Tag: mobility

Cloud Beyond the Borders – Part 1: Asia | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

We know that cloud computing has taken off in U.S.-based enterprises since the term was coined in mid-2007, but how is it faring in other parts of the world? Where will the growth come from in this US$40.7 billion industry that Forrester Research forecasts will grow to a projected US$241 billion by 2020? While the North American market accounts for the bulk of cloud investment and infrastructure today, Ovum Associates forecast that this will drop to approximately 50 percent by 2016 in the face of strong growth in Asia and Europe.

The Asia Cloud Computing Association has identified ten factors that affect cloud adoption rates, which can be broadly grouped into three classes: regulatory, physical infrastructure, and market conditions. Regulatory concerns include data protection laws, the extent of Internet filtering, and other government policies. Physical infrastructure refers to power grid reliability, broadband penetration rates, and international connectivity. And market conditions relate to the overall sophistication of a country’s IT industry and the perceived political risk of doing business in a country.

With that, let’s first take a look at cloud computing, beyond the borders, in Asia. And as all the above factors are applicable to other geographies, next time we’ll talk about the cloud in Europe.

The IT world is looking to Asia with high expectations…and uncertainty. Everyone agrees that Asian cloud computing growth will be impressive: analysts quote industry CAGR figures of 20-35 percent from 2010 to 2014 and beyond. Nobody knows quite how much it will grow, however, because of persistent and thorny issues.

Asia consists of many countries in various stages of development. Those with well-developed infrastructure and institutions – Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand – have experienced the greatest growth in cloud adoption to date. While Asian interest in the cloud is, in general, sky-high, many other countries lack the infrastructure to deliver. According to Per Dahlberg, CEO of the Asia Cloud Computing Association, this puts Asian cloud uptake approximately three years behind that of the United States.

What drives Asian cloud uptake? What hinders it? Answers to both questions are as diverse as Asia itself.

Many Asian countries are developing economies with poor or outdated IT infrastructure. They see cloud computing as a way to modernize government and private IT systems, while spurring the development of home-grown industry. In its current five-year plan, released in 2010, the Chinese government designated next-generation information technology as one of seven “Strategic Emerging Industries,” designed to drive innovation for indigenous Chinese industry. The plan highlights cloud computing as a key investment area that should receive special focus. Business Cloud News reported that this will help propel cloud investment in China to a forecasted US$154 billion by 2015. China Mobile alone plans to invest US$52 billion in that time-frame to build its cloud offerings.

Another pan-Asian driver of cloud growth is increased broadband penetration. The proliferation of mobile phones with always-on 3G and 4G data connections will continue to drive migration to the cloud. As people gain faster data pipes they can take anywhere, they increasingly want to store their content in the cloud. Likewise, companies want employees to be mobile, thus necessitating the secure availability of company data anywhere it’s needed.

Finally, Asia has untold millions of small businesses with the desire, but not the IT know-how, to be global competitors. IT as a service will come to play an important role in helping these firms reach new markets and compete globally.

Of course, different parts of Asia are poised to take advantage of the impending storm at different levels. Many factors hinder cloud adoption, including shoddy power grids and connectivity issues. But cutting across all countries is the problem of fragmented regulatory regimes with wildly varying requirements for everything from data protection to vendor lock-in. For example, a nation might prohibit its citizens’ data from physically leaving the country. This prevents building regional data centers and realizing the key cloud benefits around economies of scale. Another open question revolves around jurisdiction. If a data center in Singapore holds information on Indonesian nationals, which country’s laws should govern that data and that data center? What if the information is replicated to a data center in China? A coherent pan-Asian regulatory framework will help to alleviate this, but questions around privacy, security, and freedom of speech will likely persist.

Cloud uptake in Asia will see tremendous growth over the next few years. The ultimate heights of that growth and how quickly it is achieved will depend in large part on the degree to which the region as a whole enables it via development of physical and regulatory infrastructure.

Next time up, Europe’s cloud.

Embrace the Berg: the Real Power Lies Beneath the Surface | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

As we’ve noted in previous blogs and white papers, mobility can unleash the next wave of healthcare productivity and provide dynamic channels to foster wellness.

Yet, in the complex healthcare environment, mobility is more than just crafting a mobile app for the iTunes Store. To us, that is just the tip of the iceberg, since the infrastructure and institution must be readied to accommodate mobility and capture the full power of mobile two-way data streams through seamless integration of data, companion devices, legacy apps, web interfaces and internal processes to optimize workflow while maintaining robust security and compliance. All this is critical, as in healthcare, conflicting and less than fully current data can lead to devastating impacts.

While a simple clinician/facility locator app can be created and deployed with a minimal amount of effort, something like a context-aware mobile video consult demands clean instant access to a “complete single record of truth.” To provide that, the infrastructure must be upgraded to support the roaming bandwidth demands, a streamlined access process needs to be instituted, patient records must capture the most current feeds from a variety of data sources and be presented in a context-aware workflow that intuitively supports decision-making, and any entry must properly interface with legacy apps, and securely and surely prompt the desired follow-on actions. And all this must be done without comprising data privacy.

Disregarding the needed investments below the surface can at best lead to a bland, unappealing healthcare mobility offering. At worst, it can lead to devastating medical and information errors. While there are numerous, productive baby steps along the way that incrementally accumulate to fully unleash the power of mHealth, healthcare companies should develop a clear vision, supported by a robust organization and investment plan, to bring it successfully to fruition.

Verizon’s Purchase of Advanced Wireless Spectrum | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Verizon’s US$3.6 billion purchase of Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS) from SpectrumCo, LLC, a joint venture between Comcast Corporation, Time Warner Cable, and Bright House Networks showcases the importance of mobility and the cloud in Verizon’s next generation IT strategy.

Coming on the heels of its earlier acquisition of Terremark, which gives it a cloud hosting service, and Cloud Switch, which seamlessly migrates applications from a virtual to a cloud platform, the AWS spectrum purchase clearly demonstrates that Verizon views cloud and cloud mobility as growing areas of business, and that it understands the increasing demand on its mobility infrastructure — mostly due to cloud based applications — and the need to boost its 4G LTE roll-out.

And by acquiring the spectrum rather than the company, Verizon played it safe in eyes of regulators, as compared to AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile.

While employees and enterprises are becoming mobile, the last leg of mobility is still being managed by end users through hot spots or 3G networks, as there aren’t many managed mobility service offerings for the enterprise. Verizon would like to offer these enterprise mobility services, as proven by its joint venture with SAP to provide a Managed Mobility Portfolio. This will offer clients access to on-premises cloud-based SAP applications from anywhere, at any time, on Verizon’s cloud network.

As we discussed in our previous blog, “The Best of IaaS is still in the Making,” we will see telecommunications providers playing an increasingly larger role in the cloud mobility space.

Where Are the Opportunities in Health Insurance Mobility? | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

Mobility in the health insurance industry has been an extremely hot topic during the past several months; white papers on the subject abound, the media is hyping it, all major IT service providers have announced service offering expansions, and a multitude of high-tech startups are hoping to capitalize on the expected spike in spending. Despite all this activity and buzz, what is the actual potential of mobility for payers in the health insurance industry?

In fact, there are many opportunities to leverage mobility in both the business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) segments across the payer value chain.

Health Insurance Mobility: Myriad B2B and B2C Opportunities for Payers throughout the Value Chain

There are efficiency gains from further minimizing paper-intensive processes, and time savings from capturing data real-time with built-in error-checking. Revenue growth potential by harnessing mobility’s advantages of immediacy, ubiquity and unique personal engagement to capture buyers and members attention and build brand loyalty. Wellness improvements through using the GPS/accelerometer and other features of mobile devices along with the power of social media. This has a double-edged benefit for payers; mobility-enhanced wellness can be most appealing to the younger and more-educated demographics which are the most profitable segments, and can move others to an improved and thus less costly health state.

Mobility presents great potential opportunities and gains for the healthcare payer industry. While there are inherent differences between the B2B and B2C segments across the healthcare value chain processes, those payers that leverage the right opportunities for their unique strategic growth plans stand to reap significant rewards.

To learn more, please read the Everest Group Executive Point of View: Health Insurance Mobility: Myriad B2B and B2C Opportunities for Payers Throughout the Value Chain.

If “An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away,” can mHealth Apps Bring Patients and Healthcare Folks Together? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

The February 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine includes this: “A Pembrokeshire proverb;  Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” Since then a number of variants of the rhyme have been coined, up to our present-day “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Just as apples have a numerous benefits – they contain Vitamin C, reduce tooth decay by cleaning one’s teeth and killing off bacteria, and may even protect brain cells against neuro-degenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease, as has been suggested by Cornell University researchers – mHealth apps serve multiple purposes including promotion of wellness and communicating with healthcare providers, payers, and pharmacists.

Indeed, many of the country’s large healthcare providers and payers are offering patient-focused smart phone applications that will change the way information is exchanged between member patients and their physicians, hospital providers and payer companies. These are being marketed as tools that will strengthen the patient and provider relationship by allowing direct interaction with physicians.

As more applications emerge, the relationship is driven by smart phone technology and applications are at the patient’s fingertips, will this change the dynamic of how healthcare is accessed and delivered?

Eighty-one percent of physicians now report that they use a smart phone, and they are as pervasive with today’s patient population, according to a recent Manhattan Research study. The applications allow physicians to consult with their patients outside of the office, and physicians are providing good feedback on them. Yet these applications will need to increase efficiency and demonstrate workflow optimization, if they are to become a staple of how healthcare communications will be transformed in the future.

There is a rush to the top among healthcare organizations for the development and availability of mobile technology. They want to be viewed as leaders for providing mHealth for their members and constituents, thus guarding against loss of market share. But this begs the following questions:

  1. Will this development outpace potential FDA regulations?
  2. Will this provide enough convenience to be adopted and used by consumers?
  3. Can it be controlled so that accuracy, quality, and privacy issues are addressed?
  4. What does it replace as the transformation evolves?

Even though this is moving at a rapid pace, it will need to be evaluated and the end state defined. How quickly can any large healthcare payer or provider deploy this rapidly changing and disruptive technology? What will be required of the governance structure needed to support, maintain, and monitor the pervasive use of sensitive data?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. And in the near future I’ll share more of mine, and update you on movement in and traction gained in this exciting space!

The Consumerization of IT may be a Bigger Problem for Business than IT | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

King Cnut (Cnut the Great) of England, Denmark, Norway, and parts of Sweden once famously instructed the tide to refrain from rising, only to hours later find its disdain for his royal decree. Today’s CIOs find themselves faced with similar limits on their power and influence as Androids, iPhones, and iPads flood the workplace. The power of the purse cannot control these new and disruptive technologies as they are funded directly by employees. Corporate policies and other traditional control mechanisms are also being eroded or washed away in the rapid adoption of these easy to install and attach devices. Even more worrying is the ocean of ready-to-use, high-power business applications that are only one click away from installation. As enterprises find themselves waist-deep in this new reality, they are forced to accommodate these new technologies, user expectations, and business certainties.

Without belittling the significant technological and security questions this new reality poses, it is the challenge to the way enterprises do business that may have the most far-reaching implications. One of the key challenges these technologies and capabilities present is the effect they have at the interaction points between parties. Employees expect to have instant access to HR support systems and be able to conduct their interactions through mobile-enabled self-service applications. Customers have instant price look-up and competitive information at the point of purchase. Patients have their medical records on their iPhones and expect healthcare providers to be able to utilize this information yet conform with the right to privacy. Payment systems are only a Bluetooth click or barcode swipe away. The point is this: even small changes to how parties interact can create significant and sometimes surprising impacts on a firm’s structure, controls and completive models, sales channels, and governance. When these changes are imposed by the broad scale adoption of new technologies – as is the case with mobility – the question is not how to control or gate them but rather what to do now that they are here.

To further explore the extent of this impact, let’s use a major healthcare institution as an example. Healthcare is covered by strict laws that regulate how key information and data is captured, shared, and utilized. This web of regulation has contributed to the slow adoption of new information technologies across the healthcare industry, and resulted in most healthcare institutions adopting closed networks with tight controls on new devices and applications. The existing structures and polices are under attack. Patients arrive with instant access to their own data, stored on their own devices or resident in a host of cloud-based vehicles, with the reasonable expectation that clinicians utilize this information to avoid duplicate tests and take advantage of patient history. At the same time, clinicians face uncertainty on efficacy of the data, yet encounter far more educated and interactive patients. Patients are able to receive second opinions from a variety of qualified and unqualified sources in real time. When combined with changes in how clinicians (who are often independent of the provider networks) expect to interact with healthcare institutions and further complicated by payment systems that are shifting to real-time mobile-enabled devices – it is easy to see that mobility will and is changing the way medicine is and will be practiced across the entire supply chain. The organizational and business model implications look to be huge and all because nearly everyone today has the power of the Internet in their pockets.

Live from Bangalore – the NASSCOM IMS Summit, September 21 | Gaining Altitude in the Cloud

CIOs, service providers, analysts, and the business media rubbed shoulders on the power-packed first day of the NASSCOM Infrastructure Management Summit (IMS) in Bangalore. This year’s conference has the twin themes of Enterprise Mobility and Cloud Computing, with one day dedicated to each, which seems to lead to a more focused set of discussions than a super broad-based event that leaves you struggling to absorb all of what you just heard.

After the welcome address and keynote speech from Som Mittal, President of NASSCOM, and Pradeep Kar, Chairman of the NASSCOM RIM Forum, we settled in for a series of insightful presentations and panel discussions with global technology leaders.

BMC CEO Robert E. Beauchamp spoke about how the parallel paradigms of cloud, consumerization, and communication (yes, I am in alliteration mode today) require CIOs to think of a unified approach to service management. Of particular interest were Beauchamp’s insights on how different service providers are trying to interpret the cloud differently in an attempt to a) disintermediate the competition; b)  avoid being disintermediated; or c) both a and b.

IBM’s interpretation of the cloud: The cloud is all the bundled hardware, software, and middleware we have always sold to you, but now you can buy the whole stack yourself instead of us having to sell it to you.

Google’s counter: Who cares about the hardware anyway? We will buy the boxes from Taiwan – cheaper and better. It’s about what you do with it, and that’s where we come in…again.

VMWare chips in: You already own the hardware – and we will tell you how best to make use of it.

Beauchamp sees more than one way of “belling the cloud cat,” and CIOs need to figure out which direction to take based on their legacy environments, security requirements, and cost imperatives. (“Belling the cloud cat” is my take-off on a fable titled Belling the Cat. It means attempting, or agreeing to perform, an impossibly difficult task.)

As for service providers, he also foresees successful survivors and spectacular failures as the cloud conundrum disrupts traditional business models.

Mark Egan, VMWare CIO spoke about how consumerization and cloud computing are nullifying the efficacy of traditional IT management tools. According to Egan, IT needs to move from a “we’ll place an agent on the device” mode to a “heuristics” mode of analyzing data in order to prevent every CIO’s security nightmare from coming true in a consumerized enterprise.

Next up, Brian Pereira, Editor, InformationWeek, and Chandra Gnanasambandam, Partner, McKinsey, inspired us with real stories about how mobility is transforming the lives of unbanked villagers, saving billions of dollars worth of healthcare expenditure, and improving and optimizing the enterprise supply chain.

Here’s a gem of an insight: Do you know what most urban workers in the Philippines, Vietnam, or India do if they need to transfer money to parents living in rural areas? They buy a train ticket. Then they call Mum and Dad, share the ticket number, and ask them to go to the local railway station, cancel the ticket and collect the refund (minus a small cancellation fee). Wow – that’s what I call consumer-led innovation!

To summarize today’s sessions:

  • While many discussions highlighted the correctness of what Everest Group analysts are already predicting, it was invaluable to get validation on what we suspected, complete with more live examples.
  • Cloud and enterprise mobility are here to stay. With the momentum behind them – unlike other hyped up technologies – these are being demanded by the consumer, not dumped on them. And that is always going to mean something.
  • Service providers and CIOs need to evolve. In themselves, cloud and mobility do not represent a threat. But it’s a lot of change. And the threat lies in how CIOs, and their service providers, gauge the pace of the change, and react to it.

That’s it for now. Tomorrow, I share a panel with CSC and Microland to discuss “Trigger points – Driving traditional datacenter to private cloud.” Right now I’m heading off the gym in an attempt to burn all the calories I’ve put on during the day, thanks to the excellent food. Stay tuned!

Does AT&T Really Need T-Mobile’s Spectrum? | Sherpas in Blue Shirts

Even though the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued to block the merger between AT&T and T-Mobile, it is likely that AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and T-Mobile will fight that move in the courts. AT&T has other viable alternatives, and this merger is not as necessary as AT&T would like everyone to believe. Rather, this is an attempt to opportunistically acquire T-Mobile’s AWS (1.7/2.1GHz) and PCS (1.9GHz) spectrum.

First, let’s examine the documents AT&T filed with FCC the about this deal. According to the documentation:

  1. AT&T is facing a network spectrum and capacity strain due to exploding demand for mobile data in certain markets.

    ATT Growth Volume
    Source: AT&T
  2. Performance of its Global System for Mobile Telecommunications (GSM) and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) networks has begun to degrade.
  3. It is unable to deploy new UMTS carriers in certain markets to meet demand.
  4. Its continued support of three generations of network technologies and allocation of spectrum is a challenge. This is preventing it from repurposing existing spectrum for many years.
  5. Its efforts, such as additional spectrum purchases, improvements to UMTS networks, upgrade to Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+), tiered data plans, cell splitting, and network offloading are not enough to keep pace with customer demand.
  6. Construction of new cell sites is becoming increasingly lengthy due to bureaucracy approvals and lack of availability of prime locations in which to build them.
  7. It lacks sufficient 700MHz and AWS spectrum in certain markets to deploy 3GPP Long-Term Evolution (LTE) in all markets.
  8. Migration to LTE will bring more demand to its network, and it will face capacity issues with LTE within a few years.

For these reasons, AT&T believes its customers are facing increased numbers of dropped/blocked calls, network congestion, and performance issues. These issues are detrimental to its customers and shareholders. AT&T thinks that acquiring T-Mobile (its network assets and spectrum, in particular) is the best and most efficient way to overcome the challenges it is facing in the near term. It believes that:

  1. Due to the complementary nature of its and T-Mobile’s technologies, a combination will yield network and spectrum usage efficiency, e.g., by increased cell density and efficient network utilization.
  2. The combination will enable it to gain spectrum to handle incremental growth in UMTS/GSM networks, as it eventually migrates to more efficient LTE networks. AT&T will eventually repurpose the existing GSM and UMTS spectrum towards LTE usage.
  3. The combination of the companies’ spectrum will add 4.8-10 MHz of spectrum in each market through elimination of GSM control channels.
  4. The combined spectrum will enable pooling of channels, which will increase peak capacity.
  5. The acquisition will enable AT&T to increase LTE coverage from 80 percent to 97 percent across the U.S.
  6. The company will gain access to some prime T-Mobile cell sites, to which it would otherwise not have.

Let’s face it: AT&T – indeed all carriers – did not fully anticipate the rapid growth of smart phones and the associated exploding mobile data needs to their 3G networks. With demand on the rise, AT&T is looking to acquire as much spectrum it can for now and the future, as it realizes that whatever company controls the spectrum could control its competition and the industry by limiting the bandwidth available to others to improve or expand new products or services.

However, it appears that AT&T does not face an immediate shortage of spectrum. In fact, it is one of the largest holders of spectrum (including the prime 700MHz spectrum) within the United States.

Spectrum
Source: Sprint/FCC
Spectrum 2
Source: Sprint/FCC

 

AT&T has currently warehoused 40 MHz of its 700MHz, AWS, and WSC spectrum for future LTE customers (2013 onwards). And Verizon has stated it has spectrum needs up to 2015 from what it possesses today. For $US33 billion (excluding the $6 billion break up fees resulting from the acquisition of T-Mobile), its competitors, such as Sprint, believe AT&T could implement the following to optimize its spectrum utilization:

  1. Manage consumer behavior and usage beyond using tiered pricing, throttling, etc.
  2. Rather than keeping customers and still allowing new subscribers to sign onto plans and use devices utilizing older 2G technology – which is a waste of spectrum resources – incentivize subscribers to move to newer generation technologies. Doing so would enable AT&T to repurpose spectrum used for existing 2G technologies to more efficient 3 and 4G technologies, thus increasing its spectrum usage efficiency. AT&T should look to migrate iPhone users to the newer IPhone5 that uses the more efficient HSPA+.
  3. Use a portion of the 850MHz or 1900 MHz spectrum it already has in certain markets for 700MHz and AWS spectrum for LTE that it currently lacks. This would enable it to meet its target of reaching 97 percent of U.S. markets.
  4. Use its warehoused spectrum to alleviate supply constraints.
  5. Adopt software-defined radio, and move toward increased heterogeneous networks and small cell technology.
  6. Increase the percentage of network data being offloaded. The bulk of usage is still when subscribers are within buildings, and necessarily on the go. Increasing Wi-Fi access in more than the current locations could alleviate its congestion and capacity constraints.
  7. Except in major markets, new cell approvals are not as lengthy or bureaucratic as AT&T claims. Instead of owning cell towers, AT&T could increase leases from tower companies that still have excess capacity.
  8. AT&T could also reach buy/sharing agreements with T-Mobile with respect to T-Mobile’s prime cell towers. This could inject cash into T-Mobile.

When the H, J, AWS-3 blocks of spectrum are auctioned by the government, AT&T will have the opportunity to purchase spectrum. If giving up some of T-Mobile’s prime spectrum is required for this acquisition to go through, I expect AT&T to walk away from the deal or pay substantially less than the current $US39 billion offer price.

Bottom line, AT&T should first consider reorganizing and/or more efficiently using space in its present home before rushing out to buy a new house.

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