Tag: enterprise

Enterprise Cloud Adoption: 5 Hard Truths | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Originally posted on InformationWeek


Last fall I had the honor of sitting on the selection committee for the inaugural ICE (Innovation in Cloud for Enterprise) Awards, sponsored by the Cloud Connect show and Everest Group. The experience taught me how large enterprises are adopting cloud computing in ways that are often compelling, sometimes surprising, and occasionally breathtaking.

The winner, Revlon, Inc., presented an impressive case for how it leverages cloud to achieve organizational transformation that boosts competitiveness and consumer wallet share.

As impressive as each individual entries was, there were five recurring themes that emerged across the enterprise cloud adoption stories we read. While certainly not scientific, they reflect what enterprises themselves report as important factors in the success of their cloud deployments.

1. Identify a compelling reason to step out of the comfort zone.
We’ve read about the importance of senior management buy-in to achieve success in cloud transformation. But what we found in the award entry submissions is that the truth is even starker: Senior management must believe that cloud adoption is critical to organizational survival.

The high-level driver might be one of the ethereal themes we read about in the tech press: Product or service differentiation, moving to market faster with new services, or getting closer to the customer through big data analysis. However, the visceral driver is always primal: We do this or we’re going to suffer at the hands of our competitors.

Read more on InformationWeek

Big Data Analytics in 2014: 5 Things That Won’t Happen | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

While talking about a new year’s next cool thing or development is a thoroughly enjoyable ritual, discussing what will not change provides valuable lessons for technology adoption strategy and investment planning, and highlights potential future disruptions.

So what are the five things that will remain more or less the same in 2014 for big data analytics?

  1. Hadoop will NOT REPLACE ETL: The nine-year old platform has achieved great traction, and its mindshare has significantly increased. Well-known analytics providers such as Cloudera, Hortonworks, and MapR have supported it for a couple of years, and even the big boys such as IBM and Pivotal have embraced it. However, Hadoop’s proponents are positioning it as a panacea for all the ills of big data. The antagonists are equally up to the task, denouncing it as one of the important, yet small, pieces of the puzzle. Most Hadoop proponents confuse ETL as an “activity,” rather than a “process.” The way in which ETL is performed in a Hadoop framework set-up may differ, but it does not make ETL redundant or replaceable.

  2. Analytics will still be UNDEMOCRATIC: Innovative data analysis and visualization technology players such as Tableau, QlikView, Alteryx, and Tibco (Spotfire) have gained traction as “end user” friendly products. And mega providers such as SAP have increased their efforts in this direction (e.g., rebranding SAP Visual Intelligence as SAP Lumira). However, despite significant efforts to “consumerize” big data analysis and move the power out of the ivory towers of data scientists, 2014 will witness only incremental changes in this regard. 

  3. Big Data will still be a PROJECT: Organizations always pilot a new technology before they put it into mainstream production. However, this attitude defeats the purpose of big data analytics. To gain real advantage from the deluge of data, companies must engrain a big data mindset into their DNA, rather than treating it as a silo “project.” Will 2014 see organizations jettisoning their age-old habits to wholeheartedly adopt big data analytics? Not according to my market conversations.

  4. Real talent will be TOUGH to find: Every technology transformation comes with “talent imposters,” and organizations desperate for talent will hire some of these and then repent later. Unfortunately, most of the existing data warehousing and business intelligence analysts masquerade themselves as “big data talent.” And the mushrooming of big data certifications and aggressive resume fabrication will not make organizations’ hiring task any easier in 2014.

  5. Integration will be a CHALLENGE: Technology providers such as Attunity, Dell Boomi, Talend, and Informatica have created multiple solutions to integrate disparate data sources for a consistent analysis framework. Most of these solutions work with data sources such as Amazon Redshift, IBM PureData System for Analytics (Netezza), HP Vertica, SAP HANA, and Teradata. However, organizations continue to face challenges in seamlessly integrating these, and are thus unable to extract meaningful value from their big data analytics engagements. While we’ll see major improvement in this area in 2014, a world in which different data sources are seamlessly integrated and analyzed will still be a mirage.

With cloud-based data management, modeling, and analytics disrupting the landscape, coupled with the rise of in-memory computing, the big data market will continue to surprise: we’ll see technology providers entering “unknown” domains, competing with their partners, and even cannibalizing existing offerings.

What are your takes on big data analytics in 2014 and beyond?

Reflections on Impacts on the Global Services Industry in 2013 | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

It’s the time of year when we turn our attention to reflecting on what happened over the the past 12 months and weigh the significance of the year’s events. I think we can showcase 2013 in five primary aspects.

1. Market growth

First let’s think about the market itself. We began the year expecting more robust growth, but I was disappointed in the first two quarters. The developing markets did not sustain their level of growth as in previous years, so we saw a drop-off in the developing markets space.

However, the market has gotten stronger over the year. So taken as a whole, I think it’s disappointing in light of our expectations, but we certainly are finishing with growing momentum. We’re seeing signs of growth in the United States, Canada, UK, Germany and the Nordics.

Net-net, 2013 brought a modestly positive level of growth but didn’t meet expectations.

2. Changing of the guard

This year the differences among the Indian heritage firms emerged more distinctly.

  • Cognizant and TCS are setting a torrid growth pace.
  • We have seen the rebound of the smaller firms such as Virtusa and Syntel outperform even Cognizant and TCS.
  • HCL doubled down on infrastructure and is preparing to try to accelerate its BPO and apps offerings.
  • TCS seems to have made its growth and platform plan work.
  • Infosys is going back to its roots in labor arbitrage.
  • On the MNC side, IBM made strides to close the gap that Accenture had opened up in the transformation space. Big Blue made a commitment to increase its consulting and transformation expertise.
  • We also saw the rise of the Big Four and significant steps forward by the audit-related consulting and integration practices. The largest of the four, Deloitte, is playing an increasingly prominent role in major transformation. E&Y and PwC are taking steps to join them with PwC buying Booz Allen consulting and E&Y coming out with an audacious growth plan to get to $51 billion by 2020.

Due to these significant differences in both growth and product offerings, the industry players are no longer moving in lock-step.

Furthermore, the industry has almost uniformly taken an increased interest in building industry-oriented offers and verticals and has shifted down that path.

3. Acquisitions

It has been a fairly quiet year for major acquisitions. Although there seems to be plenty of interest in inorganic growth, 2013 did not show big movements in that regard.

4. Impact of cloud

In the past 12 months we saw central enterprise organizations, CIO, CTO and shared service organizations taking tangible steps to embrace the cloud or next-gen models. Although that has had a very modest impact on revenue, it’s clear that they have moved from a “watch” to a “drive” posture. Where previously cloud was almost the exclusive providence of the business stakeholder units, 2013 showed that the enterprise is prepared to take a more active role in those decisions.

Although cloud had some modest impact on the industry in terms of growth, it foreshadows significant changes in the future.

5. Immigration and H-1B visa reform 

Immigration reform and its associated H-1B visa reform raised its head and had a bigger impact than we anticipated. Service providers found that it was harder to move talent around globally. It became more difficult to get U.S. visas; and in the iGate-Royal Bank situation it became harder to get visas into Canada. Certainly the thresholds and scrutiny were raised around talent entering the UK and Europe.

The year brought the rising prospect of structural changes to immigration legislation; if enacted in the U.S., Canada and Europe, it would further complicate the free movement of labor. The net result is that it would not destroy the labor arbitrage model, but it would make it more expensive and lower the profit margins for some providers.

There is uncertainty and potential risk around the law, if enacted by Congress, raising further barriers for the movement of talent. Already we have seen two major developments in 2013.

First, the GICs (Global In-house Centers) or captives continue to solidify their situation and incrementally increase their influence in the industry. The industry experienced the normal handful of exits, but there were more than offset by new starts of GICs or captives.

More importantly the past year saw the GICs deepen their value proposition to their parents; they became more self-confident, extended their reach into more important functions and started taking over some third-party management functions that hitherto were executed out of the parents’ domestic operations.

A second aspect of industry change linked to immigration this past year is re-sourcing — moving work from low-cost locations into higher-cost locations. There has been a lot of talk about this. Although we saw little evidence that it happened in a material way in 2013, I think the prospect looms that at least some adjustments will be made.

As the industry matured and can better segment workloads, it is clear that the one-size-fits-all offshore talent factory does not fit every situation. Buyers are becoming more selective about what goes into those talent factories and what work is done domestically or in close proximity to the origination of the work.

The net result of that is, although 2013 did not bring a shrinking of work, we saw a reallocation of work. The actual numbers have continued to grow and increase, but buyers intentionally put more work into a right-sourcing model. So there was a modest overall impact on this in 2013, but it is something to watch in the future.

Of the five areas described, if I were to select the one that likely will have the greatest long-term impact on the industry and greatest impact in 2014, it would be immigration and H-1B visa reform. If Congress enacts the law, it could have a very significant impact on the industry. And if Senator Durban were to get his way with the H-1B visa provisions, it would go a long way toward leveling the cost advantage that the Indian heritage firms have over the MNCs.

OpenStack Hong Kong Summit 2013 – The Battle Is On | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

The OpenStack Foundation invited me to be a part of its Hong Kong Summit on November 5-8. While the event traditionally has focused on developers, this year the Foundation also made it a point to include leading adopters. The OpenStack-based cloud service providers community consisted of innovative start-ups, medium-small sized companies, and the big boys, such as Blue Box, Canonical, Cisco, Cloudscaling, DELL, DreamHost, eNovance, Gigaspace, HP, IBM, Mirantis, Nebula, NetApp, Piston Cloud, Rackspace, Red Hat, RightScale, SwiftStack, VMware, and Yahoo.

While my work spans global technology and IT services, with a wider area of interest than only cloud (or OpenStack), I was happy to be a part of this event and witness the passion, commitment, and real investments being made in OpenStack.

So what did the Summit tell the market?

What’s working

  • Despite being only three years old, OpenStack has made significant progress as one of the leading cloud platforms for infrastructure services
  • The OpenStack community, comprised of developers, sponsors, and users, is rapidly growing (over 1,600 developers and 250 companies)
  • There is a growing intent within the OpenStack foundation to communicate with the outside world about the increasing adoption and maturity of the OpenStack platform
  • Different technology companies are now integrating OpenStack and its support in their product strategy, even though some of these organizations believe that OpenStack may disrupt their business model
  • Various buyers from technology companies are asking these providers about their OpenStack strategy, and even pushing them to support it

What are the challenges?

  • As technologists at heart, OpenStack developers are passionate about the coolness of the technology, but have difficulty articulating the business impact and market perspectives
  • While it’s easy to track the number of OpenStack downloads, there’s no process to track or estimate the real adoption
  • OpenStack’s inability to communicate with buyers that despite the rapid “new developments and features” (which this Summit further propagated), there are multiple functions that are enterprise ready across its compute, storage, and network projects
  • Despite rapid growth in the community, the number of contributors working dedicatedly full time on OpenStack is not significantly growing, and there is a constant dearth of suitable talent
  • With the increase in community in terms of number of contributors, geographies, expertise, etc., a method for channelizing this energy in a meaningful way is missing

Despite the challenges, OpenStack is perhaps the strongest candidate for being the leading cloud platform and may soon witness an inflection point. It is providing a new lease of life to hosting providers that are now transforming to offer cloud services and could simply not have afforded a proprietary technology. It is enabling global collaboration to solve real business problems, and offering a true enterprise-class cloud platform that many adopters (especially those frustrated with proprietary expensive technologies) are finding very useful.

The David versus Goliath battle between open source and proprietary technologies will always continue. However, there are times when one solution can change the entire industry and buyer perception. OpenStack has that capability and, despite being fairly new, its on-the-ground adoption, and increasing developer base suggests that it can be a flag bearer of open source cloud platforms, much the same way Linux was for open source operating systems.

While hybrid cloud platforms will be the norm in enterprises, OpenStack will be the leading contender for creating private and public clouds. Both cloud service providers and enterprise buyers will adopt this platform to develop scalable infrastructure to support business growth.


Photo credit: Phil Wiffen

Video: PEAK Matrix Assessment of Enterprise Cloud Service Providers | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Everest Group Performance | Experience | Ability | Knowledge (PEAK) Matrix™ provides a detailed assessment on the service provider landscape in a given market. In this video, Practice Director Chirajeet Sengupta outlines the positioning of cloud application and infrastructure service providers on the PEAK Matrix.

Download the preview of the report referenced in this video
Learn more about PEAK Matrix
Learn more about Cloud Vista™ research

What I Learned at Cloud Connect: The Cloud Is Moving to a Different Level | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

My first impression when I recently attended this year’s Cloud Connect conference is that there is a significant increase in interest in all things cloud, as there were more attendees than at last year’s conference. What impresses me most as I reflect on the case studies and insights discussed at the event is the fact that cloud services are showing clear signs of moving from the domain of the business users into the core of the enterprise. And there is a completely different kind of usage of the cloud at this core level.

At the business-user level, cloud provides a fairly straightforward capability, whether that be CRM through Salesforce or application development and testing through Amazon.  But when the enterprise adopts cloud, usage and benefits move to another level.

One of the most notable case studies presented at Cloud Connect highlighted how Revlon completely transformed its IT to the extent that it was able to create a degree of flexibility that it had never known before.

Revlon’s cloud benefits included a significant $17 million reduction in cost while providing agility in rapidly developing applications and the ability to move applications and functionality around the world at a whim.

The most striking aspect of value Revlon achieved was its disaster recovery capabilities. The night before Hurricane Sandy hit, Revlon moved the processing in its data center on the East Coast to a Mid-Atlantic location. Then they discovered that during the hurricane there were no users on the network, so they were also able to get through their release updates at the same time.

This enterprise-level agility in moving workloads around while also creating rapid application releases — and at a much lower price point — brings to light the potential for cloud to change how IT is done in enterprises.

Only a year ago we saw cloud services validated primarily by the business users. This year’s Cloud Connect case studies demonstrated that validation has moved into the core of the enterprise with CIOs fundamentally embracing it to the degree that it completely changes the way they do business.

What will be the cloud’s impact over the coming year?


Download the Revlon case study

Watch the Everest Group Vice President Jimit Arora’s video interview with David Giambruno, Revlon’s CIO.

When Flying in the Cloud You Can Be Struck by Lightning | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Once upon a time there was a cloud storage provider with a compelling offering.  Hundreds of small companies and prominent world-leading companies became its customers and reseller partners and moved their data to the provider’s cloud. Then bigger cloud companies offered services at lower prices and drove the storage provider out of business.

Unfortunately this is a true story. Nirvanix announced on September 17 that it was closing its doors and customers — including resellers whose customers might not have known their data was stored in the Nirvanix Cloud — have been scrambling to move their data in the allotted two weeks.

The Nirvanix story serves as a cautionary warning: You should care whom your service provider selects as its subcontractors and partners, especially if your data is mission critical or your company is in a highly regulated industry.

Nirvanix Cloud’s target market was enterprises and addressing enterprise requirements made its solution more expensive than other cloud storage options. Its pricing couldn’t compete with lower-cost options from larger players such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft, so the venture capitalists refused to do the next round of funding, thus shutting the company down.

Often cloud solutions are ecosystems that have been put together with a lot of subcontracting relationships. It’s a sign of the times and harkens back to the bubble days of the Internet in 2000. You need to conduct careful due diligence to understand those relationships and their ramifications to your business before you turn your workflow and data over to a service provider.

Our advice is to make sure that subcontract relationships are transparent to you so that you can evaluate their risk and evaluate the stability of the subcontract relationship. Above all, make sure that your provider has contingency plans in place that are transparent to you; it’s also wise to develop your own contingency plans in place just in case.

Enterprise Mobility: Let’s Move BYOnD | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Bestselling author Nassim Taleb talks in one of his books about the anti-fragile, things that enjoy extreme conditions and thrive in disorder. Enterprise mobility appears to be a creature that loves disruptions in the technology market. With Microsoft’s recent reorganization, Amazon’s enhanced focus on Kindle, the never-ending rivalry between Apple, Google, and Samsung, and the queue of other players vying for this market, (Canonical, Dell, HP, and Lenovo), this disruption phenomenon is not going to fade anytime soon. In fact, when combined with the aspirations of organizations to allow enterprise application mobile avatars, and technology companies developing mobile enterprise application platforms, we have a perfect storm in the making.

However, many organizations still believe that allowing “toys in the workplace” is a good enough IT response to the CEO’s clarion call for employee appeasement and productivity. They are under a strange assumption that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) = Enterprise Mobility. Fortunately, it is NOT; rather, it’s time to move BYonD it.

 

While mobile device/application management providers such as AirWatch, BoxTone, Citrix, Kony, SAP, and Sophos are witnessing good traction, they have not even touched the tip of the proverbial iceberg due to the limited availability of enterprise applications on mobile devices. However, despite business users’ clamouring for more enterprise applications on mobile, it is not surprising that organizations are slow to adopt.

Smartphones (e.g., from Apple, Blackberry, Google, HTC, Nokia, and Samsung), tablets (e.g., from Amazon, Apple, Dell, Microsoft, and Samsung), and their brethren indeed improve user productivity, but are largely focused on consuming information, rather than enabling performance of complex tasks beyond emailing and web surfing. Combined with the rapid pace of evolving technologies, form factors, and software, buyer organizations are unwilling to invest upfront and, therefore, continue to be fence sitters. In response, device makers show little interest in offering broader capabilities that can help enterprises move beyond BYOD (e.g., partnering with enterprise application platform providers).

However, the inflexion point has arrived. We will witness device makers, enterprise application providers, and mobile app developers coming together to offer factory-fitted popular enterprise mobile apps much like instant messengers (e.g., HR management, inventory management, CRM, social commerce). Moreover, this trinity will make various enterprise applications available on mobile devices, which we cannot even imagine today. Enterprise application providers will also enable easy access to their/partner’s application marketplace via collaboration with the device and network providers. This will enable end-users to seamlessly use their personal devices to access enterprise-class mobile applications.

Enterprises may also experiment with private app stores, as they increasingly require custom-built applications and are not entirely satisfied with a public distribution model. The challenge for them will be creating a platform-agnostic, “no lock-down,” mobility store. They can also develop innovative funding models in which users are incentivized to deploy mobile enterprise applications in return for funding for their personal device. Yet, these efforts will require significant investment and management commitment. Moreover, unlike other technology initiatives, these should be led by both IT and the business users.

Without a meaningful mobile enterprise application strategy, mobility will indeed become an undesirable “anti-fragile” that thrives in disorder.

If you are planning to or already deploying enterprise mobility and want to share your story, please reach out to me at [email protected].

Awarding Enterprise Adoption of Cloud Computing | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Originally posted on CloudAve


One of the longest-running criticisms of enterprise cloud computing is the dearth of publicly referenceable implementation case studies.

Thankfully, this is starting to change. Indicators such as speaking at industry events and talking to reporters about what works and what doesn’t in cloud migration suggest that enterprises are starting to open up and share.

There are several possible explanations for this (technology maturation, commoditization of implementation models, C-suite recognition that cloud is not about cost compression), but the net benefit accrues to the entire industry: the more we share, the faster that standards and best practices will emerge.

It is with this trend as a backdrop that Cloud Connect and Everest Group are co-producing an awards program designed to recognize enterprises that have demonstrated innovation through the adoption of cloud solutions.

Called the Innovation through Cloud in Enterprise (ICE) Awards, the program will recognize companies that have shown success in leveraging cloud computing to transform business processes and unlocked new value by successfully implementing cloud strategies.

Qualifying organizations must have at least 2,500 employees with operations in North America or Europe that are consumers of cloud services. The cloud solution should have resulted in one or more of the following:

  • Striking business impact in terms of revenue, costs, pricing, reduced time to market
  • Notable technology transformation leading to process simplification, new feature functionality, flexibility, business agility
  • Significant positive effects on stakeholders, improved customer satisfaction, improved collaboration, reduced resource consumption footprint
  • Achievement of organizational transformation

Companies meeting the criteria should complete the online application. There is no fee to apply. The deadline for submission is 9 p.m. EST, July 26, 2013. Finalists will be announced on August 16, and winners will be invited to share their stories at Cloud Connect Chicago on October 21 via video and selected main-stage presentations.

The ICE Awards Judges Panel will select winners across a variety of industry sectors, including consumer goods & retail, financial services, healthcare, media & entertainment, and others. Additionally, a crowdsourcing process conducted via social media will select a winner for the “Viewers’ Choice” award.

Submission close on July 26. And remember that vendors can apply for their customers. Service providers and vendors can apply on behalf of their clients and customers. Awards programs like these can help the entire industry by expanding the library of publicly referenceable case studies. Start the application process here.

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