In addition to the Unified Communications coverage I also participated in research around IT Operations management software. I contributed a write-up of a small innovative Boston area company Centerity, who provides unified monitoring technology. The simplicity and focus of organizations to simplify and reduce the cost of availability monitoring is core to the offering, with some more advanced features and interesting collection technology for breadth of coverage (including technologies such as SAP HANA and CCMS). Centerity provides a robust product, with flexibility leveraging multiple types of data acquisition including the popular open source Nagios plugin (or check) compatibility.
Ronni Colville and Milind Govekar included the German company Arago, I have spent time with them as well, and am very impressed what they are doing in bringing automation and analytics together in order to learn the behaviors and actions of sysadmins. This differentiated approach makes a lot of sense, and customers have indicated positive results, but as with all automation work is required up front.
Ronni Colville and Milind Govekar also included Innovise a UK based automation company with a programmable and robust library meant to break down the silos of automation commonly observed within enterprises today. Innovative features include cost measurement and efficiency measurement of the automation tasks, and analytics integration with a custom developed complex event processing (CEP) engine.
Ian Head and Jeff Brooks highlighted Navvia for their service management offering with good workflow tools to model and run IT processes.
Finally Jarod Greene and Ronni Colville highlighted Vistara who offers a SaaS based unified platform covering configuration management, patch management, remote system access, and basic features including orchestration and monitoring. The product has a single user interface and views of the associated components.
Of course my brief writeups don’t touch on the depth of the research, including challenges and target persona who should evaluate these technologies as part of a IT Operations Management software strategy. Sorry the in depth research is for our subscribers:
Don’t worry we are hard at work to deliver the Cool Vendors in APM this year, we expect that to hit shortly.
In addition to my threat intelligence work, I am also updating an older GTP/Burton paper on threat assessment (see ?Threat Assessment in Dangerous Times? [GTP access required])
WTH is ?threat assessment?, apart from a subject that hardly anybody seems to care about? Is it part of risk assessment? Is it one of the threat intelligence use cases? Is it something that only 1%-ers do?
We can decompose it into reviewing the details about the threats (such as via threat actor profiles and other threat intelligence, strategic and tactical) and then assessing the relevance of the threat to our organization.
It may go like this:
Let?s try this process to see how it may be done (the example below is inspired by Austin Powers and of course this video):
Capabilities: biting, lasing, raising killer waves, causing terror
ObservedTTPs: laser beam in the eye, phishing, exfiltration via pool drain
AssociatedActors: sharks with freeze rays
Were seen in the corporate pool
Attacked a similar organization
Are known to be interested in our technology for underwater teleportation
BTW, does anybody has a full STIX threat actor profile for a shark with a fricking laser? The table above only serves as a poor man?s threat profile and threat assessment documentation. Still, given the above threat assessment, we absolutely must include ?sharks with fricking lasers? into our organization?s risk assessment!
Posts related to this research project:
In a quiet move yesterday, Amazon Web Services apparently abandoned their Elastic Compute Unit (ECU) approach to describing and selling EC2 instance types and towards a more traditional vCPU approach. This was done without any formal announcement and I wonder what effect it will have (positively or negatively) on customers.
For existing AWS customers that have grown accustomed to ECU over the course of the past years, this could be a somewhat disruptive change, especially for those at larger scale that have invested a lot of time and money optimizing instance size and horizontal scalability based on their own performance testing and analysis of which kind and how many EC2 instances they need for their use case. Initially, this may not matter much for existing deployments, but it will have an impact on scaling out or for new use cases. Bottom line ? these types of customers are pretty savvy and will find ways to adjust.
For new or prospective AWS customers, the ECU was always a gnarly concept to grasp and it took time. More traditional deployments, like those based upon VMware were always declared with vCPU. Bottom line – more traditional IT Ops admins and new AWS customers will likely welcome this move as a move toward familiarity and simplicity.
However, for all customers, there is one aspect of this that could be problematic. AWS is a massive scale cloud provider, with a wide variety mix of servers and processor architectures in existence. Therefore, two instances each with 2 vCPU will not necessarily be equivalent. One instance could reside on top of a 2012-based processor while the other could reside on top of a 2014-based processor. Many people have written about the fact that EC2 processor architecture varies across instance types and across regions, even those described as having the ?same specs?. Therefore, some savvy organizations have moved to a ?deploy and ditch? strategy whereby they deploy many instances, interrogate them all for processor architecture and then ditch all the ones that are not up to current or fastest specs.
This will further escalate an important transparency event for AWS. AWS will need to clarify the physical processor architecture strategy per instance type or instance family. As a customer, I will want to know which instance types are based on Sandy Bridge processor architectures for example ? because that tells me what a vCPU will equate to. I will want to know the processor strategy similarities/differences between an m2 and an m3 or between an m3.medium and m3.large. And if there are no differences ? I will want to know that also and have something in writing stating as such. Customers wanted this before with ECU, but ECU gave AWS a way to deflect these customer questions.
ECU was a foreign concept to grasp initially, but it did provide one benefit ? a standard of measure. Now that AWS has moved to a vCPU strategy will customers applaud this or complain? I?d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
I had a great call with an end user yesterday: they wanted to talk about how to be successful with an offshore/shared service for MDM. Apparently the client has experienced challenges with their MDM program in an offshore environment.
The key point for me here was that shared services and offshoring had nothing to do with this call. In fact the question was the wrong one! You can?t offshore ?MDM?. You cant ?do? MDM in a shared service. MDM is not a single ?thing?.
The wrong question keeps popping up since some vendors and users equate MDM with a technology, such as a data hub where master data or a single version of the truth resides. MDM is NOT a technology or a hub. It is a program, a discrete effort, that ends up in a change in the way the business operates ? and specifically ? creates and users its own (master) data. The RESULT might be a new data hub ? but it might not!
So the question SHOULD be ? what parts of the technology infrastructure can be moved into a shared service, or off shored, or even outsourced. But that is the low cost work ? the easily automated work of ?data maintenance?. That is not even the main challenge with MDM programs. The reason why so many shared service and/or off-shored MDM efforts struggle is because the governance and stewardship elements of the programs are not established in the business operations! If these more complex, more value-add efforts are adopted, then all manner of simpler processes oriented around technology can be automated and even outsourced. But pleas, stop trying to outsource the expensive brain power that comes from the business, for the business, by the business. That is where the value of MDM is derived ? not the physical data hub you want to save money on by outsourcing it.
The Masters golf tournament starts this week, and as branch users stream video, it can lead to a tradition of degraded WAN performance unlike any other. If you?re looking for ways to address recreational Internet traffic, I?ve blogged about that here.
However, when evaluating WAN performance, it makes sense to take a broader look at your overall WAN architecture, including topology, network equipment, carriers, security, etc. We are contemplating new research on architecting NextGen WANs, but in the interim here are some best practices and recommendations to get you thru many of today’s WAN challenges.
MPLS and Internet/VPN are still the dominant enterprise WAN connectivity mechanisms, and while we are seeing a gradual shift towards Internet, MPLS is certainly not dead. When selecting your WAN carrier, it is important to note that in many cases, Bandwidth Doesn’t Matter; Availability Drives Enterprise Network Costs. In addition, we have published research if you are looking for alternatives to MPLS such as VPLS or Ethernet (also here).
Now dealing with carriers has never been fun, especially when they do stuff like this. That said, there are some lesser-known practices you can follow to save some money. We have a Magic Quadrant that covers global carriers as well as Critical Capabilities research covering providers in the US and Pan-European regions. If you ultimately decide to switch carriers, we can help you with that too.
To further complicate things, increased enterprise adoption of public cloud services has significantly changed the requirements on modern WANs, and we?ve written specifically about SaaS and IaaS implications on the WAN. This has a cascading effect on security which was tedious to begin with. We have a really good primer on how to Bring Branch Office Network Security Up to the Enterprise Standard as well as How to Control Recreational Internet Traffic in Enterprise Networks. And did you know that you can even use your WAN as a defense against DDoS Attacks? You certainly can?t talk branch security without discussing customer premise equipment (CPE) such as routers or UTM equipment. While the router space is covered largely by Cisco, HP, Juniper and Adtran, there are a number of UTM players, thus we have a UTM Magic Quadrant.
If you?re looking to improve performance of applications across the WAN or reduce bandwidth you?ll want to look at WAN Optimization. We publish a Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers. Contrary to popular belief, don?t just put the leaders on your shortlist and send them an RFP; instead make sure you are picking the Right WAN Optimization Solution for Your Organization. However, if you?re on-board with WOC but can?t convince senior management, we can help you with justifying WAN Optimization. Finally, if WAN load-sharing is your pain-point there are a couple of options including
With all the media coverage of Heartbleed over the last few days it occurred to me that there has not been nearly enough coverage given to the impact of Heartbleed on web APIs, both from the perspective of a consumer and provider.
When it comes to Heartbleed’s impact on and web API’s I have to admit to having a little bit of an “I told you so” moment. On March 21st 2014 I published my Gartner research document Managing Service Dependencies in the Extended Enterprise, just 16 days days before Heartbleed was first announce on April 7. In my research I explain why and how to identify, track and manage our service dependencies in the ever more connected world of digital business.
Heartbleed is EXACTLY the kind of scenario that will leave you wishing you had a complete and consistent reference for those dependencies, whether you are a provider, consumer or both. You need to know the services are you using, the services are you providing, who is using them, what you and the other party need to do to protect yourselves and whether it has been done.
If you weren’t already on top of managing those dependencies your Heartbleed response also gives you a great opportunity to get started. As part of the fire fighting you will have to identify where you are providing or consuming services over SSL, the level of sensitivity, complete the patching, reset API keys, reset credentials, communicate to stakeholders, etc. Once the situation is under control you or your team mates should have a pretty good picture of the current state and I recommend you use that to get a jump start on cataloging (or updating) your service metadata. And if you are a Gartner for Technical Professionals subscriber there is plenty of guidance in Managing Service Dependencies in the Extended Enterprise.
By now we’ve all seen the guidance to the general public about changing passwords (once the sites have been patched), and I’ve made a concerted effort to not only reset passwords but to make them stronger and unique at the same time. This was time consuming and laborious, but I felt better for it at the end… like having a de-clutter at home.
Do the same for you API portfolio… metaphorically box them up, categorize them, label them, and know where to find the provider or consumer. Life will be much easier the next time you need to communicate an update or issue, check on the service status or deal with a global internet security threat.
If you are still patching your API service, communicating to your consumers or chasing down API providers…good luck and when it’s over take a pause and think about how to make it easier the next time.
And if you want to hear more you can join me at Gartner Catalyst 2014 in San Diego (August 11-14) where I’ll be presenting a session called “Using Public APIs : Manage the risk to reap the reward” … see I told you so!
If you have comments or experiences to share about how you are dealing with the impact of Heartbleed on your API provision or consumption please comment below or feel free to get in touch.
Digitalization is blurring the boundaries between product, service and brand experiences.
Take Gartner?s Nexus of Forces?the collision of cloud, social, mobile and big data?and smash it together with the forces of change in both behavior and expectations occurring in consumer markets today. The result is a brave new world that spins on the axis of digitally-led customer experience.
Today, digital natives in particular, live in that constantly connected parallel world vaguely situated between physical and virtual spaces. It perhaps goes without saying that living astride these two universes rewires your brain in substantial ways, creating a new lens on the world and an orientation to a wholly different set of guideposts on the path to purchase.
Digital natives see these two worlds as one, a blended and blurred experience undivided by atoms and bits. They expect your brand to be native, too, or at a least naturalized citizen of this merged universe. Here, physical and virtual worlds are expected to give way to seamless ensemble experiences.
Digital natives expect you to hide the seams between online and offline channels, creating memorable branded moments that delight through convenience, utility, and, frankly, exceptional design.
This last requirement may sound like a superficial party to the list, but the expectation for thoughtful design and visually rich experiences is no longer the province of the finicky digital aesthete. In no small part, Steve Jobs has contributed to the democratization of design appreciation, if not design thinking.
This brings me to the point I want to make here, which is that in an age of abundant choice and hyper-competition, it?s often the experiences that set your brand apart. Gone are sustainable product and service advantages. In their place is a promise to delight at each and every branded moment. Often, these experiences are digitally led.
But simply delighting for its own sake, in the service of goodwill or some other off-the-books advantage isn?t what I?m talking about here. What I mean is customer experience as an operational discipline.
How do you make digitally-led customer experience a discipline that delivers scalable and predictable value to your business? That?s the question I?ll riff on over coming weeks.
In the meantime, I?d like to leave you with a rough model for thinking about the operational dimensions of customer experience.
More soon. In the meantime, please feel free to leave your reactions here.
It?s was a busy Monday in social media, especially for brands like American Airlines who faced a Twitter threat from a teen and US Airways who committed a social marketing faux pas by sharing an inappropriate image on Twitter. And while it?s easy to sit back, poke fun and pass judgment, the job of a Social Media Manager or Community Manager is wrought with peril. Social marketing, even for large brands, is often managed by a small team or a single individual, responsible for content, approvals, posting and interacting with fans and followers, all real time (also known as break-neck speed).
Sure, digital marketers should invest in content management tools, social listening software, and social media management platforms to streamline these processes. But the reality is many companies don?t invest in the right technology (or any technology at all). Even if all of the proper tools and talent is in place to minimize the risks, a human is still responsible for plugging in inputs, overseeing outputs, or pulling the trigger on a post or tweet. And with human beings comes human frailty, which is seldom more evident than when a Community Manager shares something they should have deleted.
Here are ten things that Social Media Managers or Community Managers can quickly look for before posting or sharing social media content:
Use these ten things as a quick, mental checklist before you hit post or send. Feel free to print it, pass it around and post it in your workstation. But do something to take yourself and your social marketing off of auto pilot. Even if you have tools and technology at your disposal and a team of social media gurus to do your bidding, remember we?re all one slip away from our own very busy Monday in social media. In addition to these tips, what techniques do you use to manage social marketing at scale and speed?
I’ve long been a believer in simplifying your story and finding the 2 or 3 things that matter most, emphasizing those and leaving the rest for more interactive discussions (e.g. when responding to questions from your prospect). When I bring this up, most people generally agree that it is a good thing, but I still regularly see things like:
All that extra stuff may be just wasted words—and there is research to prove it. Last week I was reading a blog post on the Business 2 Community site titled “How to Sell Complexity Beyond the Customer?s Capacity to Understand“. It is a great post and it mentioned a research study that showed that (quoting from the article) “our limited short-term working memory that?s capable of remembering only 3-4 items of new information at a time.”
That stat came from a research study by Nelson Cowen title “The Magical Mystery Four: How is Working memory Capacity Limited, and Why?” Cowen basically was able to prove that the central memory systems for adults can only handle a few chunks of new information.
So what happens if we throw a lot more at them? Well, they either only remember 3 or 4 of them or, even worse, the information overload causes them to forget most, if not all of it.
So, there is scientific proof that too much detail will do more harm than good.
Are there exceptions to this? I have not found research to indicate that, but I believe that once you have someone’s attention and they have allocated space in the brain for you, then you can build on that with more detail.
This is another case for the idea of Progressive Engagement, something I blogged about in early 2013. At the time, I was recommending the approach due to short attention spans and the opportunity for distractions. But, with this additional information, you need to take the approach regardless—it reflects the way people remember.
What is progressive engagement? I think of it as telling people a little bit of information (now refined to be a maximum of 3 to 5 related things). Make it compelling. When they ask you to “tell them more”, you engage with additional detail.
This continues as long as the engagement interest is there. If it wanes, back off and revisit where you were. Rebuild interest and then continue.
Let’s face it, most technology products today are so robust and complex that it is impossible to narrow things down to only 3 to 5 things. But you have to. Find ways to group things into a higher level story—-add the details as your drill down, progressively providing more and more information. While not easy, this is not impossible.
But it requires a great positioning foundation to have clarity of what matters most and why. It also request flexibility—adapting your story based on the feedback and interests of the buyer.
So, what do you do now? Review all of your existing materials. Anywhere you see long lists, find ways to group and simplify. If you list 8 or 10 benefits or differentiators, get rid of at least half of them.
Shoot to focus on no more than 3 things, but if you need to add 1 or 2 more, don’t agonize over that. But don’t fall into the “just one more thing” trap and watch those focus items return to the long lists of the past.
This week we published the 2014 Gartner CEO and Senior Executive Survey. Among the key findings is evidence of a bullish attitude by CEOs and senior executives toward technology-fueled business growth in 2014 and 2015. The same bullish attitude can?t be said for investors in tech-related stocks recently.
What really caught my eye in this year?s survey is that IT-related issues, including mentions of digital, are much more prominent as key priorities for CEOs. Gartner Fellow Mark Raskino and his research colleagues who authored the report found that 7 percent of CEOs rank IT as one of their top priorities. This might sound infinitesimally small (as context, the broad topic of ?growth? was ranked as the top priority for 33 percent of CEOs), but this supports the broader trend that our research organization reports, in addition to my own observations working with CEOs around the world.
CEOs are undoubtedly taking a greater interest in applying technology more aggressively in their organizations. In the survey, nearly 50 percent of the IT-related priorities that CEOs gave specifically mentioned digital, online, social, cloud and mobile. Overall, CEOs referenced technologies frequently associated with client facing and revenue generating programs.
Drilling a little deeper into the survey, CEOs increasingly reported their growing investment in front-office technology-related capabilities that are used to help in sales and marketing. The research also noted strong interest among CEOs in basing business operations in the cloud and in using data-driven decision-making via business analytics, big data and data science. Process-centric themes, which tend to associate with back-office efficiency uses of technology, are much further down the list where we see items such as business process outsourcing, dynamic business process management and electronic service enablement.
What does this tell us?
CEOs are making the transition to a progressive mindset of investing in technology to drive growth and away from only thinking about generating internal cost reductions and efficiencies with IT.
This level of engagement by CEOs with technology has probably not been seen since the late 1990s. As Mark notes, technology has always been visible in the last decade of Gartner CEO surveys, but not so far to the foreground as it is this year.
As any successful business leader will tell you, a great attitude and mindset will only get you so far; there?s got to be substance to back it up. This is at the heart of the challenge for CEOs. Many leaders are lagging behind in their understanding of what digital business means.
This is where the CIO comes in. CIOs must take the lead in closing this huge gap in understanding by educating the CEO, their board, executives, senior and middle managers on the transformative value of digital. A decade of believing that IT was a commodity function has left many business leaders with a very polarized?and increasing outdated?view of what technology can do to support organizations goals.
As I noted in an earlier post, CEOs see digital as a team sport and this survey indicates that the CIO still has the highest visibility in terms of opportunity to lead the charge. When Gartner asked CEOs who they would allocate relative responsibility for leading digital innovation and change over the next two years, the CIO came out on top. However, many other roles are heavily involved, including chief digital officers (CDO), so CEOs clearly see digital as a collective operating committee endeavor.
One of the key conclusions that Mark and our colleagues in research make is that expecting the CIO to be the prime mover in digital is a fairly sudden and major change of expectation and emphasis. Digital is strongly associated with innovation. Two years ago, the Gartner 2012 CEO survey found CIOs were low on the list of perceived innovation leaders because they were tasked as IT cost managers and service quality assurers. This is a huge shift in expectation and, as we all know only too well, change is hard?especially when it happens to you.
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