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Megatrends in the Cloud

By Dana Gardner E-Commerce Times ECT News Network
Apr 18, 2011 5:00 AM PT

HP made a series of announcements April 12 on application transformation. In advance of the news, BriefingsDirect met with an HP application transformation expert to dig into some new research and to better understand HP's response to the fast-moving trends supporting the rationale for application transformation.

Megatrends in the Cloud

These same trends are pointing to a deeper payoff from the well-managed embrace of hybrid computing models. But applications also have to be delivered more securely, even in these hybrid implementations, while the new delivery models also mean adding automation and governance features across the entire service lifecycle.

The new research describes how top level enterprise executives are reacting to these fast-moving trends, buffeting nearly all global businesses. HP has delivered some new products and services designed to help companies move safely, yet directly, to transform their applications, improve their hosting options, and free up resources that can be used to provide the innovation needed to support better business processes. It's and the support of business processes, after all, that's the real goal of these modernization activities.

And it was on this note that we welcomed Paul Evans, worldwide lead for application transformation for HP Enterprise Business. The discussion was moderated by BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:

Listen to the podcast (42:54 minutes).

Paul Evans: We see three megatrends, and we validate this with customers. We haven't just made these up. And, the three megatrends really come down to one: People are evolving their business models.

When you get recessionary periods, hyper growth in particular markets, and the injection of new technologies, people look at how to make money and how to save money. They look at their business model and see they can make a change there. Of course, if you change the business model, then that means you change the business process. If you change the business process, the digital expression of a business process is an application. So, people need to change their apps.

So, you change your model and the process and need to change your app, because for most people now, the app is pretty much the digital expression of their business. For many of us, when we go online or do some form of transaction, at the end of the day, it's an app that is authenticating this, validating the transaction, making the transaction, whatever it may be. That's one megatrend we see happening.

The second megatrend is that technology innovation just keeps on going, whether it's the infusion of cloud architectures that people are looking towards, or the whole megatrend around mobile connectivity. That is a game changer in their mind. It's a radical transformational time for applications, as they accommodate and exploit those technologies.

Some people just accommodate them and say, "Okay, we can do things better, maybe less expensively. We can be more innovative, more flexible in this way, or maybe we can do things differently. Maybe we can do things like we have never ever done them before."

I don't believe there's any precedent for the mobile evolution that we're going to see coming towards us through smartphones, pads, or whatever it may be.

We can't look back over our shoulder and say, "What we did five years ago we'll just do that again, and it will be wonderful." I don't think there is any precedent here. There is an opportunity for people to do some really innovative things.

Third, it's the whole nature of the changing workforce. The expectations of people that are joining with the community every day on the net is very different from the people at the other end of the spectrum and their experience.

When we look at young people joining the net and when we look at young people coming into the workforce, their expectation is very high in terms of what they want, what they need, and what they would like to achieve. This is in terms of the tools they utilize, whether it's social networking, whether it's just the fact that their view is that they are sort of always on the network, whether it's through their mobile or whether it's through their notebook or whatever device they use.

They're always on, and therefore the expectations of those people who are going to be with us now for the next 60-70 years is starting from a position of, we have always known the Web, we have always liked the Web, we have always had the Web. So their view is, we just want to see more of it and better. We want to see things as services rather than processes. The expectation of those people is also having a lot of effect. Those three megatrends affect the way that organizations have to respond.

So we actually went to the C-suite -- the CEO, CIO, and CFO -- and just tried to understand from them how they see things, too, because they are clearly a fundamental audience that we need to work with and understand their opinions and how their opinions have changed.

Two or three years ago, during the heavy economic times, cost was all it was all about. Take cost out. Take cost out. Don't worry about the functionality; I need to take cost out. Now, that's changed. We've seen, both from the public and the private sector, the view that we've got to be innovative. Innovation is going to be the way we keep ourselves different, keep ourselves alive the way we move forward.

A business requirement is that we need to innovate. If we stand still, we're probably going backwards. I know that sounds ridiculous, but you have do more than just keep up to speed. You've got to accelerate. And we asked the C-suite if innovation therefore is important.

Some 95 percent of the people we talked to said innovation is key to the success of the organization. As I said, that was both public and private. Of course, the private sector would, but why would the public sector, because they don't have any competition? But, they are serving citizens who have expectations and want the same level of service that we see from a private organization in the public domain.

So, one, the audience said to us that innovation is key. Two, we didn't see any massive difference between public and private. Then, we asked them how they relate innovation and technology. Basically, they told us that technology is the innovation engine. It is the thing that makes them innovative. They're going to have new products and new services, but whether the technology is involved in the front end or the back end of that, it's involved. It's not an administration function anymore. It's the life blood of what they do.

So it's not HP saying this. It's our customer saying to us that technology would be the engine that they will use to be innovative going forward. We told them, "Well, technology is a big thing. Are are we talking about mobiles? Are we talking about blade servers? What do you see?

Applications and software that derive more flexible process was the number one area where they would invest first, across all the audiences. So, their view was that they know there are lots of pieces for technology, but if they want to innovate, they see that applications and software is the vehicle that gets them there.

The whole expectation around the application is changing, and I think it's irreversible. We're not going to go backward. We're going to keep on driving forward, because people like HP and others see the real value here. We're going to start to have a different approach to apps. It's going to be more component driven and it's not going to be monolithic.

We have to go away from the monolithic app anyway, because it's not a flexible device. It's not something that easily delivers innovation and agility. People have already understood that the cost of maintaining those monolithic, legacy applications is not acceptable.

We're going to get far more sophisticated in how we do those things, and they'll be tailored to this whole notion of context awareness. So, they'll understand where they are and what they're doing. Things will change by virtue of the context of the person, where they're based or what device they are using.

I really get excited by the fact we're just starting down that road, and there is a lot of good stuff more to come.

You can look at an on-premise supply, you can look at off-premise, you can look at outsourcing or out-tasking, or you can look to the cloud. There are a lot more choices available to people who maybe could lower the cost, and that has a direct impact on the bottom line.

But if you're looking at core applications, something that is fundamental to your business, they're not so easy to just move around. The CIO looks at those and say, "I've got this massive investment. What do I do?" Then, he swings around and sees the world of cloud and mobile heading towards them and says, "Now I'm challenged, because the CFO or CEO is telling me I need performance improvement, if I need to get into these new markets whatever it maybe."

At the same time, they needs to cut cost, be really innovative, and explore all these new technologies. He wants to understand what he's going to do with the old ones, which may take money and funding to achieve. At the same time, he wants to exploit and be innovative with the new. That's a very difficult position to sit in the middle of and not feel the stretches and strains.

We sit with the CEOs on their side of the table and try and understand the balance of what business is looking to achieve, whether that would be improvement in product delivery or marketing and customer satisfaction. The things that people look to a technology group for and say, "Our website experience is losing its market share. Do something about it," that's in the CIO's regime. He looks around the other way and says, "But, I have got all these line of business guys that also want me to keep on making product or making whatever and I need to understand what I do with legacy."

So, we sit on their side of the table and say let's make a list, let's prioritize, let's understand some of the fundamentals of good business and your technology and come up with a list of actionable items. You got to have a plan that is not 12 months, because this is not a 12-month thing.

Anyone who's been keeping their eyes on HP for a while would have seen some significant investments, especially in the software area, and this preceded the research where customers are telling us that apps and software are pretty important.

The investments in companies like ArcSight and Fortify have been there because, as they say in ice hockey terms, we're trying to predict where the puck is going to go, and we're trying to move toward where the puck will be, as opposed to where it is now.

We've been investing in acquisitions, but also investing in internal R&D, looking at the customer's environment to see what things are really top of mind. Effectively, we know this change is irreversible. The technology industry, whether you like it or not, never goes backward.

As I heard on a television program, we are compelled to travel into the future. It's not being corny. That's what we're doing. We're looking at this, so the new range of products and services that we're bringing out are around several of those core areas.

One, is that people need to get a real good handle on what they've got. A lot of CIOs we meet and a lot of people we talk to the IT function will openly admit that they have a no clear idea what their portfolio looks like. They don't know how much it's costing them. They don't know what the components are. They don't know how well they're aligned for the business.

They don't know what sort of technology underpinnings they've got and what sort of security level they're implementing. That sounds like a pretty terrible picture, but unfortunately it's pretty much reality. There are definite clients we meet who do know, but they're pretty rare.

So you've to get your head around that first, because if you don't know what you've got, then how the hell can you move forward? So, we've invested a lot in Application Portfolio Management, a new software product, combined that with a whole portfolio of services to exploit it, which really gives people a very rich graphical environment and the ability to understand the portfolio and make decisions.

This whole notion of where we've been in the past -- service-oriented architecture (SOA) and shared services -- is a real underpinning. Some people think SOA died. SOA did not die. It's actually one of the technological underpinnings for going forward in creating these shared services which we're going to be calling a cloud environment.

We tell people we can help them understand which apps are fit to go to the cloud and should go to the cloud. This is how we get them to the cloud. By the way, we'll also tell you the ones that shouldn't.

We get that question a lot. Of course, when you talk cloud, you invariably get people talking about the biggest excuse not to go to cloud, which is that it's not secure.

As I said, we're into irreversible change. We know there may be challenges, which is why the acquisition of companies like ArcSight and Fortify, and what we have brought out recently with the application securities in the product have really changed the rules on security, not to view this as a bolt on.

Anybody that is familiar with the notion of a stack knows we go from hardware at the bottom to application at the top with all the intermediate layers. We could bolt on a security enhancement to a piece of the stack with the view that we'll stop you coming in.

Unfortunately, as you are aware, there are unscrupulous people who know their way around certain bolt-ons, and have a way of infiltrating. From reports in the press, it's very clear about what can happen when they do. We've taken is a totally different approach.

Make security something that is inherent within the whole process. So that once you are through the gatekeeper, you can't just have a lot of fun and games inside the code. Once you are in, you're not going to get very far. Also, monitor this in real-time. Don't make this a static process, make it a dynamic process, so that you can dynamically see vulnerabilities and react to those in real-time.

People are coming to us and saying that they have some productivity applications that maybe they shouldn't be running in an extremely expensive environment. We see a lot of people who run an app on a mainframe. We ask why, and the user responds because they always have. Maybe it's time that it didn't.

There is a new option, this whole notion of hybrid delivery with the cloud, and looking at different models to deliver things. If you're short of cash and trying to be innovative, why would you want to spend a whole truck of cash on something that you don't need to? Go and spend it on something you should.

We need to help people understand how they can migrate their productivity up. Microsoft Exchange is a good example. Big productivity -- messaging is a productivity. Yes, it helps people do what they do every day.

If I'm running Exchange, I can move this to a private cloud environment, still within my firewall. The biggest challenge everybody faces is, how do you provision for it? How much infrastructure do I need to give people the response they are looking for?

Now, everyone runs out of processing power and everyone runs out of storage. I do every day, especially storage. But, the point is how to separate environments that can smooth those peaks and troughs. We believe exchange services for private cloud is the way to do that.

The flip side is that people that are using the Microsoft Dynamics customer relationship management (CRM) package. Maybe they don't want to be in the CRM business. They want to build relationships with customers, want to understand who they are and what they are. Maybe they don't want to be in the whole provisioning business.

So, what we're offering is what we call Enterprise Cloud Services for Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which says we will put this on our service. The customer just buys a service through the net and pays per usage. If they don't use it, they don't pay.

We're going to see a lot more of that style of hybrid delivery where you pay per use. What I want, I use, and I pay for. What I don't want, I put it back. I don't have to take any responsibility for infrastructure and storage and all the stuff that goes with it. I want to give that responsibility to someone else and get on with my core business.

It's a SaaS model and other options. There was a model once where everyone was on premises. Then, the whole notion of outsourcing came in, and people looked at that and felt it was pretty good. So, they went to outsourcing.

We believe that this whole notion will be called "hybrid delivery." It will be a mixture of all of them -- on premises, off premised, people running services inside their firewall as private clouds. It's actually a public provision service where it will be provisioned for them outside their firewall and then they buy what they want.

Also, one of the components of the announcement we are bringing out is what we call "Cloud Service Automation," which we're extremely proud of. This is really for the people who want to get a cloud service up and running, want to do it fast, and don't want to have to spend the next two years playing computer scientist. They want to get up, running, provisioned, and out there.

It just shows the pace of this market. We brought version one of this product out in January. In April, we're bringing out the next version with a significant level of enhancement around provisioning and manageability, and 4000 scripts embedded. So, people can just assemble things.

Back to the question you asked me earlier about the way the apps are going, this is really assembling procedures where the customer wants to do and can through a drag-and-drop environment. Some people view that as nearly impossible.

Cloud Service Automation runs on the cloud system, which is enabled by BladeSystem Matrix. What that's doing is provisioning an infrastructure, giving people the choices of network components, upgrading systems, and their virtualization environment. All of this is through drag-and-drop. It's just staring at the screen and saying they want Linux on that, HP-UX on that, Windows on that, and a VMware on that, and then drop it on.

So this is what we call fundamental building blocks of people that are looking to deploy a cloud environment. But there is some real sort of down to earth tactical things you've got to think about, too.

Take, for example, the client environment. We've talked a lot about the server, but the client world is changing at a high speed by virtue of people's desire to use devices that are not chained to the desk anymore -- whether that's more portable, notebook type machines, smartphones, pads or whatever. You've also got to take into account the fact that there are a lot of enterprise applications that you still use on traditional desktop PCs. You can't ignore those and should not.

A year after launching, about 13 percent of the Windows XP base moved to Windows Vista. So, the bulk of the market stayed with XP for whatever reason. Now they're saying they need to make that move, but some of these desktop apps are pretty sophisticated. This is not just simple productivity stuff. This is a part of the enterprise portfolio. Therefore, they also need to get worried about it big time and fairly quickly.

So what we've done for our customers is to look at their volume, their desktop environment, and come up with what apps they've got, what they do, are they useful, do they need all of them, could they get rid of some? The ones they want to move forward, do they need to change? Obviously, there are functional differences between XP and Windows 7.

By virtue of our knowledge and experience we can give you a very good return on your investment because we know all of the differences. We know all the gotchas. When you've used the special feature inside XP, we know how that will translate to Windows 7.

We're just trying to help people see that this is really important. We have been sort of screaming and shouting for the last year or two, and we believe that people are really onto this now. HP has a role to play in pointing people in the right direction.

People just need to get to their heads around it, because we appreciate it. There are some big questions to answer. We don't trivialize this. This is not a game. This is serious. Serious problems need serious people to respond.

Dana Gardner is president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, which tracks trends, delivers forecasts and interprets the competitive landscape of enterprise applications and software infrastructure markets for clients. He also produces BriefingsDirect sponsored podcasts. Follow Dana Gardner on Twitter. Disclosure: HP sponsored this podcast.

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