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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Stop Starting With Technology

AUTHOR:  Arron Lock

I recently presented onstage at the Enterprise Mobility: BYOD event here in London with a couple of respected peers in the industry from Airwatch and Swivel as well as a VMware colleague. After taking questions from the audience around security for BYOD, my main takeaway from the event and in particular this session is that there is still a lot of confusion around mobility in general. In fact, mobility is becoming a catch-all phrase for end-user computing (EUC) transformation.

It’s amazing how quickly the line between BYOD and enterprise mobility (EM) became blurred. A number of people in the audience had deployed some form of BYOD (most for smartphones) to enable employees to get access to email and calendar. But others, typically with a higher level of risk associated with externalising email, were struggling with the business case.

But BYOD is only one aspect of mobility. The main benefit from enabling users to become more mobile is realised when you mobilise the business workflow that they are part of. This started off as email for executives—with their exec toys such as tablets or the latest smartphone—an obvious use case. But when a business is looking holistically at mobility, there are many other opportunities such as enabling field engineers or the sales force to be more productive. So, the important message that I stressed to my audience wasn’t about technology or security, but rather to ensure they establish the business justification for doing this work before jumping in with both feet.

It’s paramount to gather the business requirements first, by engaging the business stakeholders to understand their needs. I recently helped an IT director of a large multinational company interpret the corporate strategy to collaborate with industry partners. I took the IT team and line-of-business stakeholders through a defined process of the steps required to build out a highly agile externalisation platform. Now they have users accessing the platform from any device and any location—24/7—and they manage everything from the centre since the devices are unknown to them. It’s like BYOD to an extent, but tied to a major business initiative and nothing to do with smartphones.

As with this example, the most successful IT projects are those linked to business outcomes. The EUC space has long been at the unfortunate end of the IT spectrum in that it provides the general tools and services that employees expect to use on a day-to-day basis, yet the solutions do not appear to deliver direct value to the business.

So where did I begin with the before-mentioned IT organisation? First, I got my client to stop starting with technology, which in my experience is often the root cause of an IT project’s failure—deploying technology without considering the “why.” 
Here’s how I approached this project and others like it with my clients:

  1. Set a clear and simple mission statement with your business stakeholders.
  2. Kick off with a discovery workshop with the key stakeholders from IT and the business.
  3. Capture the business requirements in a clear and concise format, under the following headings:
    – User Experience
    – Security
    – Application Delivery
    – Performance, Availability and Scalability
    – Service Wrapper
  4. Use the MoSCoW model or similar to help set priorities.
  5. Review your findings regularly with key stakeholders.

Once this series of steps is complete, I find that my clients are in a good place to communicate internally to key stakeholders as well as externally to potential vendors of technology solutions—communication that paves the way to move forward to build out the business case and functional and technical designs for the solution.


Arron Lock is an EUC business solutions architect with Accelerate Advisory Services and based in the UK. Follow him on Twitter @arron_lock

RELATED: To learn more about the trends in mobile adoption and how IT is adapting, read the Mobile Rebels research report. This VMware-commissioned study provides insight to the pressures European businesses are facing and reveals just how dependent employees have become on their mobile devices.

5 Ways to Make Your Big Data Strategy Reap Big Business Value

AUTHOR: Derek Lacks

How does the intersection of two huge opportunities—cloud computing and big data—impact data strategies, and how does the IT organization take advantage of them to create business value?

As an Accelerate strategist, I define actionable strategies within organizations aimed at accelerating the maturity and business impact of virtualization and cloud initiatives.  Many of the executives I work with are finding themselves at the intersection of two mega opportunities facing their organizations—cloud computing and big data.

To ensure common vernacular, “cloud computing” refers to an IT approach that allows the abstraction of computing workloads, so that they can be run across multiple environments based on organizational requirements (private, hybrid, or public clouds).  This is made possible by decoupling the data and software from the servers and storage systems running them, which enables IT resources to be dynamically allocated and delivered as services (as in infrastructure-as-a-service, platform-as-a-service, storage-as-a-service solutions, and so forth).

In the realm of data, cloud computing allows organizations to think outside the traditional data center constructs, which limit capabilities based upon finite capacity. Cloud computing provides the elasticity and flexibility to spin up or down compute capacity based upon the needs of the business. Now it’s possible to build applications that exceed the limits of existing compute power without worrying about significant CapEx investments to meet the demands of future applications.

But what about big data? Forrester Research defines big data as techniques and technologies that make capturing value from data at an extreme scale economical and estimates that we will exceed 2.7 zettabytes (equivalent of 27 million terrabytes) of global digital data this year.[1] The key difference between big data and our traditional analytics strategy is that the investments required to support the variety, volume, and velocity of today’s data available was previously prohibitive.

Big data strategies provide us with the means to collect and analyze this data in a way that is flexible and cost-effective. While many hear “big data” and think of the challenges of managing it, I prefer to focus on the opportunity to turn this growing data stream into business value.

The technologies—including applications and data platform—to leverage this new paradigm are still being created, but it’s inevitable that they will depend on integration with cloud computing.

The question is, how will these two topics impact your data strategy? Here are five best practices that I believe can help accelerate your journey:

  1. Build your application with tomorrow in mind – Big data offers significant benefits but is dependent on building applications that can leverage the key tenants of cloud computing.
  2. Strive to retain flexibility – Cloud and big data strategies need to be examined in concert with significant attention focused on maximizing elasticity and portability of workloads.
  3. All data is in scope – Big data is about extracting insight from the full body of organizational data versus the typical 10 percent that resides within your relational database management system (RDBMS).
  4. Staff for success  – Be aggressive in building data scientist capabilities, as this will be a critical requirement in driving your big data strategy.
  5. Don’t be afraid to start small – Leverage the expertise of early leaders such as Pivotal that can provide your efforts a jump-start by exposing you to the art of the possible.

Derek Lacks is a strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services based in Massachusetts.

[1] Forbes.com: Big Data Meets Cloud, Holger Kisker, Ph.D.

An SDDC Helps IT and Marketing Meet in the Middle

AUTHOR: Enrico Boverino

Companies need to deploy a modern workplace and innovative infrastructure in order to digitize business processes, and that often calls for organizational and financial shifts in both the IT and marketing departments. Can a software-defined data center (SDDC)—which at first glance may appear to be purely a technology strategy—help CIOs and CMOs work together to deliver competitive business innovation while reducing budgets? I believe so.

A standard definition of digital services is difficult to nail down, but I found this one helpful: A digital service is one that has been entirely automated and which is controlled by the customer of the service. This describes a wide swath of new applications, personalized services, social interaction, and data analysis that might also include digital marketing initiatives. In this context, CIOs are now expected to show the business results of technology investments, and CMOs are also increasingly open to spending budgets outside traditional marketing in order to reach new users.

Different goals, complementary skills
In general, CMOs know about product placement, go to market, and new customer demands; they also have to protect the business from surprises like new competitors and disruptive business models. Increasingly, time is a precious commodity, as emphasis shifts to short product lifecycles to test new markets and services.

CIOs typically have a great understanding of corporate business processes, information security, and available resources. They are skilled at scouting new technology and solutions with a focus on expenditures and new areas of savings. It seems obvious that enabling greater coordination between these two worlds will lead to a more competitive, robust, and agile organization. But how?

It’s interesting to see how both goals and approaches of the two departments diverge in my engagements with customers— it tends to look like this:

Despite the best intentions to collaborate for mutual advantage and company-wide success, challenges quickly surface when we lay out each department’s specific objectives in an organizational matrix, especially when it comes to personal MBOs.

How can a software-defined data center help?

Having the ability to exploit a unified data center platform that provides new standards for automation, flexibility, and efficiency can bridge the different perspectives. In an SDDC, the compute, storage, networking, security, and availability services are pooled, aggregated, and delivered as intelligent, policy-driven software. Other key components include self-service, financial visibility, and policy-based provisioning for infrastructure and application. This provides business users with faster deployment and more reliable access to differentiating technology tools.

When CIO and CMO strategies are joined, it’s important to highlight the impacts an SDDC will have on efficiency (cost control), agility (revenue contribution), and reliability (quality of service and risk mitigation). The impacts of an SDDC adoption,  together the priorities associated with the opportunities CMOs and CIOs are striving to take advantage of, will help to define and exploit personalized roadmaps.

When we consider impacts on agility, an SDDC implementation has three capabilities that can facilitate conversation between the CMO and CIO:

  1. Abstraction of applications from the underlying infrastructure enables true self- and automated provisioning of services, overcoming manual steps and the wait time that exists when multiple siloed IT groups need to communicate.
  2. The policy-based automation of pre-configured applications can simplify the processes related to the rework, which are often required to change configurations, or distribution of systems geographically.
  3. Governance and brokerage of public cloud services from IaaS to SaaS, which can also provide agility-related benefits such as lower costs and time to market, but must be evaluated and in many cases integrated within existing processes.

Over the past two years, I have helped many customers gain visibility and insights into their current level of maturity using a software-defined reference framework. Capturing meaningful KPIs helps to build an executable roadmap that aligns with user demand and provides the ability to measure improvement over time.

For example, the impact on agility described earlier can be measured through metrics that include:

  • Revenue generated by new services
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Percent of workload offloaded to hybrid clouds
  • Percent of requests fulfilled via self-service and standard catalog
  • Time to provision additional capacity

Using their results to determine action plans needed to improve these metrics, CMOs and CIOs can decide which capability to address first and which marketing/IT joint investments will lead to the most beneficial business outcomes within the shortest amount of time.


Enrico Boverino is senior business solution strategist for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services based in Italy. You can follow him on Twitter at @eboverino.

The 4 Components of a Service-Focused Culture

Author: Alex Salicrup

I have made bold observations in my recent blogs about the need for a cultural shift to that of a service-driven culture. This is a culture with a strong focus on customer needs, customer services, and meeting deadlines. This type of culture also allows the IT organization to scale and adapt to changing business needs rather than rigidly following old strategies. Although a cultural shift like this might seem an insurmountable task, I’ve seen it occur—and faster than you might think.

Here are the four components of a strong service-focused culture, according to my experience with today’s successful IT organizations:

  1. Strategic vision: IT must have a strong strategic vision that is anchored to the broader business goals. Short-, near- and long-term success criteria should be clearly defined and routinely reviewed by the full spectrum of stakeholders.
  2. Vision translation: The executive and director-level managers still need to disseminate the strategic vision to IT staff but should work hand-in-hand with service owners. Together they present a far more efficient method for evangelizing the strategic vision and leading a service lifecycle management process that keeps functional groups focused on internal deliverables as well as the interdependent needs of other groups.
  3. Strategic framework: The service owner is a key role, but he is like an orchestra conductor—he needs to have the sheet music from which to direct the many individual musicians. The strategic framework is that sheet music. This framework should outline the operational readiness of IT and prioritize the work streams necessary to deliver on the IT strategy and services. This is also an opportunity to establish a roadmap to the desired service capability maturity level.
  4. Risk: IT organizations tend to mitigate most risk within their sphere of control. They are uneasy asking other business groups to mitigate risks, even though these groups may be better positioned to do so. It is a wasted opportunity to have a great service-driven strategy if the business areas that IT depends on can’t catch up. This is where a strategic vision that is tied to a business-wide strategy can help, by clarifying which business functions are best suited to assess specific risks and giving them an outline for doing so.

Of course, no single plan will cover every IT organization’s needs, but this will present a good place to start a conversation. When I’m called in to help an organization with establishing a service-driven strategy, I start by establishing the end-state vision with the executive representatives for the organization, and then assess the operational capabilities of the business to deliver on that vision. The assessment then allows the IT organization to create a strategic framework by which the areas of improvement can be prioritized and remediation can be executed. This process has proven to expedite the journey of organizations in reaching service-driven capabilities.

Alex Salicrup is a business solutions architect for VMware Accelerate Advisory Services

Is Your Organization Ready for the New Wave of IT?

While most IT organizations have a high-level vision for their end-state cloud, and they have the people needed to implement the technology, many are missing the strategy to connect the two. What do you execute, at what stage, and how do the people and processes need to change to support that? The video below provides a strong starting point.

Don’t miss Accelerate Advisory Services strategist Padmaja Vrudhula’s great explanation of a service-based approach to change management. She provides tangible examples of how IT executives can shift the way they classify services and personnel roles to support the move to IT as a service.

Padmaja Vrudhula is a strategist with VMware Accelerate Advisory Services, based in Washington.