11
Mar

A consumerized enterprise IT realm is de rigueur in early 2015

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthFew consumer tech commentators, if any, would argue there is much of a market for laptop PCs within their target audience. If these devices are in demand anywhere, the likely market segment is enterprise computing.

So the new 12 inch Macbook with Retina display, which was presented to a global audience during Apple’s “Spring Forward”, March 9, 2015 event is targeted to the enterprise computing market, right? Perhaps. But where, then, is the usual CAT5 port for wired Ethernet data communications? The answer is it does not exist.

Almost every commentator writing about the debut of this device emphasized the strategic forward thinking of the design of this laptop based on a USB Type C port as its sole interface for networks, charging, etc. To simply quote from one of these reviews, readers might want to consider the following comment, which appears in a post to The Verge blog titled Hands-on with the new 12-inch MacBook with Retina Display. Dieter Bohn, who wrote the post, remarks “the screen actually isn’t the most important part of this new MacBook. No, instead it’s the small port on the side, a USB Type-C port that serves as the power jack, a do-anything USB port, a display port, and essentially anything else you could imagine using a cable for.”

The strategic impact of this decision to dispense with a hard wired Ethernet option for a device intended to compete with Windows PCs (or, is the target Microsoft’s Surface 3 two-in-ones?) within the enclaves of businesses, only makes sense in a brave new world of enterprise computing, one ruled over by an autocratic obsession with consumerized IT. It just is not safe to look to wireless data communications for everything.

Readers need not fear Microsoft has been left out of this criticism. The Surface Pro 3 two-in-one also lacks a native Ethernet interface. But there is a docking station option for the Microsoft entry in this category. Per the March 9, 2015 presentation, there does not appear to be one for the 12 inch Macbook.

No industry expert argues for entirely wireless data communications for mission-critical information. It is just too dangerous from a data security perspective. The 12 inch Macbook should have a docking station. One would hope Apple will announce one very soon.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

23
Feb

Apps for SharePoint 2013 carry their own set of implementation risks

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthLarge organizations with an instance of Microsoft SharePoint running on premises may be thinking about migrating their customization process over from full trust solutions to a combination of HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Microsoft refers to this combination as the “SharePoint App Model”. A similar combination called the “Office App Model” is also being promoted for requirements to modify the components of Microsoft’s Office suite (“Office”) to meet the unique requirements of specific organizations.

Despite what I refer to as a near “binary” presentation, where the strengths of these app models (the “pluses”) are presented in direct comparison with the weaknesses of their full trust solution ancestors (the “zeroes”), readers with similar interests will benefit if they include a governance plan for customization along with the other migration components. Here is why:

jQuery is a popular function library for JavaScript. Since jQuery is actively supported in the user community, the library continues to evolve. Hence there are many different versions of the library. But not all features of all libraries are the same. So conflicts can arise from customizations built with earlier versions of the jQuery library. Especially when these customizations are actively used alongside other customizations built with other versions of the library.

The negative impact of these conflicts is greater when a central IT organization steps back and opts to empower line of business (LoB) units to build their own customizations for an on-premises complex computing platform like SharePoint 2013. On the surface this approach may look to be the correct one to take, especially if this stance has evolved after several years of an active BYOD policy.

Some proponents of Dev/Ops may recommend this kind of flexible posture on the part of enterprise IT. But if there is no central control over how jQuery libraries are to be implemented, then the risks of a breakdown in computer processing take on a more palpable shape. A far better policy calls for enterprise IT to directly arbitrate with LoBs on the question of how customizations are to be managed. In fact, enterprise IT ought to publish a set of standards for how customizations are to be built with SharePoint and/or Office apps. Finally, a set of tools should be implemented (and developed if they are not found to be available given the unique needs of a specific organization) capable of detecting processes running on internal on-premises computing systems to ensure any/all examples of app customizations are in conformance with this policy.

Without this kind of governance plan, larger organizations will face much the same odds of poor return on development investment from app model efforts, as would be the case if they simply proceeded with “legacy” customization techniques.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

20
Feb

Enterprise tech ISVs should recommend hybrid computing platform scenarios to their customers

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthEnterprise technology consumers have made their reluctance clear. In most cases they will not agree to incur the expense and effort required to migrate on-premises computing platforms, like Microsoft SharePoint, to public cloud tenancy. So the ISVs owning the IP supporting these platforms, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, IBM, EMC, etc, should promote hybrid computing scenarios to these customers.

Anyone reading an article written by Jeffrey Schwartz, and published to the RedmondMag web site on February 20, 2015, will get this dose of reality. The article is titled SharePoint MVPs: ‘On-Prem is Very Much Alive and Well’, and is composed of a set of quotes from participants in a TweetJam, including Asif Rehmani, who is a client of ours. Rehmani is the CEO of VisualSP. VisualSP is also the name of Rehmani’s leading product, which, in my opinion, should be a core component in any adoption strategy for SharePoint for a large community of users. VisualSP provides SharePoint users with access to high powered technical tips, in video format, directly within the SharePoint workspace — in other words, “in-context”. This writer serves as Vice President for Business Development for Rehmani’s company.

The TweetJam was organized by Christian Buckley who also served as its moderator. Buckley, himself, is a SharePoint MVP and a familiar spokesperson on SharePoint topics.

The specific challenge platforms represent to stakeholders thinking about migrating enterprise applications to public cloud alternatives, is the opportunity users have, more often than not, seized to customize them. An ERP system built on SAP, Oracle, or Microsoft components, for example, usually includes an extensive set of features either provided by third parties, or built, from the ground up, with custom code. As the MVPs quoted in Schwartz’s article make clear, from their quotes, the effort required to migrate these “computing realms” entirely over to a public cloud PaaS like Office 365 is a non-starter.

Apparently Microsoft (the clear leader in this effort. Microsoft has used its “Mobile First, Cloud First” campaign to help its enterprise computing customers decide to migrate to Office 365 and Azure. The start of this campaign coincided with Satya Nadella’s ascendance to the position of CEO of the company in 2014. Nadella was the first to articulate this slogan of the Microsoft brand) has gotten this message. Several articles were published over the last two days about an event freshly added to the Microsoft Ignite schedule for May, 2014 — an early peek at SharePoint Server 2016.

This change is a healthy transformation of a campaign which appears to have been too brittle for its targeted audience to adopt. Hybrid computing scenarios, with a public cloud component supporting appropriately chosen computing requirements, operating, in tandem, with an on-premises data center, is the solution the enterprise computing market appears to favor. After all, no one likes ultimatums — least of all one’s core customers.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

4
Feb

End users benefit from in-context access to tech training content when new computing platforms are implemented

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthAdoption initiatives accompany almost any type of platform change for enterprise computing consumers. These projects are so common a whole industry developed around them. Back in the 1990s the business was referred to as “business process re-engineering”. Today the same type of work is rolled up and into something called “change management”.

The core objective of almost all of these efforts is to convince a specific group of computing users within an organization — usually “end users” — to adopt the new platform. The strategy powering the project is to provide end users with the technical support and methods they need to successfully transition from one way of doing the computer tasks they face on a daily basis, to another. The tactics include technical support teams, training intensives, and management testimonials on why the platform change was required in the first place.

Readers should not consider cloud systems to be somehow miraculously free of this burden. The adoption challenge big, mature ISVs like IBM, Microsoft, and even Google face when they partner with customers to help end users transition from on-premises computing systems to SaaS and/or PaaS offers in the cloud are the same ones faced just 20 years ago when IBM was seeding enterprise computing markets with Lotus Notes. Adoption is adoption is adoption . . . Or so the saying should go.

One of our clients, Rehmani Consulting, Inc. has brought to market a solution capable of making the whole adoption process easier. VisualSP is a help system built for Microsoft’s SharePoint computing platform. The “one-two punch” of the product amounts to a combination of:

  1. a unique method of exposing, in-context, the kind of technical training content for which enterprise end users have demonstrated an appetite, meaning short, right to the point presentations of computing procedures. The process by which end users absorb the content is referred to as “on-demand training”
  2. and lots and lots of video content

We have marketed the solution since July, 2012. In this space of time we have worked with some very large, prominent, multi-national corporation to help them accelerate their adoption effort with this product. Perhaps as many as 500K SharePoint users are now benefiting from the VisualSP system.

There is no reason why a solution like VisualSP cannot deliver comparable benefits to ISVs in need of a method of stimulating adoption of a computing platform. Our solution is built with modern software tools — HTML 5, JavaScript and CSS. If you would like to learn more about how our solution may help your efforts, please let us know.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved

8
Jan

Why update problems for Android devices can severely hamper enterprise adoption of this mobile device operating system

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthThrough a combination of direct experience, and a review of an editorial published just about a year ago on the Android Central website, I have concluded there is no clear method of uniformly updating mobile devices powered by the same Android operating system, but manufactured by different Android partners. I am not sure as to why this problem arose, but I am clear about its impact on the likelihood of the average enterprise IT organization standardizing on Android as an approved mobile computing platform. It is not likely to happen.

The title of the editorial on the Android Central website is Solving the impossible problem of Android updates. The writer is Alex Dobie.

It is not possible for enterprise IT organizations to standardize on devices running an operating system which can be implemented on highly dissimilar hardware. What if the next update to an Android “flavor”, say Jelly Bean, includes not only new features, but substantially better security? Manufacturer A has implemented the first update (Android Jelly Bean 4.2), but can’t release the latest update (Android Jelly Bean 4.3). Worse yet, Manufacturer B has yet to implement even the first update. What enterprise IT organization would want to deal with a user community outfitted with a lot of devices from Manufacturer A, B and more?

Yet the average BYOD policy statement empowers users to bring Android, iOS, and Windows personal computing devices into the enterprise. So it should not be difficult for readers to understand why enterprise IT organizations are struggling to ensure high quality user computing experience, while, at the same time, defending the enterprise from hackers, malware, data leaks, etc.

The direct experience component of my conclusion arose as the result of my interest in participating in Microsoft’s Office Preview for Android. This preview includes Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. At first glance it looked as if my Samsung Galaxy Note 2.1 10.1 would work with the preview app. The display size of the tablet is 10.1 inches, and the Android version is 4.1, Jelly Bean. But the preview app would not work on my device, perhaps since the latest Android Jelly Bean release is 4.3.

When I posted my experience to the Google Plus community Microsoft has set up for people participating in the preview to exchange information, I was surprised to learn I am not alone. Samsung is not the only Android OEM stuck on an older version of this Android Operating System.

Regardless of just who is responsible for the problem, perhaps management at Google for Work can fix it. If not, it might be better for them to restrict their offers to Google’s cloud SaaS and IaaS products and forget about getting much traction with Android at all.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2015 All Rights Reserved