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5 Links for Developers and IT Pros 5/6/11

5416979680 b0f170ebe2 mIt's Friday and that means it's time for our weekly feature, 5 links for Developers and IT Pros where we scour the web looking for five interesting links to share with you.
Earlier this week, we published The Growing Importance of a Data-Driven Social Strategy where we discussed how to develop a strategy for monitoring and understanding data about your organization coming from the public social stream. If you haven't read it yet, please check it out.
If you have any thoughts about our work here, please feel free to leave a comment, and if you like what you see, please consider subscribing.
On with this week's links:
Cloud is Making Software Vendors 'Schizoid' —
If you're a traditional on-premises software vendor, the move to the Cloud has to making you just a bit crazy. After all, it's not as though you can just switch to a hosted a model. It's not that simple and you have to find a way to navigate the changing market.

One year after iPad: Is Adobe Flash still relevant? - ZDNet.

Steve Jobs didn't make a lot of friends at Adobe when he published his now famous Thoughts on Flash memo last April. At the time it sparked a debate about issues of using Flash on mobile devices. It's been a year, and while many tablet vendors are trying to differentiate themselves from the iPad by supporting Flash, veteran tech journalist Jason Perlow wonders if it matters.

Why You Need ‘Social Media Versions’ of Your Resume - Climbing the IT Ladder

In an increasingly social world, as IT pros and developers look for jobs, having a social resume is becoming more important. This article looks at the different options available to you to begin to show your stuff online.

25 Agilists to Follow on Twitter - Software Quality Connection.

If you're into Agile (and who isn't, right?), and you use Twitter, check out this list to find 25 great people to follow who can give you links and information each week on Agile.

3 Signs That You’ve Been Coding Too Much -  Agile Zone.

Have you been coding too much? You probably know who you are, but if you need help determining if you have been afflicted with this condition, this post may be for you.

Photo by sludgegulper on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

5 for Friday 2/4/2011 Links on Agile, Honeycomb, Google and More

4525009 d2d59b6c46 mWelcome to another week of 5 for Friday. We hope you enjoyed our post earlier this week from Aaron Dun on mobile development and Augmented Reality. Per usual we are going to post five links from around the web we hope you'll find interesting.

Let's get to it:

Can Flash and HTML5 get along? - O'Reilly Radar
Veteran technology James Turner explores whether the two technologies can co-exist in an in-depth interview with Adobe's Duane Nickull, who says neither is simple as it seems. A good read if you want to understand the differences between Flash and HTML 5 and Adobe's strategy moving forward.

Dear Rob-1 - Agile & Business
In a fictional letter to Rob, a senior executive overseeing an Agile-Scrum project, this post explores why Agile and Scrum make sense for business. Perhaps you'll recognize some of these arguments (or maybe it'll give you a fresh perspective).

Cloud CIO: How Cloud Changes IT Staff - Network World
There has been some fear in IT circles that 'The Cloud' could take away IT jobs. This post explains that the jobs will still be there, but the nature of the jobs will change as more of a company's operations move to the cloud. Monitoring will be a big deal moving forward.

Android 3.0 Honeycomb Preview SDK Hints At Phone Support? - AndroidGuys
Google has made a lot of noise that Honeycomb, the code name for the Android OS for tablets was going to be exclusively for tablets, meaning Honeycomb features wouldn't be available to mobile phone developers. But the Andorid Guys are hearing there may be ways around that. It's still too early to tell, but it's certainly something you should be watching.

Google-ITA Software deal: says consent decree not enough - Tnooz
Travel industry watchers may want to pay attention to this on-going story. Google is attempting to buy ITA Software, a flight information software company for $700 million. Consumer watch dog, isn't sure it's a good idea and told the Justice Department as much.

Photo by miemo on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.

Its Cloudy Out There: Looking Out for Some Sunshine


by Aaron Dun

This past week in Boston, Ness Software Product Labs in partnership with held the fourth in a series of cloud-focused events which has included stops in Austin, London, and Santa Clara as well as a webinar held in September (you can find the webinar slides here).

Naturally, these sessions were fully buzzword compliant with all the requisite cloud images and kitschy phrases (see the title of this post!). Despite this ongoing fascination with cloud quips, however, we learned that real business is being done cloud-wise. And even though we still can't completely agree on what makes an internal cloud a cloud, or whether the Fortune 200 are actually on the cloud or not, interesting things are definitely going on.

We got to speak with well over 100 of you before, during, and after these events and thus learned a great deal about what people are doing, or are not doing, “in the cloud.” Here are some key takeaways from these conversations:

>You are really smart. In every city we were in we discovered new and cool things about how the cloud is being viewed and used. There were excellent discussions regarding the security of the most popular VM solutions, issues raised about data management in a virtualized environment, and a number of personal experiences with public and hybrid clouds shared.

>The cloud is happening at the grass roots level. Hardly a news flash here but the stories got richer as the year went along. We also all agreed that in a tightly controlled IT environment (think: Global 200), “the business” will not wait weeks for IT to provision a VM and instead will go out to Amazon and get one set up in hours (minutes?). This leads to a situation like the one I heard from the web applications lead at UC Berkeley:

I head up web applications at Berkeley, which means, as you can imagine, that I control probably only half of the web applications at Berkeley!”

>The role/definition of an internal/private cloud is still very much up for debate. On the one hand there is clearly momentum here, on the other it’s questionable what this exactly means. Most definitions of cloud architecture include something about “instant scalability,” meaning an application can scale dynamically--or within hours of the request--to new servers as needed. Most people took issue with the notion of applying this characteristic to an internal cloud. Which led many to deride internal clouds as merely “souped-up virtualization running in a server farm.” The debate rages on.

As our resident cloud strategy expert, Neil Fox points out:

While there seems to still be some confusion about Private Clouds fitting the definition of a true cloud, we would firmly assert that Private Clouds fit the majority of the NIST definition of a cloud. While most private clouds do not meter service, they do provide the elasticity and scalability of services needed to deliver the economic benefits to their (internal) customers.”

>SaaS/PaaS/IaaS definitions are much clearer today. It's acronym soup out there, but things are rounding into form particularly around Infrastructure-as-a-Service. SaaS is seemingly well understood, though people still take issue when a SaaS application is confused with a true cloud application. PaaS is still a moving target, but improving. And its moving mainstream. The recent attempt by Microsoft to suggest that their photosharing site is a cloud application in its TV ads seems like a stretch, but also indicates that tech companies think the cloud will resonate with consumers.

>Security may be a red herring. Or maybe not. Generally it appears that the first objection to cloud computing, and the rationale most often given for an internal cloud, is the security of the application and the data it contains. The tide seems to be turning against this issue. While it was a hot discussion topic in Santa Clara in June, by Boston it hardly came up. Personally, I think the security issues are real but definable. And as more people get comfortable with the risk definition, and how to mitigate those risks, it simply comes down to a company’s risk tolerance. From there, they will act accordingly.

In all, the discussions were enjoyable and informative. We enjoyed getting to know you better and to learn from you at the same time. To keep the dialogue going we have created a cloud-focused group on LinkedIn. Feel free to join and keep the discussion going.

Sunny days for the cloud are in fact ahead!

Aaron Dun is Senior VP of Marketing at Ness. You can follow him on Twitter at @ajdun.

"Achieving Technology Leadership in the Cloud" - An Executive Networking Event


On Tuesday, November 9th at 6:00 pm at Henrietta's Table in Cambridge, MA, we will be hosting the fourth in a series of discussions about cloud immplications for ISVs and software centric organizations.  The evening's presentation is entitled, "Achieving Technology Leadership in the Cloud," and our featured speakers will be M.R. Rangaswami and Kamesh Pemmaraju, authors of the Sand Hill Study, Leaders in the Cloud.

If you would like to register for this executive networking event, you may do so here.

The evening's focus will fall on:    

  • How to increase ROI, decrease TCO, and dramatically speed development.
  • Things to consider when planning to migrate on-premise products to SaaS.
  • How to best leverage the Cloud for software development.
  • The most significant risks when planning to leverage the Cloud.

In addition to having the opportunity to discuss all of the above with peers and noted experts (including Ness' Neil Fox), participants will leave with concrete next steps for addressing the issues raised within their own organizations as well as complimentary copies of the case studies from the acclaimed Sand Hill report.

Past events in this series have led to lively conversations and new perspectives on the many ways that cloud computing is transforming business-as-usual for a broad range of organizations. To get a sense of what I'm talking about, check out this video of Mr. Rangaswami addressing cloud adoption and the small to medium-sized businesses at our Silicon Valley event or this video of Dr. Katy Ring talking about the cloud as a more efficient way of using the internet at our event in London.

Again, if you are interested in attending the upcoming event in Cambridge, MA, you may register here.

How Do You Grow without Hiring People or Investing in R&D?


3848251199 3d84512d5f mSarah Lacy over at TechCrunch wrote a post called "Global Economy=Good; Venture Economy=Not so much," in which she highlighted the results of a recent survey, conducted by DLA Piper, stating that 85% of surveyed tech execs are optimistic about the current state of the global economy. This optimism was reinforced, in part, by 72% saying that they expect sales to grow in the coming year.

What was puzzling about this "rosy" outlook was that only 47% said that they were planning on hiring any time soon and, what's more, 62% expect no change or even a decrease in a R&D spending.

"It seems like people are hoping that just treading water with respect to product enhancements will somehow lead to higher sales. Like there’s a massive wave of buying that they’re going to ride. It’s nice to be optimistic about the economy, but we’re not likely to see any massive spending sprees," Glenn Gruber told me while talking this over.

"If someone is looking to really grow, they can't let their product atrophy or just muddle along because, frankly, there's any number of companies out there –startups or established companies – who are going to try to eat their lunch. ‘Good enough’ no longer is.

"Technology companies are going to have to work as hard as ever to earn their customers’ business. Buyers are not lowering their expectations of product features and quality just because the economy is rebounding. They’re going to be as unforgiving in their evaluations as they were a year ago, they just may be in a position to pull the trigger now.  And technologies like Cloud Computing are putting downward pressure on prices and raising expectations of value. It seems like a wrong-headed approach if you want to take advantage of an economic upturn."

Cutting back on R&D is a particularly dangerous path to choose if you happen to be in the software industry where you need constant R&D just to maintain your existing installed base. One Forrester report stated bluntly that, "Customers will cancel maintenance completely if they aren't getting value-for-money because the vendor has cut R&D in line with falling revenue." (To put the impact of such a loss in perspective, a 10% loss in maintenance margin requires a 60% increase in license sales to be made right again!)

In other words: You have to invest in R&D. Which means that, even when holding budgets flat or contracting rather than expanding, you have to maximize the return on any money you are actually spending.

There are basically two ways to do that:

1)  Increase engineering effectiveness so that you can get the  best output from your existing engineering resources, which usually starts with having the right measures in the first place, as Neil Fox has written on this blog. "Companies in this economy are forced to do more with less," Neil says. "If their budgets are flat and they do not find ways to increase their effectiveness then they are circling the drain."

2) Get more for your money by leveraging offshore resources (or a combination of offshore and onshore). The intriguing possibility here is that, rather than trying to do more with the same spend, you could simply do the same for less money, thus increasing your operating margin.

So, if you are optimistic about the future and are looking foward to increasing sales, how are you going to handle the need for R&D in order to sustain growth?


Image Source: speckham.

5 for Friday: Intriguing Links from the Week of September 6, 2010


Here's what intrigued us this week:

  1. Simplicity: A New Model - The ever-intriguing Jurgen Appelo is writing a book on "leading Agile developers and developing Agile leaders" which will include this savvy discussion of the distinction between things that are "complicated" (difficult to understand) and those that are "complex" (difficult to predict). He offers up a model for situating objects, projects, and systems in terms of their complexity and comprehensibility. One commenter said he had his whole team read this!
  2. Innovation 1.0 Served Here - Sameer Patel writes at length about the importance of developing an "innovation culture" that places an emphasis on execution by avoiding a "top down" approach. "In practical terms this means getting the big brains hidden in the corners of your enterprise to contribute unique data points (validation, rebuttals, refinement, oversight) to remove risk and enrichen outcomes," as he puts it. Eric Norlin over at CloudAve sees in this a call to develop "feedback loops along the value chain" in order to support innovation execution.
  3. 5 Things Large Enterprises Need to Know About SaaS - Workday CTO Stan Swete discusses the concerns that SaaS vendors need to be able to address when selling to organizations with multinational operations and over 5,000 employees. They are namely: Integration; Performance and Scalability; Local Data Processing and Privacy Regulations; Configurable Business Processing; and IT Involvement. His post concludes, "Large enterprises face a higher bar to making SaaS work. A SaaS provider that demonstrates it can clear that bar is one worth talking to."
  4. Meet your next 'Net? Academics rethink the Internet's guts - Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica reviews some recent National Science Foundation grants focused on rearchitecting the Internet. Among the projects he discusses is one aimed at improving cloud security [surprise, surprise], one aimed at developing a mobile-centric network architecture, and one looking to replace the Internet Protocol's location-based system with a content-based Named Data Networking model. Put on your Futurist Hat!
  5. Distinguish Yourself - Brief post from software engineer Dan Moran on avoiding commoditization of one's services. If all you bring to the table is a particular technical skill (knowing C++ is the example in the post), then you'll be reduced to competing on price. The key for individuals and organizations is demonstrating the ability to design, architect, collaborate, and, most of all, solve problems that can't be anticipated in advance. I would add that customers ultimately don't want the commodity; they want capabilities that will allow them to achieve business goals while providing sustainable competitive advantage (at least that's what I hope they want!).

So what intrigued you this week?

5 for Friday: Intriguing Links from the Week of August 23, 2010


Here's some food for thought for this Friday.

  1. "Outsourcing: cloud is changing the rules" - ZDNet's Joe McKendrick also commented on Stephanie Overby's interview with A.T. Kearney's Arjun Sethi (which we highlighted last week) and pointed out something they missed: Companies from diverse industries that just happen to have large internal IT infastructures could, whether they want to call it that or not, become cloud providers.
  2. Amadeus Sponsored Study on European OTAs - Amadeus teamed up with Hermes Management Consulting to look at European online travel agencies and what they could do to close the gap with their more successful US counterparts. Two recommendations: 1) Sell more non-air products (50% of US OTA revenue comes from this source) and 2) Improve the online shopping experience by providing more relevant content.
  3. Thoughts on Oracle v. Google - (via Alex Handy) An exhaustive and highly technical look at the recent dust-up between these behemoths written by the very informed and intriguingly opinionated Charles Nutter (Java developer, open-source developer, and JRuby developer). Nutter asks and answers the main question thusly: "[D]oes the suit have merit? It depends if you consider baseless or over-general patents to have merit."
  4. "Can the Indian IT industry lead in products as well?" - India controls almost two thirds of the global, off-shore IT services market. Could it accomplish the same feat in the products arena? This author says, "Yes!"
  5. "IT Services: The new allure of onshore locales" - Article from McKinsey Quarterly on the move to diverse off-shore portfolios by seeking out talent in "second-tier cities in close-shore locales." Most interesting part of the post is a case study detailing how one global company approached the selection of off-shore and close-shore partners. [Free registration is required to read the entire article, though it can also be found here.]

What got you thinking this week?

What Are You Worried About?


2580085025 7f1cc8d205 mAt the beginning of July the editors at SDTimes wrote a fairly snarky opinion piece entitled, "Cloud? Mobile? We get it." In it they questioned the hype-ridden focus on these two spaces and flatly stated that "cloud computing is only peripherally a developer issue" and that "mobile is more about a changing platform target ... than a new programming paradigm."

The issues that the editors pointed to as more germane to the development community were things like Oracle's plans for Java, IP, and increasing productivity of development teams. Unfortunately, they lamented, these just aren't that sexy.

While I agree that there is a good deal of hype around cloud (with the emergent practice of "cloud washing" being just one example thereof), I disagree that cloud computing is only peripherally a developer issue. On the one hand, there is a significant segment of the cloud market itself focused on development. I'm thinking both of IBM's Smart Business Development & Test cloud as well as the platform plays of Google, Salesforce, and others.

It seems to me that infrastructure aimed at facilitating cost reduction and promoting efficiency during the development process, not to mention the emergence of successful, in-demand development platforms, can be called a lot of things but "peripheral" isn't exactly one of them.

On the other hand, both ISVs and companies with mature software portfolios seem very intent on introducing new SaaS solutions aimed at competing with existing, license-laden software options while simultaneously trying to figure out how to deliver SaaS versions of existing products. I guess one could argue that the SaaS model is more of a business issue than a development issue, but if developers divorce themselves from business concerns, does that bode well for the future of development?

In other words, the software business will dictate what and how software will be developed going forward. If the business is headed cloudwards, then it would be safe to say that, while it may seem "peripheral" at the moment, it won't stay that way for long.

As far as mobile goes, while it might not represent a brand new paradigm, it certainly brings up numerous business model challenges both in terms of emerging app marketplaces and in terms of its impact on ecommerce and web development more broadly. Again, the changes taking place in this space, while "hype-y" in some aspects, really can't be ignored by the development community.

I mean, if more and more software is going to be running on mobile devices, particularly in an app-centric or even componentized framework, shouldn't the people designing and building this software be taking that into consideration?

That all being said, I agree with the editors that there are other big issues that effectively fall below the radar of companies like Apple and Microsoft as they try to figure out ways to move product. The issue of productivity in software development and how to increase it, for instance, may not be of much importance to the big dogs but is of central importance to us at Ness and, in fact, will be the topic of an ongoing blog series written by our own Neil Fox (you can see the first installment here).

So, what are you worried about? If it's not cloud or mobile, then what is it?


Image Source: spaceodissey.

"Democratization of Distribution" and Other Travel Industry Trends


2610133706 9fc505a4cf mOne of the main messages of the PhoCusWright Online Event sponsored by Ness at the end of June was this: Distribution in the travel industry is being democratized.

According to PhoCusWright's Bob Offutt, we're seeing a radical shift in distribution as the dominance of the GDS paradigm is gradually eroded by the fact that "today similar systems can be built cheaper, better, faster."

This trend is being driven in part by the need for travel businesses, from airlines to hotel chains, to reach new customers with a wider array of ancillary product offerings, a need that has been difficult for GDS' to meet due to the constraints of the underlying legacy technologies. At the same time emerging software-as-a-service business models, relying to varying degrees on the flexible, low-cost infrastructure offered by the cloud, are allowing new players to enter the market at an accelerating pace.

Offut called this a trend "democratizing" because, in effect, it foreshadows the virtual independence of the industry's suppliers (for example, airlines like American and British Airways, both of whom have expanded their relationships with travel management companies and other intermediaries), brokers, aggregators, and agents, not to mention consumers, from systems that have been at its center for decades.

As a kind of corollary to this democratization, Offut also highlighted the burgeoning power of mobile, which he sees as "going where no platform has gone before" thanks to developments in mobile applications involving augmented reality, near field communications, and what he called "the portable point of sale." Mobile devices have the power to creat a continuous and ubiquitous brand interaction and therefore, Offut emphasized, "mobile" must be treated as a business platform in its own right (and not just "an extension of the desktop," as he put it).

These two trends, more even than those mentioned by Offut with regard to the rise of social media, impose some daunting technical challenges on businesses throughout the travel ecosystem. It will be particularly interesting to see how the GDS providers respond. Will they be able to diversify their services and evolve their offerings to help their clients on either end of the value chain deal with the particular challenges they currently face?

Or will smaller, more agile solutions emerge that allow travel businesses to sell an increasingly diverse range of products and services across a rapidly expanding number of platforms?

The answers to these questions remain to be seen. If you missed the event but would like to hear what Bob Offutt and Ness' Glenn Gruber had to say on the subject, you can access the webinar recording here, or vist PhoCusWright's site to download the deck (registration required).

If you have some answers of your own, please share them in the comment section!


Image Source: Torley  License: Creative Commons

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