SteadyServ’s iKeg™ Solution: Leveraging The Third Computing Platform

SteadyServ iKegThe collection of IoT (Internet of Things), Mobile, Cloud, Social, and Data Analytics trends are enabling a whole new era of intelligent solutions for businesses of all sizes.   IDC calls this the Third Platform and Gartner calls it the Nexus of Forces.  Whatever you want to call it, we are experiencing a historical transformation in the computing platform for businesses.  Solution providers must accelerate their ability to develop solutions that leverage these collection of trends.

For an example of a Solution Provider leveraging this new computing platform, have a look at SteadyServ Technologies.  SteadyServ has just launched the iKeg™, a mobile SaaS-based (software as a service) inventory management solution, for the beer industry.   According to  SteadyServ CEO and co-founder Steve Hershberger, “beer sold in retail establishments accounts for a $21bn industry, yet the industry still relies on the inaccurate process of ‘shaking the keg’ – the same method used since the inception of the product.”  SteadyServ has set out to automate beer inventory management.

At the heart of their new solution is a sensor that easily attaches to the bottom of a beer keg.  That sensor can tell a beer distributor or a tavern owner, in real time, exactly how many kegs are in the cooler and how much beer is left in each keg. 

The iKeg™ system actually consists of three parts – the hardware, software and a mobile app.  The hardware combines the aforementioned removable sensor ring and a RFID tag.  Once the RFID tag is scanned, the cloud-based software receives the data from the sensor, tracking how much beer remains, type of beer, age and when it was delivered.  Analytics in the iKeg™ solution measures and reports the real-time inventory of draft kegs, which is all accessible via a mobile app. 

The iKeg™ mobile app allows you to send customizable automatic social alerts to Facebook and Twitter every time a new beer goes on tap. It also provides a number of fully-integrated tools to help promote your establishment, special event or a unique beer that you might want to highlight. Have a look at the mobile app in the video below.

SteadyServ’s new iKeg Mobile App

Pretty neat, isn’t it?

The iKeg™ solution also automates the order and fulfillment process for the entire inventory of draft, bottled and canned beers.   All this information is then tallied with the stock, the next delivery date, previous order information, event information, and past and future beer consumption trends.  In addition, the iKeg™ solution uses advanced machine-to-machine communication technologies to ensure that the system is secure, reliable and highly scalable.  

It seems to me SteadyServ has a bright future ahead.  It’s a perfect example of an innovative solution provider leveraging the IoT (Internet of Things), Mobile, Cloud, Social, and Data Analytics trends.   I see the a whole new era of similar cloud-based solutions that will be developed and implemented as part of this new computing platform.

For more on iKeg™ or SteadyServ, check out their website at http://www.steadyserv.com.  You can also follow SteadyServ on Twitter at @steadyserv or via the hashtag #ikeg.

Cloud Computing: A 2013 HorizonWatching Trend Report

I’ve embedded my Cloud Computing: A 2013 HorizonWatching Trend Report from Slideshare below.  This HorizonWatching Trend Report provides an overview on the Cloud Computing trend and what to watch out for in 2013. Summary information about the Cloud Computing trend is provided along with many links to additional resources.

The cloud computing ‘buzz’ and “hype” is subsiding and there is focus now on how to leverage the technology for business value.  The three main types of clouds are private, public, and hybrid.  All three of these types of clouds are expected to grow significantly in 2013 as enterprises move from experimentation to implementing application solutions.  2013 will bring continued growth in all types of public, private and hybrid clouds.

Trends for Cloud Computing in 2013

  1. Growth:  Growth continues across the board in public, private, and hybrid clouds as benefits are too good to pass up.
  2. Private Clouds: The hype is over. Expect deployments to increase significantly in 2013.
  3. Hybrid Clouds:  Security and outages of public clouds drives demand.
  4. Public Clouds:  Competitors wishing to compete against Amazon in IaaS market must differentiate their services somehow.
  5. Mobile Clouds:  A whole new generation of cloud apps designed for mobile work force.
  6. Local Clouds:  Some clouds need to be managed at the local level in country (e.g. Finance & HR).
  7. Cloud Integration and Management:  IT shops will need help integrating and managing the growing number of Clouds used throughout the enterprise.
  8. Cloud Security:   IT departments need to stay on top of this.  Expect the market for Cloud Security Services to grow thanks in part to growth of BYO devices and apps. 
  9. Demand for Skills:  According to an IDC study, the demand for cloud computing will grow at six times the rate of IT skills overall.
  10. Impact on Role of CIO and IT Staff:  CIOs  need to secure, manage, and govern cloud services.  Gartner sees a new role – Cloud Brokerage Services.

Cloud Computing: A 2013 HorizonWatching Trend Report

Cloud Computing: IBM Websites, Social Media, White Papers and Reports

IBM Cloud Logo Cloud continues to be a very disruptive trend in the I.T. industry.   I’ve been following the buzz around Cloud Computing for almost 5 years now.  Back in 2008, it was the subject of many of my blog posts here.   While I am not focused on it like I was back then, I like to keep up to date on the IT and business issues related to the adoption of this trend. 

IBM has clearly called out cloud computing as one of the most important trends happening in the I.T. industry today and as a result produces lots of digital content for those like me who want to stay up to date.   

In 2011 I posted a popular blog entry titled “10 Cloud Computing White Papers From IBM”.  I thought I’d do something similar today.  So, as a service here to readers of this blog, I am providing direct links to the most current reports, websites, and social accounts related to the cloud computing trend.  The reports and sites below are all hotlinked.  If you see something that is missing, let me know and I will revise this post.

ibm.com Cloud Computing Websites 

IBM Cloud Computing Social Media & Platforms

IBM Cloud Computing White Papers, Studies & Reports

A visitor to the IBM websites will find lots of digital content to read and download.  I’ve gone out there for you, found the major reports and categorized them below into two categories.

For Business Leaders

For Technical Leaders

HorizonWatching: Top IT Technology Trends For 2011

I’ve developed my list of top Information Technology Trends for 2011 to add to the trend lists that are being published at this time of year.  I came up with 11 trends this year on the list, rather than the customary ten. 

Slide2 The list below should not be a surprise to you all that much as most of the trends have been on my radar (and probably yours) for a number of years already.  Some of them are more mature in their adoption and development than others.  However, those that made my list are the trends that I feel will have the most impact on IT departments in 2011. 

For each of the trends, I’ve provided a short discussion of trend and what developments I expect in 2011.  I also provide you with links to sites where you can explore the trend topic in more detail.  All the text makes for a long post, but I like sharing more information rather than less.   With that in mind, here are the top IT technologies trends to watch in 2011.

 

1.  Private Clouds

The cloud computing ‘buzz’ has been going on now for 3 years.  Public clouds have been a major part of the discussion and experimentation.  However, more companies have begun adopting approaches to private clouds in parts of their businesses.  Many CIOs and business leaders are concerned with having their data residing outside their firewall.   In 2011 I 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.  The largest hurdles to cloud computing continue to be a lack of cloud standards and concerns regarding security, availability and performance.

For more information

 

2. Virtualization

Virtualized infrastructures are becoming 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.  In addition, a highly virtualized infrastructure is a prerequisite for private clouds so CIOs will continue to focus on virtualization.    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. 

For more information

 

3. Social Business

Social collaboration is changing the way business is being conducted.  Over the next 10-15 years, social computing capability will becomes part of every business function within the company.  Social capabilities will become embedded in every single website, computing device for every participant in every single business transaction.  All participants involved in a company’s business processes and transactions will have the ability to share content, comment on content, rate/vote on content, and collaborate in an open and sharing environment.  In addition, all this social activity will generate data that will be mined and analyzed in both batch and in real-time.  The insights generated will be a critical input into all business processes, including research, product development, marketing, sales, technical support, and even business processes like accounting, procurement, and legal.  Since social will eventually be embedded in every business process and transaction workflow, social computing capability will need to be a critical part of every business application.  As a result, I expect entire business application suites will be rewritten to make use of social collaboration features.

For more information

 

4. Mobile Computing 

5 years ago, mobile meant something entirely different than it does today, thanks to the introduction of the smartphone, the Iphone, Google’s introduction of Android, and just this past year, the iPad.   Mobile computing and the ecosystem that surrounds it is a major growth industry.  As smartphone adoption grows and the application infrastructure becomes more sophisticated, mobile will expand beyond messaging, and make mobile email, mobile websites and mobile applications viable channels in which to conduct business.  Enabling technologies will be new devices, faster networks, new location-aware technology, and improved mobile applications.  Some key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include Location Based Services, Mobile Apps, Mobile Gaming, Event-Based Mobile Marketing, and Augmented Reality.

  • Prediction that Smartphone Sales To Beat PC Sales By 2011 (see this)
  • Mobile Web usage more than doubling YoY (see this)

For more information

 

5. Storage Trends

The huge growth of videos, pictures, audio, social media and other unstructured data is taxing the storage systems of many data centers.   The cost of storage for most enterprises remains a high component of the overall cost of a datacenter, even though the cost of storage per gigabyte continues to drop.  In addition other trends are impacting storage, including Cloud computing, virtualization, energy costs, economics and performance.  In 2011, watch for increased adoption of storage technologies like data deduplication, flash, solid state disks and automating volume-level tiering.

For more information

 

6.  Advanced Business Analytics

While information overload was once a barrier to good decision making, today’s technology and analytics expertise make it a real benefit. The explosion of data that is taxing storage systems is also driving the requirement for advanced business analytics.  Business leaders are yearning for deeper knowledge and insights on all aspects of their business and they know that the information they need is available within all the data flowing through the company IT systems.  Advanced analytics solutions can help business leaders adopt a proactive versus reactive strategy, enabling them to predict future behaviors and events before they occur.   Insights generated can help business leaders optimize individual business decisions, processes and entire business models, as well as manage risk and fraud, with the goal of improving the development and delivery of products and services. In 2011 look for advancements in streaming technologies, mathematical algorithms and predictive modeling as applied to business analytic solutions. 

For more information

 

7. The Personalized Web

Thanks to the explosion of social media, how users are influenced, consume information, and make purchasing decisions has been altered forever.  Users are increasingly expecting company websites, products, and services to be tailored to their individual preferences, past experiences, and what they happen to be doing at this very moment.  This puts the demand on business and IT leaders to create a personalized and engaging experience for end-users across all channels, both online and offline.  In 2011, I expect business to focus on advanced solutions that can delivering a more personalized experience to end users.   These solutions will be designed to mine the customer’s profile, buying behavior, browsing behavior and other insights obtained through marketing analytics in order to deliver a more customized and personalized online experience.  Look for further improvements in technologies such as marketing analytics and predictive algorithms that can automatically deliver highly relevant, contextually aware, personalized content and recommendations to customers via both online and offline channels.

For more information

 

8. Video-enabled Business Processes

Video content continues to make its way into all business processes.  This trend will continue over the next 5-10 years.  It makes my list this year as it is crossing over from both a security tool and a marketing (e.g. YouTube) tool, into a tool that can be applied across business processes to improve the way businesses communicate, collaborate, and educate all stakeholders.  Visual communication can actively promote teamwork and accelerate problem-solving processes leading to better business decisions.  In 2011, I expect forward looking business leaders and business process reengineering consultants will begin to use video to transform key business processes in order to create competitive advantage, lower costs, and to reduce environmental impact, particularly by avoiding the need for travel.  IT departments need to start preparing now to be able to handle future video requirements.

For more information

 

9. Service Oriented Architecture

In 2011 (as in recent years), I expect continued focus on aligning information technology efforts with business objectives and SOA will be a big part of those discussions.  SOA has been around for years, so it is not a new concept at all.   What’s new is that 1) business processes are in need of reengineering as a result of the social, mobile, and video trends discussed above and 2) a service orientation is a prerequisite for private clouds.  This doesn't mean that a mature SOA must already exist before an enterprise can venture into the cloud, but rather that architecture strategies that involve cloud must have a service orientation.  A service orientation gives businesses the ability and flexibility to realign operations as business goals evolve from year to year.   This ability can mean a competitive edge in terms of time to market for products and services, responsiveness to customers, and customer satisfaction.  So in 2011, I expect to see increased interest in SOA policy governance tools, repositories, and business rules engines all driven by the need of businesses to become more agile and prepare themselves for private clouds.

For more information

 

10. Sustainability and IT

Government and Business leaders alike are looking across their operations, to the products and solutions they sell, to the way they manage supplier relationships in order to understand how to better protect Mother Earth. The sustainability trend is a big one and technology can play a big part in helping to eliminate wasted energy, wasted space, and wasted natural resources/materials.  New technologies are available that can help organizations become more energy efficient, implement new ways to source, manufacture and distribute goods and services in a more sustainable manner, and enable safe and renewable sources of energy. In 2011, I expect companies and governments to develop strategies to incorporate sustainability information technology solutions that include the capability to analyze data and synthesize information in a variety of forms required by different departments within an organization.

For more information

 

11.  Risk Management

Organizations are facing an ever evolving and increasingly sophisticated threat environment.  Adding to the complexity is the fact that organizations are installing new computing capabilities such as cloud computing, mobile computing, and social computing that are making applications  interconnected than ever before.  These new technologies are also introducing new risks that are compromising critical infrastructures, privacy and identity, requiring organizations to rethink how they deal with compliance, risk management and data protection. Business and IT leaders are realizing that they need to build security and risk management capability into the initial design of their infrastructure and their applications, rather than add them on as an afterthought.  In 2011, I expect organizations will increase their focus on employ technology solutions to help them manage risk and provide a more secure environment for business operations.

For more information:

 

So there you go, that is my list of the top IT related technology trends that I believe will have an impact on IT departments in 2011.  CIOs and their IT departments should be well aware of these trends and have plans to implement the enabling technologies that make up these trends.   I’m developing a slide deck version of this post and will be posting it to the HorizonWatching account at SlideShare http://www.slideshare.net/HorizonWatching  sometime in early January. 

Juniper Research: Top Ten Wireless Predictions for 2010

Juniper Research released their list of top ten wireless trends on December 15.  

Juniper says that in 2010 there will be so much data requests coming from smartphones and other wireless mobile devices that 3G networks will be strained to the point that they may begin to fall.  With sales of 33.8 million, the influx of iPhones is one of the main contributing factors to the rise in mobile data.

Here’s Juniper’s list of ten wireless predictions for 2010.

  1. Mobile Data Traffic Explosion to put strain on 3G Networks
  2. Mobile Ecosystem starts to go green
  3. Mobile Heads for the Cloud
  4. New category of Smartbooks to Emerge
  5. Apps Stores All Round
  6. Mobile Social Networking to Integrate with other Applications including M-Commerce
  7. NFC phones appear in the shops
  8. At least 10 LTE networks to be launched into service
  9. Smartphones to Get Augmented Reality Makeover
  10. Christmas Kindle sales expected to herald the rise of the connected embedded consumer devices

There is no doubt in my mind that the mobile and wireless market will continue to be a significant emerging trend in enterprise IT.  Juniper has lots more detail on each of the to predictions listed above.  To view and print a pdf file of the entire report, go to http://www.juniperresearch.com/toptenwirelesspredictions2010/TopTenWirelessPredictions2010.pdf

IDC: Top 10 Predictions for 2010

IDC Last week I attended the IDC Top Ten Predictions Conference Call.  It was hosted and delivered by Frank Gens, IDC Chief Analyst.  I do look forward to this call every year with anticipation and this year was one of the best calls I can remember from IDC.  The predictions were well thought out and Frank, as always, did a fantastic job of covering the trends in the time allotted.  Of course, there is a team of IDC analysts behind Frank that provided input into the trends and predictions.

Here are IDC’s Top Ten Predictions

  1. Growth will return to the IT industry in 2010.   IDC is predicting a  3.2% growth for the year, returning the industry to 2008 spending levels of about $1.5 trillion.
  2. Telecommunications to improve.  IDC says we should expect improved growth and stability in the worldwide telecommunications market, with worldwide spending predicted to increase 3%.
  3. Emerging markets will lead the IT recovery.   BRIC countries will grow 8–13%.
  4. Cloud computing.   IDC says that there will be a strategic battle for cloud platform leadership, new public cloud hot spots, private cloud offerings, cloud appliances, and offerings that bridge public and private clouds.
  5. Mobile Apps.  IDC predicts 2010 will be a watershed year in the ascension of mobile devices as strategic platforms for commercial and enterprise developers as over 1 billion access the Internet, iPhone apps triple, Android apps quintuple, and Apple's "iPad" arrives.
  6. Public networks   IDC predicts an aggressive evolution to fiber and 3G and 4G wireless. 4G will be overhyped, more wireless networks will become "invisible," and the FCC will regulate over-the-top VoIP.
  7. Socializing Business applications IDC says business applications will be ‘fused’ with social/collaboration software and analytics into a new generation of "socialytic" apps, challenging current market leaders.
  8. Sustainability.  Rising energy costs and pressure from the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference will make sustainability a source of renewed opportunity for the IT industry in 2010.
  9. Transformation Agenda.   IT will be an increasingly important lever for transformation initiatives. Smart meters and electronic medical records will hit important adoption levels.
  10. M&A.  IDC predicts a frenzy of M&A activity in the IT industry.

Here’s a video of Frank Gens delivering the top ten predictions on a YouTube Video

The conference call signals the real start of the predictions and trends list season for me.  IDC follows up this conference call with a number of calls in January and February, which I look forward to as well.

For those interested, you can access the replay of the IDC predictions conference call and presentation slides at the following URL:
http://w.on24.com/r.htm?e=178835&s=1&k=71B94A8BF46833DCC88477EE828281B7   Also, for a Q&A discussion regarding the predictions, you can visit the IDC eXchange blog at http://blogs.idc.com/ie/    The video shown above is at this URL http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-yAmGdemHI

Finally, I suggest you follow IDC through the predictions season, so go check out http://www.idc.com/research/predictions1

Baseline: Top 10 Technology Trends for 2010

Baseline Top Trends A recent article written by Samuel Greengard in Baseline outlines the top tech trends for 2010.  The article is based on a survey conducted by Ziff Davis Enterprise Research with almost 1,200 technology and business managers.

  1. Green Computing and Energy Efficiency.  There’s been an increased commitment across IT manufacturers to produce Green IT products, data centers and end-user devices.
  2. Public and Private Cloud Computing.  Baseline mentions that IDC expects spending on IT cloud services to grow almost threefold, reaching $42 billion by 2012.
  3. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).  There’s been an increase in attention on VDI solutions.  However, VDI is more complex to implement than server virtualization. 2010 might be a turning point.
  4. Mobility, Telecommuting and Virtual Meetings.  Adoption of mobile computing devices (e.g. iPhones, BlackBerrys, netbooks, etc.) continues at a rapid pace.  Enabling this adoption is the availability of higher wireless bandwidth.  Concerns in 2010 will include control and security.
  5. Centralization, Standards and Governance.  This trend is a direct result of the economy downturn as IT departments try to deal with increasingly fragmented computing resources.
  6. Knowledge Sharing, Business Intelligence and Social Networking.  Web 2.0 continues to transform the way we collaborate and share information.  In 2010 organizations will start to recognize the tremendous value in online communities, Facebook, LinkedIN, Twitter and other services.
  7. Security, E-Discovery and Business Continuity.  There are growing need in these areas, but cost remains a big issue.
  8. Advances in Application Infrastructure.  The open source movement continues it’s momentum, playing a more and more important role in today's computing world.
  9. Investments in Hardware Infrastructure.  Virtualization has directly impacted the state of hardware infrastructure consolidation. In 2010 watch what impact Intel’s Nehalem processor will have.  Also watch how Fibre Channel over Ethernet and solid-state drives will impact the virtualization trend.
  10. Collaboration, Workflow and Productivity.  The 2010 story will be focused on how mobile apps impact productivity and workflow.  This should be a huge trend. We are rapidly moving beyond e-mail into content and collaboration applications.

You can read the full article (contains a real good writeup) by going to 10 Trends for 2010 – Piecing Together a Strategy

Verizon: Top Ten Business Technology Trends For 2010

verizon-logo-470x3101 Verizon (www.verizonbusiness.com)  recently published its annual list of 10 business technology trends that it says will help companies grow their business in 2010.  While the list highlights the markets that Verizon plays in, the technologies are certainly ones that we should be watching.

Here’s a summary of Verizon Business’ list of 10 hot trends that will help move business forward in 2010 (my summary of the trend in italics):

  1. Enterprise Social Networking.   Social networking integrated into enterprise unified communications and collaboration strategies.  
  2. Aiming for the ‘Clouds’.  Cloud computing adoption continues, making IT more efficient and businesses more agile.
  3. 360 Security.  A trend towards applying security wherever data happens to be at the moment 
  4. Mobilizing the Workforce:  From Telework to Telepresence.  Companies to accelerate deployment of mobile apps to help spur productivity and innovation.
  5. Borderless Business.  Extending enterprise services and apps to employees, customers, suppliers and partners.
  6. High IQ Networks Fueling a Smart Economy.   Trend towards smarter networks will allow companies to allocate resources where and when needed.
  7. The Focus Will Be on Green.   The green trend continues to and will increasingly impact the way consumers and businesses make decisions.
  8. Seeing Is Believing.  Video is increasingly being used as a business tool to conduct meetings and deliver real-time content.
  9. More Wireless Apps, Especially Machine to Machine.   Wireless apps enable machines to communicate with each other and make “smart” decisions without human intervention. 
  10. 20/20 Vision.  Verizon ends with a very generic trend that says businesses will make better decisions in 2010 that will fuel their future growth.

For the full report, including video, audio podcasts and other related online resources, visit: http://www.verizonbusiness.com/go/2010_trends

For Verizon’s 2009 top trends list, check out my blog post Verizon: 2009 Top 10 Tech Trends

Cloud Computing: What is it?

Cloud computing is an emerging buzzword in the IT industry.  An October 28, 2008 search on Google for the phrase “Cloud Computing” returned 19,300,000 hits.   So you can see there is ample hype on this topic.  The concept is not really all that new, but it is getting lots of play right now in the media.  And rightly so…because cloud computing (or whatever it ends up being called) is the future of IT.  

There has been much debate in our industry and in the media about what Cloud Computing really is.  Thousands of articles and blogs can be found on the web where authors have attempted to define what cloud computing is.  As a result, there is much confusion as to what cloud computing really is.  Every author ends up with a definition that benefits their offerings, their magazine, their blog, or in some cases, their analyst research report.  

When you evaluate all the definitions and listen to what CIOs are looking for out of their IT systems in the future, some common characteristics surface.  From all the research I've conducted, the best definition I can come up with is that entry level cloud computing is specified as a elastically scalable, virtualized system that is rapidly provisioned with flexible pricing models.  Lets look at these characteristics in a little more detail.
1. Flexible pricing:  Utility pricing, variable payments, pay-by-consumption and subscription models make pricing of IT services more flexible
2. Elastic scaling:  Resources scale up and down by large factors as the demand changes
3. Rapid provisioning:  IT and network capacity and capabilities are – ideally automatically – rapidly provisioned using Internet standards without transferring ownership of resources
4. Advanced virtualization:  IT resources from servers to storage, network and applications are pooled and virtualized to provide an implementation independent, efficient infrastructure

One other key characteristic about cloud computing that is very important.  The complexity of the systems behind the service is hidden from the end user.  The cloud service worries about delivering the resources needed to support the service.  What the user sees is a service that they need at the time they need it.  And that service should be simple.  Users don't need to worry about all the complexity that is required to deliver the IT service to them.  

Cloud computing is already a force for basic consumer applications.  An example is Google Maps.  Think of it.  When you go to Google Maps, you don't care about the IT complexity behind the scenes.  You don't have to worry about servers, software, or storage.  You are immediately immersed into the map itself.  And what a simple service it is to understand.   Add in all the capability to search for points of interest, drag, zoom in/out, and you have a very simple, yet powerful application that can be used by one person this hour, or scale up to handle a million users the next hour.

Cloud computing will move beyond the current consumer focus into the enterprise market.   Clouds will eventually enable hundreds of devices – cell phones, cars, or sensors in clothing, for example – to be the de facto interface to on-line resources and services.  Technologies supporting cloud – virtualization, automation, open standards, scalable storage and web-based computing – will allow corporate data centers to act with the efficiency of the Internet and at Web speed – faster, more nimble, and with flexibility.  And, it is a green technology model that reduces energy consumption by improving IT resource utilization, therefore requiring fewer servers to handle equivalent workloads.  

A key reason is that enterprises will adopt cloud computing is that it offers the promise of business agility.   Agility enables the business to respond quickly to customer requests for new products and services.  It also allows businesses to partner more quickly to reach new markets faster.  And it also allows businesses to quickly change in the face of competition.  

In today's fast world, new competitors, with innovative business models (e.g.  Google, Amazon, etc.), seem to be able to rapidly change their business.  To match these types of competitors, businesses must have business architecture and an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to respond quickly to all opportunities and threats.  The emerging cloud computing concept enables businesses to become more agile because it offers the ability to get to market quickly, and with a lower capital expense.  It also assures that as demand increases, resources can be added incrementally, without the need for major architecture changes.

From an IT standpoint, business agility implies the ability to rapidly build and configure tailored solutions which span internal and external systems.  Cloud computing can enable the development of applications in real-time and then also enables them to be quickly deployed globally to any device from sensors to mobile device to PCs.  Once developed, Line of Business executives need those applications to execute in real-time, scaling to meet the needs of the business.   Follow on generations of applications must be able to handle increasingly higher amounts of data as the user base grows.  Once running, applications in the cloud offer non stop operation.  Users aren't burdened by hardware and Software upgrades.  

In the future, there will be all sorts of new types of services enabled because of computing clouds.  Services we can't even imagine right now.  The fact is that the more applications and services that are deployed in the cloud, the more opportunities there are to leverage services provided by others in the same or other clouds.

In future posts, we'll explore cloud computing in more detail, including the potential benefits of cloud computing as well as some of the adoption barriers.  

For more information on cloud computing, here are a couple links…
Economist Special Report on Cloud Computing, October 28, 2008:  http://www.economist.com/specialreports/displayStory.cfm?story_id=12411882
IBM's chairman emeritus for the Academy of Technology, Irving Wladawsky-Berger talks about what cloud computing really is and why it's so vital today.  http://www.internetevolution.com/document.asp?doc_id=163365
Business Week August 2008 Special report on Cloud Computing:  http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/aug2008/tc2008082_445669.htm
Wikipedia article on Cloud Computing  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

Cloud Computing Resources

Here's a resource guide for those who want to learn more about Cloud Computing.  There is much more out there, but these links provide you enough reading so that you have an understanding what all the hype is about.

Let me know if you have other places you know about.  I'll take a comment below or an email. Thanks!

Also…if you have not seen it yet…you can check out my Primer on Cloud Computing

Analyst Reports/Articles

Business/Computer Media Publications

Podcasts/Videos:

  • Blogs/ Other

    Cloud Computing Conferences/Events

    Selected Vendor Websites

  • Why Should Business Execs Care About Cloud Computing?

    I found this interesting quote in a gridtoday.com article about a comment made by Daryl Plummer, Gartner during a keynote at the Gartner Emerging Trends Symposium/ITxpo in Las Vegas earlier this year.  Daryl Plummer is managing vice president and Gartner Fellow.

    Mr. Plummer said cloud computing is actually the wrong buzz phrase. He said people should be talking about cloud business instead. "Technology vendors will deliver cloud infrastructure, but those details must be linked for us all, or 'the cloud' will just be nothing more than a buzz-word," Mr. Plummer said. "We can't spend all of our time arguing about how to implement the cloud and almost no time talking about whether our business can fit the cloud model."   Quote was found at http://www.gridtoday.com/grid/2276394.html

    I believe Mr. Plummer hits the nail on the head.

    It is my assessment that much of the discussion going on in the media, blogs, and by analysts is too focused on the technology of the cloud computing infrastructure and how their offerings can be positioned to take advantage of the cloud hype.  That is, of course, very important work that needs to continue.  We will need to be able to have these technical discussions going on within the technical communities.

    However, I feel we need an equal (if not more) focus on converting the concept of cloud computing into language that the business executives at our clients can understand.  We need people on our teams focused on understanding what new business models will emerge once the shift to the cloud computing model really takes off.  

    We are at a state of time with cloud computing that is very similar to the 1990s when the Internet was just getting ready to take off.  Many businesses execs were wondering what the Internet meant to commerce.  What was this new technology and how would it help them in their day to day business activities?  Was it only a marketing communications technology or could it actually help companies grow revenues?   We know now, of course, that the Internet has enabled many new types of business models that could not be imagined in the early 1990's.

    We now need to do the same type of messaging and business invention work with cloud computing.  We need to translate the technology of clouds to messaging that business executives will understand.

    Many types of new business models have been created from the technology of the Internet.  Think Google, Amazon, eBay.  These companies were not around 15 years ago.  We need to be thinking about what new companies will emerge in the next 15 years because of the cloud computing trend.  We need to brainstorm and come up with scenarios, analysis, and reports that describe the business impact of cloud computing….not just the technology.

    Business executives will want to know what clouds will mean to their business models.  Put yourself in the 'shoes' of a business exec at a company you know.  If it were me, I would want to know things like:

    • What will clouds enable me to do differently than what I am doing today? 
    • Will clouds change any business processes and if so, how?  
    • Will clouds require any new types of skills I do not have in house today?
    • Will my companies information be safe in the cloud?  How about information about my customers?
    • Will it allow me to develop new products and services for my existing customers? 
    • Will clouds allow me to reach new customer markets? 
    • Can I use clouds to advertise my products and services?
    • Can I use clouds to accelerate the start up of new operations in distant countries?  How would this work?
    • Can I use clouds to get better control of my supply chain?
    • Will it lower my costs for IT? 
    • How about energy/power costs? 
    • Will using clouds change the way I reflect IT spending on my balance sheet/income statements? 

    We need to focus the message to business executives on what the future cloud computing infrastructure will mean to business models and business architecture.  Come on business consultants…let's hear from you.

    Thoughts on Cloud Computing

    Cloud computing is an emerging buzzword in the IT industry.  The concept is not really all that new, but it is getting lots of play right now in the media.  And rightly so…because cloud computing (or whatever it ends up being called) is the future of the IT industry. 

    Why you ask?  There are a number of reasons.  But primary in my mind is that it offers businesses the promise of business agility.   Agility enables the business to respond quickly to customer requests for new products and services.  It also allows businesses to partner more quickly to reach new markets faster.  And it also allows businesses to quickly change in the face of competition.  Here are some basic reasons why the cloud computing concept will take off.

    • Economics: Clouds will require a very small up front investment.  Usage will be be billed by consumption.  The resulting reduction in Total Cost of Ownership will allow businesses to pursue improvements in operational efficiency and productivity.
    • Risk Management:  In some cases, there will be no fixed time commitment.  This will allow businesses to try many new services faster.  This reduces big failure risks and allows clients to be innovative.
    • Time to Market:  Businesses will be able to adopt new services quickly for pilot usages and then scale quickly to a global scale.
    • Information Society:  Cloud computing will provide business executives value-added information generated by the collection and analysis of massive amounts of unstructured data.
    • Ubiquitous Society:  The cloud treats all devices the same making the cloud accessible via a heterogeneous set of devices (sensors, kiosks, PC, phone, telematics..)

    In today's fast world, new competitors, with innovative business models (e.g. Google, Amazon, etc.), seem to be able to rapidly change their business.  To match these types of competitors, businesses must have a business architecture and an IT infrastructure that is flexible enough to respond quickly to all opportunities and threats.  The emerging cloud computing concept enables businesses to become more agile because it offers the ability to get to market quickly, and with a lower capital expense.  It also assures that as demand increases, resources can be added incrementally, without the need for major architecture changes.

    From an IT standpoint, business agility implies the ability to rapidly build and configure tailored solutions which span internal and external systems.  Cloud computing can enable the development of applications in real-time and then also enables them to be quickly deployed globally to any device from sensors to mobile device to PCs.  Once developed, Line of Business executives need those applications to execute in real-time, scaling to meet the needs of the business.   Follow on generations of applications must be able to handle increasingly higher amounts of data as the user base grows.  Once running, applications in the cloud offer non stop operation.  Users aren't burdened by HW and SW upgrades.  

    In the future, there will be all sorts of new types of services enabled because of computing clouds.  Services we can''t even imagine right now.  The fact is that the more applications and services that are deployed in the cloud, the more opportunities there are to leverage services provided by others in the same or other clouds.

    The biggest hurdle to that looms as a show stopper to this trend is security, privacy, & risk Management issues.  These issues will be HUGE to overcome.  The security issues will be very complex to solve (on par with issues like solving world peace and hunger).  I certainly don't know all the issues, nor do I have a solution to propose. I will leave that to the experts in security.  I do believe that we will solve the issues and businesses will learn to trust running our systems in the ;clouds'.   Remember the initial fear you had of buying things online with your credit card?  I bet you do that now with much less fear.  Perhaps you don't even think about it.

    So in my mind, Cloud Computing is a disruptive force in our industry.  For more information, check out my previous post "A Primer on Cloud Computing".