high level of engagement may be as much about worry over the implications of such programs as it is about innovative differentiation.

The capability for organizations to utilize big data to improve or transform business processes more easily is one of the most significant IT-related developments in at least the past decade. Analyzing and acting on customer or process information is not at all new, of course. What is new, however, is the emerging capability to analyze unthinkably large stores of data, very quickly, and in easily-understood visualizations that can either inform decision-making in near real-time, or indeed fuel automated process enhancements and tactical actions.

The potential power of enterprise data and analytics is as daunting as it is impressive. It can enable everything from rather mundane process enhancements that improve profitability, to vastly higher rates of customer satisfaction, to entirely new business models that disrupt conventional business practices to their core. All of these outcomes and more have business executives at the highest levels paying close attention. The recent Current Analysis Enterprise Investment Plans study shows that while over 20% of enterprises are actively pursuing analytics projects, the vast majority—59%—are considering an analytics project in the next 12 months. That means lots of companies are currently in the stage of thinking about what to do.

Much of IT is about enabling or improving processes. Strategic IT, however, builds and drives organizations to entirely new business models or new levels of competitive differentiation. Like web commerce previously, data and analytics is one such strategic IT opportunity. What is interesting to note about the high numbers of organizations still thinking about what to do is that it implies indecision. That itself can be interpreted in two ways: the thinking about analytics is either an offensive strategy with careful assessment about how to attack the market with a clearly differentiated proposition, or it is defensive maneuvering to avoid being blindsided by competitors.

I suspect it is mostly the latter, if only because the tools to democratize analytics, as my colleague Brad Shimmin puts it, are taking shape just now. Whether driven by offense or defense, the demand for better business-grade data and analytics will merge with the capabilities being developed by suppliers to create a very important and exciting era of strategic IT.

Read more of this post

UCaaS Market Dynamics in Asia-Pacific

ITCB-HarishTaoriSummary Bullets:

  • Cloud-based products and services are the most important priority for APAC enterprises, where they are currently investing or plan to invest in the next 12-24 months.
  • Service providers (SPs) with integration capabilities and the ability to federate across unified communications (UC) platforms may have a competitive edge with their UCaaS offerings.

Current Analysis’ 2014 Enterprise Investment Plans Survey highlighted that workloads such as e-mail/calendar, UC and productivity applications are the first to move to cloud. Furthermore, many enterprises appear open to using UC running on public cloud services – good news for major providers such as Microsoft, Google and AWS. A high proportion of enterprises already use some collaboration services such as audio and web conferencing; cloud-hosted contact center and video collaboration are among the most anticipated investments in the next 12 months. Read more of this post

Stop the Budgeting Madness

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • It’s almost a universal tradition that at the end of every year, there’s a scramble to spend departmental budgets to ensure that the funds will be available for the following year.
  • Returning thoughtfully planned, but eventually unspent funds shouldn’t be punished by reducing budget requests for the following year.

One of the most wasteful practices that I recall from my corporate years was the rush spending that always occurred at the end of the year to ‘ensure’ our budget requests for the next year weren’t cut. It was the biggest and silliest non-secret that I had ever run into at the time, but the truth was always there: if you don’t use it, you lose it AND next year’s budget will be reduced. Everybody knew that this practice went on, year after year, because (for whatever reason) there was this basic presumption that if you could return money at the end of the year, then you just wouldn’t need it the following year. This was true of capital budgets, supply budgets, and perhaps most difficult of all, maintenance budgets. As a manager, I always worked towards a truthful representation of the financial needs of my department at budget time, but I was amazed to learn that it was just a given that you HAD to pad it out to cover unforeseen problems as well as ensure that there was room for some discretionary spending throughout the year. Read more of this post

The Old Guard: Out of the Frying Pan and into the Frying Pan

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • The decision for HP to split into separate consumer and enterprise companies is long overdue, and done correctly it will allow both siblings to be more responsive to their respective markets.
  • By shedding low-margin business units IBM is doing the right things to allow them to continue as innovators without bogging themselves down with manufacturing considerations.

No other industry moves as fast as IT, and every vendor faces the challenge of evolving to remain current with the changing nature of this business. But the challenges for old-school industry stalwarts like IBM and HP are a little different, in part because they’re still simply perceived as “old-school” (irony intended), plus they have a legacy of products that they must continue to sell and support. Does this mean I give them a pass on everything they do? Not on your life – but I certainly admire the commitment it takes to recognize their own weaknesses and make the tough choices. Read more of this post

Verizon – Striving to Enhance Its Edge in ICT Solutions

ITCB-HarishTaoriSummary Bullets:

  • Verizon has brought a management team from SIs and IT hardware/software vendors on board to help expedite its transformation to an ICT solutions provider.
  • Verizon has refined and enhanced its focus on enterprise cloud, IoT/M2M solutions, enterprise mobility and UcaaS, with security being the core of the network.

Verizon held its annual global analyst event this year in Boston, MA. This blog post summarizes some of the key takeaways and assesses the implications on the industry as well as enterprise buyers. Read more of this post

The OpenPOWER Initiative May Actually Chart a Smarter Path for 64-Bit Computing

Steven Hill

Steven Hill

Summary Bullets:

  • The truly open development environment offered by the OpenPOWER Foundation makes the high-performance POWER platform much more accessible and will benefit from the input of participants from all facets of the system design community.
  • The high cost of midrange systems have always restricted them to high-performance, high availability tasks; but IBM’s program opening up the POWER processor platform to the world could usher in the next generation of affordable 64-bit computing options.

Open is an extremely overused word these days. In the world of cloud in which we live, the primary buzzword is always “open” with everyone falling over one and another to prove just how open they are. But there’s open and then there’s OPEN, as evidenced by IBM’s creation and ongoing support of the OpenPOWER Foundation. Now I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve become wary of vendor claims to “openness”, it usually means “we’ll expose our API’s so YOU can work with US”, but in the case of the POWER processor platform IBM has pulled out all the stops. As a member of OpenPOWER, you can get access to everything—blueprints, code—anything you want going back as far as you want, plus participation in a completely collaborative environment designed to inspire and embrace outside participation. Too good to be true? Not at all, and over 60 companies have signed on as partners so far, with hopefully more to follow. Read more of this post

VMware Doesn’t Make Many Mistakes, but It Is with Respect to Physical Networking

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • VMware dismisses physical networking as a mere forwarding plane, ignoring the benefits of integration.
  • If that observation is inaccurate, then VMware needs to address its messaging on the importance of physical networking.

Fresh off VMworld 2014, I came away with the very distinct impression that the company – not any specific individuals – is quite dismissive of physical networking, to the point where it is detrimental to its own success. While I continue to be impressed at how well the company develops new products, maintains a practical engineering focus, and seems to handle partner co-opetition with aplomb, it is also making a rather big mistake with ignoring the importance of integration with the physical network. Read more of this post