Enterprise hits & misses - March 3

Profile picture for user jreed By Jon Reed March 2, 2014
Jon's cheeky weekly review of which enterprise software articles hit (or didn’t) on diginomica & beyond - for the week ending March 2, 2014.

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

Cheerful Chubby Man
diginomica hit: RSA CTO talks about identity in a complex world by Den Howlett

quotage: 'Curry talks a lot of sense in relation to the reality of managing personas, but it is clear that while RSA and others are making significant headway in the battle for protecting our identities, there is still a long way to go. In that sense, it is a war without end.'

myPOV: Den's travel week included the RSA security conference which featured the controversial keynote by Stephen Colbert. On diginomica, Den also weighed in on the NSA elephant in the room. He followed that up with this piece on identity management, where he queried RSA CTO Sam Curry for a better definition of identity.

There are multiple questions running through this piece: is 'identify management' the massive opportunity some vendors are clanging symbols about? How do we deal with security threats at the enterprise level before they materialize - and, on a practical level, without creating massive inconveniences to the individual user who just wants to log in to services without going through a password reset nightmare. Or worse - identity theft.

Curry doesn't sugar coat the obstacles to protecting identity in a digital world. Curry's ideas for 'poly-factor identification' are appealing, but no solutions are immediate. Countering the NSA, let's have this conversation in the open.

Happy children eating apple
diginomica pick: NIST and the cloudwashing of client-server SaaS by Phil Wainewright

quotage: 'But with ‘cloudwashing’ rife in the IT industry as vendors seek to prolong sales of their ageing product catalogs, it’s very hard for buyers to find authoritative sources that spell out how they can tell the difference between the imposters and the real thing.'

myPOV: Phil has opined on pure clouds and false clouds before, but this latest could be his finest hour on that topic. Taking the opportunity prompted by the UK government's planned adherence to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cloud guidelines, Phil contrasts NIST's five characteristics for cloud computing with his own criteria.  Then he lays out four modern (or not-so-modern) variations we see in the real world, and dissects some of the questionable attempts to portray solutions as 'cloud' when they don't meet NIST's five point criteria.

The piece is highly informative, but the question for some will be: why does this matter? Doesn't it come down to customer choice in the end? Phil would have his own answer to that. Mine is that for enterprise companies, there are two unwanted kinds of technical debt: one is the kind you build up on-premise.

The other is the kind that builds up for a vendor/supplier when they can get away with offering hosted or virtual desktop solutions as 'cloud'.  In the long run inefficient architectures (and poorly imagined applications) fail in the heat of competition with modern cloud applications that offer vastly superior economies of scale (and, usually, better user experiences). That matters to vendors and buyers alike. Bonus: Frank Scavo added a particularly important reader comment to Phil's piece. Check it.

Also recommended

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer
IBM'x 1 billion PaaS investment (BlueMix) by Holger Mueller

quotage: 'Adding to the seriousness of the announcement, IBM, made a $1B commitment to BlueMix.  Side note: We have learned from recent announcements around SoftLayer data centers and Watson that when IBM is serious about something, it makes a one billion dollar investment.'

myPOV: Mueller's tongue-in-cheek pull quote aside, IBM's BlueMix PaaS announcement, rolled out at its Pulse event in Las Vegas, underscored what I call 'the mainsteaming of PaaS.' Once the distant geeky cousin of IaaS, PaaS is gaining momentum as IBM's hat in the ring underscores. Related stories covered IBM's shift of cloud assets to Softlayer, and ZDNet had more specifics on the array of products comprising BlueMix, with some spiffy cloud marketecture graphics.

One more thing jumps out. Years ago, would Mueller have been able to write, ' IBM devised BlueMix to be open and for developers to bring their code and 'just' deploy it'? I think not. Not to mention that Cloud Foundry's PaaS architecture is part of the BlueMix - which, as Mueller's points out, puts IBM on the same platform as co-opetitors HP, SAP, and VMware, to name a few.

Not coincidentally in my view, IBM announced another $1 bilion initiative, this one a so-called 'workforce rebalancing'. Priority investments in cloud, analytics in mobile evidently mean there are internal workers that are too 'legacy' to retrain. They must be rebalanced.

Other standouts

Honorable mention: Not an elaborate post, but Why Building a Better Mousetrap Doesn't Work Anymore rang very true. RedMonk's Stephen O'Grady continued his recent tradition of late-but-helpful posts with his analysis of the WhatsApp acquisition. Frank Scavo examined the health care moves of vertical ERP innovator Infor. Dion Hinchcliffe rounds up the Enterprise technologies to watch in 2014, and Chris Kanaracus reports on yet another troubled ERP implementation. Maybe that's why companies are shifting from monster projects to disposable business apps.


Overworked businessman
I've hammered millenials before in this column, so it's high time to hammer someone who hammers millenials. In this case it was Kelly Blazek, a 'senior communications executive' who can add 'Internet cautionary tale' to her resume. It turns out that email is not as private as one might presume, and when her email tirades to youthful job seekers went public, she was compelled to apologize.

In her spare time, Blazek runs a popular email job bank in Ohio, but it turns out her labor of love was eating at her, to the point that queries for advice led to email gems like calling someone 'a total stranger who has nothing to offer me'. A past winner of a 'Communicator of the Year' award, I honestly don't see the problem there - Blazek is nothing if not a clear communicator.

If Blazek is truly sorry, the best way to show it is not through a PR exercise, but to continue to run her job bank service. She claims the service was purely for the community. Well, now that the status and kudos attached to the service have been trashed, she has the chance to do it just for the community - because despite my unwavering confidence in Blazek's communication skills, I fear future awards will not be forthcoming.  I feel for Blazek in this regard: like many, I have hit the 'send' button too soon in the past.

Another subplot is the notion that LinkedIn should be approached like Facebook, where you only accept connection requests from those you know well. The difference? On Facebook, there's not much upside to having a few extra hundred friends, and the obvious privacy/trust downside. But LinkedIn continues to reward people for having big nets of first degree connections, despite its claims otherwise.

Blazek's biggest mistake may have been to build a moat around her LinkedIn connections and defend them like a castle under siege. For the millenials out there: don't confuse someone's supposedly deep LinkedIn contact base with peacock feathers - they aren't nearly as effective for attracting a mate. Get really good at doing something that matters. People will find you.

Officially off-topic

A dirty secret for those who know the guts of the search industry: Google's overhyped search enhancements have led to an embarrassing tendency to give content scrapers priority in search over the original content owners - something that was satirically mocked this week on Twitter. Credit to Google, however, for finally offering a form for webmasters to report scraper search offenses.

With the ongoing deluge of 'media disruption' pieces, it's refreshing to see Marc Andreessen thinks the news industry is going to grow by 1,000 percent, even though I think that's utter bullcrap. Being wrong will surely help my career so...

Oh, and on the subject of social fails, the teen who cost her Dad $80,000 because of a Facebook post may have one up on Kelly Blazek. I'm also going to put the Dove billboard ad celebrating New Jersey as the armpit of America in the failure column.

On the flip side, Ryanair's plan to fly passengers to US for under £10 seems promising, albeit with extra charges for everything except maybe the flotation device you sit on. More intriguing flight innovation comes by way of this bizarro looking 300 foot aircraft that can stay airborn for three weeks and potentially play a key role in humanitarian missions.

Finally, for the ultimate juxtaposition of hits, misses and bittersweet triumph, Bill Murray stamped the Oscars last night with an unscripted tribute to his late collaborator, comedic legend Harold Ramis. The scene was more potent given the backstory: after their final collaboration, 1993's 'Groundhog Day', the two had an extended falling out, reconciling only recently. What better place for Murray to bury hatchets than on the Oscar stage, where so many snubs have to be compensated for later?  'Groundhog Day' won nothing, was nominated for nothing, and yet is now recognized as one of the greatest American comedies. I'm a better person for having seen it - which may be the best thing a creative person can hear. Well done guys. See you next time.

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, Businessman Choosing Success or Failure Road © Creativa - all from Fotolia.com

Disclosure: Salesforce.com, SAP and Workday are diginomica partners as of this writing.