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Shadow cloud services pose a growing risk to enterprises

IDG News Service

A growing tendency by business units and workgroups to sign up for cloud services without any involvement from their IT organization creates serious risks for enterprises.

The risks from shadow cloud services include issues with data security, transaction integrity, business continuity and regulatory compliance, technology consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) warned last week.

“The culture of consumerization within the enterprise — having what you want, when you want it, the way you want it, and at the price you want it — coupled with aging technologies and outdated IT models, has propelled cloud computing into favor with business units and individual users,” PwC said in a report.

Increasingly, workgroups and even individual users in companies are subscribing directly to cloud services for business reasons because it is easy and relatively inexpensive for them to do, said Cara Beston, cloud risk assurance leader at PwC.

“There is a new form of shadow IT and it is likely more pervasive across the company” than many might imagine, given the easy access to cloud services, Beston said. “It is harder to find, because it is being procured at small cost and is no longer operating within the bounds of the company.”

Some typical use cases for shadow cloud services include collaboration software, storage, customer relationship management apps and human resources.

The Software as a Service (SaaS) delivery model allows business units and workgroups to quickly deal with business process challenges without having to wait for IT to help out. The fact that the cost for such services is usually an operating expense rather than a capital expense is another advantage.

“Shadow cloud is happening under the radar” at many organizations, Beston said. Without governance, such cloud services present significant data security risks and the potential for technology and service redundancies.

Risks include inadvertent exposure of regulated data, improper access and control over protected and confidential data and intellectual property and breaching of rules pertaining to how some data should be handled.

Companies in regulated industries face a real risk of becoming non-compliant with data security and privacy obligations without even realizing it. Importantly, while many business users sign onto cloud services because of the perceived lower costs, a lack of control over how the services are being used can often result in service duplication and higher-than-anticipated operational costs, she said.

Cloud services for work groups of between five and 10 business users can range from as little as a few hundred dollars a month to a few thousand dollars. But the costs can quickly get out of control when all the different groups that might be using similar services within an organization are counted.

Continue reading…

Why Microsoft Azure could have the last laugh in the cloud wars

CITEworld

Venture capitalist Brad Feld recently wrote an interesting post predicting the end of Amazon’s dominance of the cloud computing market, and concluded, “it’s suddenly a good time to be Microsoft or Google in the cloud computing wars.”

I’d go one step farther. Using Feld’s arguments, I’d say that Microsoft is in the driver’s seat.

First, the price war. Microsoft and Google are on approximately equal ground when it comes to cutting prices — both have highly profitable core businesses that they can use to subsidize a price war in cloud infrastructure, even to the point of sustaining losses for a while to gain market share. Amazon does not.

Second, the quality argument. Like Feld, we’ve also pointed out that there are niche cloud providers that do a better job than the big guys at providing infrastructure-as-a-service for specific verticals, but when you move all the way up the stack to full software-as-a-service applications, Microsoft has an edge among the big three with Office 365. Google has been making inroads into smaller businesses with Google Apps for almost a decade now, Microsoft remains the standard in the biggest and most profitable business customers — as this recent investigation from Dan Frommer at Quartz showed, only one company in the Fortune 50 uses Google Apps. (That company happens to be Google itself.)

The third argument, support, is mostly a wash. While Amazon’s support may be terrible (I have no evidence of this, but I’m taking Feld’s word for it), Microsoft and Google and their respective ecosystem partners do a decent job of supporting customers on their stacks. This hasn’t always been the case — Google used to treat support as an expensive afterthought — but in the case of Google Apps, at least, the company and its partners have stepped up significantly.

But then comes the fourth argument. Feld points out that once companies get to $200,000 per month of cloud-infrastructure spend, it’s actually significantly cheaper to build their own data centers.

Microsoft is the only one of the big three players with an on-premise offering — Windows Server and the rest of the Microsoft infrastructure family. Maybe the exact break-even point will change as the cloud price wars continue, but Microsoft has the most pieces customers would need to move from all-cloud to a hybrid or on-premise solution. Or, for that matter, for existing on-premise customers to begin experimenting moving some workloads to the cloud.

There’s one more point favoring Microsoft. Google’s core business is selling online advertising. That business makes up about 90% of Google’s revenue, and it has enviably high operating margins — around 30%, based on Google’s 2011 financial report. (I picked 2011 because that was before Google bought Motorola Mobility, which changed the margin structure.)

It’s unclear how the Google Cloud Engine helps that business. Are customers using Google’s cloud somehow more likely to advertise with Google? I don’t see it. Are Google advertising customers demanding to run other workloads on Google technology? I don’t see it.

Click to read more…

 

Tech Leaders Juggle Multiple Investments Based on Organizational Goals

 Tech Leaders Juggle Multiple Investments Based on Organizational Goals

InfoWorld – the leading source of information on emerging enterprise technologies – released the 2014 Navigating IT: Objectives and Obstacles research (Click to Tweet), providing a comprehensive look at the technology investment priorities and organizational goals facing IT decision-makers (ITDMs). The study revealed that while many investment priorities are the same for all ITDMs, there are key differences in technology investment plans among enterprise organizations (1,000+ employees) and SMB organizations (<1,000 employees).

Tech Budgets Include Investments in Multiple Technology Categories

The 2014 study investigated ITDM purchase intent among these technology categories: application development, big data solutions, business intelligence & analytics, cloud computing, data center, enterprise applications, mobility, network solutions, security, server solutions, social media/ collaboration tools, storage solutions & services, and virtualization. Overall, respondents are involved in the purchase of nine technologies, with the highest investment in the categories of data center management, application development and security. As digital disruption continues to require business agility, 72% of ITDMs state that their job involves identifying emerging technologies that can improve business performance before the change reaches wide spread market adoption. (Click to Tweet)

“Technology investments continue to tie back to organizational goals. The influx of new technologies that can streamline processes, decrease costs and improve communications with employees and customers are changing the way organizations look at technology,” said Farrah Forbes, VP, Digital, InfoWorld. “The Navigating IT research provides insight into the tech trends organizations are investigating and investing in, providing tech marketers with the information needed when communicating with IT decision-makers.”

New Technologies Are Getting into the Mix

Numerous emerging technologies—such as CRM; social devices and wearables; and “Internet of Things” (IoT) —are becoming more mainstream. Sixty-one percent of respondents said that they can easily integrate edge technologies into their legacy systems. As for IoT, nearly one-third are evaluating or considering the integration in the next year, in addition to the 8% of ITDMs that have already developed or integrated “smart” products or devices. Seventy-three percent of organizations planning on making IoT a larger part of their business strategy agree that mobile and security will see the most impact from the integration. (Click to Tweet)

Differences between Enterprise and SMB Organizations

Overall, due to financial resources and IT bandwidth, enterprise organizations allocate larger investments in technology compared to SMBs. The specific areas that see a significant difference in investment priority are big data (72% enterprise vs. 52% SMB), data centers (96% enterprise vs. 81% SMB) and server solutions (84% enterprise vs. 73% SMB). Thirty-four percent of enterprise organizations plan to invest in log file analysis software for the future of big data whereas only 17% of SMBs agree. Additionally, enterprises and SMBs will invest in virtualization monitoring/management to improve data center management. As for server solutions, 47% of enterprises will invest in blade servers (x86) compared to only 25% of SMBs, and 40% of enterprise organizations plan to invest in Windowsx86 versus 26% of SMBs. Overall, a majority of organizations are willing to invest a larger portion of IT budget on technologies that will increase efficiency and productivity in the workplace.

To schedule a meeting to review key research, please contact Farrah Forbes atfforbes@idgenterprise.com.

About InfoWorld

InfoWorld is the leading resource for content and tools on “modernizing enterprise IT.” The InfoWorld Expert Contributor Network provides a unique perspective in the market; our editors provide first-hand experience from testing, deploying and managing implementation of emerging enterprise technologies.   InfoWorld’s Web site (InfoWorld.com) and strategic marketing services provide a deep dive into specific technologies to help IT decision-makers excel in their roles and provide opportunities for IT vendors to reach this audience. InfoWorld is published by IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s leading media, events, and research company. Company information is available at www.idgenterprise.com.

 

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Big data is the killer app for the public cloud

David Linthicum, Cloud Computing

Big data analytics are driving rapid growth of public cloud computing. Why? It solves real problems, delivers real value, and is pretty easy to implement on public clouds.

Don’t take my word for it. Revenues for the top 50 public cloud providers shot up 47 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, to $6.2 billion, according to Technology Business Research.

TBR’s latest figures reveal the extent to which public cloud providers are using big data to drive their own operations, get new customers, and expand features and functions. Although public cloud customers want storage and compute services, many implementing big data systems these days find that the public cloud is also the best and most cost-effective platform for big data.

Public clouds providers, such as Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft, offer their own brands of big data systems in their clouds, whether NoSQL or SQL, that can be had by the drink. This contrasts to DIY big data, which means allocating huge portions of your data centers to the task and, in some cases, spending millions of dollars for database software.

Big data is driving public cloud adoption for fairly obvious reasons:

  • The cloud cost is a fraction of that to purchase big data resources on demand.
  • Cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-enterprise data integration got much better in the last few years, so it’s easy to set up massive databases in the clouds and sync them with any number of operational databases, cloud-based or on-premise.
  • In most cases, public clouds can provide better performance and scalability for most big data systems because they can provide autoscaling and auto provisioning.

So, big data + cloud = match made in heaven? There are always issues with new technologies, but in this case the bumps in the road have been slight. I suspect that big data will continue to drive more public cloud usage in the future.

Click to see more

 

Mobile’s next great leap will happen in the cloud

InfoWorld

The fact that mobile devices like smartphones and tablets are becoming cloud devices is nothing new. What is new is that we seem to be nearing the point of feature saturation on those devices. When that happens, the use of the cloud by mobile applications and providers will accelerate.

Smartphones and tablets are getting about as fast as we need them to get, the platforms are more capable, and the apps more sophisticated. My smartphone can download faster than most DSL services can, the user interfaces are easy to deal with now, and the applications equal or exceed those that we can find on a PC. Indeed, were it not for the fact that my smartphone has a 4-inch screen, I would have written this post on it.

[ Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

This is not to say that mobile devices are now as good as they can ever get. Smartphone providers will keep finding new ways to enhance them. But I am saying that the mobile devices will be more difficult to improve, so the push will be on cloud-delivered systems to enhance their use.

Continue reading

Cloud computing jobs – Demand for cloud architects on the rise

Network World
By Christine Burns

If you visit the popular tech-focused job site Dice.com and search for cloud computing jobs, you’ll get more than 3,800 hits. According to Alice Hill, managing director of Dice.com, that’s up 72% over last year.

Basically, cloud is a segment of the jobs market that is going gangbusters.

On the day Hill’s team culled the list, the most sought-after position that employers were looking for was Cloud Architect. The rest of the top 10 are:

Continue reading… 

Navigating IT: Objectives and Obstacles

IDG Enterprise

The 2012 InfoWorld Navigating IT: Objectives and Obstacles survey provides in-depth information on the current objectives, obstacles and spending plans of the InfoWorld audience. In addition to highlighting the role of IT decision-makers in the IT purchase process, this study explores the technologies organizations are investing in as well as the goals these initiatives will accomplish. Technologies covered in this study are security, virtualization, data center/infrastructure, enterprise applications, storage, social media/collaboration tools, application development, mobile, networking, cloud computing and business intelligence.

Highlights include… 

The Other Futures of Enterprise IT

Wall Street Journal CIO Journal

Technological change has always outpaced change within the IT organization. Until now. Between cloud computing, big data, consumer IT, executives feeling capable of making more of their own technology decisions, and the ongoing business pressures for speed, agility and innovation, executives are eager to rethink and reinvent the IT department.

In our survey of 152 senior business executives and 162 IT executives, more executives singled out the IT organization than any other as the function they wanted to rebuild from scratch.  Half will revamp their IT organization in the next 12 months. Give CIOs credit. Even more than other executives, they realize the status quo can’t hold. Forty percent of IT executives picked their own function as the prime target for reinvention. The danger isn’t that executives won’t take action. It’s that they will build their new IT organization and architecture, and rewrite the CIO’s job description, upon a shaky assumption:  the future is sure to be flat, connected and tech-enabled.

Read more… 

 

 

Revealed: The jobs that will be wiped out by cloud computing

Tech Republic 

As businesses switch to cloud computing demand for some traditional IT roles will plummet – but new, different jobs will be created instead. Tech industry experts are predicting that demand for certain tech roles will dramatically decline over the next decade as organisations switch to cloud computing. By 2020 the majority of organisations will rely on the cloud for more than half of their IT services, according to Gartner’s 2011 CIO Agenda Survey.

After organisations have switched to the cloud the number of staff needed to manage and provision individual pieces of IT infrastructure – the likes of networks, storage and servers – can be scaled back, as much of the virtualised infrastructure that cloud is built upon can be automated. The upshot will be whereas 70 per cent of IT resources are devoted to operating IT infrastructure today, by 2020 just 35 per cent of resources will be used in operations, according to the Gartner report New Skills for the New IT.

Read more… 

The Truth About Cloud Economics

The Harvard Business Review 

The financial reasons for the huge growth of cloud services seem crystal clear: cloud computing simply allows us to pay for what we need only when we need it, right?

But the truth is, companies adopting cloud computing often miss the risk and depth of change needed to embrace a cloud economics model as they embrace cloud services. It turns out that the financial model for cloud computing has far more nuances for both a company and its cloud services provider than many people understand up front.

Read more…