A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity, upcoming tenders and news items

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ConclusionTurning expected outcomes identified in the business strategy into reality, is high on the agenda of most senior managers. What is not well understood though is the role sound planning has to play in ensuring the outcomes are realised while meeting the typical project performance criteria such as delivery on time, costs kept within budget and ability to meet agreed service levels.

Project planning skills are not acquired overnight. They are based on a sound understanding of the project life cycle, as depicted in the diagram below, the ability to unravel the business strategy and plan the IT-related activities (tasks) needed to facilitate workplace change.

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Conclusion: Organisations with existing Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) may find them to be a poor fit when dealing with the unique circumstances surrounding a pandemic. The chief characteristic is massively depleted numbers of available workers, with as many as 25-40% of staff absent throughout the entire government and business eco-system. Those without effective plans face the prospect of severe disablement that may take many months of recovery. For them, urgent action is required to draft pandemic-specific BCPs or to modify, then test, existing BCPs.

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Conclusion:With infrastructure vendors jumping on the cloud bandwagon, their sales and marketing teams are increasingly using the terms “Cloud”, “Cloud Computing” and “Infrastructure Cloud”. From discussions with clients we have observed these terms are not well understood and mean a wide range of different things to different people.

This confusion is driven by a war between vendors to establish a definition of these terms that best suits their specific products, technologies and architectures. Until “Cloud Computing” and “Infrastructure Cloud” become commonly defined, which we expect to take at least until the end of 2010; be careful to define what you mean, and seek to understand what others mean by these terms to avoid significant misunderstandings between staff, vendors and partners.

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Conclusion:The Web, and social networks, as virtual places of conversation, challenge the role and effectiveness of an organisation’s communication management.

Traditional management and censorship in the unfettered communications world of the Web may only be effective to a limited degree. In this new communications landscape, organisations will have to train staff, and modify their traditional attitudes, to deal with the varied and complex online channels.

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Conclusion: Many organisations overcomplicate their desktop RFPs with technical jargon while underplaying some of the key operational and commercial considerations associated with their desktop procurement process. The end result can be a contract that while providing a desktop that meets the organisations technical needs, falls down in commercial areas such as competitive pricing over the contract life.

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Conclusion:Software as a service seems suspiciously familiar, bringing up old memories of time share mainframe computing systems in a different era, and more recent memories of application service provider based software offerings. Repackaging of old concepts in new terminology is a technique commonly used by software vendors. However, don’t dismiss software as a service due to a lack of technical innovation. The current attraction of SaaS is a result of changes in the economics of IT infrastructure.

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Conclusion:Privacy and data protection laws in Australia and NZ hold organisations, rather than their subcontractors, responsible for the activities of their subcontractors. Before committing to outsourcing any corporate data to a cloud computing vendor any organisation must ensure that all relevant legal constraints are agreed and in place so as to avoid any subsequent litigation. Ensuring and monitoring this may not be easy.

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Conclusion:The various techniques of WAN optimisation technology will eventually become a standard component of networks, but this does not negate the need for better application design. Currently, WAN optimisation technology provides the potential of a network band-aid until applications are consistently designed for truly mobile users.

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Related Articles:

"WAN optimisation, Part 2 - Your mileage may vary" IBRS, 2009-09-28 00:00:00

Conclusion: A decision to migrate an enterprises desktop operating environment from Microsoft Windows XP to Windows Vista in the near term, or to wait until Windows 7 is available and proven, is both technically and politically complex. The final decision depends heavily upon several key factors: the existing software and hardware infrastructure, Microsoft licensing arrangements, the sophistication of desktop management tools, scale of the help desk and ability to train end users and manage change.

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Conclusion: Properly managing a project portfolio and determining which projects can safely be delayed during the current difficult economic environment is a complex task. For example organisations which have been considering the selection and implementation of an enterprise document/records management system (EDRMS), but are nervous about the significant costs associated with such an implementation, should look carefully at the downsides of not having such a system.

The costs of implementing EDRMS can be high. However they can often be justified by the cost benefits that can be realised from a successful implementation, and productive use, of selective functions within a document management system, such as information capture, which can include payback periods of three to six months.

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A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity, upcoming tenders and news items

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In the last year billions and trillions seemed to be the only numbers that counted for anything anymore. The Australian government is raising approximately $1.5 billion dollars per week on bond markets; the US public debt could reach up $20 trillion dollars in five years. According to the International Money Fund, public debt in the world’s top 10 economies could balloon by 36% to 114% of GDP, or US$50,000 per capita by 2014; and let’s not forget the $680 trillion dollar OTC derivatives market, which may produce some more heart racing, and wealth destroying, events in the future.

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Conclusion: Before any organisation outsources any of its operations to a cloud computing provider it must be fully cognizant of, and have addressed to its satisfaction, the many potential legal problems and their consequences. These extend beyond, and can be more complex, than those that apply in traditional outsourcing agreements. Organisation must ensure that all legal issues have been addressed before committing any core systems to a cloud environment.

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Conclusion: Proprietary web services are raising concerns about strong lock-in. Those raising the alarm bells paint a simplistic picture based on the assumption that services such as Facebook are representative of the web service landscape. Upon closer examination it appears that the doomsday prophets have a vested interest in prolonging the use of localised IT infrastructure. In reality the concept of web services opens new possibilities to unbundle and mitigate lock-in, allowing internal IT to focus on the core business and to outsource the operation of non-core functionality.

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Conclusion: Any potential user of Google Apps should understand how Google operates and distributes software products and services. Google’s economies of scale may offer a compelling basis to utilise its software.

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Conclusion:As previously discussed, organisations must be exceedingly careful about how they deploy Microsoft desktop products within a virtual desktop environment, or risk exposing themselves to potentially millions of dollars of unexpected licensing fees. Worse, Microsoft’s own staff and channels have been known to misinterpret how Microsoft licensing works within virtual desktop environments, which is causing customers frustration, fear and potentially adding time and cost to virtual desktop initiatives. However, there are solutions (incorporating both legal and technological aspects) that can limit an organisation’s licensing exposure in virtual desktop environments. In this research note, we provide an overview of these solutions and demonstrate their application through several licensing scenarios, all of which have been validated by Microsoft.

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Conclusion: As the number of specialist IT services providers (software, operations and applications) increase each year and organisations choose to engage multiple (technology platform) service providers, organisations must implement tighter systems integration processes. If processes remain unchanged organisations the number of operational problems will increase and unless staff skills are updated it will take longer to resolve these problems.

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Conclusion: Given that the deadline for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance has passed, and that most cardholder data in Australia/New Zealand is extracted via SQL injection attacks, local organisations should ensure that their website security gets priority attention. This is a classic instance of where a moderate degree of effort will result in an important reduction in an organisation’s risk profile.

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Conclusion:In our November 2008 survey1we found many organisations are using archiving to manage their rapidly growing unstructured data. On further in-depth research we found that these archiving projects are mostly IT driven, focused on silos of data, and are largely limited to automating storage tiering (HSM) to control storage costs. While this is a sensible starting point, IT organisations could extract more value from archiving by offering enterprise search and eDiscovery to the data owners.

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Conclusion: Consistent with its belief that the global financial crisis has heralded a new era in IT, IBRS has identified a series of management maxims to serve as a source of reference for IT executives navigating economic uncertainty.

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Conclusion: During hard economic times it is not uncommon for IT to be instructed to consider a restructuring to better serve the organisation. However the temptation to reduce costs by relaxing governance, adjusting standards and reducing the service structure, even with the best of intentions, may result in inadequate service levels and where possible should be avoided.

Where business units within an organisation have enjoyed a fully collaborative and cooperative strategic planning and development relationship with IT it is important that Innovator CIOs continue to fulfil this role during the economic downturn. Reverting to a more defensive utility manager role will disadvantage IT when the turnaround comes and business and systems activity increases.

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Project managers often find management of the change process one of the hardest aspects to deal with in their projects. While they have been trained to deal with facts and figures using templates and other project management aids, rarely do they have the necessary skills and experience to successfully manage the workplace change associated with their projects.

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Conclusion: Organisations that allocate insufficient effort to planning for their desktop RFPs run the risk of achieving a sub-optimal outcome from their RFP. Less than competitive pricing over the contract life and a mismatch in buyer and vendor expectations are just two examples of the negative outcomes that can result from inadequate planning.

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A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity, upcoming tenders and news items

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Conclusion: There is still more hype in the media about cloud computing than uptake. Advocates promise dramatically improved ease of use, lowered costs driven by economies of scale, and much greater flexibility in sourcing and adapting to change. Nicholas Carr in his latest book2, predicts that cloud computing will put most IT departments out of business. "IT departments will have little left to do once the bulk of business computing shifts out of private data centres and into the cloud," Such arguments make it likely that organisations will increasingly place some or all of their IT supported services in “the cloud”. This makes these organisations dependent on the reliability of the vendor’s cloud offerings. If an organisation moves all or part of its IT services to a cloud environment it must first identify and understand the new risks it may be exposed to.

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Conclusion: Most decisions to outsource IT projects or functions offshore are based around the potential to make significant cost savings. There are however a number of other considerations that should be addressed before any final decision is made. If your organisation takes a measured approach to the activity, uses outside experts where necessary, and develops rigorous plans to address issues identified in the planning and successive stages of the project, then there is a high probability that your offshore outsourcing initiative will be successful.

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Conclusion: Management generally has a tendency to engage IT management consultants when an ill-defined problem exists and a solution seems intractable. Ideally consultants are expected to act as fog busters, demystifying the situation and proposing innovative solutions that ‘blow the client away’.

In reality consultants can only meet the client’s expectations if ‘all the cards’ are laid on the table and they participate in the demystifying activity. In contrast, little participation yields little reward for the client.

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Conclusion: Judging whether an organisation’s existing service management platform and processes are adequate and efficiently moving to an ITIL compliant service management platform is not a trivial task. An ITIL implementation can be likened to the implementation of an ERP and should be approached as such.

Implementation should be planned to provide quick wins with a longer term aim of complete process improvement.

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Conclusion:Despite the challenging economic climate, the data centre is a hive of activity with many organisations taking a strong interest in consolidating the data centre and running it as a shared service. Savvy manager will take the current economic slowdown as an opportunity to rationalise, consolidate and optimise the existing data centre infrastructure before the next growth cycle starts.

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Conclusion: Building valuable software solutions increasingly means building solutions that run on the web, and that are not dependent on any particular operating system. Pervasive web connectivity leads to a new paradigm for building software architectures that is based around the availability of high quality web services and around the conscious use of Open Source software in selected areas to reduce vendor lock-in.

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Conclusion: A decision to migrate an enterprise’s desktop operating environment from Microsoft Windows XP to Windows Vista in the near term, or to wait until Windows 7 is available, is both technically and politically complex. The final decision depends heavily upon many interrelated IT infrastructure factors, as well as business issues, not in the least of which are end-user animosity against Vista. However, senior IT executives and Enterprise Architects should not dismiss Vista as an option, nor rush to Windows 7 without first a careful evaluation of the risk and benefits of each.

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Conclusion: Microsoft’s Forefront Client Security will need to achieve a “better than” market perception before security professionals will consider it to be a reasonable and acceptable enterprise response; and this relates to both its anti-malware effectiveness, as well as its ability to be managed and automated in a heterogeneous environment. Obviously, security is a sensitive subject for Microsoft, so its efforts in achieving a “better than” market perception will be considerable, but it will also take the healing passage of time.

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Conclusion: IBRS believes the global financial crisis has heralded a new era in IT. Cost sensitivity will remain a key theme; cautious behaviour will predominate and the margin for error allowed by senior management in key areas such as IT project and service delivery will drop to unprecedented lows. To assist the CIO and others responsible for managing IT, IBRS has identified a series of maxims to serve as a source of reference to IT executives navigating through economic uncertainty.

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A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity, upcoming tenders and news items

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Conclusion: While the total cost of ownership model is helpful in an initial comparison of products and services, the familiar problem with TCO as an analytical methodology is evident1. This problem is especially clear when dealing with Google Apps because its costs of production and distribution are atypical of the software industry.

The assessment of price should be done in relation to, or in the context of features and benefits. These may be itemised as utilitarian functions and therefore it is possible to assign costs to each feature. The differences in requirements for each organisation mean that to a large degree, TCO evaluation should be done in the context of an organisation’s own situation.

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As we bid “adios” to Sol and his amigos it is appropriate to pause and reflect on the state of the telecommunications industry they leave behind in Australia.

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Conclusion: Many technical, and systems related, documents are hard to read and authors run the risk only a fraction of their target audience read them. Those that do read them have difficulty reading them with understanding. The problems with hard to read technical documents are likely to exacerbate as an older age group remain in the workforce and they represent a challenge for workers whose primary language is not English.If we are to have an efficient and productive workforce, we must ensure that those who need to can both read our documentation and understand it.

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Conclusion: As the economy enters recession both public and private organisations are trimming costs. There is emerging evidence that Google Apps Premier may have some appeal compared with other vendor products. Despite questions over Google’s capability and experience with channel partners, deeper investigation is worthwhile.

Organisations assessing Google Apps Premier must determine not only total cost of ownership, as Google does not have a model template to assist with that, but also whether the channel relationships will endure, as Google has almost no experience in running such programs.

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Conclusion: There are considerable efficiencies and cost savings to be realised through the implementation of robust IT asset lifecycle management processes in the desktop environment. Organisations which have not already done so should move to ensure the consolidation of these IT assets into a single repository, managed by the IT department through a set of well-defined processes. It is important to ensure the total support of the CEO and the acceptance and understanding of the requirement for formal IT asset management from the organisation.

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