Report: How to resolve cloud migration challenges in physical and virtual applications

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Cloud computing
How to resolve cloud migration challenges in physical and virtual applications by Paul Miller:
Enterprise IT infrastructure largely predates the emergence of cloud computing as a viable choice for hosting mission-critical applications. Although large organizations are now showing real signs of adopting cloud computing as part of their IT estate, most cloud-based deployments still tend to be either for new and self-contained projects or to meet the needs of traditional development and testing functions.
Compatibility, interoperability, and performance concerns have kept IT administrators from being completely comfortable with the idea of moving their complex core applications to the cloud. And without a seamless application migration blueprint, the project can seem more of a headache – and risk – than it’s worth. This report will highlight for systems administrators, IT directors, cloud architects, and decision-makers at Software as a Service (SaaS) companies and Cloud Service providers, the different approaches they can take in moving existing applications to the cloud.
To read the full report, click here.

With Android for Work, Google aims to secure 1+ billion BYOD devices

We’ve all been doing it, to the dismay to some of our bosses: Employees have long been bringing their own devices to work, reading corporate mail on the same phone that also is used to run their favorite games, snap their family photos and browse the web at large. Now, Google wants to legitimize BYOD, as the bring your own device is being called within the industry, by making Android more secure for work.

The company launched a new Android for Work program Wednesday that promises to not only make new and existing work devices more secure, but also bring enterprise-strength security to more than one billion Android handsets and tablets that consumers have acquired on their own. “Every employee should have a work-enabled mobile device in their hands,” said Android for Work Product Management Director Rajen Sheth during a press briefing in San Francisco Wednesday.

The basic idea behind Android for Work is to offer enterprises and their employees a secure area within their Android phones and tablets that can be managed by a company with dedicated policies and easily accessed by a user. For example, users can access a work-specific version of Google’s email client, and then simply switch back to their personal email client. Work apps are visually set apart from personal Android apps through a small suitcase icon.

This is how Android for Work looks like on a Lollipop device.

This is how Android for Work looks like on a Lollipop device.

On devices running Android Lollipop, this is done via dedicated profiles that are integrated on the operating system level. But Google also wanted to make Android for Work available to older handsets, which is why the company developed a dedicated Android for Work app that brings this kind of separation to non-Lollipop devices — an increasingly common tactic for Google, which has been fighting the often-decried Android fragmentation by adding key functionality updates to apps like Google Play services instead of Android itself.

Google is also launching a dedicated Google Play for Work store, which can be managed by each enterprise to deploy only whitelisted apps, or even purchase apps in bulk. Enterprises could decide to manage policies on their own, or work with third parties like VMWare or Citrix to handle these tasks.

Google Play for Work doesn’t really change anything for app developers, who only have to publish their app once to make it available to both consumers and enterprises, and are even able to add Work-specific security features to the same apps that are also installed by consumers. However, down the line, developers could expect new forms of monetization through Google Play for Work, which could include special bulk subscription tiers for enterprises. Sheth said that the company wants put a lot of focus on getting developers to build new apps as well as secure existing apps for Android for Work.

Google's new for Work productivity apps.

Google’s new for Work productivity apps.

Finally, Google is also making its own suite of productivity apps available as part of Android for Work. These are essentially customized versions of the existing Google apps. I got to see an email client that on the surface looked like Google’s Gmail app, but integrates with Exchange and Notes.

Google got a number of partners to launch Android for Work, including device manufacturers like LG, Sony and HTC, app and services businesses like Box, Salesforce and SAP as well as enterprise services companies like Citrix, VMWare and BlackBerry. Samsung, which at times has been a bit of a contentious partner for Google, got a special mention for its Knox security framework that integrates with Android for Work. The company also touted enterprise partners that have already been testing for Work, including Woolworth and Pearson.

However, the Google is also eyeing other industries, and looking to take Android even beyond BYOD, and to specialized single-purpose devices. One example mentioned by Sheth: Amusement parks, which could hand out a tablet or phone with some very specialized apps to each attendant. Restaurants could also benefit from dedicated Android apps that help staff to take and process orders, he said, adding: “That can open up an opportunity for many more devices that don’t exist today.”

The 3 modes of enterprise cloud applications

One of the key attributes to a successful cloud deployment is thinking about the strategy holistically. In my post ‘CIOs are getting out of the data center business’, I introduced the idea of a Data Center/ Cloud Spectrum. The spectrum provides one dimension to consider your cloud journey.

The second dimension considers that of the IT portfolio. What are the different classes of applications and their potential disposition? Over the course of working with companies on their cloud journey, the applications generally break out into this classification structure.

IT Portfolio Categories

The three categories are Enterprise Applications, Application Rewrites and Greenfield Development. There are even sub-categories within each of these, but to provide a baseline, we will stick to the top-line categorization.

Enterprise Applications

Enterprise applications are by far the largest contingent of applications within the enterprise portfolio. These encompass everything from the traditional ERP application to custom applications and platforms built before the advent of cloud. Enterprise organizations may have the opportunity to virtualize these applications, but little else. These applications were never designed with cloud in mind. While these applications are technically legacy applications, they will range from an age of 20 years to recent. Regardless of age, the effort to retrofit or change them is not trivial.

Application Rewrites

Application rewrites is a category of applications (Enterprise Applications) that could be re-written to support cloud computing. Even thought just about every enterprise application could technically be rewritten to support cloud, there are a number of hurdles to get there.

Economic and priority challenges are two of the top inhibitors for application rewrites. Even if the will to change is there, there are a myriad of additional reasons that could prevent a full-blown application rewrite. Some examples include risk profile, skillset requirements, application requirements and cultural challenges.

Eventually, many of the applications in the ‘enterprise applications’ category will move to either Software as a Service (SaaS) or into an application rewrite phase. There is a much smaller contingent that will actually retire.

Greenfield development

Greenfield development is probably the most discussed area of opportunity for cloud computing. However, it also represents one of the smallest areas (relatively speaking) of the overall IT portfolio. Over time, this area will grow, but at the expense of the existing enterprise application base.

For established enterprise organizations, this area represents a very different model from web-scale or new organizations. In the case of new organizations or web-scale companies, they have the ability to start from scratch with little or no legacy to contend with. Unfortunately, the traditional enterprise does not have this luxury.

The forked approach

In order to address the varied demands coming to the CIO and enterprise IT organization, a forked approach is needed. First, it is important not to ignore existing enterprise applications. The irony is that many providers, solutions and organizations do this. The reality is that greenfield development is new, sexy and frankly more interesting in many ways. At the same time the traditional enterprise applications cannot be ignored. A holistic, forked approach is needed.

The holistic effort needs to take into account all three categories of demand. That may mean different models and solutions service them for some time. That’s ok. Part of the strategy needs to take into account how to integrate the models short-term and long-term. For some workloads, over time, they may shift to a different delivery method (private cloud -> SaaS).

Planning and execution

Ignoring the shift and full set of requirements is not an option. Disrupt or be disrupted. The key is to develop a clear strategy that is holistic and includes a well thought out execution plan. The change will not happen overnight. Even for organizations that are strongly aligned for change, it still takes time. For those earlier in the process, it will take more time. The sooner you start, the better.

IBM CEO takes bonus, gets a raise

IBM’s CEO Ginni Rometty is taking a bonus of $3.6 million for 2014, according to SEC documents posted Friday and spotted by Bloomberg News. She will also receive a 6.7 percent salary increase bringing her salary total to $1.6 million for 2015 — her first raise since becoming IBM CEO in 2012.

Here’s the chart posted in the 8K filing.

ibm salaries 2014

News of more money flowing to IBM’s top dogs comes at a dicey time — just days after the company kicked off another round of layoffs last week.

[company]IBM [/company]has taken it on the chin in the past few years for obsessing about attaining $20 earnings per share per year by the end of 2015. That milepost was set in 2012 by former CEO Sam Palmisano (pictured above with Rometty). Critics said IBM was more interested in delivering on that metric that than in building great products people want to buy. Rometty finally jettisoned that $20 EPS goal in October.

IBM share buybacks were also controversial among people who felt IBM should be pouring money back into its businesses, not placating shareholders.

Tough transition

It’s clear that IBM faces big macro issues, most notably the move of many workloads to cloud and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) infrastructure. That means big companies — IBM’s traditional companies — are buying less on-premise software and hardware. And the big SaaS providers are not necessarily using IBM technology to run their businesses.

Rometty has sold off lower margin businesses, while focusing on cloud, analytics and mobile areas, but many doubt IBM’s claim that it now owns a $7 billion cloud business. In this shift, it faces competition not only from traditional rivals — [company]HP[/company], [company]Dell[/company], [company]Oracle[/company], [company]Microsoft[/company] — but also from made-in-the-cloud giant Amazon Web Services.

Lack of vision?

When I spoke to a former long-time IBM VP last week about other topics, I asked what he thought about his alma mater. He did not want to be quoted by name, but said he has been and remains a fan of Rometty.

However, in his opinion, she was hobbled by IBM’s EPS goal. He likened IBM to a person who is blind in one eye with both hands tied behind his back.

“[IBM] has no sense of what consumers want, that’s the blind in one eye part. The hands-tied part is they’ve been so aggressive in capital allocation, on returning capital to shareholders via dividends and share repurchases, that they’ve not invested in growth,” he said.

An IBM spokesman had no comment, but generally, IBM has disputed the notion that it hasn’t invested in  research and development with an eye to building great products. It typically trots out Watson as an example. It would also likely point to an alliance with [company]Apple[/company] announced in July that focuses on building consumery enterprise applications for iPhones and iPads, as a sign that it “gets” what customers want.

That’s all well and good. The question is whether it’s too late.

This story was updated at 8:15 a.m. PST with IBM’s no-comment

Enterprise app makers not fully embracing HTML5 just yet

While developers working on business apps agree that HTML5 is coming along, they’re not ready to abandon native applications. At Mobilize 2011 the theme was hybrid, where executives from Salesforce, Rhomobile and MeLLmo talked about not making a commitment to one or the other yet.