Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Emerging Business Technology Outlook for 2015

The savvy CEOs that approved significant investments in business technology during 2014 are reaping the rewards of their first-to-market leadership advantage. Meanwhile, executives at the fast-follower companies are no doubt assessing how they plan to catch-up with the early-adopters of cloud services in 2015.

This rapidly evolving IT transformation scenario is pervasive. It's happening in every corner of the globe. So, what's the outlook for worldwide cloud service adoption and how will the key trends impact cloud computing infrastructure investment? To get the answers to those questions, we'll look at the findings from the latest Cisco Global Cloud Index (GCI).

Cisco forecasts continued strong growth of cloud traffic, cloud workloads and cloud storage -- with private cloud significantly larger than public cloud. Over the next five years, their market study projects data center traffic to nearly triple, with cloud representing 76 percent of total data center traffic.

Global Data Center Traffic Trends

The study predicts that global data center traffic will nearly triple from 2013 to 2018 with a combined annual growth rate (CAGR) of 23 percent -- growing from 3.1 zettabytes/year in 2013 to 8.6 zettabytes/year in 2018. Let's just consider that data. Can you imagine that growth? Probably not.

Here's how to visualize the magnitude and scale of that forecast. The 8.6 zettabytes of data center traffic predicted for 2018 is equivalent to streaming all of the movies (approximately 500,000) and television shows (3 million) ever made in ultra-high definition (UHD) 250,000 times. Wow, indeed.

Global cloud traffic is growing faster than the overall global data center traffic. In 2013, cloud accounted for 54 percent of total data center traffic, and, by 2018, cloud will account for 76 percent of total data center traffic. Note; data center traffic includes data center-to-user traffic, along with data center-to-data center traffic and traffic that remains within data centers.


Private vs. Public Cloud Adoption and Growth

"When people discuss cloud, they often focus on public cloud services or public cloud storage services. However, a very significant majority of today's cloud workloads are actually processed in private cloud environments," said Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president at Cisco. "Even with public cloud workloads having significant growth, by 2018, almost 70 percent of cloud workloads will still be private cloud-related, requiring the ability of workloads to bridge across a hybrid cloud environment."

By 2018, 69 percent (113.5 million) of the cloud workloads will be in private cloud data centers, down from 78 percent (44.2 million) in 2013, and 31 percent (52 million) of the cloud workloads will be in public cloud data centers, up from 22 percent (12.7 million) in 2013.

The National Cloud Readiness Rankings

According to Cisco's assessment, the number of countries deemed "cloud ready" continues to grow. In 2013, just 79 countries met the single advanced application criteria for fixed network. In 2014, that number grew to 109 countries. Last year, 42 countries met the intermediate single application readiness criteria for mobile networks. This year, that number grew to 52 countries.

The countries with the leading fixed network performance in 2014 are (in alphabetical order) Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.

The countries with the leading mobile network performance in 2014 are (in alphabetical order) Australia, Belgium, China, Denmark, Korea, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Oman, Qatar and Uruguay.

The GCI forecast also includes a supplement on Cloud Readiness Regional Details, which examines the fixed and mobile network abilities of each global region (from nearly 150 countries) to support business and consumer cloud-computing applications and services.

Other Emerging Business Technology Trends

Current trends are placing new demands on data centers that were typically built for legacy business technologies and a different set of user requirements. Moreover, existing data center networks were designed primarily for traditional voice and data traffic and incorporate assumptions about applications that are no longer accurate. They’re geared toward relatively static and predictable traffic flows – with mostly on-premises IT consumption and a much narrower set of devices and user applications.

In contrast, here's what a CIO will likely encounter today:

  • Mobile devices with enterprise applications are commonplace. Combined, all those mobile devices with cloud access will have download 77 billion apps in 2014.
  • Traffic flows are unpredictable. The traditional data center was designed primarily for north-south traffic flows, but today 76 percent of traffic flows east-west -- within the data center.
  • Businesses increasingly rely on distributed database and enterprise applications. 80 percent of enterprise applications will be delivered as a service.
  • Server workloads are changing. It's estimated that nearly two-thirds of enterprise workloads will be processed in the cloud by 2016.

In the rapidly emerging digital services environment, enterprise network bandwidth needs are far more demanding. But the internal customers of IT organizations still expect to get their apps and resources delivered instantly and securely. For many CIOs, this is the reality of today's environment.

If you're not already experiencing the performance and capacity challenges that arise from these new virtualized and cloud-connected applications, then you will be soon. That's your outlook for 2015.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Ready or Not, the Mobile Cloud Era Awaits You

We’re nearing the end of 2014 and most smart CEOs already know their IT transformation game plan for 2015 – more digital differentiation woven into the fabric of their essential operations. Every enterprise is now a digital business, regardless of the industry. That’s why digital service innovators are in such high demand. Meanwhile, many of the more traditional IT process-oriented jobs will diminish in importance.

Are you evolving your IT support team’s roles and responsibilities, as a result these key trends? Forward-thinking CIOs and IT managers have already embraced business technology that will do some of the more tedious routine system administration tasks via automation, so that they can redirect their focus to higher-priority activities.

What’s considered a pressing requirement? Many believe that it’s attaining parity in the enterprise with the freemium consumer cloud offerings that have helped to fuel the so-called Shadow IT phenomenon.

Public Cloud Gains More Converts

However, there’s been progress that’s worth revisiting. According to the latest worldwide market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), public cloud computing services spending for the enterprise will reach $56.6 billion in 2014 and grow to more than $127 billion in 2018.

This forecast represents a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.8 percent, which is estimated to be about six times the rate of growth for the overall global IT market. In 2018, based upon findings from the IDC study, public IT cloud services will account for more than half of worldwide software, server, and storage spending growth.

"Over the next four to five years, IDC expects the community of developers to triple and to create a ten-fold increase in the number of new cloud-based solutions," said Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at IDC.

The ongoing adoption of what IDC calls cloud-first business strategies -- by IT buyers implementing new digital services -- is a major factor that is driving public enterprise cloud services growth.


IDC believes that the enterprise cloud services market is now entering an evolutionary phase. It will produce an explosion of new digital solutions and associated commercial value creation – built on top of the pervasive cloud computing infrastructure that’s being deployed across the globe.

These new applications and emerging use-cases will be created in vertically-focused platforms with their own innovation communities, which will help to reshape how companies operate their increasingly essential IT function. According to the IDC assessment, it will also transform how these companies compete within their primary industry.

Mr. Gens adds "Many of these solutions will become more strategic than traditional IT has ever been."

IDC expects Software as a Service (SaaS) will continue to dominate public cloud services spending, accounting for 70 percent of 2014 expenditures. IDC says the second largest public cloud category will be Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). They also predict that Platform as a Service (PaaS) and storage will be the fastest growing categories, driven by major increases in developer cloud services adoption and Big Data applications, respectively.

Next Steps toward a Digital Nirvana

In time, I anticipate that we’ll see more multinational companies upgrade their legacy data centers and deploy private cloud solutions to meet their user’s needs – for a variety of different but equally compelling strategic business reasons. I expect public cloud to more frequently coexist with private cloud, in a multitude of combinations that will be limited by our own imagination.

Granted, there will be some technical constraints that need to be overcome – like making these cloud service permutations all work together in a frictionless manner. That being said, are you prepared with the right hybrid cloud management and orchestration solution in place? If not, start the due diligence process to select an appropriate solution. You’ll need time; choose wisely.

Of course, the now ubiquitous open-source software suites will play an instrumental role in enabling the transition to a hybrid cloud model. Certainly, the enthusiasm and momentum of the early-adopters at the OpenStack Summit in Paris, France this week was very encouraging for the fast-followers.

Besides preparing for a multi-cloud environment, I believe that the future outlook for many companies will likely include embracing a Mobile Cloud scenario, where the two most apparent enterprise technology trends morph together into a cohesive whole.

The combination of capable mobile devices and hybrid cloud computing services should provide an adaptive and flexible business technology foundation, so you’ll need to understand how they integrate into your existing IT infrastructure and legacy commercial applications.

Smartphones, tablets and personal productivity-oriented mobile applications (apps) are transforming how information is being accessed, used and shared in the enterprise. The savvy Line of Business leaders at progressive companies have already enabled employees to purchase mobile cloud apps for file syncing, and other requirements that may not have been met by the IT organization.

Some perceptive corporate IT leaders saw the mobile-first strategy gain traction in the marketplace, and immediately got involved with a proactive plan to build and support corporate-approved apps. The mobile application development platform providers, such as FeedHenry, offer the tools and services that together constitute the critical elements of a total solution.

These platforms enable an enterprise to design, develop, deploy, distribute and manage a portfolio of mobile apps running on a range of devices and addressing the requirements of diverse use-cases. Clearly, the best way for IT organizations to be relevant in the mobile cloud era is to get involved; preferably sooner, rather than later. So, what’s the status of your plan?

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Assessment of Public Cloud Storage Offerings

Earlier in the year, Gartner forecast that by year-end 2016, more than 50 percent of global companies will have stored customer-sensitive data in a public cloud platform. These services can scale very quickly, which has made them very popular for applications that have a requirement for flexibility.

Cloud storage offers organizations significant cost and agility benefits, but can pose some security, privacy, accessibility and performance challenges. Therefore, a big part of selecting a best-fit cloud storage provider is investing the time to perform the research to fully understand its capabilities.

Furthermore, most industry analyst prior market studies have uncovered that Line of Business leaders are most likely to procure public cloud service offerings for their organizations.

However, survey participants at two recent business technology events on the East Coast were divided about who in their organization is primarily driving their cloud computing strategy.

So, given these latest findings, who exactly is leading the transition to cloud services? Actually, it can vary, based upon the type of organization. Top-level executive decision makers and lower-level IT management staff respondents were within 4 percentage points of each other.


Profile of Cloud Storage Service Demand

Avere Systems released the findings of a recent cloud adoption study conducted at the "2014 Cloud Expo New York" and the "2014 AWS Summit," also held in New York.

Which industries are leading the move to public cloud service adoption? In addition to a cross-section of technology companies, life sciences and finance organizations were most interested in adopting cloud computing solutions.

Forty-six percent of respondents are already building a hybrid cloud -- with 35 percent doing it on their own and 11 percent leveraging a partner. Moreover, 31 percent of respondents do not have a hybrid cloud plan in place at this time.

Thirty-three percent are planning to move over half of their storage to the public cloud. Fifty-two percent are planning to move less than half to a public cloud service provider.

Data archiving was the most common use for cloud migration, with 28 percent of survey respondents. Corporate file sharing was next with 22 percent of the respondents.

Somewhat surprisingly, 18 percent of the survey respondents indicate that they are migrating all their data-related business processes to a cloud services model.

Other Key findings from the market study include:
  • Hybrid Cloud Adoption - 58 percent of attendees are adopting a hybrid cloud strategy. Similarly, 58 percent of attendees plan on migrating at least some of their on-premises applications to the cloud within the next two years.
  • Cloud Leadership - 26 percent of attendees indicated that their top level executive team were driving cloud strategy within their organizations, while 22 percent of respondents said storage or data management teams were spearheading these decisions.
  • Public Cloud Vendors - 49 percent of respondents indicated that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is their cloud of choice for storage, with 56 percent considering the service for object storage. 19 percent of respondents are considering Google Cloud Platform (GCP) and 13 percent Microsoft Azure.
The entire survey was conducted on-site at the two industry events in New York. A total of 205 respondents were asked a series of questions relating to cloud adoption and cloud storage usage.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Strategic Leadership in the Digital Business Economy

Most forward-looking CEOs have already made their move to prepare for the future that they foresee – where business technology is a key deciding factor for them to attain ongoing commercial prosperity. This new digital-propelled environment will profoundly change business processes, along with the need for accelerated tech-savvy human capital development across all industries.

Those leaders that catch the next wave of Internet-driven market development will reap the rewards of the expanding Global Networked Economy. They’ll achieve a quantum boost in performance. And they’ll reach their lofty goals by harnessing the unique competitive advantages of cloud computing services, mobile enterprise applications and other targeted business technology investments.

Welcome to the Internet of Everything

Worldwide IT spending is forecast to surpass $3.9 trillion in 2015 – that’s a 3.9 percent increase from 2014. Business technology spending will be driven by Digital Business practitioners, according to Gartner, Inc. This change of influence is having a dramatic impact on the legacy IT profession.

Gartner defines Digital Business as new commercial designs that blend the virtual world and the physical worlds -- changing how processes and industries work through the Internet of Things phenomenon.

“This year enterprises will spend over $40 billion designing, implementing and operating the Internet of Things,” said Peter Sondergaard, senior vice president at Gartner. “Every piece of equipment, anything of value, will have embedded sensors. This means leading asset-intensive enterprises will have over half a million IP addressable objects in 2020.”

Line of Business Leaders Take the Driver's Seat

Gartner believes that demand, procurement and control has already moved away from traditional IT organizations -- toward Digital Business units and closer to the ultimate end-customer of business technology applications. Clearly, there’s been a significant shift in IT spending power. Gartner estimates that half of all major vendor salespeople are actively selling direct to business units, not IT departments.

“Thirty-eight percent of total IT spending is outside of IT already, with a disproportionate amount in digital. By 2017, it will be over 50 percent,” Mr. Sondergaard said. “Digital startups sit inside your own organization, in your marketing department, in HR, in logistics and in sales. Your business units are acting as technology startups.”


Speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando this week, Sondergaard used the example of smart machines to highlight the disruption caused in Digital Business. Smart machines are an emerging super class of technologies that perform a wide variety of work, of both the physical and the intellectual kind.

Smart machines will automate decision making. Therefore, they will not only affect jobs based on physical labor, but they will also impact jobs based on more complex knowledge worker tasks.

The impact will be profound. By 2018, digital businesses will require 50 percent fewer business process workers. However, by 2018 Digital Business will drive a 500 percent boost in digital commerce related jobs.

Sondergaard explained to the CIOs in the symposium audience, “The new digital startups in your business units are thirsting for data analysts, software developers and cloud computing vendor management staff, and they are often hiring them faster than IT.”

He insists that CIOs must move with a sense of urgency, to avoid further disruption. Companies must build talent for the digital organization of 2020 now. Not just the digital technology organization, but the whole enterprise. In essence, savvy multifaceted digital-native talent is the key to Digital Business leadership and sustainable competitive supremacy.

Focus on Vision-First Digital Business Leadership

As the technologies and trends that power digitalization move to center stage, traditional IT leaders are being presented with a unique opportunity to become forward-thinking Digital Business leaders, according to the latest global survey of CIOs by Gartner.

The latest survey uncovered that CIOs are fully aware that they will need to change in order to succeed in Digital Business -- with 75 percent of respondents acknowledging that they’ll need to adapt their leadership style within the next three years.

According to the survey findings, 89 percent of CIOs agree that in addition to the considerable opportunities afforded by digitalization, the digital world engenders new, vastly different and higher levels of risk. Moreover, 69 percent said that the discipline of risk management is not keeping up.

The average IT budget will grow by just one percent from 2014 to 2015. CIOs estimate that 79 percent of IT spending will be "inside" the IT budget (up slightly from last year), but much digital innovation can and will be funded outside of the planned IT spending.

Seventy-three percent of surveyed CIOs say that they have changed their leadership style over the last three years, and 75 percent say they must change it over the next three years -- to essentially flip their leadership style from control-first to more of a vision-first orientation.

"During the second IT era of industrialization, people leadership was honed to emphasize precision, discipline and tight control," said Graham Waller, vice president and executive partner for Gartner Executive Programs. "Therefore, through both nature and nurture, CIOs have evolved into control-style pragmatic leaders. Given the characteristics of the new digital era, this bias is dangerous. CIOs must invert their style to be more vision-led and inspirational."

The worldwide Gartner survey included responses from 2,810 CIOs, representing more than $397 billion in IT investment and operating budgets, within 84 countries.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

How to Procure Web-scale IT Infrastructure Expertise

Here's the challenge. Your CEO won't accept anything less than a world-class IT infrastructure that meets the expectations of his most informed Line-of-Business leaders. If you're the CIO and you don't want to rely upon public cloud service providers, then are you ready to deliver the caliber of IT services that they can provision?

Take a moment. Consider the implications. Ponder the impact of your actions.

All the leading public cloud services providers routinely design and assemble their own data center infrastructure components, due to their extreme needs for scale and cost control. Regardless of the cloud services company, a common element among all these devices is a requirement to run an open-source operating system, such as Linux, and various other purpose-built open-source software components. Gartner, Inc. refers to this trend as the Web-scale IT phenomena.

Why You Need to Adopt Web-scale IT Practices

What is Web-scale IT? It's all of the things happening at large cloud services firms -- such as Google, Amazon and Facebook -- that enables them to achieve extreme levels of compute and storage delivery. The methodology includes industrial data center components, web-oriented architectures, programmable management, agile processes, a collaborative organization style and a learning culture.

By 2017, Web-scale IT will be an architectural approach found operating in 50 percent of all global enterprises – that's up from less than 10 percent in 2013, according to Gartner. However, they also predict that most corporate IT organizations have a significant expertise shortfall that creates a huge demand for long-term technical staff training and near-term consulting guidance.

Gartner reports that legacy capacity planning and performance management skills within typical enterprise IT teams are no longer sufficient to meet today's rapidly evolving large multinational business. By 2016, according to Gartner's assessment, the lack of required skills will be a major constraint to growth for 80 percent of all large companies.


Gartner also believes that Web-scale IT organizations are very different than Conventional IT teams – in particular, they proactively learn from one another. Furthermore, Web-scale organizations extend the data center virtualization concept by architecting applications to be stateless, wherever possible.

"While major organizations continue to maintain and sustain their conventional capacity-planning skills and tools, they need to regularly re-evaluate the tools available and develop the capacity and performance management skills present in the Web-scale IT community," said Ian Head, research director at Gartner.

Hybrid cloud computing services constructed in this way are better equipped to scale geographically and share multiple data centers with limited impact on user performance. This approach also blurs the lines between capacity planning, fault-tolerant designs, and disaster recovery.

When to Plan for Large-Scale Web Systems

Demand shaping uses various techniques to adjust the quantity of resources required by any one service so that the infrastructure does not become overloaded. Gartner predicts that through 2017, 25 percent of large organizations will use demand shaping to plan and manage capacity – that's up from less than 1 percent in 2014. So, you'll need a plan of action – to take you from your current scale, to a Web-scale.

Gartner says that CIOs and other IT leaders must plan both the application and infrastructure architecture carefully. Infrastructure and product teams must work together to use application functionality, which allows an orderly degradation of service by reducing non-essential features and functions (when necessary).

Besides, the different architectures and the vastness of Web-scale IT organizations make traditional capacity planning tools of limited utility. In-memory computing and deep analytics tools are generally used to extract the required data directly from the infrastructure and from reporting capabilities built into software applications. This information is used to inform real-time decisions to allocate resources and manage potential bottlenecks.

"These operational skills and tools are currently unique to each Web-scale organization and are not yet available in most end-user organizations," said Mr. Head. "However they will be in increasingly high demand as large organizations of all types begin to pursue the tangible business benefits of a Web-scale approach to IT infrastructure."

Getting Ready to Scale-Out Your Infrastructure

So, if your IT organization isn't prepared for this transition, what are your options? Your search for hybrid cloud training services and consulting guidance should start with a requirement for proven OpenStack expertise. As the leading open-source cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service platform, you're likely going to need IT talent that's already experienced with prior OpenStack deployments.

That said, choose wisely. Keep in mind; few suppliers will have Web-scale infrastructure experience. As you prepare your list of qualified vendors, ask for customer case study examples and their use case scenarios. To help reduce the risk of procurement remorse, take all the time you need to perform due diligence.

Regardless of your IT operational budget, familiarize yourself with the OpenStack trailblazers, such as eNovance, and become versed in the language and processes of the Web-scale infrastructure deployment pioneers. Now you'll be ready to embark upon your scale-out infrastructure journey.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How to Overcome the Cloud-Savvy IT Talent Shortage

Senior executives at large multinational enterprises are already demanding that their CIO has a plan in place to ensure that they can effectively procure public and private cloud services for their organization. In smaller companies, some IT managers are now expected to acquire the knowledge and skills to perform a similar role.

Are they prepared? To find out, let's review a current IT resource assessment.

According to the findings from a recent market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), European IT departments still need to make significant improvements before they have fully embraced cloud architectures and transformed themselves into hybrid cloud service providers.

When asked to evaluate their current readiness to execute on their cloud service brokering strategy -- where they become trusted internal advisers to their Line of Business leaders -- European respondents admitted to unexpectedly low levels of confidence that they're ready.

As an example, 56 percent of European IT departments cannot find qualified staff to effectively support cloud projects. Moreover, 61 percent are struggling to up-skill their employees to effectively evaluate cloud service providers. And, 70 percent still need to learn how to make effective use of automation, self-service, and basic orchestration tools.


Why Finding Talent is Still a Major Roadblock

If you assumed that -- based on this insight -- the skills shortfall is merely a European problem, you'd be mistaken. IDC interviewed IT and non-IT staff at director level or above in 1,109 organizations globally -- including 304 in Europe (100 in the U.K. and 102 in both France and Germany).

The IDC survey confirmed the depth and breadth of this challenge -- like many of their counterparts, the vast majority of European IT departments still require a great deal of transformation and need to invest further in people, process, and technology.

"The use of cloud computing as an increasingly business-critical technology is quickly changing how companies and institutions evaluate, procure, and deploy IT assets," said Carla Arend, program director at IDC.

She believes that the effective use of cloud-related tools remains the biggest challenge for IT organizations, while accurately defining costs and implementing charge-back models is a struggle in the business and IT relationship.

According to IDC's assessment, spending on cloud services and the building blocks for cloud infrastructure has reached 25 percent growth in Europe over the past 12 months. But beyond the early-adopter segment, IDC says that deployments in the coming years could stall if IT buyers are not prepared to systematically tackle the known hurdles to a successful adoption.

Additional findings from the IDC study include:
  • IT organizations see themselves as Service Providers focused on business priorities. Almost half of the respondents have achieved this change in mindset, where IT departments have embraced the IT-as-a-service approach and are ready to negotiate service levels and serve their business users like an outside service provider. Only 5 percent of respondents do not have this major transformation as an area of focus.
  • Return on investment remains difficult to prove. Only around a third of European organizations are able to build a comprehensive business case for their cloud projects. Understanding all the implications, costs, and benefits of a transformational process like implementing cloud computing is tough, but without creating solid business cases it is hard to demonstrate the ultimate success of cloud projects.
  • With regard to the ability to apply services to drive business innovation and competitive advantage, just 41 percent are able to use cloud to gain a business advantage -- leaving 59 percent of European organizations not able to take cloud projects beyond the level of IT infrastructure projects. IDC says that the real benefits of cloud projects will only be realized if they are used to drive business innovation and competitive advantage.

So, given that backdrop, how can companies solve the apparent cloud infrastructure and business innovation skills gap? One approach is to reach out to consulting and training organizations that have a proven track record of helping other legacy IT organizations evolve towards these 21st Century demands.

Clearly, there are likely a few highly-qualified candidates in every region of the world. In the European marketplace, Paris-based eNovance is an example of the high-caliber consulting talent that's available to create and deploy cloud infrastructures quickly and cost effectively -- plus manage a multitude of web applications on the largest public clouds.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Evolving Role of Savvy Business Technology Leaders

As the chief executive at your company, if you discovered that you had some major financial standards compliance issues within your organization, would you be concerned about the risks associated with that exposure?

If your designated outside auditor had bypassed your internal finance department and chose instead to work directly with your individual Line of Business leaders, would you want to know why? Moreover, would you intervene?

Yes, it's a rhetorical series of questions. And I think we all know the answers.

Did you know there's a movement that's already in progress that could impact your company's provision and consumption of IT services, with a corresponding potential exposure concern that's related to compliance issues?

Have you heard about the Shadow IT phenomenon? According to the assessment of several leading IT market analysts, it's a trend that's already quite pervasive across a broad cross-section of industries. It’s also been a hotly debated topic.

Who is championing this cause from a horizontal organization perspective? According to market research from last year, it's primarily the marketing leadership.

The Need for Greater Speed and Deep Knowledge

Granted, some of the inherent friction within the ongoing quest for strategic business technology competitiveness can be uncomfortable for some people. But in the grand scheme of things, it's all good. This is the path to progress. Let's consider the upside opportunities.

IT used to be primarily about operations, cost reduction, and management controls. That's no longer the scenario at forward-thinking companies. Today, corporate IT departments are being asked to plan, build or procure, manage, and continuously improve upon their organization's business technology infrastructure and associated processes.

As if that weren't enough, you will likely also expect your re-energized IT leadership team to help your organization innovate, grow, and deliver unique customer experiences. If you haven't yet reached that pivotal point, don't fret…you will soon.


Besides, you're most likely to be highly motivated to navigate this key market transition. As an informed executive, you've made it a personal goal to insure that you surround yourself with the best available talent.

While business technology deployments can't provide you a permanent competitive advantage, the timely deployment of new IT systems can enable you to build a strong competitive position that will stand the tests of time.

Moreover, while cloud service adoption moves towards ubiquity in the global marketplace, the ability to perform the essential task of crafting a unique and powerful business application development environment is still somewhat scarce. Again, that's an opportunity, not a problem.

IT Talent with New Skills and Big Aspirations

Granted, we've already reached an inflection point where software-as-a service offerings have made it easier for any Line of Business leader to deploy an IT solution, just-in-time. However, being able to attain the much broader business agility benefits -- that are truly possible with cloud computing -- requires a comprehensive strategic plan.

Now's the time to encourage and coax your business unit leaders and open-minded IT managers to work together and collaborate on mutually beneficial projects. If you need help to bring this essential project orchestration together, then consider seeking out an accomplished pioneer.

Companies with an evolved ecosystem of integration channel partners, such as Cisco, has the depth and breadth of information, education and guidance resources that today's forward thinking leaders need to execute their multifaceted cloud-enabled strategies.

Why Cloud Service Brokering Really Matters

By increasing their inherent sourcing flexibility, your current business technology managers can more successfully assume the role as a broker of IT services -- thereby increasing transparency, and better aligning your business and IT agendas into a cohesive plan.

A valued and trusted broker, in this context, is an individual or group within your own IT team that acts as a mediator between the Line of Business end-user of a managed cloud service capability and the providers of that service offering.

But how does a top performing IT department gain the trust to carry out this evolving role?

What's needed is a comprehensive, consistent cloud strategy that will offer an enlightened perspective, provide compelling direction, and build confidence in your IT team's enabling platform procurement decisions.

As an example, when acting as a credible service broker, just imagine how your IT team can now take full advantage of multiple sourcing options and become a value-added intermediary of cloud services for their Line of Business internal customers. Now, that's the makings of a solid foundation for a meaningful partnership and substantive progress towards your bold goal.

So, are you ready to enhance your business flexibility with a choice of consumption models in the world of many clouds? Are you fully prepared to embrace the emerging hybrid cloud era?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Worldwide IT Spending will Reach $2.1 Trillion in 2014

So far, 2014 has turned into a banner year for CIOs that have invested the time and effort to plan for hybrid cloud services, while building strong strategic relationships with their Line of Business leadership. Their approved capital investment budget spend is on-track and operational expenses are contained, as planned.

Savvy senior executives across the globe continue to make selective investments in new business technology. In fact, there could be a moderate IT infrastructure spend over the next 12-18 months, which will likely increase the demand for open source software and professional services as new cloud service projects are approved.

Worldwide IT spending is now forecast to increase by 4.5 percent in 2014 at constant currency, that's according to updated projections from the latest market study by International Data Corporation (IDC). By and large, this enterprise growth is still being driven by smartphones, apps and the mobile cloud.

Aside from mobility related investment, the strongest IT growth will come from enterprise software, including rapidly expanding requirements -- such as cloud computing, big data analytics, data management, and collaborative applications.


IT Procurement Results and Regional Outlook

Meanwhile, although some emerging markets remain constrained, there is now significant pent-up demand for IT investment next year in higher-growth markets -- including India, Brazil, and Russia. Besides, demand has already driven a significant rebound of IT spending in China.

That being said, some IT market segments performed weaker than expected. In particular, the enterprise infrastructure refresh cycle was disrupted by declines in business confidence. However, strong underlying demand will drive improvements in the data center server, storage, and network infrastructure markets.

"The good news is that the U.S. economic outlook has already brightened and this will drive a period of moderate but long-awaited investment in mission-critical infrastructure over the next year," said Stephen Minton, vice president at IDC.

The commercial PC refresh has proven stronger than originally forecast. As a result, IDC now forecasts PC spending will increase by 3.5 percent in 2014. Western Europe has seen an improvement, but PC spending in Europe will still be down by 1 percent due to average price declines.

There was a modest market upturn in Japan, where economic growth and upcoming tax increases drove a surge in capital spending in 2013. And while IDC estimates that PC spending in Japan increased by 6 percent last year, it will decline by -4.5 percent this year.

The U.S. media tablet market is now forecast to increase by just 2 percent this year, but will rebound to 7 percent growth in 2015. Worldwide tablet spending has slowed from 29 percent year-over-year growth in 2013 to 8 percent in 2014, but will accelerate back to double-digit growth in 2015 (by ~10 percent).

Overall IT spending growth in China decelerated to 8 percent last year, but is on course for 13 percent growth in constant currency during 2014. Excluding mobile phones, IT spending in China will increase by 5 percent this year -- that's up from growth of just 2 percent in 2013.

Data center server spending in China will increase by 7 percent, storage spending by 8 percent, and software by 9 percent, but the overall market growth outlook is still weighed down by the declining PC market.

IT spending in India will increase by 15 percent next year -- that's up from 8 percent in 2014. In Brazil, the market will accelerate from 10 percent growth this year to 13 percent next year. In Russia, the market is set to decline slightly in 2014 before rebounding to 7 percent growth in 2015.

IDC believes that mature economies have remained more stable since last year, with market growth often outpacing expectations. The U.S. IT market will increase by 4 percent this year, and Western Europe will maintain a 2 percent growth rate overall.

In summary, total worldwide IT spending will reach almost $2.1 trillion in 2014. Including telecommunications services, the worldwide combined ICT market will increase by 4 percent to $3.7 trillion, with telecom services growth of 4 percent driven by mobile data services and increasing broadband penetration.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Business Technology Literacy in the Cloud Computing Era

What if you could deploy a new IT service shortly after you defined the requirements? And, just imagine the bliss, if your IT spend could directly translate into a competitive advantage. Predicting the ROI would be relatively easy. You would be the envy of your peer group.

Unfortunately, as most senior executives already know, it's never that simple.

Typically, you perform the technology assessment due diligence up-front, you place your bets based upon the most compelling guidance, and then you closely monitor the results. It's an iterative process, where confidence builds over time. Maybe that's why new business technology spending tends to be aligned with a past success.

But this procurement model doesn't adapt very well in response to unanticipated significant market events or the rapid acceleration of unplanned technology migrations. Moreover, tight budgets and other resource constraints can severely limit an organization's ability to react quickly to changing environments.

Outlook for Near-Term IT Transitions

Worldwide IT spending will reach $2.14 trillion in 2014, that's up by 5.1 percent from 2013 levels -- almost one point higher than the 2013 growth rate -- according to the predictions by IDC. Meanwhile, cloud spending will likely exceed $100 billion. Growing by 25 percent, IDC believes that the buyer preference will be slanted toward public cloud services.

However, the legacy approach to business technology acquisition -- that could often take months or years to reach full deployment -- just can’t seem to keep up with the most pressing needs for operational agility.

As a leader in today's fast moving commercial environment, staying current on everything that has the potential to impact the status-quo is of the highest priority. It's a well known fact in business, you can't fully capitalize on a competitive advantage if it has yet to mainstream throughout your organization and the core parts of your business operations.

That being said, is your executive team conversant with all the latest business technology trends? Are you already cloud-literate and very decisive, or cloud-challenged and somewhat ambivalent? If you don't know the answer to these key questions, then perhaps now's the time to establish a benchmark. After all, cloud literacy is no longer optional -- regardless of your industry.

How to Prosper from Cloud Computing Adoption

Eventually, the senior leadership of every size company in all industry categories will need to become literate in cloud technology adoption. Furthermore, in order to tap the full potential of the cloud services phenomenon, that awareness will need to permeate to all your department leaders. In fact, at some forward-thinking companies, it's already common for Line of Business (LOB) leaders to be actively involved in the buying-cycle. Clearly, that’s a growing trend.

A joint effort between Cisco and Intel, "The Impact of Cloud on IT Consumption Models" study surveyed 4,226 IT leaders in 18 industries across nine key economies during 2013. The global study findings uncovered important insights about how key trends are impacting IT procurement.

A case in point: 44 percent of IT funding is already coming from LOBs, either directly or as operating budget chargebacks to the IT organization. Also, 69 percent of survey respondents believe that authority over buying decisions will increasingly reside with LOB leaders.


Therefore, given the increased influence of LOBs across all IT consumption lifecycle stages -- including planning, procurement, deployment, operations and governance -- it's imperative for savvy CIOs and IT managers to rethink their internal stakeholder engagement strategy.

As an example, traditional IT leaders should anticipate a greater focus on commercial metrics, such as a meaningful ROI and substantively improved business outcomes. For some, that demand could present a skills challenge for employees. For others, there may be a need to update the key performance indicators (KPIs) that are used to gauge project progress.

Regardless of the challenges encountered in a particular scenario, survey respondents seem unanimous in their belief about how you obtain the best solution -- IT and LOB leaders must work together. Respectful collaboration, based upon mutual trust, leads to triumph.

Boldly Moving Forward with a Cloud Strategy

So, perhaps you're wondering, to achieve your top priorities, where might you go to find the best examples of purposeful organization collaboration, value creation and cloud-enabled innovation?

Value-adding companies with a multifaceted ecosystem of integration partners, such as Cisco, provide access to subject-matter experts that can help you translate the benefits of cloud technology in ways that are relevant to all your business unit managers.

And, experienced business consulting talent and technical services support staff can guide your IT team through the steps to build a best-fit plan of action for your particular use case. These services and support models allow you to properly develop a cloud strategy that is right for you. As you're probably learning, using disparate cloud services is a far cry from a developed and optimized cloud strategy that meets your IT needs and supports the business strategic objectives.

Combining all of these requisite skills will create a recipe for your own success in the cloud computing era. Besides, once you're armed with these business transformation capabilities, it's a sure way to be much better prepared to realize your desired competitive position in the marketplace.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cloud Enables a Big Competitive Advantage for UK Firms

Recovery from the financial crisis in Europe continues across the whole region. Granted, there are structural reasons for the eurozone economy's slow recovery. Regardless, savvy senior executives in leading nations are actively seeks ways to grow their business. For some that means a shift to cloud computing services -- thereby lowering operational costs and boosting productivity.

As an example, forward-looking UK businesses are becoming more competitive as a direct result of their adoption of cloud services, that's according to the latest market study findings from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF).

Quest for a Competitive Advantage

The CIF research -- conducted in May 2014, polling 250 senior IT managers and other business decision-makers -- found that 55 percent of managers report having experienced a competitive advantage from using cloud services. A further 23 percent of surveyed managers anticipate seeing a meaningful commercial advantage from their cloud service deployments.

The research also found that the migration to cloud computing has resulted in operational business objectives being achieved by many organizations -- 66 percent achieved their objective to increase speed of access to business technology, 65 percent improved up-time or reliability of IT services, and 59 percent improved service levels of their IT applications.

"It is encouraging to see that the flexibility brought by cloud services is translating into competitive advantage for businesses -- particularly for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who are perhaps best-placed to benefit from more agile and flexible IT," said Alex Hilton, CEO at CIF.


Other findings from the market study include:

  • 47 percent of those who use cloud services, or expect to in the future, consider faster access to technology a tangible benefit, while around two fifths (41 percent) consider flexible access to technology a tangible benefit of cloud service deployment that their organization has achieved.
  • Flexibility of delivery continues to be the most commonly cited primary reason for initial cloud service adoption (17 percent). Operational cost savings come a close second (15 percent), up from a slight dip in 2013, when it was cited as the primary reason for adoption by 9 percent of cloud users.
  • This picture remains relatively consistent across organizations of all sizes, although in the public sector they show a slight preference towards cost savings, 21 percent of which cited operational cost savings as their primary reason for cloud service adoption.

Overall satisfaction rates for this business technology remain high, with 89 percent reporting satisfaction with their use of cloud services. However, 87 percent of cloud service users feel their migration could have been improved in some way, with around two fifths (38 percent) wishing it had cost less.

Many organizations did experience some difficulties in their first migration to a cloud service. Citing the need for improved professional services and technical support, 31 percent struggled with the complexity of migration, while 35 percent would have liked access to cloud management tools from their service provider.

"Although these difficulties do not seem to have impacted UK business leader enthusiasm for cloud in any significant way, improving the overall experience of cloud, from service design to service migration and management, should be an ongoing focus and priority for the industry to further enhance the benefits of cloud computing," concluded Hilton.