As I’ve stated previously on this blog, public-sector technology stories hold particular resonance for me, given my background in community journalism. And, as my colleagues and I gear up for some increased cloud computing coverage, Karen Wilkinson’s posting on the Government Technology Web site about cloud computing in the public sector grabbed my attention.
Utah CIO Steve Fletcher, who pushed the state into starting a private cloud for e-mail and Web applications, said that agencies should consider four main points before pursuing cloud applications:
- Data ownership
- Disaster recovery
When it comes to the cloud, officials often have a lot of compliance-related concerns. For example, officials in Los Angeles considering whether to switch email services to Google’s Gmail asked who would be able to see the information transferred via the new service. To resolve the concern, the contract clearly stipulates that Google employees cannot read the e-mails they manage, said Kevin Crawford, assistant general manager of L.A.’s Information Technology Agency.
A lot of organizations turn to cloud applications to achieve cost savings or to move on from out-of-date legacy systems, but public agencies need to be especially patient about achieving ROI. Success is often measured in terms of more efficient internal operations that lead to smoother interactions between the public and the agencies, not only in dollars and cents, Crawford believes.
With the market saturated with cloud computing platforms and services, it was inevitable that another crop of vendors would emerge to help enterprises make sense of it all.
I’m talking about the cloud management providers clamoring for market attention.
Perhaps these cloud computing management players will get the attention of CIOs with their niche approaches:
Univa UD Inc. has a service that handles configuration management of Oracle’s E-Business Suite in a cloud environment.
Tap In Systems Inc. monitors applications in Amazon’s cloud.
Cloud Sherpas helps enterprises create and manage their Google cloud environments.
In the meantime, large systems management vendors (CA, IBM, HP, BMC) are also making moves to fold the cloud into their all-encompassing infrastructure management play.
CA last month bought cloud player 3tera, and before that Cassat and NetQoS. Also last month, IBM acquired network automation software vendor Intellident, which has a cloud-based tool that monitors network device configurations.
And this doesn’t include all the acquisitions and new product developments under way at the big vendors to build their own cloud computing platforms and services.
There’s the IBM Cloud and HP Cloud Assure. And these vendors’ services already include cloud computing management such as BMC’s Business Service Management platform and CA’s public- and private-cloud resource management services.
I can see why CIOs might be interested in some of the cloud management tools. The cloud entails a new IT governance strategy down to capacity management and even figuring out what applications are on all those VMs out there. And for that matter, where those VMs are exactly.
But it will be interesting to see which of these niche players and startups will become part of the big management machine at an IBM or BMC. And whether enterprises that are deciding to outsource their infrastructure or applications to a cloud provider would go with a startup or stick with the vendors they know to help manage it.
Which route will you take? Let me know at email@example.com.
Happy soggy Monday from the rain-soaked East Coast! We’ve had a pretty easy winter so far, but these April showers sure are coming early and strong.
So, I’ve seen a lot in the mainstream media this week about FourSquare and other technology services that allow you to tell people where you are. Last week, Twitter also began asking me if I’d like to include my location with my Tweets. I don’t have a big desire to tell people where I am 24-7, but maybe there’s more to it than that. So what is Foursquare’s appeal? If you’re signed up for FourSquare, I’m interested in hearing about why you use it.
And wherever you’re checking in from, please take a peek at this past week’s stories from SearchCIO.com:
Balanced scorecard founder on the business value of IT – Balanced scorecard framework co-developer Robert Kaplan discusses IT strategy and the ways CIOs can demonstrate the business value of IT.
Balanced scorecard author talks agile business and risk management – In part 2 of our Q&A, Kaplan talks about agile business, risk management and predictive analysis.
IT service provider consolidation tips: A CIO talks vendor management — IT service provider consolidation can simplify enterprise IT vendor-management strategies, says our CIO columnist Niel Nickolaisen. Learn his tips for categorizing IT services and acing vendor consolidation.
IT infrastructure outsourcing, multisourcing boosted by ITIL framework — IT infrastructure outsourcing and multisourcing benefit when enterprise and vendor have a strong IT Infrastructure Library framework. Learn how consumer-products giant Proctor & Gamble Co. aligned IT outsourcing and ITIL.
I haven’t tackled IT Infrastructure Library as a topic in the forefront of any stories of late, but that changed this week as I researched my piece on IT infrastructure outsourcing and how a strong ITIL framework can advance vendor selection, particularly when a company is multisourcing.
I couldn’t fit everything I learned into this story. For instance, a Forrester Research Inc. phone survey last year asked 56 global infrastructure outsourcing clients for their opinion about their sourcing deal’s implementation, account management implementation and service delivery quality, and about their general satisfaction. The survey found that “a key differentiator for global IT infrastructure service providers is the ability to consistently implement technical and business change in a complex outsourcing deal.” This was especially true, clients said, in a recessionary environment.
And although they were generally satisfied, especially with their service providers’ technical delivery capabilities, the clients interviewed said they were less satisfied with their providers’ account and relationship management practices.
In my story, Daryl Goetz, Procter & Gamble Co.’s global IT Service Management (ITSM)/ITIL manager, pointed out that one reason his company chose to go with Hewlett-Packard Co. in its initial large-scale IT outsourcing deal in 2003 was that they both were ITIL-aligned shops at similar levels of maturity — meaning that they already operated with many of the same IT processes in place, long before they became business partners. Clearly, that was key to the early success of this outsourcing deal.
If I’d delved deeper (and I still might), I would have asked Goetz how he determined that Procter & Gamble and HP had achieved equivalent levels of ITIL maturity. Does that mean they used exactly the same process methodologies? How do you create and assess your ITIL “culture”? Beyond the benefits it provides to an IT infrastructure outsourcing relationship, how does an ITIL framework help organizations increase efficiencies and save money without cutting corners?
I’m on the hunt for good ITIL-related questions (and answers!) such as these as I learn more about this topic. Leave a comment below, e-mail me or direct-message me on Twitter at @rlebeaux if you have suggestions.
I recently spoke with Robert Kaplan, author of the Balanced Scorecard, about how he would revise his framework given the economic meltdown in the last few years.
The addition he would make is a risk scorecard that is equally important as the business strategy scorecard, and he would advise companies to stress test their IT strategies.
This made me wonder how CIOs should be stress testing their IT strategies, and if they have people in place paying attention to market shifts that could impact the ability of IT to support changing business needs.
There are a lot of what-if scenarios that financial institutions failed to consider. For example, many banks didn’t have a what-if scenario in place for declining housing prices, or a flat-out housing market bust, and the impact that would have on their asset holdings, Kaplan said. It’s not that they didn’t see the signs that the housing market was heading south — they just didn’t have a plan in place to account for that scenario.
And the banks had plenty of models and software in place, but they didn’t have people dedicated to identifying what-if scenarios as the markets began to shift and customer needs changed.
“I don’t think it was a lack so much in software, but a lack of imagination. Maybe [the banks] didn’t want to think that the good times had a possibility of ending,” Kaplan said.
CIOs have seen their share of good times coming to a close, between this recession and the dot-com bubble bursting. But I don’t really hear much about CIOs stress testing IT strategies. What you mostly hear about is stress testing as it applies to security or network and application performance.
What if your outsourcing provider goes out of business? What if the business decides to discontinue a product line or introduce a new supply channel? What if you have to cut your staff in half — what happens then to your project queue? These are but a few what-if scenarios that could derail IT strategies.
Kaplan also shared his thoughts on how IT can help the business measure the value of IT investments and how CIOs can make IT more valuable to the business. A key way to elevate IT strategies with the business is to embed IT in a business product or service, akin to the FedEx tracking model, he said.
I’m back from a couple of days off in Los Angeles – my first trip to southern California, and a well-timed one as I got to witness some of the pre-Oscar hoopla for myself. Now, it’s back to the office to catch up on e-mails, blogs, Tweets and the latest tech news.
Last week, during the commercial breaks for “Lost,” some friends and I compared pros and cons of our Web browsers, including Google Chrome, Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. (I’m a Google Chrome convert, in case you’re wondering, though I’ve been told I should give Opera a try.) So I read, with interest, this New York Times article on Web browser wars, ie, how Microsoft might be shooting itself in the foot by providing a “choice screen” in Windows-equipped computers in Europe that displays links to dozens of Web browsers, including its top competitors.
And did you catch the first iPad ad during the Oscars last night? If you missed it (as I did), you can watch the iPad ad here. It’s funny how little actual typing is demonstrated in the ad, as I think one of the most appealing aspects of the iPad is the larger keyboard, which will presumably allow for more accurate typing than the iPhone screen does. Then again, I’m probably thinking like an enterprise user, not a consumer who can’t wait to flip through photos and watch movies on the larger screen.
While you’re at it, here are the latest stories and guides from SearchCIO.com:
Enterprise desktop virtualization may increase costs – Enterprise desktop virtualization can solve difficult security, compliance and other problems, but at a price. How much are you willing to pay?
Innovation strategies: How Chevron drives ingenuity — Should CIOs have innovation strategies? We talked with Chevron’s innovation specialist on how the energy giant discovers ingenuity and develops a corporate creative process.
IT outsourcing contracts FAQ: Establishing SLAs, flexibility and more — IT outsourcing contracts are only as strong as the negotiations surrounding them. In this FAQ, learn how to establish SLAs, set contract lengths and maintain flexibility.
Running IT in 2010: Better response times on a budget — Running an IT department in 2010 requires new processes that boost responsiveness, and vendor management and outsourcing practices that cut costs and keep IT budgets in check. Find out more in our new guide.
IT innovation, that fraught phrase, has come roaring back after maintaining a polite silence during the fiscal misery of 2008 and 2009.
Companies are starting to broadcast their efforts to foster technology innovation among the ranks. (You can read about radical, reapplied and incremental innovation strategies at Chevron Corp. in today’s Q & A with the oil company’s innovation specialist, Jack Anderson.) Meantime, companies that appear to be lacking in ingenuity — cue Microsoft — are publicly flogged on no less than the op-ed page of The New York Times for “never developing a true system for innovation,” record earnings be damned.
So, has the corporate risk appetite for trying new IT stuff changed?
“I don’t think it is so much the risk appetite as it is the nature of IT innovation that has changed,” said Mark McDonald, who covers CIO strategy and the business of IT at Gartner Inc. McDonald said that in his conversations with CIOs this year, he is hearing about three conditions that have the potential to “completely reposition IT in three years” — in other words, make it new.
- 1. The first shift is that business is looking to IT more to raise productivity than to cut costs in the enterprise.
“Obviously, to raise productivity I can’t just do the same with less. I have to do different things with the same resources, which you could argue opens the door for innovation,” McDonald said. Rather than building a better mousetrap to do the same with less, CIOs should be looking for ways to “disrupt the mouse cycle so they don’t ever have to catch mice again,” he said.
- 2. The second shift — more subtle, according to McDonald — is that the housecleaning CIOs did during the recession left their IT departments with fewer projects to maintain. Companies got rid of those pet projects that kept IT a servant to the business unit that squawked the loudest, he said.
“So, if CIOs think a bit proactively, they can actually start allocating a bit more resources to innovation than they have in the past,” McDonald said. (CIOs at hard-strapped companies may not want to put in a budget request for innovation just yet, however. Call it increasing productivity, instead, he suggests.)
- 3. Finally, Gartner argues that “lightweight technologies” that don’t require a big up-front capital investment, such as cloud computing, Software as a Service and Web 2.0, will continue to make IT departments more responsive — which is different from being agile (a topic for another blog post).
And there is some data to suggest that the urgency for innovation is only going to grow, according to Gartner. In its periodic survey of some 1,000 CIOs worldwide, about 30% listed “creative new products and services” among their top five problems to address in 2010. Asked to project for 2013, just under half of all CIOs told Gartner that innovation will be the No. 1 issue they have to address.
Would paying for corporate mobile data in a cloud-like format change your mobile phone management strategy? It’s something to consider — AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson thinks the wireless industry is moving toward a usage-based pricing model for mobile data.
“For the industry, we’ll progressively move towards more of what I call variable pricing, so the heavy-[use] consumers will pay more than the lower-[use] consumers,” Stephenson said at an analyst conference this week.
A lot of analysts have seen this coming for a while. More mobile customers are sharing information via text messages, e-mails and even Skype on their smartphones rather than by making traditional phone calls, driving down their need to purchase pricier phone plans. (I speak from experience: A combination of these factors — especially Skype — has allowed me to remain with AT&T’s 450-minute calling plan, where I otherwise would have needed to trade up.) This could be viewed as a reflection of the cloud computing model that’s gotten so much buzz in the IT sphere, where you pay for what you use, rather than paying a flat rate.
These changes could drive up costs for big-time corporate users, who — like most mobile users — not only download and edit documents for their work, but also are inclined to surf the Web on their work phone during idle time. And why not? It doesn’t cost anything extra. But should IT start paying for mobile data based on usage, corporate mobile phone management policies might have to change.
Would a data-usage-based payment approach for mobile devices change your organization’s mobile phone management strategy or your mobile procurement decisions? What sort of mobile phone policies would you put into place for corporate users who also want to surf the Web?
Kevin Vogl has overseen hundreds of desktop virtualization deployments as vice president of virtualization for systems integrator Champion Solutions Group Corp., out of Boca Raton, Fla.
And he’s seen his share of desktop virtualization design-stage mistakes, a common one being the creation of too many desktop images.
Eager to satisfy the diverse needs of the user base, some enterprise IT departments end up designing hundreds or even thousands of virtual desktop images — voiding a major benefit of desktop virtualization, simplified desktop management. And it typically starts with one group of users and snowballs.
“I see enterprises that take a small group of users and instead of giving that group one or two images, they end up with six [images] because a few people in the group use an application that the rest of the group doesn’t,” Vogl said.
Instead, applications that are unique to a few users should be delivered separately through application virtualization, he said.
User boot storms also are often brought up as a storage-allocation or network-capacity nightmare that can be avoided during the design stage. Shared memory, available these days in most virtualization products, allows the first image of Windows 7, for example, to be loaded only once. Shared memory technology voids the need to load memory for that image the next time a user boots up Windows 7, Vogl said.
Read more about preparing your infrastructure for desktop virtualization in a tip written by Tom Nolle, president of consulting firm CIMI Corp. Or email your own tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am reporting live from TechTarget’s brand new office in Newton, Mass., just up the highway from our longtime Needham offices. I have Internet access and my phone has a dial tone – so far, so good!
What’s everybody else thinking about? It sounds like Google and Microsoft are ready to go to war over ant-trust issues, while a new study confirms what I think most of us already know: More Americans are getting their news from the Internet rather than the newspaper or radio, and social media news sites like Facebook and Twitter are accelerating info-sharing opportunities.
As you catch up on these and other stories, be sure to check out the latest SearchCIO.com stories:
A dozen danger signs that your outsourcing contract is on the rocks — Outsourcing contract renegotiations were up sharply last year. Most of that activity focused on cost cuts, and that spells trouble. Experts offer advice, in the first of two articles.
What to watch for during negotiations with outsourcing vendors – And here’s part two! Outsourcing contract renegotiations were up sharply last year. Most of that activity focused on cost cuts, and that spells trouble.
Storage virtualization helps rein in storage sprawl — Storage virtualization can help CIOs manage the ever-increasing storage requirements that server and desktop virtualization cause.
IT governance framework helps public agencies boost service, cut costs — An IT governance framework can help public agencies improve service levels and cut costs amid tight budgets. Read more about IT governance models in Massachusetts and California (my background in community journalism was a big help with this one!).