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

24
Dec

A different perspective on the significance of finance executives assuming CIO duties at major corporations

2-Color-Design-Hi-Res-100px-widthOn December 12, 2014, the CIO Journal feature of the Wall Street Journal included an article written by Rachael King on the appointment of Julie Lagacy to the position of CIO for Caterpillar. The title of King’s article is Caterpillar’s New CIO Has a Finance Background. While I agree with King”s decision to write about this appointment, in my opinion the significance of it is very different, in fact, a direct opposite, from what King portrays in her article.

King quotes Peter High, whom she identifies as “president of strategy and management consulting firm Metis Strategy, LLC”. She includes a quote from an email message High apparently sent out to his subscribers after the announcement of Lagacy’s appointment to the position of CIO for Caterpillar: “[a]s IT grows in complexity and as IT is at the heart of so much innovation in companies, increasingly IT must act like any other business division, and it must speak the language of business: finance” (quoted from Rachael King’s article. I’ve included a link to the article in the first paragraph of this post).

In October of this year I attended a two day seminar in New York City hosted by Microsoft on the topic of Office 365 Adoption. The title for the seminar was Office 365 Summit: New York. The Keynote presentation for this seminar, which was presented by Michael Atalla of Microsoft (Atalla, per his LinkedIn Profile is Director, Product Management, Office) picked up on precisely the same topic of the role enterprise IT organizations (and their management, ie CIOs), in 2014, and going forward, will play with regards to the route innovation takes as it enterprise the enterprise. But Atalla portrayed the route, and enterprise IT’s role quite differently. He went to some length to describe the notion of highly consumerized technology, which, nevertheless, constitutes the “leading edge” of innovation, entering the organization as the result of ubiquitous BYOD policies. Along this route, Atalla characterized enterprise IT as playing much more of a custodial role in this process than anything close to a leadership role.

I agree with what I take to be Atalla’s assessment. In my opinion Caterpillar’s decision to appoint a senior finance manager, Julie Lagacy, is an example of how this custodial role is playing out for very large businesses here in the U.S., and not the kind of decision Peter High (and, presumably, Rachael King) consider it to be. Enterprise IT is no longer “the heart of so much innovation”. Perhaps it never was.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

25
Nov

Android’s penetration of enterprise computing markets is constrained by a combination of limited upgrade options and too many distributions

It’s very late in 2014, but a lot of enterprise computing consumers still depend on a central support function. An enormous volume of content has been written on the topic of the consumerization of business computing, and how the role of technology leader has changed hands from the typical enterprise IT organizations, to power users playing any kind of role within the organization.

But when something breaks, whether the wreckage occurs at the Line of Business (LoB) level, or within enterprise IT, itself, it still has to be fixed. Fixing broken iOS devices, or Windows devices remains a preferred route. There are simply too many distributions of the Android operating systems, and too much difficulty bringing the ones in use within an organization up to the same level of functionality to make sense for most of the enterprise computing world.

So, with this notion of how hardware device standards, to some extent, still operate in the world of business computing, Samsung’s recent decision to partner with BlackBerry “to Provide End-To-End Security for Android” makes sense.

The BlackBerry Samsung partnership, should appear curious to anyone who reviewed the webcasts recorded at Google I/O 2014. After all, Google announced its plan to “[integrate] part of Knox right into Android” (quoted from Samsung and Google team up to integrate KNOX into Android’s next major release, which was written by Abhijeet M, and published in June, 2014 on the SAMMOBILE web site)at its Google I/O 2014 event. So why would Samsung partner with BlackBerry on no less a mission than to provide the above-stated “end-to-end security for Android”?

A simple answer, in this writer’s opinion, would be to surmise Samsung has come to the realization enterprise IT organizations in the private and public sectors are still, for some reason, shrugging off Knox and passing on Android altogether. Bringing in BlackBerry, therefore makes sense. BlackBerry’s successful effort to convince the U.S. Federal Government, and some of its international peers to continue to use BlackBerry mobile computing devices as the most secure of any of their options. Perhaps some of this win can be attributed to the fact BlackBerry is built on proprietary IP, which, for better or worse, can be easily upgraded and is completely uniform in its presentation.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

6
Nov

Will enterprise IT reclaim the title of tech leader within the organization?

Anyone watching the Windows 10 segment of the webcast of the Keynote presentation from Microsoft’s Tech Ed Europe 2014 event will likely catch the appeal Joe Bellfiore, Corporate Vice Presdident, Windows Division is making to the enterprise business attendees in his audience. The old branding message “Windows is the best O/S for all types of computing” has been replaced with a new pitch characterized by its razor sharp “focus on enterprise” computing and the people responsible for its success within a typical organization.

What follows is a rhetorical argument (made up of 4 cornerstones) of why enterprise IT organizations, and the CIOs at the top, should look favorably on Windows 10, whose “first phase of engagement is really aimed at an enterprise audience”. The four cornerstones are:

  1. One converged Windows Platform
  2. A product people will love to use
  3. Protection against modern security threats
  4. Managed for continuous innovation

But the house to be built on these cornerstones is really a rebuild of the old edifice where new computing solutions popped up in organizations as the result of IT’s efforts to introduce them, and an attempt to bring down the dominance of lines of business (LoBs), who have recently staged a coup named BYOD and wielded a sword called consumerized IT to wreak havoc for the teams of computer support personnel ostensibly responsible to manage their computing activity.

In this writer’s opinion, the second cornerstone is nothing new. Microsoft has attempted, all along, to claim the title of best O/S for all types of computing. One need only reflect on one of the video ads for the original Surface tablets, titled Microsoft Surface – Commercial HD to get this point.

A word of caution: this claim hasn’t worked in the past (skeptical readers are advised to just think about the comparatively poor sales performance of the original Surface to get the point. If it worked so well, why the $900 Million write down?) and doesn’t look likely to win in the near future. Further, enterprise IT organizations may actually like their new way of operating in catch up mode. Perhaps it makes more sense for spokespeople like Bellfiore to emphasize each of the other cornerstones, and back pedal on the second.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

17
Oct

Intel announces the debut of Core M Processors

During Intel’s Q3, 2014 Earnings Conference Call, 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 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

13
Oct

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. 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

10
Oct

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 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

7
Oct

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

14
Aug

BlackBerry BES wins at U.S. Defense Information Services Agency

On August 6, 2014, Blackberry announced the U.S. Defense Information Services Agency (DISA) had approved its Secure Workspace for iOS(R) and Android(tm) solution at the level of DISA’s Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG).

In this writer’s opinion this win is notable for three reasons:

  1. The win demonstrates the strength of an entrenched device and its supporting platform for enterprise businesses and comparably sized organizations (such as DISA) in the public and not-for-profit sectors
  2. Despite BlackBerry’s position in the “Niche” quadrant of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Mobile Device Management (MDM), DISA opted to approve this solution, apparently unconcerned about the position of this platform, relative to its competitors in the market place. DISA’s decision may include important clues about how U.S. Federal agencies may buy technology solutions in the future
  3. The win is, perhaps, a blow to Samsung’s Knox Enterprise Mobility Management. Given the role Google apparently intends Knox to play in its efforts to repackage Android for enterprise consumers, this win for BlackBerry may have implications across a wider range of enterprise opportunities

1) It is very difficult to unseat an entrenched incumbent

The BlackBerry press release about this win does not include specific detail about how DISA decided to approve BlackBerry’s solution, but it is likely safe to surmise the large installed base of BlackBerry 10 mobile phones played some kind of role. On the other hand, the press release does mention BlackBerry’s Global Enterprise Services group. So the win may be emblematic of the quality of customer account management this group has achieved as it has worked with DISA

2) The Magic Quadrant May Not Be What It Seems When It Comes Down to Costs

Enterprise computing is highly complex, with a rich set of influential factors. As mentioned above, without further detail, it is no more than pure conjecture to posit answers to questions as to how DISA went about making its decision to approve BlackBerry’s solution. But it is likely cost had something to do with it, as is often the case. Perhaps the cost of implementing a best-of-breed solution for Mobile Device Management (MDM) far exceeded the cost of consulting with BlackBerry to bring its solution up to compliance with STIG. Bottom line: this win demonstrates how vulnerable an argument built on no more than authority (meaning pointing to the position of a couple of products in a market study like Gartner’s Magic Quadrant) can be when long standing customers weigh the pros and cons of making a platform change and funds are tightly controlled.

3) Samsung’s Knox is, perhaps, not as formidable as its namesake

As written in several older posts to this blog, Google’s I/O event for 2014 included the presentation of what this writer took to be a serious effort to repackage Android into a platform more worthy of serious consideration by enterprise IT organizations. A segment of the enterprise presentation at this event included an announcement of Samsung’s decision to make Knox available to the entire Android developer community. So this win by BlackBerry may put a damper on the enthusiasm driving this enterprise IT initiative for the Android developer community.

Ira Michael Blonder

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

31
Jul

Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite Quickly Magnetizes Interest from Enterprise IT

Microsoft® debuted its Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) in May of this year. During the Microsoft Q4 2014 Earnings Conference Call, Satya Nadella, CEO, referred to this product as a “high value service [running] on top of our base cloud infrastructure”.

Readers may want to take some time to read the white paper offered on the EMS website. Given Microsoft’s longstanding position as the preferred desktop computing vendor for enterprise IT, it is likely EMS, which provides a combination of what Nadella summed up as “identity management, device management and data security into one IT controlled plane and architecture.” will magnetize some significant interest from its targeted market. EMS is a SaaS offering.

According to Nadella and Microsoft CFO Amy Hood, this is the case. Both referred to rapid adoption of EMS. Microsoft stands to benefit in several ways should EMS ascend to a leader position for the market: Certainly, businesses standardizing on EMS will constitute strong prospects for Microsoft’s own mobile devices — Windows Phone and Surface computers. But, further, since EMS is built on three other strategic products from Microsoft’s cloud SaaS portfolio — Azure Active Directory Premium, Windows Intune, and Microsoft Azure Rights Management — sales of EMS will, necessarily, also include sales of each of these components of the overall solution, which will horizontally distribute the importance of this solution, potentially opening consumption by SMBs.

The burning need driving market appetite for a solution like EMS is not new. BYOD and what is referred to as the “consumerization of IT”, as a technology trend, has been going on for sometime, perhaps dating back to the debut of the first Apple iPhones. But a solution like EMS has not been available. Perhaps, one can argue, Blackberry’s Device Management (BDM) solution can be looked at as a possible competitor, but BDM neither includes a native version of the Active Directory component, nor anything like Microsoft Azure Rights Management. No, EMS looks to be very well positioned to be a revenue driver for Microsoft, going forward.

Ira Michael Blonder

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