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

18
Feb

Microsoft and its partners continue efforts to take down obstacles to wider cloud adoption by enterprise business

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthRackspace, a leading provider of managed services to enterprise businesses, reported earnings on February 17, 2015. Some remarks from its CEO, Taylor Rhodes, point to what maybe a promising indicator of enterprise business moving towards increased use of cloud IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS services. Microsoft also previewed the coming release of an Active Directory tool, which should ease the difficulty of synchronizing on-premises AD and Azure cloud AD.

Rhodes’ remarks were quoted in an interview titled Rackspace CEO Rhodes: Price Cut Curve is Flattening Out. The interview was published on the Barrons web site and was conducted by Tiernan Ray.

The heartening indicators for anyone looking for signs of more movement by enterprise business communities of computing users towards cloud offers amounted to:

  • “The mainstream market has two problems: They have legacy apps that won’t go multi-tenant automatically; they want single-tenant versions along the way; and the second problem they have is this skills set gap. Cheap infrastructure is just pouring gas on the fire. There is a need for software and tools development. Companies are saying, I don’t have access to people who know how to run all those things”
  • and Ray’s summary of some other comments appears to have made during the interview: ” . . . the company [sees] more and more deals of $100,000 or more, some of it coming from competitors such as the telcos; rising organic revenue growth (it was 16.4% last quarter, excluding currency effects); and rising operating profit margin.”

The type of enterprise software Rhodes calls “legacy apps”, in my opinion includes the “customizations” of big server applications like SharePoint, which Microsoft has found so difficult for its customers to work with as they consider migrating some on-premises processes to the cloud. The recommended methods of dealing with palpable inconsistencies between what can be accomplished with these processes, on-premises, vs the same for cloud, whether via SharePoint Online/Office 365, or Azure IaaS/PaaS/SaaS, have been reduced from tightly woven “hybrid computing” to today’s “hybrid scenarios”, where almost wholly separate processes run locally and remotely, but in service to the same communities of users.

So Rhodes’ remarks about how Rackspace has captured some of this headache as tangible business and, even better, big ticket business (presumably with attractive margin) is a heartening note and, perhaps an indicator of better news to come.

The second breathe of fresh air on this challenge is to be found in a post to the RedmondMag website authored by Kurt Mackie. The post is titled Upcoming Perks of Azure Active Directory Connect Tool.

Anyone familiar with the kind of hybrid cloud computing requirements detailed by Microsoft SharePoint MVP Fabian Williams in a video tutorial set from VisualSP titled SharePoint 2013: Hybrid Cloud should understand the critical role Active Directory must play in any serious attempt to bolt a cloud component like Office 365 or some service, infrastructure or even platform running on Microsoft’s Azure cloud. The tool is certainly promising. Should the results produce a reliable directory of users for on-premises and cloud computing venues, increased enterprise adoption of the cloud component should become more of a realistic expectation for stakeholders.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

17
Feb

Microsoft lowers the volume on its Mobile First Cloud First clarion call at least for SharePoint

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthIn the aftermath of SPTechCon Austin, and a number of announcements from Microsoft, not the least of which being the planned debut of SharePoint 2016, later this year, it is safe to say the volume on “mobile first, cloud first” has been turned down by Redmond.

But not without a fight. Anyone reading a post to the Office blog titled Evolution of SharePoint will not find a section dedicated to “SharePoint Server 2016” in this roadmap. Nevertheless, the impact of the following acknowledgement: “But, we realize many customers continue to run their businesses on-premises, within the firewall or with hybrid deployments. That’s why we are committed to making the next version of SharePoint server the most secure, stable and reliable version to date—allowing organizations to take advantage of cloud innovation on their terms” cannot be missed.

Somewhere at Microsoft, a Kubler-Ross level of acceptance (stage 3 of her “On Death and Dying” presentation) has developed about the likelihood of enterprise business and comparably sized organizations in the public and private sector deciding to drop their on-premises SharePoint servers for SharePoint Online/Office 365. Wholesale migration to Office 365 cloud SaaS services will not happen any time soon for this market segment. But a hybrid computing scenario of on-premises computing PLUS a cloud component may work.

I attended SPTechCon Austin along with Asif Rehmani (Asif Rehmani has maintained a position as a SharePoint MVP for each of the last 8 years, and is the CEO of VisualSP). We were exhibitors at the conference. Asif Rehmani also delivered two well attended presentations on no-code approaches to custom process development for SharePoint.

I spoke with representatives from some of the larger companies based in the US (top 5 businesses in the energy sector, global financial firms, and manufacturers of heavy equipment), as well as with representatives from US government agencies at state and federal levels. With the exception of one of these conversations, the others were either entirely focused on SharePoint Server, on-premises, or on a hybrid computing scenario, where SharePoint Online, Office 365 would be implemented in parallel to on-premises servers.

The unique problem represented by SharePoint server, on-premises, in my opinion, is its historical role as a computing platform for the organizations opting to implement it. When applications are customized to enhance their usefulness within a computing platform (like an intranet, or an extranet), it becomes a monumental task to de-couple them from the platform, itself. Microsoft apparently recognized this back in December of 2014 and devoted over 6 hours of its Microsoft Virtual Academy training offer to a presentation on Transform SharePoint Customizations to SharePoint App Model.

Ironically, with a more appropriate perspective squarely in place, in my opinion many more of the larger communities of SharePoint users will be likely to decide to implement SharePoint Online, Office 365 than would otherwise have been the case. At the same time, Microsoft will likely benefit from a popular new on-premises server offer in the form of SharePoint server 2016.

Ira Michael Blonder

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