Enterprise hits & misses - December 23

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed December 22, 2013
Jon's cheeky end-of-weekly on which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond - for the week ending December 22, 2013.

A cheeky end-of-weekly on which articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica and beyond.

This is your special holiday week edition - wishing you a great one from the diginoma team.

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit: Oracle earnings, cloud infrastructure, and Responsys acquisition coverage, by Stuart Lauchlan and Den Howlett

quotage: 'Maybe it’s just the time of year or maybe there really is a new detente out there in the market, but Oracle’s just turned in an OK set of quarterly results and didn’t get into bashing its competition once in the subsequent conference call.' - Stuart Lauchlan

myPOV: With little sympathy for those of us who track enterprise for a living, Oracle closed out the year with a flurry of news underscored by its Q2 earnings news. Stuart and Den were on top of the developments; Stuart assessed the earnings news in Oracle plays nicer as cloudy quarter calms Wall Street and the subsequent Responsys acquisition in Larry’s Christmas tradition – buy yourself a marketing cloud! Den then weighed the pros and cons of Oracle's cloud infrastructure moves in Should you consider Oracle as a cloud infrastructure vendor?

I couldn't properly analyze all these pieces in this space, so I won't fail in the attempt, but it's interesting to contrast the record cloud enterprise bookings growth (35%) with overall numbers that were modestly decent at best (though to be fair, the numbers did exceed most expectations I saw), including a 1 percent drop in net income.

One way to look at is: Oracle, like other incumbent vendors, is both disrupting with cloud and being disrupted by cloud. Ellison cited a new product mix as one of the challenges; co-president Mark Hurd about the subscription business model. Such cloud transitions may be rewarding but they are far from easy. The idea that historical on-premise vendors can move to cloud without some financial upheaval is ludicrous (Den gets into the margin issues as pertains to commodity cloud in his IaaS piece).

Happy children eating apple
diginomica pick: Multi-tenant, multi-instance: the SaaS spectrum by Phil Wainewright

quotage: 'The archetypal portrayal of SaaS — and by extension, public versus private cloud — as a good-vs-evil battle between multi-tenant purists and single-tenant reactionaries is a gross over-simplification. It turns out that SaaS is more of a spectrum in which many permutations of multi-tenancy and multi-instance can happily coexist.'

myPOV: In one of his definitive diginomica posts, Phil successfully nails down the evolving technology of multi-tenant and multi-instance architectures. As he quite rightly argues, this is not just a theoretical concern: understanding the benefits of so-called 'pure SaaS' matters for buyers evaluating cloud vendors and cloud infrastructures.

If you're looking for a better understanding of these terms and why they matter, Phil's your man. As an aside, this is the second part in a three part series; I'm looking forward to the final part on client-server to cloud transition with anticipation, as I expect Phil to have some strong words for those who have dressed up hosted client-server products in cloud marketing verbosity. Watch this space.

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
Troubling, Challenging 2014 ERP Predictions by Brian Sommer

quotage: 'While I am very happy to see cloud multi-tenant applications solve one part of the maintenance issue (i.e., the vendor now applies all of the upgrades and patches), they don’t do all of the re-testing of interfaces and integrations. This is actually a big deal...So, what customers REALLY want isn’t just multi-tenancy, they want ALL of the testing and maintenance work to go away. That means that vendors, outsourcers or integrators have to offer more. Businesses want the whole problem to go away not just a piece of it.'

myPOV: I wasn't planning on featuring a predictions post but then I wasn't expecting to see a predictions post that billed itself as 'troubling.' How much Sommer troubles you might depend on where you sit. Sommer doesn't have much patience for the back office ERP of old, he's looking at a future where transactional efficiency is a given and if that's all you've got, you're mediocre. What I like about Sommer's work is that he mixes in the human angle, pulling from his services experience, as in the quote above, leaving a bit less cloud mythology in his wake.

Other standouts

  • Fellow enterprise news curator (and HCM expert) Jarret Pazahanick consumes a lot of content, so when he says this is the best HR article he's read all year, I pay attention: How Netflix Reinvented HR. It's not a short piece but it's a great HR innovation story, written by the former chief talent officer of Netflix.
  • In the The year developers and designers collided, Redmonk's Donnie Berkholz issues an original take on how development cannot achieve its agile promise without design involvement. While his proposed buzzword, DesDevOps, is tongue in cheek, his argument for extending DevOps into design is well-considered.
  • I'm not a fan of Forbes.com for several reasons, but I make an exception for Steve Denning's interesting pieces on 'radical management.' His latest two part leadership series starts with Navigating the Phase Change to the Creative Economy and continues with the intriguingly-titled: Economic Phase Change Part 2: Kill all the Finance Guys?
  • Via Dennis Moore comes this interesting database popularity ranking from db-engines.com. They update this list monthly via a proprietary method, rather than a comprehensive market poll, so a grain of salt is advised, but the data is nonetheless interesting.
  • Paul Miller has some interesting thoughts on the evolution of PaaS and platforms in Is PaaS Dying?
  • No year end column would be complete without some year in review fodder - I liked The Top Ten Tech Failures of 2013, which included some of my chips-on-shoulder such as the end of Google Reader as well as big picture fiascos via the U.S. government and the NSA's intrusive tendencies.


Overworked businessman
I don't want to dwell on the Avon project fiasco for two consecutive weeks, but I will say this: I have yet to read a good piece on the real reasons for this project's lamentable missteps. At best there is semi-informed speculation. I blame that partially on the diminishing resources for research-funded reporting, something that is impacting journalism in troubling ways across genres.

Ergo: my local sports section in the Boston Globe, where journalist-turned-provocateur Dan Shaughnessy wrote a eyeball-seeking piece of fan-baiting called Your sports columnist is here to write, not to root. You may not be able to read it as it's paywall-protected, but in the outcry over Shaughnessy's intentionally confrontational article, which talks down to his own audience of sports fans in a pathetic and terrifyingly successful quest for virality, no one wrote what I was thinking: that your (full time) sports columnist should be here to research, not to simply write stream-of-consciousness polemics. 

If your opinion is no more compelling than those who comment on your posts, and if your information is no better than your audience's, you won't have a full time journalism gig for much longer (in fairness to Shaughnessy, I expect he also makes money as a frequently defensive talking head).

If a Globe writer can't seem to get a research budget to advance stories with fact-finding, the same is true in enterprise media, where few of us have the funds or time to do as much original research as we'd like. But I'd argue the best enterprise writers are finding a way to pull field research into the mix. It used to be that we defined good and bad journalism by who was (ahem) objective and who had the superior data (traditional institutions) versus who did not (armchair bloggers with axe-grinding agendas).

For enterprise content in 2014, those distinctions have no validity. You might find a terrific piece in Harvard Business Review but you're just as likely to find it on a Wordpress blog. You might find a sensational, controversy-for-its-own sake piece on a tiny blog site desperate for traffic, or you might find that same stinking pile of attention-seeking manure on the biggest tech site in the business - just as desperate for traffic, albeit with higher volumes in mind.

When I look for the good stuff, subjectivity is welcome, even encouraged (well-argued positions help us  form our own views and end the charade that we don't have a stake in what we are covering). But subjectivity really gets its sea legs when combined with fresh data, rather than meme-riffing. A 'No sacred cows' vow and a struggle to overcome and/or disclose our own biases are other ingredients in superior work. Oh, and wit - the enterprise badly needs to laugh at itself, so as to avoid weeping over intractable bureaucracies. Tom Foremski takes these themes in another direction with Blogging's Massive Failure to Topple Mass Media, and I'll have more to say about his missive another time.

Officially off-topic

It was a truly epic week for social media meltdowns; I'm partial to the mysterious unraveling of Shai LeBeouf. Turns out an international flight is an eternity when it comes to posting a bone-headed tweet and landing with global infamy and (now) without a job. But my favorite might have been that modern whoops: firing an employee (in this case a chef) when it turns out that employee also runs your Twitter account (and doesn't mind a little revenge on the way out).

I wish I had time to skewer this anti-copyright dopeshow from TorrentFreak, but a more inspiring turn comes via Iron Maiden, who used analytics on piracy not to prosecute their fans, but to monetize them with local shows. (If you are partial to Maiden, it doesn't get much better than this vintage performance of 'The Trooper' from 1986).

Though I frequently mock Facebook, when a woman literally walks off a pier while reading her Facebook stream, the site must be doing something very, very right.  If you're traveling over the holidays and your flight is a tad late, just be glad your pilot isn't willing to delay a flight for two hours for a gourmet sandwich delivery (for himself, not you). Speaking of travel, Vijay Vijayasankar of SAP always writes memorable stories from his travels to India - check out Incredibly Impatient India for a wonderfully witty example.

Have a great holiday - see you on other side.

Which #ensw pieces of merit did I miss? Let us know in the comments.

Most of these articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. “myPOV” is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credits: Cheerful Chubby Man © RA Studio, Happy Children © Anna Omelchenko, Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, attractive woman open gift box © visivasnc - Fotolia.com - all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: Oracle and SAP are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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