May 2014 Archives

Did Microsoft fail to guide on XP migration?

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More developers are becoming DevOps pros, or so we are to believe if we follow the current industry hype cycle.

But who are the DevOps guys (and girls) really?

CA Technologies made some comments at the last Mobile World Congress exhibition suggesting that in fact, most DevOps pros are experienced senior software application development professionals who can boast some wider competency in operations, release management and application orchestration.

IBM hosted a similar discussion at the firm's recent Impact 2014 event in Las Vegas, which is largely concerned with cloud and emerging service-based technologies -- this discussion threw up the suggestion that in fact many operations "Ops" professionals do in fact have command line centric coding capabilities and can therefore fulfill the DevOps role very competently.

Whichever side of the fence the DevOps glitterati do in fact hail from, it is this function that IT departments will now be turning to in order to achieve the move from Windows XP onwards now that Microsoft has confirmed it will no longer support the operating system.

So did Microsoft fail to guide us on XP migration?

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Certainly, Microsoft's primary driver was to simply encourage users to upgrade to one of the more recent versions of Windows -- iteration 8, ideally.

Interesting then that it comes down to firms like the aforementioned CA to talk about its new Desktop Migration Manager (snappily named CA DMM) for IT transition from Windows XP, onward to what the firm simply labels as "more secure" operating systems.

The CA DMM is a migration solution for the management, upgrade, and maintenance of laptop and desktop systems.

CA says that the product itself is free, but it helps if you are already a CA Client Automation customer -- well, you want integrated "zero-touch migration" if you can get it right?

"Without ongoing technical support and security updates from Microsoft, Windows XP exposes our customers to vulnerabilities and significant risks," says Nagi Prabhu, vice president, Enterprise Mobility, CA Technologies.

Didn't Microsoft provide any migration tools at all then?

Redmond was charitable to a degree; Microsoft has been reported to be allowing XP users to download a free copy of Laplink's PCmover Express. There's also Windows Easy Transfer and it's available for Windows XP 32-bit and 64-bit, plus also for both versions of Vista -- remember Vista?

If that doesn't sound "total enterprise control"-level to you, then perhaps that why CA has been working on its current migration machinations.

CA DMM performs the migration -- including unique bookmarks, address books and personalised background images without users having to reconfigure their systems.

"With this solution, customers can migrate to newer systems efficiently and secure operating systems, while increasing [DevOps] technician productivity, decreasing user downtime and reducing service desk calls," said the company, in a prepared statement.

Additionally, CA DMM is agentless and can therefore be used with other lifecycle management products as part of the overall migration process.

SAP mobile chief details market strategy & tactics

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This is a guest Computer Weekly post by Rick Costanzo, SAP executive vice president and general manager of global mobility solutions. Costanzo joined the company around the time of Mobile World Congress 2013 and in this article he articulates the mechanics behind SAP's mobile market strategy.

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French fanciness?

I recently talked to Reseaux & Telecoms online in Paris about the current state of the enterprise mobility market and was a bit surprised to see the article titled "The Big Jump In SAP Mobility And Cloud" (actually, Le grand saut de SAP dans la mobilité et le Cloud) -- because I would suggest that that big jump was actually a long, steady climb.

There is a huge effort underway in the industry to go from MDM (mobile device management) to EMM (enterprise mobility management). We think we already accomplished that move two years ago.

While SAP has had a mobile strategy for over 15 years, our position in enterprise mobility started with the acquisition of Sybase in 2010. That sent the first clear signal to the market that we would not start from scratch by building everything ourselves. Instead, we would adopt a more pragmatic approach to buy as well as make.

In 2012, we bought Syclo, a move that reinforced SAP Mobile with apps, services and especially human resources with the essential 'knowhow' to position the growing portfolio to our industry and LoB customers.

ANALYST NOTE: In terms of capabilities for "building the mobile enterprise" SAP is ranked positively by analysts from IDC, Gartner, Yankee and Forrester.

Consolidation is the name of the game

I see the industry consolidating; Fiberlink was acquired by IBM, Boxstone was purchased by Good Technologies, and Citrix bought Zenprise. I would not be surprised to see some venture capital backed organisations merge with others as they struggle for differentiation.

With this consolidation, enterprise customers are understanding that investing in spot solutions for their mobility requirements spanning Security, Applications, Application Development, Analytics and Messaging may not be the best strategy. They are realising that the downstream integration efforts and related expense of making these spot implementations work together would be cost prohibitive.

Customers are actively evaluating investing in platforms to support their broad requirements. This has been a huge area of focus for SAP over the past several years.

Inhibitors for complete ubiquity

For the last 5-10 years, enterprise mobility has consistently been regarded as one of the most significant IT trends.

However, it's no secret that companies are still grappling with successful implementations.

Fragmentation is one of the main inhibitors to success.

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There are many challenges here including device OS versions and hardware choices. Most enterprises are eager to move to the cloud, but one of the top concerns is security and the related concern of privacy. A single security flaw can be cause significant damage to an organisation.

Think about the issue of BYOD that has already pushed enterprises to confront the topic of security, and we know the next logical step is bring your own anything (BYOx) which raises a number of additional issues such as agility, compliance, complexity of app development, and integration across platforms and backend systems.

... and let's not forget that CMOs and LOB leaders are becoming more interested in working with IT to help make technology decisions.

What a winning mobile approach looks like

People often ask me where I see cloud and mobile intersecting. (Ed - we know Costanzo sees it intersecting right inside SAP, but let's move outwards).

Cloud is mainly about delivering a set of on demand services in a very CapEx friendly way. The most popular user consumption paradigm for these on demand services is mobile. This is a key point in our Mobility strategy. Our vision is to extend our Enteprise Mobility position to enable and deliver the best, most secure, most scalable HANA based user experience for SAP Cloud services.

Let's get real

Here's a good, real world example of Enterprise Mobility and the Cloud at its best. The Societe de Transport de Montreal (STM), one of the largest public transport systems in North America, was losing riders and revenue. They worked with us and developed an idea to use their loyalty programme to connect businesses and passengers via a mobile app named STM Merci. The app uses the latest innovations in cloud, big data, analytics and mobile to analyse the situational context of 1.3 million daily passengers along with their shopping preferences and interests. It then examines what local businesses have on offer and sends passengers highly personalised, relevant promotions and recommendations in real-time to their mobile devices as they ride the trains.

Not only has STM completely changed the rider experience, but they are generating revenue for themselves and the ecosystem while saving money for their customers thanks to a new mobile experience. In fact, mobile is all about experience!

"Mobile is the way we experience the cloud and the services that it delivers"

At SAP, we're starting to talk about ubiquity instead of mobility, because it's like the air we breathe. It's everywhere.

We're just launching SAP Mobile Platform (SMP) 3.0, the platform that allows enterprises to develop new, innovative apps like STM Merci and run existing apps at the same time. I'll be writing about that in more depth in the weeks to come.

I look forward to continuing this dialogue about ubiquity and talking to users about real business challenges and IT requirements.

Will IoT Expo make embedded sexy?

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The information technology industry needs very little excuse to host a convention, symposium, exhibition and/or conference in this day and age, so thank goodness for promotional packs of gummy bears, free T-shirts and miniature strong mints to mask the malodorous threat of "coffee breath" which always features.

The newest kid of the IT block these days is (arguably) the Internet of Things...

... or in other words, embedded computing.

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OK fine, the Internet of Things (IoT) is not strictly confined to, or synonymous with, embedded computing, but from intelligent cars to computer-enabled fridges and toasters, it kind of is.

The trouble is that embedded computing has (arguably) a less sexy image than some other areas of software application development.

I know? It's silly isn't it?

In terms of disclosure, I have worked for another well known very old US-based programmer website for a number of years with the name Dr in the title -- and we have always found embedded stories some of the hardest to garner interest from.

It may be that front-end, user-facing, UI-centric, user-touching, more-tangible web-based computing always draws a bigger crowd. Who knows?

IoT Expo 2014 London (June 2-3 ) may be aware of this need for sexing up and so has settled on the "spectacular glass-sided 39th floor of the iconic" One Canada Square skyscraper that towers above Canary Wharf in East London for its location.

Ed -- did you see how they used "spectacular & iconic" in one sentence there?

Anyway then, the IoT Expo 2014 international conference series has shindigs planned for San Francisco, New York and Toronto and now London.

The show aims to cover IoT-related IT opportunities from the connected home, smart meters, the connected car and smart grid to personal wellness and connected health.

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According to the blurb, speakers include Cisco, IBM, SAP, Intel, Ericsson, Qualcomm, GE, Bosch, ARM and Huawei to the smaller but fast-growing players like Atmel, ThingWorx, KAAZING, Neul and Libelium

The conference chair for the series is Jeremy Geelan, long time Internet technology commentator and an executive academy member of the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences.

Are you feeling sexy about embedded yet?

Forget B2B and B2C... X2X robot device omnichannel ecommerce is next

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NetSuite SuiteWorld 2014 is staged this week in sweltering San Jose temperatures approaching 40 degrees C. But despite the early heat wave, the focus here has been one of product updates and customer connection points.

NetSuite has used this event to detail new features in its product base to the 6,500+ attendees here from all around the world.

The last three years have seen the company re-architect its core User Interface proposition to present a screen view using what is called "flat design," a function that emphasises crispness and clarity.

In practical terms, this comes down to the use of easy-to-read fonts, attractively redesigned icons and graphics, increased whitespace and greater aesthetic simplicity.

So how does a firm sell cloud ERP?

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"ERP is the hardest application to build and this is what NetSuite chose to build first," said Zac Nelson, NetSuite CEO.

This truth (if indeed it is one) is behind much of why NetSuite has grown profitably as it has done -- the firm has enjoyed 41.67% market share growth.

NetSuite also hinges much of its technology proposition around the importance of "omnichannel commerce" and how CRM and ERP plugs into the whole range (there are more than you thought) of channels that now exist.

What are the five pillars of omnichannel ecommerce?

B2B
B2C
B2B2C - big firms to smaller firms and then on to customers
G2G - government to government (government agencies to structure to be able to produce an Amazon-like experience)
X2X - machines to machines

Yes, X2X machine- and device-driven ecommerce.

The company is talking about the next tier of commercial data and how we use it and where it is used... where this goes next could be interesting, CEO Nelson has ideas that could push ERP data all the way through to the Internet of Things, that story must be told next.

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NetSuite SuiteCloud Developers: abandon the Microsoft Windows desktop metaphor

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NetSuite is keen to reinforce the fact that it is the only true cloud ERP player; the firm was around before this thing "called cloud was called cloud" and so has engineered both its customer and user/developer offerings for a more native embrace of the online world.

When NetSuite talks about its approach to User Interface design for the cloud's modern business applications, the company asserts that from its first release it "abandoned the Microsoft Windows desktop metaphor" of the previous era and moved applications into the world of the web. The company has subsequently echoed this pedigree that drives this mantra throughout the development of its own SuiteCloud Developer Network.

The message from NetSuite is that this is software application development for cloud programmers in the cloud, of the cloud and by the cloud.

Formally known as the SuiteCloud Developer Network (SDN), the firm offers a network of support resources designed to support programmers building what are called "SuiteApps" on its own platform for on-demand Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business management software.

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The SuiteCloud Developer Network has been established to offer what the firm calls "end-to-end tools" with commensurate levels of support in the form of comprehensive technical services and product management collaboration. The firm also offers extensive co-marketing and lead generation programs for SDN partners.

In terms of programming mechanics, Iman Sadreddin, senior director of commerce development at NetSuite says that, "NetSuite, JavaScript is our server-side language of choice. While JavaScript has traditionally been a client-side language, NetSuite makes use of server-side JavaScript, allowing customers to write complex business logic that runs efficiently in the cloud without having to learn a new language."

For cloud developers looking to physically start building cloud applications on NetSuite, the SDN is a route to resources to support a true on-demand platform that combines accounting along with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), inventory, customer relationship management (CRM) and ecommerce in a single system.

Once a cloud developer has built an application on SuiteApp they are able to list it on SuiteApp.com, NetSuite's online software solution directory. From that location, customers will be able to search for it by industry, business need or product name. External third party customers are also able to test out programmer's cloud applications right there on SuiteApp and then submit reviews which will benefit other potential users.

According to NetSuite, "The NS-BOS (NetSuite Business Operating System) gives developers, ISVs and solution providers a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) application development environment with a complete set of tools to build, integrate and distribute vertical applications for the real business cloud, faster than with any other Platform as a Service."

As well as data sheets and success stories designed to inspire other programmers, the SDN also offers use of NetSuite development accounts, product and API training, technical content and samples, technical webinars, beta participation, customer support alignment and integration guidance.

Is it 'wear your cloud to work' day, yet?

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Software application development professionals may have a new target market for programming to as a result of the growth in 'wearables' and their connection to cloud backend computing with big data analysis streams.

We say "may have", but let's just put that into context.

Sensors and wearables are about to have a huge impact upon the human race...

... a single transatlantic flight produces around 30 terabytes of potential sensor-based data that could be managed, stored and analysed for the greater good of passengers.

Take that estimated figure and mash that data up against other stored data sets and you can see where sensors (if also incorporated with wearable device data) could produce a new computing coalface upon which programmers can target new analysis-based applications.

Forget dress-down Friday... we are one step away from Wear Your Cloud To Work Day.

These suggestions are backed up by the cloud hosting provider industry itself too...

... a new study has emerged with "findings" analysing the impact of wearable technologies in the workplace on employee well-being, productivity and job satisfaction.

Preliminary results for The Human Cloud At Work (HCAW) report - the second part of a two-year collaboration between Rackspace and the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University London looking at cloud-enabled wearable devices and their impact on UK businesses & consumers - show that employee productivity increased by 8.5% over a one month period for employees wearing wearable technologies, with job satisfaction increasing by 3.5%.

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"These results show the potential power and application of wearable devices in the workplace from employee biometric CVs to organizational real-time executive dashboards for resource allocation," believes Dr Chris Brauer from the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths who led the study.

"Wearable technology is arguably the biggest trend since tablet computing so it's natural that employees and businesses will look to use these devices in the workplace. Using data generated from the devices organisations can learn how human behaviours impact productivity, performance, well-being, and job satisfaction. Employees can demand work environments and hours be optimized to maximize their productivity and health and well-being."

Overall, the results of the study built on the findings from last year's report - "The Human Cloud: Wearable Technology from Novelty to Productivity" - which showed cloud is powering the wearable technology revolution - providing the rich insights from big data and giving firms, employees and consumers information they can use to make positive changes to performance.

"Many wearable technologies are focused on improving some aspect of an individual's life - whether it is for health and fitness, focus and concentration, productivity or job satisfaction," explains Nigel Beighton, UK CTO of Rackspace.

"The big step change for both individuals and businesses is being able to analyze the raw data and understand the wider context surrounding the data, such as the weather location, posture, even temperature and mood of the individual. By focusing on the data as well as the devices, wearable technologies can provide meaningful insights that can be used to improve performance and satisfaction. Essentially wearable tech and big data go hand-in-hand."

The focus on having the necessary IT in place to extract meaningful insights from the data is a key finding from the Human Cloud at Work study. The research found that one employee created upwards of 30GB of data per-week from the three wearable devices. Scaled across an organisation this is clearly a huge amount of information that needs to be captured, stored and analysed.

Infrastructure is the challenge

... and finally, according to quantitative Vanson Bourne survey of 300 IT decision makers in the UK, the greatest perceived barrier to entry for wearable technology at work was IT infrastructure with 20% saying that it was vital to have the necessary technology in place to take advantage of the data being collected. It also found that 29% of UK businesses have some form of wearable technologies project in practice with the main reasons being employee well-being (16%) instant access to important information (15%) and improved customer service (14%).

EMC World 2014: what is a data lake?

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EMC says that the so-called "data lake" is the foundation for the next generation of our data warehouses, which (again according to EMC) will be specified by software that will create a software defined datacentre.

What is a data lake?

The concept of the data lake comes about as a result of the mainstream use of Hadoop - and the lake itself is also sometimes known as:

• Data Lake
• Bit Bucket
• Landing Zone

So is it all PR spin and buzzword bingo?

Well yes, obviously, to a degree, but there is also something of interest here if we look at the suggestion that companies have huge 'lakes' of information that they will want to analyse and gain insights from but ....

... but, much of that data will exist in multiple formats and so it becomes too costly to perform actions upon.

The data lake then is a location where firms can store "practically unlimited" amounts that exists in any format, schema and type.

It is cheaper than previous notions of any data store and relatively inexpensive.

It is, of course, also massively scalable.

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The word on this from EMC is that Pivotal HD offers a wide variety of data processing technologies for Hadoop - real-time, interactive and batch.

EMC Hadoop Starter Kit ViPR Edition is all about the firm's approach to being able to create data lakes.

According to the EMC official blog, we can add integrated data storage EMC Isilon scale-out NAS to Pivotal HD and you have a shared data repository with multi-protocol support, including HDFS, to service a wide variety of data processing requests.

"This smells like a data lake to me," says EMC.

"A general-purpose data storage and processing resource centre where big data applications can develop and evolve. Add EMC ViPR software defined storage to the mix and you have the smartest data lake in town, one that supports additional protocols/hardware and automatically adapts to changing workload demands to optimize application performance."

The company insists that EMC Hadoop Starter Kit, ViPR Edition, now makes it easier to deploy this 'smart' data lake with Pivotal HD and other Hadoop distributions such as Cloudera and Hortonworks.

SAP 'cloud & developer lead' Vishal Sikka resigns

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SAP's lead innovation man Dr Vishal Sikka has resigned.

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Formerly known as executive board member for products and innovation, many have come to regard Sikka as the company's lead spokesperson and visionary on cloud and software application development.

Dr Sikka has stepped down for personal reasons.

SAP's official statement from Hasso Plattner, chairman of the supervisory board of SAP AG read as follows:

"No company in the industry can do what SAP can do in the cloud with the SAP HANA platform today. I would like to personally thank Vishal for his contribution to take SAP to this stage. We will remain friends as he pursues the next step in his journey."

Industry commentators have of course labelled Sikka's departure as 'bad timing' given the proximity of the firm's Sapphire Now customer event scheduled for Orlando this June.

The Computer Weekly Developer Network has, on the other hand, been able to meet an extensive set of SAP cloud and developer evangelists and practitioners at user group events, programming hackathons and code jams and so... by way of offering a blog-centric opinion, we feel that the 'PR scales' were perhaps over-focused on Sikka's keynotes anyway -- SAP has a strong technical underbelly and it is not a one man (or woman) operation.

SAP will now appoint Robert Enslin and Bernd Leukert to the executive board to lead the firm's efforts to transition to the cloud and promote the development of the SAP HANA cloud platform.


Forget big data analytics, try geospatial complex diverse-data analytics

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water and we all understood big data and analytics, the industry bites back.

Just when you thought you knew enough about analytics to get through a technology news announcement without gagging at the phrase:

"With this tool, you can start to leverage real time actionable insights etc..."

Just when you thought you knew where data came from, the industry points you to spatial diverse-data and the need to perform analytics upon it.

Snide jibing and cheap jocularity aside, this is the trend evident in the latest update to TIBCO's analytics platform -- Spotfire 6.5, which arrives this week.

The firm says the new iteration is tuned to connect to diverse-data sources including new spatial data sources.

What is spatial data?

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Spatial data, or geospatial data, is information about a physical object that can be represented by numerical values in a geographic coordinate system. Generally speaking, spatial data represents the location, size and shape of an object on planet Earth such as a building, lake, mountain or township. Spatial data may also include attributes that provide more information about the entity that is being represented.

In TIBCO's world, spatial data is meant to convey an array of industry-related "complex data sources" and, using Spotfire, we are promised the ability to create rich visualisations to be able to interpret the meaning of data patterns and, further, use that insight onward in our software application development.

Veep of product management at TIBCO Lars Bauerle says that Spotfire 6.5 now provides development shops with the tools to build their own applications that can connect to complex data sources.

"Seamlessly," he added.

"Spotfire 6.5 allows customers to quickly build applications that use the power of data sources without exposing the complexity to end users, generating new levels of insights and discovery."

Spotfire 6.5 builds upon TIBCO Spotfire's location analytics experience and adds support for Esri ArcGIS and WMS location data, making Spotfire a route blend an organisation's GIS and analytics strategies.

"TIBCO continues to emphasise ease of use with version 6.5 of Spotfire," said Dan Vesset, program VP, business analytics and big data, IDC. "Easy connectivity to key data sources for app development, a desktop version, and even support for Esri ArcGIS seem likely to please many."

Customers now have easy access to a wealth of demographic, climate, geographic, and other data sources, as well as map projections that will add new layers of insight to location-based analyses.

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Spotfire 6.5, including TIBCO Spotfire Desktop 6.5, will be made available to current and new customers in May 2014.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

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