Cloud Security is People!

What is Happening?          

The recent leak of 7 million Dropbox passwords has raised the inevitable blog posts and questions regarding Cloud security. It’s another round of questions including “Can the Cloud be secured?” and “Will advances in security technology protect our data?”

Saugatuck’s take, with apologies to the classic science fiction film “Soylent Green,” is this: ”Cloud security is people!”

While technologically, Cloud-based resources remain more secure than most enterprise data centers, the widespread, boundary-free utilization of Cloud-provided IT and business resources increases the likelihood of human error because it removes traditional boundaries in IT and business. Initiatives such as Cisco’s Intercloud, and similar Cloud aggregation / integration efforts by HP, IBM, Microsoft and others, extend the range and scope of not only Clouds and everything linked to them, but of the number and type of people using, managing, and connecting through them.

When more resources are used by more entities, some of which may be unknown, more of which are removed from any centralized or fixed environment, and many of which are used sometimes in new and innovative ways, the potential risk for security failures increases dramatically because human involvement increases. Technology won’t save us when the people using and managing the technology fail to use and manage it correctly. Continue reading

Large-Enterprise Financials – A Less Scary Path to the Future

Most people are risk-averse. Growing up, my parents certainly were. And it has long been clear that most large-enterprise CFOs are. So it has not been that surprising that the Office of the CFO has been cautious in adopting Cloud-based solutions, regardless as to whether any of their fears are substantially justified or not.

No doubt, pockets of next-gen solution adoption have been occurring for some time throughout Finance, although mostly around the periphery. Cloud players such as Adaptive Insights, Host Analytics and Tidemark are having strong success in the business planning and budgeting space. Niche players such as Avalara and Kyriba are likewise enjoying strong demand in the Sales / Use Tax and Corporate Treasury segments respectfully. And providers of Cloud-based core Accounting / Financials targeting SMBs and mid-market firms have likewise seen some solid success, including firms such as Intacct, Kenandy, FinancialForce and especially NetSuite – as well as newer next-gen versions from Sage, Epicor and Infor, all of whom have been heavily investing in / reinventing their solution sets.

For the largest of enterprises, though, we still haven’t yet seen the explosive growth in core financials anticipated only a couple of years ago. To some degree we have viewed this as a “chicken or the egg” issue – as until the last year or two, large enterprises lacked robust / fully fleshed out / credible financials / accounting offerings to evaluate and choose from.

However, that has been changing – as four options are now available to serve the unique needs of this high-end market segment. NetSuite has been having some success going upmarket with its two-tier financial consolidation play for a couple of years now. Oracle has come to market with its Fusion Financials Cloud Service, and both Workday (see recent Lens360 blog post) and SAP now have much richer and more powerful solutions that can support the needs of the largest of enterprises.

As part of our focused 2014-2015 research program on Cloud Financials, last Continue reading

Renovate or Modernize: A Digital Imperative

The rallying cry for system integrators (SIs) and professional services organizations (PSO) attached to today’s vendors of Cloud and other Digital solutions is “modernization.” It sounds logical to want to bring systems up to date, and there may be multiple motives for a provider to recommend such activity. These align with the three basic forms of modernization services:

  1. Porting to a new system platform,
  2. Upgrading to a new software release,
  3. Renovating the system architecture.

Porting to a new system platform may involve a hardware upgrade (or downgrade), as one possibility, or for another, it may entail moving to a private or public Cloud or to a colocation data center. If the underlying system platform is inefficient or unreliable, the value of this alternative is clear. Porting to a new system platform may also be part of a more complex modernization strategy requiring a new software release or a renovation of the system architecture. Continue reading

Cloud and Mobile Shape a New Vision of Innovation

Recent surveys have shown the increasing importance of Cloud and Mobile technologies in fostering innovation. While these exist within a cluster of mutually supporting technologies, such as Analytics, APIs, and an overall Digital Business context, they deserve a closer look as platform components for a new vision of innovation.

As the need for innovation becomes increasingly acute, and the profitability window continues to shrink, businesses need to look beyond idea sources to the processes supporting innovation and new product development. Cloud and Mobile technologies can play an important supporting role in energizing the traditional gated innovation process. These changes can make innovation more efficient and more effective, bringing some of the simplicity and rapid response that we have seen in Agile software development to the critical process of developing next generation products and services. Continue reading

Progress Exchange 2014: Disruption Fuels Continued Relevance

What is Happening?

Imagine attending a vendor conference where you get just enough exercise, just enough to eat and drink, and learn just what you need for a great blog post. I wrote that line as a tweet, reflecting on the many conferences I’ve attended through the years when you walk miles and miles between sessions, overindulge in food or drink through sheer conviviality and never quite get the core messages the conference sponsors intended, despite very high-gloss keynotes with booming sound tracks. Is this the one, maybe?

It begins well enough with stimulating, but not deafening music, eye-catching and thought-provoking visuals on the theme of innovation, and a video that emphasizes the interconnections that make the information you need immediately available, ah nirvana!

Progress Software CEO Phil Pead kicked off Progress Exchange 14 by commenting on the warm-up video and on the theme of partnership and problem solving through software engineering, and those are the twin uber-themes that wove through the keynotes. The reason behind all of this emphasis on innovation is a business imperative: innovation. Pead’s motif was the unpredictable disruption in the marketplace or the Black Swan that Nassim Taleb made popular in his great business book on the subject. Can you identify your competitor? Or does disruption come from somewhere entirely unexpected? Continue reading

The Curious Incident of the HP Announcement

The immediate fallout from this week’s big #HPbreakup announcement reminds me of one of the great bits of dialogue in the Sherlock Homes story “Silver Blaze.” The scene goes like this:

  • Gregory (Scotland Yard detective): “Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?”
  • Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.”
  • Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.”
  • Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

In short, while something important and influential happened, the dog gave no alarm. It provided an extremely important clue in the case.

As I write this, we are more than one business day after founding titan of the IT industry HP announced that it would split itself into two separate, but related, provider firms. Each will deliver $50B-plus in annual revenues; each will be publically traded; each will address a large segment of a rapidly-shifting IT marketplace.

Tens of thousands of employees are being directly affected. Thousands if not tens of thousands of channel partners, developers, and other ecosystem members will be affected; as will millions of users within thousands of customer firms.

Yet, after a flurry of blog posts and business news articles immediately before and after the announcement, there is significant quiet in the industry. One telling factor: HP is not listed among the top ten topics in either Google Business or Technology Continue reading

Cisco, Intercloud, and Re-thinking Cloud Business Models

The Intercloud announcements made by Cisco Systems indicate not only that the company is rethinking and reinventing its own business strategy and approach, but also how the business of Cloud continues to reshape the strategy and go-to-market approaches of just about all IT providers – and at an increasing pace. A new Strategic Perspective just published for Saugatuck Technology research clients uses Cisco’s latest Intercloud announcements as an example and as a jumping-off point to examine how much IT providers’ Cloud business strategies need to change, how quickly they should change, and how often. Continue reading

HP’s New Mantra: Divide and Conquer

After intermittent speculation going back almost a decade, Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) has announced that it will split into two separate companies: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and HP Inc. The split is projected to be completed by the end of HP’s fiscal 2015, which is 31 October 2015.

Hewlett-Packard Enterprise is expected to “build upon HP’s leading position in servers, storage, networking, converged systems, services and software as well as the company’s OpenStack Helion cloud platform,” while HP Inc. will be built around the more commodity-oriented PC and printer groups. In short, HP Inc. will retain the company’s current logo and continue the company’s legacy cash-cow business (albeit with planned expansion into 3D printing and various “creative” efforts focused on portable computing devices), while Hewlett-Packard Enterprise will be the large customer-oriented, Cloud-catalyzed, integrated services provider enterprise Master Brand.

Current HPQ CoB and CEO Meg Whitman will be President and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise; Pat Russo has been named as Chairman of the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise board. Interestingly, Whitman will also be the chair of the HP Inc. board, with Dion Weislerto to be President and Chief Executive Officer of HP Inc. The two companies will each be publicly traded, and are being positioned as being “independent” from one another despite the strategic, C-level-plus-board-level overlap with Whitman.

Saugatuck sees this split as significant in two ways: One, obviously, because it is a significant strategic move by one of the oldest and most influential Master Brands in IT. The other, because it shines a brilliant spotlight on how the IT business has changed in very sweeping and fundamental ways over the past several years, and how much Continue reading

How the Geospatial Industry is Changing Digital Business

If the assets or customers of a business are distributed or moving, then adequate location information is not just a nice-to-have, it is critical. The ubiquity of devices and sensors, sometimes called the Internet of Things (IoT), combines with the global expansion of mobility via smartphones and other portable devices to add a steady ongoing stream of geotagged data. In addition, this is an enormous industry — the economic impact of geospatial services is about the same as that of the global security services industry.

While geospatial standards efforts are progressing, the vendor ecosystem offers uneven approaches, leaving enterprises to piece together working solutions. Handling geospatial data incorrectly has significant monetary, legal, environmental, and competitive consequences for vendors and enterprises; using it correctly as a core component of Digital Business can be powerful in planning, reporting, and predicting.

Firms are just beginning to understand the full implications of managing Digital Business transformation. Saugatuck believes, and its recent survey results reinforce, that mobility is the single most influential / important factor enabling Digital Business today. The results also show that five of the top seven growth drivers involve customer engagement. Continue reading

ISV to Cloud Transitions: The Saga Continues

What is Happening?

On 29 September, Tibco, a provider of middleware / infrastructure and business intelligence software, agreed to be bought by Vista Equity Partners for approximately US$4.3 billion. Saugatuck sees this as another proof-point resulting from the expanding adoption of cloud-based offerings. Traditional software providers (ISVs) are experiencing formidable challenges and mixed success in transitioning their businesses to the realities of cloud application development, delivery, and purchase.

Why is it Happening?

For seven years Saugatuck has published research focused on the motivations and challenges traditional ISVs face in transitioning to cloud-based offerings. Some of those challenges have been mitigated over time; today more usage-tracking and customer billing alternatives with richer functionality and more readily available best practices for structuring cloud-based development are available. However, some challenges remain. It is Saugatuck’s belief that Vista’s decision to take Tibco private is likely a reaction to two of these remaining challenges: Continue reading