What is Happening?
ISVs can, should, and do profit from the use of advanced data analytics – not only by integrating them within software and services offerings, but more importantly, by integrating an increasing range and scope of data (including Big Data) and analytics into their own business operations and decision making. Data regarding user behavior, operational efficiencies, and relationship management can and should be analyzed to help determine and take advantage of customer / buyer desires and needs, as well as competitive abilities, solution improvements, development strategy, upsell / cross-sell opportunities, pricing, business models, and hiring / retaining the most useful employees.
These were among the lessons reported by Saugatuck Research Fellow Bruce Guptill, who had the pleasure of attending and participating in this week’s “Deciphering the Data Storm” event, presented in Boston by the Software & Services division of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA).
Key lessons learned and reported by ISVs regarding the analysis and application of a wide range of business data (including Big Data) include the following:
- Data needs “gravity” in order to be useful; i.e., data needs varying combinations of human business context, situational relevance, and environmental semantics (i.e., “the voice of the author”) in order to be qualified, let alone be useful in analysis.
- Don’t always focus on reducing / limiting the “bigness” of data. Adding to / augmenting data with similar, complementary, and relevant data can provide and improve the “gravity” of that data. The key information sought may not be found completely in your own data. That being said, don’t be afraid to apply a variety of filters to screen Big Data; just be willing to accept failure and move on quickly when the filtering doesn’t work as expected.
- Share data in common to improve collaboration. “Success” is defined differently everywhere, even within small ISVs. Utilizing common sets of data has more beneficial impact, and enables more and better business collaboration, than trying to develop and focus on a “single version of the truth.” Different groups will always have different perspectives, and use data in different ways; ensuring that the data used is common rather than simply absolute will enable better understanding, and foster more (and more useful) interaction.
- Know what the next step is. In other words, set realistic business goals beyond simply analyzing data. Once deeply into the analysis, it’s easy to lose sight of business reasons behind the analysis. And as more data becomes more readily available from more sources, it becomes more and more easy to become overwhelmed.
Finance and IT organizations are the two user enterprise power centers most likely to benefit from, and change because of, the increasing shift to Cloud-catalyzed digital business. A new Strategic Perspective published for Saugatuck subscription research clients continues our look into not only what is changing, but how, when, and why, as the Finance side of the house continues its journey through strategic and operational transformation – specifically, how Finance management systems are expected to be deployed, and when. The report builds on data and insight developed from our recent global Cloud Finance survey. The full survey findings – summarized in our Strategic Research Report entitled “Cloud Financials – The Third Wave Emerges” (1492SSR, 18Dec2014) – included 317 responses from senior Finance and IT executives – all from North American enterprises. For the purposes of this analysis, we focus on the 162 senior Finance executive responses.
First, we asked the following question (bear with us, as this includes five sub-responses as bulleted below): Continue reading
What is Happening?
Microservices is a new emerging architecture that is designed to operate well in Cloud environments. Microservices is often contrasted with traditional monolithic architectures – where instead of single cohesive applications, individual services are developed separately and connected by using interfaces – often RESTful APIs.
Because these APIs effectively abstract the inner workings of each service, Microservices can be developed using a variety of languages and technologies that best suit the service’s performance characteristics and requirements. This abstraction also allows the service to be upgraded under continuous development and deployment practices without interrupting the service, as long as the interface does not change.
Microservices architectures tend to scale well horizontally. Unlike Monolithic architectures, as load increases on any one service, it is possible to scale that service independently of the others. This allows better usage of resources, and also caters well to the Cloud, where it is possible to purchase very granular amounts of infrastructure for highly elastic and responsive scaling.
There are downsides though – primarily in the form of increased developmental and operational complexity from maintaining individual services, interfaces, and scaling resources. Microservices necessitates high-levels of automation, both in rolling out updates and deploying new services, to auto-scaling, load balancing, clustering, and fault-tolerance. Additional considerations need to be made into how applications are able to handle degraded service, since when individual services fail (and they will) the entire application doesn’t necessarily fail.
Finally, the Microservices approach plays well with legacy applications. In many cases, this is where Saugatuck expects to see the greatest adoption of Microservices in the enterprise. Because the services communicate through interfaces and are not bounded by the use of existing technologies / languages / databases, they are well suited to be added on to existing systems when additional features, functions, or performance are needed. Examples might include simple analytics services for regressions, additional small webpage applets, or asynchronous notification processes. Continue reading
Adoption of Cloud-based solutions is enabling and catalysing IT organizations to transform to new modes of operation with associated higher value propositions. In a recently published Strategic Perspective, Saugatuck defines four primary IT Organization Profiles:
- Supportive: These organizations collect, document, and analyze IT-oriented performance metrics and strive to react in a timely manner to new requirements from the business units.
- Proactive: These ensure delivery of services and strive to adopt new technologies.
- Collaborative: These collaborate with business units (BUs) to support new business processes in a timely fashion by facilitating use of new technologies.
- Innovative: These work in close partnership with BUs to innovate new business processes, products, and services.
What is Happening?
In October IBM announced surprising and disappointing revenue and profit for 3Q2014. The stock market reacted, and many trade and financial publications and pundits were quick to criticize IBM as being slow to capitalize on Cloud computing and the resulting spending shifts in both software and infrastructure. Thus, it was rather predictable that IBM has recently announced several billion-dollar-deals with very large customers (e.g., “IBM Signs Multi-Billion Dollar Cloud Computing Deal with a Dutch Bank.“).
However, some press and industry pundits were quick to express that these deals are merely further indication how IBM is not winning in the new Cloud-oriented market. Saugatuck sees things a little differently, and interprets recent IBM media and press activity as representative of how IBM and other traditional vendors are evolving with the market, and how the key to significant deals is expertise in helping large customers innovate and transform their businesses. Continue reading
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
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
In a recently published Strategic Perspective, Saugatuck offers pragmatic guidance on evaluation, planning and execution of a Cloud adoption. Specific guidance, termed The Right Stuff, is grouped into four sections. Each section contains detailed elements that should be used as a foundation for a thorough assessment and plan to avoid potentially costly missteps. The four sections of The Right Stuff are:
- The Right Questions. In this group we offer a basic list of questions that IT management should ask for every project that may include adoption of a Cloud offering.
- The Right Workload. Here we offer some elements to consider when evaluating a specific workload for potential operation in a Cloud offering
- The Right Infrastructure. Here we offer some elements to consider when evaluating infrastructure alternatives for any specific workload.
- The Right Path. Every company, every workload, every project is unique and requires a unique plan for evaluation and implementation
In a recently published Strategic Perspective, Saugatuck articulates how a Hosted Private Cloud may be the best alternative for workloads involving sensitive data requiring a degree of security. In addition we offer seven additional key factors to consider when evaluating Cloud offerings for specific workloads:
- Optimal Capacity
- Flexible Capacity
- Server Provisioning
- Availability and Disaster Recovery
- Application considerations
- Metered Usage and Chargeback
“Cloud Robotics” as a term is only a few years old, but the idea has been around for some time. If complex sensory tasks can be performed at a distance, then robots will need to have less bulky processing units on board. With expanding connectivity and higher bandwidths, some of the latency issues in this type of arrangement are being removed, and many vendors are looking at this area with renewed interest.
Robotics are essential to modern industry, and will play an ever-increasing role in daily life. Many, such as vehicles, will require some degree of autonomy. They will also require an ever increasing amount of processing and storage. The Cloud makes it possible to virtualize robot components and provide sensory and other solutions that can take advantage of the enormous facilities of Cloud IT. Robotic components can be virtualized and provided for interaction and download as a Robot-as-a-Service parts. Using the Cloud, moreover, provides access to all of the data and programming available on the Internet, and the ability to directly share learning between robots. It also makes it possible to coordinate robot teams for work on complex processes. Continue reading