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Oracle acquires Sun: what do the analysts say? 23 Apr 2009

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT.
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As the comments begin to settle down around Oracle’s latest blockbuster acquisition, let’s have a look at who reacted how quickly, and the quality of their comments.

There’s plenty of discussion of the basics: that Oracle is to acquire (“rescue”, according to some coverage) Sun Microsystems. The crown jewels are:

  • the Solaris version of Unix, which Larry Ellison talked up and which is perhaps the most important platform for Oracle’s proprietary software portfolio. Relevant past acquisitions here include PeopleSoft/J D Edwards (Dec 2004) and Siebel (Sep 2005), both hard-fought battles
  • Java, the basis for Oracle’s growing middleware business. BEA Systems was acquired in January last year.
  • Sun hardware … it will be interesting to see what Oracle does with this, as an indicator of the company’s future direction
  • Star Office and Open Office – there’s not much comment about these. But Ellison may well encourage them, the better to compete with Microsoft
  • MySQL open source database, widely used by start-ups and web companies
  • Definitively stopping a link-up of IBM and Sun

When I looked at coverage of the Satyam scandal, the questions were: who reacted first? Who has the most incisive coverage for the enterprise user? Who had the best accessible coverage?

But things have moved on, not least with Gartner’s entry to the blog movement. The major analysts had blog postings up pretty much on the day, and so did a range of other commentators. Some postings are very short and don’t do much more than register that the analyst had seen the news. But some have significant analysis, and I’d commend Darryl Plummer from Gartner, James Kobelius and Ray Wang from Forrester, and Bruce Richardson of AMR who all quickly began to explore the implications. Stefan Ried of Forrester waited a couple of days and then, after a call with Oracle, brought together some of his colleagues’ earlier comments so that’s a useful link.

And at this stage there is not much early stage formal research reporting. There are a couple of reports from the big two (Forrester and Gartner). Forrester haven’t disappointed as they did last time: the quality of accessible coverage in the blogs is high. Gartner’s blog coverage is more random; perhaps this is where Forrester’s approach to blogging, with topic-related rather than personal blogs, pays off. Then there were rapid initial research notes from Forrester and Gartner but not a great deal more.

As with Satyam, there’s no consensus about the future direction of this integration. The main disagreements are:

  • will Oracle divest the hardware business, or leverage it? Significantly, the Oracle press resource talks about delivering “an integrated system—applications to disk”, not “applications to CPU”.
  • will MySQL be used as a route to migrate more customers for Oracle’s database and then killed off? will it be actively supported? or will it be cut loose for the open source community to work with?

So perhaps the main conclusion for insight service users is that the pace and quality of fast-response comment to major events has significantly picked up. And that there were no real surprises about coverage – except that I discovered a new source (GigaOM) which had an incisive article – matching Forrester’s Kobelius for early considered analysis. That’s a source I’ll be watching in future.

Links:
• Oracle and Sun, Oracle press and information website
• Forrester: Oracle’s Sun Acquisition Is A Game Changer, 22 April, client research targetted at vendor strategy professionals (i.e. the IT supply side) but relevant to users too
• Gartner: Oracle/Sun Deal Will Change Competitive Landscape in IT, 22 April, client research, short but publicly available
Our Full Analysis of the $7.4B Oracle-Sun Deal, GigaOM, 20 April

To see more of the coverage identified for this survey, click for items tagged in del.icio.us.

My Forrester blog index catches up 1 Apr 2009

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Technorati.
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A quick alert. I’ve finally caught up with my target of updating my index to Forrester’s analyst blogs. Not as urgent a job as keeping on top of Gartner’s because Forrester’s own index is structured by topic – they aren’t, mostly, individual analysts’ blogs – and the list is up to date on their own site.

The list is a little longer than it was in January, when I first put the page up. So I’ve moved to a two-page structure. When you go to the index you’ll see first the blogs which are relevant to enterprise IT; this does include some of the consumer and marketing oriented blogs, because there’s a strong IT interest in these areas. A second page links you to the marketing strategy blogs and those for the technology industry (that’s vendors, to you and me). But IT people should have a look there too; for example, there’s currently some discussion on Cloud issues.

inks:
• InformationSpan index to analyst blogs
• Forrester’s blog index

Finding vendors: Magic Quadrants and so on 6 Jan 2009

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Managing IT, Technorati.
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Carter Lusher of Sage Circle reports an interaction between Andreas Bitterer of Gartner and a smaller vendor who’s taken issue with coverage in a Magic Quadrant. Credit, as Carter says, to both parties for engaging in a public discussion about this.

If you’re a user IT organisation with a relevant subscription, you probably use the Magic Quadrant (or Forrester’s equivalent, the Wave) to assess the players in a particular marketplace. If so, it’s well worth reading this post to better understand these methodologies. It appeared over the holiday period, so you might have missed it.

Sage Circle looks at it from the vendor’s angle, for Analyst Relations professionals. Here’s a thought for the enterprise IT team.

If you are inclined to look at emerging or niche vendors, or at Open Source (the issue which triggered Carter’s posting), then the mainstream market assessments probably won’t see them, and the main insight providers probably won’t cover them. The same’s true if you are investigating a niche area. I was asked, once, to find a hosting service experienced with a specialised software product. In its own market area, this application was a leader; but it wasn’t exactly mainstream ERP! There was no analyst coverage at all, within our available subscriptions.

In this situation you can try three things.

First, find a niche insight provider which specifically covers the market, if there is one. Ask InformationSpan: we have the database, and the review is almost complete (I’ve got to “T”!), but one thing I do know now is that not all niches have this kind of specialist coverage.

Second, make your own assessment. Both Gartner and Forrester publish their criteria, though Forrester provide more complete details; if you’re in an area where there is no coverage then look at a related MQ or Wave for ideas what you ought to assess.

If you’re looking at niche vendors in a major area where there is coverage, remember that Forrester make available the full model including data and weightings. You can adjust the weightings to create your own Wave, and if some of those criteria aren’t of interest to you in relation to your niche interests, or you can’t either research or estimate them, then just zero-weight them. You can’t add data to a Wave, but you can work in parallel with it. And validate it with an analyst when you’ve done the work: they might well see something you’ve missed.

Third, you can ask the analyst to do custom research. Again, with a niche product there will be criteria they can’t assess – there won’t be a sizeable user community to ask questions of, for example. This may be useful for a niche product in a major area; in a specialist area it’s likely you’ll know more about it yourself and, because they’ll start from a lower base, it will be expensive. They may even say “no”. But they will work, so far as possible, to their standard methodology and this will make comparison easier; aside from not having to do all the work yourself!

Oh – and a Happy New Year! There’s plenty of talk about managing through the recession. I still like George Colony’s take: including, hire the smart MBAs who are not now going into finance!

Links:
• Vendor complains in a very public blog post about Gartner’s Data Integration Magic Quadrant Sage Circle, 29 Dec 2008
Setting the Record Straight Andreas Bitterer, Gartner blog, 28 Dec 2008
• CIO best practices for thriving in a recession Counterintuitive, George Colony, Forrester Research, 24 Sep 2008

InformationSpan Report series launched 12 Nov 2008

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Managing IT, Technorati.
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InformationSpan has begun to create a series of survey reports which will look at Insight Services coverage of specific IT topic areas.

The first Report surveys insight services for Business Intelligence. Recent significant consolidation in the BI marketplace makes authoritative advice essential in this area: reports prior to mid 2007 are likely to be very dated. We review providers with known coverage in this area, from the InformationSpan database of over 400 providers, using our industry structure model for classification: global generalists; global specialists; local generalists; and niche providers.

You can view this first report for free: go to the website and click on the new tab labelled “InformationSpan Reports”. Even if BI isn’t your primary area, you might like to see the approach. Comments will be welcome here, particularly if you think I’ve missed something!

I’m planning one report a month from now on; current planned coverage includes the Emerging Technology agenda; Risk Management; and Merger & Acquisition Support. If you would like to influence this agenda, or commission a special report, do get in touch!

Once again, no other Links in this posting.

Providers: how accessible is your meta-information? 12 Nov 2008

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Technorati.
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I’ve been doing research to update an InformationSpan coverage report on Business Intelligence. I’m struck by the different approaches of providers that help, or hinder, this task.

Remember – I’m not trying to read the content necessarily (though some elements of it are useful). I’m coming at it from the perspective of an enterprise trying to find the best insight services provider for their needs. So I’m trying to find out the depth of their coverage, how important the topic is for them, and how up to date they are. What I really want is meta-information: information about information.

To show what I mean, here are a handful of case studies.

Analyst firm A – a well known global specialist – offers me a guest account. Even without this, I can explore in reasonable depth just using the search box on the home page and the About section of the website. Then, when I sign in, I can see the whole structure of their website as a paying client would see it. I can browse the analyst biographies, undertake searches, and in fact do pretty much anything a client would do except read the premium content research. So I have a pretty good idea how many analysts cover this area, which of them I’ve heard of or encountered, and from the abstracts of the published reports I can see at least some of the companies covered in their writing. I think I can make a pretty good assessment of their coverage, based on what I’ve seen.

Company B has a similar model, and their guest login provides a lot of offers of complimentary access to the full text of quite recent reports – cleverly, using a Flash Player presentation which means there’s no downloadable version but you can see the whole thing. Even better!

Analyst firm C – a global generalist – has a great deal of good content. In fact, BI is one of their primary coverage areas. But if I didn’t know, I might well not realise it. I can see a fully featured non-client home page. But there’s no search box on it, so it’s rather difficult to assess what they’ve got. It turns out that the best route into the information I need is to browse the Analysts section, because their people are indexed by coverage area; or to go through Events. There are links there to reports, but only the barest abstract is visible as a non-client. I did find a key report via a vendor’s website (though I had to use Google to find it) and in the end, from prior knowledge and reasonably successful online research, again I have a fair idea of their coverage. But it was a lot harder work!

Provider D may or may not have content. But since the only information I can find from their web pages, as a non-member, is about the structure of their service and the highest level information about content, and there’s no search function without a login, I simply don’t know!

So if I’m an enterprise trying to find specific coverage, across the marketplace of four hundred or so general and specialist providers, guess which providers simply aren’t going to figure? They can’t be assessed, and they won’t make the cut.

Providers – please, at least, provide a search box so that we can see what you do!

PS – you can see the report via the InformationSpan website. Click the new tab section for Reports. No other links on this posting!

Is it “OK to stop the project”? 7 Oct 2008

Posted by Tony Law in Managing IT.
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Mike Rasmussen of Corporate Integrity has been busy. He’s in the right business – in the current climate, regulation and compliance are climbing right up the agenda and there will, I’m sure, be many extra demands on IT to provide visibility of data and respond to new regulatory demands.

If you read this in time, Mike is hosting a webinar today (Tueday 7th) at 5pm UK time. He’s done a lot of work on a new structured analysis of the global regulatory and compliance (GRC) arena to identify the issues, and, he says, to define 13 core technology areas that the organization should build into an enterprise architecture for GRC.

Gartner have released a short note (and right at the moment it’s available for free) advising IT organisations to prepare for three scenarios: flat spending, a 20% reduction, and a small increase. But I haven’t seen anyone suggesting that IT should be prepared to increase spending on GRC, either by a budget increase or by diverting resources from other things. Think on!

You might like to look at George Colony’s take on the mess as well. He proposes three general rules:
• Apply a simple rule: “If it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t make sense.”
• Risk assessment and management programs (perhaps within Sarbanes) should be placed on alert to identify danger points (by which he means: where computer models fail rule one)
• Never be afraid to say Andy Grove’s favorite business word: “No.”

This last one reminds me of a visit I paid a year or two back to London Heathrow’s Terminal 5, which was then one of the UK’s biggest building projects. The biggest message, plastered all over the site and aimed at everyone from plumbers to executives, was “It’s OK to stop the project”. No-one was going to get hammered for saying something was going wrong, or unsafe, or didn’t make sense. Most building projects, our host said, get built one and a half times. They aimed to avoid that cost, and did.

Links:
• GRC 2.0 the GRC EcoSystem Mike Rasmussen, Corporate Integrity, 6 Oct 2008
• Hal destroys Wall Street Counterintuitive: George Colony, Forrester CEO, 3 Oct 2008
U.S. Congress Rescues Banks but Pressure on IT Budgets Looms Gartner, 6 Oct 2008

Which is the right Gartner blog for you? 17 Sep 2008

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Technorati.
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I’ve been preoccupied putting together the InformationSpan workshop held in London last week (it went well – thankyou for asking!) and with follow-up. So, apologies for the posting gap.

One of the things that’s happened in the meantime is that Gartner have opened themselves up to the blogsphere. SageCircle in particular have kept in touch with this development and I don’t propose to repeat Carter’s coverage – see the links at the end!

I’m pleased to see this development; they’re catching up on what Forrester’s best analysts have been doing for some time now. From the user’s perspective, it means that there’s enhanced access to Gartner’s experts and expertise without subscriptions. But Gartner have only published a list of names for you to work with. I know a lot of these analysts from having worked with them, but even I don’t know all their coverage areas.

Whether or not you’re familiar with Gartner: have a look at the blog list, identify one or two working in areas you’re interested in, and track them. How? You can now go directly to InformationSpan’s enhanced directory of Gartner blogs. I’ve sorted out the list so that each name is linked to their coverage area, and also to their bio. There are links through to the relevant areas of Gartner’s site. There’s a page of Forrester blogs too: this is simpler, because Forrester’s blogs are named for their coverage area – but there can be several analysts contributing to one blog, and Forrester don’t list them. Work in progress here. Finally, there’s a page of other blogs that I think are worth looking at, either from specialist global firms like Burton and AMR, or from more local providers or niche firms. I’ll probably extend that list over time, but if you want a complete list then go to Tekrati’s!

Enjoy!

Links:
For InformationSpan’s blog directory, go to informationspan.com and click on “See our new guide to leading analyst blogs” at the top of the page
• Q&A with Gartner about the new Gartner Blog Network SageCircle, 16 Sep 2008
• Update on Gartner’s expanded blogging initiative … SageCircle, 26 Sep 2008, includes a list of Gartner blogger names
• Analyst Blogs Directory from Tekrati, lsted by provider

The return to work: the user take on Forrester+Jupiter 25 Aug 2008

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Technorati.
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I’ve been away from the office for most of August, letting news build up, so I missed the acquisition of Jupiter by Forrester at the end of July. There’s plenty of comment out there from the market perspective – SageCircle’s is one of the best. But, as enterprises return to work, maybe I can help you catch up too!

For a start, this is something of a reversal of fortunes. A decade or so ago, prior to Forrester’s acquisition of Giga, Forrester were moving into coverage of the emerging world of online business. The enterprise I worked for closed down a contract with them because we judged they were falling between two stools. They didn’t have sufficient IT coverage (till Giga filled in the gaps). And consumer data was available from our marketing support services – such as Jupiter. So Forrester came some way second to Jupiter. Now, they’ve acquired them.

I’ve never been a Jupiter user, so I can’t comment from the Jupiter users’ perspective. But read David Schatsky, Jupiter’s President. His blog isn’t just the usual “gosh we’re excited” senior executive stuff. He talks about Jupiter’s “grudging admiration” for Forrester, their disagreements over past forecasts, and the recognised strengths of a competitor. So, when he does say he’s excited, you can believe it.

I’ve been a technology-side user of Forrester rather than a marketing-side user. But I know enough about the two firms to believe that this combination does make sense, and George Colony will make it work. Forrester’s integration of Giga, some years ago, was no doubt tough but Forrester adopted many of Giga’s working practices – the ones that the clients valued most. Expect the same approach.

So both Forrester and Jupiter clients will see some changes. Now’s the time to start the conversation with your sales executive, and let Forrester know which aspects of either offering you value.

If you’re a Forrester user on the technology side, it likely won’t make a great deal of difference. But on the market research side (Jupter will join Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Client Group) George Colony clearly expects Jupter to deepen Forrester’s capability and add some new directions. If you’re a Jupiter user, and you need help understanding how Forrester work, get in touch!

I haven’t had chance to talk to Forrester yet; I’m back at work on a Bank holiday, so there’s nobody there in the UK office. Watch for an update posting when I have chance to do so!

Links:
Forrester Acquires JupiterResearch, Forrester Press Release, 31 Jul 2008
Forrester Buys Jupiter, blog, David Schatsky,31 Jul 2008
Forrester buying Jupiter – smart, but not a big deal, SageCircle, 3 Aug 2008
Forrester acquires JupiterResearch, Analyst Perspectives, 5 Aug 2008

Google gets Lively 31 Jul 2008

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Social media, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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Google’s recently launched its own virtual world: Lively. The announcement was posted on the Official Google Blog earlier this month. So I’m a little late in finding it, but that means that other blogs and commentators have covered the basics and we can dig a little.

What is it? It’s not by some distance a full competitor to Second Life. Instead it’s aimed to be simple to get into, and relatively easy to use. It’s a 3-D representation of a string of chat rooms, not a full virtual world. You can create your own real estate, but it’s limited to a room. There aren’t all that many things you can customise. And at most 20 people can be in a room at once: no IBM WorldJams here!

Gartner believe it’s aimed at Facebook and MySpace, not SecondLife; and you can (for the moment at least) read Gartner’s admittedly brief comment in full on the website, even without an account. There’s a key thing that they highlight, which is that Lively rooms can be embedded in other websites and blogs. You can’t do that with SecondLife. The gadgets you create in your Lively room can also run on your desktop, Google say. You can’t do that with SecondLife, either.

As Gartner say, it breaks little new ground in virtual world technology. It’s based, at least partly, on research carried out at Arizona State University, but reading between the lines it looks as if this research was into the social side (what will attract users?) rather than the technology.

Forrester cover Lively in more detail (but you’ll need an account). They broadly agree with the points above, that it’s “aiming for a more mainstream, social, and multiapplication audience” – it’s more “Small World” than SecondLife, and its ties to other social networking tools (including Facebook and, of course, the Open Social platform) are important. Forrester’s coverage is aimed mainly at consumer marketing people, and they list a number of markers to track over the coming months to aid decision making.

What is clear is that Lively is designed specifically not to be self contained. It’s going to encourage movement to and from the standard desktop, integrating Lively into all sorts of other things people already do. And there’s one possibility which this raises, which I haven’t seen anyone comment on.

This feature just might turn out to be one to take virtual worlds into the everyday enterprise as well as the consumer arena. If it’s easy to embed a virtual room in, say, an internal meeting database then global companies might finally see the value.

Links:
Lively
Be who you want on the web pages you visit (official Google blog)
Facebook Is the Real Target of Google’s Virtual World (Gartner, 10 July 2008 )
Lively: Google Enters The Virtual Worlds Space (Forrester Research, 15 Jul 2008 )

There’s a ton of commentary on the web. Just put “Google Lively” into Google!

No false hiding at Forrester 14 Jul 2008

Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, Technorati.
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I liked this.

Forrester made a small bloomer on their web backend last week which resulted in one of their analysts’ mugshots being replaced by a picture of a colleague of the opposite gender. Far from just correcting it quickly and hoping nobody would notice, the analyst concerned has made a mini-case study of it to remind people of some fundamentals of web publishing.

Being able to share lessons from your own mistakes is a mark of considerable maturity! Well done Stephen Power and Forrester.

Link: (I don’t think this is restricted to Forrester clients)
Steve, You’ve Never Looked Better (Forrester Research blog, 9 July 2008 )

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