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In Between the Numbers: Cutting Through the Cloud

April 30, 2012 at 10:41 am PST

 My colleague Bharat Popat and I just published a perspective on Cloud computing for retail that we think will help retail technologists cut through the cloud around Cloud.

 Our hypothesis is that Cloud basically consists of custom combinations of four IT best practices:

  • Virtualization.
  • Network-centric enterprise and store ICT architectures.
  • The acquisition of services – ranging from enterprise applications to infrastructure to complete business processes.
  • The pursuit (and use) of new financial models.

 All of which are in rapid adoption throughout developed world retailing (and enterprises in general.)

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A Thoroughly Modern Government

April 23, 2012 at 3:29 pm PST

From adopting more mobile communication to converting operational systems to cloud-based applications, the federal government undoubtedly has a modernizing makeover underway. Though challenges persist in terms of security and easing transitions, efforts to update technology help the government keep pace with the private sector and best serve its constituents.

These technology upgrades also open wide the doors to vastly expanded communication possibilities.  For example, let’s look at how the cloud lends itself to more streamlined, personal connections among colleagues, across agencies, and from government workers to their target audiences. I’ve written about agencies and officials using video and telepresence to forge in-person, real-time links for teleworking employees, to maintain continuity during business disruptions, even to conduct top-secret missions. Well, with cloud computing in the mix, telepresence can still perform all of its regular functions, but it does so in conjunction with access to scheduling mechanisms, global directories, and advanced media services that enhance video-hosted information-sharing. In essence, the cloud makes a critical communication tool like telepresence all the more powerful.

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Build and they will come…

“If you build it, they will come” is one of those cliches that have been proved wrong over and over again throughout history. Cities, railway systems, buildings, airports, luxury residents and other such structures have been built, but barely or ever used. There are many interesting reasons for such failures -- cost, location, convenience, surrounding dependencies to name a few, but all of these boiled down to some aspects of planning or lack thereof.

It is always fun to build something, say for example, a new Cloud infrastructure. Ok, I am sure you saw this Cloud association coming ! With all the technology and tools available to us, building a Cloud environment to meet our business needs is a challenging but interesting venture. Once this infrastructure is built, now what ? It is one thing to have a kick-”donkey synonym” state-of-the-art Cloud Data Center, but a whole different ball game to actually put users on it ! This is what I want to focus on, the “..they will come” part.

For most enterprise environments applications and data have evolved over time and it’s fair to state that they have a very complex dependency model. At the same time, the network, servers, storage and other Data Center elements have also evolved. Cloud service providers, regardless of what flavor of Cloud (Private/Public/XaaS), will have to think about how to interface the new Cloud environment with existing, often legacy environments.

Migrating and on-boarding tenants and applications from an existing system to new Cloud environment is not an easy process. If this is not thought through and diligently planned, then you run the risk of a Cloud environment under-utilized or idle.

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Bring Your Own SaaS to Work (BYOS)

The popular trend to “bring your own device” (BYOD) to work is not surprising to those who are informed about the recent past. This phenomenon was preceded by savvy employees that would introduce useful consumer-grade software applications to the enterprise – without the approval of gatekeepers within the corporate IT organization.

The early adoption of online instant messaging, wiki and blog platforms are noteworthy examples of where many corporate IT departments have been slow to embrace online collaboration applications. Moreover, when the approved enterprise-grade vendor has been chosen and the “solution” is deployed, sometimes it’s inferior to the consumer-grade offering.

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Lessons on Cloud from the Enterprise Connect Conference

Another Enterprise Connect has come and gone; now that the booths have been rolled away and sales teams begin the process of doing follow up with prospects met at this year’s show, I had some thoughts about UC applications in the cloud.

Unified Communications services deployed from the cloud was all abuzz during the show; from Sprint announcing its Complete Collaboration suite to many vendors discussing how they are moving their contact center offerings to the cloud. Even analyst Zeus Kerravala offered his observations following a cloud panel he moderated during last week’s show.

Specifically, Zeus mentioned that one of the key takeaways he heard during his panel was when organizations are deciding when to implement a UCaaS model, they think about which UC service they currently don’t have and deploy it through the cloud. This had me thinking about what features an organization should look for as they explore the possibilities of a cloud collaboration model.

With our recent news with Sprint, we demonstrated to the market again that Cisco Hosted Collaboration Solution or HCS was designed from them ground up to support the needs of today’s business savvy organizations. Read More »

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