IDG Contributor Network: How SaaS abandonment is killing your enterprise bottom line

Ten years ago every company bought enterprise software, often in abundance. Today, 96% of organizations have now shelved some or all of it. While buying software is daunting, it is essential for competing in increasingly sophisticated industries.

The right software stack can give companies a competitive advantage, and because it is so much easier to buy today, brands are increasingly open to buying from more and more vendors.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Making a business case for Alexa

I have been fascinated with the idea of a personal voice assistant since the day Amazon made their Echo devices available. Once in awhile I come back to it, try to write another skill, see what is new. I published a couple of articles on the topic. I struggle to find a good use case for a business application. A lot of it has to do with technical limitations.

On February 23, 2017, Amazon published a blog post celebrating over 10,000 skills. The good news is that this is a three-fold increase since September of 2016. The bad news is that the majority of the skills are solutions in search of problems.

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IDG Contributor Network: PureSec picks up investment because serverless is exciting

While in Israel late last year, I caught up with Shaked Zin and Avi Shulman, co-founders of security company PureSec. PureSec was in a bit of a conundrum. It was doing important work but in a space that was still nascent: serverless computing. As such, it was having a hard time both articulating its value proposition and getting investors to understand and commit to their story.

I found this conundrum interesting. Serverless computing is, after all, pretty high on the hype cycle. Ever since Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced the notion of serverless via its Lambda offering a few years ago, all vendors have been rushing to commercialize their own serverless offering.

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IDG Contributor Network: The high cost and risk of On-Premise vs. Cloud

When was the last time I bought an on-prem application?  Over five years ago and I am not looking back. Having been a CIO for many years, I have seen my share of large-scale software implementations and the maintenance and upgrade overhead that comes with on-prem applications. The numbers are varied, but it’s safe to assume that 30-40% of companies have moved into the Cloud and use it as a resource for their applications and/or infrastructure.

Should you simply jump into the pool with the others?  Of course not. First off, a simple “lift and shift” of applications from on-prem into the Cloud will produce minimal benefit if any, and those may be consumed by the resources required for the move itself. That said, a careful strategy to re-engineer your applications platform into the Cloud could have significant cost savings and operational efficiencies. A very detailed TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) is required before making such a strategic decision. There are a variety of published methods for calculating TCO.  My advice is to make friends with the team in Finance and together agree on which method is best for your environment.  Then partner with Finance to do the TCO.  If it has Finance’s fingerprint on it, the credibility ranking goes real high.  

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IDG Contributor Network: Twilio jumps on the serverless bandwagon

News from the second day of Twilio’s annual developer conference, Signal. While yesterday’s big news focused around end-user functionality (in particular speech recognition and understanding), today’s news is more down in the weeds but no less important for a company at the cutting edge of the developer experience.

You see developers are, by nature, tinkerers and like to experiment with new stuff. Sometimes this is simply professional interest, but often it’s because of an almost pathological desire to do things effectively, efficiently and elegantly. A case in point is the current developer move towards serverless technologies. First commercialized by Amazon Web Services (AWS) with its Lambda product, but now matched by offerings from the other cloud vendors, serverless approaches mean that developers don’t need to set up servers to run their applications, they can simply rely on setting triggers, logical steps and the cloud vendor takes over the rest.

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IDG Contributor Network: SAP sets a course for the future

At its massive customer conference held last week in Orlando, SAP made it clear that it was charting a new course for the future. In announcing Leonardo — what it calls a digital innovation system — and in interviews with company executives, the message was unambiguous: SAP is an important part of the enterprise digital transformation story.

While the messaging around Leonardo was a bit muddled and at times felt like a bucket of buzzwords, it represents a decisive step forward in its effort to transform the company from a legacy, back-office technology player into the enterprise’s digital transformation platform and enabler of choice. According to its press release, the goal of Leonardo is to, “enable customers to rapidly innovate and scale that innovation to redefine their business for the digital world.”

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Network World Cloud

IDG Contributor Network: Twilio does speech recognition and understanding, the right way

We’ve all had horrendous experiences with voice recognition when calling a support center – I’d like to think that it’s just me with my slightly unusual Kiwi accent, but everyone I talk to has similar stories of getting exasperated at an automated call center that hopelessly gets even the most basic speech recognition exercises wrong. It’s a sad reality of the modern world that organizations try to shoehorn users into solutions that aren’t yet fit for purpose, just to save some costs.

The world of communications has been the focus of Jeff Lawson for the past few years. Lawson is founder and CEO of Twilio, the company that offers a modular communications platform that developers use to power the communication functions of their apps. From tiny startups to huge companies like Uber rely on Twilio to manage all the communication stuff, so that they don’t have to. in a phone conversation prior to Twilio’s annual developer conference, Signal, Lawson told me that ever since the beginnings of Twilio, back when all they did was voice communications, he has hated voice recognition.

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IDG Contributor Network: An under-pressure OpenStack gets support from an (in)famous individual

Last week saw a few thousand devoted OpenStack community members flock to Boston to take part in the bi-annual OpenStack Summit. This summit marks a major turning point for the initiative. Since we all congregated in Barcelona last year, there have been some major pieces of news which have rocked the community. Only a couple of weeks before the event, Intel pulled out of a partnership with Rackspace to build an OpenStack-based test facility, and OpenStack poster boy Mirantis pivoted from a pure OpenStack strategy to one covering a number of open source initiatives.

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IDG Contributor Network: When does tech make you money and when does it cost you?

There’s an interesting Forbes article on the topic of turning a cost center into a profit center. In it, author Larry Myler talks about three ways to “become a hero” by:

  1. Killing overhead,
  2. Inventing revenue, and
  3. Supporting company strategy.

Having worked in cost centers within organizations myself, I was skeptical as to whether this can actually be done. If so, it would change the game for just about any company trying to reduce costs and increase revenues (and that would be almost every organization).

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Going interstellar with Microsoft Cosmos

At Microsoft’s Build developer conference last week, the company announced Cosmos DB, a new cloud database offering that, if you believe the hype, entirely changed the database game. Before reelecting on what this means for developers and organizations, it’s worth taking a look at what Cosmos is.

Cosmos is a schema-free database service built with the aim of delivering high performance, fault tolerance, automatic indexing of data and truly globally distributed scalability. Cosmos is, at least in part, the evolution of Microsoft’s previous DocumentDB offering. DocumentDB was Redmond’s first foray into the NoSQL world. And while DocumentDB was a NoSQL choice in contrast to Microsoft’s relation offerings, Cosmos DB is multi-modal, offering developers the options to store relational or non-relational data. Scott Guthrie, Microsoft’s perennially red-shirted Executive Vice President of the Cloud and Enterprise group, described Cosmos as, “the first globally distributed, multi-model database service delivering turnkey global horizontal scale out with guaranteed uptime and millisecond latency at the 99th percentile.”

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IDG Contributor Network: RackWare, like everyone, wants to manage hybrid clouds everywhere

RackWare offers a management and automation platform that enterprises use to manage their computing resources to more closely follow demand. RackWare’s core proposition is that its management suite delivers cost savings to customers of a suggested 40 to 50 percent. Additionally, RackWare promises to deliver the highest levels of performance and availability to their customers.

The company today released a new take on its management suite that aims to extend the existing core RackWare offering. The new platform promises to offer enterprises a single solution (they refrained from calling it a single pane of glass) to move applications, protect those same applications and manage all the different applications across the totality of their infrastructure. Justifying the move, RackWare points to a recent IDC report that suggests 70 percent of heavy cloud users are considering a hybrid cloud strategy.

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Network World Cloud

IDG Contributor Network: How to avoid downtime and disruption when moving data

Business Continuity Awareness Week 2017 is here, and hopefully it will present a fresh opportunity to review some of the cloud’s limitations in this area.

Some 60 percent of all enterprise IT workloads will be run in some form of public or private cloud by as soon as next year, according to 451 Research’s latest estimate. It projects particularly strong growth in critical categories, including data analytics and core business applications. Findings from IDC, Gartner and Forrester present broadly the same picture—that the cloud is rapidly becoming central rather than peripheral to general IT provision.

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Network World Cloud

IDG Contributor Network: Azure Stack and the role of context

There were dozens of announcements at Microsoft’s Build conference last week, but perhaps one caused the most angst among the cloud cognoscenti.

I’m referring to the upcoming general availability of Azure Stack. Microsoft’s offering will let organizations leverage the Azure cloud operating system, but only within the context of an on-premises deployment.

Azure Stack has something of a checkered past — it has been announced, in one guise or another, more than once. I remember years ago the notion of a private cloud deployment that would involve Microsoft software and partner hardware. That never really eventuated, and things went quiet.

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IDG Contributor Network: Xero breaks through its glass ceiling: customers, revenue and cashflow

It’s fair to say that no one has been covering Xero longer than I have. I first talked to its co-founder and CEO, Rod Drury, long before the company launched a product. Trawling back through my emails and I discovered that we first talked about his vision 10 years ago to the day. (Rod, we really should have a celebratory beer!) I can’t imagine he’ll be celebrating the milestone, but it does go to show just how long Drury has been on this journey.

When it was founded, Xero took a very unusual path, listing on the New Zealand Stock Exchange before it even had a real product and customers. Backed by some high-profile names, and with Drury’s masterful marketing execution, Xero got its IPO away in the nick of time, just before the GFC really took its hold.

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IDG Contributor Network: An API recipe for the disruption of traditional industries

The use of APIs is a good indicator of an enterprise’s ability to adapt to the digital needs of customers. APIs are at the heart of a business’ ability to develop products faster, seamlessly integrate data systems, and extend their reach to new partners and other value co-creators.

Business readiness for digital

You can often tell a business’ API readiness just by looking at their website. If they have an online chat system for customers to reach out, offer email or white paper downloads, have an intuitive, engaging design, and offer some way to contact them via mobile devices, chances are they are at least taking steps towards being digitally ready.

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IDG Contributor Network: Microsoft announces a Surface laptop that won’t run Call of Duty

Locked-down laptops rule the classroom.

It’s already possible to control what apps can be accessed if you hand a middle schooler a Chromebook. What can you run on that thing? Not anything fun. Industrious hackers could run a first-person shooter through a browser window, but let’s be honest — it’s not going to run the latest Call of Duty game.

Now, Microsoft wants to essentially do the same thing.

The Microsoft Surface laptop — available in four trendy colors like cobalt blue — weighs 2.76 pounds, opens with a finger, and runs the new Windows 10 S operating system, which only supports approved apps you can download from the Windows Store.

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IDG Contributor Network: Catching up with Adaptive Insights and ruminating over the future

I’ve written in the past about Adaptive Insights, a Silicon Valley-based company in the corporate performance management (CPM) space.

CPM is a term that describes vendors who help organizations plan and model in order to get better insights over future organizational performance. Since I last caught up with the company, they have enjoyed 30% annual growth and now have 3,500 global customers spread across all the different financial/ERP products — from Xero at the smaller end of town all the way up to SAP.

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IDG Contributor Network: Checking in on a newly acquired NetSuite

Last week, around 10,000 customers, partners, analysts and employees descended on Las Vegas for NetSuite’s SuiteWorld conference.

This was the first SuiteWorld since Oracle’s acquisition of NetSuite. All eyes were on the conference to see how the tone might have changed as NetSuite entered the mothership. As previous SuiteWorld’s have all taken place in the Bay Area, this was also the first time the event was held in Las Vegas. Former CEO Zach Nelson’s departure from the company added to the already high levels of interest in the event.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: In an effort to get its house in order, Docker containerizes and ships out its CEO

Big changes for Docker Inc. What’s behind them, and what does it mean?

News that Docker Inc., the commercial organization behind the open source Docker initiative, has replaced its CEO will come as a shock to many, and not to others. I recently covered some PR blunders that Docker has made but these, to be honest, are simply symptoms of a far more serious malady — a company that has a massive valuation, huge interest, a growing ecosystem but is under pressure to tie that all together into a viable business. Quite simply, Docker (the open source project) is far more successful than its eponymously named commercial entity and there is pressure for that to change. Indeed, recently I took part in a panel discussing the recent DockerCon conference and all it means for the business.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Kimble launches A.I.-enabled PSA — buzzwords or innovation?

Kimble first came to my attention awhile ago after I’d written a few commentaries about the broader professional services automation (PSA) space.

PSA is a space of huge growth as increasingly more organizations move to services-based models. Along with this customer growth, there is a corresponding increase in vendor activity. FinancialForce claims PSA dominance, at least when it comes to integrated financial/PSA offerings, and this dominance has been their main vector of attack against arch rival (and also a vendor offering a combined ERP/PSA product) NetSuite.

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IDG Contributor Network: What happens when ‘Net Neutrality’ becomes ‘Pay-To-Play’?

Net neutrality is like a public park that anyone can use. ‘Pay-To-Play’ is a private club that only rich members use.

What happens to the internet when access isn’t equal? (Or to paraphrase George Orwell in Animal Farm, “We’re all equal, but some are more equal than others”). 

How could this impact consumers, businesses and non-profits?

“Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission outlined a sweeping plan to loosen the government’s oversight of high-speed internet providers, a rebuke of a landmark policy approved two years ago to ensure that all online content is treated the same by the companies that deliver broadband service to Americans”, reports the NYT.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Move to the cloud: The barriers are all removed

Still have concerns about moving to the cloud? It’s time to take another look. Like you, I was skeptical, risk-averse, downright nervous. Since overcoming my self-induced psychological roadblocks, I finally drank the Kool-Aid. I have not purchased an on-premise application in over five years. I’ve bought only cloud technology and have never looked back. Historical barriers I was concerned about relating to flexibility, cost, staffing and most importantly security are now gone, or reduced significantly to remove any obstacles to full-scale adoption. I am now looking at the competition…in my rear-view mirror.

Flexibility

With an on-premise architecture, enhancements to your platform may require additional investments in hardware, software and networking to mention a few. These cannot only be expensive, but take considerable time to implement. With a cloud platform, enhancements can be a mere phone call away, reducing your implementation time significantly.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Move to the cloud: The barriers are all removed

Still have concerns about moving to the cloud? It’s time to take another look. Like you, I was skeptical, risk-averse, downright nervous. Since overcoming my self-induced psychological roadblocks, I finally drank the Kool-Aid. I have not purchased an on-premise application in over five years. I’ve bought only cloud technology and have never looked back. Historical barriers I was concerned about relating to flexibility, cost, staffing and most importantly security are now gone, or reduced significantly to remove any obstacles to full-scale adoption. I am now looking at the competition…in my rear-view mirror.

Flexibility

With an on-premise architecture, enhancements to your platform may require additional investments in hardware, software and networking to mention a few. These cannot only be expensive, but take considerable time to implement. With a cloud platform, enhancements can be a mere phone call away, reducing your implementation time significantly.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: ZeroStack and Nimble get close to offering a converged infrastructure solution

Maybe I haven’t attended many legacy vendors’ conferences lately, but I haven’t seemed to have heard many converged infrastructure mentions recently.

Go back a year or two and every legacy vendor under the sun (and every younger vendor wanting to partner or be acquired by a legacy vendor) was dropping the converged infrastructure moniker all the time. Converged infrastructure (CI from now on) is a pretty simple concept, one which users of personal computing devices will see as normal. Essentially CI is all about offering storage, compute and the infrastructure to run it all within one unit. Instead of having a standalone storage device, some compute infrastructure elsewhere, and some software to tie it all together, CI packs it all up nicely with a bow on it.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: The revolution will not be televised – it’ll be computerized

Imagine that you have millions of supporters eager to help your cause. You only have a few weeks to get organized and hardly any existing systems or budget. How do you harness all the volunteer energy?

This was the challenge that the Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign faced. The system developed would be used to make seventy-five million calls, launch eight million text messages, and hold more than one-hundred thousand public meetings.

How did they do it? What software was used? What lessons were learnt?

Background

Political campaigns are a stress test of organizing skills. Only candidates who do well in the initial caucuses and primaries proceed in the campaign. It’s essential to organize, raise funds and expand quickly. Systems and infrastructure have to be built with limited time, budgets and manpower.

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Lessons learned from the recent AWS S3 outage

Amazon S3 underpins many AWS services, including AWS Lambda, Elastic BeanStalk, and Amazon’s own Service Health Dashboard. It also serves as an object and media store for many other internet services that rely on it every day.

On February 28th, 2017 AWS experienced an hours long outage of the Amazon S3 Service in US-EAST–1 region. That created a cascading effect of outages across a good chunk of the internet, including services like Dockerhub.

A human error turned out to be the root cause:

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Love Google? You might be ditching Slack for Hangouts Chat soon

In the Google ecosystem, there’s only a small amount of overhead.

Google Docs loads quickly, and it’s a click away from Gmail. When you need a file, it’s easy to grab one on Google Drive. For business users, this has proved to be an efficient workflow suite. I use it on a daily basis, and the one thing that always impresses me is how quickly and efficiently it all works.

Now, Google is releasing a powerful new app called Hangouts Chat, which is similar to Slack, Convo, and Microsoft Teams (which debuts next week). It’s available as part of the G Suite platform (formerly known as Google for Work) through a gradual roll-out, although you can apply to test it as an early adopter right away. Like Microsoft Teams and the way it runs within Office 365, Chat is intended to run within the “Google world” so you can quickly share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, swap files, start a video call, and arrange meetings.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Cloud war collateral: What the rise of AWS, Azure has meant for data centers

When Henry Ford introduced the Model T in the fall of 1908, he likely didn’t comprehend the full scope of events he would set in motion. Come 1914, and Ford’s production line had reduced assembly times from 12 hours to less than two and a half hours, slashed the going price of an automobile, and redefined the working wage of factory employees, ultimately putting more than 15 million Model T’s on the road and igniting the entire automotive industry in the years to come.

Competition often leads to innovation and progress for other industry players. One modern equivalent of this can be seen in the rise of public and private cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft.  AWS’ sales numbers recently topped $ 12 billion, up nearly 55 percent from the same period last year. Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to push ahead and is projected to reach $ 20 billion in annual cloud revenue by June 2018. As these powerhouses and others like Oracle and Google continue to see widespread adoption across industries, other players have stepped in to consume their piece of the $ 204 billion-dollar cloud infrastructure pie, leading to an ecosystem of cloud and data center partners that continue to push the technology envelope to expand capabilities of these offerings. 

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Network World Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Docker draws distinctions between enterprise and community editions

Docker Inc., the company known for popularizing the concept of containers, is refining its business model and product portfolio by ‘containerizing’ Docker.

The company has renamed the Docker Commercially Supported (CS) edition to the Docker Enterprise Edition (EE). It’s also changing the name of Docker Engine to Docker Community Edition.

But renaming isn’t the only change. “Docker Enterprise Edition is more than the CS Engine, as we’ve built a complete certification program around it for both container content and platform plugins on the Docker platform and announced partners,” said David Messina, SVP of Marketing, Docker Inc., in an email. “Additionally, we’ve made it modular, bundling several different options for organizations depending on their requirements.”

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CIO Cloud Computing

IDG Contributor Network: Qwilt moves content delivery to the edge

The other day I was quietly driving along a country road near where I live and happened across an irate looking driver, parked up at the edge of the road. Much of his irate-ness was, I assume, caused by the fact that he was driving a late model, European sports car which had unceremoniously broken down rendering him hot (it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere), immobile and in possession of a very expensive hunk of steel and alloy.

As I left the scene, with him not wanting outside help, I got thinking about how being broken down on the side of a road with a very expensive vehicle is analogous to having some fantastic content on the internet that, alas, can’t get to those who want to view it. It looks good, but is pretty much useless to everyone.

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Computerworld Cloud Computing