Intel announces the debut of Core M Processors

During Intel’s Q3, 2014 Earnings Conference Call (http://www NULL.intc NULL.com/eventdetail NULL.cfm?EventID=149397), CEO Brian Krzanich announced the debut of the Core M line of core CPUs. The first devices powered by this new processor platform, per Krzanich, will come to market before the end of October, 2014. Computing devices powered by these processors, Krzanich noted, will feature “full core performance”, and a “fanless design enabling breakthrough designs and form factors”.

These processors appear to share a lot of the features of i3/i5/i7 cores powering Microsoft’s Surface 3 Pro tablet. Chip architecture permits a “razor thin design” (~9mm) and extended battery life (up to 9 hours). The graphics performance of the chipset has also been enhanced and optimized for online content.

The promotional content on Intel’s web site on this Core M chipset (http://www NULL.intel NULL.com/content/www/us/en/benchmarks/two-in-one/core-m-two-in-one-performance-video NULL.html) continues themes Microsoft employed during its debut of the Surface Pro 3: 2-in-1 devices are portrayed as viable replacements for “laptops”, which are characterized as slow, heavy, and inefficient. With these devices consumers will no longer have to purchase tablets for entertainment, and PCs for work: both functionality will be available from these 2-in-1 devices, and, Intel contends, with superior performance.

There is little indication this writer could find on Intel’s web site, or elsewhere, about specific devices running on one of these CPUs. Price point will certainly be an important consideration for Intel OEMs, so the early examples of devices powered by Core M processors may tell us a lot about just where Intel has assumed devices powered by Core M processors will be positioned in the market.

Emulating last year’s hot features — ultra thin form factors, long battery life, lightweight devices with high definition displays and graphics — may not amount to much in 2015. If the ASPs consumers end up paying for these devices hover around the price points for Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 devices, we think market demand will be a lot less than hot, and restricted to the high end of the BYOD, consumerized IT segment.

It would be nice to see these processors powering devices in the $300 – $600 range. But, as of the date of this post, we have no examples to point to of what the street price will look like for them.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

Pluses and minuses of the app model on cloud, SaaS computing

Early versions of SaaS served from the Internet cloud looked a lot like time sharing applications. In other words, each and every web visitor looked like just another terminal on a remote server. The use of small form factor computing devices had not yet occurred, and the browser options for clients to consume services were all working in pretty much the same manner.

But with the advent of the app model, the client side of these solutions is a lot more complex, and, potentially, more difficult for organizations to manage. There are a few very important positives motivating cloud, SaaS ISVs to promote, and even require the use of apps:

  • Apps are a promising method of attracting the interest of developers. App stores exist for every prominent cloud SaaS offer. Developers sell their apps, and ISVs can charge a premium for clearing transactions through their app stores
  • As long as secure development procedures are followed, there is no limit on the range of new functionality developers can add to SaaS platforms. ISVs benefit from zero capital expense for the creation of new functionality. End customers benefit from a wider range of possible applications
  • By transitioning processes from the server to the community of clients consuming a SaaS solution, it can be argued processes are more secure. Server maintenance costs are also likely to be substantially reduced

But there are minuses anyone studying cloud, SaaS product marketing must, in this writer’s opinion, keep in mind. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how one looks at it) most of these minuses are specific to apps:

  • Transitioning potentially harmful processes off the server and over to client side apps shifts the security burden over to individual consumers, and groups of consumers. Since it is not likely to be possible to estimate just who will opt to consume SaaS and, therefore, purchase and implement apps, the task of ensuring a uniform quality of service (and basic data communications security) is very difficult to manage. Neither ISVs, nor enterprise organizations can claim complete responsibility for this job.
  • Opportunities for malicious activity geometrically increase as the number of SaaS consumers grows. There is no way ISVs can ensure the security of computing devices enabled with apps. So the potential for hacks should be assumed to be high. As of the time of the writing of this post, Dropbox, the latest SaaS to notify the public of a security breach, actually blamed app developers for the security hole used for the exploit
  • Enterprise businesses with a formal BYOD policies may see a dramatic increase in the need to support users. When apps are running on a set of dissimilar computing devices (Android, and/or Apple smart phones, tablets, etc) the need for expertise on multiple platforms arises. It can be costly for enterprise IT to provision the support required to ensure SaaS consumers can get the services they need

Given the factors just presented, we think it likely Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solutions like Windows Intune will become very popular across enterprise business customers.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

ISVs debut cloud, SaaS solutions to satisfy consumer appetite for Analytics and Data

On Monday, October 13, 2014, Salesforce.com announced the debut of a new cloud, SaaS solution named “Wave” (https://www NULL.salesforce NULL.com/company/news-press/press-releases/2014/10/141013 NULL.jsp). Back on September 16, 2014, IBM announced “Watson Analytics”, once again, a cloud SaaS, but, this time, a freemium offer. So it’s safe to say Analytics for the masses has become a new competitive ground for big, mature ISVs to contend for more market share.

A couple of points are worth noting about the Salesforce.com press release:

  1. GE Capital is mentioned as already using Wave. Given GE’s own recent PR campaign around its own data and analytics effort, one must wonder why the business finance component of the company opted not to use the home grown solution ostensibly available to it
  2. Informatica is mentioned as an “ecosystem” partner for Wave and released its own press release, titled Informatica Cloud Powers Wave, the Salesforce Analytics Cloud, to Break Down Big Data Challenges and Deliver Insights (http://www NULL.marketwatch NULL.com/story/informatica-cloud-powers-wave-the-salesforce-analytics-cloud-to-break-down-big-data-challenges-and-deliver-insights-2014-10-13)

The Wave announcement follows, by less than a month, IBM’s announcement of a freemium offer for “Watson Analytics”, and Oracle’s “Analytics Cloud”. Both of these offers are delivered via a cloud, SaaS model. So it’s likely safe to say enterprise technology consumers have demonstrated a significant appetite for analytics. The decision by Salesforce.com, IBM, and Oracle to all deliver their solutions via a cloud, SaaS offer speaks to the new enterprise computing topology (a heterogeneous computing environment) and the need to look to browsers as the ideal thin clients for users to work with their data online.

An ample supply of structured and unstructured data is likely motivating these enterprise tech consumers to look for methods of producing the kind of dashboards and graphs each of these analytics offers is capable of producing. With data collection methods advancing, particularly for big data (unstructured data), this appetite doesn’t look to abate anytime soon.

ISVs with solutions already available, principally Microsoft with its suite of Power tools for Excel (PowerBI, PowerPivot, etc), may also be participating in this “feeding frenzy”. It will be interesting to see how each of the ISVs with offers for this market fare over the next few business quarters.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

General Electric Steps Into Big Data and Analytics

October 8, and 9, 2014 were a very busy two days for the Public Relations team at General Electric (http://www NULL.genewsroom NULL.com/). No less than 4 press releases were published about the first steps this very mature — not to mention very large — business has stepped into big data and analytics.

Consider, for example, how the big data and analytics business at General Electric ramped up to over $1Bil in sales: October 9, 2014, Bloomberg publishes an article written by Richard Clough, titled GE Sees Fourfold Rise in Sales From Industrial Internet (http://www NULL.bloomberg NULL.com/news/2014-10-09/ge-sees-1-billion-in-sales-from-industrial-internet NULL.html). Clough reports “[r]evenue [attributed to analytics and data collection] is headed to about $1.1 billion this year from the analytics operations as the backlog has swelled to $1.3 billion”.

Early stage ISVs looking with envy at this lightning-fast entry should consider how scale, along with a decision to acquire IP via partnerships and acquisitions (rather than opting to build it in-house), and picking the right market made this emerging success story a reality. Let’s start by considering these three points in reverse order:

  1. Picking the right market: GE opted to apply its new tech to a set of markets loosely collected into something they call the “Industrial Internet”. These markets include Energy (exploration, production, distribution), Transportation, Healthcare, Manufacturing and Machinery. Choosing these markets makes complete sense. GE is a leader in each of these already. Why not apply new tech to old familiar stomping grounds?
  2. Leverage partnerships and acquisitions to come to market in lieu of rolling your own: Leading players in each of the markets GE opted to enter expressed burning needs for better security and better insight. Other players in each of the markets (Cisco, Symantec, Stanford University and UC Berkeley) all stand to benefit from the core tech GE brings to the table, so persuading them to partner was likely to have been a comparatively easy task. The most prominent segment of the tech (very promising security tech for industrial, high speed data communications over TCP/IP, Ethernet networks) understandably, came into the package from wurldtech, a business GE opted to acquire
  3. Scale: With GE’s production run rate of turbines, locomotive engines, jet engines, and other complex, massive industrial machinery, the task of finding a home for the millions of industrial sensors required to feed the analytics piece of the tech with the big data it desperately needs, does not look to have been a difficult task. Product management, appropriately, looked into its own backyard to find the consumers required to ramp up to scale in very fast time.

In sum, GE’s entry into this market, if the “rubber hits the road” and metrics bear out claims, looks to be a case study early ISVs should memorize as they plan their tech marketing strategy.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

The Role of Enterprise IT is Changing in 2014

As we wrote recently in this blog, BYOD policies appear to be stimulating an evolution of the role of a central IT function within larger organizations from an effort to control the range of computing opportunities available to personnel, towards an effort to accomodate and support new types of computing (and methods) brought into the organization by users. We put together some of this view last week at a recent conference hosted by a mature ISV (Microsoft), for an audience which included representatives of several larger organizations.

This view is supported by a recently published short post to the CIO feature of the online Wall Street Journal. The post is titled CIOs will need a new mix of skills on their teams (http://blogs NULL.wsj NULL.com/cio/2014/10/09/cios-will-need-new-mix-of-skills-on-their-teams/?mod=wsj_ciohome_cioreport). The post reports on a presentation by Peter Sondergaard, “senior vice president and research chief” at Gartner, Inc., during “the company’s Symposium ITxpo 2014.”

The post claims the skills most needed, today, are mobile computing expertise and “user experience” and “data sciences”. So it’s probably safe to assume the Gartner Symposium provided a lot of support for the notion of how important a factor BYOD policies and procedures have become for larger organizations in 2014.

Going forward, the CIO blog report mentions “automated judgement and ethics” as two of the three skills most likely to be in demand. If we can cut through some of the opacity of these two skill descriptions, it looks to us to be safe to assume Gartner is pointing to the growing importance of IT governance as an operational method for larger organizations. But this IT governance will actually be built into computing procedures, themselves.

Surely the notion of “automated judgement and ethics” speaks to a future enterprise IT organization with, arguably, fewer head count. The question of how Line of Business (LoB) silos will obtain the computing resources they will require will be taken care of, if this feature actually materializes, with no debate, or even study, by computing solutions, themselves, which will have the features required to answer any/all questions on the topic. Neat stuff.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

In 2014, is “responsive and accomodating” the new recommended posture for Enterprise IT?

In the Keynote presentation for day one of Microsoft’s Office 365 Summit (http://summit NULL.office NULL.com) event in New York City, Michael Atalla, Microsoft’s “Office Guy”, described what he portrayed as a very new world of enterprise computing, where the pace at which innovation is introduced is managed by users, rather than the enterprise IT organizations tasked with supporting them. This relationship, and the posture it requires enterprise IT organizations to assume, contrasts, vividly, with how this relationship played out a mere 10 years ago, when, Atalla contends, all of the innovation emanated out from enterprise IT to users. The net effect on Enterprise IT organizations, Atalla contends, is to transform their activity into much more a process of accommodation as new devices appear on the consumer tech market, than has ever been the case in the past.

What enterprise IT is accommodating, Atalla explained, is innovation in the form of new devices and processes entering the enterprise as the result of formal BYOD policies, and personnel taking advantage of them. Boiled down to simple terms, this process amounts to the latest Smart Phone, tablet (or even PC) magnetizing interest from the community of computing users at the organization. People start to purchase these devices, which may result in unsupported processes showing up on enterprise IT’s radar. So it falls on enterprise IT to quickly regroup around this phenomenon to provide the support and structure required for personnel to safely consume the new processes across the internal network.

Atalla’s presentation took up at least a third of the Keynote for this event. Perhaps it would have been helpful for the audience attending this presentation to hear a bit about how a cloud SaaS like Office 365 can provide enterprise IT with a tool they can leverage to get ahead of users as this BYOD phenomenon continues to unfold.

With Office 365, or Google at Work, or any other similar competitive service, the actual processing of tasks, and “housing” the computing activity produced by them, takes place in, ostensibly, a much more “static” environment than one might otherwise expect to be the case. Regardless of the device, cloud SaaS solutions require a type of functionality referred to in the past as terminal processing. Or do they?

In 2014, there are important, and challenging, issues with client devices functioning as terminals talking to servers located in the public Internet, or cloud. The app model (which Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon have all embraced) requires a lot more intelligence on the consumer device end of the data conversation. Therefore, even Office 365 computing is not as simple as it may otherwise appear to be.

Regardless, Microsoft is subtly presenting a new message in its effort to hasten the pace at which larger organizations come to accept cloud, SaaS offers as legitimate opportunities to reduce costs and increase user benefits. Many of the attendees of this event likely came away from Atalla’s presentation with this notion about Office 365, as a method of smoothing out an otherwise uncomfortable relationship between IT and users at larger organizations.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

Microsoft Revamps Its App Promotion to Stimulate More Interest from the Developer Community

A renovated MSDN site on Microsoft dot com has become the repository of a lot of promotional content targeted to the developer community. The old MSDN was packed with technical information, a lot of knowledge base information, and even training. But few would label its content promotional.

The new MSDN still offers a voluminous set of technical training content, a lot of which is packaged in video format and colored with humor. But some of the content even takes on more of what one might refer to as a business look and feel. A good example of this effort can be found in a short, 5 minute video depicting one developer’s success building a computer game for PCs and windows phones. So anyone following Microsoft may want to take a look at this effort, which is titled One Dev Story: The developer behind Roman Empire (http://channel9 NULL.msdn NULL.com/Blogs/One-Dev-Minute/One-Dev-Story-The-developer-behind-Roman-Empire). The reason for watching the video is to gain first hand information about just how Microsoft is going about the task of attracting more interest from the developer community to, ostensibly, fill the enormous gap between solutions available for Windows 8.1 and Android and iPhone (iOS) competitors.

The developer is Jacek Ciereszko, and the app is “Roman Empire”, which is a computer game. The video content is largely targeted to developers, but not excessively so. For example, Ciereszko mentions he wrote the game in C# with the Xamarin tool kit, but only after the first one and a half minutes of the entire five minute presentation.

What isn’t included in the video, and what would, perhaps, help Microsoft reach more of the developers it is seeking, is much of a business case for the app. Rather, the video content presents Ciereszko’s apparently delightful experience building the game (he jokes about how he had to gain his wife’s permission to allocate weekend time to build the game), in what this writer found to be an almost unbelievable manner.

Developers in 2014 are writing apps to make money. The video would have been more compelling had some content been included about the success of this game. True, Ciereszko does mention “over a million downloads”, but nothing is made about this point beyond noting his sense of satisfaction knowing so many people had tried his game. But, if Android and iOS developers are to be won over, it would certainly make sense to add some business beef to the developer motion.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

ISVs should operate with realistic assumptions about enterprise consumer appetite for product updates and software assurance

An important plank in the floor boards supporting most product plans for enterprise software is an assumption about enterprise consumer willingness to implement product updates, and, in turn, purchase software assurance. Therefore, early stage ISVs should ensure they are operating with correct assumptions about both of these points. Here are some points to think about:

Product Updates

More likely than not enterprise consumers will implement product updates at a very slow pace. The pace at which they actually consume product updates (both free and paid) depends on just where in the office automation apparatus an ISV’s product plugs in. We argue enterprise organizations consuming software products for very large computing platforms (for example, IBM Notes, Microsoft SharePoint, Oracle, etc) will be especially slow to implement. It is simply very difficult for these organizations to implement a separate upgrade/update policy for software serving as an add-on to a larger solution. Any/all updates are more likely to happen when they are coordinated with plans to implement updates to the host software platform.

Software Assurance

Assuming enterprise consumers, more often than not will decide to purchase software assurance (aka annual maintenance) is a safe assumption. But this assumption can be better fortified when promotion efforts for software assurance emphasize something other than an opportunity to implement new features, which will only be available in future versions of a product. The real emphasis for promotion for assurance should be on the importance of a specific product, within the enterprise computing architecture for a specific organization. This emphasis is legitimately important as one’s product has been assimilated within a core enterprise computing platform. If the customer is committed to maintaining the overall computing platform, then assurance should be provided to one’s product as a now important component of the overall platform, itself.

Opt for Cloud Delivery as a SaaS and Solve Both Problems

Opting for a cloud, SaaS delivery method for one’s product certainly removes most of the obstacles between enterprise consumers and the benefits designed to be delivered via product updates. When an ISV controls the timing of when updates are applied (which is entirely the case for software delivered via cloud subscription), then consumers can be confidently expected to realize the benefits in keeping with one’s product plan.

The question of whether or not software assurance makes sense for one’s enterprise consumers is also completely removed. If enterprise consumers maintain SaaS subscriptions, they are maintaining software assurance.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

It’s hard for ISVs focused on either enterprise or consumer customers to successfully service both markets at the same time

Over the weekend of October 4, 2014, Hewlett Packard announced its intention to split into two businesses: one servicing the consumer market, and the other providing solutions and services to enterprise business. While a lot of commentators have spoken on this event, few, if any, have highlighted how this decision reflects the difficulties mature, and large ISVs experience servicing both markets at the same time.

In this writer’s opinion the precedent for one computer technology business successfully servicing both consumer, and enterprise markets was set by IBM during the period from the debut of the PC to Armonk’s decision to spin off the PC business in the late 1990s. For these 10-15 years, IBM successfully serviced its enterprise business customer base with mainframe computers and the software required to run them for a wide range of purposes, while, at the same time, it provided the support for lines of business (LoBs), and their stakeholders, who were eager to acquire the computing power required to decentralize processing from enterprise IT organizations.

But since this period no ISV has managed to service both markets, successfully. True, Microsoft is, once again, attempting to follow in IBM’s footsteps, but the comparative lack of success of its efforts to convince consumer markets to solve their burning need for mobile computing devices with Surface tablets, or Windows Phones, or even the Surface 3 as the hybrid device meeting the personal computing needs of its owners, regardless of whether those needs arise in the office, on the road, or even at home, have not done well at all.

At the same time, the Apple IBM alliance looks like a competitive effort to do the same, albeit via collaborative products and services produced by two ISVs opting to partner together. Neither Apple, nor Google has successfully demonstrated the ability to cater to both markets simultaneously.

Perhaps Dell is another example of one tech computer business servicing both markets, albeit at a much smaller scale than was the case for IBM. But Dell (and/or Lenovo) lacks the big software IP to match the kind of deep hooks into enterprise business exhibited by IBM, or Microsoft. Dell and Lenovo are servicing consumer and enterprise markets for commodities, while Microsoft and the IBM/Apple joint venture just mentioned, not only have offers for the same market, but also for much more promising niche markets where higher margins may be possible.

Seen from this perspective, this writer would hope readers will look differently at HPs weekend announcement. At the same time, readers should maintain a very skeptical attitude about any analyst commentary claiming these two highly distinct markets — consumerized IT and enterprise IT — are actually the same. If they were, perhaps Meg Whitman wouldn’t have come to her decision.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

Google continues to challenge sensible technical product marketing principles to what end?

In an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Market Makers show (http://www NULL.bloomberg NULL.com/video/eric-schmidt-on-new-book-apple-google-competition-R2HRDSToQu6vp4g1SzvqcA NULL.html), which was recorded on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, Eric Schmidt echoed what should now be considered a familiar position held by most mature ISVs. On the topic of product marketing, he noted Google’s interest in working with people looking to build big products, rather than with people looking to enter new markets. Schmidt referred to this type of person as a “smart creative.” The dialogue between Schmidt, Stephanie Ruhl, Eric Schatzker, and former Google Senior Vice President Jonathan Rosenberg (who co-authored a book with Schmidt) was filled with abstractions, depicting these “creatives” “building products for this new world” based on their “[belief] in the slogans” as they go about “living the vision”.

Anyone watching this interview will likely note a curious disconnect between the implicit passion of these terms and the matter-of-fact manner in which they arose in the conversation between the participants. To their credit, Ruhle and Schatzker exhibited more passion than either Schmidt or Rosenberg. So, when Ruhle attempted to pull the cover off the table and asked Schmidt if “the rhetoric is, perhaps, too flowery”, Schmidt’s reply, which claimed Google’s hiring process actually includes a candidate screen on the topic of “do they care about changing the world”, rang something less than true, at least to this writer’s ear.

But neither the demeanor of the participants in this interview, nor the color of the language is the reason for this post. What is the reason for this post is what we think is an unfortunate misreading, which appears to be spreading across a lot of the public relations content we review from mature and early stage ISVs, of what markets are about and why they need products. There isn’t enough space in this post to treat such a broad topic, but the core of it is worth some words:

In this writer’s opinion, “changing the world” has become a rationalization for building products either completely irrelevant to palpable market needs, or products intended to stimulate markets to produce needs. We think both of these rationales are far off target. Perhaps they are simply euphemisms for the kind of buckshot product marketing approach characteristics of businesses with a lot of cash and little sense of direction of where they ought to go next.

As we have written earlier in this blog, we don’t think product marketing works if “creatives” ignore market needs.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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