Report: How to define the right multi-cloud strategy for your enterprise the first time

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How to define the right multi-cloud strategy for your enterprise the first time by David S. Linthicum:
The days of the single cloud are gone. Driven by the breadth of technology options, potential cost savings, and the need for business agility, more than 74 percent of businesses are already moving to a multi-cloud strategy. However, enterprises making the move face critical choices, and a failure to consider common risks can diminish or even eliminate the benefits of multi-cloud.
This report will help CIOs, application architects, and IT decision-makers identify common patterns of implementation failures and successes and provide a framework for evaluating multi-cloud environments.
To read the full report click here.

Report: Instinct meets evidence: using operational data to drive planning

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Data Analytics
Instinct meets evidence: using operational data to drive planning by David S. Linthicum:
Many believe big data analytics are always the answer. In reality, most sales, financial, and operational planning is still run on incomplete data sets. Why? It’s hard to find the right people who can help enterprises understand their data. Understanding the efficiencies of product lines and market factors are perhaps the most important aspects of understanding the business. However, the traditional approaches to analytics largely overlook these aspects. Business is lost, a company’s value moves downward, and most companies have no clue why it happened.
A sale gained and a sale lost are not typical data points that are considered in the planning process alongside the historical sales of accounts, market growth, and new product offerings. While some IT-built reporting tools provide on-demand information, they tend to work within very rigid constraints. Without timely access to the data needed to make daily decisions, operations managers rely upon instinct over evidence. This is no way to run a business.
To take full advantage of what modeling and analytics can offer for effective planning and execution and integrate data into every decision process, businesses must put flexible tools directly into the hands of operations. This paper will evaluate the challenges and potential for creating models and applications and making those tools available and useful to those who need the information the most.
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Report: How to unlock the promise of agile in the enterprise

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agile-smb
The promises of agile — getting product in front of users faster, embracing requirements changes, choosing and trusting solid contributors — map incredibly well to today’s business environments, where disruptive technology and the ability to quickly capitalize on opportunities either make or break entire verticals. While agile methodologies have had tremendous success in task-oriented teams, many larger businesses have been slower to embrace them as a corporate standard. But agile is not a panacea, and not all projects, business processes, and corporate cultures are natural fits.
The typical enterprise will support multiple methodologies, and making them work together isn’t easy. From budget forecasting to performance benchmarking and accountability, agile presents new disruptions to traditional processes. At the same time, its more granular, responsive approach and the tools that support it can bring new efficiencies to the projects, teams, and organizations implementing them. This report will examine the current state and the future of the multi-methodology enterprise and examine procedural and technological changes that can help enterprises integrate agile methodologies into a larger ecosystem.
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Report: SDN meets the real world: implementation benefits and challenges

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sdn
SDN meets the real world: implementation benefits and challenges by Ben Kepes:
Software-defined networking (SDN) is an enabling technology shift that mimics for networking what server virtualization brought to data centers. From little more than a research project a decade or so ago, SDN has become one of the biggest trends in the data center, and for good reason. SDN allows organizations to deliver networking with the same level of flexibility and agility as virtualization has allowed them to deliver other parts of their infrastructure.
This report is aimed at both enterprise IT practitioners as well as data-center operators, and gives the audience some historical background, technical context, and specific issues to think about when in SDN.
Key highlights from this report include:

  • SDN is a trend of growing importance to anyone involved in data-center design, management, or utilization. Almost every technology vendor in the networking arena now has an “SDN story.”
  • SDN is a disruptor to traditional networking approaches. However, a hybrid approach towards SDN delivers real benefits for organizations with existing networking assets.
  • In this early stage, not surprisingly, SDN has some barriers to adoption. A hybrid approach that embraces smaller proof-of-concept trials while looking at broader deployment is the best way to approach the SDN opportunity.

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Report: Cloud cost control: expense management and auditing for SaaS and beyond

Our library of 1700 research reports is available only to our subscribers. We occasionally release ones for our larger audience to benefit from. This is one such report. If you would like access to our entire library, please subscribe here. Subscribers will have access to our 2017 editorial calendar, archived reports and video coverage from our 2016 and 2017 events.
SaaS
Cloud cost control: expense management and auditing for SaaS and beyond by David S. Linthicum:
Today’s Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) offerings enable near-instant productivity and capacity. Businesses, however, have little visibility into or control over their cloud solutions’ true cost.
Cloud computing allows lines of business to self-provision tools, often without IT’s knowledge. The result is an increase in localized productivity. But provisioned systems are often redundant, contracts are poorly optimized, and businesses are unable to manage or audit the lifecycle and usage of these services. They also lack the data and clout to negotiate more favorable terms.
Cloud computing may put unprecedented power into the hands of business users, but the processes for centralizing management and auditing distributed resources are not new. The challenges that businesses face today are similar to those telecom expense management faced 10 years ago. Considering telecom’s best practices and tool sets can help us develop methods and techniques that maximize the benefits of the emerging cloud computing space.
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Report: All clouds are not equal: differentiating an enterprise cloud

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cloud screen
All clouds are not equal: differentiating an enterprise cloud by Janakiram MSV:
Until recently startups and small to medium businesses drove cloud adoption. Now, with cloud service providers maturing, many businesses are considering migrating applications to the cloud. In particular, the IT industry has witnessed a rapid adoption of the public cloud. This research report examines the current state of the cloud, barriers to enterprise cloud adoption, and the key factors to consider when choosing an enterprise cloud platform.
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Report: Best practices and technologies for cloud API management and governance

Our library of 1700 research reports is available only to our subscribers. We occasionally release ones for our larger audience to benefit from. This is one such report. If you would like access to our entire library, please subscribe here. Subscribers will have access to our 2017 editorial calendar, archived reports and video coverage from our 2016 and 2017 events.
Cloud Computing
Best practices and technologies for cloud API management and governance by David S. Linthicum:
Cloud computing’s continued growth has led to an increase in the use of APIs, which can abstract the complexities of back-end resources such as databases, platforms, storage, compute, and middleware. APIs provide developers and users with the ability to leverage and releverage services, allowing enterprise IT to construct applications from prebuilt component parts.
However, the number of APIs that exist within public cloud providers, or even around traditional enterprise systems, continues to increase well beyond most enterprises’ ability to manually manage them. What’s needed to address this is a new approach and a new technology to manage and govern these services. The use of API management and governance technology is the most logical path, but planning and deployment best practices are still required.
In this report, we’ll explore the concept of API management and governance, and look at its purpose and value as well as the details behind planning and deployment.
To read the full report, click here.

RightScale Identifies Trends in Enterprise Cloud Adoption

RightScale recently published the results of its annual survey, State of the Cloud. The report reveals increasing cloud adoption from both enterprises and SMBs, and a preference for hybrid deployments. This post highlights the trends that matter to the supply side of the cloud market—the cloud providers.

Google and VMware Will Benefit from a Multicloud Strategy

Enterprises are hedging their bets by investing in a multicloud strategy. Indeed, 82 percent of respondents prefer a multicloud deployment to a single cloud platform.

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Despite AWS and Microsoft Azure leading the market, a multicloud strategy increases the opportunity for Google Cloud Platform and VMware vCloud Air. Customers are looking for credible alternatives to AWS and Azure to run secondary workloads to enable redundancy and business continuity. Even if only 30 percent of AWS and Azure enterprise customers pick Google Cloud Platform or vCloud Air for running DR, it would result in a significant increase in sales for Google and VMware.

Cloud Providers Continue to Innovate on IaaS

The number of VMs running in the public cloud is expected to double within a year, making IaaS the fastest growing cloud-service model. In the coming 12 months, 27 percent of enterprises expect to run more than 1,000 VMs in the public cloud, compared to only 13 percent today.

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Google and Microsoft are already prioritizing investments on IaaS over PaaS. Azure PaaS has not seen a major version upgrade in the last year. Google put App Engine on the back burner with no further enhancement to the platform. With increased customer spend on IaaS, we can expect to see support for additional types of VMs, along with simplified migration and enhanced monitoring tools.

Cloud Sales Reps Should Target the CIO

During the early days of cloud, engineering teams championed it by moving development and test environments to the public cloud. Cloud sales teams engaged with the VP of engineering to drive the adoption. That trend is changing fast as the CIO takes a greater interest in deploying cloud. The shift in decision-making minimizes shadow IT by centralizing the purchasing process.

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Managing 62 percent of cloud purchase decisions, central IT is increasingly brokering cloud by building a customized self-service portal. This portal abstracts the proprietary consoles and user interfaces, which vary with each provider.

Chef and Puppet Lead the DevOps Revolution While Docker Storms its Way into the Enterprise

Initially, only startups and companies with webscale workloads leveraged DevOps. RightScale’s survey reveals that enterprises are increasingly embracing DevOps. Sixty-six percent of enterprises are currently adopting DevOps, up 4 percent over last year.

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Chef and Puppet (see disclosure) are the leading tools with 28 percent and 24 percent, respectively. Interestingly, 35 percent of enterprises are considering Docker, the Linux containerization technology. This trend is great for Docker, Inc., which is heavily investing in making Docker enterprise-ready. Docker’s integration with existing monitoring and management tools speeds up enterprise adoption.

Disclosure: Puppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.

Microsoft Azure Has Reason to Celebrate

Azure’s enterprise usage has increased 8 percent over 2014. Microsoft’s bets on open source and partnerships are paying back. Though the gap between AWS and Azure is wide—AWS has 50 percent adoption and Azure has 19 percent—Microsoft has a reason to celebrate.

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Azure PaaS has also seen an enterprise increase of 3 percent from last year. This trend is indeed encouraging for Scott Guthrie, who is on a mission to make Azure the best enterprise cloud. With the recent announcements such as Azure ML, G-Series VMs, and enhanced backup services, Azure may witness increased adoption.

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The Private Cloud Market Plateaus

VMware leads the private cloud market with vCenter and vCloud as the favorite private cloud platforms. Microsoft’s private cloud adoption dropped by one percent.

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According to the RightScale report, OpenStack has not made much progress in the enterprises since last year.  It is not surprising to see OpenStack doing well in the small and medium business segment.

With public cloud providers upping the ante on the service availability and reliability,  and enterprise customers spending more on the public cloud platforms, it is clear that public cloud is gaining on private cloud.

Box IPO: What a long, strange trip it’s been

Box CEO Aaron Levie’s self-deprecating tweet on the day that the cloud-storage startup he co-founded in 2005 announced it was back on track to go public after months of delays pretty much summed up the collective enthusiasm of the tech community that’s been observing Box throughout the past year.

What seemed like a reason for the company to celebrate back in the spring of 2014 when the [company]Box[/company] made public its plans for an IPO turned out to be an elongated stretch of time that saw, among other things: Box wavering on its IPO plans on numerous occasions; raising a significant investment round; and unleashing a new product line that the company is hoping will make it a significant threat to competitors like [company]Google[/company], [company]Microsoft[/company] and [company]Citrix[/company].

It seemed like Box was just waiting for that perfect time to take the company public, and Levie even told Bloomberg Television in December that Box “should not have filed when we did,” citing a “market correction” that affected technology stocks.

But Box took advantage of the delay to work on its business. It’s tried to position itself as a serious player in the hot work-collaboration space, and the performance of its IPO could validate that strategy.

However, Box is not alone in the burgeoning field of work-collaboration, which appears to be one of the areas the cloud giants of Amazon, Google and Amazon will be battling for supremacy in now that the storage price wars seemed to have abated (for now). And, of course, it faces stiff competition with longtime rival Dropbox, who has made a similar push to invade the workspace through collaboration features.

Box is expected to go public this Friday, although a company spokesperson declined to confirm the exact timing. Will Box’s new enterprise product line and, as company filings show, an increase in revenue be enough to satisfy the stock market?

To answer this question, let’s take a look at how Box got to where it is now, starting from last spring.

The long road to an IPO

Box’s long road to an IPO began in earnest in March 2014 when the company filed the necessary paperwork with the SEC to get the gears in motion. A poor-performing marketplace put Box’s IPO plans on hold, but by early summer Box celebrated the fact that it landed General Electric as a customer, which would have 300,000 GE employees using the Box platform.

In July, Box received a $150 million funding round from private-equity firm TPG Capital and hedge fund Coatue Management, which valued the company at $2.4 billion. At the time, industry observers figured that the cash could buy the company some time for an eventual IPO in fall because the company was still plowing through money as it invested in sales and marketing — a common complaint for the company, but one that Levie seemed ready to defend as he told Re/Code before the company filed for an IPO and went quiet, “I would be the first to say we’ve been aggressive, but there is simply not another logical way to attack the market.”

If you were wondering why Box was spending so much on sales and marketing, in September Box had an answer: Box was working on a new product line that’s essentially a custom version of the Box platform that accommodates the needs of different industries, like retail, healthcare and media and entertainment.

As Gigaom Research’s Stowe Boyd told me, in order to sell these products Box needs a big sales staff that’s well-versed in different industries, especially as it aims to capture legacy clients that are part of regulated industries like healthcare.

Because companies like [company]IBM[/company], [company]Citrix[/company] and [company]Microsoft[/company] likely have been doing business deals with large companies in different industries for quite some time, it’s likely that they have sales teams that can speak the lingo. Box has had to build that (and is likely still building it), requiring it to invest a significant amount of money in sales and marketing staff that have the appropriate skill level and knowledge to capture new clients.

“Verticals—that makes things more complicated for them,” Boyd said. “They have to back up that rhetoric; it makes their sales cycle more complicated.”

Box CEO Aaron Levie hugs actor Jared Leto onstage at BoxWorks 2014. Photo by Jonathan Vanian/Gigaom

Box CEO Aaron Levie hugs actor Jared Leto onstage at BoxWorks 2014. Photo by Jonathan Vanian/Gigaom

In September Box also detailed an upcoming Box Workflow tool that it’s banking will be a hit in the workplace collaboration space; the product will include features like allowing companies to create timed notifications for time-sensitive documents, which Box will then ping the appropriate user though email or mobile device to address.

After making its product announcements, it seemed like fall was indeed the time for Box to go public as Alibaba’s huge IPO seemed like the right time to pounce on the market. Alas, the tech market took a bit of a downturn after the IPO and Box found itself again pushing back its big date with the public marketplace.

By mid-December, however, with both Hortonworks and New Relic both going public and becoming billion-dollar companies, the marketplace seemed stable enough for Box to finally reach the public market promised land.

About those financials…

This time around, Box is serious about going public, and in January the company detailed in its updated SEC filings that it’s planning to raise $186.9 million on Wall Street at a company valuation of $1.5 billion.

As Boyd pointed out, this new valuation is significantly lower than the $2.4 billion figure that was floated around last summer, but he believes that Box is “underplaying what the asking price for the IPO is so they have some headroom.”

The company doesn’t want to appear overconfident and end this drawn-out process on a “sour note,” he said.

Box has been growing in revenue per year since its founding and in 2014, it brought in $153.8 million in revenue for the nine-month period ending October 31; the prior year, Box took in $85.4 million in revenue.

[dataset id=”907258″]

As for losses, Box’s net loss went down from $125.2 million in 2013 to $121.5 million in 2014 for the same nine-month period that ended on October 31.

[dataset id=”907266″]

The good news is that Box’s net loss seems to have slowed down compared to its revenue, but the company is still spending a healthy amount of money on sales and marketing, which in 2014 for the nine-month period ending October 31 was $152.4 million as compared to $124.2 million in 2013.

[dataset id=”907267″]

With a new product line geared for specific industries, it’s clear Box will continue investing in sales and marketing to attract more clientele. In January 2013, the company had 689 employees and by the end of October 2014 it had 1,131 employees; it’s safe to assume that a good chunk of those new employees are sales and marketing people and as the company goes after more industries, like legal and financial, it’s only going to need to hire more.

“Certainly we’re all aware of Box’s sales and marketing spend, but they needed to garner marketshare in order to have the long term opportunity to monetize the platform,” wrote Forrester Research vice president and principal analyst Rob Koplowitz in an email. “If they have the seats, they can up-sell value over time.”

It will be worth watching what the company plans on doing with the $186.9 million it expects to raise and whether any of that cash will be used to pay off some of its accumulated deficit, which according to Box’s latest SEC filings, is at $482.7 million.

The SEC filings also show that Box plans to continue making “significant investments” into datacenter infrastructure, which is by no means a cheap investment; Google’s big data center in the Netherlands might cost the company $772 million, for example. Although to be fair, Box probably won’t be building anything to match Google’s scale just yet.

Structure 2012: Aaron Levie - Co-Founder and CEO, Box, Gary Orenstein - VP Products, Fusion-io

Structure 2012: Aaron Levie – Co-Founder and CEO, Box, Gary Orenstein – VP Products, Fusion-io

Building a competitive product

And therein lies Box’s big dilemma–it’s going to be hard to match the scale of companies like Google, Amazon or Microsoft. These companies can invest millions and millions into data centers and new products and Box doesn’t have nearly the amount of cash to compete dollar per dollar like those companies have been doing with each other.

The work-collaboration space is not where the three cloud giants are all deriving their primary income; that’s more of an ancillary feature that they can add to their cloud storage platforms as a way to further entice enterprise clients.

Forrester’s Koplowitz thinks Box has made a lot of progress on building features that distinguish it from rivals and that the company has clearly become more than just a cloud storage vendor. However, it remains to be seen if the company can make money on this path.

“They have a partner ecosystem that is helping them move in that direction,” wrote Koplowitz in an email. “So, the question is less ‘are they differentiating?’ and more ‘are they able to fully monetize their differentiation?’”

[dataset id=”907366″]

Dropbox faces a similar dilemma as Box, but it has an enormous user base and is prevalent among consumers who might be using Dropbox at work even though their office might encourage the use of a corporate storage account.

And then there’s Slack, a rising enterprise startup that’s gotten a lot of traction and seems poised to be a big player in the work-collaboration space. Its workplace chat service has been the talk of the town for users and developers, and it seems as if it’s also a trojan horse of sorts; in that once Slack infiltrates a client through chat, there are so many avenues it could infiltrate to make work a better experience for its users.

In September, the company bought the small startup Spaces, whose central technology is a customized document that users can collaborate together with on editing, graphics, annotations, etc.

Sound familiar? That’s because Box, Dropbox, Google, Amazon and Microsoft have all been working on similar projects.

The big takeaway from Box’s IPO is that the company is not going public as merely a file-sync-and-share company, but rather as an “enterprise content collaboration platform,” as it describes itself in its SEC filings.

The file-sync-and-share players have spent the past few years trying to get out of being merely cloud storage middlemen; Box rival Egnyte just this week said it wants to make a push into being a data management and analytics company.

Now that Box seems confident as a solid workplace collaboration platform after a 2014 that saw the company see-sawing with its IPO plans, it has the products in place that could potentially attract more big, legacy companies like GE.

The problem is making sure that it can attract enough of these lucrative contracts and retain clients so that it can finally be profitable. Box admits that this is a tough goal for the company and said in its SEC filings, “We cannot assure you that we will achieve profitability in the future or that, if we do become profitable, we will sustain profitability.”

Once a company goes public, the tolerance for big losses can fade away and you can look at Amazon as an example of a cloud company in bad graces with Wall Street. Box can continue putting in its “non-profitability disclaimer” in its SEC filings, but that’s more than likely not reassuring to the marketplace.

Investors who take the plunge Friday are hoping Box can reel in the big clients and stave off any attacks from the big-cloud providers or legacy IT companies who are eyeing the same customers. We’ll have to wait until the end of 2015 to see how that plays out.