Links for Jan 11 2009

Time for another round of Sunday Links.  Enjoy!

Cluecade by Doc Searls

Seven reasons cloud computing works in a tough economy by Kathleen Lau on NetworkWorld

From Mistrust to Cynicism to Corruption by Charles H. Green on Trusted Advisor Associates

Look for Leadership at the Bottom of the Pyramid by Vineet Nayar on Harvard Business Publishing

Restrict Your Creativity to Unleash It by James on Men with Pens

This Means You (and me, too) by Amber Naslund on Altitude Branding

Getting Things Done by Valeria Maltoni on Conversation Agent

How To Drive An IT Department Into The Ground by Dr. Jim Anderson on The Business of IT

What Family Guy Can Teach You About the Business of Creativity by Brian Clark on Lateral Action

4 Top Posts on Discipline in Software Development by Jurgen Appelo on NOOP.NL

Nurturing IT by Mike Schaffner on Beyond Blinking Lights and Acronyms

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Top Issues for CIO’s

According to Information Week, the Top 10 issues for CIO’s in 2009 are:

  1. Customer-Facing Innovation
  2. Attacking the 80/20 Ratio
  3. The Challenging Economy
  4. The Strategic CIO
  5. Cloud Computing
  6. The SaaS Effect
  7. Virtualization
  8. Outsourcing
  9. Green Computing
  10. Radical Desktops

I don’t disagree with this list..everything there is important for the CIO’s to consider for the coming year.

But, the issues in the Information Week Top 10 list are indicators of a larger problem aren’t they? Issue’s 1,2,3,4 and 8 are topics should have always been ‘issues’ for CIO’s….the rest are technology strategy issues. Take “Customer-Facing Innovation” for example. This should’ve *always* been the focus of every CIO and every IT organization.  The role of IT isn’t to just implement and manage technology…IT exists to allow the organization to innovate and embrace the organization’s customer base.

Rather then focus on “Saas” or “Cloud Computing” and the associated pros/cons of the technology, why not take the strategic approach to these issues?  Take a look at your organization and determine if these approaches fit into your overall business strategy…if they do, great…if not, move along.

Take a good look at the Top 10 list again.  If you think about it, this Top 10 list can be categorized into three main areas for CIO’s to focus on:

  • Leadership
  • Strategy
  • Technology

Think about it.  Everything in that Top 10 list falls into these three areas. For example: virtualization is covered in Strategy & Technology, outsourcing is covered in Strategy and cloud computing is covered in Strategy & Technology

    If CIO’s focus on the three main areas of Leadership, Strategy and Technology,then the “Top 10 Issues for 2009” or “Top 10 Issues for 2020” will be easy to solve.  Why?  Because the CIO and IT Leadership should have been leading the IT group to a proper technology strategy that aligns with the business strategy.  When new technologies or new business realities come along, the organization can shift quickly and appropriately.

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    Cloud Computing and the Enterprise

    I ran across an absolutely amazing blog post from Mark Masterson titled ‘The Enterprise Cloud‘ that really shed a lot of light on Cloud Computing in the Enterprise. Cloud Computing seems to be one of those nebulous entities with many different definitions by many different people.  Take the following definitions as examples.

    Frank Gillett @ Forrester – “Most of us confuse two fundamentally different types of compute clouds as one. Server clouds support the needs of traditional business apps while scale-out clouds are designed for massive, many-machine workloads such as Web sites or grid compute applications.” Geva Perry @ GigaOm – “Although it is difficult to come up with a precise and comprehensive definition of cloud computing, at the heart of it is the idea that applications run somewhere on the “cloud” (whether an internal corporate network or the public Internet) – we don’t know or care where.” InfoWorld – Cloud computing is “a way to increase capacity or add capabilities on the fly without investing in new infrastructure, training new personnel, or licensing new software. Cloud computing encompasses any subscription-based or pay-per-use service that, in real time over the Internet, extends IT’s existing capabilities”.

    After all of that, it’s safe to assume that cloud computing can be thought of as another ‘system’ that can be used to add capabilities to your IT infrastructure without the expensive data center and operations staff. So what is Enterprise Cloud Computing?  Mark Mastersondescribes it as:

    a type of cloud computing that is suited to the specific requirements of existing companies, and allows them to leverage resources in the Cloud to provide economical ways of adding capacity to their existing environments.

    Nice description..simple and straightforward with no techno-speak…especially the ‘economical ways of adding capacity to their existing environments’.  I’d say every CIO is looking for economical ways to add to their IT Infrastructure and capabilities. Is Cloud computing the right way to go for every organization?  Probably not…but it does give you an opportunity to do a lot more with a lot less….which is what people are looking for today. Mark’s blog post is long and detailed….and a great read.  Jump over now and enjoy. For a real-world example of Cloud Computing within an enterprise, jump over to CIO.com and read the article about Bechtel’s move to the cloud. The article starts with an interesting question:

    If I were starting from scratch, what kind of IT systems would I build to support my business today?

    Great question…and one that would probably receive the answer of ‘not what I have today’ in many organizations today. Geir Ramleth, Bechtel’s CIO, asked this question at Bechtel a few years ago and found that the answer was “no”….so he set about to change how IT was delivered to the organization.  His answer: Cloud Computing. But…Ramleth and his team didn’t go to outside vendors for all their cloud computing needs…they built data centers and standardized on hardware and software and began to deliver IT solutions across the enterprise using internal cloud computing resources. In effect, Bechtel built a SaaS model and began offering these service to their internal and external clients.  According to Ramleth (as reported in the article), the goal of the new SaaS platform is to:

    create a Google-like experience for enterprise application users. Log in to the portal, pick a task and get it done in a few simple steps rather than logging in to an assortment of applications.

    Interesting concept.  I’d be interested in how the end-users at Bechtel are feeling about these new SaaS applications. Interesting stuff…isn’t it?  There are few companies  today as advanced as Bechtel in their adoption of Cloud Computing in the enterprise, but I think we’ll see more ‘noise’ in the coming year(s) as organizations try to ‘do more with less’. Know of any other real-world examples of cloud computing in the enterprise?  Share them with me in the comments.

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    Cutter on 2009 IT Trends

    The Cutter Consortium blog has an interesting post titled “IT Trends and Antitrends for 2009“.   Some interesting items listed…I’ve reproduced the listing of Trends and Anti-Trends below with a brief discussion following.

    The Trends:

    Trend 1: Firms will try to remove redundant islands of business process and technology.
    Trend 2: Data warehouses, vocabularies and ontologies will advance steadily in the health sciences.
    Trend 3: Open source will get a second chance to get a toe in the door.
    Trend 4: Cloud computing will secure more early adopters and virtualization will steadily grow.
    Trend 5: Low-cost disk arrays will grow rapidly.

    I think these trends are pretty good.

    I see Trend 3 (Open Source software) being something that just might take hold in 2009 due to budgetary constraints.  Organizations are seriously under-funded and taking the ‘do more with less’ approach and utilizing Open Source will help.  I’ve found a few organizations that have already started looking at open source systems and applications as a way to operate leaner and cheaper.

    The Anti-Trends:

    Anti-trend 1: Social networking will unravel.
    Anti-trend 2: Mashups will get peeled back.
    Anti-trend 3: Large-scale VoIP and unified communication implementations will be muted.
    Anti-trend 4: Analytics and BI will lose luster.
    Anti-trend 5: Aged infrastructure will stay in service longer.

    Again…I would agree with all of these except for Anti-Trend 4. I think Analytics will stick around, especially with the need to save money and ‘do more with less’.  Analytics will help organizations target their offerings to a much narrower client base (thereby saving money on marketing, customer acquisition costs, etc).

    A short comment about Anti-trend 1: I do believe Social Networking will start to lose some of its luster, especially within the enterprise.   Organizations have barely figured out how to use blogs…taking on other social aspects will be too much for most businesses, especially with cost cutting.

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