Conclusion: In 2008, corporate databases reached unprecedented sizes. Yet despite the abundance and diversity of data, many organisations remain challenged by Business Intelligence (BI) initiatives. They buy on vendor promise, but many have difficulty fulfilling it. Against this backdrop, and in a confusing post-acquisition market, BI vendors continue to release increasingly sophisticated and capable products.

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

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Conclusion: Despite the increasing trend to multi sourcing of IT services there are still occasions where sole sourcing is more appropriate for an organisation. Often this can involve direct negotiations with a single service provider without the use of a competitive bid. In such situations the buying organisation needs to develop an engagement strategy that ensures there is sufficient executive management involvement and competitive tension in the negotiations such that its sole sourcing objectives are achieved. 

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Conclusion: Over the next 7 years the typical commodity IT infrastructure1 will be ‘reinvented’ from today’s network of independent servers and storage into a unified computing resource that looks and behaves remarkably like the old mainframe. This new infrastructure will blend the best attributes from each architecture to create a highly agile, robust and cost effective environment that is based on commodity components.

While the key technologies are available today, due to the inertia of the existing environment, and the cultural barriers in IT and the business, this journey will take most organisations 5-7 years to complete. IT organisations can hasten the journey by breaking down the siloed, hardware centric cultures that exist in their organisation. To succeed, the commodity IT infrastructure must be reinterpreted as a unified, shared resource, where a server is a mere component, rather than as a loose network of servers owned and managed by individuals or groups.

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A thorough technology trends analysis, identifying upcoming initiatives in the development of technology and assessing their value and relevance, is an important phase when preparing the IT Goal State of an IT Strategic Plan.

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Conclusion: Biometric authentication can be an effective inclusion for organisations to reduce the risk of unauthorised access. However, as the general public becomes more informed on privacy issues, their tolerance for data breaches involving biometric data will plummet. Organisations that are named and shamed for failing to protect biometric data will suffer the consequences of excruciating scrutiny, as well as increased legislative and regulatory conditions. For the majority of Australasian organisations the cost and complexity of deploying biometric authentication correctly are prohibitive, and the costs of deploying it incorrectly are unacceptable.

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Conclusion: A perfect IT storm is looming, driven by merging category 4 storms such as Utility (or cloud) computing, and the Red Shift growth in massive computing. The force of the storm will be exacerbated by rising energy costs and their impact on the data centre energy budget. As a consequence, in a few years many mid to large organisations have at least all their non-differentiating applications running on remote shared SaaS-like sites. This will have a significant impact on the IT department and it’s CIO.

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Conclusion: Web 2.0 technologies promise to deliver greater productivity and seamlessly collaborated, workers. While the tools can be applied to a range of functions, and may probably assist in evolving hybrid business processes, the proclaimed big productivity gains are speculative.

Once the work re-processes and investments are factored in, the implementation of many Web 2.0 technologies may pose a substantial cost to an organisation. Therefore any potential productivity boost is likely to be diminished.

Even so, examining the range of technologies, picking the best and most suitable of the Web 2.0 options may be a wise choice for organisations as they evolve work practices for the future.

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Conclusion: There is a clear trend towards specialisation amongst software vendors, not limited to vertical markets, but also in terms of a concentration on specific areas in the technology landscape. As a result, many software products are becoming more focused and robust, and the opportunities for implementing modular enterprise architectures are increasing.

This article is the second in a series of three on technologies and techniques that are leading to fundamental changes in the architectures used to construct software applications and software intensive devices.

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Conclusion: Programs aimed at reducing IT and business operating costs are more likely to succeed if the targets are realisable, stakeholders committed and there is a clear roadmap for the journey. Conversely, cost reduction programs that have unrealistic targets, or are the brainchild of senior managers and linked to their incentive bonuses, are unlikely to succeed.

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A number of vendors and thinkers have been promoting the idea of putting the entire data centre in a shipping container. These pre-assembled mobile data centres can come complete with pre-installed networking, power and cooling systems and can be transported by truck and quickly made operational. The approach is touted when temporary, mobile data centres need to be set up, such as in disaster-recovery situations. It is also being promoted as viable as organisations struggle with providing adequate IT resources for their IT dependant operations.

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

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Conclusion: Whether anyone takes international surveys such as the United Nation's worldwide e-Government survey seriously or not, they are used and referred to widely. They are important in establishing where a country wants to be in delivering e-government services, and the survey results indicate why our governments are not leading other nations.

Applying some of the lessons learned from the Scandinavians, who always seem to perform well in international exams, is one obvious strategy for Australasian governments to help them do better next time; but the key element of any successful e-government strategy is not technological: it is the connection with citizens. Technology in this instance simply facilitates contact.

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Conclusion: In most organisations Windows based desktops are ubiquitous and the hardware and software has largely become a commodity. However, in spite of this the desktop Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) still varies wildly across organisations.

The major source of variation in TCO is the relative maturity of an organisation’s desktop management processes. CIOs seeking to lower their desktop TCO should first look closely at their desktop management processes before evaluating new desktop deployment models, i.e., Virtual Desktops, Thin Desktops.

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Engaging with senior management early in the IT Strategic Planning process, to understand their personal views on how IT can be used to assist the organisation achieve its objectives is beneficial. This process has the affect of elevating the importance of the IT Strategic Plan in their minds and helps to ensure their cooperation and support when the outputs from the plan are being implemented. Failure to do this will inevitably lead to difficulties when implementing the IT Strategic Plan into areas of the organisation where there has been little or no senior management input.

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Conclusion: For most corporate IT departments, concepts such as Cloud Computing seem light years away from current day-to-day reality. Yet the number of commercial providers of such services is growing fast, and even more far-fetched ideas such as global software service supply chains are emerging on the horizon. The distance between innovators and late adopters of modern techniques and technologies is growing. In this scenario it is essential to know when not to remain amongst the late adopters, to avoid being left behind in the dust and struggling with evaporating profit margins.

This article is the first in a series of three on technologies and techniques that are leading to fundamental changes in the architectures used to construct software applications and software intensive devices. First examples of these changes are already visible today, and over the next five years, many of the current rules for architecting business applications will be re-written.

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Conclusion: IT managers planning business-to-business integration, or with the need to couple old-school EDI (Electronic Document Interchange) and legacy ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning systems) with modern web-based architectures must look towards a uniform message-based middleware infrastructure. If the organisation is already moving down the .Net deployment path BizTalk R2 is now a contender along with the more traditional products, such as Tuxedo and Tibco.

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Conclusion: Too often corporate decision making is not a rational and well structured process.. The team charged with making the decision often accumulates a lot of information, probably biased by their own values, then goes into a room and emerges with a decision. This approach is a poor basis for making complex or important decisions  

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Conclusion: Many non finance matters have to be considered before entering a leasing arrangement for IT assets. IT and Finance managers must weigh up the merits of each situation and decide whether it is advantageous to buy the asset and maintain control of it, or lease it and free up the cash for business growth. Having a blanket policy to always buy or lease makes little business sense.

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Conclusion: Analysing the challenges of portable electronic devices (PEDs) through the PED trilemma model breaks down the problem into three addressable aspects which can more easily be tackled, often by non-technical means. IT departments can manage the inundation of PEDs into corporate networks; but only with unambiguous commitment from senior business managers. IT can get commitment from these managers by using charge-back models.

If we put a dollar sign in the middle of the trilemma, we can show that expansion on any of the three sides results in a total increase in support costs (represented by the area in the middle). IT should use charge-back models for PED support to the business units. An appropriate charge-back mechanism forces business units to carefully consider their choices. The days of gluing up USB ports are long gone.

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Conclusion: When a CIO is appointed he or she becomes the centre of attention in their new IT ecosystem. Major demands will be placed on the CIO’s time by those seeking to espouse their views on IT and effective judgement will be needed to filter essential input from dross. Being visible and accessible within the organisation is important at this time. Drawn from broadly-based stakeholder input, a principle-based framework needs to be established setting out the new IT leader’s agenda. This should be followed through with decisive action. Adjust the plan quarterly to ensure continued relevance.

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This month saw the beta launch of Microsoft’s Office Live, a Web 2.0 collaboration tool by Microsoft. The free service is yet another attempt by the Redmond Giant to halt the incessant march of Google. By going into a space that is normally associated with Google, Microsoft hopes to once again leverage its monopoly status with its desktop productivity tools to keep an upstart competitor off guard.

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Conclusion: Re-negotiation is often the preferred option when restructuring of an outsourcing agreement is being considered. If well managed, the benefits of such an exercise can be positive for both the client organisation and the service provider. However, considerable preparatory planning needs to be done and suitably experienced client resources must be assigned to the exercise if the client organisation is to achieve its objectives.

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IGNORING the use of personally owned portable electronic devices in the corporate network is a trap IT departments must avoid, a study shows.

Users of personally owned PEDs are increasingly expecting full functionality and interaction with corporate resources, according to analyst IBRS.
 

A briefing paper, titled Portable electronic devices (PEDs): a frog close to the boil, warns that Apple's iPhone and Google's Android will exacerbate the situation in the short term. It says IT managers must focus their response to PEDs on the corporate network or face a gradual but substantial drain on IT resources.

Original article here... 

Conclusion: Collaboration is not something you can buy. It is not a product. It is not even a solution. It is an approach to doing business. As such, collaboration initiatives must be viewed more as a transformative business project with IT support. Large-scale, monolithic collaborative initiatives run exclusively by IT will prove difficult to justify over time and likely turn out to be white-elephants. Instead, collaboration should be driven first and foremost by a change in company culture fully backed by management, with IT supplying a supportive network and software service architecture.

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As an organisation’s dependence on a fully functioning and secure IT Network delivering an IT environment enabling business to be conducted successfully grows, it is important that the integrity of that network is protected to the highest degree possible. While there are many software and hardware products available in the market to help to ensure this protection it is also important that, at the human level policies and procedures are put in place to protect the network from misuse by its users. As an important part of IT governance organisations must compile, publish, maintain and enforce IT Network Policies to help ensure the integrity of the IT Network.

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Conclusion: Personally owned Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) are being introduced into the corporate network and users are increasingly expecting full functionality and interaction with corporate resources. Apple’s iPhone, and Google’s Android will exacerbate the situation in the short term. Looking at the problem using the perspective of the PED trilemma - ubiquity, multiformity and capability – presents an opportunity for IT departments to work on a strategy for control. Just like the fire triangle (heat, fuel, oxygen) if you can control one aspect, then the situation becomes manageable. IT managers must use the three aspects of the PED trilemma to focus their response to PEDs on the corporate network, or face a gradual though significant drain on IT resources

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

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Conclusion: From the moment a new CIO is appointed, the clock starts ticking as organisational scrutiny commences. Generally, a new CIO has 100 days to prove his or her worth. However, from the new CIO’s point of view, the clock should start ticking 20 days earlier. This is when savvy incoming CIOs can carry out due diligence on their new organisation and begin planning to ensure the strongest possible impression is made in the vital 100 days. In addition, the new CIO needs to carefully select the most appropriate driving modalities that best characterise the major themes the new IT leader will pursue. Failure to act as outlined may prove career limiting.

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Conclusion: Through various channels of the media the news that the first wave of Baby Boomers are retiring implies some uncertainty. While it is true that those people who are 60 are retiring, the actual numbers are quite small and the flow on effect to the economy not large – just yet.

Population, like the planet, is something accepted as a basic fact, but like the initiatives to reverse global warning and operate in a sustainable way, significant changes are happening to the composition of the population that alter sixty years of accepted facts.

Organisations cannot create a single strategy to deal with demography but the effects of demographic change must be catered for in the next decade. In the broadest terms, with fewer young people and more older people, different approaches to training and skills, working arrangements and communication with the market are likely. Organisations that have seen and planned ahead may not only find a competitive advantage but an easier transition to the changes that will ensue.

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Conclusion: One widely used mechanism for identifying project issues and assessing the overall status of projects is the concept of the project Health Check. The concept of an independent review, generally of high risk projects, has proven useful in providing guidance to management as to where corrective action needs to be applied in order to improve the prospects of project success. 

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Conclusion: IBRS and other key IT industry commentators are reporting that Green Computing will be one of the areas receiving increased attention from senior management in 20081. The senior IT team should anticipate this increased attention and have a Green IT strategy agreed with senior management, in place, and active. This means that they will already be focused on their organisation’s strategic Green issues for instead of hastily adopting ad hoc and less than optimal green IT measures.

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Conclusion:One of the more common mistakes that organisations make in implementing Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is assuming that introducing the concept of services into the architecture and conforming to SOA-related technical industry standards amounts to a sufficient condition for the development of a maintainable software architecture. Getting software design right additionally requires a solid component architecture underneath the visible layer of business services.

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Since the turn of the decade IT infrastructure has undergone an incredible transformation driven by the rapid commoditisation of servers, storage and operating systems. In the last 10 years relatively expensive high-end proprietary servers have given way to cheap but powerful commodity servers. In the same period expensive and inflexible internal storage has given way to shared, networked storage and the various vendor’s flavours of UNIX have fallen to the two mass market operating systems, Linux and Windows Server.

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Conclusion: Industry surveys continually rank as high the need for IT professionals and their managers to understand the business context in which their clients operate and deliver systems solutions quickly. IT professionals that can promptly turn a business requirement into a systems solution bring credit to themselves and their organisation.

Peter Keen1 coined IT professionals, who understand the business context and can drive systems delivery, as hybrids. Put simply they are people who are proficient in both the business and IT domains. Astute managers know that hybrids have to be identified and developed and the process takes time. Hybrids do not fall out of the sky.

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Conclusion: Riding on the coat tails of Server Virtualisation1, Virtual Desktops have become one of the hottest infrastructure topics of 2008. Vendors promote Virtual Desktops as a desktop replacement that eliminates the common concerns of a traditional full desktop, i.e., high cost, complex management, slow provisioning, security, inflexible etc.

Unfortunately discussions about Virtual Desktops are often clouded by misinformation and unrealistic expectations that obscures the issues and stifles investigation. Too often the stated benefits are not closely examined because the answers seem self-evident. Desktop managers who fail to carefully examine each of the stated benefits may find themselves swept away by the hype and end up with an even more expensive and complex desktop environment.

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Conclusion: The application of a project management methodology to an organisation’s project work can be the cornerstone for consistent project success. It can assist, among other things, in allocating resources, managing the project schedule and controlling project costs. Most importantly it provides a consistent approach to managing projects across the organisation so that project personnel don’t waste time learning multiple approaches to the management of projects and executive management only have to deal with one approach to project governance and reporting. 

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Conclusion: A survey warns that the IT industry's carbon footprint is skyrocketing and could soon surpass that of the aviation industry. On a per capita basis Australia and New Zealand are clearly up among the big players in the greenhouse gases emission stakes1. IT and how businesses use their IT, will increasingly come under the spotlight as governments and corporate boards seek to meet carbon-cutting commitments.

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Conclusion: Three previous articles on this topic were triggered by a January 2006 McKinsey & Co. survey1 on the IT spending patterns of 37 retail and wholesale banks. The survey revealed a surprising paradox. Those that were the lowest spenders were judged as delivering the greatest business value from their investment in IT.

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It may seem that recognition of the risks associated with a reliance on legacy application software systems and the need to migrate these systems should be obvious to an organisation. However there is often a reluctance among business users to move away from the familiarity of deeply entrenched systems that are seen to be delivering the required outcomes. To mitigate these risks it is necessary for the IT department to work with the business to promote an understanding of the risks and costs associated with running legacy systems and to migrate them into a fully supported and up to date technical environment This exercise should not be driven by horror stories of impending disaster which can lead to hasty, inappropriate decisions but must be approached in the manner of any software applications system implementation, with the appropriate governance and management.

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