Posts Tagged Cisco

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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HP and Dell Lead Latest Rush to Cloud Services

HP last week made its first public cloud services available as a public beta. This advances the company’s Converged Cloud portfolio as the company delivers an open source-based public cloud infrastructure designed to enable developers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and enterprises of all sizes to build the next generation of web applications.

These services, HP Cloud Compute, Storage, and HP Cloud Content Delivery Network, now will be offered through a pay-as-you-go model. Designed with OpenStack technology, the open-sourced-based architecture avoids vendor lock-in, improves developer productivity, features a full stack of easy-to-use tools for faster time to code, provides access to a rich partner ecosystem, and is backed by personalized customer support.

Last week Dell also joined the cloud services rush with an SAP cloud services offering. Although Dell has been in the services business at least since its acquisition of Perot Systems a few years back services for SAP and the cloud, indeed are new, explained Burk Buechler, Dell’s service portfolio director.

Dell offers two cloud SAP services. The first is the Dell Cloud Starter Kit for SAP Solutions, which helps organizations get started on their cloud journey quickly by providing customers with 60-day access to Dell’s secure cloud environment with a compute power equivalent to 8,000 SAP Application Performance Standard (SAPS) unit of measure and is coupled with Dell’s consulting, application, and infrastructure services in support of SAP solutions.

The second is the Dell Cloud Development Kit for SAP Solutions, which provides access to 32,000 SAPS of virtual computing capacity to deploy development environments for more advanced customers who need a rich development landscape for running SAP applications. This provides a comprehensive developer environment with additional capabilities for application modernization and features industry-leading Dell Boomi technology for rapid cross-application integration.

Of the latest two initiatives, HP’s is the larger. Nearly 40 companies have announced their support for HP Cloud Services, from Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) partners to storage, management and database providers. The rich partner ecosystem provides customers with rapid access to an expansive suite of integrated cloud solutions that offer new ways to become more agile and efficient. The partner network also provides a set of tools, best practices and support to help maximize productivity on the cloud. This ecosystem of partners is a step along the path to an HP Cloud Services Marketplace, where customers will be able to access HP Cloud Services and partner solutions through a single account.

Of course, there are many other players in this market. IBM staked out cloud services early with a variety of IBM SmartCloud offerings. Other major players include Oracle., Rackspace, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), EMC, Red Hat, Cisco, NetApp, and Microsoft.  It is probably safe to say that eventually every major IT vendor will offer cloud services capabilities. And those that don’t will have partnerships and alliances with those who do.

Going forward every organization will include a cloud component as some part of their IT environment. For some, it will represent a major component; for others cloud usage will vary as business and IT needs change. There will be no shortage of options, something to fit every need.

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VMworld Triggers a Clash of Titans

If you believe the hype about VMworld 2011, the annual virtualization fest held by VMware, the leading distributed systems hypervisor company, you might think virtualization was poised to take over the world. OK, in some ways it is, at least the IT world anyway. Virtualization is important because it has the potential to save money and change much that is inefficient with conventional IT. It also forms the foundation of cloud computing

But VMworld wasn’t the only mega-event going on at the end of August. Salesforce.com, the 900 lbs. gorilla in the SaaS industry, staged its annual Dreamforce event in San Francisco the same week. Dreamforce expected 45,000 attendees, better than doubling VMworld’s 20,000. Salesforce is using Dreamforce to rebrand itself as the social enterprise company on the basis of its cloud platform and how it leverages social, mobile, and open cloud technologies to change companies’ relationships with their customers. Dreamforce sponsors include the big consulting firms but few of the big IT vendors.

Judging by the projected attendance at this year’s VMworld it clearly was one of the two places to be this final week of summer if you’re in IT.  The list of corporate participants includes all the big names in technology—the ones not at Dreamforce–Cisco, EMC, HP, NetApp, CA, IBM, Intel, Symantec, and more; a veritable clash of titans. Here’s a sampling:

IBM is using VMworld to promote its hybrid and private Smart Cloud initiatives. In this case it announced a hybrid cloud product based on its recent Cast Iron acquisition that promises to reduce the time it takes to connect, manage and secure public and private clouds. An integration and management tool, it aims to help organizations of all sizes gain better visibility and control while effectively easing the ability to integrate and manage all of an organization’s on-and-off premise IT resources. What once took several months to set up, according to IBM, can now be done in a few days.

NetApp, a storage vendor, joined with VMware to announce the VMware cloud infrastructure on NetApp, which will allow companies to migrate to a secure cloud computing model at their own pace while avoiding the need to rip and replace their existing infrastructure. The product combines NetApp’s flexible Unified Storage Architecture and comprehensive set of storage and data management capabilities built on NetApp’s Data ONTAP with VMware’s recently enhanced cloud infrastructure suite.

Cisco announced technology enhancements to its joint VMware virtualization product that help organizations accelerate their transition to the cloud. Sound familiar? The companies unveiled network virtualization that will broaden the mobility range of virtual machines across multiple datacenters and cloud environments.

Symantec Corp. joined VMware to announce an expansion of their joint effort to define and architect Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) solutions with the goal to provide secure, pre-integrated, and well-managed enterprise-quality virtual desktop computing environments for both enterprises and IT service providers. This initiative will leverage VMware’s virtual desktop and cloud infrastructure products with Symantec products to deliver a secure, manageable and cost-effective DaaS solution.

Of course VMware made many announcements starting with VMware View, which enhances the company’s virtual desktop offerings and VMware Horizon, dubbed as a platform for the post PC era. Horizon handles a variety end user tasks for virtualized Windows applications and mobile users. It also used the event to launch vSphere 5, the latest enhancement to its vSphere virtualization platform for building cloud infrastructures. This will surely trigger a clash of titans as every major IT vendor brings out its cloud virtualization platform.

Not to be outdone or ignored, Microsoft, another IT titan, chose the VMworld kickoff to launch its counter initiative  through two executives who announced new reduced pricing. This was a pointed attack on VMware, which recently raised prices through a backdoor change in its pricing model that raised a howl from customers. Said the executives: This is “a great time to showcase the value of Microsoft’s cloud offerings versus those from competitors VMware and Salesforce.com.” They promise Microsoft customers 4-10 times savings over a period of one to three years. Ain’t competition great.

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Enterprise 2.0 Introduces a World of Networks of Networks

Enterprise 2.0, the annual conference focused on social media, was held in Boston this week with IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft as major sponsors. The conference makes available a wealth of useful information, mainly in the form of white papers and videos of the keynote presentations, for free. Check it out here.

Last year, the conference focused on the search for the social media killer app for business. The growing consensus then was collaboration. BottomlineIT’s sister blog for CFOs covered it here.

This year collaboration is a given. Some other interesting themes, however, emerged in conversations with various key players. For example, Cisco’s Murali Sitaram observed that the world appears to be rapidly evolving into a network of networks. What might that imply for your business?

Social media at its core is about creating networks. Facebook, the largest social network by far, enables its subscribers to create networks of friends among whom they communicate. Twitter, the social media micro-blogging giant, lets its subscribers post their thoughts in 140-character snippets, which are distributed to a network of followers who are encouraged to pass them on.  Within minutes a message can go viral, expanding exponentially.

Vendors are jumping into the social media space with products that, in one way or another, let people and companies create networks, expand on existing networks, or better manage their rapidly growing and multiplying networks. People and companies end up participating in multiple networks. The result, as Sitaram noted, is a world consisting of networks of networks. Between your employees, partners, and customers, you already are involved in many networks. Once aware of these networks, you can exploit them to advance mutually beneficial objectives. That’s essentially what President Obama did to get elected.

Yammer, another Enterprise 2.0 player, provides companies with what amounts to the ability to set up a Facebook-like social media environment within the company. In fact, companies can set up multiple Yammer groups; one for finance, another for budgeting, still another for procurement. You can set up yet a different Yammer group to bring in external partners.

The Yammer groups don’t replace your existing enterprise applications. Those systems—ERP, CRM, HR, supply chain management, procurement, and such—remain the systems of record. Instead it becomes part of a new, complementary category of systems referred to as systems of engagement. These are the social networking systems you will use increasingly to engage and collaborate with employees, partners, customers, and other stakeholders.

At this point, social networking is about managing the engagement experience. Hank Barnes, principal in Adobe’s customer experience management group, suggests a goal of social networking is to turn customers into advocates. Citing a Harvard Business Review article by Roger Martin titled The Age of Customer Capitalism Barnes suggests managers need to change how their companies engage with customers. The way to do that is social networking. Martin’s article demonstrates how companies that focus primarily on delivering customer value do better in the long run than companies that primarily aim to create shareholder value.

The business social networking market is hot. IBM, in launching its new IBM Connections, a social networking platform for business with real-time compliance capabilities, noted that IDC has projected social platforms to be a $2 billion market by 2014. Gartner, meanwhile, reported  that by the end of 2013, half of all companies will have been asked to produce material from social media websites for e-discovery. The conclusion: social networking for business clearly has arrived.

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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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