Enterprise IT Watch Blog

November 15, 2011  8:58 AM

Tackling Big Ideas and Issues at CA World (Sponsored)

TheTechster Alan Perlman Profile: TheTechster

What are some of the issues around technology that are keeping you up at night? That was one of the questions, among many others, put to a stellar panel of executives last night at a session here at CA World 2011 in Las Vegas. The session itself made good use of some of the disruptive technology the panelists were discussing: Audience members tweeted their questions to moderator Randi Zuckerberg in real time and she posed the questions to the other panelists, which included CA Technologies CEO Bill McCracken; VCE Chairman (and former Compaq CEO/HP President) Michael Capellas; and the first CIO of the United States, Vivek Kundra. Here are some of the most interesting points.

On gaining buy-in when speaking to a non-technical CEO:

The first thing, according to Capellas, is to establish the agenda of the company and find those two or three things that will drive the basic mission of the company: Defining the sweet spot of what the business is trying to do. “Prioritize what’s important and then do it with incredible speed.” Also, innovate and try to be at the leading edge. “No one ever said, ‘Gee, I’m glad you brought me yesterday’s technology.’”

On security, policy and the cloud:

One of the big challenges, Kundra noted, is the difficulty of managing a cloud that spans a global grid, particularly for the U.S. government. Different nations have different laws. Complicating that is the reality is that there are countries and organizations out there using the technology for malevolent purposes. McCracken noted that security is a pre-cursor to successful cloud deployments and pointed to the use of cryptographic intelligence.

On private clouds, public clouds or hybrid:

McCracken and Kundra noted that the cloud – private or public – potentially has the ability to be even more secure than traditional enterprise applications. How it is used will largely depend upon what applications and workloads your organization will want to run. Mission-critical apps, Capellas said, will likely be private, but many organizations will use public clouds to balance workloads and for backup. “Security policy will define what’s inside or outside the firewall,” Capellas said.

On the role resellers will play in the cloud:

Partners and resellers already have a large majority of the skills necessary to deploy new applications, McCracken said, and without the partner community the cloud market wouldn’t be anywhere near where it is today. Channel partners have the opportunity to take applications from end to end and can manage multiple platforms, which are critical skills in today’s environment, according to McCracken.

On the role of professional services providers:

The cloud will significantly disrupt the professional services market, Kundra said, and will force professional services companies to raise their game to a higher level. They must be thinking about the user experience, seamless applications and fundamentally re-engineering and re-architecting systems. They will also have to work at the speed of business: “The days of waiting five years to get any value from a professional services contract are over,” Kundra said. “This will be a painful transition for the professional services industry.”

On what keeps you up at night:

“I’m very concerned about the role of global terrorism as it relates to technology,” Capellas said. He said that, at some point, there is no doubt the Internet will get shut down and could create a “catastrophic disruption.” Kundra said he is concerned with three things: (1) Cyber warfare; (2) The potential use of technology for oppression, and (3) The growing gap in use of technology by developed and underdeveloped nations. McCracken said that the biggest challenge is keeping up with the growing demand in our businesses and marketplaces.

There you have it, live once more from CA World. What are some of the big issues on your mind? Post them here and we’ll see if we can answer them.

Follow me at @The_Techster and follow @CAWorld2011 on Twitter for all the latest #CAWorld buzz.


November 14, 2011  3:14 PM

Thinking About The Cloud As a Transformative Technology (Sponsored)

TheTechster Alan Perlman Profile: TheTechster

Are you thinking about the cloud as the next great transition in computer technology? If not you could be putting your company – and yourself – at significant competitive advantage.

That was one of the clear messages from the opening round of keynotes and panel discussions at this year’s CA World 2011 in Las Vegas last night. One of the great benefits of getting out in the world and attending events such as these is the opportunity to step back from the day-to-day routine and think about the bigger picture. Not just think about the bigger picture, actually, but to listen to and talk to very smart people about the major trends affecting us all.

In his opening keynote presentation last night, CA Technologies CEO Bill McCracken talked in terms of another major shift in the computer industry. He didn’t specifically define the previous seismic shifts, so I’ll fill that in: From mainframe to mini to PC to network to Internet. And now to cloud. Having participated in the previous transformations, McCracken noted that there are always three important conditions that must be in place for the industry to change. They are:

1. Technology
2. The Economy
3. A Strong Business Need

Given the state of all three of these conditions today, McCracken said we’re “standing on the edge of a perfect storm.” I’ll save the technology piece for last. As for the economic conditions, we all know what’s going on and how things are tightening up. The underlying pressure point that is helping the shift to the cloud is the constant need to do more with less. On the business side, the demand is even stronger to change the model for the way businesses have to be run. In many cases, McCracken noted, CEOs and company executives have wanted to change – indeed have demanded change – but have been limited because their IT infrastructure and organization couldn’t change fast enough. That’s why the overarching theme of this year’s CA World 2011 is “IT at the speed of business.”

Want examples? McCracken cited a few that really bring the point home: Zipcar creating a new model and forcing market leader Hertz to make an acquisition to try to keep up; the whole category of e-books helping to drive Borders out of business; and, closest to home, he recalled the time when he was at IBM in the 1980s and Michael Dell created a whole new model for manufacturing and delivering PCs. “If we were not IBM, we probably would have gone bankrupt,” McCracken said.

So what are the technology drivers that are disrupting the status quo and creating this next great shift in the computing environment? McCracken cited five of them:

1. The growth in networks and bandwidth, specifically 4G broadband wireless networks.
2. Thousands of downloadable apps
3. The proliferation of inexpensive handheld devices
4. Social media
5. GPS devices

The confluence of these technologies, as McCracken noted, is “changing the world.” It’s changing the way we talk to one another, the way businesses talk to customers and the way businesses will deliver goods and services. The power is so great, in fact, that we’ve already seen these technologies being used as a mechanism to change governments.

What do you think? Are you ready for the next transition? What will it mean for you? What will it mean for your company? Stay tuned. We’ll have plenty more about that this week as we continue to blog live from CA World 2011.

Follow me at @The_Techster and follow @CAWorld2011 on Twitter for all the latest #CAWorld buzz.

November 13, 2011  6:36 PM

Live From CA World: IT at the Speed of Business (Sponsored)

TheTechster Alan Perlman Profile: TheTechster

The Techster will be blogging live this week from CA World at the Mandalay Bay in lovely Las Vegas. The theme of the event is IT at the Speed of Business, which is a topic of great import to us because we speak to IT executives all the time trying to figure out how to make their environments more agile and flexible. It will be nice hearing experts and practitioners not only preaching the benefits, but also talking about how to actually get it done.

In addition to the overarching theme of IT at the Speed of Business, there are 10 supporting topics that will be the focus of many of the sessions, keynotes, customer and partner interviews and, in all likelihood, conversations in the breakouts as well as on the exhibit floor. They will also provide some of the fodder for our blog reports as well.

  • What are they? Glad you asked.
  • Cloud Choice: Your Cloud Your Way
  • From On-Premise to Cloud: Hybrid Data Protection
  • Enabling Agility with IT Management-as-a-Service
  • Next-Generation Mainframe Management
  • Securely Controlling Identities, Access and Information Use
  • Innovate and Assure Services: Better, Faster, Cheaper
  • Drive Business Value with Service and Project Portfolio Management
  • Automate and Optimize Service Delivery Across Physical, Virtual and Cloud
  • Infrastructures
  • Maximize Your Investment with CA Services, Support and Education
  • Extend Your Business Impact Through Integrated Technology Solutions

The main event (no not Pacquiao-Marquez – that was last night), gets underway at 5 p.m. Vegas time with a keynote panel featuring CA Technologies CEO William McCracken, along with Vivek Kundra, First Chief Information Officer of the U.S. Government; Michael Capellas, Chairman of VCE, the Virtual Computing Environment Company; and moderator Randi Zuckerberg, founder of R to Z Media. If you can make it there, we hope to see you. If not, don’t worry: The Techster is here to keep you fully informed of all the highlights of CA World this week. Stay tuned.

November 7, 2011  10:47 AM

Looking for Wireless War Stories

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

We’ve been told for years that the Wireless Office is finally here: A world of no Ethernet cables criss-crossing office floors, of impersonal hubs allowing workers to pick up and drop down whenever, wherever without further configuration or just stroll the aisles while video chatting on a high-def Cisco Cius lag-free. But are we finally there?

For one thing, no two offices are alike (though they sure do try their darndest), and for another we’re not going to be truly cable-free for a long, long time: Even the almighty .11n pales in comparison to the demands of a lightweight NAS.

But corporate IT is becoming, like it or not, more and more wireless-driven: Better, faster networks make hopping in and out of meeting spaces a breeze, and with more data being pushed to “The Cloud” (that’s a whole other story), pervasive connectivity is near necessity, and if you don’t provide it they’ll get it from their MiFi device or (cover your eyes) the local Starbucks Hot Spot.

This month, we’ll be taking a look at the promise and progress of the Wireless Workplace, but we’d love to hear your stories. If you have a good wireless success story (or dire warning!), I’d love to hear it at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com. We’ll reprint our favorites and hook up the senders with some great swag, from your choice of training books to the coveted ITKnowledgeExchange T-shirts. Anonymity guaranteed if requested.

So, what’s your wireless war story?

Michael Morisy is the editorial director for ITKnowledgeExchange. He can be followed on Twitter or you can reach him at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

October 26, 2011  6:44 AM

This month in Storage: Makeups, breakups and a bold tomorrow

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

This month, we took a look at the fast-evolving storage landscape here at ITKnowledgeExchange: It was a big month for acquisitions, announcements and – in at least one case – public breakups, all setting the ground for a 2012 full of interesting developments, particularly as SSD, Cloud Computing and other (very) relatively new technologies come into regular usage.

But what is the good of all that data in the first place? Oracle tried to drum up a answer with the release of its Exalytics BI Machine, which turns your Oracle-powered shop into a real-time, “Big Data” crunching powerhouse. What we’re seeing is a closer linkage between Business Intelligence and the data it needs to work, which means storage has to step up to the plate in a number of new ways: Faster indexing, faster retrieval, and much, much higher I/O to deal with streams of incoming, outgoing real-time data that must be accounted for.

But how to pick your date to the storage ball? We loved Eric Slack’s three keys to a good storage vendor partner:

  • Understanding
  • Investment
  • Commitment
Pretty much what makes any relationship work, but Slack follows through with the tough questions to make sure that the person shilling you storage by the terabyte is “the one”. For even more advice on picking the special vendor, check out his Top 10 Percent list, which looks at what he things are the “best of the best” in their respective areas.
Speaking of holy unions, Leah Rosin reported on Red Hat’s acquisition of Gluster, dubbed “The Red Hat of Storage”. Expect to see some new competition in the hybrid cloud front as a result:

“The scale out storage technology and expertise Red Hat is gaining from the acquisition of Gluster will serve as a powerful foundation for future public, private and hybrid storage clouds,” said Henry Baltazar, senior analyst of The 451 Group.

In somewhat sadder news, Sharon Fisher noted that Dell and EMC are Splitsville, due largely to Dell’s increasing self-reliance in the storage space. As Fisher reported:

“Over the past few years, Dell has grown to become a robust storage technology provider with differentiated capabilities across several product families, including Compellent, EqualLogic, PowerVault, and Dell / EMC,” is the way the company actually put it, on what used to be the Dell/EMC product page.

Dell bought EqualLogic in 2007, and Compellent in 2010 — spending a total of $2 billion on storage acquisitions — after starting its partnership with EMC in 2001. Other acquisitions included Exanet for scale-out NAS technology and Ocarina for data compression and optimization, as well as making its own DX6000 object storage hardware, partnering with Caringo for the software. The company also reportedly said that its own storage properties provide almost 80 percent of its storage revenues and 90 percent of its profits in the second quarter of this year.

Nothing good lasts forever, as they say, but Dell is serious about owning more of the enterprise stack and this is a strong step in that direction.

All in all, it’s an exciting time for storage, and ITKnowledgeExchange readers are keeping up with the trends: Getting up to speed on how to capitalize on the cloud, without crashing the business, was a Community Goal for 2012, which is why Randy Kerns post makes a great closure to this month’s wrap up, in which he reminds us that storage isn’t a sprint, it’s a decades-long marathon:

The excitement around a new technology needs to be kept in perspective with how long it takes to be deployed successfully by IT. The technology adoption rate reflects the inertia and conservative nature for handling the critical task of storing data.

The longer technology adoption rate can kill start-up companies when they can’t get the investments required to get to the point of profitability. Many investors have an aggressive profile that defies the reality of adoption rates. Larger companies can handle the conservative adoption more successfully, but with much internal angst.

But no matter how great a new storage technology may be, the customer needs to understand it to make correct decisions about investing in it before it takes hold in data centers.

Michael Morisy is the editorial director for ITKnowledgeExchange. He can be followed on Twitter or you can reach him at Michael@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

October 19, 2011  2:38 PM

Research in not-so-much Motion

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

After a not-so-good year, Research in Motion, it seems, has come to a halt. Tuesday’s San Francisco unveiling of BlackBerry’s “next generation platform” is being called “little more than a rebranding” by the Times’ Ian Austen. What was supposed to be an appetizing display for developers turned into a disappointing realization that BBX, the new software, isn’t much more than a spruced up QNX operating system.

“Underwhelming is a good word,” analyst from MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier told the Times.

For once, Microsoft has actually set a better example in the world of mobile and applications. Perhaps RIM should have taken a page out of the old Microsoft Build book and wooed its potential developers with hip new devices equipped with BBX. Instead, it frustrated the crowd with more vague information about the actual release date for BBX phones and no opportunity for developers to interact with prototypes.

Others think the simple act of renaming the OS from QNX, which PlayBooks are running, to BBX is a mistake. Ken Dulaney, VP of mobile computing at Gartner, told Tech News World that it “could be confusing for the BlackBerry community,” making “it look like RIM doesn’t have a unified operating system approach.” And RIM would do best not to confuse its loyal customers so soon after trying their patience with the recent BlackBerry outages around the world. The subsequent offer of free apps and free technical support (for one month, for enterprise customers) did little to patch up the largest network outage in the company’s history. As one community member of Slashdot put it: “This is the second major outage RIM has experience while my company has used their phones. Unfortunately for them, this one came right in the middle of my company’s evaluation period for new phones company-wide and it just sealed their fate. RIM’s going bye-bye.”

RIM wasn’t all foibles, however. The company finally delivered a set of software tools that will ease the transition of apps originally made for Android to BlackBerry phones. But analysts cringe at RIM’s adherence to the Android platform instead of fighting against it and offering something better.

Telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan told Tech News World the trick to RIM’s avoiding “going bye-bye”: “They have to wow the marketplace. They haven’t wowed the marketplace since the Apple iPhone came out. The marketplace has yawned when it comes to BlackBerry.”

What do you think RIM could do to wake us up to BlackBerry?

Melanie Yarbrough is the assistant community editor at ITKnowledgeExchange.com. Follow her on Twitter or send her an email at Melanie@ITKnowledgeExchange.com.

October 18, 2011  8:25 AM

Is the Sysadmin a dying breed?

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

The “Death of IT” has been heralded for years, probably since around the time Grace Murray Hopper literally quashed the first computer bug. All that computer mumbo jumbo is destined to get simpler, right? That’s the Pointy-Haired Boss dream, at least, and it was one posited strongly in Nicholas Carr’s now infamous 2003 essay, “IT Doesn’t Matter.”

In that essay, he suggested that IT-based initiatives were rarely if ever a strategic priority; instead, such investments were generally a cost center. Technological advancements and falling prices meant any major investments today would likely be proved standard tomorrow and obsolete a generation later.

But since 2003, IT has managed (somehow) to stick around, and yesterday I came across an interesting point/counterpoint on the fate of the beleaguered Sysadmin, via Hacker News. Continued »

October 11, 2011  3:00 PM

IT Community: “Windows 8 who?”

Melanie Yarbrough Profile: MelanieYarbrough

Windows 8’s impending release has caused a bit of a stir especially in the blogging community, but not everyone is as concerned as we originally thought. When asked how they were planning to deal with the effect of the Windows 8 secure boot and Linux clash, community members all but laughed in our faces. Take a look at how the IT community is planning on dealing with this – minor – speed bump in its Linux life.
Continued »

October 11, 2011  7:40 AM

John Chambers for President?

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

In a bid to stir up debate that goes beyond “conventional politics”, Politico is holding an imaginary U.S. primary of off-ticket, independent candidates. The ballot features the likes of Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton and Jon Huntsman (ok, so not completely beyond convention). Also in the ranks is one tech CEO: Cisco’s John Chambers. From Politico’s nomination:

The guy has a good personal story to tell: He was diagnosed with dyslexia as a kid, overcame it, excelled at Middle America universities – first at West Virginia and later at Indiana – and rose to head one of the world’s largest and most influential companies. He has an even better and more relevant business story to tell: He has pulled a company through a wrenching period – including big layoffs – helped reinvent its culture and operations and made money in the complex global marketplace.

He knows firsthand how government can both impede – and encourage – growth and deals daily with the competitive pressures of China and other emerging markets.

He could run as an authentic outsider, someone who hasn’t spent his life pursuing public office. A Washington-has-no-damn-clue message on navigating and dominating the world economy would resonate for many. His smooth speaking style and self-confidence would play well on the national stage.

More ingenious Cisco product placement? I hope not, but Chambers is one of the most non-conventional candidates on the list, now that Bloomberg’s established his political chops. Would he or could he make a presidential contender? I’m doubtful. Sure, he has the sales experience that comes with a large enterprise business, and that would surely help negotiate through the labyrinthine maze of Washington deal making.

Continued »

October 6, 2011  7:55 AM

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

Michael Morisy Michael Morisy Profile: Michael Morisy

Wired.com has put together a particularly moving tribute to Steve Jobs, who died yesterday at the age of 56. In it, the thoughts and admiration of his friends, followers and competitors are collected, memorializing a man who reshaped, and fundamentally rethought, his industry.

Bill Gates:

Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor.  I will miss Steve immensely.

President Barack Obama:

By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike. Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.

Tim Cook, Jobs’ successor as Apple CEO:

No words can adequately express our sadness at Steve’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with him. We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much.

Continued »

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