Virtualization Continues To Be An Important IT Trend

Virtualization, while not a new trend, is an important IT trend for 2011.  It will continue to transform IT infrastructures, impacting servers, storage, desktop, and applications in 2011.

Virtualization is one of the best ways to get more business value from an IT infrastructure. Virtualized infrastructures are popular not only for cost savings, but because they can enable quick changes to business models, operating structures and the way that business processes are enabled.  By decoupling logical resources from physical assets, virtualization can empower an exceptionally swift response to changing business conditions or changing business strategies.  In addition, a highly virtualized infrastructure is a prerequisite for private clouds (See Cloud Computing In 2011: Private Clouds Are An Important Trend) so CIOs will continue to focus on virtualization.   

Adoption Drivers: 

  • Desire to reduce IT operational costs,
  • Desire to move towards cloud model.
  • Networks and servers are better equipped to handle this technology.

Inhibitors to Adoption:

  • New roles & responsibilities,
  • Security of virtualized environment,
  • Requires more sophisticated virtualization Management and Utilization techniques

Implications:

  • IT Departments must understand their environment completely and this requires good communications between IT and Business Leaders
  • Security becomes more complex in a virtualized environment. It become more difficult to manage and make sure every asset is utilized efficiently.
  • Enterprises should thoroughly evaluate how business processes, administrative rights, capacity planning, performance monitoring tools and security strategies will need to change.

Analyst Quotes

“The next "big thing" will be automating the composition and management of the virtualized resources”. – Gartner (Link)

“Server virtualization is the 'killer app' for the datacenter and has forever changed IT operations” – IDC (Link)

“Virtualization will continue as the highest-impact issue challenging infrastructure and operations through 2015, changing how you manage, how and what you buy, how you deploy, how you plan and how you charge.” – Gartner (Link)

For More Information

Over the last 3-4 years we’ve seen server virtualization really take off as a trend and now it is almost standard technology in the data center.  While security concerns remain a hurdle to deployment, we’ll continue to see a focus on virtualization across the entire infrastructure in 2011. 

Cloud Computing Is Enabling The Next Phase Of The Internet Evolution

Carlota Perez wrote a book titled “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital” (2002) that is a real interesting read.  Perez says that there have been five historical waves of economic and social transformation in the developed economies of the world. Each of these waves have what she calls an Installation phase followed by a crash of some sort and then a Deployment period. 

HorizonWatching - Carlota Perz 5 Waves

Perez says that our global economy has now entered the deployment phase of the fifth technology investment cycle, which she says is the Age of Information and Telecommunications (see embedded picture).  Perez says that this will be a period of adjustment when novel business models will exploit the new IT infrastructure that is now being put in place that enable more porous, open, collaborative approaches that seek to leverage the economics and flexibility of global sourcing.  She expects enterprises of all sizes will employ technology to help them transform their business models, processes and operations.

As mentioned, Perez says we are entering this Deployment phase. As we do there are some key characteristics across our global economy that is impacting how this phase develops. The firms that will succeed are the firms that will embrace these characteristics and the change that is happening in order to innovate and leapfrog competition.

Important characteristics of our global economy includes:

  • A level, global economic playing field presents new opportunities, challenges and competitive technologies
  • New technologies, services and skills are emerging…and they are quickly being integrated into every aspect of business and everyday life
  • The pace of change is dramatically compressing “windows of opportunity” for real competitive advantage.
  • Billions of skilled people are entering the world’s economy, fundamentally transforming the mix of the global workforce
  • The interconnected nature of our world’s economy means businesses must be prepared to respond to – and capitalize on – changes in real time, with unprecedented flexibility.

While all this is happening, we are moving into what I believe is the third stage of the Internet. Call it Web 3.0 or whatever you wish, but cloud computing is perhaps the most important technology.  In fact, I believe that cloud computing is the key enabling technology for this next technological wave and the next phase in the evolution of the Internet.

HorizonWatching - Private Clouds Enables Next Wave of the Internet

Back in the mid to late 1990s companies were just concerned with getting websites up so they could have a presence on the Internet. It was all about providing very basic information to the public. But soon the so called e-commerce trend arose and business was being conducted on the Internet. Then Web 2.0 came into play and all users realized that they could share their ideas, create content, and collaborate online.  We are now well into this next phase of the evolution where the enabling technologies will be cloud, analytics, mobile, video, and semantic capabilities.  This so called Web 3.0 phase will provide applications that are much more immersive, social, and collaborative in nature.  Combined that with an explosion of networked sensors and advanced predictive analytic and all the Smarter Planet initiatives will become a reality. 

But the most important enabler will be the combination of private and public cloud computing infrastructures that will be the ‘engine’ of the future Internet.

A Social Business Strategy Can Make A Company More Responsive and Agile

One of the big buzzwords of 2011 will be ‘Social Business’.  It’s an outgrowth of terms we’ve seen the last 3 years like social media, social media marketing, social computing, social networking, social CRM, and digital strategy.   I think this term will take hold because it will resonate better with business leaders, who want to make sure social activities leads to business success.  And yes, I do believe a well-implemented social business strategy can help a business become more successful.

Social Business Strategy Can Make A Company More Responsive and Agile Successful businesses put the customer at the center of everything they do. Successful businesses should, in fact, have as a major objective to help their customers be as successful as possible. To do that they need to understand their customer’s business problems and their strategy for solving those business problems. Successful businesses can sometimes be better at anticipating a customer's business needs than the customer itself.

To be successful, companies need to look for ways to increase the volume and quality of conversations they have with the customer. Increasing the volume and quality of conversations help them get closer to their customers. It helps them understand their customers better and hopefully, anticipate their needs.

The social computing trend allows companies to develop a social business strategy that can allow them to get closer to customers. A well designed and implemented social business strategy can enable an increase in the volume and quality of conversations companies can have with their customers. The great thing about having those conversations digitally is that they can happen 24X7.  So wherever you are and whenever you have the urge, you can have a conversation with your customer. 

These conversations can be initiated by the customer or by a company employee.  Through the use of mobile devices, employees can participate in these conversations wherever they happen to be in the world.  And those conversations can be happening at any hour of the day.  Being active socially means that employees can potentially reach customer contacts no matter what level they reside within the customer's organization.  Relationships can be built on social networks with even the most senior contacts within a customer organization.   Employees can share digital content about products and services with customer contacts, getting information in the hands of customers much faster than waiting for a face to face visit.  And the neat thing is that all these digital conversations can occur in real-time too. 

So look for the Social Business buzz to pick up steam in 2011.   To summarize, by implementing a social business strategy, companies can 1) get closer to their customers, 2) understand their needs better, and 3) be much more responsive to their needs.   And a big benefit is that by being more responsive, companies can be more agile, responding to those needs faster than competition. 

Implementing a social business strategy is not easy.  You can’t do it just by setting up a social platform.  It requires hard work to change culture, implement new roles, business processes, etc.  I’ll save that discussion for another future post.

For More Information

For those of you wanting to do some extra reading, here are some links for you to explore. It’s not a comprehensive list, but it’s enough for now.

Cloud Computing In 2011: Private Clouds Are An Important Trend

The cloud computing ‘buzz’ has been going on now for 3 years. IBM Cloud White Papers Benefits include reduced costs, improved service delivery and an enablement of business innovation.   Public clouds have been a major part of the discussion and experimentation.  However, many CIOs and business leaders are concerned with having their data residing outside their firewall.   So, in 2011, I expect we’ll see more companies adopting approaches to private clouds in parts of their businesses.  

Adoption Drivers

  • Commoditization and standardization of technologies,
  • Virtualization and the rise of service-oriented software Architectures,
  • Dramatic growth in popularity/use of the Internet and the Web.

Adoption Inhibitors

  • Bandwidth, Complexity, Standards, Security, Privacy, Compliance, Performance, Loss of Control of Data outside the firewall.

Analyst Perspective

As can be seen by the quotes below, more companies have begun adopting approaches to private clouds in parts of their businesses.  Analysts agree that enterprises will be interested in learning more about how to leverage private clouds within their own ecosystems.

“Almost one-quarter of the infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals polled in our Forrsights Hardware Survey, Q3 2010 said that building a private cloud is a high or critical priority for them. Five percent said it is critical.” – Forrester Research (Link)

“According to recent IDC survey results, almost half of respondents, 44%, are considering private clouds.” – IDC (Link)

“The cloud market is evolving rapidly, with 39 percent of survey respondents worldwide indicating they allocated IT budget to cloud computing as a key initiative for their organization” – Gartner (Link)

“Private clouds’ are a natural next step in the evolution of data centers over the last ten years, toward consolidated, virtualized and automated IT service delivery environments.” – Frank Gens, IDC (Link)

“there is still some lingering apprehension over issues like integration, availability, security, and costs. These concerns, and how they are addressed by IT vendors, will continue to guide the adoption of cloud computing over the next several years.” – IDC (Link)

So the analysts agree that a growing number of organizations are turning to clouds to manage basic applications. Core business apps, IT infrastructure services, analytics, and app dev/test/deploy are next in line. However, as mentioned, since CIOs and business leaders are concerned with having their data residing outside their firewall, 

What To Expect In 2011

  • Expect to see mid and large-sized businesses to increase their experimentation and implementation of private clouds as the promise of the cloud delivery model is one that is just too good to pass up. 
  • There’s also a growing interest in private ‘community clouds’ hosted for a group of organizations who trust each other.
  • Something else to watch out for this year is how cloud computing will impact the mobile infrastructure and ecosystems in 2011.

Since cloud is a disruptive new way to deliver software & services, cloud will enable both new opportunities as well as new competitors in all areas of business.

For More Information

IBM Relaunches Smarter City Initiative With An Innovative Portal

IBM has relaunched it's Smarter City initiative and the website portal is something you should visit to experience.  It is truly an immersive, interactive experience designed to show how cities all over the world are using advanced technology to help address some of the biggest problems facing our planet.  

 Smarter City Portal
It is a fact…our cities are getting larger and larger.  With that growth comes significant challenges for city leaders.  Increasingly, city operations are being digitized, creating brand new data points.  With the greater digitization of its core systems and the use of advanced analytic capabilities, cities can enhance decision-making and improve urban planning.

The Smarter City portal allows you to explore and experience how Smarter Technology can have an impact on making a city more sustainable, more intelligent, and simply better places to live and work.  At the portal, you have options to learn more about how technology can impact all areas of a Smarter City, including Transportation (all forms of transportation), Public Safety, Communications, Energy & Utilities, Healthcare, Social Services, Education,  Retail, Economic Development and other critical operations that make up a large urban city today. 

I suggest you give it a visit and explore this innovative portal at www.thesmartercity.com