As-a-Service

The Latest

12 April 2022: Low-code enterprise software developer OutSystems announced Integration Builder’s (IB) support for Generic PostgreSQL version 13, Aurora PostgreSQL version 12, as well as non-relational database MongoDB. Prior to the announcement, OutSystems only supported a limited number of platforms including MySQL, Oracle, Azure SQL and SQL Server. With more connection options for infrastructure servers, users can now better develop applications where data resides in Cloud-based, high-capacity, elastic databases.

Why it’s Important
As low-code plays an increasing role in application delivery, the adoption of open-source databases will become increasingly common for several reasons. First, it opens up low-code applications to existing solutions as well as allowing existing applications built upon these databases to be extended by low-code developers. Second, it has the potential to reduce the overall cost of low-code architecture. Finally, the inclusion of elastic databases allows low-code to be used for massive scale data applications.

Therefore, for organisations that are considering purchasing a new low-code platform with connected services from different sources, look into how the vendor caters to the evolving hyperscale Cloud computing market to support the scalability and high-performance needs of clients. As previously noted by IBRS, the most successful ones will require minimal changes in enterprises' existing SQL Server application code, speed of migration, and ease of switching to other tools post-migration.

Who’s impacted

  • CTO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts
  • Low-code centre of excellence

What’s Next?

Review the low-code spectrum to determine which types of low-code capabilities your organisation needs in the near and midterm, and which are most likely to be needed in the longer-term.
In addition, it is imperative to assess risks associated with adopting a new operating model and platform before investing in any low-code platform.

 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Considerations for Selecting Modern Low-Code Platforms
  2. VENDORiQ: AWS Babelfish Brings PostgreSQL to its Hyperscale Database

The Latest

5 April 2022: Amazon Web Services (AWS) launched AWS Billing Conductor for customisation of Cloud cost reporting and more accurate monthly billing data. Organisations can now organise accounts into billing groups, apply specific pricing packages, assess and edit pro forma expenses and reports, and compare rates between those applied to groups and current AWS rates.

Why it’s Important

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted 92 per cent of organisations to exceed their Cloud spend forecasts in the last 12 months, according to a recent report. As a result, many ICT groups are being asked to justify their increasing spend on Cloud services to optimise the enterprise’s purchase decisions.

Although Cloud can reduce overall costs in some areas of ICT's business as usual (BAU) expenditure (operational costs that are part of standard daily work), the increase in demand for computing and storage generally makes it appear that promised costs of savings from Cloud are not materialising. By allocating costs to specific business units’ consumption, deployment projects, use cases and new digital transformation initiatives, enterprises can identify which efforts drive the most Cloud spend. This goes a long way to clarifying why Cloud investments are worthwhile (or not, as the case may be).

Therefore, it is no longer sufficient to consider Cloud budgets as simply part of BAU, nor treated in the same way software costs have been treated in the past. These old approaches will mean that justifying Cloud spend will only ever be short-lived.

Cloud cost management tools that enable not just Cloud cost identification, but also allocation back to business benefits will be vital for identifying profitable technologies and projects within the Cloud. While there are other third party solutions in this space (such as VMWare’s CloudHealth, Cloudability and Densify), the AWS Billing Conductor will assist mid-sized organisations who cannot afford such services, or lack the skills needed to implement Cloud spend budgeting with better accuracy.

Who’s impacted

  • CMO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

IBRS has observed that many less mature organisations have a ‘sprawl’ of Cloud services that need to first be identified and then reined in, before cost optimisation products can be fully effective. Therefore, consider how Cloud business cases and ongoing budgets need to be communicated, and to whom, within your organisation. In addition, look into how you can set up a billing responsibility model and cost dashboard, designed for cost efficiency. Ideally, decisions around this should be made by the Cloud centre of excellence.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. VENDORiQ: Aussie Cloud-cost Specialist GorillaStack Expands What it Watches
  2. Cloud Financial Management is Optimised with Cloud Certified Partners
  3. How to get on top of Cloud billing

The Latest

May 2021: Talend, a vendor of data and analytics tools, released its Data Health Survey Report that claims 36% of executives skip data when making decisions, and instead go “with their gut”. At the same time, the report claims that 64% of executives “work with data everyday”. On the surface, these two figures seem at odds. However, the report goes on to claim 78% of executives “have challenges in making data drive decisions”, and this is largely due to data quality issues. However, the most interesting finding from the report is “those who produce and those who analyse data live in alternative data realities”.

Why it’s Important

At its core, this report highlights the issue of data literacy. The report was compiled from 529 responses from companies with over USD10 million in sales. A quarter of respondents were from the Asia Pacific region. However, IBRS cautions drawing Australia-specific inference, given that different markets have differing levels of data literacy maturity. No details were given for industry, which is also likely to impact data literacy maturity. In fairness, any more detailed analysis of a country or industry would not be feasible, given the sample size. 

The above concerns aside, the report does highlight the importance of data literacy: investments in big data tools are useless unless executives are knowledgeable and well versed in the key concepts of applying analytical thinking to business decisions. IBRS notes that without data literacy, the most common use of new self-service visualisation tools such as Power BI, Looker, Domo, Tableau, Qlik, Zoho and others, is to ‘prove’ executives' gut feelings. In short, too often visualisations tools are used to reinforce the ‘current ways of thinking’ rather than seek areas for improvement.  

The report’s statement that “those who produce and those who analyse data live in alternative data realities”, frequently underpins IBRS inquiries into why business intelligence and analysis programs fail to produce the expected business benefits.

Who’s impacted

  • Business intelligence/analytics teams
  • Senior line-of-business executives
  • Human resources/training teams

What’s Next?

ICT teams responsible for providing business intelligence and analytics services need to cease solely focusing on the tools and technologies and ‘getting data curated’, and spend time exploring which business decisions would most benefit from the application of analytical thinking. However, the ICT teams cannot do this alone. They need to be involved in uplifting data literacy among line-of-business executives and work closely with them to identify the decisions that not only can be addressed with data, but those that would make the biggest difference to organisational outcomes. This does not mean that all aspects of a data scientists role need to be explained to business executives. Rather, training executives in the principles of using data to inquire into issues or disprove current ways of doing things is more important.  

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Staff need data literacy – Here’s how to help them get it
  2. When Does Power BI Deliver Power to the People?
  3. The critical link between data literacy and customer experience

The government’s new tax incentives making it easier to depreciate software will help big businesses invest in their own software development but will do “bugger all” for Australian software companies and small and medium businesses, and may even create perverse incentives for large companies to invest in the wrong type of software, industry experts say.

IBRS advisor Joseph Sweeney, who works with numerous large organisations on their technology strategies said the policy was a positive step in recognising the need to increase development of a local digital services economy, but would do little to raise productivity in the small- and medium-sized business market, which accounts for half of Australia’s workforce. Dr Sweeney is midway through conducting a study into national productivity gains from Cloud services, and said the early data showed that introducing Software-as-a-Service solutions to small and mid-sized organisations was the quickest way to get tangible productivity gains.as
 
“By only allowing for offset in assets like CapEx in IT infrastructure and software, this policy has the potential to skew the market back towards on-premises solutions. It will certainly make the ‘total cost of operation’ calculations for moving to the Cloud less attractive,” Dr Sweeney said.
 

The Latest

29 April 2021: Cloud-based analytics platform vendor Snowflake has received ‘PROTECTED’ status under IRAP (Australian Information Security Registered Assessors Program).  

Why it’s Important

As IBRS has previously reported, Cloud-based analytics has reached a point in cost of operation and sophistication that it should be considered the de facto choice for future investments in reporting and analytics. However, IBRS does call out that there are sensitive data sets that need to be governed and secured to a higher standard. Often, such data sets are the reasons why organisations decide to keep their analytics on-premises, even if the cost analysis does not stack up against IaaS or SaaS solutions.

The irony here is that IT professionals now accept that even without PROTECTED status, Cloud infrastructure provides a higher security benchmark than most organisations on-premises environments.

However, security must not be overlooked in the analytics space. Data lakes and data warehouses are incredibly valuable targets, especially as they can hold private information that is then contextualised with other data sets.

By demonstrating IRAP certification, Snowflake effectively opens the door to working with Australian Government agencies. But it also signals that hyper-scale Cloud-based analytics platforms can not only offer a bigger bang for your buck, but greatly improve an organisation's security stance.

Who’s impacted

  • CDO
  • Data architecture teams
  • Business intelligence/analytics teams
  • CISO
  • Public sector tech strategists

What’s Next?

Review the security certifications and stance of any Cloud-based analytics tools in use, including those embedded with core business systems, and those that have crept into the organisations via shadow IT (we are looking at you, Microsoft PowerBI!). Match these against compliance requirements for the datasets being used and determine if remediation is required.

When planning for an upgraded analytics platform, put security certification front and centre, but also recognise that like any Cloud storage, the most likely security breach will occur from poor configuration or excess permissions.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Key lessons from the executive roundtable on data, analytics and business value
  2. VENDORiQ: AWS Accelerates Cloud Analytics with Custom Hardware
  3. IBRSiQ: AIS and Power BI Initiatives
  4. VENDORiQ: Snowflakes New Services Flip The Analytics Model

The Latest

18 March 2021: Zoho is a privately held, Indian, Cloud-based CRM vendor that has grown rapidly internationally. It has just turned 25 years old. While it’s CRM suite is not as sophisticated as that of SalesForce, it is supported by a suite of low-code development tools and marketing-oriented modules for small to mid-sized business.

zoho timeline

Why it’s Important

IBRS has noted that many Australian organisations - in particular the public sector - are only short-listing Salesforce and Dynamics for modern CRM. This is often due to the research into available CRMs being exclusively limited to vendors in leading positions on US-focused market research papers, or advice from consultancies that only refer to such public materials.

To ensure the best suite at the best cost-point is selected, IBRS strongly recommends that the following be considered during the shortlisting process: 

  1.  Be sure to explore niche CRM products, as some of these may have a better fit or specific industry sector focus that can deliver benefits more quickly and at significantly lower costs than the leading products. Just because a solution as complex as a CRM is leading the market, does not mean it is necessarily the best for your organisation.
  2. When reading international reports, keep in mind that North America and Europe have different technology market ecosystems to Australia. In particular, skills availability (and therefore costs) differ. Be sure to factor in local issues.
  3. Carefully consider your starting point. How complex is your software environment? Factor your organisation’s networking infrastructure and the integration requirements both immediate and longer term.
  4. Leverage the channel capabilities and skills of local implementation partners. Implementation partners play a significantly greater role in a CRM’s successful implementation than the product itself. It is therefore vital that buyers not only consider the product in question, but also the available partners. 

The ultimate impact of limiting modern CRM (and related digital services) to the major vendors is that organisations may find themselves paying for far more than they need in a system, while also introducing more complexity into business operations than is necessary. 

IBRS is not suggesting that Zoho (or any of the other niche CRMs from the myriad available) is right for your organisation. Salesforce and Dynamics are exceptional products. However, many organisations do not need exceptional: they simply need more than good enough for their current and future needs, and they need it quickly and at the right cost point.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO
  • Digital platform leads
  • Procurement teams
  • Business units executives

What’s Next?

Shortlists are critical for keeping procurement agile and within scope. However, do not short-change the shortlisting process by relying on generic reports that do not factor in:

  • specific industry needs
  • the Australian context
  • local channels and skills 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Trends for 2021-2026: No New Normal and Preparing For the Fourth-wave of ICT
  2. VENDORiQ: Salesforce Introduces Hyperforce
  3. Salesforce vs Dynamics
  4. CRM Modernisation Part 5: Microsoft Dynamics vs Salesforce Total Cost of Service
  5. IBRSiQ: Can IBRS Review Our Dynamics365 (D365) Licensing Calculations?

 

The Latest

20 March 2021: GorillaStack has released capabilities that allows it to monitor and apply governance rules to any external service that communicates with AWS EventBridge.

Why it’s Important

GorillaStack is one of the earliest vendors to address the complexities of Cloud cost management, having started in Australia in 2015 and moved to having strong growth in the international market. In May 2020, GorillaStack was acquired by the switzerland-based SoftwareOne.

Like its international competitors, GorillaStack moved from helping organisations monitor and optimise their Cloud spend, to monitoring the Cloud ecosystems for performance and security concerns. This recent announcement suggests that the next phase of growth for organisations in the Cloud cost optimisation space is not only to detect events in Cloud infrastructure, but also external services, and then apply rules to perform specific actions on those events. Such rules can not only automatically help reduce Cloud spend by enforcing financial governance directly into the Cloud infrastructure, but also helping to enforce security rules.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIO
  • Development team leads
  • Business analysts

What’s Next?

Cloud cost optimisation is already an important discipline for organisations with mature Cloud teams. Like software asset management (SAM), tools alone will not see organisations optimise their expenditure on Cloud services. An understanding of the disciplines required and setting up appropriate rules is needed. In addition, IBRS notes that many less-mature organisations have a ‘sprawl’ of Cloud services that need to first be identified and then reigned in before cost optimisations products can be fully effective. 

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. New Generation IT Service Management Tools Part 2: Multi-Cloud Management
  2. How to Get on Top of Cloud Billing
  3. Sourcing Monthly April 2020 – May 2020

The Latest

17 February 2021: Google Apigee announced the release of Apigee X, its latest edition of its API management solution.

Why it’s Important

IBRS has found that the topic of APIs has moved out of the boiler room to the boardroom. During a series of roundtables with CEOs, CFOs and Heads of HR in late 2019, IBRS noted that many of these executives were advocates for ‘API enabled enterprise solutions’. Upon further questioning, these non-technical executives were able to accurately describe the core concepts and purposes of APIs. Much of their knowledge had come from engagements with combined SalesForce / Mulesoft sales teams. During 2020, the demand for rapid digitisation of processes with low-code platforms further raised the profile of API usage.

Expectations for APIs are high. Meeting those expectations demands a structured approach to management of APIs, and the ability to report on their usage. 

Who’s impacted

  • CTO
  • Software development teams

What’s Next?

Consider how the topic of APIs - which many executives see as critical for evolving business functions, or even a building block of digital transform efforts, needs to be communicated within the organisation. Explore how the adoption of low-code platforms both within and tangential to the ICT group will further expand the use of APIs. If not already available, put in place a roadmap for the introduction of API management capabilities, factoring both governance issues and supporting technologies.

Related IBRS Advisory

  1. Architectures for Mobilised Enterprise Applications
  2. Running IT-as-a-Service Part 15: Traditional enterprise architecture is irrelevant to digital transformation
  3. IBRSiQ: Can IBRS advise on the pros and cons of best of breed combined EAM/ERP vs fully integrated ERP/EAM?
  4. The impact of Software-as-a-Service on enterprise solutions: Why you must run IT-as-a-Service
  5. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) Part 2: Planning the ERP strategy for modernisation
  6. How to succeed with eforms Part 4: Selection framework
  7. Making the case for enterprise architecture

The Latest

2 December 2020: Salesforce introduces Hyperforce. This move is a re-architecture of Salesforce’s design to continually support its global customer base. It has B2B and B2C performance scalability, built-in security, local data storage, and backward compatibility.  

Hyperforce allows Salesforce solutions to be run on a hyper scale Cloud service based on the client’s choice. These solutions include:

  • Sales Cloud
  • Service Cloud
  • Community Cloud
  • Chatter
  • Lightning Platform (including Force.com)
  • Site.com, Database.com
  • Einstein Analytics (including Einstein Discovery)
  • Messaging
  • Financial Services Cloud
  • Health Cloud, Sustainability Cloud
  • Consumer Goods Cloud
  • Manufacturing Cloud
  • Service Cloud Voice
  • Salesforce CPQ and Salesforce Billing
  • Customer 360 Audiences

Why it’s Important

Being able to move a SaaS solution to the Cloud based on client's preference, is a radical departure from convention for most major SaaS vendors. It is likely to be followed by other SaaS solution vendors, though Oracle’s close ties with Netsuite and Microsoft Dynamics with Azure, suggest Salesforce’s two main rivals will not be following this strategy any time soon.

This is a long-overdue overhaul for the entire Salesforce architecture as it needs to offer both architectural and commercial elasticity to aid customer’s global digital transformation.

It solves data sovereignty issues and provides all the advantages of using public Cloud resources. It also reduces implementation time despite being an enhanced architecture designed from the ground up to help customers deliver workloads to the public Cloud of choice.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIOs
  • CTOs
  • CRM leaders
  • Salesforce developers

What’s Next?

While the Hyperforce announcement is welcoming, there are still loopholes in the horizon. The solution is not available for on-prem implementations of the major Cloud vendors. Meaning, Hyperforce is not a path to an on-prem or hybrid Cloud solution.

For Australian organisations that aim to gain more control over how Salesforce stores information, either for compliance or cost control, to bring it closer to other Cloud services, Hyperforce is worth considering. It offers greater flexibility but also comes with a greater need for managing resources and costs. 

Before making any decision on moving to Hyperforce, Salesforce clients should have clear understanding of the following migration aspects:

  • Who will do the migration (i.e. the client or Salesforce)?
  • Who will deal with the public IaaS provider on a daily basis?
  • How will the current service cost be impacted?
  • Who will be responsible for the service management of public IaaS including the service desk?
  • What are the new risks that should be identified and mitigated?
  • Are there any changes to the current backup arrangements?
  • Are there any changes to the disaster recovery and business continuity arrangements?
  • How will the current change management arrangements change?
  • How the exit fees might change?

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

2 Dec 2020: Salesforce Signs Definitive Agreement to Acquire Slack. The forthcoming merger of Salesforce and Slack provides an avenue for a new operating system of how e-commerce organisations and companies grow and succeed in the digital space. The merger is anticipated to close in the second quarter of Salesforce’s fiscal year 2022. 

Why it’s Important

Salesforce has struggled to shore up offerings in the collaborative side of the business, which will evolve to be an important part of modern CRMs and ERPs, along with low code dev and integration for process automation and business intelligence tools for analytics. The planning acquisition of Slack rounds out Salesforce’s ‘magic four’ components of a modern digital workplace. 

The Slack acquisition aims at heading off increasingly strong competition from Microsoft’s Dynamics, the Power Platform, Power BI, and Teams.

Who’s Impacted

  • CIOs
  • CFOs
  • COOs

What’s Next?

Consider your future digital workplace architecture based on these five high-level platforms: 

  • A platform consisting of central systems of record (e.g., CRM, ERP, etc.) in the Cloud or Cloud-like environments
  • An integration platform that surrounds the mentioned platforms 
  • A one (or likely two) low-code platform(s) 
  • A platform that provides the needed collaboration tools  
  • A federated information management platform 

Though these five platforms need not all come from the same vendor, nor even be made up of a single vendor’s solutions, Microsoft, Salesforce, and little-known Zoho are all vying for the entire set. The competition for the overall ‘Enterprise Digital DNA’ will heat up significantly through to 2025.  

IBRS expects Salesforce and possibly Microsoft to make new investments in information management platforms from 2021 to 2022. There will be rapid expansion, followed by feverish consolidation of the low code platform market.

Related IBRS Advisory

The Latest

19 Nov 2020: During its annual summit, Snowflake announces a series of new capabilities: a development environment called Snowpark, support for unstructured media, row-level security for improved data governance and a data market.

Why it’s Important

Of Snowflake’s recent announcements, Snowpark clearly reveals the vendor’s strategy to leverage its Cloud analytics platform to enable the development of data-intensive applications. Snowpark allows developers to write applications in their preferred languages to access information in the Snowflake data platform.

This represents an inversion of how business intelligence / analytics teams have traditionally viewed the role of a data warehouse. The rise of data warehouses was driven by limitations in computing performance: heavy analytical workloads were shifted to a dedicated platform so that application performance would not be impacted by limits of database, storage and compute power. With Cloud-native data platform architectures that remove these limitations, it is now possible to leverage the data warehouse (or at least, the analogue of what the data warehouse has become) to service applications.

Who’s Impacted

Development teams
Business intelligence / analytics architects

What’s Next?

Snowflake's strategy is evidence of a seismic shift in data analytics architecture. Along with Domo, AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google and other Cloud-based data platforms that take advantage of highly scalable, federated architectures, Snowflake is empowering a flip in how data can be leveraged. To take advantage of this flip, organisations should rethink the structure and roles within BI / analytics teams. IBRS has noted that many organisations continue to invest heavily in building their BI / analytics architecture with individual best-of-breed solutions (storage, databases, warehouse, analytics tools, etc), while placing less focus on the data scientists and business domain experts. With access to elastic Cloud platforms, organisations can reverse this focus - putting the business specialists and data scientists in the lead. 

Related IBRS Advisory
Workforce transformation: The four operating models of business intelligence
Key lessons from the executive roundtable on data, analytics and business value

The Latest

13 Nov 2020: Google Cloud announced preview availability of a serverless Database Migration Service (DMS), which enables clients to migrate MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server databases to Cloud SQL from on-premises environments or other clouds. 

Why it's Important 

Refactoring applications to take advantage of Cloud-native databases is one of the fastest cost-optimisation opportunities for organisations migrating to Cloud services. Cloud-native databases offer cost-efficiencies in both technical terms (e.g. storage costs) and operational savings (e.g. auto-tuning and scaling). However, the cost of migrating can be a sticking point in the development of business cases, especially where specialised outside help is required. 

Google DMS addresses the above by simplifying and reducing the cost of database migration. It eliminates the need to provision migration-specific compute resources.

Azure and AWS have their own database migration approaches, and even though Google’s solution is in its infancy, it has a solid road map.

Who’s Impacted

Organisations with Adobe Marketing Cloud and related investments, and Workfront customers.

  • Enterprise Architects
  • Cloud Migration / Strategic leads

What’s Next

Organisations with Cloud migration strategies should be comparing how to not only optimise the cost of running Cloud databases, but also the cost and agility of migration. This consideration should not rest upon one use case, but assume that an increasing number of databases will be migrated over time, both from on-premise and from other Cloud providers.  

Close ‘like-for-like’ calculations suggest that Google’s MySQL database services are lower than that of both Azure and AWS, though direction comparisons are difficult given the number of possible configurations. Therefore, while Google is not a major Cloud player in the ANZ region (compared to AWS and Azure) it can be considered as an option for cost-optimisation in a multi-Cloud setting.

Related IBRS Advisory

In this interview, Dr Wissam Raffoul outlines a practical and effective approach to migrating to an As-a-Service model. 

Sydney-based IT analysis firm IBRS has launched maturity assessment and methodology tools to assist organisations with the task of SaaS migration.

In order to improve business performance, or reduce the cost of doing business, forward-thinking IT organisations are trying to run IT as a service (ITaaS), said Dr Wissam Raffoul from IBRS.

“There are many challenges; for example, long software implementation time lines, fragmented delivery processes, as well as insufficient skilled resources to meet business demands,” said Dr Raffoul.

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