Thursday, April 29, 2010
HP's 48Upper moves IT beyond the 'anti-social' motif into a more community-oriented, socialized flow future
What I am saying is that IT is largely misunderstood outside the walls of the IT environment. And the crusty silos inside of IT can make their own cultural connections tenuous, too.
The fact is that IT over the decades has been put into the unenviable role of having to say "No" more often than "Yes." At least that's the perception.
IT forms an expensive reality check as businesses seek to reinvent themselves, and sometimes even to adapt quickly in their own markets. Saying "No" it isn't fun, but it's often truth. This is because computers are tangible, complex and logical, and businesses are, well ... dynamic, human-oriented, emotion-driven, creative and crowd-driven. Computers take a long time to set up properly and are best managed centrally, while consensus-oriented businesses change their minds twice a quarter (for better or worse).
Yes, the IT guys inhabit the happy-go-lucky no-man's land between the gaping culture chasms of bits and bytes reality versus the bubbly new business models, market inflection points, and charisma-driven leadership visionaries' next big thing.
Worse, when asked to explain why "Yes" has to mean "No" to keep the IT systems from crapping out or security holes from opening, the business side of the enterprise usually gets a technical answer from the IT guys (and gals). It's like they are all speaking different languages, coming from different planets, with different cultural references. A recipe for ... well, something short of blissful harmony. Right?
Yet, at the same time, today's visionary business workers and managers keep finding "Yes" coming from off of the Web from the likes of Google, Amazon, Microsoft and the SaaS applications providers. The comparison of free or low-cost Web-based wonders does not stack up so well against the traditional IT department restraint. The comparison might be unfair, but it's being made ... a lot.
Most disruptively, the social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are saying a lot more than just "Yes" to users -- they're saying, "Let's relate in whole new ways, kids!" The preferred medium of interaction has moved rapidly away from a world of email and static business application interfaces to "rivers" and "walls" of free-flowing information and group-speak insights. Actual work is indeed somehow getting done through friend conversations and chatty affinity groups linked by interests, concerns, proximity and even dynamic business processes.
So nowadays, IT has more than an image problem. It has a socialization problem that's not going away any time soon. So why shouldn't IT get social too in order to remain relevant and useful?
HP Software has taken notice, and is building out a new yet-unreleased social media approach to how IT does business. It may very well allow to IT to say "Yes" more often. But more importantly socially collaborative IT can relate to itself and its constituents in effective and savvy new ways.
HP's goal is to foster far better collaboration and knowledge sharing among and between IT practitioners, as well as make the shared services movement align with the social software phenomenon in as many directions as possible. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]
Called 48Upper (apparently named after an HP skunk works location in Cupertino, CA), the new IT-focused collaboration and socialized interfaces approach is being readied for release at some point in mid-2010. There's already a web site stub at www.48upper.com and a YouTube video there that portrays a new cultural identity for IT.
I was intrigued by a recent introductory chat with HP's Matt Schvimmer, Senior Director, Marketing and Business Development at 48Upper. He explained that IT people are not reflective of white lab coat stereotypes, that there's a huge opportunity to manage IT better using the tools common now among social networks and SaaS processes. His blog has more.
Matt was kind enough to share an early (dare I say, exclusive) look at an in-development (ie alpha) screen shot of 48Upper. It does meld worlds, for sure.
IT clearly needs to bridge its internal silos -- such as between development and operations, networks and servers, architects and developers. And, as stated, IT can go a long way to better communicate with the business users and leaders. So why shouldn't a Facebook-like set of applications and services accomplish both at once?
HP is not alone in seeing the value of mashups between social media methods and processes with business functions and governance. Salesforce.com has brought Chatter to the ERP suite (and beyond). Social business consultancies are springing up. Google Wave is making some of its own. Twitter and Facebook are finding their values extended deeply into the business world, whether sanctioned by IT or not.
What jumps out at me from 48Upper is how well social media interfaces and methods align with modern IT architectures and automation advances, such as IT shared services, SOA, cloud computing, and webby app development. A SOA is a great back-end for a social media front-end, so to speak.
An ESB is a great fit for a fast-paced, events-driven, policy-directed fabric of processes that is fast yet controlled. In a sense, SOA makes the scale and manageability of socialized business processes possible. The SOA can drive the applications services as well as the interactions as social gatherings. Is it any wonder HP sees an opportunity here?
By applying governance to social media activities, the best of the new sharing, and the needs of the IT requirements around access and security control, can co-exist. And -- as all of this social activity managed by a SOA churns along -- a ton of data and inference information is generated, allowing for information management and business intelligence tools to be brought into the mix.
That sets up virtuous cycles of adoption refined by data-driven analytics that help shape the next fluid iteration of the business processes (modeled and managed, of course). It allows the best of people-level sharing and innovation to be empowered by IT, and by the IT workers.
So perhaps it's time for IT to find a new way of saying, "Yes." Or at least have a vibrant conversation about it.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
By Tony BaerGo to any vendor conference and it gets hard to avoid what has become “The Obligatory Cloud Presentation” or “Slide.” It’s beyond this discussion to discuss hype vs. reality, but potential benefits like the elasticity of the cloud have made the idea too difficult to dismiss, even if most large enterprises remain wary of trusting the brunt of their mission systems to some external host, SAS 70 certification or otherwise.
So it’s not surprising that cloud has become a strategic objective for VMware and SpringSource -- both before after the acquisition that brought them together. VMware was busy forming its vCloud strategy to stay a step ahead of rivals that seek to make VMware’s core virtualization hypervisor business commodity, while SpringSource acquired CloudFoundry to take its expanding Java stack to the cloud (even as such options were coming available for .NET and emerging web languages and frameworks like Ruby on Rails).
Following last summer’s VMware SpringSource acquisition, the obvious path would have placed SpringSource as the application development stack that would elevate vCloud from raw infrastructure as a service (IaaS) to a full development platform. That remains the goal, but it’s hardly the shortest path to VMware’s strategic goals.
At this point, VMware still is getting its arms around the assets that are now under its umbrella with SpringSource. As we speculated last summer, we should see some of the features of the Spring framework itself, such as dependency injection (which abstracts dependencies so developers don’t have to worry about writing all the necessary configuration files), applied to managing virtualization. But that’s for another time, another day.
VMware’s more pressing need is to make vSphere the de facto standard for managing virtualization and making vCloud, the de facto standard for cloud virtualization. (Actually, if you think about it, it is virtualization squared: OS instances virtualized from hardware, and hardware virtualized form infrastructure.)
In turn, Salesforce.com wants to become the de facto cloud alternative to Google, Microsoft, IBM, and when they get serious, Oracle and SAP. The dilemma is that Salesforce up until now has built its own walled garden. That was fine when you were confining this to CRM and third-party AppExchange providers who piggybacked on Salesforce’s own multi-tenanted infrastructure using its own proprietary Force.com environment with its “Java-like” Apex stored procedures language.
But at the end of the day, Apex is not going to evolve into anything more than a Salesforce.com niche development platform, and Force.com is not about to challenge Microsoft .NET, or Java for that matter.
The challenge is that Salesforce, having made the modern incarnation of remote hosted computing palatable to the enterprise mainstream, now finds itself in a larger fishbowl outgunned in sheer scale by Amazon and Google, and outside the enterprise, the on-premises Java mainstream. Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff conceded as much at the VMforce launch this week, characterizing Java as “the No. 1 developer language in the enterprise.”
So VMforce is the marriage of two suitors that each needed their own leapfrogs: VMware transitions into a ready-made cloud-based Java stack with existing brand recognition, and Salesforce.com steps up to the wider Java enterprise mainstream opportunity.
Apps written using the Spring Java stack will gain access to Force.com's community and services such as search, identity and security, workflow, reporting and analytics, web services integration API, and mobile deployment. But it also means dilution of some features that make Force.com platform what it is; the biggest departure is away from the Apex language stored procedures architecture that runs directly inside the Salesforce.com relational database.
Salesforce pragmatically trades scalability of a unitary architecture for scalability through a virtualized one.
It really means that Salesforce morphs into a different creature, and now must decide whom it means to compete with because -- it’s not just Oracle business applications anymore.
Our bets are splitting the difference with Amazon, as other SaaS providers like IBM that don’t want to get weighed down by sunk costs have already done. If Salesforce wants to become the enterprise Java platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) leader, it will have to ramp up capacity, and matching Amazon or Google in a capital investment race is a nearly hopeless proposition.
This guest post comes courtesy of Tony Baer’s OnStrategies blog. Tony is a senior analyst at Ovum.
Monday, April 26, 2010
HP rolls out application modernization tools on heels of Forrester survey showing need for better app lifecycle management
Application lifecycle productivity is proving an escalating challenge in today’s enterprise. Bloated app portfolios and obsolete technologies can stifle business agility and productivity, according to a new Forrester Research IT trends survey.
A full 80 percent of IT decision makers queried cited obsolete and overly complex technology platforms as making "significant" or "critical impact" on application delivery productivity. Another 76 percent cited the negative impact of "cumbersome software development lifecycle processes," while 73 percent said it was "difficult to change legacy applications," said Forrester's consulting division. The study is available. [Disclosure: HP is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts].
A sharp focus on overcoming the challenges associated with improving applications quality and productivity is leading to a growing demand for applications modernization. Specifically, agility, cost reduction and innovation are driving modernization efforts, the Forrester survey concludes.
Fifty-one percent of Forrester’s respondents are currently modernizing software development lifecycle tools, including software testing processes. But are enterprises truly realizing the benefits of application modernization efforts?
On Monday, HP rolled out a set of application quality tools that focus on increasing business agility and reducing time to market to help more companies answer "yes" to that question. The new solutions are part of the HP Application Lifecycle Management portfolio, a key component of HP’s Application Transformation solutions to help enterprises manage shifting business demands.
New challenges, new tools
HP Service Test Management (STM) 10.5 and the enhanced HP Functional Testing 10.0 work to advance application modernization efforts in two ways. First, the tools make it easier for enterprises to focus on hindrances to application quality. Second, the tools improve the all-important line of sight between development and quality assurance teams.
“To maintain a competitive edge in today’s dynamic IT environment, it is critical for business applications to rapidly support changes without compromising quality or performance,” says Jonathan Rende, vice president and general manager of HP’s Business Technology Optimization Applications, Software and Solutions division.
HP STM 10.5 works to mitigate risk and improve business ability by setting the stage for more collaboration between development and quality assurance teams. Built on HP Quality Center, enterprises are using HP STM 10.5 to increase testing efficiency and overall throughput of application components and shared services.
Meanwhile, HP Functional Testing 10.0 ensures application quality to address changing business demands. It even offers a new Web 2.0 Feature Pack and Extensibility Accelerator that supports Web 2.0 apps and lets IT admins test any rich Internet apps technology.
“It is critical for us, particularly in the financial industry, to react rapidly to development changes early on in the testing life cycles,” says Mat Gookin, test automation lead at Suntrust Banks. “We look to ... flexible technology that keeps application quality performance high and operations cost low so we can focus on preventing risks and providing value to our end users.”
BriefingsDirect contributor Jennifer LeClaire provided editorial assistance and research on this post. She can be reached at http://www.linkedin.com/in/jleclaire and http://www.jenniferleclaire.com.