Friday, September 18, 2009

Caught between peak and valley -- How CIOs survive today, while positioning for tomorrow

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and View a full transcript or download the transcript. Download the slides. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Are CIOs are making the right decisions and adjustments in both strategy and execution as we face a new era in IT priorities? The combination of the down economy, resetting of IT investment patterns, and the need for agile business processes, along with the arrival of some new technologies, are all combining to force CIOs to reevaluate their plans.

What should CIOs make as priorities in the short, medium, and long terms? How can they reduce total cost, while modernizing and transforming IT? What can they do to better support their business requirements? In a nutshell, how can they best prepare for the new economy?

Here to help address the pressing questions during a challenging time -- and yet also a time in which opportunity and differentiation for CIOs beckons -- is Lee Bonham, marketing director for CIO Agenda Programs in HP’s Technology and Solutions Group. The interview is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Bonham: We all recognize that we’re in a tough time right now. In a sense, the challenge has become even more difficult over the past six months for CIOs and other decision-makers. Many people are having to make tough decisions about where to spend their scarce investment dollars. The demand for technology to deliver business value is still strong, and it perhaps has even increased, but the supply of funding resources for many organizations has stayed flat or even gone down.

To cope with that, CIOs have to work smarter, not harder, and have to restructure their IT spending. Looking forward, we see, again, a change in the landscape. So, people who have worked through the past six months may need to readjust now.

What that means for CIOs is they need to think about how to position themselves and how to position their organizations to be ready when growth and new opportunity starts to kick in. At the same time, there are some new technologies that CIOs and IT organizations need to think about, position, understand, and start to exploit -- if they’re to gain advantage.

Organizations need to take stock of where they are and implement three strategies:
  • Standardize, optimize, and automate their technology infrastructure -- to make the best use of the systems that they have installed and have available at the moment. Optimizing infrastructure can lead to some rapid financial savings and improved utilization, giving a good return on investment (ROI).
  • Prioritize -- to stop doing some of the projects and programs that they’ve had on their plate and focus their resources in areas that give the best return.
  • Look at new, flexible sourcing options and new ways of financing and funding existing programs to make sure that they are not a drain on capital resources. We’ve been putting forward strategies to help in these three areas to allow our customers to remain competitive and efficient through the downturn. As I said, those needs will carry on, but there are some other challenges that will emerge in the next few months.
Growth may come in emerging markets, in new industry segments, and so on. CIOs need to look at innovation opportunities. Matching the short-term and the long-term is a real difficult question. There needs to be a standard way of measuring the financial benefit of IT investment that helps bridge that gap.

There are tools and techniques that leading CIOs have been putting in place around project prioritization and portfolio management to make sure that they are making the right choices for their investments. We’re seeing quite a difference for those organizations that are using those tools and techniques. They’re getting very significant benefits and savings.

The financial community is looking for fast return -- projects that are going to deliver quick benefits. CIOs need to make sure that they represent their programs and projects in a clear financial way, much more than they have been before this period. Tools like Project and Portfolio Management (PPM) software can help define and outline those financial benefits in a way that financial analysts and CFOs can recognize.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and View a full transcript or download the transcript. Download the slides. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Jericho Forum aims to guide enterprises through risk mitigation landscape for cloud adoption

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: The Open Group.

My latest podcast discussion comes from The Open Group’s 23rd Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference and associated 3rd Security Practitioners Conference in Toronto.

We're talking about security in the cloud and decision-making about cloud choices for enterprises. There has been an awful lot of concern and interest in cloud and security, and they go hand in hand.

We'll delve into some early activities among several standards groups, including the Jericho Forum. They are seeking ways to help organizations approach cloud adoption with security in mind.

Here to help on the journey toward safe cloud adoption, we're joined by Steve Whitlock, a member of the Jericho Board of Management. The interview is conducted by me, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Whitlock: A lot of discussions around cloud computing get confusing, because cloud computing appears to be encompassing any service over the Internet. The Jericho Forum has developed what they call a Cloud Cube Model that looks at different axis or properties within cloud computing, issues with interoperability, where is the data, where is the service, and how is the service structured.

The Cube came with a focus on three dimensions: whether the cloud was internal

The in-source-outsource question is still relevant. That’s essentially who is doing the work and where their loyalty is.

or external, whether it’s was open or proprietary, and, originally, whether it was insourced or outsourced. ... There are a couple of other dimensions to consider as well. The insource-outsource question is still relevant. That’s essentially who is doing the work and where their loyalty is.

They've also coupled that with the layered model that looks at hierarchical layer of cloud services, starting at the bottom with files services and moving up through development services, and then full applications.

The Jericho Forum made its name early on for de-perimeterization or the idea that barriers between you and your business partners were eroded by the level of connectivity you needed do the business. Cloud computing could be looked at the ultimate form of de-perimeterization. You no longer know even where your data is.

... Similar to SOA, the idea of direct interactive services on demand is a powerful concept. I think the cloud extends it. If you look at some of these other layers, it extends it in ways where I think services could be delivered better.

It would be nice if the cloud-computing providers had standards in this area. I don’t see them yet. I know that other organizations are concerned about those. In general, the three areas concerned with cloud computing are, first, security, which is pretty obvious. Then, standardization. If you invest a lot of intellectual capital and effort into one service and it has to be replaced by another one, can you move all that to the different service? And finally, reliability. Is it going to be there when you need it?

... There are concerns, as I mentioned before -- where the data is and what is the security around the data -- and I think a lot of the cloud providers have good answers. At a really crude level, the cloud providers are probably doing a better job than many of the small non-cloud providers and maybe not as good as large enterprises. I think the issue of reliability is going to come more to the front as the security questions get answered.

... It’s very important to be able to withdraw from a cloud service, if they shut down for some reason. If your business is relying them for day-to-day operations, you need to be able to move to a similar service. This means you need standards on the high level interfaces into these services. With that said, I think the economics will cause many organizations to move to clouds without looking at that carefully.

Formal relationship

The Jericho Forum is also working with the Cloud Security Alliance on their framework and papers. ... It's a very complementary [relationship]. They arose separately, but with overlapping individuals and interests. Today, there is a formal relationship. The Jericho Forum has exchanged board seats with the Cloud Security Alliance, and members of the Jericho Forum are working on several of the individual working groups in the Cloud Security Alliance, as they prepare their version 2.0 of their paper.

... In addition to the cube model, there is the layered model, and some layers are easier to outsource. For example, if it’s storage, you can just encrypt it and not rely on any external security. But, if it’s application development, you obviously can’t encrypt it because you have to be able to run code in the cloud.

I think you have to look at the parts of your business that are sensitive to needs for encryption or export protection and other areas, and see which can fit in there. So, personally identifiable information (PII) data might be an area that’s difficult to move in at the higher application level into the cloud.

I think the interest in how to protect data, no matter

It’s very important to be able to withdraw from a cloud service, if they shut down for some reason. ... You need to be able to move to a similar service.

where it is, is what it really boils down to. IT systems exist to manipulate, share, and process data, and the reliance on perimeter security to protect the data hasn’t worked out, as we’ve tried to be more flexible.

We still don’t have good tools for data protection. The Jericho Forum did write a paper on the need for standards for enterprise information protection and control that would be similar to an intelligent version of rights management, for example.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Economic and climate imperatives combine to elevate Green IT as cost-productive priority

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and View a full transcript or download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Welcome to a podcast discussion on Green IT and the many ways to help reduce energy use, stem carbon dioxide creation, and reduce total IT costs -- all at the same time. We're also focusing on how IT can be a benefit to a whole business or corporate-level look at energy use.

We'll look at how current IT planners should view energy concerns, some common approaches to help conserve energy, and at how IT suppliers themselves can make "green" a priority in their new systems and solutions.

[UPDATE: HP on Wednesday released a series of products that help support these Green IT initiatives.]

[UPDATE 2: HP named "most green" IT vendor by Newsweek.]

Here to help us better understand the Green IT issues, technologies, and practices impacting today's enterprise IT installations and the larger businesses they support, we're joined by five executives from HP: Christine Reischl, general manager of HP's Industry Standard Servers; Paul Miller, vice president of Enterprise Servers and Storage Marketing at HP; Michelle Weiss, vice president of marketing for HP's Technology Services; Jeff Wacker, an EDS Fellow, and Doug Oathout, vice president of Green IT for HP's Enterprise Servers and Storage. The panel was moderated be me, Dana Gardner, principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Oathout: The current cost of energy continues to rise. The amount of energy used by IT is not going down. So, it's becoming a larger portion of their budget. ... [Executives] want to look at energy use and how they can reduce it, not only from a data center perspective, but also from consumption of the monitors, printers, and desktop PCs as well. So, the first major concern is the cost of energy to run IT.

[They also] want to extend the life of their data center. They don't want to have to spend $10 million, $50 million, or $100 million to build another data center in this economic environment. So, they want to know anything possible, from best practices to new equipment to new cooling designs, to help them extend the life of the data center.

Lastly, they're concerned with regulations coming in the marketplace. A number of countries already have a demand to reduce power consumption through most of their major companies. We have a European Code of Conduct, that's optional for data centers, and then the U.S. has regulations now in front of Congress to start a cap-and-trade system.

IT can multiply the effects of intelligence being built into the system. IT is the backbone of digitization of information, which allows smart business people to make good, sound decisions. ... This is a must-do. The business environment is saying, "You've got to reduce cost," and then the government is going to come in and say, "You're going to have to reduce your energy." So, this is a must-do.

Miller: One of the key issues is who owns the problem of energy within the business and within the data center. IT clearly has a role. The CFO has a role. The data center facilities manager has a role. ... You can't manage what you can't see. There are very limited tools today to understand where energy is being used, how efficient systems are, and how making changes in your data center can help the end customer.

Our expertise in knowing where and how changes to different equipment, different software models, and different service models can drive a significant impact to the amount of energy that customers are using and also help them grow their capacity at the same time.

... Everyone needs an ROI that's as quick as possible. It's gone from 12 months down to 6 months. With our new ProLiant G6 servers, the cost and energy savings alone is so significant, when you tie in technologies like virtualization and the power and performance we have, we're seeing up to three months ROI over older servers by companies being able to save on energy plus software costs.

Reischl: Well, we have been investing in that area for several years now. We will have an energy power cooling roadmap and we will continuously launch innovation as we go along. We also have an overall environment around power and cooling, which we call the Thermal Logic environment. Under this umbrella, we are not only innovating on the hardware side, but on the software side as well, to ensure that we can benefit on both sides for our customers.

In addition to that, HP ProCurve, for example, has switches that now use 40 percent less energy than industry average network switches. We also have our StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array, which reduces the cost of power and cooling by 50 percent using thin provisioning and larger capacity disks.

Weiss: IT tends to think in terms of a lifecycle. If you think about ITIL and all of the processes and procedures most IT people follow, they tend to be more process oriented than most groups. But, there is even more understanding now about that latter stage of the lifecycle and not just in terms of disposing of equipment.

The other area that people are really thinking about now is data -- what do you do at the end of the lifecycle of data? How do you keep the data around that you need to, and what do you do about data that you need to archive and maybe put on less energy-consuming devices? That's a very big area.

Wacker: [At EDS] we look for total solutions, as opposed to spot solutions, as we approach the entire ecology, energy, and efficiency triumvirate. It's all three of those things in one. It's not just energy. It's all three.

We look from the origination all the way through the delivery of the data in a business process. Not only do we do the data centers, and run servers, storage, and communications, but we also run applications.

Applications are also high on the order of whether they are green or not. First of all, it means reconciling an application's portfolio, so that you're not running three applications in three different places. That will run three different server platforms and therefore will require more energy.

It's being able to understand the inefficiencies with which we've coded much of our application services in the past, and understanding that there are much more efficient ways to use the emerging technologies and the emerging servers than we've ever used before. So, we have a very high focus on building green applications and reconciling existing portfolios of applications into green portfolios.

How you use IT

Moving onto the business processes, the best data delivered into the worst process will not improve that process at all. It will just have extended it. Business process outsourcing, business process consulting, and understanding how you use IT in the business is continuing to have a very large impact on environmental and green.

You've already identified the major culprit in this. That is that the cost of energy is going to continue to accelerate, and to be higher and higher, and therefore a major component of your cost structure in running IT. So everybody is looking at that.

Cloud is, by its definition, moving a lot of processes into a very few number of boxes -- ultra virtualization, ultra flexibility. So it's a two-sided sword and both sides have to be looked at. One, is for you to be able to get the benefits of the cloud, but the other one is to make sure that the cost of the cloud, both in terms of capabilities as well as the environment, are in your mindset as you contract.

One of the things about what has been called cloud or Adaptive Infrastructure is that you've got to look at it from two sides. One, if you know where you're getting your IT from, you can ask that supplier how green is your IT, and hold that supplier to a high standard of green IT.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and View a full transcript or download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: Hewlett-Packard.

Active Endpoints debuts ActiveVOS 7.0 with BPMN 2 support, improved RIA interfaces

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In a move to meet the growing demand for business process agility, Active Endpoints is readying the next release of its business process management (BPM) suite. The Waltham, Mass.-based modeling tool and process execution firm is rolling out ActiveVOS 7.0 later this month, and I got a sneak peek last week.

Active Endpoints' value has long been modeling, testing, deploying, running and managing business process applications – both system and human tasks. But CEO Mark Taber says version 7 pioneers a new approach to BPM. [Disclosure: Active Endpoints is a sponsor of BriefingsDirect podcasts.]

“Enterprises are looking to a new generation of process applications to increase agility and improve efficiency. As attractive as building business process applications is, it has been hard for many organizations to do so because the tools have, until now, been too cumbersome, proprietary and expensive,” Taber said. “ActiveVOS 7.0 overcomes these challenges by being innovative, lean, open and affordable.”

What’s New in 7.0?

ActiveVOS 7.0 looks and feels different than its predecessors. For starters, the software has a new design canvas that uses the Business Process Modeling Notation (BPMN) 2.0 specification to create executable BPEL processes. On the innovation front, Active Endpoints points to “structured activities” that accelerate process modeling by offering time-saving drag-and-drop constructions.

In viewing a demo of ActiveVOS 7.0, I was struck by how the business analysts needs are targeted visually, with a rich and responsive interface via the AJAX-based forms designer. The latest version uses the "fit" client approaches, leveraging the better graphics and performance of a RIA. I also liked a ease of the process simulation and improved dashboards and auditing.

Moving the presentation tier power from the server to client gives process designers more flexible access to services directly from forms. These forms can issue standard SOAP calls to access services. The result: end users have direct access to information critical to decision-making.

Finally, Active Endpoints’ latest effort debuts ActiveVOS Central, a customizable application that consolidates user interaction with the BPMN into a single user interface. There’s also support for continuous integration and permalinks for ActiveVOS forms.

Active Endpoints isn’t introducing bells and whistles for the sake of rolling out a new iteration. The company points to key benefits for companies that use version 7: reduced dependence on consultants, application delivery on schedule, and more protection for your investment. All of these features aim to improve productivity and quicken results.

As I told the crew at Active Endpoints: Gone are the days when productivity gains could be realized with a new, faster chip -- or a better, faster database. Instead, a "new" Moore’s Law has begun to take hold.

This new era law declares that productivity today is better gained from improving business processes and the way human tasks and machines tasks are combined to rapidly improve results. Productivity needs to come from ongoing process innovation and refinement.

ActiveVOS 7.0 ships this month.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Open Group ramps up cloud and security activities as extension of boundaryless organization focus

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and View a full transcript or download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Standards and open access are increasingly important to users of cloud-based services. Yet security and control also remain top-of-mind for enterprises. How to make the two -- cloud and security -- work in harmony?

The Open Group is leading some of the top efforts to make cloud benefits apply to mission critical IT. To learn more about the venerable group's efforts I recently interviewed Allen Brown, president and CEO of The Open Group. We met at the global organization's 23rd Enterprise Architecture Practitioners Conference in Toronto.

Here are some excerpts:
Brown: We started off in a situation where organizations recognized that they needed to break down the boundaries between their organizations. They're now finding that they need to continue that, and that investing in enterprise architecture (EA) is a solid investment developing for the future. You're not going to stop that just because there is a downturn.

In fact, some of our members who I've been speaking to see EA as critical to ready their organization for coming out of this economic downturn.

... We're seeing the merger of the need for EA with security. We've got a number of security initiatives in areas of architecture, compliance, audit, risk management, trust, and so on. But the key is bringing those two things together, because we're seeing a lot of evidence that there are more concerns about security.

... IT security continues to be a problem area for enterprise IT organizations. It's an area where our members have asked us to focus more. Besides the obvious issues, the move to cloud does introduce some more security concerns, especially for the large organizations, and it continues to be seen as an obstacle.

On the vendor side, the cloud community recognizes they've got to get security, compliance, risk, and audit sorted out. That's the sort of thing our Security Forum will be working on. That provides more opportunity on the vendor side for cloud services.

... We've always had this challenge of how do we breakdown the silos in the IT function. As we're moving towards areas like cloud, we're starting to see some federation of the way in which the IT infrastructure is assembled.

As far as the information, wherever it is, and what parts of it are as a service, you've still got to be able to integrate it, pull it together, and have it in a coherent manner. You’ve got to be able to deliver it not as data, but as information to those cross-functional groups -- those groups within your organization that may be partnering with their business partners. You've got to deliver that as information.

The whole concept of Boundaryless Information Flow, we found, was even more relevant in the world of cloud computing. I believe that cloud is part of an extension of the way that we're going to break down these stovepipes and silos in the IT infrastructure and enable Boundaryless Information Flow to extend.

One of the things that we found internally in moving from the business side of what our architecture is that the stakeholders understand to where the developers can understand, is that you absolutely need that skill in being able to be the person that does the translation. You can deliver to the business guys what it is you're doing in ways that they understand, but you can also interpret it for the technical guys in ways that they can understand.

As this gets more complex, we've got to have the equivalent of city-plan type architects, we've got to have building regulation type architects, and we've got to have the actual solution architect.

... We've come full circle. Now there are concerns about portability around the cloud platform opportunities. It's too early to know how deep the concern is and what the challenges are, but obviously it's something that we're well used to -- looking at how we adopt, adapt, and integrate standards in that area, and how we would look for establishing the best practices.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and View a full transcript or download the transcript. Learn more. Sponsor: The Open Group.