IBM Announces Updates to SmartCloud Foundation

IBM recently announced new offerings under its SmartCloud Foundation, many of them in response to some notable statistics around cloud computing adoption by enterprises.

According to a study published recently by IBM, the number of enterprises who use cloud computing to transform their existing business model will more than double in the next three years. The shift seems to be occurring away from viewing cloud as a means for gaining efficiencies and cost savings and toward using cloud to transform business models and drive new revenue streams. A recent IBM Institute for Business Value study found that 90 percent of enterprises expect to adopt or deploy cloud services of some sort by 2015. The impact of this adoption rate will be significant.

For more details on the impact, consult my recent IT Briefcase column on IBM’s SmartCloud Foundation.


IBM Acquisition of Green Hat and the APM Market

In early 2012, IBM acquired Green Hat to round out its own cloud-based testing offering. The acquisition, which completed January 11, 2012, gives further validation to the growing market of virtual cloud testing. Green Hat’s solution creates a virtual testing environment for developers that can simulate a range of IT infrastructure elements. It becomes a continuous test environment and enables developers to test software earlier and more often throughout the typical software development lifecycle. Read our IT Briefcase column on IBM and the cloud testing market for the complete story.


Business Intelligence Brings Light to Corporate Performance

When it comes to politics some have said that sunlight is the best disinfectant. It’s pretty much the same when it comes to business. Routing out poor performing products, services, or business lines takes the ability to shine a light on them. That’s where business intelligence (BI) is increasingly coming in.

Business intelligence has performed well as a corporate housecleaning agent – reducing the inefficiencies related to manual data entry for report creation and corporate ‘Excel farms’ creating one-off reports to satisfy individual stakeholders. Now it’s time for business intelligence to move closer to its ultimate goal of shedding light on all the dark corners of an enterprise’s data stores. New technologies, such as mobile accessibility, and better integration capabilities that can extract and normalize data from multiple, disparate legacy systems are features of the latest crop of business intelligence tools that reveal the promise for companies to seek a previously unavailable level of insight into their businesses, and drive top-line growth along with the standard cost-savings associated with BI and analytic tools.

Read our full IT Briefcase column on the value that business intelligence can deliver to corporations.


IBM Ups Its Cloud Commitment

IBM recently upped its commitment to cloud computing, with an announcement of a portfolio of private cloud offerings. The offerings have been designed from the ground up for enterprises, and seek to eliminate some of the concerns that large enterprises have over the security and readiness of the cloud for business-critical computing.

The offering, called the SmartCloud Foundation portfolio, includes a core set of private cloud functions that are based on IBM’s significant volume of client engagements and its management of cloud-based transactions for enterprise customers. It is designed to appeal to the demand by enterprise clients for secure, private cloud resources as they seek to transition from virtualization toward cloud infrastructures.

Read our IT Briefcase column on IBM’s updated cloud offerings.


Agile Suites

Agile software development is making inroads into organizations as a beneficial software development approach. What began as a revolution in 2001 has now become a regular part of many engineering organizations’ development projects. The benefits are attractive: increase overall throughput of the development organization by up to 40%, and work better, smarter, and faster in a world of shrinking budgets. For most companies, gaining those types of benefits and successfully implementing Agile development processes requires more than just retraining people and moving to Agile methodologies.

This Upside Research report highlights how senior developers and management can gain a higher level of control and productivity out of the entire software engineering organization by optimizing Agile software development through the use of professional Agile Suites. The report identifies several leading vendors of professional Agile software development suites, and also builds a business case for using an Agile Suite to further improve efficiency and deliver better end results for all software development.

For the full Upside Research report on Agile Suites, download the Agile Suites Report


IBM Extends SOA Influence with Series of Announcements

Recently, IBM announced its latest SOA and BPM-related new product and service releases, which are centered around what IBM calls Smart SOA™. Smart SOA is a term that IBM is using to describe IBM’s approach to using SOA to power the enterprise and create smarter business outcomes. IBM started using the “Smart SOA” in the fall of 2007 and believes that now, one year later, it’s been able to refine the message and marshal its product lines behind the message to deliver (what it calls) a “true integrated and consumable technology platform” for enterprise customers.

According to IBM, those customers have not been idle in the past several years, with more than 7,000 of them successfully launching some type of SOA project, and a number of them well into significant SOA projects. IBM numbers reveal that 61% of IBM customers define themselves as being at the foundational, or starting level of SOA adoption, another 29% have extended into end-to-end SOA projects, and 11% define themselves as being involved in transformational SOA that involves a dynamic enterprise mindset.

Among the core announcements that IBM has included in its Smart SOA™ event are the following:

• IBM announced its new SmartBusiness INSights to help clients start down the SOA path by identifying where the most opportunities for success lie within their organization. These are an actionable set of guidance and approaches around core, industry-focused business processes that will help the client identify the process and describe how SOA can help them achieve their goals. SmartBusiness INSights exist for a number of industries, including banking, insurance, and healthcare.

• Enhancements to IBM’s CBMSOMA Method, an integrated methodology that connects business strategy to services and focuses on componentization from a business method and technical method, threading a path together from strategy to realization. According to IBM, this has been extremely well-received and many customers have adopted this as a reliable way to manage their SOA deployments.

• Industry Solutions and Frameworks – IBM is increasing its building frameworks for SOA to nine, including three new entries: Integrated Information for Chemical & Petroleum; Network Centric Operations for Defense & Public Safety; and Product Development Integration. The frameworks reflect key industry processes and consist of pre-built industry components built on IBM Smart SOA™ foundation. The frameworks leverage industry and technology open standards.

• Key Agility Indicators are benchmarks that IBM has created from more than 16,000 engagements through Global Services. IBM believes that KPI’s are no longer enough to identify the agility necessary for today’s business. The company has over 300 Key Agility Indicators that span processes like supply chain, IT, human resources. All of these are now embedded into WebSphere Business Modeler & Monitor to provide additional content to help customers rapidly align their monitoring with the key agility indicators in their industry.

• In the BPM arena, in addition to several enhancements to IBM’s existing BPM platform, the company announced The Business space, a new capability that is delivered in many of its products, creating a unified user interface. It is a combination of Lotus mash-up technology and the world of BPM. Through Business space, users can customize their workspace by role. This is integrated across multiple IBM products to create a customizable and flexible user interface that retains a uniform consistency to align all stakeholders to the business process goals and objectives.

• Also new in the BPM arena is the BPM Healthcheck Services, designed to identify current strengths and weaknesses, provide a diagnostic BPM report, and create a strategic roadmap for BPM.

• IBM has created a number of enhancements to its entire SOA platform that tie in with the Smart SOA™ brand, including tools both web-based and traditional that help customers choose a path for SOA – taking a closer look at their business priorities, identifying a project, develop an idea of the ROI they might want to achieve, and when ready graduate to a complete SOA assessment with Global Services. IBM stressed in the announcements that it wants customers to find the right “on ramp” to SOA and therefore drive their success.

To further establish itself as the renowned leader in SOA, IBM is launching a global road show designed to display some of the successes its customers have seen using its platform for SOA. The IBM Smart SOA™ World Tour visits 100 cities in 10 days during the month of October 2008, and includes 100 customers telling their SOA success stories, designed to meet the current needs of that locality. The events will include various roundtable discussions and seminars targeted at all levels of the SOA workforce, from line-of-business down to developer.

The Upside Uptake
The quantity of individual announcements that accompanied this market update is extensive. While there are too many to cover in detail here, we would like to add some analysis to IBM’s overall SOA strategy and where BPM fits into the picture. Clearly, IBM is demonstrating with this update that it is firmly planted in the SOA world. The company has been very successful in engaging customers to adopt SOA-based projects and gain business benefits from those early endeavors. The fact that the majority of IBM’s customers are still in the “foundational SOA” stage is indicative of the larger enterprise IT market as a whole as well as the level of complexity that exists with such an ambitious goal as SOA adoption. One of the most important components of this announcement in our eyes is the acknowledgment by IBM that not all businesses are created equal, and therefore creating a variety of “on ramps” for businesses to approach SOA adoption is critical to conversion.

BPM plays a critical role to IBM in the entire advancement of Smart SOA™. The BPM products and solutions that IBM offers are often an opportune first introduction into SOA for many companies because they blend the measurable, results-focused deliverables of a BPM project while building the SOA foundation that IBM advocates. Upside Research believes that building a robust, enterprise-scale SOA foundation is a key to creating a powerful BPM solution.

Much about the BPM announcements from IBM centered on “taming the chaos through business process management” and the product enhancements were about increased business event management, transactional capabilities, and business process optimization. Upside Research believes this reflects the current objectives in the market to optimize key business processes for smarter business outcomes, and again this feeds into IBM’s Smart SOA™ platform. The newly announced Business Space is a clear indication of not only how central IBM holds BPM to its overall platform, but also how IBM is reading the market and trying to deliver an interface for BPM (and SOA) that is more in line with how the majority of its customers work.

With these announcements, one of the themes that was evident was IBM’s awareness of how its core customers are changing and how IBM is keeping pace to meet market demands. The staid notion of the Fortune 500 is one of the past, especially with recent financial market volatility. Today’s company needs to be as agile as possible, and there is no guarantee that the winner today will be holding the trophy next year. Therefore, reading its customer base is a critical component of IBM’s success, and IBM seems to be listening. There is heavy focus by IBM on “Green” technology initiatives, as they relate to SOA in this instance. Also, the notion of creating the “business space” as a parallel to the omnipotent My Space generation is a nod toward the non-traditional ways that technology is being consumed by business and personal users. Upside Research is curious to see how this plays out in the business world, but applauds IBM for thinking outside the box to embrace new paradigms.


Free Software Configuration Management (SCM) – Is It Worth It?

Software Configuration Management (SCM) is a critical core infrastructure tool for all software development organizations. While often taken for granted or below senior management’s radar, SCM is an extremely important component of an organization’s software infrastructure. Historically, a significant number of organizations have used open-source SCM, such as RCS, CVS and more recently Subversion, to form the backbone of their development environments. However, such solutions can have hidden costs associated with them. This paper was written to help organizations understand when such free tools make business sense and when commercial SCM solutions may be more appropriate.

In this report we provide context for answering those questions and analyze a composite scenario of an organization that has used both types of solutions, based on interviews with enterprise developers and industry research.

Click here to download the complete Upside Research report on Open Source SCM


The Business Impact of BPM with SOA: Building a Business Case for BPM with SOA ROI

At the heart of every business is a complicated web of processes that form the foundation for all operations. These business processes are the lifeblood of the organization and typically include all of the humans and systems that exist within the enterprise. Since they play such a central role, business processes must be as efficient as possible to make the business as effective as possible. As a result, finding ways to automate and improve business processes has become a major focus for today’s organizations as they struggle to find ways to become more agile and responsive to changing business climates.

In fact, an entire market—business process management—has grown out of the desire to improve existing business processes and build new processes and services that will differentiate a business from its competitors. Business process management (BPM) solutions aim to provide enterprises with a common platform that can tap into all resources, both human and system-based, to create, manage and optimize effective business processes that span the enterprise. BPM solutions can help organizations to maximize their existing technology and human infrastructure by linking existing systems and automating tasks that can free humans up to add value elsewhere within the enterprise.

Click here to download the complete Upside Research report on BPM ROI


State of the BPM Market

Over the past decade, BPM has evolved from a number of other technology pre-cursors, including workflow, integration and process automation. Through this evolution process, BPM has picked up a number of best practices that enable companies to use a “new” technology that has been road-tested in the past. As such, companies from all industries have started using BPM because, in short, it works. BPM can make a huge difference in how your company responds to market pressures and how it proactively tackles new business needs. Not only that, it changes the economics of managing the business through improved process performance.

To help organizations start their evaluation and understand the context for a BPM purchase, Upside Research has prepared this State of the BPM Market, as a starting point for future evaluation of this dynamic market. This report follows up on the trends and information discussed from Upside’s previous market evaluations published in June 2004 and October 2005, and provides a current snapshot of where the BPM market stands at the beginning of 2006.

By taking a look at a current snapshot of the BPM market, combined with a consideration of current hot spots, how related markets are growing, and finally what the next year holds for BPM, organizations can gain a more complete understanding of how BPM can positively impact their organization. For maximum benefit, Upside Research believes that most organizations should combine this context-setting information with an evaluation of BPM products from both a business and IT perspective to identify the most appropriate solution.

Click here to download the complete Upside Research report – State of BPM Market