It is critical for an organization to understand the true drivers of their business. Only through this knowledge can realistic strategic goals be set. Thoughts by Chris Colvin, senior BI solutions architect for Avanade.
Mark Learning, vice president of the Online Services group with Avanade, discusses SaaS research results with Michael Vizard.
The past decade has brought many new tools and technologies to data centers, some of which can revolutionize an organization’s effectiveness and profitability, but some of the biggest gains remain to be had from the simplest back-to-basics concepts. Steve Fink, director of the infrastructure service line at Avanade provides strategic counsel.
Paul Miller sits down with Ace Swerling, Avanade’s Senior Director for Enterprise Security, to discuss how the enterprise is transitioning to cloud and associated concerns with security.
This list compiled by DynamicsWorld is intended to provoke thought and reward those that have achieved something extraordinary within Microsoft Dynamics. The list recognizes #8 Adam Warby, CEO, for creating a true tier one ERP company. Other Avanade professionals listed are: #39 Matt Parks and #65 Patrik Dannehall.
Tom Jowitt chats with Toby Velte, Business Development Director, how Avanade assists organisations looking to measure the ROI (return on investment) that can be achieved when optimising their data centres.
Markus Sprenger, Global BI Director, provides two key steps for making enterprise sustainability efforts part of a larger performance management process.
Microsoft has kicked off a research project to create software that will take over when it retires Windows.
Called Midori, the cut-down operating system is radically different to Microsoft's older programs. It is centred on the internet and does away with the dependencies that tie Windows to a single PC. It is seen as Microsoft's answer to rivals' use of "virtualisation" as a way to solve many of the problems of modern-day computing.
Although Midori has been heard about before now, more details have now been published by Software Development Times after viewing internal Microsoft documents describing the technology. Midori is believed to be under development because Windows is unlikely to be able to cope with the pace of change in future technology and the way people use it. Windows worked well in an age when most people used one machine to do all their work. The operating system acted as the holder for the common elements Windows programs needed to call on.
"If you think about how an operating system is loaded," said Dave Austin, European director of products at Citrix, "it's loaded onto a hard disk physically located on that machine. "The operating system is tied very tightly to that hardware," he said. That, he said, created all kinds of dependencies that arose out of the collection of hardware in a particular machine. This means, he said, that Windows can struggle with more modern ways of working in which people are very mobile and very promiscuous in the devices they use to get at their data - be that pictures, spreadsheets or e-mail.
Equally, he said, when people worked or played now, they did it using a combination of data and processes held locally or in any of a number of other places online. When asked about Midori by BBC News, Microsoft issued a statement that said: "Midori is one of many incubation projects underway at Microsoft. It's simply a matter of being too early in the incubation to talk about it."
Midori is widely seen as an ambitious attempt by Microsoft to catch up on the work on virtualisation being undertaken in the wider computer industry.
Darren Brown, data centre lead at consulting firm Avanade, said virtualisation had first established itself in data centres among companies with huge numbers of servers to manage.
Putting applications, such as an e-mail engine or a database, on one machine brought up all kinds of problems when those machines had to undergo maintenance, needed updating or required a security patch to be applied.
By putting virtual servers on one physical box, companies had been able to shrink the numbers of machines they managed and get more out of them, he said.
"The real savings are around physical management of the devices and associated licensing," he said. "Physically, there is less tin to manage”.
Equally, said Mr Brown, if one physical server failed the virtualised application could easily be moved to a separate machine.
"The same benefits apply to the PC," he said. "Within the Microsoft environment, we have struggled for years with applications that are written so poorly that they will not work with others.
"Virtualising this gives you a couple of new ways to tackle those traditional problems," he said.
Many companies were still using very old applications that existing operating systems would not run, he said. By putting a virtual machine on a PC, those older programs can be kept going.
A virtual machine, like its name implies, is a software copy of a computer complete with operating system and associated programs.
"On the desktop we are seeing people place great value in being able to abstract the desktop from actual physical hardware," said Dan Chu, vice president of emerging products and markets at virtualisation specialist VMWare.
Some virtual machines, he said, acted like Windows PCs to all intents and purposes. But many virtual machines were now emerging that were tuned for a particular industry, sector or job.
"People take their application, the operating system they want to run it against, package it up along with policy and security they want and use that as a virtual client," he said.
In such virtual machines, the core of the operating system can be very small and easy to transfer to different devices. This, many believe, is the idea behind Midori - to create a lightweight portable operating system that can easily be mated to many different applications.
Microsoft's licensing terms for Windows currently prohibited it acting this way within a virtual appliance, said Mr Chu.
Michael Silver, research vice president at Gartner, said the development of Midori was a sensible step for Microsoft.
"The value of Microsoft Windows, of what that product is today, will diminish as more applications move to the web and Microsoft needs to edge out in front of that," he said.
"I would be surprised if there was definitive evidence that nothing like this was not kicking around," he said.
The big problem that Microsoft faced in doing away with Windows, he said, was how to re-make its business to cope.
"Eighty percent of Windows sales are made when a new PC is sold," he said. "That's a huge amount of money for them that they do not have to go out and get.
"If Windows ends up being less important over time as applications become more OS agnostic where will Microsoft make its money?" he asked.
Watchers say new roles and COO intimacy needed
At least some CIOs are optimistic that their fire-fighting days are going to be reduced. A survey by Coleman-Parkes Research, conducted on behalf of Avanade, found that IT bosses expect to spend 14 per cent of their time on crisis management in three years’ time compared to 26 per cent three years ago.
Based on the responses of 56 senior IT managers in the UK, that finding might in part be explained by the fact that most respondents also expect to invest more in outsourcing over the next few years, thereby potentially reducing their personal burdens.
In some areas the increase in outsourcer usage is expected to be significant: helpdesk activity is forecast to rise from affecting 33 per cent today to 55 per cent of respondents; collaboration to go from 27 to 47 per cent; process definition from 19 to 36 per cent; and customer management from 23 to 39 per cent.
Another possible reason for the hopes of reduced time spend on crises is broad expectation of devolved decision making on technology purchasing and strategy. Only 13 per cent of the IT spend justification will lie ‘nearly always with the IT function’ in three years, compared to 23 per cent three years ago, according to a poll of the CIos and an equal number of UK business unit heads. Initiation of IT projects is also following the same route away from direct IT control and towards user departments, the survey said.
Avanade’s incoming CTO Michael Paulson, formerly head of architecture and CTO of HBOS retail operations, also predicted that spiraling numbers of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server installations and other collaboration systems could lead to problems of storage, locating domain experts an “information overload”.
“There is a convergence of technologies to underpin devices (such as smartphones) and collaboration technologies to enable new ways of working,” he said.
“You really want to think of it as a step change beyond email. There’s a real desire for liberation in the workplace and that’s going to lead to some issues.”
The issue could lead to a change in job specs, he predicted. “Different people have to connect in different ways and a whole new problem is bubbling under,” he said.
“There’s a whole new control and cost challenge and that’s going to need a new type of IT specialist, an enterprise collaboration architect who pulls together all these different things. A whole new skill set has to emerge.”
Gavin Williams, Avanade Europe infrastructure director, brushed off suggestions that the “SharePoint revolution” was merely a re-enactment of the early 1990s when viral deployments of Lotus Notes and the emergence of business email into the mainstream led to a spate of large firms appointing chief knowledge officers, or CKOs.
“The velocity of change is faster,” Williams argued. “With Notes, you still had a need to have developer licences to go off-piste.”
Paulson suggested that the need for collaboration specialists is closely related to other changes in IT leadership.
“Collaboration is a COO issue and there’s a really strong alignment between the CIO and the COO,” he said. “You’re getting to the point where a COO needs to have CIO lieutenants. The mantra used to be ‘better, cheaper, faster’ but it’s subtly changed to ‘get more from less’.”
A Q&A with Larry LeSueur, VP Infrastructure and Security. He has worked very closely with Microsoft on Vista, among a range of technologies. He talked to Reach about the advantages to be gained from implementation of the solution.
Retailer outsources as part of savings plan
Whatever happens in the courtroom, the writing is already on the screen for the BlackBerry.