Broadgate 2013 Predictions – how did we do?

Posted on : 30-12-2013 | By : richard.gale | In : Innovation

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In December 2012 we identified some themes we thought would be important for the coming year. Let’s see how we got on…

1. Infrastructure Services continue to commoditise – for many organisations, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is now mainstream. Technology advancement will continue to move the underlying infrastructure more towards a utility model and reduce costs in terms of software, hardware and resource.

This has happened and is continuing to grow, most organisations have the infrastructure in place to support IaaS with private clouds and virtualised environments. However, the flexibility and agility benefits have not always been realised as large organisation IaaS have sometimes been weighed down with the legacy change and build processes of the previous model. To circumvent this, many businesses are looking at public cloud for more flexible capacity. This will be the big growth area of 2014 especially with financial services organisations that, previously, have been hesitant in adopting public cloud solutions.

2. Application/Platform rationalisation – for many large firms there is still a large amount of legacy cost in terms of both disparate platforms, often aligned by business unit, and their sheer size/complexity. The next year will see an increase in rationalisation of application platforms to drive operational efficiency.

In 2013 the understanding and scale of the problem became more apparent but, with limited change/transformation budgets (in financial services mainly due to the burden of regulatory compliance requirements) not much action. Now these complex webs of legacy applications are starting to fail and seriously constrained business growth. 2014 will be a ‘crunch’ year when these expensive problems have to be tackled head on either through wholesale re-architecting or giving someone else the problem of running them whilst new solutions are built.

3. Big Data/ Data Science grows and market starts to consolidate – 2012 was the year that Big Data technologies went mainstream…2013 will see an increased focus on Data Science resource and technology to maximise the analytical value. There will also be some consolidation at the infrastructure product level.

In financial services we saw a fair amount of discussion, some large proof of concept projects focusing on consolidation (many seem to be targeting the risk and finance areas), but not the levels of take up we expected. MasterCard have come in with a big data restaurant review concept. We may have been slightly premature with this one. We think the understanding of Data Science is starting to go mainstream and, as with Cloud, the demand will come more from the business rather than IT architects in 2014.

4. Data Centre/Hosting providers continue growth – fewer and fewer companies are talking about building their own data centres now, even the very large ones. With the focus on core business value, infrastructure will continue to be hosted externally driving up the need for provider compute power.

 Many organisations either use external more flexible hosting solutions or have an excess of capacity in their existing data centres. This will continue and grow in pace in 2014.

5. More rationalisation of IT organisations – 2012 saw large reductions in operational workforce, particularly in financial services. With revenues under more pressure this year (and in line with point 1) we will see further reductions in resource capacity and relocation to low cost locations, both nearshore and within the UK.

In the financial services sector this may be at an end. There will be growth in demand for IT skills in 2014 but there will be some reductions particularly in the infrastructure/BAU space due to the continued commoditisation of technology and move to XaaS services.

6. Crowd-funding services continue to gain market share – there have been many new entrants to this space over recent years with companies such as Funding Circle, Thin-Cats, Bank-to-the-Future and Kickstarter all doing well. We see this continuing to grow as access to funds from traditional lenders is still hard. The question is at what point will they step in.

This one was an easy prediction as a low starting point combined with the banks reluctance to lend, low interest rates and increasing interest in the tech sector inevitably led to high levels of growth. 2014 will continue this trend but with a higher degree of regulation after the first high profile failure of a lending exchange…

7. ‘Instant’ Returns on investment required – growth of SaaS & BYOD is changing the perception of technology. People as consumers are now accustomed to an instant solution to a problem (by downloading an app or purchasing a service with a credit card). This, combined with historic patchy project successes, means that long lead-time projects are becoming harder to justify; IT departments are having to find near instant solutions to business problems.

Business users are leading IT departments on the adoption of SaaS in particular. IT is playing catch-up and the race will continue. We are not sure what 2014 will bring on this. It could be that IT departments regain control or, alternatively, are bypassed on a more frequent basis by impatient, IT savvy business users.

8. Technology Talent Wars – with start-ups disrupting traditional players in areas such as data analytics, social media and mobile payment apps, barriers to entry eroding and salaries on the rise we see a shift from talent wanting to join industries such as financial services and choosing new technology companies.

Relatively low demand from financial services firms (except for a few specific skills such as security) has deferred this. This is more likely to impact 2014 change and innovation programmes now.

9. Samsung/Android gain more ground over Apple – we already have seen the Apple dominance, specifically in relation to the Appstore, being eroded and this will continue as the potential of a more open platform becomes apparent to both developers and users of technology.

This has happened and will continue unless Apple can come up with some new magic. Phones/tablets are the new battleground, other operating systems such as Windows and potentially Jolla could disrupt the trend in 2014.

10. The death knell sounds for RIM/Blackberry – not much more to say. Most likely they will be acquired by one of the big new technology companies to gain access to the remaining smart phone users.

The only thing to add to this is that there may be a ‘dead-cat’ bounce for Blackberry in 2014.

 

Once again we hope you have enjoyed our monthly articles and have had a successful 2013. We wish you all the same for 2014!

 

Has technology outpaced internal IT departments?

Posted on : 31-10-2013 | By : john.vincent | In : Data

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In technology we love to put a box around something, or define it in a clear and concise way. Indeed, it makes a lot of sense in many technical disciplines to do this, such as architecture, development, processes, policies, infrastructure and so on. We talk about “the stack”, or “technology towers“, or “Reference Architectures”…it provides a common language for us to define out compute needs. “This switch operates at layer 3 versus layer 2” etc…

In the same way we put our technology human capital into nice, neat boxes. Simple, repeatable stuff: 1) Open up Powerpoint…2) Insert SmartArt…3) Hierarchy-Organisation Chart…and away we go. CIO , next level… Head of Infrastructure, Head of Operations, CTO, Head of Applications, Head of Networks, Architecture, COO (can’t have enough of those)…

The general taxonomy of technology organisations has barely changed since the mid 1980’s and actually, until maybe the last 5 or so years, this has been fine. Whilst technology has evolved, it has done so “within the boxes”. We have gone through shifts in operating model and approach, from mainframe to distributed and back again, but the desktop, data, storage, server, mid range and so on services have remained and with it the support organisations around them.

However, things are somewhat different now. The pace of change through Consumerisation, Commoditisation and Cloud (the 3Cs) has redefined the way that businesses engage and capitalise on technology in work and home lives. At the forefront in comes down to three main business drivers:

  • Increased Agility – access to applications and service provisioning should be as close to instantaneous as the laws of physics will allow
  • Increased Mobility – the ability to access applications anywhere, on any device at any time
  • Increased Visibility – a rich data and application environment to improve business intelligence and decision making

To the end user, everything else is just noise. Security, availability, DR, performance, big data analytics…this just gets sorted. Apple does it. Amazon does it, therefore my IT organisation should be the same. In fact better.

So, how does the traditional IT organisation fit with the new paradigm? Well the 3c’s certainly provide significant challenges. The issue is that you have something that was previous contained within a silo now breaking down the barriers. Today’s compute requirements are “fluid” in nature and don’t fit well with the previous operating models. Data, once centralised, contained and controlled, is now moving the the organisational edges. Applications need to be accessible through multiple channels and deployed quickly. Resources need to scale up (and down) to meet, and more importantly match, business consumption.

How does the organisation react to these challenges? Does it still fit neatly into a “stack” or silo? Probably not. How many people, processes and departments does the service pass through in order to provision, operate and control? Many in most cases. Can we apply our well-constructed ITIL processes and a SLA? No. Can we scale quickly for new business requirements from a people perspective? Unlikely…

So what is the impact? Well, it wasn’t that long ago that CIOs spent much of their time declaring war on Shadow IT departments within business functions. With “Alex Ferguson-like” vigour they either moved them into the central technology organisation or squeezed them out, through cost or service risk.

However, it seems that the Shadow IT trend is back. Is this a reaction to the incumbent organisation being unable to provide the requisite level of service? Probably.

I guess the question that we should ask is whether the decentralised model giving more autonomy to business users, for certain functions, is actually where we should be heading anyway? Even within IT departments, the split between ownership, definition and execution of services has evolved through global standards and regional/local service deployment.  Now perhaps it’s time to go further and really align the business and technology service delivery with a much smaller central control of the important stuff, like security, architecture, under-pinning services (like networks), vendor management and disaster recovery.

And then there’s the question of who actually needs to run the underlying technology “compute”. The cloud naysayers are still there although the script is starting to wear a bit thin. There are very few sacred cows…can internal teams really compete long term? The forward thinking are laying out a clear roadmap with targets for cloud/on-demand consumption.

The old saying of “we are a [insert business vertical], not an IT company” is truer today than ever. It may be just that it took the 3cs to force the change.

BROADScale – Cloud Assessment

Posted on : 30-04-2013 | By : jo.rose | In : Cloud

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We are well into a step-change in the way that underlying technology services are delivered.  Cloud Computing in its various guises is gaining industry acceptance.  Terms such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and so on have made their way into the vocabulary of the CIO organisation.

Cloud Computing isn’t new.  Indeed many organisations have been sourcing applications or infrastructure in a utility model for years, although it is only recently that vendors have rebranded these offerings ( “Cloud Washing” ).

With all the hype it is vital that organisations consider carefully their approach to Cloud as part of their overall business strategy and enterprise architecture.

Most importantly, it is not a technology issue and should be considered first and fore mostly from the standpoint of Business, Applications and Operating Model.

Organisations are facing a number of common challenges:

  • Technology budgets are under increasing pressure, with CIO’s looking to extract more value from existing assets with less resource
  • Data Centre investment continues to grow with IT departments constantly battling the issue of power consumption and physical space constraints
  • Time to market and business innovation sit uncomfortably alongside the speed with which IT departments can transform and refresh technology
  • Increases in service level management standards and customer intimacy continue to be at the forefront

Cloud Computing can assist in addressing some of these issues, but only as part of a well thought out strategy as it also brings with it a number of additional complexities and challenges of its own.

Considering the bigger picture, a “Strategic Cloud Framework”

Before entering into a Cloud deployment, organisations should look at all of the dimensions which drive their technology requirements, not the technology itself.  These will shape the Cloud Framework and include:

  • Governance – business alignment, policies and procedures, approval processes and workflow
  • Organisation – changes to operating models, organisation, interdependencies, end-to-end processes, roles and responsibilities
  • Enterprise Architecture – application profiling to determine which applications are suitable, such as irregular / spiky utilisation, loosely coupled, low latency dependency, commodity, development and test
  • Sourcing – internal versus external, Cloud providers positioning, service management, selection approach and leverage
  • Investment Model – business case, impact to technology refresh cycle, cost allocation, recharge model and finance
  • Data Security – user access, data integrity and availability, identity management, confidentiality, IP, reputational risk, legislature, compliance, storage and retrieval processes

The BROADScale service

At Broadgate Consultants we have developed an approach to address the business aspects of the Cloud strategy.  Our consultants have experience in the underpinning technology but also understand that it is led from the Business domain and can help organisations determine the “best execution venue” for their business applications.

Our recommended initial engagement depends on the size, scale and scope of services in terms of the Cloud assessment.

  1. Initial – High Level analysis of capability, maturity and focus areas
  2. Targeted – Specific review around a business function or platform
  3. Deep – Complete analysis and application profiling

At the end of the assessment period we will provide a report and discuss the findings with you.  It will cover the areas outlined in the “Strategic Cloud Framework” and provide you with a roadmap and plan of approach.

During the engagement, our consultant will organise workshops with key stakeholders and align with the IT Strategy and Architecture.

For more details and to schedule an appointment contact us on 0203 326 8000 or email BROADScale@broadgateconsultants.com

Broadgate Predicts 2013 – Preview

Posted on : 29-01-2013 | By : john.vincent | In : Innovation

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Last month we published our 2013 Technology Predictions and asked our readers to give us their view through a short survey. We have had a great response…so much so that we are keeping in open for 2 more weeks.

However, we thought we would share a few of the findings so far, prior to us producing the final report.

Current Ranking

As we stand, the predictions that generated the most agreement are;

  1. Infrastructure Services Continue to Commoditise
  2. Samsung/Android gain more ground over Apple
  3. Data Centre/Hosting providers continue to grow

Some interesting commentary against these;

Many companies have come to terms with the security/regulatory issues concerning commoditisation and cloud services, although still chose to build in-house for now. It will take some significant time to see IaaS address the legacy infrastructure burden.

On the Apple debate, respondents agreed enough to place in 2nd place but differed a lot in terms of how this will develop…there is a feeling that Apple are struggling to continue to innovate ahead of the market and consumers are wiser now, together with a cost pressure that, if it is relieved, will cause users to stay with them.

Regarding Data Centres, the importance of cloud and managed services continues to drive expansion. Within heavily regulated industries such as Financial Services there continues to be a desire to Build vs Buy, but respondents questioned for how long. Having your own DC is not a competitive advantage.

At the other end of the scale, the prediction that respondents disagreed most with was;

  • Instant Returns on Investment required (followed closely by)
  • More Rationalisation of IT Organisations

Again, a pick of some of the additional comments;

Whilst there still exists demand for long term and large corporate technology initiatives, the stance is starting to change somewhat towards more agile, focused investments. Unfortunately, legacy issues and organisational culture continue to block progress.

Whilst the market conditions and technology evolution is facilitating a reduction in workforce, respondents cited other equal forces in areas such as risk and control, plus offshore operations delivering less value than expected, working to counteract this.

Please continue to send us your thoughts before we close!

Interestingly the largest number of No Comments (40%) came against the prediction that “Crowd-funding services continue to gain market share”…maybe an article for February.

Broadgate Predicts – 2013

Posted on : 31-12-2012 | By : jo.rose | In : General News

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As 2012 draws to a close we look forward to some themes for 2013.

These are our views, not analysts or market research firms. They are general observations and what we have determined during our interactions with clients over the past 12 months as to how we see the industry shaping. Let us know what you think if you can by completing the survey.

  1. Infrastructure Services continue to commoditise – for many organisations, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is now mainstream. Technology advancement will continue to move the underlying infrastructure more towards a utility model and reduce costs in terms of software, hardware and resource.
  2. Application/Platform rationalisation – for many large firms there is still a large amount of legacy cost in terms of both disparate platforms, often aligned by business unit, and their sheer size/complexity. The next year will see an increase in rationalisation of application platforms to drive operational efficiency.
  3. Big Data/ Data Science grows and market starts to consolidate – 2012 was the year that Big Data technologies went mainstream…2013 will see an increased focus on Data Science resource and technology to maximise the analytical value. There will also be some consolidation at the infrastructure product level.
  4. Data Centre/Hosting providers continue growth – fewer and fewer companies are talking about building their own data centres now, even the very large ones. With the focus on core business value, infrastructure will continue to be hosted externally driving up the need for provider compute power.
  5. More rationalisation of IT organisations – 2012 saw large reductions in operational workforce, particularly in financial services. With revenues under more pressure this year (and in line with point 1) we will see more reductions in resource capacity and relocation to low cost locations, both nearshore and within the UK.
  6. Crowd-funding services continue to gain market share – there have been many new entrants to this space over recent years with companies such as Funding Circle, Thin-Cats, Bank-to-the-Future and Kickstarter all doing well. We see this continuing to grow as access to funds from traditional lenders is still hard. The question is at what point will they step in.
  7. ‘Instant’ Returns on investment required – growth of SaaS & BYOD is changing the perception of technology. People as consumers are now accustomed to an instant solution to a problem (by downloading an app or purchasing a service with a credit card). This, combined with historic patchy project successes, means that long lead-time projects are becoming  harder to justify; IT departments are having to find near instant solutions to business problems.
  8. Technology Talent Wars – with start-ups disrupting traditional players in areas such as data analytics, social media and mobile payment apps, barriers to entry eroding and salaries on the rise we see a shift from talent wanting to join industries such as financial services and choosing new technology companies.
  9. Samsung/Android gain more ground over Apple – we already have seen the Apple dominance, specifically in relation to the Appstore, being eroded and this will continue as the potential of a more open platform becomes apparent to both developers and users of technology.
  10. The death knell sounds for RIM/Blackberry – not much more to say. Most likely they will be acquired by one of the big new technology companies to gain access to the remaining smart phone users.
Click here to take part in our 2013 predictions survey.

Technology Innovation – “Life moves pretty fast…”

Posted on : 25-09-2012 | By : john.vincent | In : Cloud, Data, Innovation

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We recently held an event with senior technology leaders where we discussed the current innovation landscape and had some new technology companies present in the areas of Social Media, Data Science and Big Data Analytics. Whilst putting together the schedule and material, I was reminded of a quote from that classic 80’s film, Ferris Buellers Day Off;

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it”

When you look at today’s challenges facing leadership involved with technology this does seem very relevant. Organisations are fighting hard just to stand still (or survive)….trying to do more with less, both staff and budget. And whilst dealing with this prevailing climate, around them the world is changing at an ever increasing rate. Where does Technology Innovation fit in then? Well for many, it doesn’t. There’s no time and certainly no budget to look at new way of doing things. However, it does really depend a little on definition.

  • Is switching to more of a consumption based/utility model, be that cloud or whatever makes it more palatable to communicate, classified as innovation?
  • Is using any of the “big data” technologies to consolidate the many pools of unstructured and structured data into a single query-able infrastructure innovation?
  • Is providing a BYOD service for staff, or providing iPad’s for executives or sales staff to do presentations or interface with clients innovation?

No, not really. This is simply evolution of technology. The question is, some technology organisations themselves even keep up with this? We were interested in the results of the 2012 Gartner CIO Agenda Report. The 3 technology areas that CIO’s ranked highest in terms of priority were;

  1. Analytics and Business Intelligence
  2. Mobile Technologies
  3. Cloud Computing (SaaS, IaaS, PaaS)

That in itself isn’t overly surprising. What we found more interesting was looking at how these CIO’s saw the technologies evolving from Emerging, through Developing and to Mainstream. We work a lot with Financial Services companies, so have picked that vertical for the graphic below;

The first area around Big Data/Analytics is largely in line with our view of the market. We see a lot of activity in this space (a some significant hype as well). However, we do concur that by 2015 we expect to see this Mainstream and an increased focus on Data Science as a practice.

Mobile has certainly emerged already and we would expect this to be more in line with the first category. On the device side, technology is moving at a fast pace (in the mobile handset space look at the VIRTUS chipset, which transmits large volumes of data at ultra-high speeds of a reported 2 Gigabits per second. That’s 1,000 times faster than Bluetooth !).

In the area of corporate device support, business application delivery and BYOD, we already see a lot of traction in some organisations. Alongside this new entrants are disrupting the market in terms of mobile payments (such as Monitise).

Lastly, and most surprisingly, whilst financial services see Cloud delivery as a top priority they also see it as Emerging from now through the next 5 years. That can’t be right, can it? (Btw – if you look at the Retail vertical for the same questions, they see all three priorities as Mainstream in the same period).

That brings us back to the question…what do CIO’s consider as Innovation? Reading between the lines of the Gartner survey it clearly differs by vertical. Are financial services organisations less innovative? I’m not sure they are…more conservative, perhaps, but that is to be understood to some degree (see the recently launched Fintech Innovation Lab sponsored by Accenture and many FS firms).

No, what would worry me as a leader within FS is the opening comment from Mr Bueller. Technology and Innovation is certainly moving fast and perhaps the pressure on operational efficiencies, whilst undoubtedly needed, could ultimately detract from bringing new innovation to benefit business and drive competitive value?

There is also a risk that in this climate and with barriers to entry reducing, new entrants could actually gain market share with more agile, functionally rich products and services. We wrote before about the rise of new technology entrepreneurs…there is certainly a danger that this talent pool completely by-passes the financial services technology sector.

Perhaps we do need to “take a moment to stop and look around”. Who in our organisation is responsible for Innovation? Do we have effective Process and Governance? Do we nurture ideas form Concept through to Commercialisation. Some food for thought…

Broadgate Big Data Dictionary Part One

Posted on : 26-07-2012 | By : richard.gale | In : Data

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We have been interested in Big Data concepts and technology for a while. There is a great deal of interest and discussion with our clients and associates on the subject of obtaining additional knowledge & value from data.

As with most emerging ideas there are different interpretations and meanings for some of the terms and technologies (including the thinking that ‘big data’ isn’t new at all but just a new name for existing methods and techniques).

With this in mind we thought it would be useful to put together a few terms and definitions that people have asked us about recently to help frame Big Data.

We would really like to get feedback, useful articles & different views on these to help build a more definitive library of Big Data resources.  We’ve started with a few basic terms and next month with cover some of the firms developing solutions – this is just a starting point…

Analytics 

Big Data Analytics is the processing and searching through large volumes of unstructured and structured data to find hidden patterns and value. The results can be used to further scientific or commercial research, identify customer spending habits or find exceptions in financial, telemetric or risk data to indicate hidden issues or fraudulent activity.

Big Data Analytics is often carried out with software tools designed to sift and analyse large amounts of diverse information being produced at enormous velocity. Statistical tools used for predictive analysis and data mining are utilised to search and build algorithms.

Big Data

The term Big Data describes amounts of data that are too big for conventional data management systems to handle. The volume, velocity and variety of data overwhelm databases and storage. The result is that either data is discarded or unable to be analysed and mined for value.

Gartner has coined the term ‘Extreme Information Processing’ to describe Big Data – we think that’s a pretty good term to describe the limits of capability of existing infrastructure.

There has always been Big Data in the sense that data volumes have always exceeded the ability for systems to process it. The tool sets to store & analyse and make sense of the data generally lag behind the quantity and diversity of information sources.

The actual amounts and types of Big Data this relates to is constantly being redefined as database and hardware manufacturers are constantly moving those limits forward.

Several technologies have emerged to manage the Big Data challenge. Hadoop has become a favourite tool to store and manage the data, traditional database manufacturers have extended their products to deal with the volumes, variety and velocity and new database firms such as ParAccel, Sand & Vectorwise have emerged offering ultra-fast columnar data management systems. Some firms, such as Hadapt, have a hybrid solution utilising tools from both the relational and unstructured world with an intelligent query optimiser and loader which places data in the optimum storage engine.

Business Intelligence

The term Business Intelligence(BI) has been around for a long time and the growth of data and then Big Data has focused more attention in this space. The essence of BI is to obtain value from data to help build business benefits. Big Data itself could be seen as BI – it is a set of applications, techniques and technologies that are applied to an entities data to help produce insight and value from it’s data.

There are a multitude of products that help build Business Intelligence solutions – ranging from the humble Excel to sophisticated (aka expensive) solutions requiring complex and extensive infrastructure to support. In the last few years a number of user friendly tools such as Qlikview and Tableau have emerged allowing tech-savvy business people to exploit and re-cut their data without the need for input from the IT department.

Data Science

This is, perhaps, the most exciting area of Big Data. This is where the Big Value is extracted from the data. One Data Scientist partner of ours described as follows: ” Big Data is plumbing and that Data Science is the value driver…”

Data Science is a mixture of scientific research techniques, advance programming and statistical skills (or hacking), philosophical thinking (perhaps previously known as ‘thinking outside the box’) and business insight. Basically it’s being able to think about new/different questions to ask, be technically able to intepret them into a machine based format, process the result, interpret them and then ask new questions based from the results of the previous set…

A diagram by blogger Drew Conway  describes some of the skills needed – maybe explains the lack of skills in this space!

In addition Pete Warden (creator of the Data Science Toolkit) and others have raised caution on the term Data Science “Anything that needs science in the name is not a real science” but confirms the need to have a definition of what Data Scientists do.

Database

Databases can generally be divided into structured and unstructured.

Structured are the traditional relational database management systems such as Oracle, DB2 and SQL-Server which are fantastic at organising large volumes of transactional and other data with the ability to load and query the data at speed with an integrity in the transactional process to ensure data quality.

Unstructured are technologies that can deal with any form of data that is thrown at them and then distribute out to a highly scalable platform. Hadoop is a good example of this product and a number of firms now produce, package and support the open-source product.

Feedback Loops

Feedback loops are systems where the output from the system are fed back into it to adjust or improve the system processing. Feedback loops exist widely in nature and in engineering systems – think of an oven – heat is applied to warm to a specific temperature and is measured by a thermostat – once the correct temperature is reached the thermostat informs the heating element and it shuts down until feedback from the thermostat says it is getting too cold and it turns on again… and so on.

Feedback loops are an essential part of extracting value from Big Data. Building in feedback and then incorporating Machine Learning methods start to allow systems to become semi-autonomous, this allows the Data Scientists to focus on new and more complex questions whilst testing and tweaking the feedback from their previous systems.

Hadoop

Hadoop is one of the key technologies to support the storage and processing of Big Data. Hadoop emerged from Google and its distributed Google File System and Mapreduce processing tools. It is an open source product under the Apache banner but, like Linux, is distributed by a number of commercial vendors that add support, consultancy and advice on top of the products.

Hadoop is a framework for running applications on large clusters of commodity hardware. The Hadoop framework transparently provides applications both reliability and data motion. Hadoop implements a computational paradigm named map/reduce, where the application is divided into many small fragments of work, each of which may be executed or re-executed on any node in the cluster. In addition, it provides a distributed file system that stores data on the compute nodes, providing very high aggregate bandwidth across the cluster. Both map/reduce and the distributed file system are designed so that node failures are automatically handled by the framework.

So Hadoop could almost be seen as a (big) bucket where you can throw any form and quantity of data into it and it will organise and know where that data resides and can retrieve and process it. It also accepts that there may be holes in the bucket and can patch them up by using additional resources to patch itself up – all in all very clever bucket!!

Hadoop runs on a scheduling basis so when a question is asked it breaks up the query and shoots them out to different parts of the distributed network in parallel and then waits and collates the answers.

 

We will continue this theme next month and then start discussing some of the technology organisations involve in more detail, such as covering Hive, Machine Learning, MapReduce, NoSQL and Pig.

 

Cloud Service Delivery – Part 3: Organisational Impact

Posted on : 26-01-2012 | By : john.vincent | In : Cloud

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So far we have looked at Hosted ITSM solutions and End-to-End Service Management relating to cloud based deployment. In our final part we look briefly at the organisational aspects.

Pros and cons of cloud aside, what we do see is an increased awareness and acceptance that for most organisations, a journey towards some form of cloud based computing is either underway or imminent. Whilst technology departments wrestle with this in terms of infrastructure, data, security, financials and the like, one aspect that receives less attention is the impact to the traditional IT organisation. Let’s explore some of this.

Business users are demanding more speed and agility for provision of services in an increasingly competitive market place. We still hear anecdotes from both IT and Business along the line of “Getting a test server takes several weeks to provision…”, “Finally got my login ID and laptop after 10 days…” etc. Familiar ? It’s not a criticism, just an observation ( and they’ll be a lot of colleagues claiming “not here sir” ).

At a recent roundtable we heard of the business user who, fed up with waiting, bought some compute power on his credit card and expensed it.

From the organisation aspect this has a real adverse effect. IT departments have been traditionally configured as internal, captive providers, both in terms of people and assets ( granted, sometimes services are outsourced, but again this is driven from an internal perspective point and often lacks business alignment in structure ). It is therefore very difficult for an internal IT provider to reconfigure itself based on;

  • Operating Model: the capability to shift in terms of flexibility of costs in both baseline and discretionary, offering market comparative / benchmarked technology delivery and economies of scale. Internal organisations are also often still domain aligned, so particularly shared infrastructure services prove challenging from a customer relationship perspective. It often requires external change to optimise these factors and drive efficiencies.
  • Motivation and Desire: job security plays a large part of the challenge. Staff join company technology organisations for a number of reasons, from financial through to technical. Creating and engineering solutions is in the DNA of many teams. Indeed, there are many internal technology departments building huge enterprise class private clouds “on behalf of their business”. Really ?
  • Commoditisation of Technology: the evolution of IT products and services is such that there is a much stronger value proposition for “Buy” vs “Build” and a reduction in configuration and customisation. Changing this ethos and reconfiguring the internal organisation takes some time.
  • Commoditisation of Resource: this is a big issue and often the “elephant in the room”. Business technology innovation and enablement is as important as ever, if not more so. However, the “entry level of expertise” at both a technical and business level, particularly lower down the stack, has reduced. This may cause a few discerning cries, but it is a fact. Is a 30%/40% compensation premium for a desktop engineer in capital markets over someone in retail justified now ?

All of these aspects require careful thinking from an organisational change perspective. Much as with outsourcing capability, there is sometimes the view that simply drawing a line between the retained and transitioned resources is sufficient. It isn’t.

To be successful, the end-to-end operating model should be clearly defined and likewise the roles and responsibilities within that. As more cloud services come on stream, Service Management, Domain / Enterprise Architecture and Commercial & Vendor skills, as opposed to technical and operational, will be more key to maintaining the service integrity and delivering business value. Attention to the training, development and realignment of roles should not be underestimated.

So what about the CIO ? Well we wrote before about how the cloud may elevate the role closer to the business. In the meantime, perhaps we will start to see the emergence of the Chief Service Broker ?

 

Is “Cloud Banking” set to explode ?

Posted on : 24-11-2011 | By : john.vincent | In : Cloud, Finance

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There are conflicting views on the maturity, positioning and suitability of cloud computing at an enterprise level. Couple that with an increasingly dynamic and evolving marketplace and it is easy to see why it is difficult for organisations to define a roadmap appropriate to their business. What isn’t in doubt is that cloud computing, in whichever form, is changing the landscape of business technology.

However, what is the situation within banking and financial services? I was recently at an event to discuss datacentre innovation with a number of infrastructure managers, architects and consultants in the financial industry. We discussed the fact that demand for IT services outstrips supply and the difficulties that causes internal technology organisations to deal with capacity planning, infrastructure utilisation and optimisation, space and energy requirements. For many, the option of simply building a new datacentre facility to deal with the ebbs and flows of demand is not an option.

We explored techniques and experiences around improving virtualisation and utilisation and also in terms of energy efficiency, with cap-ex and op-ex savings of between 25%-35%. Naturally the conversation moved on to how cloud computing may help in terms of moving power from internally hosted systems to a “best execution” venue.

What was clear was that the starting point for the majority of financial services infrastructure managers was fairly negative in terms of building the higher value cloud models i.e. above Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) into their technology strategy. Some of the reasons tabled included, “We’re not there yet in terms of maturity”, “Why would we tie ourselves into an external provider?”, “Our data privacy requirements mean that cloud is out for now”, “The regulatory authorities just won’t let us” and so on.

These are, of course, all valid concerns. However, another comment that resonated with me was the anecdote of a business user who, for whatever reason, had decided to turn to Amazon web services for provision of compute power and then simply included it as a line item on their expenses submission.  Not good, but it demonstrates perfectly the tipping point we are at. The question is, how will infrastructure leaders within Financial Services react to a fast-moving market, some of which is driven by user perception and some by the ability to change a service provider?

It is a difficult conundrum. The impact of cloud on the organisation and culture is something we are exploring, but for now let’s look at a few of our predictions for the next two years and why we think that the adoption of cloud with banking and financial services will accelerate.

1) The security issue stops being a blocker:

A key area and one which we believe enterprise security teams will work closely with IT and business users to determine an approach. FS organisations have for years used external providers to manage applications and related data, including Software as a Service, and the same rigour should be applied to allow the appropriate application portfolios to run with external cloud providers (in addition to private).

2) Platform as a Service (PaaS) will see significant growth:

We will see more than just PaaS providers adding multiple distinct environments. In our conversations with technology service providers we believe that many ISV’s will transition their applications to PaaS to provide a more rich set of business services, particularly towards retail banking and corporate systems.

3) The commoditisation of Infrastructure as a Service gathers pace:

The technology discussion will move on from “How do we build and operate the infrastructure?” and start to consider what can be achieved with cloud at a business services level. Some FS technology organisations we speak to are already starting this debate, as the “nuts and bolts” of how to use IaaS are moving into a more commoditised space.

4) Private cloud will continue to expand and provide a “Spring Board” for externalisation:

Having dipped their toe, or perhaps watched others, banks will become more in tune with using private cloud for their IT environments. As budgets continue to be constrained and FS organisations tackle unused or underutilised environments, they will be forced to rethink their IT strategies and shift to adopting scalable cloud infrastructures. In turn, these infrastructures and applications will be considered for transfer to external providers.

5) “Captive” datacentre growth slows and shifts to cloud providers:

This takes us back to the opening discussion on datacentre efficiency. We believe that FS organisations who currently provision their IT environments within ever-expanding datacentres will shift to a “best execution” venue to take advantage of the scalability, on-demand and defined costs of cloud computing. Many companies have already transitioned large portions of their infrastructure to private clouds by introducing virtualised solutions. In parallel with this reduction in internal datacentre footprint, they will need to take advantage of the benefits and economies of scale of public clouds.