Big Data and the world of business analytics has much in common with Capacity and Demand Management as we know it. Pertaining to derive competitive advantage by acting on timely business intelligence, business operations analytics requires number crunching on a huge scale. In the highly competitive world of e-business, the imperative for business agility reaches its peak. Where aligning appropriate investment with prevailing demand becomes a critical business decision, no less is the importance of that decision to the world of capacity management. Meaning – business agility depends on Big Data to make sure there are enough sales reps selling hot products, to make sure there are enough of the right sort of product on the shelves, and to commit the right amount of marketing to the products or services delivering the highest profit. The connection with the IT cloud here is clear – aligning IT resources to demand is equally critical to the agile business. Indeed, such agility is one of the main drivers behind cloud computing. By transforming IT delivery into a service model, one has the ability to quickly and easily ramp up investment when warranted by demand – or to ramp down.
As we start 2013, there is a sense excitement as to what the year holds for Big Data as organizations look to scale out their pilot of Big Data technologies like Hadoop™. Is 2013 the year of the Big Data coup? While I don’t have a definitive answer, I am confident this is the year we discover the challenges around managing Big Data at scale within the enterprise.
What do I mean by scale? According to Ventana Research, Hadoop Clusters in 2012 were largely pilot clusters that ranged from 2 to 10 servers or roughly the equivalent of a single rack in the data center. Hadoop and other Big Data technologies store the data in a distributed fashion, with the nodes that host the data also perform the processing on the data to avoid the impact and cost of processing across the network. They found that the number of customers with 100-plus nodes in a cluster was set to triple in 2013. More broadly, 2010 was the year we crossed the Zeta byte (Zb) boundary and that 2012 was the year organizations crossed the Exabyte of internal data, according to IDC. (See CSC’s Infographic for a great breakdown). So where once the data traffic was largely contained to a single rack, it now crosses the network and potentially multiple data centers across continents if self-replicating technologies like Cassandra™ are used.
A number of years ago, I remember a colleague getting scolded for setting up a wireless router in the office and another for setting up Napster on his computer. When I began my career, the chances of getting around IT to get what you needed was slim to none. You just hoped the IT guys liked you and would work with you.
Today? It’s almost common practice to get what you need, either by buying it with your own dollars (the BYOD trend) or buying it with your departmental dollars (SaaS-based CRM anyone?) In the “old” days of the Web, if my then-editorial team needed a new blogging platform, we went to IT to get them to install it one of our servers. Now, my marketing team can just contract with a WordPress hosting service using a corporate card and have a new blog up and running in a matter of hours.
New survey data culled from 500 U.S. companies with revenue over $500 million by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that between 15% and 30% of IT spending happens outside the IT budget. PwC tells Network World that many business units make an end-around because they consider IT either too slow or that the official applications and services offered are no longer optimum.
Whether you think the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) craze is real or not, there’s now data showing the trend is indeed happening and there’s not a lot IT can do about it. A new report from Forrester Research shows that 53% of employees are now bring their own device to the office, up five percent from the year before.
Forrester says the tooth paste is pretty much out of the tube (horse out of the barn, insert your own saying here) when it comes to BYOD, so much so that within the next three years IT will pretty much throw up its hands and just about make it standard policy for new hires. That must be a nightmare scenario for IT people thinking about having to deal with so many different devices connecting to the corporate network, but it seems like that’s the reality or will be soon.
Ironically, the Forrester study points out that it’s senior executives that are driving the trend by buying their own hardware and expecting to be able to use it at the office. It’s hard to say, “We don’t support the iPhone!” when the CEO brings in an iPhone and wants to get their email. That just opens the door for the rest of the rank and file that suffer from the Sunday-night/Monday-morning syndrome.
That’s a common question that attendees at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego are asking this week. They are referring to the generation of unified network, server, and storage solutions: Cisco UCS. The answer is: it depends on the state of the UCS.
Quite naturally, the question comes from network engineers – the vast majority of Cisco Live attendees. But system and database professionals – a growing minority at Cisco Live – have the same question on their minds. If Level 1 Operations Center staff were here – the folks who escalate issues they can’t solve to engineers – they’d no doubt ask the same question.
Every innovation in IT infrastructure, like Cisco UCS, requires related innovations in software tools to manage it. Otherwise, the business benefits of the infrastructure innovation would be diminished by the increased complexity, time and cost of managing it.
It wasn’t clear to me which message was more poignant, given I’d just spent the week with dozens of communications service providers (CSPs) at TM Forum’s Management World conference in Dublin (#mwd12). It came down to, “What’s the biggest woe for CSPs today?”
It all started as I was walking along the River Liffey – which is no longer “whiffy” I am happy to note. I made my way across Ha Penny Bridge and then along Bachelor’s Walk, and then noticed above the door at the famed Bachelor Inn a quote from George Bernard Shaw that struck a chord with me given the plight of many CSPs: “Lack of money is the root of all evil” (from Man and Superman, 1903).
All traditional CSPs have seen a decline in revenue from their fixed-line phone services, and this “lack of money” has been the route to evil for many transformative initiatives these CSPs might have otherwise pursued. Fortunately for some CSPs, that decline has been offset by a rising demand for newer services, such as mobile phone, mobile data, broadband Internet, IP TV, streaming music and video, and machine-to-machine communications.
Here at this address and around the Service Assurance group, we talk a lot about end user experience, how to measure it and how to ensure that customers are getting a good one. We’ve even got a product that helps do just that. We talk about a lot of technology when it comes to end-user experience monitoring, but the important thing to remember: It’s all about the people.
When it comes down to application performance and the majority of IT systems, it’s about the people. Flesh and blood humans. That’s the part argument made by Dennis Drogseth of Enterprise Management Associates in a recent CIO Update column titled “How to Create a Value-Centric IT Organization.” Because humans are the main consumers of IT services, looking at business outcomes ranging from revenues to process is essential to ensuring success. It’s his belief that business should be “humanizing IT”:
I would argue that refocusing your organization around your consumers is the only way you can show value for you and your organization going forward. And it really isn’t so hard once you make the quiet inward assumption that IT is about human beings, after all.
IT is often a tale of two cities. Similar to Dickens’ classic opening lines, IT can be both the best of times and the worst of times, a place of reason and one of foolishness, a place upon which every part of the business depends and a place where nothing really matters to the business.
A good example of this is when that dream project comes along; the one that will take careers to the next level because it is so strategic; the one that is sure to change the competitiveness of the entire business. But, just when the project gets interesting key project team members can’t focus on it because of an unexpected surge of repetitive tasks, mundane tasks that, if they are done well, no one will notice, but if done poorly, everyone will notice.
You know the kind of tasks I am talking about. These are the kinds of tasks that often wouldn’t even be required if maintenance had been done properly in the first place or if the change requests had been implemented completely instead of one or two checks being skipped.
They are the kind of tasks that IT staffs hate because the tasks force the staff to turn away from interesting work to spend time and attention on tedious work.
The expression ‘Lost in Translation’ has a special significance for me. I was born in a region of the world where cold meant any time temperature drops below 85 degrees Fahrenheit. At the age of 10, I left the familiar for a place where winter temperature dropped below freezing, people wore things that looked like they just came off of large furry animals, and I had to learn English to survive.
As someone who’s now fluent in two languages, I have an insight a person who can’t speak multiple languages may never have. Language is about connection, trust and relationships. To be fluent in a language is more than knowing the right amount of words. It means being able to understand the nuances of the culture of that language and with that understanding, the ability to connect and gain trust.
The separation between IT and the business has many parallels to my early life experiences with learning a new language and adapting to a new culture. IT and the business have distinct cultures and ways of communicating. For IT to be able to bridge the gap between the two cultures, the language spoken has to illustrate IT’s understanding of the value system of the rest of the enterprise.
Changing how IT communicates its contributions with the rest of the enterprise starts with changing the information it shares with executives and business stakeholders. IT’s strategic role in enabling business success means IT is also a rich source of high-value metrics that are early indicators of success or failure of business results.
Technology by definition is designed to make life simpler, but in the era of cloud computing, compliance and more, technology can often add complexity to IT and business environments, causing end users to shy away from using the tools designed to make their lives, jobs and days easier.
The IT industry looks to correct this complexity problem with best practice frameworks such as the IT Infrastructure Library, or ITIL, but compliance demands by way of Sarbanes-Oxley or HIPAA just to name two, outpace even the most adept IT organization. That’s why pureSCM works to reduce the complexity its clients encounter when managing IT environments. By adhering to frameworks such as ITIL, COBIT and Six Sigma and coupling that know-how with service desk and other IT management solutions from CA Technologies, pureSCM makes smart IT practices attainable for any organization.
With record numbers of people receiving smartphones, tablet PCs and other mobile devices this holiday season, IT departments can expect to see more of these devices in the work place and they should also anticipate end-user demand around mobility to increase.
The onslaught of such devices is already a cause for concern among IT professionals. Recent data proves IT organizations worry about the management challenges of mobile technology. CA Technologies recently polled visitors to ca.com and among 433 respondents; one-third indicated the biggest challenge with employees using their own mobile devices to perform their job was “sheer variety.”
Another layer of complexity comes with allowing these devices to access applications and other resources on the network without putting the environment at risk. More than one-half (53%) of some 729 respondents in a CA Technologies survey indicated that security was the biggest challenge their organization faces with mobile technology. The second highest concern among this pool of respondents was mobile readiness.
Based on the number of tweets and Facebook status updates from people sharing they received a new iPad, iPhone, Kindle Fire or other device as a gift, it seems as if smartphones and tablets were the gift of 2011. And early numbers seem to back up my anecdotal evidence with some 6.8 million Android and Apple iOS devices activated and nearly a quarter of a billion apps downloaded on Christmas Day alone, according to Flurry Research.
This largesse of devices entering the market will impact IT organizations in two ways: First, Web sites and applications — particularly consumer sites — must support these devices as users now expect to have a flawless experience no matter how they access services. If they type in your site’s URL or download and open your custom application from the Android or iTunes store, they want it to work and work well.
Second is the issue of these devices showing up in the work place. Though the vast majority of those holiday gifts will probably be used for personal purposes, a healthy number will also appear in offices, where they’ll be connected to WiFi networks as users want to connect to corporate e-mail and other resources.
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