Why 2015 won’t be the year of software-defined everything

With the technical and market parameters of SDE still taking shape, CIOs are in no rush to adopt, despite the hype going into overdrive.

Just as everybody starts getting comfortable with the once derided term “cloud”, the IT industry marketing machine foists a new one on us.

And although “software-defined everything” (SDE) heralds a return to the tried-and-tested three-letter acronym (TLA) formula, its precise meaning to many CIOs is as nebulous as its more descriptive predecessor used to be.

Like cloud before it, SDE is being used as a catch-all term for all the latest technologies and approaches that promise to take us to that long-touted nirvana of true IT flexibility and agility through advances in virtualisation.

Clearly, it’s a vital approach for the giant cloud operators and providers looking to build out vast, scalable datacentres with industrial scale and efficiency. Indeed, it’s from developments like Facebook’s Open Compute Project (an initiative to drive standardisation and automation right through the datacentre) that SDE has largely taken its cue. But does the approach really translate to enterprises more broadly, and if so is now the time to be doing something about it?

While cloud has today largely come to mean a way of easily spinning up virtual servers, processing power and storage – and the services and applications hosted on them – SDE refers to the idea of virtualising everything in the datacentreand beyond, from compute and storage to networks and devices. This is meant to give IT departments the capability to automate all their IT provisioning and management entirely through software, using standard commodity hardware that will effectively become invisible to them. Finally, we’re told, CIOs will be able to focus wholly on delivering a fast, efficient, fully scalable IT service to their organisations without the inevitable bottlenecks of integration and manual configuration commonly encountered with today’s public and private clouds.

Some analysts are bullish. IDC predicts the market for software-defined networking (SDN) alone will grow from less than $1bn in 2014 to $3.7bn by 2016 and $8bn by 2018. Gartner claims that by 2017 more than half of all enterprises will have adopted an architectural approach similar to that of the cloud giants. Frost & Sullivan, meanwhile, says the hypergrowth starts here – at least in Asia-Pacific. “2015 is seen to be the year of SDE as the software-defined revolution spreads beyond the boundaries of the datacentre,” the analyst recently predicted.

Read more at: Compuerweekly.com Why 2015 won’t be the year of software-defined everything by Jim Mortleman

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Cloud computing economics

Cloud computing economics defy easy calculations. This issue of ‘CIO Decisions’ e-zine explores how to put a dollar amount on the benefits and drawbacks of cloud.

If you’ve got your head in the clouds — or, more accurately, your enterprise’s IT infrastructure in the cloud — then you’ve probably already done a lot of thinking about cloud computing economics, or the costs involved with moving your It operations off-site. Like any good student, you’ve probably calculated the millions you could save in labor costs and capital investment, and balanced that against the potential downsides, such as a data breach in the cloud, which could land you in some pretty hot water with your clients, customers or even the government.

As SearchCIO Features Writer Kristen Lee explains in this issue of CIO Decisions, cloud computing economics are complicated no matter how much homework you do, and formulas breaking down the costs of in-house infrastructure vs. cloud services aren’t cut and dry when security is involved.

“It’s always perception that we’re battling, right?” says Cynthia Nustad, CIO at Health Management Systems Inc., who says data is her organization’s life blood but also potentially its downfall if not properly stored. “If a client perceives for any reason that there’s less security, it’s not worth the hassle to try to dissuade them, because it’s always going to be a ‘gotcha’ if something does go bump in the night, God forbid.”

How much is it worth to Nustad — or any CIO — to have that data at the ready and under the enterprise’s roof 100% of the time? How many dollars is the cloud worth if therein lies the potential to unlock new areas of business and reshape enterprise operations? Those are the kinds of unanswerable questions that drive cloud computing economics, but the practitioners and analysts in this issue give you the best possible chance of moving to the head of the class.

Download the Cloud Computing Economics Infographic

Source: TechTarget-Cloud computing economics by Rachel Lebeaux

Break me if you can: 4 rugged tablets put to the test

It’s a cruel world out there for tablets: Every day, there’s the possibility they will be dropped, knocked, spilled on or just shaken around. And that’s just in a normal business day — if you use your tablet outdoors, while traveling or in a work zone, the odds of a disaster go up precipitously.

In its report Mobile Device TCO Models for Line of Business Solutions, VDC Research estimates that the failure rate for conventional tablets in the workplace is 18% per year. That translates into roughly one in five systems failing at work each year.

“Unless you want to treat tablets as disposable, this failure rate should be unacceptable for businesses today,” observes David Krebs, executive vice president at VDC Research. “By contrast, rugged tablets have been built for business use and have a 4% failure rate.”

Rugged tablets offer reinforced frames, tough skins, watertight seals, hardened glass, soft corner bumpers and major components that are shock-mounted. In other words, if ordinary consumer tablets can be considered sports (or economy) cars, rugged tablets are tanks.

To see what the current state of the art is for rugged tablets, I gathered together three of the newest Windows-based worker-proof slates: the Mobile Demand xTablet Flex 10, the Getac F110 and the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-G1. I also tried out Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Active, a reinforced Android tablet.

Read more at: Computerworld-Break me if you can: 4 rugged tablets put to the test by By Brian Nadel  

Directors Ignore Cybersecurity Risks At Their Peril

The recent barrage of high-profile corporate cyberattacks demonstrates that cybersecurity weaknesses pose a serious corporate threat that can inflict tremendous costs on businesses.

Cybercrime costs the world economy an estimated $400 billion each year, and losses to U.S. companies account for more than 25 percent of this global total, according toa report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

No business with a digital presence is immune to cybersecurity risks, which include:

  • Reputational damage and loss of goodwill
  • Penalties for non-compliance with data privacy regulations
  • Litigation risks, including consumer class actions and shareholder derivative litigation, among others
  • Lack of appropriate insurance coverage for cybersecurity incidents

The recent attack on Sony Pictures and the devastating impact it has had on Sony’s operations provide a frightening example of the risk facing all businesses, even those that might believe themselves to be unlikely targets. As SEC Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar recently noted: “boards that choose to ignore, or minimize, the importance of cybersecurity oversight responsibility, do so at their own peril.”

Our view

It would be unreasonable to expect all corporate directors to be adept at the highly-technical aspects of information security. At the same time, directors’ fiduciary duties to oversee the company’s affairs and monitor risk extend to cybersecurity.

The following steps should provide a framework to ease this tension.

  1. Designate Cybersecurity Point People and Obtain Adequate Expert Support
  2. Proactively Asses Cybersecurity Weaknesses
  3. Develop and Practice a Data Breach Response Plan
  4. Establish a Clear Chain of Command
  5. Reevaluate Insurance Coverage
  6. Continuously Monitor Business Practices and Risks

Read more at: Mondaq-Directors Ignore Cybersecurity Risks At Their Peril  by John C. Vázquez and Peter J. Isajiw

Massive IT Transformation at AstraZeneca

Dave Smoley, CIO of AstraZeneca, uses a five pillar approach

When Dave Smoley joined AstraZeneca as CIO in 2013, he found – as so many CIOs do when they walk in the door – that IT cost too much and delivered too little. So he developed a mantra: We want to be twice as good for half the cost.

But transforming an IT organization of more than 2100 people serving a pharmaceutical company of more than $26B in revenue takes more than a mantra; it takes a well-thought out, well-executed plan. Smoley chose a five pillar approach, which hinged on a dramatic change to his sourcing model. “We are repositioning IT as a competitive advantage for AstraZeneca,” says Smoley. “These five pillars revolve around shifting the work from outside the company to inside the company. We are focused on delivering life changing medicines, but to do this we also need to be in the business of implementing world-class technology. We need to develop that capability in-house.

Five Pillars of IT Transformation

  1. Focus on the customer
  2. Deliver operational excellence
  3. Lead through technology
  4. Simplify
  5. Collaborate

Read more at: Computerweekly-Massive IT Transformation at AstraZeneca By Martha Heller

Gartner: CIOs boost spending on sci-fi technologies

CIOs in the UK and Ireland are expected to increase their spending by 1.4% in 2015, fuelled by the economic recovery, according to research company Gartner.

Technologies related to the internet of things (IoT), robotics and 3D printing are among the big areas of investment.
Gartner’s research found that 10% of CIOs have already deployed IoT.

“A lot of science fiction is becoming real investment, such as 3D printing,” said Gartner analyst Lee Weldon.

Gartner estimated that 5% of CIOs have already deployed 3D printing, while 9% of UK and Irish CIOs are implementing new forms of robotics. This is higher than the global average.

In 2015, the technologies attracting the highest level of investments will be analytics and cloud computing. According to Weldon, of the CIOs who said their organisations were developing new software, 21% were considering hosting these in the cloud as their first choice.

“After years of cost-cutting, strategic investment in information and technology is returning,” said Weldon.

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He said companies are looking to drive business growth in new areas, pointing to widespread interest in technology trends such as cloud, mobility, IoT and digitisation.

CEOs recognise that growth often comes through technology innovation, according to Gartner’s research. “There is more investment from the business in technology,” said Weldon.

This year, spending on digital technology moved up three places to third priority, behind analytics and cloud but ahead of datacentre and infrastructure spending.

Gartner urged CIOs to spend the majority of their time working with areas of the business outside IT to ensure that the value of information and technology is understood and the right investments are made.

In 2015, leading CIOs will spend less than 40% of their time running the IT organisation, choosing instead to spend time with other CxOs (27% of their time), business unit leaders (18% of their time) and external customers (16% of their time).

Surce: Computerweekly-Gartner: CIOs boost spending on sci-fi technologies by Cliff Saran

Getting Serious About Cybersecurity

Hack attacks have been in the news for a while. But the most recent headlines seem to indicate that hackers are far outpacing security efforts to contain them.

In the last week, we have learned that a major health insurer was compromised, possibly exposing the data of 80 million health accounts. Data relating to medical patients is very sensitive, and the number 80 million is staggering in scope. And there have been indications that other health insurers might be vulnerable, meaning that 2015 could be the year of health insurance hacks.

On top of that, we just learned that “Anonymous” hackers have attacked the website of the President of the European Parliament. So, this tells us that not only is medical information unsafe, but government officials are not able to protect themselves from hackers.

In this troubling climate, our White House has just announced its intention to create a new agency referred to as the Cyber Threat Intelligence Integration Center. The purpose of the Center is to share intelligence across agencies to thwart cyberattacks.

At first blush, this may sound like a positive development. But on further reflection, one may question why such sharing and governmental coordination has not happened to date, especially given that successful hacks and cyberattacks have been public knowledge for years.

Fortunately, we have not witnessed a true national catastrophe resulting from a major cyberattack crippling any one of a number of our country’s mission critical systems. That, however, should not lead us into continued complacency.

Significant dedication of resources in terms of skilled personnel, creative brain power, and serious funding are required in an attempt to catch up and then get of ahead of the curve when it comes to potential Internet crime, terrorism and warfare.

Source: Mondaq-Getting Serious About Cybersecurity  by Eric J. Sinrod

Chief innovation officers need friends in high places

Hyatt, Merck and Nestlé Purina execs explain their business processes for innovation and detail why backing from on high is important.

Innovation has become a fixture of the C-suite agenda as stories of innovation labs, digital disruption and failure funerals become commonplace. But the dirty little secret about innovation is this: Cultural transformation — from business-as-usual to something much more experimental — can take years, if it happens at all.

In some cases, established organizations are hiring executives to lead the innovation charge. These chiefs of innovation are often tasked with shaking up the culture by ushering out the old way of doing things and introducing new processes, products and business models. They aren’t, in other words, getting their hands dirty with legacy technology or information management systems, but they are taking on what many executives — IT leaders included — consider to be a tough assignment: change management.

Jeff Semenchuk of Hyatt Hotels, Srikant Gopal formerly of Nestlé Purina and Cathryn Gunther of Merck are three examples of innovation leaders. Each is working to build an innovation culture within well-established companies in an effort to combat the Ubers of their industries and remain competitive. And they’ve learned a thing or two along the way, like this little nugget for the innovation uninitiated: Innovation is a spectrum that ranges from incremental improvements for established products or processes, to complete transformation or disruption of a business model.

At December’s Chief Innovation Officer Summit in New York City, each of these leaders shared insights on how they are injecting innovation into their workplaces.

Read more at: TechTarget-Chief innovation officers need friends in high places by Nicole Laskowski

Windows 10 and Office Preview: Notebooks are the Future

It was obvious from the earliest preview Microsoft built Windows 10 for notebooks. Microsoft’s move away from the brash Start screen to a more desktop-focused UI lends itself to an operating system that may be called Windows 10, but functionally straddles the line right between Windows 7 and Windows 8.

Windows 10 logoAnd it’s as well it should, at least by market standards. Microsoft developed Windows 8 at time it needed a viable tablet strategy, a time when notebook sales were tanking and tablet sales were taking off. That has since changed, with notebook sales potentially rebounding in 2015 according to Gartner, buoyed by high-end 2-in-1s like the Surface Pro 3. Meanwhile strict tablets declined in Q4 2014 by 3.2%, according to IDC. It’s the first time that’s happened since 2010.

With its latest Windows 10 update, Microsoft looked to assuage tablet users that its next OS will in fact be suitable for tablets through a previously-mentioned featured dubbed Continuum that adapted Windows 10 for touch. In previewing the update for TabletPCReview, it’s clear that Windows 10 will be a tablet-friendly OS, rather than a tablet-focused OS, like Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

Read more at: Windows 10 and Office Preview: Notebooks are the Future