Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Sybase rides growing database business into mobility innovation, says Chen at user conference

Sybase Chairman, CEO and President John Chen opened the TechWave Sybase user conference today with a slew of product announcements and a proud pointer to a growing database market -- growing at double-digit revenue growth (even if you're not IBM, Microsoft and Oracle).

Chen boasted 38 percent database revenue growth in Sybase's latest quarter, outstripping his formidable competitors. He told the crowd of IT users gathered in Las Vegas that the underlying database business is strong.

Sybase at the 10th annual event has announced tools, analytics and mobile products that target Sybase's global customer base of developers, database administrators, operators as well as its burgeoning enterprise mobility infrastructure solutions providers.

"We're making a run at the major data warehouse providers ... and we think we can compete very well," said Chen. "Things are working very well for the company."

For mobility, in a year where the Apple iPhone gained the lion's share of attention (despite Symbian's dominance), Sybase is driving toward the "unwired enterprise" to bring the analytics world together with the mobile tier and handheld delivery world. "The more devices and the more operating systems ... the better Sybase will be," said Chen.

Based on any metric data continues to explode across the IT landscape, said Chen. And the emphasis on real time and deep and wide analytics is only accelerating. Chen calls it "decision ready information."

Chen asked -- practically implored -- the users to get more into their mobility strategy, to unwire their enterprises.

Sybase Senior Vice President Raj Nathan said that mobile computing is overtaking older forms of communications and computing, as a theme for his portion of today's keynote presentation. But the current IT infrastructure can not well support this trend to mobility and information delivery out to the mobile edge.

"If you look at who is accessing the data, it's no longer just the employees ... and the demands of the non-employee for accessing from outside the firewall ... is much different. Today's architectures will not meet this demand," said Nathan.

Applications also need to be designed to be transaction-centric, said Nathan. What developers have to deal with has changed. "It's not just transactional applications, it's analytics, mobile, and messaging applications," he said. "These applications come from outside the firewall and through a mobile device in a unstructured, ad hoc form."

This all requires a shift in IT architectures, said Nathan. We need message-oriented interfaces. Data, applications, and tools -- all need to adjust. You need to handle complex analytics as a part of the process, not an after-thought, he said.

"The demands of information are changing, and you need a different set of architecture paradigms to make this happen," said Nathan. "Information delivery is even more important. It's time to evolve this and not go through a full set of replacements."

Amazon invests in cloud deployment venture as Elastra raises another $12 million

Elastra Corp., a cloud computing startup with a focus on ease of deployment, today announced a second round of funding, including participation from Amazon, which continues its investment ramp-up in cloud-based ventures.

The Series B funding for the San Francisco, Calif.-based Elastra, totals $12 million. Other participants were Bay Partners and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, which took part in the first round of funding last year.

The cloud topic continues to heat up, with today's announcement that AT&T is jumping in. More from ZDNet's Larry Dignan. It's a no-brainer for telecos to be in on this, and it sets the stage for more tension between software vendors and service providers.

As for Elastra's Cloud Server, it provides point-and-click configuration, push-button deployment and automated management and dynamic monitoring of application infrastructure software and systems. The company's elastic computing markup language (ECML) and elastic deployment markup language (EDML) allow for extensibility and portability of applications across public and private clouds.

With this approach businesses and IT organizations don't have to script, monitor and scale their application infrastructure by hand, nor are they locked into “cloud silos” from a single provider.

For Amazon, which has been providing cloud infrastructure services for the over two years, this is the second foray into funding cloud ventures in the last three weeks. In July, Amazon chipped when Engine Yard raised $15 million.

I saw the potential for Elastra's approach, when the company arrived on the scene last March.
As virtualized software has become the primary layer over now-buried hardware that architects and engineers must deal with, we should expect more tools and “bridging” technologies like Elastra to emerge to help grease the skids for what can (and should?) be deployed in clouds. The software then becomes agile services that can be provisioned and consumed via innovative and highly efficient business models and use-based metering schemes.

. . . the database-driven product can help bring applications rapidly to a pay-as-you-use model. Enterprises may be able to provide more applications as services, charging internal consumers as a managed service provider.
I said at the time that the segue to the cloud could come sooner than many people might think. It looks like that prediction was on the mark.

Monday, August 4, 2008

SOA places broad demands on IT leadership beyond traditional enterprise architect role, says Open Group panel

Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.

Defining the emerging new role of enterprise architects (EAs) in the context of services-oriented architecture (SOA) is more than an esoteric exercise. It also helps define the major shifts now under way from SOA activities in enterprises and large organizations. These murky shifts come down to defining how IT is to be managed anew in the modern organization.

To help better understand the shifting requirements for personnel and leadership due to SOA, The Open Group presented a panel on July 22 at the 19th Annual Open Group Enterprise Architect's Practitioners Conference in Chicago. I had the pleasure to moderate the discussion, on the role and impact of skills and experience for EAs in both the public sector and the private sector.

Our panel of experts and guests included Tony Baer, senior analyst at Ovum; Eric Knorr, editor-in-chief of InfoWorld; Joe McKendrick, SOA blogger and IT industry analyst; Andras Szakal, the chief architect at IBM's Federal Software Group, and David Cotterill, head of innovation at the U.K. Government Department for Work and Pensions.

Here are some excerpts:
Within the government [sector], enterprise architecture is, I would say, trending more toward the political aspect, to the executive-level practitioner, than it is, say, an integrator who has hired a set of well-trained SOA practitioners.

The enterprise architect is really more focused on trying to bring the organization together around a business strategy or mission. And, certainly, they understand the tooling and how to translate the mission, vision, and strategy into an SOA architecture -- at least in the government.

I think the technical background can be taken as a given for an enterprise architect. We expect that they have a certain level of depth and breadth about them, in terms of the broadest kind of technology platforms. But what we are really looking for are people who can then move into the business space, who have a lot more of the softer skills, things like influencing … How do you build and maintain a relationship with a senior business executive?

Those are kind of the skills sets that we're looking for, and they are hard to find. Typically, you find them in consultants who charge you a lot of money. But they're also skills that can be learned -- provided you have a certain level of experience.

We try to find people who have a good solid technical background and who show the aptitude for being able to develop those softer skills. Then, we place them in an environment and give them the challenge to actually develop those skills and maintain those relationships with the business. When it works, it's a really great thing, because they can become the trusted partner of our business people and unmask all the difficulties of the IT that lies behind.

We are software architects, but we are really trying to solve the business problem. ... I would look for people [to hire] who have deep technical skills, and have had experience in implementing systems successfully. I have seen plenty of database administrators come to me and try to call themselves an architect, and you can't be one-dimensional on the information side, although I am an information bigot too.

So you're looking for a broad experience and somebody who has methodology background in design, but also in enterprise architecture. In that way, they can go from understanding the role of the enterprise architect, and how you take the business problem and slice that out into business processes, and then map the technology layer on to it.
Listen to the podcast. Download the podcast. Listen on iTunes/iPod. Sponsor: The Open Group.

Read a full transcript of the discussion.