IBM…The [Big!] New Kid On The Block?

Now, strictly speaking, for the title of this blog to be accurate, I should probably have said IBM might be the new kid on the file, object, and cloud as well as the block…but that would have made it a tad too long, and spoiled the pun! Nonetheless, odd as it seems, the fact is that IBM recently had what amounted to a ‘coming out party’ in terms of its involvement in the storage market. It seems odd of course to think in those terms because IBM has been in the storage game for ever….well ‘for ever’ being a pretty darned long time since IBM effectively started the storage market back in the mid 1950s with the first commercially successful tape and disk drives.

For a few decades after that, IBM dominated the storage space (with a few ‘plug compatible' manufacturers snapping around its heels), but in more recent decades a dynamic competitive storage sector has emerged and IBM has – frankly – been somewhat relegated to the [at least marketing] shadows. Some of the change was no doubt due to the sophisticated and capable competitors lined up against it (EMC, NetApp, HP, HDS, and so on)….but some of the change has also been due to what-appears-to-be an unwillingness by IBM to toot its own horn. Whether born of old style-courtesy or something else, what makes the change in ‘perception-fortunes’ doubly odd is that IBM has never stopped being highly innovative in storage, nor indeed has it stopped having a vibrant storage revenue stream. You just wouldn’t have known! And it has even seemed at times as if IBM was accepting of its ‘dowager’ role; or – more generously – was at least concentrating its efforts elsewhere.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

The Myth of Youth in Social Enterprise

There is a meme going around in IT circles that goes like this “Young people are driving new expectations of IT, especially in social enterprise.” A variant is of this is “Millennials are driving the move toward social enterprise because they are used to Facebook.” I heard this idea repeated at a conference recently by a CIO (who shall remain nameless). To me, that has never sounded right. In fact, I find it downright silly to think that a new 20-something will come into a large corporation, demand that IT provide them with internal Facebook, and not have them laughed right back to their desk. Simply put, they don’t make these decisions. It is managers – budget holders – that make the technology decisions in companies. There aren’t enough of the under-30 employees in those positions to make much of an impact on an entire market. ESG research bears that out. In a recent survey, we found that of the participants that either had implemented or were planning to implement Social Enterprise solutions (which was 93% of the sample!) and who were managers and above, roughly 74% were over 35. No surprise there. Management requires experience and, hence, tends to skew older. The people making the decisions about Social Enterprise, management, are generally over 35 years old and not Millenials.

I also think it is preposterous to think that because someone is older than Mark Zuckerberg they will summarily reject new technology. If that were the case, no one over 45 today would use the Internet and no one over 55 a PC. Instead, grandparents in their 70s and 80s embrace Facebook. ESG data once again points out the fallacy of the idea that workers over 45 (or 35 for that matter) don’t engage with the Social Enterprise. While younger workers may be more regular users or may use more of the social tools provided to them, older workers do not reject them. The IT professionals surveyed believe that roughly 9% of their users in the 46 to 55 age group reject social communication and collaboration tools. Another way to look at it is that 91% actually do use social tools. Not bad for a new technology.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility

Security Services Continue to Grow -- In the Enterprise

In my last blog, I presented some data about the extremely critical but often ignored security skills shortage. While 55% of enterprise organizations (i.e., more than 1,000 employees) plan to add information security headcount this year, 83% say it is "extremely difficult" or "somewhat difficult" to recruit and hire these folks.

Topics: Cybersecurity Cloud Services & Orchestration

Will Viral Adoption Model Work for Microsoft’s Solution Providers

Microsoft finally announced what everyone already knew – that they were acquiring Yammer. Yammer produces what some term an enterprise social network product. It’s Facebook for the corporation. The news broke two weeks before the deal was confirmed because someone involved was overheard talking about it in a coffee shop. When the actual announcement came down it seemed somewhat anticlimactic since even the size of the deal ($1.2B) was already pretty much known.

What struck me in the call that surrounded the announcement was how often the executives involved, including Steve Ballmer, cited the Yammer viral adoption model as a key to success. Viral adoption is a polite way of saying “we use freemuim offerings to infiltrate a corporation.” The theory is that individual users will sign up for the free version, introduce it to their departments, and from there will then spread the product throughout the company like the flu. Sooner or later, the people who run the company will catch the Yammer flu and spend big dollars in licenses. Yammer claimed to have 5 million corporate subscribers, though they declined to mention how many actually pay for the software.

Topics: Enterprise Mobility

Cloud Washes Whiter! Is Best Thing Since Sliced Bread!….and now Solves Crime!

We are bombarded daily with the ‘magic’ of the panacea that is ‘The Cloud’ and all the great things it can apparently bestow upon humanity. It has become an entity in-and-of itself, rather than what it really is, which is an approach to some mixture of IT elements. Don’t take me as a cynic here - I certainly don’t want to come across as a naysayer regarding something that clearly has (and is already delivering) great business and social potential. Nonetheless, you have to keep a sense of humor as well as wonder, as this phenomenon sweeps the connected world….and so I was pleased, and wryly smiled, as I read the following in a recent edition of the “The Week” magazine. It deserves repeating:

“A woman whose phone went missing on a Disney cruise was able to identify the alleged thief after he took photos of himself and his friends, little realizing that they would be sent straight to her account on the iCloud web storage system. From the pictures Kate McCaffrey worked out that her phone was being used by someone called Nelson (he was wearing a name badge) and that he was a crew member on board. She got in touch with Disney, then posted his photos online. “This is Nelson,” she wrote under them. “Nelson has stolen my iPhone….And here’s a beautiful sunset that Nelson had time to capture, all on my stolen iPhone.”

Topics: Cloud Services & Orchestration

Reflections from CiscoLive

Last week I attended CiscoLive in sunny San Diego--well sort of sunny, apparently San Diego was suffering from "June Gloom," which resulted in mostly cloudy days--but I digress. It was a great opportunity to hear from Cisco executives like John Chambers and get caught up on the latest and greatest from Cisco. I'll start with my thoughts from the John Chambers keynote.

Topics: IT Infrastructure Networking ESG on Location

Q: How many vendors does it take to protect all your data?

A: One-unless you're a masochist.

Topics: Data Protection ESG Validation Services

More On The Security Skills Shortage Issue

I frequently peruse information security news, and recently came across this article. The article highlights Symantec CEO Enrique Salem's warning of a shortage of talented cybersecurity professionals in the United States. Furthermore, this shortage is especially pronounced where it may be needed most -- law enforcement, intelligence agencies, and the Department of Defense.

Topics: Cybersecurity IT Infrastructure Networking Enterprise Mobility Cloud Services & Orchestration

Video Blog: The Future of Single Platform Backup Tools

Topics: Data Protection

Thoughts from Enterprise 2.0

The interesting thing about being at a conference is that you can talk to a lot of people, some of whom you know and many that you never met before. The Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston is no exception. When you talk to that many people, it helps to solidify ideas that you may have already had or (hopefully) introduces you to new ones. Here’s what is running through my head at Enterprise 2.0.

  1. The market for enterprise social networks is fragmenting. There are so many ISVs in this space that it is nearly impossible for all to survive as broad software players. Each has to find their points of differentiation, what makes them special to a specific group of people. The largest vendors such as SAP, IBM, and Oracle will be able to sell horizontal software for giant corporations but the smaller ones will need to focus on special needs or specific niches. The market will still have large horizontal vendors but the rest will fragment.
  2. Lots of vendors are talking about getting work done while few show products that do that. So, everyone has figured out that the Social Enterprise is not going to gain widespread user adoption unless companies can see real business value from it. Everyone’s messaging is now about getting work done. That’s a good thing. Few people are actually showing products that make that happen. That’s not to say no one has products that actually help in everyday work but few products support the vision. Those that do have a leg up on everyone else.
  3. The show floor is small. What does that say about Enterprise 2.0? In my opinion, it means the vague term is tired. Again, we can talk broadly about transforming the workplace and everyone has bought into the vision. Now it’s time to execute on that vision.
  4. Social analytics turns inward – and that’s good. Measuring company performance is an important management function. I saw several companies that are looking for ways to leverage what we know from data analytics, business intelligence, and social analytics to get a better picture of why things happen in companies. Most performance measures tell managers what happens. These new tools give insight into why things happen so that managers can enact change.

Overall, the Social Enterprise is maturing. That much is obvious. The renewed emphasis on business rather than philosophy is welcome. Now, it’s time for products that actually do what business needs.

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI Enterprise Mobility

Microsoft and Yammer: Why It Makes Sense… and Why it Doesn’t

It appears that Yammer will be acquired by Microsoft for $1.2B. That hasn’t been confirmed by either company at the time this blog was written. The Wall Street Journal seems pretty certain, citing “a person familiar with the matter.” The rumor leaked out because someone had loose lips in a coffee shop. It just goes to show, never talk shop in a public place in San Francisco or Silicon Valley. The place is crawling with bloggers.

I suppose for Yammer the benefit is obvious– a rich payday for founders, executives, and investors. For Microsoft, I’m not so sure. Here’s what I think about the deal.

  1. It does not validate the Social Enterprise since that happened a long time ago. A common theme is that a deal of this scale validates the market for Social Enterprise. Not really. What really validates the market is when customers spend money on products. ESG research already shows that IT is buying Social Enterprise products, so there’s your validation. Besides, this is not the first deal of its kind, it’s only bigger. Citrix recently purchased Podio and VMWare purchased SocialCast. Perhaps what has been validated is that established companies will pay huge amounts of money for 300 person startups.
  2. It makes sense for Yammer as a company…. If someone dangled a number north of a billion dollars for my small to mid-size software company, I’d take it. More to the point, Yammer lives in a crowded field with well heeled and established competitors like IBM, SAP, Citrix, and Oracle. Any one of these companies could eat Yammer for lunch and still have room for dessert. The number of potential suitors is also quite small. Outside of Cisco, the only top flight IT companies that might want to buy a Social Enterprise startup are HP and Cisco. Sure, second tier companies like Sage might be interested but not for a billion dollars.
  3. but not for everyone at Yammer. When we hear these huge numbers it’s easy to forget that not everyone benefits equally. Executives, founders, and investors will certainly do well. A few of the top people will make so much money that they can retire or become VCs themselves. For much of the rank and file, that’s not the case. Keep in mind that of the 300 or so people working at Yammer, at least 100 have been added this year and another 100 or so the year before. The later you come into the company the less you get when the company is acquired. It’s like showing up late for a party – most of the beer is already gone when you get there.
  4. The cultures are really different. Over the years, Microsoft has become quite corporate. That’s good. It’s what happens when you are a huge public company. They need to be a process-driven, buttoned up organization. Yammer is the complete opposite. They bring their dogs to work. For a lot of Yammer employees, the Microsoft culture will be the antithesis to Yammer. Yammer people won’t be hip anymore. They’ll be sell outs.
  5. I get why Microsoft would want a company in this space. Of the major software companies, Microsoft and HP are the only two that haven’t an entry in the social portal/enterprise social network/Facebook-for-the-corporation space. All their rivals do. They are also facing competition from the online file sharing companies such as and DropBox. These companies are going for Sharepoint’s jugular. Microsoft needed to get a complete solution ASAP.
  6. Why didn’t Microsoft just build it? They already have Sharepoint and Lync so how hard could it have been for them to do the rest of the work? Creating an activity stream doesn’t seem to be all that difficult given how many companies have added these to existing products. Microsoft already manages the corporate directory in millions of companies so creating social profiles seems like incremental work. When I was a software engineer, I used to hate when people would dismiss the amount of work needed to create software as SMOP (a simple matter of programming) but I just don’t see what the big deal is here. Oracle, SAP, and IBM did it along with a host of smaller companies. I’m betting it would cost much less than a billion dollars for Microsoft to make their own social portal.
Topics: Enterprise Mobility

Is It Still EMC’s World? (Part 2 of 2)

Is it still EMC’s World? (Part 2 of 2)

As I started my is-it-still-emcs-world-part-1-of-2/index.html" target="_blank">last Blog: “Sometimes a little distance is good in order to get a perspective on things. I certainly think that’s true of big vendor events….while you’re there it’s all too easy to drown in the Kool-Aid, so a week or two to dry off and evaluate in a more objective spirit is probably best.” I went on to cover my main thoughts about this year’s EMC World: basically being happy that there was no big new technology theme or grandiose aspiration. However there were 42 new announcements and clearly every presenter talked about the strategic direction for their part of the EMC colossus. So, without repeating the press releases, what are some of the more specific pieces of news – and direction – that I took away from Vegas?

  1. With the theme of the conference being ‘Transform’ I was interested in the extent that this was reflected by EMC itself. While Joe Tucci joked that "We have a big position in storage, as you might know" (!) what was clear is that storage in its most raw form is becoming less important to EMC at about the same rate as storage in its most general way is become more important to VMware. Bottom line? Things are becoming converged, with storage as an integrated part of an IT whole. Sure, we knew that intuitively, but I haven’t heard it quite so clearly before. And the emphasis on terms like trust, security, and channel commitment all give emphasis to the transformation at EMC. Even the private analyst break-outs were strikingly more open, unstructured and frank than in years prior.
  2. There were some key moves, announcements, and ‘intimations’ in existing focus areas, all buoyed by a continued commitment to around 11% of revenues being directed to R+D. Via a complex (and academically questionable) science analogy Pat Gelsinger wanted us to understand that ‘data is the new center of gravity for IT’….as if to emphasize that one size doesn’t fit all, he then covered the key elements of the 42-strong ‘mega-launch.’ Storage-wise there was the VMAX 40K, with a huge increase in performance and capacity; although I find the extension of FAST management to Hitachi and IBM more interesting in the ‘big picture’ world. VMAX-SP is a new product version with code and applicability to make a [cloud] storage service provider’s life easier….and there was the faster, more secure and better-featured Isilon, together with the self-describing ‘OneFS’ (Mavericks) product. Although there were software improvements to the VNX (and VNXe) family, the main emphasis there was some – fair – chest-thumping regarding market success: 6000 new customers, 1EB shipped, and 32000 units is certainly noticeable! Of course, every system these days is, it seems, using flash and (to borrow someone else’s phrase) EMC is not only happy to be the Baskin Robbins of solid-state, but continues to add flavors: the newly acquired all-flash Xtreme-io product won’t ship ‘til 2013, but meantime we have the ‘server-network-based’ Thunder joining the existing VFCache (the first product from the Lightning business unit at EMC). And it went on…there were improvements for DataDomain, Avamar, and the VSPEX news, plus better management via the DataBridge control mashup. 42 news items is a lot! Snuck in there was something that I found particularly interesting – the news that EMC is planning to allow storage to run VMs (2013), and then also to be able to run storage platforms on VMs (VPLEX goes first here...).
  3. I liked Paul Maritz’s portrayal of the history of IT being boiled down to just 2 eras – the first being the automation of a paper-based world; and the second being a cloud-based world. In high-level terms he talked of this as data and insights being available ‘wherever, whatever, and in context.' Not surprisingly VMware could, and would, be central to this, but Maritz also spoke of ‘CloudFoundry’ – an open source, portability layer to ensure that clouds don't become (his neat analogy) 'Hotel Californias,' where you can check in but you can't check out! The idea of playing in a technology meritocracy where vendor tier-in is minimized is not only good to hear but is a long way down the road from the traditional EMC. It’s a transformation (there’s that word again!) not just for the industry but for the greater EMC-VMware complex, to a world where the aim is to make infrastructure invisible; and that leads me to my closing thought…
Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

What I’m Looking for at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference

Next week (June 18th through the 20th) I’ll be at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston. It will be jam packed with all kinds of exciting companies that promise to transform business through social communication and collaboration. I fully expect to see many companies I’ve never heard of and quite a few that I know well. The full spectrum of social technology (and theory) will be on display for everyone to see.

There are a number of things I hope to see and a few I hope to avoid. Here are a few of my “do want” and “don’t want” items:

  • I do want to see more enterprise features. There should be a conversation or two about how to back up and restore, archive, and manage large scale Social Enterprise software installation. Everyone says that social communications and collaboration applications are mission critical and it’s about time they acted like they were. Otherwise, no IT manager worth their paycheck will advocate spending money on these solutions.
  • I don’t want to hear any more stories about how you can build a viable business with 100K subscribers and only a 2.5% conversion rate to paid ones. Do the math. Even a generous 5% conversion rate translates to 5000 paying seats which, at a typical $15/user/month (or less) subscription, will be around $900,000 a year. At that rate most investors will not be making back their money anytime soon.
  • I do want to see more workflow capabilities but want them to be easy to use for the average end-user. I know that’s hard but that’s why we pay product designers and software engineers well. End-users will not become regular users of the social tools placed in front of them until these tools can enhance the work do every day in their jobs. Collaboration happens in the context of getting work done or it’s just Facebook. Facebook works pretty well already so I don’t get why we need 15 more of them. Let’s get some work done.
  • I don’t want to see more applications that look like Facebook. In the enterprise social network segment, so many products look the same that it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. I’m all for familiar UI elements but there must be something different in the corporate environment that affects the UI.
  • I do want to see more use of social communications and collaborations to better leverage human capital. I hate the phrase “human capital” because it dehumanizes where Social Enterprise does the opposite. Still, managers need to be able to make the best use of the talents that people have. They can’t do that until they know what those talents are. Social Enterprise software can unlock potential by discovering the hidden capabilities that people have.
  • I don’t want to see any more social media management software that allows marketers to reach out to customers by violating privacy. Some of what I’ve seen lately is pretty creepy. Sure, you might get some short term revenue by cyberstalking. It’s the long term effects I would worry about. Who wants to be the new kind of spam?
Topics: Enterprise Mobility

NEVMUG Is Now VTUG! Yes, I Said vTUG!

I guess the official "VMUG" folk got a little pissy since the NEVMUG refuses to be consumed by the borg - and thus has changed their name to VTUG! ( Virtual TUG. I could go on and on. How very appropriate.

Topics: Cloud Services & Orchestration

Is It Still EMC's World? (Part 1 of 2)

Sometimes a little distance is good in order to get a perspective on things. I certainly think that’s true of big vendor events….while you’re there it’s all too easy to drown in the Kool-Aid, so a week or two to dry off and evaluate in a more objective spirit is probably best.

So, a review of EMCWorld 2012. Objectively? I’ll try! Well, it was big! Indeed, it’s interesting how the major vendor events (EMC World, Oracle Open World, HP Discover, VMWorld etc) have become the big storage industry events, often pushing the more generic events to the sidelines. Anyhow, so we were gathered in the dungeons of the Venetian/Palazzo ‘meet-tropolis’ to watch small segments of a very large screen [in case you’re wondering, it was wider than a football field is long…with end-zones and even a little room for photographers!]. It needed to be this big to accommodate the 14,000 or more attendees. Not only big in scale, but big in ambition – this year the event was dedicated to the idea of ‘Transform’…transforming one's IT, one's business, and even oneself. Oh, yes, and it was big in press releases too – the ‘mega-announcement’ contained no less than 42 new products or features, niftily beating out the 41 from a couple of years back [and, for Douglas Adams fans, thereby making EMC the answer to the meaning of the universe along the way!]. Oh, ooh, er… and let’s not forget the intergalactic babes (this was Vegas after all) that guarded and guided our seating. And then – sandwiched between the never-ending (and superbly managed) buffet lines, the incessant (and unnecessary) DJs in the corridors, the massive and very-EMC-ish Solutions Center, and before the happy and fun Maroon 5 concert - came the meat.

Topics: Storage IT Infrastructure

CIOs Should Prepare for the London 2012 Olympics

The London Olympics kick off on July 27, about 5 weeks from now. Naturally, the Olympics represents international competition, athletic achievement, and host-country pomp and circumstance. Great entertainment as always but CIOs and CISOs should pay more than casual attention to the London games for several reasons:

Topics: Cybersecurity IT Infrastructure Data Protection Networking Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI Enterprise Mobility

Oracle Rolls Out Social Services and More

Yesterday, Oracle had a lengthy webinar/seminar to announce and describe their cloud and social offerings. Listening to Larry Ellison is always interesting no matter what the content. He seems genuine in his delivery. Even the demonstration – yes, Mr. Ellison does his own demos – started off a little ragged adding to that sense of authenticity. If it was staged, it was staged well. Otherwise, kudos to Oracle for keeping it real.

There were several takeaways from the webinar but what really caught my eye were the following:

  • Oracle has almost 100 applications in the cloud including all the majors. Wow. That is a lot. ERP, CRM, HR, all of it delivered as a service. Cloud applications are nothing new but the scope of this is huge. Even if it were only ERP, PLM, CRM and all the other three letter acronyms I would be impressed. This is an enormous commitment to and endorsement of the Software-as-a-Service model of computing.
  • Platforms everywhere. Oracle has a series of platform services in the cloud as well. These include everything from their own Oracle database to Java virtual machines and, more important, the development environments that go along with them. A Java integrated development environment (IDE) in the cloud is a great way to encourage cloud deployment. This is a formidable though Oracle-centric Platform-as-a-Service offering.
  • Cloud and on-premises together. The ability to move between cloud and on-premises as well as integrate the two is a big plus to a developer. There are a lot of situations where deploying into a cloud environment is just not an option. Being able to combine those two realms provides choice in systems architecture and may be necessary to certain regulated environments or for some types of applications. They do this by having the same platform for applications on-premises and in the cloud and through their SOA.
  • Social Services. One of the foundational elements of their software is what Oracle calls Social Services. Despite a name that sounds like a government program, Social Services is a richly featured collection of software services for all aspects of social interactions. There are internal collaboration tools (packaged as Oracle Social Networking), social media and social network communications tools, and social analytics. It’s a full social layer. Pretty impressive for a company that was barely on the social radar a year ago.
Topics: Enterprise Mobility Cloud Services & Orchestration

The intelligent Management Aggregation Network iMAN/ Network Packet Broker NPB Space Continues to Heat Up

In the last month, two companies in the traffic visibility network/intelligent management aggregation network/network packet broker area (depending on what you call it) consisting of Anue, APCON, Gigamon, NetOptics, and VSS Monitoring - were acquired. During Ihe interop show in May, Anue was acquired by Ixia and just last week VSS monitoring was acquired by Danaher. Ixia is in the test and measurement space and Danaher will place VSS monitoring in its test and measurement companies group that includes Arbor Networks, Fluke, and Tektronix. These acquisitions didn’t come as a surprise as ESG published a research brief back in February on this segment and indicated this area was heating up--and speculated that there would be activity in this space. Why did we think that? Basically, it is because these companies are in the right place, at the right time, and with the right technology.

As enterprises continue to consolidate data centers, increase their use of server virtualization and deploy more web-oriented or service-oriented applications, the network must rapidly expand and scale to meet those needs. However, the ability to effectively manage and secure these environments has become more difficult and complex. Especially when building out multi-tenant environments. The companies in this space offer solutions for both service providers and enterprises to regain control by efficiently collecting data from the entire network, and then intelligently aggregating, filtering, and distributing the appropriate information to the designated performance, management, and security solutions. By leveraging these traffic visibility network/intelligent management aggregation network/network packet broker solutions, organizations can optimize SPAN ports and TAPs as well as extend the useful life of existing management/security tools for the rapidly growing 10 Gb network space. For additional information, please read the ESG research brief: Will Intelligent Management Aggregation Networks Become Mainstream (subscription required).

Topics: IT Infrastructure Networking

The Information Security 80/20 Rule

Over the past few months, I've been engaged in a research project on enterprise security management and operations. As part of some quantitative research, ESG created a segmentation model that divided survey respondent organizations into three sub-segments. The segmentation model broke down as follows:

Topics: Cybersecurity SOAPA

Sepaton announces 6.1 release - designed for Big Databases and Symantec OST support

With an architecture that is designed to scale-up (compute) its storage and dedupe controllers, separate from how it scales-out (capacity) is storage nodes, Sepaton markets itself as the only data protection solution that is designed solely for large enterprises.

Topics: Data Protection

Quest announces NetVault XA -- which is absolutely gorgeous

I confess to have been personally blown out of the water by this new UI, when I saw it a few weeks ago. Many backup companies talk about ‘policy-based’ solutions and ‘ease-of-use’ – but what has come out of Quest looks more like a UI from a science fiction movie like Minority Report or video game than an enterprise backup vendor.

Topics: Data Protection

Hadoop: Why It's Good To Be Cloudera Today

Guess what that means?

Topics: Data Platforms, Analytics, & AI

Video: Dedupe 2.0 - what is coming and why it matters to you

Deduplication isn’t an “if”, it’s a “when” – and the “when” is now.

Topics: Storage Data Protection