Monday, February 9, 2015

The DevOps Path to Digital Transformation Nirvana

Back in 1982, many pundits in the business media were raving about the publication of "In Search of Excellence" – a book written by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman. As you may recall, the topic wasn't about the typical mainstream company of that time. Instead, it was about forty-three selected companies that were deemed to be “excellent” by the two authors.

Those companies were chosen to be profiled due to their superior organization and people processes. Today, it’s more likely for management consultants to write about business technology adoption – specifically, digital transformation and the role of DevOps practices within the evolving enterprise IT organization.

But is DevOps really a significant trend, or merely a fad? International Data Corporation (IDC) believes that DevOps will be adopted -- in either practice or discipline -- by 80% of Global 1000 organizations by 2019.

IDC released a summary the findings from their "2014 DevOps Benchmark Survey" which is designed to help organizations assess their maturity level against industry benchmarks. IDC believes that DevOps offers organizations an opportunity to transform how they develop, deploy, and manage IT services.

"One of the most revealing aspects of this benchmark research is that a growing number of IT organizations are using new automation and performance management tools across both the Development and Operations teams, and linking these projects through DevOps practices," said Stephen Elliot, vice president at IDC.

These organizations are delivering business value in the form of cost avoidance, while increasing the speed and quality of their customer impactful services. One of the biggest challenges, according to the IDC assessment, is actually getting started with native Cloud DevOps.

Open Minds, Empathy and Continuous Improvement

IDC believes that the benefit of DevOps is typically gained via process standardization, with an increased focus on teamwork across software development and IT operations teams. Moreover, it’s achieved when leaders are actively traversing internal organization silos and bringing cross-functional teams together – working towards a common goal.

Often, according to IDC, the existing IT organization culture is seen as a significant DevOps adoption barrier that can demotivate projects. Adopting a progressive IT culture of collaboration, teamwork, sharing, empathy, communication and trust are extremely important.

Software production quality metrics and the application of ongoing measurement are also important to achieve long-term improvement – enabling Line of Business leaders to achieve their business outcome objectives.

Organizations deploying enterprise mobility and cloud computing solutions in DevOps profit by driving tighter collaboration across key business stakeholders and development, test deployment, application support, and operations teams.

IDC also measured maturity across the five key dimensions: People, Culture, Technology, Business, and Process. According to the IDC study findings, several insights are particularly noteworthy:

  • Many organizations are still at the opportunistic stage for all five dimensions of DevOps maturity, with a minimal number of organizations at the ad hoc stage.
  • Overall, DevOps capabilities are consistent across the people, technology, and process dimensions.
  • Less than one-tenth (9.2 percent) of the survey respondents are at the optimized stage in the culture dimension, while more than twice that many (20.2 percent) are at the optimized stage in the business dimension.
  • Most IT organizations today have a better understanding and acceptance of the requirements and needs to achieve a desired state for business alignment, strategy execution, and budgeting than the relentless courage and risks required to drive cultural change.
  • Cultural transformation is at the heart of DevOps practices and a core impact point for achieving DevOps success.
  • This disparity is also reflected in over half (53.7 percent) of respondents indicating that they are at the opportunistic stage in the culture dimension, while the counterpart percentage for the business dimension is 41.7 percent.

For a more in-depth exploration of the potential upside of adopting a DevOps methodology, consider the wisdom of Gordon Haff. In a recent editorial he said "DevOps is fundamentally about adopting many of the same open source best practices. Agile. Transparency. Collaboration. Iterative fast release. Continuous integration. These come together and, over time, create an open source lifestyle and culture. They can likewise come together to make DevOps thrive."

Monday, December 29, 2014

Where Mobile Cloud is Driving the Greatest Value

How agile is your IT organization? Have you kept pace with the rapid evolution of cloud computing services? Have you applied that cloud investment to connect with your key stakeholders in the marketplace? Are you ready to seize the opportunities from the emerging mobile cloud trend?

If you answered NO to any of these questions, you're at a competitive disadvantage with your more digital savvy business technology peer group. The leading organizations worldwide will rely on cloud infrastructure to achieve commercial benefits that extend far beyond IT cost reduction goals.

Informed CEOs and other senior executives are realizing that cloud service adoption can be a much-needed catalyst for operational process improvement -- as well as a driver of business transformation.

New market data shows the increased use of cloud technology by global business to better connect with their employees and customers. According to findings from the KPMG 2014 Cloud Survey, the top use of cloud computing remains driving IT cost efficiency (49 percent).

However, the survey results also reveal that the progressive organizations are using cloud computing to enact large-scale change -- such as by better enabling a flexible and mobile workforce (42 percent), or improving alignment and interaction with customers, suppliers and business partners (37 percent).

Why Mobile Cloud has Gained Momentum

The enablement of a flexible and mobile workforce was cited as a driver of cloud usage by only 15 percent of executives in the KPMG 2012 Cloud Survey, whereas this result almost tripled in the 2014 survey -- with 42 percent of respondents citing it as part of their digital transformation methodology.

Additionally, according to the 2014 findings, executives cite increased employee productivity (54 percent) and higher employee satisfaction and flexibility (48 percent) as the top two benefits of using cloud services to improve workforce mobility.

"People's expectations as employees are a lot different than they were ten years ago," said Mark Shank, managing director of the digital and mobile practice at KPMG.

According to their assessment, employees today demand the same access, experience and richness on their work computers and mobile devices as they have on their personal devices. Cloud is making that possible, and organizations are using it to enable a more flexible and agile workforce.

Why Retailers are Leading the Transformation

Similarly, the cloud is being used to transform customer interactions, as the emergence of the digital-savvy customer calls for organizations to embrace new approaches and tools for communication with their customers and prospects.

This is especially true in the retail sector. Compared to other industries, retail executives in the 2014 survey were more likely to say their organizations are using cloud services to improve alignment and interaction with their customers, suppliers and business partners.

KPMG believes that empowered consumers expect more from their retail experience, and this adds pressure and uncertainty to traditional retailer business operating models. Consumers expect to be known, recognized, and offered personalized insight and offerings.

They want to interact with the brand in person, on-line, on the go -- and on their own terms. They also prefer ready access to knowledgeable and responsive associates across those various channels.

The pace and variability of change is driving the acceleration of cloud solutions to enable retailers to make the broad range of operational and business changes to remain competitive in this evolving consumer landscape.

How to Reach the Full Potential of Cloud DevOps

KPMG offered some tips to realize the long-term commercial benefits from cloud infrastructure deployment and the ongoing use of a DevOps approach to rapid software application development.

Adoption should not be viewed as just another technology implementation project, but rather a comprehensive digital service transformation journey spanning from initial strategy development through to the ongoing execution.

Cultural alignment through all levels of the IT developer and operations organization is essential to managing the change associated with a cloud transformation.

Executive management should work to establish an aligned corporate culture at the outset, focusing first on getting the buy-in and support of senior cross-functional business leaders.

Organizations should develop realistic and measurable business outcomes for their cloud transformation projects that tie back to key strategic objectives.

Meanwhile, a value- and metrics-driven approach to cloud transformation enables the organization to know when milestones are reached and stay focused on achieving their bold strategic goals.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cloud Adoption Trend is Driven by Strategic Imperatives

As this year comes to a close, let's take one last look at the most pervasive cloud computing trends -- including increased usage across the different cloud service models, the key business drivers and the impact of agile innovation strategies.

Cloud computing adoption has matured, with 69 percent of survey respondents stating that at least a portion of their computing infrastructure is in the cloud. However, 56 percent of companies are still identifying IT operations that could potentially move to the cloud, according to the latest market study by IDG Enterprise.

Survey respondents believe that business technology is a game changer, and cloud solutions are providing advantages from increasing IT agility (63 percent), IT innovation (61 percent) and improving the ability to access critical business data and digital service applications (58 percent).

Removing the Barriers to Cloud Adoption

That said, IT leaders perspective on barriers to bringing these advantages to fruition differs from their Line of Business (LOB) counterparts. There is agreement, however, that a company's biggest challenge to implementing a cloud platform is ensuring security.

But there's a significant disconnect on the second most important barrier. IT leaders are concerned about integration (46 percent).  In contrast, LOB leaders believe measuring return-on-investment is a more important challenge (37 percent).

"As use of cloud solutions mature, more than half of companies surveyed are shifting from adoption to upgraded services," said Brian Glynn, chief revenue officer of IDG Enterprise. "This opens the door for new and existing solution providers as businesses continue to look for ways to improve agility and innovation while balancing enterprise security and risk."

Cloud Service Preferences are Evolving

Three-quarters of companies are confident that the assets they have placed in the cloud are secure. To help companies have a sense of control, 80 percent have already created, or will create, a governance policy in the next year.

Also, public cloud (60 percent) and private cloud (57 percent) solutions remain the preferred environments compared to hybrid cloud (19 percent). As more workloads move into the cloud, the amount of data stored in private and public clouds will each increase to 25 percent and 21 percent, respectively, in the next 18 months.

Since 2012, cloud investments have increased by 19 percent, with large enterprises spending on average $3.3 million a year, compared to SMBs spending $400,000. Moreover, spending on cloud solutions will account for almost a quarter of IT budgets in the coming year.

Cloud Deployment Motivation is Strategic

Current estimates show that 23 percent of spending on cloud solutions happens outside of the IT department -- with marketing, sales and human resources most often investing in solutions.

Besides, even when a cloud solution is purchased by LOB leaders, the IT team can still be involved in the management of the project. And, in instances where IT does not lead the project, 45 percent of the time IT is still called upon to take over the project.

No matter who initiates the move to cloud, one thing will always be certain, CEOs and other senior executives that approve the budget are not enamored by the technology -- they have a strategic imperative and they seek a meaningful competitive advantage in the marketplace.

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?