Archive | Cloud

What are the top cloud trends that will shape 2015?

APCloudI was asked by Atheneum Partners to write a piece for their global newsletter which goes out to over 75k registered users. The question I was posed was for my take on what are the top cloud trends that will shape 2015? The piece can be found on their site by clicking here but I have also copied in the text below:

The usage of cloud-based services continues to penetrate deeper in to the enterprise than ever before. The fear factors of security, data control, privacy and contractual exit strategies continue to be tempered by the virtues of cost savings, availability, speed to market and innovation.

If you are evaluating technology upgrades, replacements or acquisitions, 2015 is the year that cements cloud on the list of considerations.

I have detailed below in no order of importance what I think will be the main cloud focused trends in 2015 but I would love to hear what else you would add to the list?

Cost

Thanks to the price and feature wars between the biggest providers including AWS, Microsoft and Google the market is now more available than ever as organisations now look beyond raw infrastructure for value.

Hybrid Clouds

Gartner broadly defines hybrid clouds as the combination of two or more cloud services coming together to create a unified cloud experience. It can be a mix of private and public cloud services, but can also include combinations that are all public or all private.
In 2015 a blend of on-premise and cloud services is pretty normal but enterprises should adopt cloud services in a tactical way that ensure they’re getting the right match and secure model to suit the needs of their organisations. Hybrid cloud is the much-discussed direction that many organisations will ultimately follow.

Hybrid cloud management tools will improve and allow IT organisations to seamlessly administer and operate them securely.

Cloud Operating Models

As cloud services converge with social, mobile and information in what Gartner calls the. “Nexus of Forces”, organisations will need to start incorporating cloud operating behaviours in a platform for digital business.

Maturing and well-defined Cloud Market

The cloud marketplace has matured significantly and moved away from the free for all approach of the past couple of years. The global scale cloud providers such as AWS and Microsoft’s Azure will continue to operate at the high-end but there will be lots of smaller, more regional, industry focused custom providers to fill in the gaps around them.

Cloud Brokerages

There will be a rise of intermediation services that will seek to help organisations manage and integrate their cloud services. Organisations new to the cloud and those delving in to the hybrid approach will welcome such third-party providers and the niche skills they bring but will need to decide how much they cede control.

Enterprise Workloads Moving in to the Cloud

Amazon’s AWS has long been a go to choice for those offering online services but 2015 will see a greater enterprise adoption for not just AWS but Microsoft’s Azure and Google’s Compute Engine amongst others.

Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing and many enterprises will look to embrace all that it can offer.

Containers will gain momentum

Containers have helped solve many of the problems that the cloud poses for IT operations. Developers love containers but IT operations now need to be able to containerise different parts of an application, locate them in different types of cloud infrastructure, and manage them as discrete units whilst keeping the part acting as a whole.

Compliance and Regulations

As cloud platforms continue to mature, cloud is spurring interest from even those industries that have previously been hesitant. Think of those most beset with regulation, compliance and privacy: public sector, life sciences, financial and health care. Lots of cloud providers will take the necessary steps to receive appropriate industry certifications, creating more platforms designed to align to Sarbanes–Oxley and others.

Internet of Things

Interest in the Internet of Things will build throughout 2015. Positioning clouds and applications for it right now is difficult but if your organisation is moving in to this space you need to be prepared for how to capture and store the potentially large amounts of resulting data. Everything from orchestration to database management tools will need to evolve to better support this area.

Disaster Recovery

Traditionally this has been a problem area for IT but DRaaS enables you to address many previous problems such as testing, the high cost of installing a backup system and accurately mimicking potential issues. I think this will be a growth area in 2015.

With CIO’s under constant pressure to deliver innovation and business value whilst continuing to provide BAU services, they are always looking for new ways in which to achieve their goals. Cloud services have often provoked fear in many enterprises due to security, data and privacy issues but with the market rapidly maturing, costs falling, security and services improving could this be the year that cloud thrives?

0

Review of the Gartner Symposium European IT Expo 2013

Gartner 2013 SymposiumI attended the Gartner Symposium IT Expo 2013 in Barcelona last week along with 5000 others.
It was an intriguing event with lots of excellent speakers, sessions and content.

Some of the main themes being pushed out by Gartner were:

  • The Nexus of Forces: Social, Mobile, Cloud and Information – A nexus of converging forces is building upon and transforming user behaviour while creating new business opportunities
  • Master the six essential elements of a digital strategy – 60% of organisations report they have no effective digital strategy. As uncertainty recedes, the digital future emerges
  • The function of IT in business is changing and Gartner believes the best way to cope is to establish two-speed IT, where innovation can be separated from operational IT
  • Gartner describes three types of IT function: systems of record, systems of differentiation and systems of innovations
  • Innovation will require IT to become more agile and work differently, changing your primary suppliers and lots more partnering with smaller, leaner IT companies
  • The Internet of Everything – How the Internet of Things is reinventing industries and driving new usage and business models
  • CIO’s have to master power, manipulation and warfare – they must become comfortable with the idea of power, gathering it, and using it as an essential leadership tool
  • By 2017 smartphones will be smarter than people – not because of intrinsic value but because the cloud and the data stored in the cloud will provide them with the computational ability to make sense of the information they have so they appear smart

There were a couple of things, which caught my eye that I wanted to lift out:

IT Leadership Roles in 2020: The keynote at the Gartner Symposium IT Expo raised a number of interesting points but something that leapt out at me were the references to what IT leadership roles they see will be in play in 2020.
Interestingly and in a different twist to what others are saying, they see the CIO role continuing and the CDO role coming to an end having played its significant part.
They see the CDO role as a transformation and change agent who will lead the digital transformation and implementation of a digital leadership culture within the organisation between now and 2020 before bowing out gracefully with a job well done.
You can view a more in depth piece about this on my blog here.

Who Will Be Your Primary Suppliers in 2017? In confirmation of what I have noticed in recent months is a distinctive trend emerging whereby CIO’s are switching from larger, well-known suppliers to smaller vendors who are leaner and more agile.
This was backed up by the feedback in the sessions and the CIO’s who I spoke with at the Gartner Symposium IT Expo.
This is an interesting and positive trend as it allows the market to thrive with more up and coming vendors allowed to pitch for and win contracts by showing real innovation and enthusiasm to get the job done where they may have previously been frozen out at the RFP stages through staid supply chain processes.
To further highlight this shift, Gartner stated in their keynote session that their recent CIO survey showed that the majority of CIO’s would change their primary suppliers by 2017.
You can view a more in depth piece about this on my blog here.

The Gartner Symposium European IT Expo is a very worthwhile event for CIO’s and IT leaders to attend with excellent networking potential.
Couple this with a great location, excellent local restaurants and warm sun in November and you can see why it’s such a popular event.

This piece has also been posted on:
The Business Value Exchange in my position as CIO ‘Thought Leader’ and Featured Contributor

1

Flexible IT Systems – Building Systems that can Overlap Across Functions

My latest ‘CIO Thought Leadership’ piece entitled, ‘Flexible IT Systems – Building Systems that can Overlap Across Functions.’FlexITSys
This piece is available in the IT-Enabled Business Innovation topic section on The Business Value Exchange.
Read it here and get involved by leaving a comment.

0

The Top 10 Strategic CIO Issues For 2013

Perhaps no C-level position has undergone as many changes in expectations, approaches, and philosophies during the past few decades as that of the Chief Information Officer.

And the turbulent forces shaping businesses in today’s always-on global marketplace promise to accelerate that ongoing evolution. In that context, I’ve put together a list of what I believe will be the top priorities for strategic CIOs in the coming year.

As you’ll see, each of these 10 is rooted in change, and calls for the CIO to be a leader instead of a follower; a disrupter instead of a go-alonger; and a business-driven executive instead of a tech-focused manager.

Several themes reverberate throughout: analytics, breaking down silos, social, the cloud, and particularly customers, opportunities, growth, and innovation. I hope these prove helpful, and please share your feedback in the comments section below or on Twitter at @bobevansIT and @christianmcm.

1) Simplify IT and Transform Your Spending: Kick the 80/20 Budget Habit. While surely not as sexy as Social and Business Analytics and Cloud, this bold decision to take an entirely new approach to IT infrastructure is the one and only way CIOs can unlock the funding necessary to pursue those snazzier and unquestionably vital new initiatives. Far too many companies today find that they need to devote 70% or even 80% of their IT budget just to run and maintain what they’ve already got, leaving as little as 20% for innovation. And if you wonder sometimes why you’ve got precious little IT budget available to fund growth-oriented innovation, the answer becomes pretty clear by looking at the list of usual suspects that have brought us to this point: server sprawl, massively underutilized storage resources, unproductive data centers, labor-intensive integration requirements, and a near-endless list of “strategic” vendors. The IT policies of the past that resulted in the 80/20 trap are simply no longer able to meet the needs of today’s intensely demanding and always-on business world, and are indeed becoming liabilities not just because they’re inadequate but also because they suck up vast percentages of the IT budget and make it almost impossible for CIOs to fund essential new efforts in analytics or cloud or mobile or social. CIOs need to determine which vendors are only exacerbating this problem, and which ones offer modern alternatives that are cheaper, faster, and smarter. My POV: CEOs should tie most or all of the variable compensation for their CIOs to changing that deadly 80/20 budget ratio by 5 percentage points per year. The CIOs willing to tackle this huge issue will not only earn some nice bonus dollars but will unlock huge value for their companies as well as for their own careers.

2) Lead the Social Revolution: Drive the Social-Enabled Enterprise.When social media began to invade the corporate world some years back, the traditional border-collie behavior of many CIOs triggered immediate and unconditional opposition to social tools on the grounds of security challenges, lack of familiarity, and unproven value. As social’s ability to forge new and more-immediate relationships with customers became more clear, some CIOs grudgingly agreed to let down the drawbridge (but they drew the line at removing the alligators from the moat!). Today’s business-technology leaders must go well beyond that passive acceptance and become passionate and unconditional zealots for the social-driven revolution and its ability to help their companies grow by providing real-time customer insights, engagements, and processes. Beyond customers, the social revolution is also becoming indispensable internally for motivating existing employees and recruiting great new talent, and in forging deeper and more-valuable relationships with partners. My POV: CIOs who fight this trend will be pushed aside by CMOs and LOB heads who understand social’s potential and know they can’t compete unless that potential is harnessed by the company for competitive advantage. And what does “pushed aside” mean? At best, temporary embarrassment, and at worst, demotion or even unemployment.

3) Unleash Your Company’s Intelligence: Create the Enterprise-Wide Opportunity Chain. Building on but transcending existing notions of supply chain and demand chain and data warehouses and data marts, the Opportunity Chain transforms that internally oriented information into the customer-centric and growth-driven language of opportunity. New prospects, new market trends, new chances to engage, new insights for new products, new demographic patterns: information and insights about all of these probably exist somewhere within your corporate IT maze but are almost impossible to find because we cloak them in IT-specific terminology and then trap them in incompatible silos. But today’s new and always-on global marketplace requires new insights driven by the social revolution, and many of our old and trusty systems and approaches are simply not suited to the new realities demanded by our customers and by our times. In addition, the Opportunity Chain concept provides a market-facing framework and context for richly exploiting the potential of business analytics and Big Data. My POV: Whatever it’s called, this idea of the Opportunity Chain gives CIOs a fantastic, well, opportunity to drive high-value new information assets throughout the company and demonstrate again that when business technology is aggressively imagined and led, it drives growth and sparks new and deeper engagements with customers.

4) Embrace the Engagement Economy: Merge the Back Office and the Front Office into the Customer Office. One of the most-valuable perks of being a CIO is the ability to be involved with and understand not just some but all of a company’s end-to-end processes. From manufacturing to marketing, from procurement to product development, from finance to Facebook, the CIO and the business-technology team have tremendous insights into how a company’s operations, its priorities, its vulnerabilities, and its opportunities. So today, as our systems of record become systems of engagement, and as the social revolution opens up all facets of our enterprise to customer interactions as well as customer scrutiny, isn’t it time to bulldoze the internally constructed silos separating the folks that have traditionally touched the customer (the “front office”) with those that were never allowed to—or at least supposed to (the “back office”)? Shouldn’t we try to engage our customers in product development? Engineering? Service plans and operations? Marketing? Pricing options? My POV: While traditional systems reinforce the notion that only the privileged few get to interact with customers—and while that might be convenient for us internally—today’s socially powered consumers want access beyond the sales team. The question is, are you able—and willing—to grant that essential access?

5) Future-Proof Your IT Architecture. Think back just three years to the state of your business and the state of your IT strategy: the cloud was still mostly conceptual or isolated out on the fringes, social was a minor but persistent irritation, Big Data was mostly an egghead conversation and not likely to get beyond that, “engagement” was something you hoped your daughter would not get into with her goofy boyfriend, business analytics was all taken care of by a big team of specialists serving a small team of executives, and the iPad was still blessedly nothing but a rumor. The CFO badgered you every month about your endless demands for more real estate in which to put endlessly growing racks of servers requiring endlessly growing volumes of electricity and air conditioning, but what else could you do? The data explosion required a parallel explosion infrastructure growth, right? But the physics and the finances of such an approach no longer work, and the new business demands of today must surely be met with more-innovative tools tomorrow.My POV: Businesses need fresh thinking about the architecture of tomorrow because merely rehabbing or adding on to the existing plan will simply not meet the wildly different and more-demanding requirements of tomorrow. Cloud, social, mobile, engagement, Big Vision (formerly Big Data), and a greatly accelerated pace and scale of global business require modern apps, optimized systems, fault-tolerance, full support across cloud and on-premise and a mix of both, and built-in BI and social capabilities.

6) Upgrade “Cloud Strategy” to “Business Transformation Enabled by the Cloud.” Without question, CIOs must have detailed strategies and plans for cloud computing and many already have those in place (to those of you who don’t, well, did you ever get that high-school teaching certificate?). But the strategic CIO will use the next several months to collaborate with the CEO in upgrading that tech-centric plan into a broader vision for a sweeping business transformation of the entire enterprise. If you’re still viewing your cloud strategy based on a tech-driven plan written a year or two ago—before the ascendancy of social, customer engagement, Big Data, and business analytics—you’re going to miss the boat. My POV: Cloud projects will not be judged on their technical merits or on hitting their go-live dates, but rather by how deeply they impact essential business-transformation initiatives, and by how much business value and opportunity they unlocked. In the process, CIOs will segment themselves into two groups: IT leaders who focus solely on the tech aspects of cloud deployments, and business leaders who ensure that cloud projects are conceived and executed in the service of customers, business execution, and engagement.

7) Transform Big Data into Big Insights, Big Vision, and Big Opportunities. In the past year or so, much of the talk about Big Data has obscured the fact that the real issue is enabling intelligent and instantaneous analysis to provide optimal insights for business decisions. CIOs need to ensure they’re looking at these high-volume, high-velocity challenges in the right way: as business enablers, not tech projects. For example: What if you could enable dynamic pricing of your company’s products around the globe? What if you could perform fraud-detection analytics across all of your transactions in real time, instead of across just a random sampling of only a few percent of all those transactions? What if you could analyze three years’ worth of customer data in minutes, rather than only the past three months in hours? In the meantime, we can be certain that the scale and speed of this current challenge will only increase as CIOs must rapidly and seamlessly enhance their traditional corporate data with vast new streams of social and mobile data to realize the full potential of these strategic Big Opportunities.My POV: Some forecasts say the CMO will soon be calling the shots for IT; while I don’t buy into that, I do agree that CIOs who choose to sit back and wait for “the business” to tell them what to do will end up reporting to the CMO within a year or two. But companies will fare much better if their CIOs eagerly and rapidly begin framing Big Data challenges and opportunities in terms of customers, opportunities, revenue, and business value.

8) Preside over a Shotgun Wedding: Systems of Record Marry Systems of Engagement. Your traditional back-end systems might be sturdy and proven workhorses but they’re simply not equipped to handle the vast new streams of data and information from social, video, Customer Experience, and more. Conversely, while those new engagement tools and solutions are fabulous gateways into the real-time wants and needs of customers and employees, they lack the historical and institutional breadth and knowledge of your trusty ERP systems. The strategic CIO will find new approaches and/or solutions to rapidly and seamlessly tie these separate worlds together. This strategic integration will become the cornerstone of the Opportunity Chain described above in #3, and also of the consolidation of the archaic front office and back office into the modern Customer Office as described in #4. My POV: This union of social/mobile with transactional capabilities will give companies a new way to move at the speed of their customers, new methods for engaging with customers to build multifaceted relationships rather than linear transactions, and the ability to avoid getting stuck in the tar pit of siloed systems designed to meet internal requirements rather than enable the co-creation of value with customers.

9) Lead with Speed: CIO as Chief Acceleration Officer. I first suggested this aspirational model about 18 months ago when I wrote the following http://www.informationweek.com/global-cio/interviews/global-cio-my-farewell-column-10-big-thi/229300888?pgno=2  ,  and the rationale for the CIO to function as chief corporate accelerant is even more true today: “If you could promise your CEO that you could shorten product-development times, reduce days-of-inventory turns, accelerate deliveries to customers, cut or eliminate the wait-times customers endure on your support lines, and shorten your order-to-cash cycle, is there a CEO on planet Earth who wouldn’t idolize you? So why not embrace that as a new mission for your IT organization and think of what you do as being the Chief Acceleration Officer, the exec who leads the company’s efforts to do everything it does not just better but faster? Give the gift of speed, and see if anyone in your company or among your customers wants to return it.” My POV: While I’m surely not proposing that title as an official thing, businesses in every industry will find in 2013 that, more than ever before, speed kills—the only question will be whether your company’s going to be the victim or the perp.

10) Bend the Value Curve: More Innovation, Less Integration. For the past 30 or so years, tech vendors have generally introduced streams of new products that were not only increasingly more powerful and capable, but also increasingly more complex, requiring ever-greater volumes of integration, testing, tuning, modifying, patching, upgrading, monitoring, etc., etc. Back when viable alternatives weren’t available, that was an okay model—IT teams specialized in stringing together piece-parts from hundreds of vendors and somehow managed to figure out ways to make it all work together. But today, that model is ready to begin making the transition over to the Computer Museum. Customer-side CEOs in particular are growing increasingly fed up with the apparent black arts of IT operations that require larger and larger budgets without predictably delivering more and more business value. For CIOs, the answer is simple—not easy, but simple: they need to begin rapidly withdrawing themselves and their business-technology teams from the integration business and begin devoting more and more of their time to growth-oriented and customer-centric innovation. In the past few years, a handful of IT vendors have begun offering a new breed of engineered systems or optimized systems designed to offer pre-bundled and pre-tested purpose-built machines that free customers from the drudgery of endless integration busywork. Oracle led the way at the high end with Exadata, Exalytics, and Exalogic, and Apple’s iPhone is on its way to becoming a $100-billion example of the core concept: more innovation and less innovation. IBM followed Oracle’s lead a few months back with its Pure Systems, and even Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in introducing the new Surface tablet, said it was time for Microsoft to try to optimize the hardware/software interactions.My POV: While not the answer (yet) for every question, engineered systems give strategic CIOs considerable latitude to devote more people and energy toward innovative customer-facing initiatives, and simultaneously alleviate the need for CIOs to pour so many budget dollars into low-value integration work that generates little or no competitive advantage.

So there’s my list of priorities for the strategic CIO—how about sharing yours, along with your feedback on the list above?

Authored by and reproduced with full permission of Bob Evans, Senior Vice President, Communications at Oracle

3

Doing more for less

get-more-for-lessWe all think we are saving costs, pushing new projects back and pruning the odd budget code here and there.

But are we really saving money and providing the best possible service?

As all of us have had to during the recent downturn, explored all of our outgoings and slashed our costs bases both where we needed to and where we were told (a story for another day…).

But are we really looking to add real innovation and projects that provide real ROI to the whole business or just thinking about our own cost bases?

Do you continue to carry on as normal, having accepted the market conditions that have affected everyone or do you think about your contribution and how you can add more value for less money.

To perform a real roots and branch review takes courage and adds a degree of transparency to the IT department; both of which are something an IT Director would normally like to leave well alone.

But this is a time when something really must be done, both to show the rest of the business that IT is really an integral part of it beyond mere statements and to add real value whilst spending less.

Not possible I hear you say but if you actually start with taking away the projects you think the business needs as well as the time/resource trying to tell them so and actually engage with them, you can start working with them on delivering projects that make a real difference as well as sharing the costs and resources.

I know this may already have your palms sweating and thinking that its easy for him to say as he doesn’t know my company, but working together more often (other than agreeing to and never doing so over that late night drink at the 2-day senior management offsite or flashing a forced smile at them at a board meeting when given ‘friendly’ feedback) will become easier and even rewarding over time.

In fact, rather than an IT presentation becoming target practice for disgruntled peers taking pot-shots over project delays or regaling you for not understanding what they really want, you may start to procure positive engagement from them once you start listening to their real issues.

Now, these projects could range from collaboration on systems such as replacing the creaking CRM tool or better empowering the Intranet that nobody seems to use except the CEO for broadcasting their message to the company or for looking up extension numbers….

There are a number of obvious areas right away to look at for where you can save costs and seek to improve service levels such as how you are providing internal desktop support, vendor pricing/contracts, software development or network provision.
Are you really providing these services as best you can or just holding on to them, as you don’t want to relinquish any of your ‘power’ bases?
Are the teams you have working on them the best available or what you can afford?
When you negotiate new vendor contracts, do you squeeze the best out of them regarding service provision or cost?
Are you courting new suppliers or just staying with your current ones you’ve been using for years as they ‘know you’ and are already offering you their best pricing options……cough?

The size of your operation doesn’t really matter here, obviously the larger you are the more money you can save but cutting fractions from the smaller operations all add up to something whole that will not only please you but may also mean that monthly meeting with the finance team will be a far more pleasant experience each month.

Of primary importance is the need to engage your own team(s) in this roots and branch review and make sure all of them are as focused on doing this as you are.
Having your own people switched on and fully engaged in this is vital and will allow real collaboration both internally and externally facing when getting the message across.

There is always overlap in your own areas you already know of but this type of review brings to light those grubby little things that always need to get done but are often overlooked and never looked at with a more meaningful eye.
Often when these smaller issues are reviewed, they naturally lead in to larger discussions on how they can be improved or even eradicated.
These are normally reviewed with much gnashing of teeth but are often the stepping-stones up to allow you to look over the wall to a brighter future!

More often than not, there are manual interventions that keep systems running such as the stored procedure that ‘Steve’ in IT Support runs every Thursday morning which updates the invoice tables in your finance system (something the new vendor told you would be fixed if you chose their system but obviously never was despite an extra couple of consultancy days and a looming maintenance release….).

These little interventions that provide the knitting between systems often cause the most angst between IT and the rest of the business.
They are typically the first thing mentioned in monthly meetings and are the gremlins that eschew system reporting across the business.

Naturally, is it time to look at outsourcing, offshoring etc.?
Most of the time, outsourcing any or all of these services will provide a better service at a lower cost than you are currently managing in servicing it yourself.
Also, throw in 24x7x365 support across the piece and being woken up in the night or being hassled first thing in the morning by foreign support issues will start to fade away with a happier user experience had all round.

This may be a scary step for those that haven’t done it but do you really want to control every flashing light in the business or make a real contribution to its future?

With the advent of cloud computing, some of the management and operational control of systems will naturally flow in to the business.
You won’t be needed for aspects of change control, permissions requests, report creation or extra disk space but will you miss this?
This is something that needs to be embraced but doesn’t mean control is ceded but shared as you will naturally be involved on an advisory basis.
You are a trusted advisor to your business and rather than regale them on moving to a cloud solution, get on board and help them out as they will need you more than you think.

You will find that the business and peers will in fact respect you for even performing this roots and branch review, as all senior people know how tough it is to do so.

I truly believe that not only providing more for less cost is possible but the business will be able to recycle the cost in to providing more meaningful services and hopefully propelling you towards a rightful seat at the top table (or adding a more comfortable cushion on to your seat if already there).

Some may say that IT is dying, which is far from happening but it is the start of another cycle in technology where cost and results are more prevalent than ever.
IT Directors are no longer able to stay in the shadows and hope the market picks up around them but rather it is time for them to step out into the sunlight and lead the way.
You never know, it could be exactly what you have been waiting for.

Good luck and let me know how you get on.

 

4