HP on Tuesday released Cloud Assure, a new suite of bundled software-as-a-service products and managed services aimed at helping enterprises and would-be SaaS vendors alike adopt and manage cloud computing.  With Cloud Assure, customers work with an account manager and engineering team to assess their IT environments’ readiness for cloud computing and then monitor and manage security and availability of cloud-based applications with HP’s Application Security Center, Performance Center, and Business Availability Center services.  “For companies that want to run an app on the Amazon.com platform, we want to give them the same degree of performance, availability, and security in the cloud as they have on premises today,” Scott Kupor, HP’s VP and general manager of SaaS, said in a teleconference announcing Cloud Assure.  “Our ultimate goal is to take any guesswork out of the confidence companies have in the cloud.”  As such, Cloud Assure could be seen as a first step to apply HP’s large IT management portfolio and expertise to the cloud.  Over time, according to Van Ash, HP’s director of SaaS, there’s opportunity to bring IT service management, backup, and recovery to the cloud as well. 

Application Security Center, Performance Center, and Business Availability Center have been available separately for varying amounts of time, but never wrapped neatly in a bow as in Cloud Assure, which offers the three as a group with additional hands-on assistance for a one-year contract term.  Each “Center” application is based on a virtual or synthetic user logging into and transacting business on any cloud platform from any one node of a network of HP locations.  That model means there’s no need for complicated installation of on-premises software with Cloud Assure.  But it also arguably limits Cloud Assure’s effectiveness, if the customer wants to measure last-mile performance of the application or security from inside the firewall.  In an interview, Ash disagreed.  “We can get a pretty good picture without having to see the last mile,” he said.  Performance Center and Business Availability Center measure the performance and availability of cloud applications.  Performance Center uses 12 globally distributed load farms to test application scalability, while Business Availability Center measures service levels from an end user’s perspective, for example, to ascertain if a company needs more bandwidth.  These apps can also detect and alert admins when performance slips.  Application Security Center, meanwhile, allows HP to scan Web applications for vulnerabilities and attacks, checking for things such as SQL injection.  If HP finds a vulnerability, it will then provide some advice for fixing it.  That added expert advice is a key part of Cloud Assure, Kupor says.  “Most organizations haven’t yet been able to develop best practices for themselves,” he says.  In this case, a technical account manager helps companies determine best practices for deploying or delivering cloud apps and helps choose what types of technologies companies need to prepare.

Reference : http://www.intelligententerprise.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=216402259

UC Berkeley researchers have outlined their view of cloud computing, which they say has great opportunity to exploit unprecedented IT resources if vendors can overcome a litany of obstacles.  The 11 researchers’ cloud computing forecast is documented in a paper called “Above the Clouds: A Berkeley View of Cloud Computing.”  The research group works in the Reliable Adaptive Distributed Systems Laboratory (RAD Lab), a 3-year-old outfit funded by companies such as Google, Microsoft, IBM and Sun.  “We argue that the construction and operation of extremely large-scale, commodity-computer datacenters at low-cost locations was the key necessary enabler of Cloud Computing,” they write.  But to take full advantage of the opportunity, vendors need to rethink the way they build their products.  Application developers need to ensure their offerings can not only scale up, but scale down quickly to satisfy the needs of customers who resort to cloud computing to meet short-term needs.  Developers of applications and infrastructure software also need pay-as-you-go licensing models that conform to the reality of cloud computing.  Makers of infrastructure software must also craft products designed to run on virtual machines, a foundation technology in large-scale data centers used by cloud computing suppliers.  On the hardware side, vendors need to think big, the researchers say.  Vendors need to be thinking along the idea of building container-scale products, that is, those the size of a dozen or more racks.  Energy efficiency and flash memory are among other important considerations for hardware makers.  The paper outlines 10 obstacles to cloud computing:

  1. Availability of service
  2. Data lock-in
  3. Data confidentiality and auditability
  4. Data transfer bottlenecks
  5. Performance unpredictability
  6. Scalable storage
  7. Bugs in large distributed systems
  8. Scaling quickly
  9. Reputation fate sharing
  10. Software licensing

The Berkeley team also ticks off a bunch of suggested ways to address these obstacles.  For example, it suggests that customers go with multiple cloud providers to ensure service availability and calls on the providers to ensure availability by exploiting their massive amounts of bandwidth to thwart DDoS attacks.  The researchers call on companies in the cloud computing market to help customers avoid vendor lock-in by getting together on a standard set of APIs that application companies can build to.  The researchers argue for use of encryption to protect data as part of a broad security initiative.  The paper also serves to define different types of cloud computing providers, ranging from bare-bones offerings such as Amazon EC2 at one end of the spectrum to more application-specific services such as Google AppEngine.

Reference : http://www.cio.com/article/print/480780

Overall IT spending has slowed down, forcing many IT vendors to lay off workers.  But spending on software-as-a-service applications is growing at double-digit rates, as users look to take advantage of the relatively low cost of implementing SaaS technologies.  To be sure, SaaS is still very much a niche market from the standpoint of both revenue and user adoption levels.  For instance, market research firm IDC expects $12.4 billion in SaaS spending worldwide this year — a drop in the bucket of the overall IT market.  But two weeks ago, IDC raised its projected SaaS growth rate for 2009 from 36% to 40.5%…..IDC also forecast that nearly 45% of U.S. companies will spend at least one-fourth of their IT budgets on SaaS by next year, up from 23% in 2008…..More often than not, users aren’t certain whether it would actually cost less to use a SaaS application than run an in-house one because they don’t have a good breakdown of the IT costs associated with supporting individual apps.  In addition, developing precise cost comparisons can be difficult because the potential savings from SaaS implementations often involve intangible items.  For example, when companies move to SaaS, they often shift control of applications to the business units that use them.  A business unit may claim that it will get a time savings if it can deal directly with a software vendor instead of having to go through the IT department.  But it isn’t easy to quantify such savings.  In addition, there’s the question of whether SaaS users are trading off the short-term benefits of no longer having to run applications internally in return for some potential long-term financial pain, in the form of ongoing subscription fees…..

Reference : http://www.cio.com/article/480066/SaaS_Still
_on_the_Rise_Despite_Down_Economy

EMC’s Bold Enterprise SaaS Move

Saturday, January 26, 2008

While most of the IT industry has tiptoed around the idea of software-as-a-service for big companies, EMC is diving right in.  Its new MozyEnterprise offers online data backup and recovery for businesses with hundreds or thousands of PCs and servers, starting at about $5 a month per system.  MozyEnterprise is just the beginning, said EMC VP of marketing Roy Sanford in an interview, and he hints at future SaaS offerings in two areas of business EMC hopes to grow: security and IT management.  It’ll deliver all SaaS offerings through a platform called EMC Fortress.  The enterprise SaaS play is a gutsy step for the $12-billion-a-year company.  Most tech companies who’ve ventured into SaaS — think Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP — haven’t courted big business in order to protect the large license fees they get from selling on-premise software.  But EMC has taken the consumer-oriented Mozy Online service offered by Berkeley Data Systems, which it acquired last year for an undisclosed amount, and recast it for the enterprise.  EMC puts MozyEnterprise under the SaaS nomenclature because it uses a multi-tenant architecture to perform backup services on desktops, laptops and servers, and the service can be managed by an administrator over the Web.  EMC says it has 1,200 resellers lined up to offer MozyEnterprise, many of whom have been offering Berkeley Data’s Mozy for consumers and small businesses.

Fortunately for EMC, the company needn’t worry about the type of internal strife that can happen when SaaS threatens to replace salespeople’s commissions — primarily because EMC/Berkeley has never offered an enterprise version of Mozy.  Sanford acknowledges, however, that future SaaS offerings may not be as uncomplicated.  “It’s always a challenge when you step on some of the old business models,” he said, while quickly adding: “We don’t see ourselves competing with ourselves; we see ourselves growing a new business.”  EMC doesn’t want to “tip its hand” at what else it’ll deliver under Fortress, Sanford said, while adding that consultants site security and IT management as ideal areas for SaaS.  EMC’s RSA Security business, which it paid $2.1 billion for in 2006, already offers Key Manager as a service, for storing and managing access to encryption keys, he noted.  EMC isn’t a SaaS vendor in the traditional sense of the word, delivering up software services to manage customer relations, billing, or human resources.  But considering EMC’s expertise in data storage and security, and the sheer size of its customer base, its move into the on-demand world could give a major boost to the acceptance of SaaS among big business.

Reference : http://www.intelligententerprise.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=205917978

India is still the most attractive country to which to move back-office operations, according to the 2007 Global Services Location Index compiled by A.T. Kearney.


(click for larger image)

The index evaluates 50 countries according to three main categories: financial attractiveness, availability of skilled workers and the business environment.  India stays ahead of China, ranked second, thanks to lower wage, infrastructure and regulatory costs.  Both countries lead the rest by a good margin.  Policies to promote service exports in Latin America have helped Brazil and Mexico rise in the global league.  Less established locations in eastern Europe, such as Bulgaria and Slovakia, are now ranked higher than either Poland or the Czech Republic….And Malaysia is ahead of Singapore…..interesting…..

Reference : http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9725614

Accenture Trumps IBM As Top SI

Friday, November 17, 2006

Accenture has been named as the new worldwide leader in Systems Integration (SI) services, according to an IDC analysis of SI services revenues for 2005.  IDC said the competitive shift is significant.  It’s the first time IBM Global Services has been bumped from the top spot since IDC first began tracking the market in the late 1990s.  IDC defines SI as a process that includes the planning, design, implementation and project management of a solution that addresses the specific technical or business needs of a client, including systems and customer application development and implementation and integration of enterprise packaged software.  According to IDC market analysis, Accenture’s rise to the number one position in worldwide SI was due to customers’ increased investments in SOA, infrastructure improvements and application services.  “Fueled by strong customer demand particularly in the Americas and EMEA, Accenture achieved 8% growth, well above the market,” IDC reported.  “Deep client relationships, a robust ecosystem of partners, and strong brand recognition have contributed to its success.”

According to the IDC report, worldwide SI services experienced its strongest year since the peak of the dot.com boom in the late 1990s.  The market experienced growth of approximately 4% in 2005, about double over the previous year.  However, half of the top eight companies experienced declines due to various factors.  “The improved economic conditions, pent-up demand and a desire to align business processes with IT systems drove spending,” continued the report.  IDC also noted that willingness to embrace the evolution of the software environment, close collaboration with partners and customers, strong understanding of the industry-specific business processes, and mature and seamless global delivery capability are predictors of future success in the SI market.  Outsourcing growth opportunities notwithstanding, project-based services represent the leading services business for most of the top 10 worldwide SI providers, according to the report.  Accenture, for example, further increased its outsourcing business to 40% of its overall services business, compared with 37.4% the previous year.

Reference : http://www.tekrati.com/research/News.asp?id=8127

FT : IBM Buys ISS

Thursday, August 24, 2006

THE DEAL

  • IBM on Wednesday took one of the most dramatic steps yet in its bid to overhaul its slow-growing services business with a $1.3bn software acquisition.  IBM agreed to pay $28 a share for ISS, an 8 per cent premium to its closing price the day before.
  • The all-cash purchase of Internet Security Systems will further erode the barriers between IBM’s services and software divisions.
  • ISS, whose software is used to fend off intrusions against corporate and government IT networks, will be run as part of IBM Global Services, even though IBM already sells security software under the Tivoli brand via its separate software division.  IBM said it would run ISS as a separate unit within its services business and leave its existing management in place.  It also said ISS’s product strategy would move “in lock-step” with Tivoli.
  • The ISS deal marks the services division’s biggest acquisition since the purchase of the PwC consulting division in 2002.
  • It is IBM’s third big software deal in the past three weeks.  It agreed to pay $1.6bn for FileNet, which makes content management software, and $740m for MRO Software, whose technology is used to track and manage corporate assets.

THE RATIONALE

  • Deal reflects an acceleration in Big Blue’s use of acquisitions to raise its profile in some of the fastest-growing segments of the IT market as it battles to revive its flagging growth rate. 
  • The technology giant set out on its services strategy last year, moving executives to bring a more product-based approach to the services division.  Backed by ISS products, IBM will be better placed to sell “standardised, repeatable, software-based services”, said Val Rahmani, general manager of IBM’s infrastructure management services business, who will oversee the ISS business.
  • Recent deals partly mark IBM’s attempt to counter a slowdown in technology spending by corporate and government buyers.
  • Combining ISS with services rather than the software division reflects IBM’s broader plan to use software to revitalise services.
  • Tom Noonan, chief executive of ISS, said putting his company into the services division echoed a broader trend in the software world.  More than half of ISS’s revenues come from subscriptions rather than traditional up-front software licences, he said.

Reference : http://www.ft.com/cms/s/54bc1e7a-32a1-11db-87ac-0000779e2340.html