Posts Tagged digital transformation

New Enterprise Systems Maturity Model

Does your shop use maturity models to measure where you stand and where you should be going compared with industry trends and directions? Savvy IT managers often would use such a model to pinpoint where their organization stood on a particular issue  as part of their pitch for an increased budget to hire more people or acquire newer, faster, greater IT capabilities.

Today maturity models are still around but they are more specialized now. There are, for instance, maturity models for security and IT management. Don’t be surprised to see maturity models coming out for cloud or mobile computing if they are not already here.

Earlier this year, Compuware introduced a new maturity model for the enterprise data center.  You can access it here. Compuware describes the new maturity model as one that helps organizations assess and improve the processes for managing application performance and costs as distributed and mainframe systems converge.

Why now? The data center and even the mainframe have been changing fast with the advent of cloud computing, mobile, and big data/analytics. Did your enterprise data center team ever think they would be processing transactions from mobile phones or running analytic applications against unstructured social media data? Did they ever imagine they would be handling compound workloads across mainframes and multiple distributed systems running both Windows and Linux?  Welcome to the new enterprise data center normal.

Maybe the first difference you’ll notice in the new maturity model are the new types of people populating the enterprise data center. Now you need to accommodate distributed and open systems along with the traditional mainframe environment. It requires that you bring together completely different teams and integrate them. Throw in mobile, big data, analytics, and social and you have a vastly different reality than you had even a year ago.  And with that comes the need to bridge the gap that has long existed between the enterprise (mainframe) and distributed data center teams. This is a cultural divide that will have to be navigated, and the new enterprise IT maturity model can help.

The new data center normal, however, hasn’t changed data center economics, except maybe to exacerbate the situation. The data center has always been under pressure to rein in costs and use resources, both CPUs and MIPS, efficiently.  Those pressures are still there but only more so because the business is relying on the data center more than ever before as IT becomes increasingly central to the organization’s mission.

Similarly, the demand for high levels of quality of service (QoS) not only continues unabated but is expanding. The demand for enterprise-class QoS now extends to compound workloads that cross mainframe and distributed environments, leaving the data center scrambling to meet new end user experience (EUE) expectations even as it pieces together distributed system QoS work-arounds. The new enterprise IT maturity model will help blend these two worlds and address the more expansive role IT is playing today.

To do this the model combines distributed open systems environments with the mainframe and recognizes different workloads, approaches, processes, and tooling. It defines five levels of maturity: 1) ad hoc, 2) technology-centric, 3) internal services-centric, 4) external services-centric, and 5) business-revenue centric.

Organizations at the ad hoc level, for example, primarily use the enterprise systems to run core systems and may still employ a green screen approach to application development. At the technology-centric level, there’s an emphasis on infrastructure monitoring to support increasing volumes, higher capacity, complex workload and transaction processing along with greater MIPS usage. As organizations progress from internal services-focused to external services-focused, mainframe and distributed systems converge and EUE and external SLAs assume a greater priority.

Finally, at the fifth or business centric level, the emphasis shifts to business transaction monitoring where business needs and EUE are addressed through interoperability of the distributed systems and mainframes with mobile and cloud systems. Here technologies provide real-time transaction visibility across the whole delivery chain, and IT is viewed as a revenue generator. That’s the new enterprise data center normal.

In short, the new enterprise maturity model requires enterprise and distributing computing come together and all staff work together closely; that proprietary systems and open systems interoperate seamlessly. And there is no time for delay. Already, DevOps, machine-to-machine computing (the Internet of Things), and other IT strategies, descendents of agile computing, are gaining traction while smart mobile technologies drive the next wave of enterprise computing.

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The Internet of Things Gains Traction

The Internet of Things (IoT) appears finally to be gaining real traction with both Gartner and IDC putting out reports on it. The opportunity, however, can best be understood in terms of vertical applications because the value of IoT is based on individual use cases across all verticals. “Successful sales and marketing efforts by vendors will be based on understanding the most lucrative verticals that offer current growth and future potential and then creating solutions for specific use cases that address industry-specific business processes,” said Scott Tiazkun, senior research analyst, IDC’s Global Technology and Industry Research Organization.” Similarly, enterprise IT needs to understand which vertical use cases will benefit first and most.

Tiazkun was referring to IDC’s latest Worldwide Internet of Things Spending by Vertical Market 2014-2017 Forecast.  To tap that market, IDC advises consultants to focus on the individual vertical opportunity that arises from IoT already in play.  Here is where a vertical business savvy IT exec can win. As IDC noted, realizing the existence of the vertical opportunity is the first step to understanding the impact and, therefore, to understanding an IoT market opportunity that exists – for enterprises and IT vendors and consultants.

The idea of IoT has been kicking around for years. BottomelineIT wrote about it early in 2011 here. It refers to the idea of embedding intelligence into things in the form of computer processors and making them IP addressable. Linking them together over a network gives you IoT.  The idea encompasses almost anything from the supply chain to consumer interests. Smart appliances, devices, and things of all sorts can participate in IoT.  RFID, all manner of sensors and monitors, big data, and real time analytics play into IoT.

In terms of dollars, IoT is huge. Specifically, IDC has found:

  • The technology and services revenue from the components, processes, and IT support for IoT to expand from $4.8 trillion in 2012 to $7.3 trillion by 2017 at an 8.8% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), with the greatest opportunity initially in the consumer, discrete manufacturing, and government vertical industries.
  • The IoT/machine-to-machine (M2M) market is growing quickly, but the development of this market will not be consistent across all vertical markets. Industries that already understand IoT will see the most immediate growth, such as industrial production/automotive, transportation, and energy/utilities. However, all verticals eventually will reflect great opportunity.
  • IoT is a derivative market containing many elements, including horizontal IT components as well as vertical and industry-specific IT elements. It is these vertical components where IT consultants and vendors will want to distinguish themselves to address industry-specific IoT needs.
  • IoT also opens IT consultants and vendors to the consumer market by providing business-to-business-to-consumer (B2B2C) services to connect and run homes and automobiles – all places that electronic devices increasingly  will have networking capability.

 Already, leading vendors are positioning themselves for the IoT market. To Oracle IoT brings tremendous promise to integrate every smart thing in this world.  Cisco, too, jumped early on IoT bandwagon dubbing it the Internet of Everything.

IBM gets almost cosmic about IoT, which it describes as the emergence of a kind of global data field. The planet itself—natural systems, human systems, physical objects—have always generated an enormous amount of data, but until recent decades, we weren’t able to hear, see, or capture it. Now we can because all of these things have been instrumented with microchips, UPC codes, and other technologies. And they’re all interconnected, so now we can actually access the data. Of course, this dovetails with IBM’s Smarter Planet marketing theme.

Enterprise IT needs to pay close attention to IoT too. First, it will change the dynamics of your network, affecting everything from network architecture to bandwidth to security. Second, once IT starts connecting the various pieces together, it opens interesting new possibilities for using IT to advance business objectives and even generate revenue. It can help you radically reshape the supply chain, the various sales channels, partner channels, and more. It presents another opportunity for IT to contribute to the business in substantive business terms.

IDC may have laid out the best roadmap to IoT for enterprise IT. According to IDC, the first step will be to understand the components of IoT/M2M IT ecosphere. Because this is a derivative market, there are many opportunities for vendors and consultants to offer pieces, product suites, and services that cover the needed IoT technology set. Just make sure this isn’t just about products. Make sure services, strategies, integration, and business execution are foremost. That’s how you’ll make it all pay off.

The promise of IoT seems open ended. Says Tiazkun: “The IoT solutions space will expand exponentially and will offer every business endless IoT-focused solutions. The initial strategy of enterprise IT should be to avoid choosing IoT-based solutions that will solve only immediate concerns and lack staying power. OK, you’re been alerted.

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Make Your Digital Presence a Valuable Asset

Do you recognize your organization’s digital presence as a valuable asset?  You probably are familiar with some aspects of it, less familiar with others. The organization’s website forms a core component of your digital presence. So do any information or blog portals your organization deploys. Do you conduct webcasts to educate customers or prospects? Webcasts are part of your digital presence too. Your digital presence, in short, is all you do in the digital sphere.

IT probably didn’t initiate the organization’s digital presence way back when the scramble was on to stake out a web presence. Probably marketing agitated for it and IT assigned someone as webmaster. Things have changed dramatically in the decade or two since.

 “Digital is the future and a critical component of business strategy in many industries,” notes Howard Tiersky, CEO of Moving Interactive, which specializes in digital innovation consulting.  In other words, Tiersky tries to increase the value of companies’ digital presence, whatever pieces it may include.

To Tiersky, digital represents the largest transformation the media world has seen in decades—the old rules and ways of launching new products no longer apply. But your digital presence probably extends far beyond the digital media world.

According to Kennedy Consulting, “digital strategy, the integration of digital technologies into companies’ strategies and operations in ways that fundamentally alter the value chain, is emerging as a significant source of competitive advantage.” It is driving dramatic changes in the products and services companies bring to market, as well as how they do business. What we really mean when talking about digital is the entire digital landscape: the Internet, Web (World Wide Web), the Cloud, and all they contain; mobile even plays a key part of it.

Every organization today operates in this rapidly expanding digital landscape. Some have a small digital presence there, maybe just a website that is little more than a static information portal or electronic brochure. Others digitally engage their customers, partners, and other stakeholders much more extensively through social business, online collaboration, webcasts, video, and more.

At this point, the extent of an organization’s involvement in the digital landscape generally mirrors its industry. “In some industries, digital has become the primary way to interact with customers,” says Tiersky.  For customers in media, entertainment, travel, and financial services an effective digital strategy is a critical requirement. In other industries the need is less urgent right now, but before not too long every company in every industry will need a digital strategy that shapes its digital presence.

Most companies began a decade or two ago with a simple static website. Marketing usually was driving the bus with IT lending technical support as needed.  Over the years it grew and expanded; IT increasingly became involved, often reluctantly.

The budget for these kinds of digital initiatives also grew, and the recipient of the budget began to shift. According to Gartner, marketing is purchasing significant marketing-related technology and services from their own capital and expense budgets – both outside the control of the internal IT organization and in conjunction with them.  The upshot, Gartner predicts that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. And the volume and value of transactions being generated through the organization’s digital presence has likely become substantial.

The digital landscape and the performance of the organization’s digital presence within that landscape has grown in size to such an extent, as reflected by the increasing amounts of budget allocated to it, that neither IT nor marketing can handle it alone. The scope and complexity of the digital landscape and its many disparate elements has evolved and expanded fast. In addition, the importance of the organization’s digital presence grown even faster; that’s why every organization needs outside help.

And this is why digital consultants, content delivery networks, and cloud-based services providers of all sorts are in demand.  It is time for you as CIO to sit down with the CMO and put together a team that can efficiently optimize your digital presence as a valuable asset going forward.

 The digital landscape is not going away. “We are going through a multi-decade transformation process; every business will shift significantly into digital world,” says Tiersky.  As that happens you want to make sure IT is playing a key role.

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Technology Trends for 2012

The big technology trends in 2012 will be extensions of trends that began in 2011 or earlier.  For example, BottomlineIT noted the Consumerization of IT  back in September. Expect it to pick up speed in 2012. Similarly you read about The Internet of Things here back in February. That too will drive technology trends in 2012.

The big IT research firms published their trends projections for 2012. You can find Gartner’s here.  Maybe more interesting to a CIO will be IDC’s security trends for 2012 here.

The tech trends below are based on the numerous vendor briefings and conferences BottomlineIT attends as well as talking with dozens of IT and business managers. Most shouldn’t surprise you if you have been reading BottomlineIT, but a few might.

Here are the technology trends for 2012:

BYOD—smartphones mainly and other devices. The twist is the growing adoption of Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) in which workers are encouraged to bring their personal smartphones to work while IT will be asked to support a range of popular devices, selectively open interfaces to data and applications, and insist on a certain level of security, such as data encryption. The business will have to resolve reimbursement issues, currently policies vary from zero to all.

Social Networking for Business—will only grow in the coming year.  Social networking is the way the next generation of workers live and increasingly work.  Businesses will want to identify and capitalize on opportunities in social networking starting with collaboration.

The Internet of Things—the digital transformation of the economy continues as chips are embedded in more things from consumer appliances to packaging materials, allowing companies to meter and monitor processes and activity. RFID is just the start. Watch for more digital instrumentation appearing.

 Automated, Real-time Data Analytics—a part of the Big Data trend. Expect to see the growing adoption of advanced data analytics, which increasingly will be automated to keep up with the high volume and in near-real time to allow for dynamic data-based decision-making. And the analytics will be baked in, relieving the business from having to maintain a stable of PhD quants.

Bio-metric Authentication—passwords provide poor security. Watch for increased adoption of bio-metrics in the form of fingerprints, retina scans, facial/voice recognition, and such to replace the use of passwords for authentication.

The Cloud goes Mainstream—most companies will develop a cloud strategy at some level, whether for backup to the cloud, SaaS, to augment existing capabilities, or something else.

Virtualized Enterprise—look for increasing virtualization of every digital aspect of the enterprise, from data networking to voice communications.

Solid state memory for storage—in one form or another solid state memory will be an increasing part of almost every storage strategy as costs continue to drop and vendors get better at integrating it into the products to boost performance.

Further out:

Electronic Wallets—smart devices, including smartphones, used for almost anything from buying a can of soda to proving who you are. Big vendors already are fighting over who provides the e-wallet. Think you worry about security now? This merits close scrutiny.

Geo-Location—between smart devices and GPS look for businesses increasingly to take advantage of geographic data, first for marketing (combined with QR codes) and then much more.

In-memory Computing—combining processing with memory speeds performance.  Expect to see entire databases processed in memory.

Gamification—applying aspects of computer gaming to business software offers the possibility of more compelling and engaging business applications.  Could ERP be improved through gamification? For sure.

However things shake out, 2012 should be an interesting year for technology, and BottomlineIT will stay on top of it.

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Extending the Digital Transformation of the Economy with IPv6

In case you missed it, there is a digital transformation of the economy underway and IT plays a central part. BottomlineIT first talked about this digital transformation earlier this year. The Internet of things is part of it, but it goes much further. You can see it with the proliferation of digital capabilities in just about everything you do—in your new car, in appliances you buy, in the instrumenting of business processes of all types.

Behind this digital transformation is the Internet, which is the medium across and through all these digital bits travel. Ultimately every item, everything with an RFID tag, every smartphone, anything needing Internet access will need an IP address. And as the Internet currently is configured, it is running out of IP addresses. That’s the problem Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) addresses.

A survey of U.S. technology and business decision makers by IT industry association CompTIA  found 31% of respondents believe the transition to will be mostly smooth. BottomlineIT agrees mainly because for a while at least, the big Internet providers will use masking and address translation techniques to cover up the issue. But at some point, companies will have to incorporate IPv6 when they upgrade their communications equipment.

Jeff Doyle, president of Jeff Doyle and Associates, explains the problem like this: “When the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), the top-level address management agency, allocated the last of its address pool to the five worldwide Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) on February 3, the clock started ticking in earnest. We expect the RIRs to use up those last addresses by late summer. So what then?”

Well, for one thing the Internet is NOT going to come to a crashing halt. As noted above, there are techniques that the big Internet providers can use to fudge the problem for a while. The sky is not falling.

Still, if the Internet is important to your business you will need a plan to deal with this issue at some point. That plan simply may be a budget allocation to replace your current networking and communication equipment with IPv6-capable equipment sooner rather than later. If the Internet is critical to your business, an in-depth risk analysis also might be undertaken.

Ultimately, you will have to upgrade your networking and communications systems for IPv6, but you may not have to lift a finger. As you buy new network equipment in the course of a normal technology refresh, the vendors will have made the upgrade for you and built it in. Cisco has been leading the charge on this, but the other vendors are following right along. Equipment for the small office/home office (SOHO) market appears slower to follow but these vendors too will incorporate IPv6 in their products.

In terms of applications, Microsoft has incorporated IPv6 support into its Windows stack for releases from Vista on.  But again, other vendors are following right along. A partial list of IPv6-compliant applications can be found here.

How big a change is IPv6? Let’s look at the numbers: Compared to IPv4, the current standard that supports 232(4,294,967,296) unique addresses, IPv6 supports 2128 (approximately 340 Undecillion) addresses. That’s eight orders of magnitude greater than trillion. It’s tempting to say that society will never use that many addresses, but given the Internet of Things, who knows? IPv6 also provides new technical features revolving around assigning and managing Internet addresses.

There will be different IPv6 transition strategies, according to CompTIA, depending on the priorities, needs, and capabilities of each organization. Those with high demand for IP address, mainly Internet service providers and wireless carriers, already should be on top of the issue. Most companies, however, needn’t worry at all. The complete transition to IPv6 is expected to take five years or more.

The CompTIA survey found that just over half (56%) of respondents indicated they are following news on IPv6 and 30% have conducted research into the implications. However, only 21% have actually performed network upgrades while nearly one-third (31%) have done nothing at all. BottomlineIT’s recommendation: unless you are a huge consumer of IP addresses you’ve already done what you need for now simply by reading this piece. You can safely wait until you go through your normal equipment, system, and application refreshes.

A more productive use of your IPv6 thinking might be pondering what new things you can do when you have access to a seemingly unlimited number of unique IP addresses.

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Virtualization changes the economics of IT

To most business managers the IT function is a cost center to be minimized. Gartner Data Center conference attendees in December, reportedly, overflowed a session on reducing data center costs. An audience poll at the session, however, showed that about 20% of the audience had no IT cost accounting in place at all, and over half the attendees were basically flying blind on their IT budgets. They had, in effect, no way to control IT costs.

With personnel making up about 38% of IT costs the surest way to cut IT expenses is to cut people, Gartner noted. Another suggestion: buy cheaper IT hardware.

Inna Kuznetsova, Vice President, IBM Systems Software, in a recent analyst briefing, suggests there is a different way to change the economics of IT. The key: virtualization. Even basic virtualization using x86-based servers can deliver 8:1 server consolidation, which can save $600 per server in energy costs alone. Virtualizing on IBM’s eX5 x86-based servers can get you 78% more virtual machines for the same license cost, the company reports.

The rapid digital transformation of the global economy is putting IT infrastructures at companies everywhere under great pressure.  From 2007 to this year, digital data is projected to grow by a factor of 10. Compounding that challenge is the growth of unstructured data, which will make up 80% of the digital data growth and is one factor fueling interest in the advanced analytics, which is needed to make sense of that kind of data.

The scale of this digital transformation is astounding.  Six TB of information is exchanged over the Internet every second! The number of devices connected to the Internet by the end of this year will reach 1012. Driving this is the emergence of the Internet of Things, which BottomlineIT previously covered here.

Certainly shrinking the IT technology footprint through consolidation and reducing IT staff remain key to lowering costs, but technology virtualization, noted Kuznetsova, is the best way to get there. By 2013, she reports that 69% of all server workloads will be virtualized.

Kuznetsova sees a four-step journey to new, improved IT economics through virtualization:

  1. Start with server virtualization but extend it to storage and networks, which also can be virtualized and consolidated. Through IT resource virtualization organizations can boost efficiency and increase the utilization of IT, which boosts ROI.
  2. Manage workloads to further improve staff productivity or reduce staff. This will require integrated systems management tools that enable you to increase server, storage, and network resource-to-staff ratios.  Where it took one storage admin to manage 10 TB of storage, that admin could now handle 100 TB or more through a virtualized IT infrastructure.
  3. Deploy automation to achieve consistent and repeatable processes.  This not only further reduces staffing requirements but enables IT to consistently meet business service levels.
  4. Optimize IT delivery to enable business agility. Ideally this will take the form of user self-provisioning.  Self-provisioning is feasible due to the flexibility of virtualized IT resources, which are not constrained by physical barriers or location. A business manager, for example, can use easy templates to self-provision a new server in minutes to support a new business initiative.

Of course, IBM offers tools, like IBM Systems Director or Tivoli, to assist at every step in this virtualization journey. Other vendors are heading there too, including HP, EMC, Oracle/Sun, and others.

Virtualization lies at the core of cloud computing. A progression through Kuznetsova’s virtualization-driven steps invariably leads you to the cloud. At that point you decide how much cloud is right for your organization.

 

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The Internet of Things

The Internet of things has the potential to change our businesses and our lives as much as or possibly more than today’s Internet. It has been a long time in coming, maybe since the advent of bar codes but certainly since the development of RFID tags.

Among the recognized thought leaders is McKinsey. You can check out a piece they posted last March here IBM has a five-minute video that introduces it here.

The Internet of things is another aspect of the digital transformation of the world. IBM has given it the Smarter Planet label. Others call it the global digital nervous system.  It is the collection of devices, phones, computers, sensors, and more that are continuously capturing and communicating digitized information. And once that information is digitized we can begin to do something with it. What kind of information do you need to advance your business objectives?

When IBM talks about the Smarter Planet it is talking about the Internet of Things. IBM sees it as the intelligence being infused into the systems and processes that make the world work—into things no one would recognize as computers: cars, appliances, roadways, power grids, clothes, even natural systems such as agriculture and waterways.

Would your business like to know how people actually use your products? It might change the way you create, design, build, and market. Of course you could approximate some of this information through focus groups, but they are costly and imperfect. Sensors built into your products and communicating back to you about how they are actually being used would give you the real story.

RFID (Radio Frequency ID) is steadily altering the supply chain. The time when every consumer product has an RFID tag remains some time away, but the technology is being widely adopted in the back room, the back lot, on the shipping dock, and more. That’s the Internet of Things.

Smartphones, WiFi, wireless communications of all types are fueling the Internet of Things. The number of smartphone users soon will be in the hundreds of millions. Each smartphone can be a sensor on the Internet of Things.

Pretty soon, for example, people will use smartphones to purchase a can of soda from a vending machine; that’s the Internet of Things. These phones will be generating presence sensing data, GPS data, motion data, transaction data, and more. Would your marketing department like to know when someone walks into a place selling your product? Better yet, what if they pick up your product and then start to put it down! (Remember, some smartphones sense motion and direction.)

The Internet of Things gets exponentially bigger when digitized surveillance data is added to it. Think of the various CSI and NCSI cop shows where the good guys grab digital video from various surveillance cameras and combine it with blueprints of buildings and schematics. That is Hollywood make-believe today but clearly points to the Internet of Things, a digitally transformed world where vast information is sensed, metered, captured, communicated, and could be available at the click of a button.

Even before then the demand for IP addresses is pushing the capability of today’s Internet to accommodate  new addresses. To meet what will is shaping up as insatiable demand for IP addresses, the Internet will shortly be adopting IPv6.  That should take care of IP  addresses for the rest of any of our lifetimes and beyond.

What will be needed to succeed in that world is excellent analytics—fast real-time analytics that grab the right information and spew out accurate analyses fast. Are you prepared?

 

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