Archive | June 2012

To BYOD or to BYOD – “Thats now the question”

BYOD (Bring your own device) is a business outcome that has taken the enterprise IT world by storm.  The marketeers have neatly positioned the term to collate the myriad of products and services available to allow a “non IT department owned and managed device” to connect to the corporate environment effectively, securely and reliably. For quite a while the BYOD was term was aligned with forward thinking, dynamic organizations keen to attract and retain generation Z employees and accommodate their “non standard” computing needs. Numerous articles and statistics presented quite a disruptive viewpoint that “tomorrow’s generation” would vote with their feet and avoid “old school” organizations with restrictive end user IT devices & policies. But the story has changed quite dramatically in the last twelve months with the need for “flexible end user device” policies now a major topic for most organizations. BYOD does not describe a product or even a solution but the end state desired by either the organization or the end user. With that in mind as we accelerate through the “tablet” era and for some the “post pc era (somewhat premature for me)”, end users are not only demanding the use of an end point device of their choice (or close to it), they are increasingly circumventing often restrictive IT polices to achieve it for themselves. 

A quick scan of the web will highlight many stories chronicled from some of the world’s largest organizations that outline the extraordinarily high number of “stealth” or non company issue Smartphone’s, tablets or laptops found connected within their own environments after a standard audit.  With so many “non company issue” end user devices now fundamental to the professional outcome delivered by company employees or end users, a wholesale shutdown is no longer an option – instead a new way that educates and embraces the end user plus delivers a means that the organization can become “end user centric” from a device perspective whilst still retaining control.  The plethora of solutions marketed to deliver BYOD outcomes help with the challenge but no one “silver bullet” exists to solve the problem. BYOD interfaces many elements of an organization not least the people (attitudes, device choice, etc), the devices themselves, capital expenditure costs, operational support costs, applications and so on.  Seeking a quick fix to resolve BYOD issues is likely to be costly in the long run, so careful planning and leveraging specialist insight will deliver immense value.

As the UK’s leading workplace transformation partner, Computacenter possesses a view second to none of the impact of new IT end point device form factors and operational approaches within the corporate environment.  Connectivity and security underpin BYOD success and the Computacenter services portfolio includes solutions from industry leaders including Good Technology, Mobileiron, McAfee, HP, Symantec, Juniper to name a few. More recently the Computacenter networking and security team achieved the lucrative Cisco ISE ATP accreditation to deliver the highly regarded Cisco context aware, access, accounting, authorization platform within enteprise organisations.

BYOD really can deliver a win win for smart organizations. With solutions such a Cisco ISE and companion products, organizations can successfully enable BYOD from a connectivity perspective whilst regaining visibility and control.  Compare that to a pre BYOD environment where end users may be activity working to circumvent IT policy and control and with it creating an ever greater security risk than the original policy strived to prevent.

Like it or not for many organizations, BYOD isn’t if, or when, it’s now.

Until next time.

Colin W

Twitter: colinwccuk

Make money and save the planet!

This week I experienced a 24-hour period of extremes! During Wednesday morning I spent some time with the CEO and President of Citrix, following up on some of the underlying channel strategies for their recent Synergy summit announcements in SFO (see previous blog “Are the exceptions of the PC era becoming the new assumptions of the Cloud era?” ). Citrix are clearly moving their strategy and messaging to being able to accommodate the “any-ness” related to devices and cloud and it is in the former that I witnessed the extreme.

Fast forward 24-hours and I was privileged to be invited to official opening of our new facilities for our remarketing, redeployment and recycling subsidiary – RDC. During the Managing Director’s welcome speech and tour, I was amazed at some of the statistics they shared.  Just a few to sample below:-

  • This unique facility extends to 22 acres and houses 355,000 square feet dedicated to the processing and sale of used IT assets
  • Turnover and profitability has grown over 100% in the past 3 years
  • They have recently been awarded their third Queen’s Award for Enterprise, this time for International Trade, adding to the awards for Innovation and Sustainable in 2002 and 2009.
  • They have remarketed, redeployed and recycled enough equipment in the last 2 years to fill the new Olympic Stadium nearly 350 times!

Gerry and his team should be very proud of the achievements they have made.

So how does this related to cloud and devices? Well, even as RDC looks forward to see what the business holds for them in 2012 and beyond – ‘The cloud’ and consumerisation are the key technology drivers! However, for RDC, this is also coupled with the economic tilting of the world  towards the South and East that will also shift the origination and market for used product. Whereas in 2003 less than 5% of their customers’ product was left the UK, it is now approaching 80% that is being exported.

At Computacenter, we know that more and more of commercial and consumer traffic will be driven to the cloud, and people will want to access software and data through a diverse range of devices.  In the same way we are developing new services around application delivery, data-security, device management and fulfilment of BYOD/Employee choice schemes – RDC recognise that they need to offer more flexible access to dispose of and purchase used equipment. You only have to look around you to see the diversity and growth – but what is happening to the old devices that consumers are so keen to drop whilst they move to the latest and greatest gadget? (in increasingly shorter cycles).

Well that is where RDC are one step ahead. They have already developed a range of web solutions for consumers and employees, to return and purchase used equipment on-line, which you can see here at  Money4computers.com.

That is why we believe in delivering truly end-to-end infrastructure services. So even whilst all of the development around cloud and devices is focussed on taking business to new levels of efficiency, mobility, flexibility and agility – with our capabilities in RDC there is also the opportunity for our clients to make money and save the planet at the same time!

Homeward bound – Final musings from Cisco Live 2012

My Cisco Live “Road Trip” concludes its fourth and final day. For those who think trips to San Diego are all glitter (!!!!), picture the ten plus hours spent inside a convention centre each day embracing the latest and greatest messaging from the world’s leading networking vendor.

It was interesting to hear Padmasree Warrior (Cisco CTO) still refer to herself as a “Technology Geek”, that’s definitely not me. I have an expectation that technology implemented well will work so am less interested in the how or even the why. I am compelled to find ways to make technology enhance the human existence and experience (in both work and play) which means it has to be relevant to the outcome expected or even fundamental to it. Technology for technology sake is simply a waste of money, but more importantly a waste of time (you can recoup lost money but can’t recoup lost time). To that end Cisco Live equips, energises and inspires me to think differently about the challenges faced by customers both now and in the future. If I do my job which is to listen to, understand and advise customers, Cisco can continue to design and build technology I expect to work.

Presenting live to large audiences is an extremely difficult skill that can be taught / learned (but it’s not easy). Practice does make perfect (or at least better), but some are far better than others. As mentioned in the blog earlier this week, John Chambers nails it for me. Every word he says is scrutinised across the world, the audience size is often unmatched and again he uses minimal on hand notes but presents so so well. Padmasree Warrior has potentially one of the most difficult and coveted roles in IT as the CTO of Cisco but manages to deliver the most complex messages in an effortless and highly entertaining manner. And lastly the new kid on the block Chris Young Senior Vice president for security on the biggest of stages at his first Cisco Live sailed through the security keynote. Really great presentations by all that will be interesting and educational to view on replay.

Wednesday night saw the now obligatory trip to a stadium for the evening customer / partner gathering (common with US events as the “in town” stadiums are normally so good), and resulted in a walk across the road to San Diego’s Petco Park. For someone from the UK aware that some of our well known sports stadiums (Wembley, the Emirates, Old Trafford to name a few) are pretty good it’s always an eye opener to visit US stadiums and find even average venues are often as good as our best. The welcome event was an entertaining evening of food, more food, more food, beer and more food (Ok a few live performers too). As a non drinker I succumbed to way too much Crackerjack popcorn and sadly had to cry off early due to my increasingly suspect knee.

I am well known as someone who doesn’t fanfare the cloud journey. As a realist when discussing the cloud impact, I make it relevant when it delivers the business outcome required but not as a silver bullet to everything. The Cisco cloud messaging of the week with an emphasis on the network as the real enabler of cloud success is highly encouraging. Cloud computing (current industry version and definition) is an on demand service consumption and delivery model but it’s often forgotten without a secure, performant, resilient network, no cloud outcome whether public or private can be realised. The Cisco cloud play is taking a business eye view of the network and how it securely connects users, applications, systems and organisations to unlock the benefits of a cloud like approach. In the Cisco strategy “placeholder” platforms now seem absent and it is now clear to see how the addition or adoption of appropriate Cisco cloud connect solution stacks take an organisation closer to cloud reality.  As an increasing amount of information about Cisco Cloud connect is released I would encourage you to invest the time to really understand it.

I can’t conclude my Cisco Live roundup without a few messaging takeaways (there were many more than this but the list the follows worked for me)

  • Cloud – Cisco cloud connect, CloudVerse and Cisco cloud security will take up many press inches over the coming months. The cloud connector strategy and alignment with Openstack can if executed correctly simplify and accelerate the use of enterprise cloud provisioned networked services.
  • ISE & BYOD – Identify services engine could be a real silver bullet for the broader enterprise BYOD challenge which is greater than basic connectivity of a mobile or tablet device. With access, authentication, remediation, MDM awareness, management and context, ISE could be an essential BYOD networking and security first step.
  • Security – Chris Young the new SVP for security is adding warp speed to the Cisco security playbook. New solutions, increased integration with the wider Cisco story and alignment with the customer agenda has put Cisco back on the security map.
  • Intelligent Networks – A catch all for all that is good in the Cisco solutions portfolio that when implemented correctly and “business aligned” delivers an intelligent network that will underpin and propel the intelligence of an organisation. Expect to see increased messaging around the intelligent networks concept.
  • Business Video – The rise of business video has been a false dawn a few times but played a major role in the success of Cisco Live. Digital signage solutions presented content and session information throughout the conference centre, educational sessions were captured live via standard Telepresence camera installations and keynote sessions were recorded and broadcast quickly for all to engage with. Business Video is more than conferencing.   

Enterprise organisations now face some tough decisions. It’s a topic I spent long periods of time in deep thought at Cisco Live. In this generation of IT it’s quite difficult to find really bad networking and security products due to commonality of chipsets and manufacturing techniques, but easy to find badly implemented solutions. It’s increasingly hard to find really poor technologies but easy to find poorly implemented and aligned solutions. That makes the role of Computacenter as a vendor independent, highly accredited, market aware and personnel rich organization even more important than ever before. Organisations no longer have the luxury of time to try and fail but recover – in that period the competition can capitalise on even short term absence and deliver and equivalent customer satisfying solution. Computacenter is perfectly positioned to leverage the messages radiated at Cisco Live of cloud, business video, multi platform integration, intelligent networking, compute & security to add Computacenter best practices and deliver personalised solutions to an increasingly challenged customer. And as Cisco also highlighted an ecosystem approach where relevant partners are leveraged to maximise the customer outcome, the whole approach aligns with validated Computacenter strength as the industrys leading infrastructure systems integrator with one of the richest enterprise vendor portfolios in the industry.

In summary Cisco Live continues to be a great event whether in the UK or US. For the deeply technical person no door is closed with everyone from Cisco press book authors to the most distinguished technologist on hand to answer the most cryptic questions (and extremely keen to do so). For business and strategy types like me, the executive interaction is very useful as is the opportunity to discuss go to market and customer specific outcomes with peer personnel within the Cisco team.

Just like my last time at Cisco Live US I leave with more than enough ideas and opinions to take me though until the next year.

Homeward Bound …

Until next time

Colin W

Twitter: @colinwccuk

“Road Trip in San Diego” Live from Cisco Live 2012

I am fortunate to be in San Diego for the annual Cisco Live 2012 customer / partner conference. The weather in San Diego is pleasant but somewhat dull, quite the opposite to the Cisco Live event. We may be in austere times but that seems to be absent within the San Diego convention centre with circa 17000 attendees and over 120000 interacting with the event via online means. There are product and solutions breakouts that cover the full IT spectrum and the use of standard Cisco (formerly Tandberg) Telepresence cameras to record the circa 200 sessions for future playback is a clever touch and validation of a real world use case.

The John Chambers keynote was as inspiring as ever. If you have never witnessed a Chambers presentation live, it’s impressive how he wanders between the stage and floor and presents for over an hour without an abundance of cue cards or prompting devices (check the online recordings). He covered the last year for Cisco which many had deemed Cisco’s “Annus horribilis” but with the results painting a different picture from the external view of many. Yes, Cisco faced challenges but with market leading sales performances, streamlining or internal operations, relentless focus on the “customer” and the now legendary Cisco drive to capitalise on “market transitions”, a stronger Cisco has emerged.

Does this mean Cisco will have things their own way again and totally dictate the market agenda, unlikely in the midst of a market moving at warp speed with new competitors appearing daily. But this Cisco seems to be correctly aligning less with the “next best thing” and more with the use of the “intelligent network” and an integrated eco system of solutions to help organisations utilise technology to unlock “business next generation and beyond”. As expected cloud featured heavily but not with the all too common “more of the same” approach. Cisco is taking the challenge and opportunity presented via the cloud approach to IT services  very seriously and continues to present a pragmatic and compelling cloud strategy with far more of the “how” and less of the “hype”. Other solutions areas continue to compete for top billing in what many still deem is a “networking” company with mobility, video and security areas of major focus for Cisco.

No Cisco Live would be complete without a glut of product launches and the new UCS E series blade for the ISRG2 branch router is a clever and welcome addition to the solutions stack. The addition of real world high performance compute power in the highly innovative ISRG2 will drive down the cost and increase performance / flexibility of remote site or branch IT service delivery. A new area of focus is the Cisco “Connected Industries” play that hails the arrival of a whole new business unit and product range focused at industry specialised environments that includes connectivity for city utility vehicles, industrial systems and enabling machine to machine communication via Cisco technologies. Look out for a growing range of Cisco enterprise switches, access points and devices in new form factors optimised for previously unfamiliar environments like ATMs or buses on the move.

I encourage you to scan the web for the mass of Cisco Live 2012 information that will be arriving thick and fast. There is little I have seen to date that is earth shattering but certainly the new reenergised Cisco now looks more like the organisation that dominated the networking landscape for many years. This looks like a company primed and really for the next journey enterprise customers face but equipped with a strategy and solutions stack that is perfectly placed to succeed.

Now where is that sun San Diego is famous for.

Until next time

Colin W

 Twitter @colinwccuk

Is wireless the oil of tomorrow?

As usual, Canalys CEO Steve Brazier made several thought provoking observations during a presentation to the assembled Lenovo channel partner forum in Berlin earlier this month. The topic that really grabbed my attention was the increasing importance of wireless technology in everyday life. In a recent internal blog, I wrote about wireless and the fact that it’s now one of the most essential commodities in my life which still feels odd at times for something that can’t be seen or touched.

But think about it. Like most people, many years ago I was handcuffed to the PC in the study if I wanted to do anything ‘on line’ or run the gauntlet of the 10m cable and the then heavy and usually very hot laptop to remain part of the family in the lounge. Now I have smartphone and tablet at my disposal wherever I am in the house as well as smart tv, Apple tv and a myriad of other devices all communicating with the tiny little box in the study. Can you imagine life without wifi?

As more and more of us access increasingly rich content from our smartphones and other devices, the demand on wifi bandwidth will reach incredible proportions. How will this be delivered, who will ‘own’ the supply and will a whole new market emerge in the same way that oil is traded today? Entirely new businesses will be created to profit from this opportunity and unless existing companies adopt new strategies to evolve their business models, they may find themselves with a fight on their hands.

Within the business community, growth in BYOD is as inevitable as rain during a bank holiday. IS departments have little if any choice in the matter and instead should be focusing their efforts on building strategies for securely incorporating the multitude of new clients into the network. The subject of security has never been more important and if your own organisation is seeking advice or support on this or the future of wireless in the workplace, please speak to us.

Video enriches the Queens Jubilee celebrations

As I watched the rather magnificent Queens Diamond Jubilee celebration events it emphasized to me the importance of video in the modern age. For one, I watched it in high definition in my living room with a level of quality that ensured I had an “experience” that felt like I was actually there (but thankfully not due to the rain and the nightmare of getting home).

Not only was the music, pomp and ceremony broadcasted to millions and potentially billions around the world (if you count the use of internet based video services), it was the use of video footage both past and present to stitch together the whole event.

The visual scenes from the top of the Mall of thousands of people crammed into such a small area but kept informed of the events at the Buckingham Palace end via massive video screens shows just how important and fundamental video can be to our current existence. Its an example of the use of video at its best totally invisible but highly visible.  How can you “make video work for you” within your organisation – note my question “how can you”, I am no longer trying to convince you that you need to? The dawn of the business video age is no longer when and if, it’s now.

Whether video is created, captured or shared, (and our current favourite solution, digital signage seems to do it all), video enriches our lives. And it’s only going to get better.

Until next time

Colin W

Twitter: @colinwccuk