How To Build An Adaptable Enterprise

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Guest blog by ThinkApps

How-to-Start-a-Startup-front-cover-print“Enterprises are not going to be able to survive in the future if they do not get good at technology.”

This insight was offered by Box CEO Aaron Levie during his lecture for the “How to Start a Startup” course at Stanford University. The course was the basis for a new book of the same name produced independently by ThinkApps, an on-demand service for designing and building stunning apps for web, mobile, and wearables.

The “How to Start a Startup” book, which was nominated for Product Hunt’s “Book of the Year” award, is the ultimate reference guide to starting a successful tech startup. Below is an except from Chapter 10 on building for the enterprise, which features advice from Levie’s lecture.

Start Small

By finding tiny gaps in existing products, you can make that small space your niche, learn it inside and out, and completely own that wedge of the market.

“What you want to start to do is say, ‘We will take this sliver of a problem and we are going to make the user experience on that incredible,’” said Levie.

This way, you’re not even worrying about the big guys until you completely own your space enough to grow and branch out.

Spot Technology Disruptions

“You have to look for new enabling technologies or major trends … that create a wide gap between how things are done and how they can be done,” advised Levie.

This is not only key to finding that little sliver for your business to fit in, it’s also important for realizing new opportunities for your business before the competition catches on.

Find Asymmetries

There are lots of perks to being the little guy — find them and use them.

“You want to do things that incumbents can’t or won’t do because either the economics don’t make sense for them, the economics are so unusual, or because technically they can’t,” explained Levie.

Before you do this, though, do your research and find exactly where your incumbents can’t afford to drop their prices or personalize their UX. Then fill in those gaps.

Find Outliers

Examining those users around the cusp of your industry can give you just the edge you need to take your next steps.

As Levie put it, “Find the unique characteristics of those customers.”

“If you find customers that are working in the future, you will be able to work with them to find what is missing in the future.” Then ask yourself, “How do we build technology that supports all these new use cases that are going to emerge?”

If you work with those outliers as early adopters, you can study them to see how your product can evolve. This will also help you to distill your overall customer needs and narrow in on the best solution, which as Levie said, may be one that they need, not necessarily one that they want.

To learn more about the “How to Start a Startup” book and get your own copy, visit ThinkApps’ website.

To learn how CMI can assist with cloud management and cost to serve start up options, check out our ADC framework Introduction video or contact us to continue the conversation.

 

The Virtues of Virtualization

Storage and Desktop Virtualization For Your Enterprise

Virtualization---AdobeStock_63276172-(1)VMware is well known as the founder and leader in server virtualization. Most IT shops are using VMware or other server virtualization technologies now. If you aren’t, it’s probably time to realize the value of a virtualized server environment.

What’s next after server virtualization? Virtual Desktops? Storage virtualization? Network virtualization? VMware and others are betting big on all three, and there is some impressive technology solutions surfacing. In real-world IT shops, which of these are really useful today?

Network virtualization is probably the lowest on that list today. Network virtualization is great for some hybrid cloud and network micro-segmentation use cases for the larger enterprise. Today’s reality is the complexity and cost of implementationmake real network virtualization out of reach for most SMB IT departments. Stay tuned as changes and improvements are coming fast.

On the other hand, Storage Virtualization and Virtual Desktops make sense for many in the SMB market today.  Storage Virtualization comes in two major options and brings value in simplification and adaptability. The two basic types are:

  1. Storage Virtualization of traditional storage subsystems, such as IBM’s SAN Volume Controller (SVC). This technology allows abstraction of multiple vendors’ storage subsystems, managing their storage through a single pane of glass, and combining their aggregate storage into single or multiple pools. SVC also allows seamless, no-downtime migration of data from one model of back-end storage to another.
  2. Storage Virtual Controllers, such as Nutanix CVM or VMware’s VSAN. This type of storage virtualization is really about creating scalable storage subsystems in hypervisor environments, and enabling hyper-converged, software defined environments.

Virtual Desktops also comes in multiple options: Citrix, VMware View, Terminal Services and others. These have different target markets, different levels of complexity, different costs and different benefits. This short blog doesn’t allow for deeper discussions on all of those differences. Virtualization and abstraction at the desktop and application layers bring significant value to large and SMB organizations and CMI can help when you are ready for the discussion.

The bottom line is today’s world is moving rapidly to greater virtualization and abstraction and towards a software defined data center. Storage and Desktop virtualization are two leading examples that deliver measurable benefits today. CMI understands this market shift and has developed the Adaptable Data Center framework to assist in moving from physical to virtual worlds. CMI can help you assess which is right for you and a prioritized path forward.


Bruce Clagget is a Sr. Systems Engineer at CMI.  You can follow him on LinkedIn

Applications in the Adaptable Data Center®

Adaptable Applications for your Enterprise

ADC-Round-Papers-AdobeStock_70033725Applications are an extension of business process and user collaboration and the application layer in the Adaptable Data Center® (ADC) has multiple perspectives and impacts. The first aspect is the type of applications. Applications can be divided into two broad categories; process oriented like ERP and order to cash application suites, and the other grouping is focused on engagement and productivity.

Process-based applications can be further described as systems of record. Systems of record tend to be internally facing applications that have large database back-ends and keep track of the daily transactions that fuel business. Systems of record by definition have to be orderly and integrated at all times so data is consistent and preserved. You know these systems as the dinosaurs of your enterprise, though extinction of these applications tends to be exaggerated. As long as we have transactions, we will need applications that authoritatively track and maintain those records.

The other application type, often called systems of engagement, are more human oriented and are the productivity tools that we use to get our tasks completed and collaborate with our colleagues and partners. These applications focus less on process and more on user interactions. They leverage mobile, social, cloud, and big data innovation to deliver apps and smart products in the context of our daily lives and real-time workflows of customers, partners and employees. We are more familiar with these application types with a growing dependence on mobile and social to get our business completed in the time demands we face.

Systems of record are entrenched while we have an increasing dependence on human enabling applications to access the information stored in these processes and application. There was a time when we simply were focused on webifying these applications for greater usability. Then we added mobilizing access so we had access anytime / any place. Now we have yet another axis with social applications that bring greater real-time collaboration with extended groups. Add to this mix SaaS / cloud-based applications that can be both systems of record and systems of engagement and reside outside the data center. The plot thickens from just a few years ago.

For those of you who are counting, we have system of record applications based on business process that are the authoritative sources of transactional data. We also have user and social productivity applications that are human facing and can be traditional web-based and/or mobile applications that more easily access the systems of record data. We also have SaaS and mobile applications that may leverage their own data sources as well as collaborative social applications that crowd-source new data and content in real-time.

Given the complexity of applications types, the data that is consumed and exposed by these applications, the user demands of these applications and where these applications reside, integration and security have become proportionally complex. Point-to-point integration is a lost cause. Integration must be considered with an any-to-any model much like the enterprise service bus concepts. The difference is now the bus must be extensive to include SaaS and cloud constructs. Security has to extend everywhere. There are no more borders. Micro segmentation and workload security becomes the new normal. The ADC needs to become very adaptable to find new methods for cost to serve, agility and security.

One more wrinkle; application development. Today we acknowledge three development models; waterfall for the more traditional and systems of record applications, agile that speeds development cycles and moves the data closer to the line of business users, and DevOps that fully integrates development, users and operations into a single development lifecycle of ongoing collaboration. We also are seeing the rise of an extension of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) service-based development platforms where applications can be assembled from a series of micro-services to become composite applications, almost on demand. IBM Bluemix is an example of these new platforms. New portability models of virtualized containers add yet another layer of innovation and value. Adapting the right development model is complex and obviously important to optimize application value.

As stated in the beginning, applications are an extension of business process and user collaboration. How you adapt your business, processes, data, security and user community interaction has never been more rewarding, innovative, exciting, complex and daunting. Questions often arise regarding what applications you should maintain in-house, what should be moved to cloud, what should be SaaS, how to  protect your data through all its transformations and the best methodology for development. CMI’s Adaptable Data Center® framework and our experienced business consultants and architects are here to help determine the best balance for your firm as you move forward. Application adaptability engage our assets for your advantage.

4 Big Steps For Storage/Data Management

Efficient and Cost Effective Storage/Data Management

Data-Puzzel-AdobeStock_89601860-EDITYour enterprise accumulates data faster than Santa’s bag fills with toys in preparation for Christmas Eve. Santa knows how to access these gifts and how to best manage them; can you say the same for your data in storage? Here are 4 Steps to consider ensuring efficiency and cost effectivity for your enterprise’s Storage and Data Management.

1. Tiering

Flash Storage is hotter than Santa’s Sleigh travelling at the speed of light on Christmas Eve night! If you have not made the investment in an all flash array or SSD’s in your existing storage solution, you should start here. If you have made the investments, continue to optimize the rest of the storage environment by augmenting with slower 10k SAS and 7.2k NL-SAS. On average, you will find that 60% of your data is cold, 30% is actively used and the really active data rounds out the last 10% and sits on flash. Your data access patterns are probably shaped like a candy cane or an upside down hockey stick, if you are a big winter sports fan.

2. Archive

Tiering is a great start given the fact that no one deletes much of anything these days because storage is “cheap.” Or maybe your enterprise is bound to regulatory/compliance rules that mandate storing of data. Cloud has become an effective way to store long-term archive data that you rarely access.  It is important to consider how often you access the data in the cloud as not all cloud archive services become cost effective, nor are they charging clients in a similar fashion. Make sure you shop around and find the best deal for your enterprise. If cloud storage is not an option, good old fashioned Tape is still being used, believe it or not, and is cost effective. Linear Tape Open (LTO) standards now allow for filesystems to be written to tapes, thus you can create a tape archive and have up to 15TB stored for a few cents a GB. A good strategy if you are handling hundreds of TB or petabytes of data. IBM is now giving away Long Term File System (LTFS) Library Edition for FREE! Yes Free. If you have an IBM Tape library, you should really investigate this as an option.

3. Planning for Capacity & Performance Management

Just stop, please stop managing your storage environment on a spreadsheet. It’s 2015, software can help you do this job much more efficiently than a spreadsheet. There are some great free options on the market, for example, Stor2RRD. It will give you all of the general performance stats that a Full Time Equivalant (FTE) needs to know about, while keeping IT management abreast of performance. If you have a little money to spend in this area, then look at options from Solarwinds and IBM. IBM has a SaaS based offering called Storage Insights. You can try it free for 30 days and then be billed on a monthly basis after that. If you are not pre-disposed to use cloud-based applications, then consider purchasing IBM TPC version 5.2.x. The solution is incredibly easy to use and deploy with 30 pre-built reports, based on most common data requested from IT and line of business. For example, how much storage does marketing own on these two hosts? IBM TPC can tell you with just a few clicks.

4. Utilize Storage Optimization Features (Compression, Thin provisioning, etc.)

If you have invested in a storage solution in the last 4 years, chances are you have this capability on your existing storage array, but are you using it? Data from major storage vendors, analysts and personal client experiences suggest that 65% of enterprises are, that means 35% of you are not using this capability. That needs to change in 2016, be bold. If for no other reason than it’s a new year and you have some license to be resolute in the new year.

Having an Adaptable approach to Enterprise Storage data management is so critical in developing competitive business advantage. Business is moving faster and getting faster. You do not want to be slowed down by your storage strategy. CMI has helped clients develop strategic storage roadmaps that deliver results. Challenge us with your Storage/Data management needs in the new year.