The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Displaying articles for: May 2011

The service integrator coming to businesses near you

Technical Reach To BusinessOne of the trends that’s been going on for a number of years is adding flexibility to an organization’s capabilities through variable access to resources from a variety of organizations. This multi-sourcing turns a corporation into an Ecosystem of service providers and in-house teams. This is nothing new and IaaS, SaaS… are the latest examples of this trend.

 

Over the last decade as more work is outsourced, the oversight of the various service providers has become a specialized service area in itself – much like the prime contractor role for construction. It’s not just about the provisioning of services though; the focus is on the on-going orchestration of services as well. Many times the Service Integrator (SI) accepts the software/hardware from the service providers into production for the client as their representative. The SI role is a business process (BPO) that’s been outsourced. They need to have expertise and focus on centralized management, becoming the “process owners” standardizing operational processes and ensuring an enterprise architecture exists and is implemented.

 

As businesses move to adopt hybrid cloud computing approaches, the skills of these Service Integrators should start to shine, since they will be experts in the delivery of end-to-end solutions that consistently deliver value. The dynamic nature of cloud is going to require specialized expertise that organizations will need to determine if they want to develop in-house or purchase from others – the assumption that it will be in-house is no longer valid.

 

Selecting a service integrator that can orchestrate a hybrid delivery model is not going to be easy since they will need to manage:

  • Multiple providers – not just the people but integrate the systems and measures (KPIs) as well. For example, you can’t drop service requests between providers just because their systems haven’t ever talked to each other before.
  • Processes – The SI will need to have well defined (and automated) processes that can span organizations as well. They need rigor and flexibility – a tough combination to maintain.
  • Thinking strategically and acting quickly – Since the service integrator is in it for the long haul, spanning the contracts of the other service organizations, the SI will need to be measured with metrics that are more strategic in nature. Since they are coordinating the response of others, the operational metrics will be applied as well. The diversity of focus for these metrics can cause conflict, so communications across the Ecosystem will be a key to success.
  • Sourcing and operational issues – The SI is brought in to allow the client to focus on strategic business issues so the SI needs to handle the technical concerns. Trust is the foundation for this relationship. Knowing the status of the current situation as well as progress toward corporate goals will be a characteristic of the successful SI.
  • Service development, management, improvement and operations – The SI needs to take charge and be a trusted advisor to the client on performance and payments to all the service providers.

There is no doubt that large firms possess many of the capability necessary to run the service integrator function internally. Many desire to retain this vital function in-house because they want to control the governance and solutioning model. The question that needs to be answered is if the IT service integration is core to their business and where they want to spend their internal resources. As the corporate Ecosystem becomes more complex, more specialized skills will be required. Investing in creating and maintaining those skills and tools needs to be an active decision. This is becoming a specialized skill that will prove to be tricky for many organizations.

 

The conflicts mentioned previously between operational and strategic focus, measures and integration are opportunities for innovation in service integration. Service integration specialization will enable an increasing level of flexibility for many organizations. 3rd party providers are going to bring skills to the market (and your business) that may be out of reach internally. The build/buy decision starts with a  fundamental assessment into how well your current sourcing strategy supports your IT operating model and then looks deeper to figure out how well your IT operating model supports the business strategy. The decision is formidable but bringing in a third party will challenge your organization and your service providers in how they price their work, reconcile conflicts of interest and qualify their provider. The service Integration role will turn into a critical success factor for enabling a more flexible and highly integrated instant-on future.

 

Naturally service integration is an are HP has been working in for years.

Are the perceptions of cloud computing changing

clouds_gif-550x0.pngI’ve been watching an interesting discussion this week taking place from a number of different organization related to cloud computing – or more accurately the perspective of cloud computing. With some of the early stumbles to developing a cloud marketplace behind us, it may be time to sit back for a moment and think about what is needed and where the cloud movement is headed. It also made me look at some of my old posts to see if they were still relevant.

 

A consensus of perspectives from the discussion:

 

Those were some quick notes I wrote down. What did I leave out? Do your perception’s differ?

Is consumer data transaction enablement and analytics the real thing?

unlimited data.pngThere have been a number of announcements recently about companies using their IT capabilities to change the interaction with people on a daily and dynamic basis.

 

One recent example is PepsiCo’s launch of a “social vending machine”. It’s half vending and half bank machine, allowing "random acts of refreshment," or the ability to buy a drink for a stranger, in situations such as sending "a symbol of encouragement to a city that's experienced some challenging weather or a congratulatory beverage to a university that just won a championship," PepsiCo said. I can see it now when a city wins a championship – drinks all around.

 

Coke had done some other interesting things with interactive vending machines and custom flavors. The Pei-Wei near my home recently put one of these in. Unfortunately, I just wanted a drink and having millions of combinations was a bit too much to deal with.

 

All of these machines have one thing in common. They collect information about the tastes of those who use them and send that information back for analysis. They provide flexibility and increased functionality. It does make you wander what new business models are possible and what information can be gained, especially if they are linked to our mobile devices to enable the transactions.

 

We’ve seen it from banks for a while, and in some parts of the world (like Kenya) with phones. Based on some of the videos it looks like we’ve just started to see these capabilities come to fruition. What will happen to retail when the Internet is assimilated to the same extent it is in the entertainment space?

HP Byron Nelson Golf Championship this week

This week is the HP Byron Nelson Golf Championship. The charity event was named after Byron Nelson, famous for winning 11 consecutive tournaments and 18 total tournaments in 1945.

 

HP became the title sponsor of this long running tournament after the purchase of EDS. This event has generated more money for charity than any other on the PGA tour.

 

I will be speaking at a CFO focused event on Friday and actually make it out to the course on Saturday.

Business value from the convergence of social data and big data

Now that I’ve moved over to HP labs, I see numerous projects dealing with Big Data issues, as well as those that take advantage of social interactions and networks. That’s why when I saw an article by Dion Hinchcliffe the other day titled How social media and big data will unleash what we know I had to read it.

  

Both of these areas are driven by the ability to recognize context, either the context of a data flow or the context of the interaction between individuals and groups.

 

“separating the wheat from the chaff is where big data, and the analytics it makes possible, go hand-in-hand”

 

He mentions five directions where social media and big data are headed:

  1. Big data-enabled applications that are plugged into consumer and enterprise social networks.
  2. The blurring of external and internal big data.
  3. Privacy, governmental, and regulatory concerns will grow.
  4. Analytics that finds you.
  5. Cloud big data analytics emerges.

and provides a useful illustration

 

 

If there was one area I’d expand a bit more about for its implications on the enterprise, it would deal with the way analytics finds you.

 

When you take all this enterprise contextual understanding merged with the social understanding and mix in both the information the corporation already knows about individual’s availability, training & security levels and the unified communications direction on notification – we’ll have significantly less interruption in our lives. The right data will be given to the right people, in the right format, at the right place and time – driving the right result. If it doesn’t, we’ll know enough to do it better next time.

 

A whole new type of enterprise IT and the related services than we see today.

Cloud, Looking from the Outside In

it is almost impossible at the moment to discuss any ICT or business topic without cloud computing being mentioned, or in many cases completely taking over the conversation.

Labels: cloud

“I got the bill for my surgery. Now I know what those doctors were wearing masks for”

Why does Healthcare have to be reactive, i.e. waiting for you to get ill and then fixing you, rather than proactive, i.e. ensuring that you stay healthy? Can technology change this model?

Labels: cloud| healthcare| Mobile

PaperPhone: Flexible display demonstration

PaperPhone: Flexible display demonstration

Earlier this month, Queen’s University presented PaperPhone as an example of the way device displays will look as well as how they might be used by the consumer, in the future.

 

 

The smartphone prototype supports book reading, playing music or making phone calls. But its display consists of a 9.5 cm diagonal thin film flexible E Ink display. Its electrophoretic display does not consume electricity unless refreshed, and the thin film resistive sensors in the flexible circuit respond to bends in the screen, so it can be used as part of the user interface. The flexible form factor makes it much more portable that any current mobile computer, since it will conform to the shape of your pocket.

For a more detailed explanation of this demonstration, you can look at the joint paper by authors from Queens University and the University of AZ.

 

Interfaces like this should make their way into the business sector, allowing less intrusive interfaces for workers in many role where the hands are occupied so holding a device may not be practical.

IPv6 looms ever closer

IPv6-badge-blue-128-trans.pngBack in January I mentioned that IPV6 day was coming up on June 8th 2011, now that is less than a month away You can even run an IPv6 connectivity test today, although the about of IPv6 traffic remains miniscule.

 

Recently, another HP bloggers (Craig Smith) put out a post Subnet security for IPv6 networks – doing it right, that tries to address some of the confusion that may exist about IPv6 and security. This is a new technology that has some rules of its own that can be well worth understanding.

 

HP put out a few other resources as well:

At the upcoming HP Discover conference there will be some presentations on IPv6 as well.

HP servers are powering the labs at Microsoft Tech Ed 2011

I used to go to Microsoft Tech Ed every year (I even spoke at it twice) and found it to be a great way to see what was going across Microsoft, as well as what Microsoft’s customers had done. The following video shows some highlights of this year, but inside of the video (about 1 minute and 20 seconds in, running for about a minute) is the discussion of the HP servers that run the lab area:

 

 

The lab area has always been one of my favorite places to learn, since it allows you to run through hands-on sessions as well as play around with the latest software technology. There are usually a few glitches, and figure out how to overcome them may be the most educational part.

 

There are literally hundreds of people experimenting in the labs during peak times of the day. The infrastructure to support this in the past filled a pretty good sized room, now it is in a single HP C7000 BladeSystem rack – providing better performance than ever before. It doesn’t even fill the rack.

 

For those who wonder about how a virtualized desktop environment can be brought on-line, this may be a good example of the current state. It had to be brought up quickly and will be torn down at the end of the week.

Many of the sessions from Tech Ed are available on line. It looks like you can even access some of the labs remotely as well. I started the Introducing the Visual Studio 2010 Parallel Debugger lab. It took a couple of minutes to get started but that is much less than setting up my own environment. I wonder how long they will keep the environment operational.

Thoughts on Application Evaluation

Quadrant.pngMany organizations are realizing their application portfolio isn’t living up to their current/future requirements and need to determine how to approach the problem of separating with wheat from the chaff.

 

A technique we’ve used for years to focus our efforts is using the consultant’s favorite tool – a quadrant chart. Each application is assessed using a few dimensions. Two of the most prominent ones are looking at the application’s technical quality and its impact on business value.

 

Measuring technical quality can be tough. A mixture of qualitative and quantitative measure of the architectural alignment to the future direction (in this case the cloud could be one way) should be possible. Is it service oriented? Can it run on a cloud environment? Is it multi-threaded? What’s the on-going bug count like?

 

Measuring the business value has its own set of issues. You need to be able to consistently measure the application’s positive impact on revenue or its reduction to risks and expenses for the organization. This is one of the areas the Green IT crowd seems to overlook with their focus on hardware.

 

The on-going maintenance costs take away from the business value too -- if it’s inflexible or requires a high cost support environment those are real costs. Some people view that maintenance cost as a measure of technical quality. It could be, but it also takes away from the business value.

 

Now there are numerous books, articles and approaches to tackling the problem, so at least you don’t need to start with a blank sheet of paper. Looking at the applications portfolio is a foundational element to any IT transformation, since the applications are what facilitate the generation of business value. HP is definitely placing focus with helping organizations assess their applications as well.

Personal device of 2019

crystalball.gifZDnet recently ran a series of articles about the “Blade Runner” computer in homage to Ridley Scott’s 1982 vision of 2019.

I found this to be an interesting exercise in the issue of scarcity vs. abundance mentioned here before. What will be in abundance?

  • CPU (16 times more powerful than today’s devices)
  • Memory (even lower end devices will have double digit GB of RAM)
  • Graphics processing
  • Storage (easily in the double digits TB range)
  • Networking (wired and wireless will be multiple times faster)
  • Integration (is there really a PC or just one more module in your personal environment?)

What will remain scarce?

Possible areas for significant innovation – overcoming scarcity?

Thinking about how business investments in devices and the systems required to support the employees of the future will be key for IT organizations. There are numerous competing visions, but by 2019, the early Millennials will be entering at their midpoint of their career when they start to make the major decisions about corporate investments. I use the term “mid-point” loosely though since the live span may have increased for these individuals.

 

One of the issues with exponential growth is that it looks so linear in the short term. Looking back about the same amount of time, we were just bouncing back from the .COM crash and many of the seeds of discontent that occupy planning today (virtualization and cloud, mobility) had just started to germinate and grow. We might want to look at those areas that are starting to make us worry.

The Veer is Near

Veer.pngAT&T announced that the tiny HP Veer 4G smartphone will go on sale May 15 for $99.99 with a two-year contract.

 

I’ve been using Palm devices for quite a while now and have found its interface to be more intuitive than any other device I’ve used – to the point where I try to swipe on my tablet and for some reason it just doesn’t respond. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get a TouchPad to address that behavioral tick.

 

The Veer is one of the smallest smart phones out there. You can see from this Veer unboxing video that it is very usable – especially for those folks looking for a small device. Sorry the picture isn't actual size. although depending on your display device -- it might be close.

 

"Veer is introducing the smartphone experience to a new generation of users," said Stephanie Maes, vice president of smartphone products at the Palm unit inside of HP. It has a powerful processor and includes many features and applications expected by the consumer market today.

 

AT&T calls the device 4G because it will run over HSPA+ networks with enhanced backhaul where available, giving performance above 3Mbps for downloads.

 

Notice, I didn’t even use the word mobile in that post.

Is Mobile no longer a valid adjective in IT?

PrePlus.pngI’ve been in a few conversations this week where the word “mobile” was thrown into a conversation and it became clear that based on what part of the world or the technical background you’re from that “mobile” means very different things.

 

For a great many people when they hear mobile they think the conversation is related to the mobile phone. For those with a more desktop infrastructure focus, it could be a laptop/tablet. For some in the application space it is a thin client talking to applications over the network, while for others it is a thick client running on the device itself.

 

As organizations go to a “mobile first” architectural strategy, it becomes the norm rather than the exception.

 

It is now so overused and yet so inclusive that it may not mean anything anymore. There is also the whole issue of Mobile workers as well.

 

Have you seen this phenomenon as well – it’s sort of like what’s happened to the word “cloud”.

 

HP Labs and planning for the future

j0336720.gifPrith Banarjee, HP’s Senior Vice President for Research and director of HP Labs was interviewed earlier this month in a NewEnterprise article. The focus was mainly on cloud and the labs activities to support generating value from it so the interview did cover a range of topics. He mentions the eight major areas of research at HP labs, and how they fit into the larger view of the future.

 

He talks about a number of shorter term activities related to cloud and storage as well as strategic activities that will not see the market for 5-10 years. He also mentioned my leader –

“Jamie and her team are trying to develop a set of cloud services aimed at verticals like health care and transportation and financials. We’re coming up with some very unique IP in these solution areas.”

 

I’ve mentioned the importance of defining context from data , this is where the new information analytics lab comes in:

“What they’re trying to do is look at all the structured and unstructured data. About 80 to 90 percent of it is going to be unstructured. The key is tying it together with the structured data and do really deep analytics on that. The work that is going there is being leveraged with a new company that we acquired, called Vertica.”

 

This article provides a high level overview of the innovation activities taking place in the labs, but like any interview, there is quite a bit more going on underneath. Many of the items mentioned are signpost along the road that point to a new future. Thinking about their implications on your business and investments can help organizations prepare for the kind of future needed to complete.

Microsoft to Acquire Skype

When I saw the announcement, I was a bit surprised. Not that Skype was getting acquired, but that Microsoft was buying them. There have been rumors of a number of business bidding, but I didn’t recall seeing MS as one of them.

 

When you look at the capabilities Skype has that others have not been able to perform reliably, it does leave open some interesting possibilities in accelerate the use of X-over-IP techniques in business through the integation of MS products. It will be interesting to see how MS plans to monetize the investment.

Tags: Microsoft
Labels: Microsoft

Intel manufacturing process announcement’s impact on business

3D transistor.pngIntel’s announcement that it will be moving a 22nm manufacturing process into production will have some significant implications to both power and cost in the near term.

 

Intel itself characterized its 3-D Tri-Gate technology as a "major technical breakthrough" that has significant advantages over the two-dimensional planar transistors that have powered innumerable devices in countless products from home appliances to cars over the past 50 years.

 

This technological advancement continues the advancements that were defined as “Moore’s Law” decades ago. “More than 6 million 22nm Tri-Gate transistors could fit in the period at the end of this sentence.” And that can provide unprecedented computing power to the edge of the enterprise as well as the data center itself, extending the abundance of computing.

 

Technologies like this enables the merger of the virtual and the physical world, allowing us to plan for a different future for the businesses we support.

Have we finally turned the corner towards enlightenment about cloud?

cloud factory.pngBack when doing my predictions for 2010, I stated:

“Cloud Computing was at the Peak of Inflated Expectations in Gartner's Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies.  We've started to hear some early stumbles as the market understands how the current implementations of cloud work”.

 

This understanding through experience is continuing into 2011.

 

Over the past few weeks there have been concerns expressed about the Amazon storage issue, and the lessons learned from it. There have also been outcries for people to beware of the public cloud. There have even been lessons learned from companies like Microsoft in business magazines like Forbes.

 

These activities signal that we’re starting to look at the capabilities and application implications in a more realistic manner. Now if we can gets some standards defined to overcome the lock-in scenario felt by many enterprise class clients.

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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