Conclusion:Cloud computing is promoted as the next disruptive technology in the organisational use of IT. If this does happen, no matter what else changes there are some verities which must not change, in particular meeting legal requirements. There are at least seven areas where a move to cloud computing should not be contemplated unless the legal requirements can be demonstrably satisfied.

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Conclusion: Google Apps' products are developing rapidly. These developments range from the large and significant, to the small minor adjustments. Google has increased its pace of development, and enterprise users will want to gain a strategic view of how the Apps mature in the next two years.

Google Apps' driving force, Rajen Sheth defines the corporation's main ambitions in two areas: to improve functionality, perhaps in ways that have not been considered by users, and to redefine enterprise messaging and collaboration. Whether they can achieve such ambitions is not foreseeable but they will offer many new tools and enhancements to reach that objective.

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Conclusion:The transitioning of work being outsourced from client to service provider is the highest risk part of any outsourcing deal. If problems arise in the transition there can be serious consequences to the client organisation's business activities, especially in situations where the availability of IT systems is critical to business operations.

Despite this many clients organisations take a "hands off" approach to the transition, as in their view it is a service provider responsibility. The client executive must not abdicate responsibility and instead must take an active role in overseeing the transition.

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Some commentators have been sceptical about Google''s intentions with the Chrome OS. Is it a mere distraction? Why has Google bothered?Is Chrome part of a broader plan? As a former CIO, Chrome appears to me as just one element in a complete armoury of products Google is developing, all aimed at the CIO heartland.

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

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Conclusion: Cloud computing is not a new environment, merely the extension of a number of technologies that support IT outsourcing (bureaux, ASPs, SaaS, IaaS, PaaS). Cloud computing is technology-driven but will be and is likely to become “the next disruptive technology” in sourcing. Rightly or wrongly, many have been jumping on the cloud bandwagon because they’ve been driven to reduce costs. However, many potentially significant legal problems and their consequences have yet to be addressed. These legal issues extend beyond, and can be more complex than those that apply in traditional outsourcing agreements. Organisations considering outsourcing business applications to cloud computing must consider all relevant legal challenges at the same time as they explore the technologies.

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Conclusion: IT departments that do not effectively engage with users, at all levels, within an organisation will fail to actively promote both their services and the value they can add and, as a result, will find themselves disadvantaged during times of cost cutting.

A lack of understanding by the user of the role, the position and the contribution of IT within an organisation can lead to significant issues between IT and users.

Open communication, and an understanding and respect for each other’s roles, vision, goals and objectives can go a long way to resolving these issues.

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Conclusion: Google is working in a dynamic market exploring and challenging current approaches. While that evolving plan may confuse some observers, it may succeed, though perhaps not exactly in the way originally set out.

To help understand what Google is doing in the enterprise market, IBRS interviewed the founder and driving force of Google Apps.

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Conclusion:Increasing server power density means that the cost of power will become a critical driving force in the data centre market. Data centre operators are now talking about adding costs for power consumption to older metrics based on the number of racks or square metres. These new pricing formulas will favour organisations running virtualised environments. Consequently, many hosted organisations will perform physical to virtual migrations over the next 12 months to reduce both their power consumption and physical space costs.

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Conclusion: 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: Migrating physical servers to virtual machines is a one-off project that requires deep specialised knowledge, and IT organisations should engage a specialist third party to develop the migration plans and to perform the physical to virtual migration. This leaves IT staff free to focus on the acceptance testing of the migrated applications and on learning how to manage the environment to drive the greatest benefit from the new virtualised infrastructure.

IT organisations that have not migrated the majority of their x86 workloads to virtualised servers should evaluate the costs, risks and benefits of this migration, then identify the triggers that can be used to drive this.

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Conclusion:Departmental computing in most organisations today is pervasive, commonplace and almost impossible to control. Because it is used widely and for multiple purposes line managers, who fail to supervise its use, are allowing an unsustainable situation to continue.

Attempts to bring departmental computing under control and minimise the risks, while a worthy objective, will fail unless senior management is committed to fixing the problem and forcing line to act. Failure will not only compound the risks, it will increase the hidden (or below the surface) costs of departmental computing.

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Conclusion:Organisations are drowning in complexity and information overload. At the same time, saving costs is at the top of the agenda. The only realistic path forward lies in tackling complexity head-on by deploying analytical techniques that help identify spurious complexity and confirm intrinsic complexity. Subsequently spurious complexity can be removed by surgical intervention, one step at a time.

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Conclusion: The recent media frenzy regarding Google’s soon-to-be-released operating system is not a sign of a serious competitor to Microsoft’s Windows Operating system – it’s the last gasps of a dying IT topic. That is, the importance of the operating system. As the computing power of underlying hardware on non-desktop devices (SmartPhones, handheld devices, netbooks, game consoles and so on) increase, and as consumers become increasingly technology savvy, users are caring less about the operating system and more about the overall ‘usability’ and ‘experience’ of the applications on the devices, which are provided by user interface layers that reside above the operating system. While operating systems will remain a consideration for IT architects, they will increasingly be a moot point for users. This has significant implications for IT management.

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Conclusion: From adversity springs creativity. History shows straitened economic times can serve as a greenhouse, rapidly germinating seeds of ideas that may otherwise have taken longer to establish themselves. Six clear trends have emerged from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) providing business advantage to early adopters. The common thread is their potential to deliver organisational efficiencies, savings, or both. IBRS believe these trends are likely to deserve a place in the IT firmament for a considerable time. CIOs should defensively review these trends; the outcome may be selective adoption or deferral, but their potency cannot be ignored.

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Recently Wired magazine featured an interview with the CEO of Facebook where Mark Zuckerberg claims that Facebook does not regard other online networking platforms as competition, but that Google is the real competitor.

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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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