It’s a vision endorsed by numerous businesses including Nissan, which plans to deliver cloud services to automobiles in the future. The Japanese car manufacturer expects to sell 10% of its vehicles with “AV telematics” connected to a data center 24/7 for service, according to Celso Guiotoko, vice president and CIO at Nissan. Since the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the company has strengthened its plan to standardize on open source technologies and applications as a platform for disaster recovery, he said.
Just how much money can a business save by going with open source solutions? Red Hat’s website has a TCO calculator, but just by way of a benchmark, company officials estimate that an implementation of Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization costs about one-seventh what a VMware installation costs. The government of Brazil saved 80% by moving to Red Hat, the officials said.
Open source vendors offer software for free but charge for support — a licensing model that requires customers to license support for all servers in order to receive it for any one of them, according to John Giordano, a system administrator from Harris Corp. in Melbourne, Fla.
The world is moving fast toward transparency and collaboration. Politically and professionally, innovation happens when people come together. The U.S. government, a huge open source user, is responding to Federal CIO Vivek Kundra’s cloud-first directive by consolidating data centers and looking for open source cloud solutions.
Red Hat announced two products — the CloudForms Infrastructure as a Service and the OpenShift Platform as a Service (PaaS). CloudForms repackages and enhances Red Hat’s technologies in concert with partners who offer open source application development, identity management, database, performance monitoring and other technologies, in order to provide enterprise customers with the tools to build an open source private cloud.
“Anyone with a private cloud today has had to do a lot of heavy lifting,” said Gordon Haff, cloud evangelist at Red Hat. “It’s our goal with CloudForms that you won’t have to do your own heavy lifting as you might have had to years ago.”
The OpenShift PaaS supports several development frameworks for Java, Python, PHP and Ruby; and is the first PaaS to plan support for Java EE 6. “It’s not a me-too offering but an industry-leading platform on day 1,” a Red Hat official said in a press conference. However, the PaaS is currently in developer preview, and at this time does not come with a service level agreement — a potential deal-breaker for enterprise developers.
Attendees at my lunch table at the conference were nonplussed about the “new” cloud focus, calling it a new name for virtualization. The two customers who spoke on a cloud panel — one from a health care company, the other from a small systems integrator — have built private clouds using open source technologies, but haven’t tried CloudForms or OpenShift. Judging by a show of hands, few folks in the audience have moved beyond open source virtualization to private cloud development (which entails automated provisioning of IT services and potentially, metered charges for those services).
One questioner at the final keynote drew chuckles by asking whether he, as a system administrator, would become obsolete by adopting the new cloud strategy — a question that also plagues system administrators of companies that use proprietary cloud technologies.
What are the risks to enterprises deploying open source technologies? Email me at email@example.com.]]>
“But now we stay for the value,” Quinlan continued. “We think we’re getting more out of the deal than we expected.”
Deloitte now has 40,000 employees in the U.S. and 150,000 people in more than 100 countries around the world. Speaking at this week’s Global Sourcing Forum + Expo in New York, Quinlan shared what he’s learned about outsourcing, including what he called nine global outsourcing myths, and accompanying outsourcing facts CIOs should consider:
Myth: IT offshoring is not successful. “That’s absolutely not true,” Quinlan said – if it were, why would so many U.S.-based companies be pursuing it? In its studies, Deloitte is seeing “a significant uptick in global outsourcing activity,” particularly in the Philippines, Mexico, China and Costa Rica.
Myth: Wage inflation negates the sourcing cost advantage. The global nature of this recession has depressed salaries worldwide. “There are very few things a recession is good for, but one of them is it takes away the whole issue of wage inflation,” he said.
Myth: Offshore labor pools have been exhausted. “There are a whole lot of things [U.S. companies] have to do to attract the labor pool we want,” Quinlan acknowledged. Still, as individual countries refine their outsourcing crafts, more and more up-and-coming professionals are seeking the schooling and training to provide needed IT skills.
Myth: There are only a few suitable locations for IT outsourcing. But different countries do offer outsourcing pros and cons, so if you’re starting out or thinking of changing locales, SearchCIO.com has gathered some information on some outsourcing locations in Asia and Latin America. “You do have to figure out, in a methodical way, where you want to be,” Quinlan said.
Myth: My competitor’s successful location will work for me. “It’s important not just to say someone went to Hyderabad or Sao Paulo, and say ‘That’s where I’ll be,’” Quinlan said. “There are more thoughtful approach factors you should consider.” Conduct your due diligence and really consider your needs as far as pricing and skills sought.
Myth: The risks are too high. The cost savings and skill sets make the case for outsourcing, but it’s certainly important to consider personal safety and the risk of a natural disaster or political instability in the country or countries in which you are considering outsourcing, Quinlan said. You can mitigate accordingly by diversifying your outsourcing base.
Myth: Shared services are difficult to manage. OK, this one might be a little bit true, Quinlan admitted. Time zone differentials, the cost of travel and the quality of staff interaction can be challenging to oversee when outsourcing. But nothing worth having comes easily, he said. “To do this well, you’ve got to put a whole lot of effort in and make sure it’s managed.”
Myth: There’s no need for captive centers – you should outsource everything. “You really have to think about what services you’re providing,” said Quinlan, whose company has two captive centers in Hyderabad and Mumbai, India, facilities that house 7,000 employees. If torn, he recommended considering a hybrid model, whereby firms establish a blend of a captive center (a firm’s own facility abroad) and outsourcing.
Myth: Offshoring is bad for the U.S. economy. Quinlan compared this to a religious debate with no definitive answers, and “religious debates cannot be won.” Yes, outsourcing sends jobs overseas, but it also provides for enterprise growth, which can in turn spur domestic job growth.
Is Quinlan on the mark? Are there any IT outsourcing myths you’d like to dispel? Share your thoughts below!]]>
These were just some of the results from Forrester’s Workforce Technographics Survey, released yesterday at their Business Technology Forum in Chicago.
The survey showed that although 59% of the Gen Y (18- to 29-year-old) professionals use social technologies at home, only 14% use them in the workplace. Social media is not as much a generational thing as most people think, according to Ted Schadler, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.
“Generation X is just better at problem solving and using their experience and authority,” said Schadler, the lead author of the report. “And using social technology to solve a business problem should be the first priority.”
The report surveyed 2,000 information workers — any type of employee who uses a computer or connected device to do his or her job — from companies with 100 or more employees.
One other point that came through was that users were not as advanced in terms of social technologies as we think. Only one in four workers uses instant messaging or Web conferencing, and one in 10 has and uses a smartphone.
So, what does all this information mean to the CIO? This type of quantitative assessment gives CIOs and IT professionals the tools to make better investment decisions. CIOs should apply these findings to benchmark their own technology adoption and satisfaction and develop a measurable strategy for adopting new technology that users want and use, and that will add the most value to the business.]]>
When my colleague Christina Torode covered the Burton Group’s Catalyst conference this summer, the buzz among IT executives was that business users were purchasing SaaS services without running these agreements by IT first. As Torode reported:
“Business users tired of waiting for IT to provision a new application or service are tapping cloud providers and bypassing IT along the way, much as they have for many Software as a Service applications over the past few years. And cloud providers are not calling on the IT department, but rather going to department heads to pitch their wares.”
But if this trend makes it harder for IT outsourcing contract professionals to oversee the company’s IT assets as a whole, there is also a flip side: When business users procure their own software, it doesn’t come out of the IT budget.
During a breakout session on SaaS services and cloud computing outsourcing contracts, Forrester senior analyst Liz Herbert said that she’s heard that some IT outsourcing contract professionals would actually prefer that individual departments continue purchasing their own SaaS services for this reason. In this economy, with all budgets and spending being scrutinized so closely, why make it look like IT is doing the spending if these other departments are willing to foot the bill?
To be fair, I noticed some snickers from the IT contracting professionals in the room upon hearing Herbert’s comment, so perhaps it’s not a common point of view but I thought it worthy of mention nonetheless. Certainly, it speaks to the need for governance in IT outsourcing contracts on an enterprise-wide level – a subject I’ll be delving into in the coming week.
Has your IT organization surrendered oversight of SaaS services contracts procured by the business, or do you still intend to oversee all these IT outsourcing contracts throughout your organization?]]>
As I live-Tweeted and followed others via the #MITCIO hash tag, I have to say there were upsides and downsides to using Twitter for business. I’m used to taking extensive notes at conferences, but with live-Tweeting I felt the margin for error was greater — not only for typos, but also for failing to provide crucial context for a quote. And I know that I was more likely to miss that context as I was typing out Tweets – context that I would almost certainly capture when taking notes the old-fashioned way. On the other hand, I gathered a lot of Twitter followers relevant to my work, and now have the opportunity to follow and learn from them, as well.
My colleague Kristen Caretta, who has blogged about the using Twitter as a business tool and live-Tweeted from last week’s Forrester IT Forum, felt the same way.
We did find live-Tweeting to be helpful for capturing and sharing sound bites — but did you?
Here are some of my favorite quotes from the MIT event (with full speaker titles added, since the darn 140-character limit didn’t allow for them as I Tweeted them):
“Just because a CEO carries a BlackBerry, he/she doesn’t necessarily get technology. CIOs must show how investment pays off.” — Jim Champy, chairman of consulting, Perot Systems Corp.
“Innovation is easy — it’s called continual improvement.” Look to process improvement, not big infrastructure change. — Alan Trefler, CEO, Pegasystems
“I don’t see cloud computing as a game changer for big companies. … They have to clean up infrastructure [first].” — Jeanne Ross, director, MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research
Don’t waste recession: “Hopefully, 10 years from now, we’ll look back and call this ‘The Great Restructuring.’” — Erik Brynjolfsson, Schussel professor of management and director of the MIT Center for Digital Business
“We’ve been talking a lot about cloud computing here. Maybe the next big thing is crowd computing.” — Tom Malone, Patrick J. McGovern professor of management and director of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
So — do you find these Tweets useful or engaging? Does using Twitter — either as a Tweeter or a follower — enrich your understanding of a conference while you are there? Do you follow individuals’ Twitter feeds or conference hashtags when you’re not in attendance? Or would you rather that we bring you fuller coverage after the fact?]]>
“It’s still offensive,” calls out a woman in the audience, and therein ensued what must be a first for an IT/Web 2.0 conference: a heated exchange about why Gupta chose this site and did he understand that it was an assault on women in the audience. The woman, who happened to be sitting near me, ended up extracting an apology from the podium and a personal apology after the talk was over. More later…]]>
Hydar said that one of the challenges, as an IT leader, is that you sometimes don’t know what problems exist until they’ve grown into larger problems that users notice — which is why having matrices is so important for higher-level executives like CIOs.
Prior to coming to Microsoft, Hydar was at eBay for more than five years. He said he never would have imagined himself working at Microsoft, specifically because of the usability issues he was brought in to address. Once there, he created a virtual team, or “V-team,” including people from across the business, to accomplish his objectives.
Microsoft measures according to five “pillars” of QoS excellence with regard to its users’ experience with its Web services and products:
The first four pillars drive revenues, Hydar said, but it’s customer satisfaction that will drive company growth. When a site is easy to navigate, friends tell friends, and news of the improvements goes viral from there.
Hydar also listed several QoS best practices that Microsoft employs in assessing its online experience:
I think that Hydar’s recommendations include just the right mixture of uniformity across different organizational units – so that you can compare and contrast business performance – and team-specific criteria. And his second-to-last best practice is a good one: all too often, organizations undertake internal studies, only to let the results sit on a bookshelf (virtual or otherwise) and gather dust. When you’ve taken stock of your QoS needs, appoint one or several point people to put them into action. Your users will thank you!]]>
Black swans are important events, either good or bad, that are highly improbable but happen nonetheless. The idea of using black swans as a metaphor for weird events has its origins in the 1600s when the discovery of the first non-white swan was made in Australia. Asteroids hitting the earth and wiping out dinosaurs or Apple making the iPod might be considered black swans.
I probably should have known about the term black swans, as it was popularized in The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, a book published last year by mathematics professor and trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb about why it is hard to predict the future. For those of us reporters and CIOs who prize our ability to be in control of what we are doing, black swans offer particular challenges, as by definition they fall outside the status quo. Taleb contends that human nature being what it is, we base our reactions on what we experience and often overemphasize these black swans, believing erroneously that they will repeat. We see someone win the lottery and think maybe it’s a good idea to try it for ourselves-foolish, but we can’t help thinking this way.
At EmTech08, the expression was used by Sun founder-turned-venture capitalist Vinod Khosla to explain his investing approach and as prelude to a lengthy promotion of the renewable energy companies backed by Khosla Ventures.
Market predictions for renewable energy wield little clout in Khosla’s investment decisions. The truth about many forecasts is that they turn out to be false, Khosla said, pointing to long-term price predictions for oil and for the U.S. market for cell phones, to name two forecasts that were very wrong, exponentially so in the case of cell phones. Khosla would rather not have a forecast and instead “be prepared for everything.” Forecasters, “mostly economists,” he dissed, use yesterday’s technology to predict the future.
The failure of the market to accurately predict the market offers an important lesson for non-economists like him and fellow technocrats in the audience, Khosla said. Rather than worry about predictions for the future-invent it. Indeed, technology is a classic black swan-generating activity, he said.
Black swans aside, Khosla employs some pretty familiar tangibles to measure whether a renewable energy technology is worth his dough. What matters is cost (it had better be cheaper than fossil fuels), scalability, low adoption risk. So, in his view electric cars are irrelevant unless new battery technology comes to fruition, biodiesel fuel is no good unless algae technology is perfected, food ethanol takes too much land to produce, wind and photovoltaics are useless unless we figure out a way to store that energy … and so on. You can read about Khosla’s companies and more about his investing philosophy at KhoslaVentures.com.]]>
Online games draw up to 900,000 simultaneous users at any given time, McGraw said. The ubiquitous World of Warcraft has 10 million subscribers. If 10 million users pay the $14 subscription fee each month for a year to play the game, you’re talking about $1.68 billion. Wow. I am definitely in the wrong industry.
(Side note: I don’t know much about World of Warcraft, outside an excellent, Emmy-winning “South Park” episode…no, really, you think I’m kidding but I’m not. Probably NSFW, but here are some clips if you want to check it out later on.)
So why was McGraw presenting at a security conference? Because, in online gaming, security problems are built right into a successful business model. Game makers want millions of people to be accessing and interacting within their site. But what if they’re handing that piece of Internet real estate over to unsavory folks who might cause damage with it? And how do organizations in a Web 2.0 world deal with similar challenges?
To bring his point home, McGraw talked about Dan Farmer, whose controversial Security Administrator Tool for Analyzing Networks (SATAN) program would, essentially, allow companies to hack their own systems to determine their vulnerabilities. But, upon its release in 1995, Farmer’s employer fired him, fearing that it would increase malicious hacks.
The irony, McGraw says, is that nowadays, an IT exec charged with minding security could possibly be fired for not attempting to “think like a hacker” and protect his system accordingly. While his presentation got into the legal and financial ramifications of gaming, I think that the most important message for network security administrators was “think like an attacker,” and do the proper code review and architectural risk analysis on the front end to prevent problems later on.
Has your company adopted a “think like a hacker” approach to IT security? Any success stories you would like to share? Or just general love for “World of Warcraft” so that I can better understand the online sensation?]]>
You’re haunted by ghosts and can’t stop building, says Phil Murphy, principal analyst with Forrester Research.
Phil was a keynoter at our CIO Decisions Conference last month, a gathering of some 200 CIOs in Carlsbad, Calif. Before giving CIOs a primer — and detailed scorecard — on how to sort out the many competing demands for IT dollars and get the most out of your IT investments, he began with the cautionary tale of Sarah Winchester and her 160-room Victorian mansion.
Winchester was heiress to the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. business in New Haven, Conn. Her only child died as an infant. After the death of her husband in 1862, she was left with an extraordinary income of $10,000 a day and an unshakeable feeling that the family she had married into was cursed. She sought guidance from mediums, one of whom obliged by saying the Winchester family was indeed under a black cloud — cursed by the spirits of the people killed by Winchester rifles.
To break the curse, the widow was told to move to California and build a house for herself and all those spirits. If she stopped building, she would die, so work continued 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year for the next 38 years.
And the resemblance to CIOs and IT platforms? You can listen to Phil spell it out in this blogcast excerpt from his keynote.
Meantime this tidbit from the Wikipedia entry on Sarah’s building boondoggle gives you the idea.
Due to the lack of a master plan and constant construction, the house became very large and quite complex; many of the serving staff needed a map to navigate the house. The house also features doors that open into walls, staircases that lead nowhere, the recurring number 13, and windows that look into other walls.
Check out an aerial view of the place here.