What Business Are You In?

I attended a ‘future predictions’ breakfast by one of the large analyst firms recently.

The chap presenting declared he’d like to kill off the term ‘business and IT alignment’, which I think we were all very happy to agree with (that’s a subject I’m sure we’ll revisit here more times than should really be necessary).

He then went on to say that he’d like IT people to say, when asked what they do for work, not ‘IT’ but rather ‘I’m in mining, or I’m in banking’ etc.

It’s an interesting idea, although I reckon if you asked a finance person at BHP Billiton what they did they probably wouldn’t say they were in mining.

But it does make you think differently about your role and certainly places a customer/business lens on your outlook.

What do you think?

When asked, are you in IT first, or business first?

Can It Be True .. An Actual Post?

Yes.  Observant readers amongst you may have noticed that the last post on this site was over a year ago!

Real-life gets in the way sometimes, and other work / online activities have taken over somewhat.

But, I’m back.  At least, I’m in the process of it.  Wordpress updates and archiving activities underway.

I can’t promise daily posts, but a new role (more on that later) should give me more of a reason to do so.

First, let me attend to one of my other blogs ;-)

Moving your Infrastructure to the Cloud: Maximize Benefits and Avoid Pitfalls

Ben Kepes of Diversity Limited has produced a very handy white paper on behalf of Rackspace, aimed at those considering moving some or all of their infrastructure to a cloud-based model.

With Cloud Computing becoming more widely utilized, it is important for organizations to understand ways to maximize benefits and minimize risks of a move to the cloud. This paper details the significant benefits that Cloud Computing brings and provides guidance to IT decision makers to help their decision making process.

This is especially important given the plethora of vendors in the marketplace today. Buyers need to appreciate that assessing individual providers is critical to the success of Cloud Computing programs.

Click here to read the full paper [PDF]

Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays

All the best for the festive season. We’re taking a little time off for some r&r – normal service resumed in early January.

Health and happiness to you all!

back up your Exchange data to the Cloud with Google

Following on from the recent(ish) acquisition of Postini, Google has announced a new service that allows users to backup their on-premise Microsoft Exchange data to Google’s cloud servers: Google Message Continuity.

“Google Message Continuity works by replicating email accounts hosted on Microsoft Exchange Servers .. using Gmail, Calendar and Contacts,” according to Google’s announcement. “If the Microsoft Exchange Server fails, or requires scheduled maintenance or downtime, all you have to do is log into Gmail and continue regular, up-to-date email communication through Google.”

From the announcement:

“Google Message Continuity can also help organizations transition to Google Apps down the road. Since Microsoft® Exchange and Gmail are always in sync with one another, there’s no need to migrate email data when eventually deploying Google Apps. With Gmail, Calendar and Contacts available, users can get familiar with these cloud services without having to abruptly stop using their regular email system.”

Google Message Continuity will cost $25 per user per year for non-Postini or an additional $13 per user per year for current Postini customers.

Here’s a video about the service:

Salesforce.com to acquire Heroku

Interested to read in the news today that Salesforce.com are to acquire Ruby hosting outfit Heroku.  Very pertinent timing given Salesforce’s other recent announcement regarding its database.com platform.

An extract from PRNewsWire:

Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM), the enterprise cloud computing (http://www.salesforce.com/cloudcomputing/) company, today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Heroku, the fastest growing cloud application platform for writing Ruby-based applications, for approximately $212 million in cash, net of cash acquired. The transaction is expected to be completed in salesforce.com’s fiscal fourth quarter ending Jan. 31, 2011, subject to customary closing conditions.

Comments on the News

“The next era of cloud computing is social, mobile and real-time. I call it Cloud 2,” said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO, salesforce.com. “Ruby is the language of Cloud 2, and Heroku is the leading Ruby application platform-as-a-service for Cloud 2 that is fueling this growing community. We think this acquisition will uniquely position salesforce.com as the cornerstone for the next generation of app developers.”

“We have a service that developers really love, and salesforce.com has the trust and credibility the most demanding customers expect,” said Byron Sebastian, Heroku CEO. “Together, we will provide the best place to run and deploy Cloud 2 apps. We believe this is the winning combination to bring cloud application platforms into the mainstream of the enterprise.”

Here is the full text of the press release.

Cloud Computing: Infographically

Everybody loves a nice infographic, right?.

Here’s one courtesy of our friends at ‘Cloudhypermarket’ showing the current state of the ‘Cloud Computing’ universe.  Things are moving fast in this area so be prepared for a lot of this data to be superseded in fairly quick fashion!

Google Plug-in for Docs to Office Integration

Not exactly ‘hot off the press’, but worth a mention nonetheless: Google has launched a new plugin for Microsoft Office called Cloud Connect, which will tie Google Docs directly into the productivity suite, free of charge.

Editing a document in Word? It’ll automatically sync to your Google Docs account each time you hit ‘Save’. Want to share a preview of your document without worrying about what file format your coworkers can open? Just send them a link to the Google Docs file.

The plugin supports Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

Once you’ve installed it, you’ll notice a new ribbon toward the top of the Office UI, which gives you a Google Docs link for the document you’re currently working on, as well as a notification to let you know when it’s been synced with Google’s servers. Documents being edited locally save to your Google Docs account whenever you hit the ‘Save’ button, but unlike the normal Google Docs web editor, changes aren’t saved as you type them.

Multiple people can edit the same document and have their changes synced with each save. Google deals with conflicts by presenting users with an alert prompting them to choose which version they’d like to save; if they want to go back and switch again later, they can using the document’s version history.

The new plugin is a result of Google’s acquisition of DocVerse back in March

Amazon’s pedophilia PR nightmare

In a virtual firestorm of activity, Amazon has found itself embroiled in an enormous hoo-haa over its decision to stock a self-published eBook that is, effectively, a users guide to Pedophilia.

Entitled ‘The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure’ by Phillip R Greaves II, the sale of the book has led to a massive, almost instant, back-lash against Amazon.

Initially bumping along with sales in the single digits, it was Amazon’s statement on its decision to sell the book:

Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable. Amazon does not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions.”

along with stories on leading blogs such as TechCrunch (one more than one occasion) that quickly led to the book not only reaching the top 100 best-selling eBooks, but the story exploding beyond the Internets and onto mainstream media (step forward Anderson Cooper and Dr. Phil to name but two).  Unsurprisingly, the public were ‘outraged’ and calls for boycotting/suing Amazon were loud and clear (backed by the inevitable ‘Boycott Amazon’ Facebook page of course).

Did I mention this all happened in the space of a day?

It’s definitely not been a good 24 hours for Amazon!

I’m going to leave the whys and wherefores of the book itself aside for the moment – enough has been said on both sides (yes, some people are arguing it should have been allowed to be sold, in the interests of ‘free speech’) – but let’s have a look at what Amazon really should have done here, from a basic business perspective.

Very simply – one thing: they should have acted to immediately take the book down.

- not because they disagreed with the content

- not because I, or anyone else told them to

- not because they don’t have other content that people might find offensive available for sale

- not because they want to get into ‘censorship’ or the ending of ‘free speech’

- not even necessarily because the book didn’t comply with their T&Cs (although I’m guessing it didn’t)

No, they should have taken it off immediately they smelt any form of trouble because unlike what’s happening now, almost nobody would have noticed and almost nobody would have cared (apart from the author one would presume).  Amazon could have quite legitimately stated that the book was ‘under review’ or some such.  They should have taken it down immediately because – commercially – that was the smart thing to do.

The story, were it to get out, would then have been ‘Amazon finds book aimed at teaching pedophilia breaks T&Cs’.  Parents would have been happy, nobody would be ‘outraged’  (except for that author again) and even if they were it’s unlikely too many people would want to stand up on national TV to say they supported Amazon’s inalienable rights to sell such material.

Amazon chose not to do that though.   Instead, they decided to forgo commercial instinct in favour of principles (or at least the principles of whoever issued that statement) and whilst you could, on one level, salute that as admirable the reality is that this was a really dumb move!

For the sake of the business they should have closed the issue down as soon as possible.  Social media is such a powerful force now that events such as this, with a subject that is guaranteed to get even non-Daily Mail readers in a spin, have to be handled quickly and decisively. By sticking to their guns and continuing to publish, Amazon’s pedophilia story is a hot news topic, trending Twitter topic, 6-o’clock news item, blog subject, Facebook hate group and who knows how many cancelled orders, closed accounts and lingering ill-feeling.

The book has now been pulled from sale, and Amazon will get over this of course.  The memory will fade and people will continue to use their service.  But, for the sake of a sensible decision, Amazon have found themselves embroiled in a major sh!t-storm when they could have had people patting them on the back and commending their values.

Food for thought for all of us in this hyper-paced, hyper-connected world we operate in don’t you think?

One more thing: for all the criticism of their tight policies, compare this to how Apple would probably have responded and how much (read, how little) coverage Apple really gets when it pulls apps and content it’s not happy with…..

iPad killing laptop sales?

According to the CEO of Best Buy it certainly seems that way.  Brian Dun, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, claims that Apple’s tablet has eaten into laptop sales by as much as 50%.  Asus also reported lower than expected sales recently, also blaming the iPad for the decline.

Have you replaced or deferred a laptop purchase for the sake of an iPad?  I wonder what the net effect will be once the expected flood of Android tablets hits the markets?  Let alone iPad v2!

Update:  Best Buy responds (sort of):

“The reports of the demise of these devices are grossly exaggerated. While they were fueled in part by a comment in the Wall Street Journal that was attributed to me, they are not an accurate depiction of what we’re currently seeing. In fact, we see some shifts in consumption patterns, with tablet sales being an incremental opportunity. And as we said during our recent earnings call, we believe computers will remain a very popular gift this holiday because of the very distinct and desirable benefits they offer consumers. That’s why we intend to carry a broad selection of computing products and accessories to address the demand we anticipate this season.”

edge nation

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