Will Topsy grow?

I posted and pinged a couple of times on Cloud recently, and this morning I got a pingback from a new discovery: Topsy, released as a Beta (as they do).

Interestingly, there’s a concept that’s been around for a while which is, essentially, a crowdsourced search engine. Instead of Google’s massive infrastructure, use grid-style distribution to route a query out to all your friends, and their friends, and theirs (three degrees is probably enough) to discover what resources they use to research a particular topic.

Topsy is kind of like that, based on what people – individually – are putting out into cyberspace. At the moment, it’s based on tweets and it asked for access to my twitter feed which, after a little research, I’ve given it. It’s essentially a fly on the wall, listening to the conversations that are going on. Search results are typically blog entries referenced in tweets, and tweeters are ranked according to their perceived influence level. You can also identify “experts” in a topic.

Well, it will be interesting to try, and to compare the results. You can follow them on Twitter, of course. That sounds rather recursive!

• Topsy; for a bit more information (not much) see the About page

Gartner adds weight to Cloud debates

With several announcements, Gartner has launched a new heavyweight forum to tackle the major issues that surface as enterprises look to Cloud solutions.

Whenever Cloud adoption is discussed in an enterprise setting there are a string of issues which surface. These include security (for both static and in-transit data); service levels (most consumer-style cloud services such as Amazon’s or Google’s offer no guarantees though they may give credits); and compliance aspects (location, privacy, and enforcement of disclosure). Many of these go back to one over-riding principle: you can’t outsource responsibility.

But as the benefits of cloud services, financially and in flexibility, have become compelling two things have happened. Enterprises have realised they have to take cloud seriously, seeing it as extending the range of services which can be outsourced. And the global supply companies – the IBMs, the Oracles, the HPs – have begun to take a hand either with new services or by re-marketing existing ones. Microsoft too has undergone another of its rapid and thorough strategic switches, with BPOS, Live and so on. The SLA-challenged services from the original incumbents such as Amazon Web Services and Google Apps are not now the only options.

So Cloud achieves perhaps the ultimate accolade: a special focus from Gartner. Gartner have announced a Global IT Council for Cloud Services. This is the second IT Council; the first tackles IT Maintenance. As Gartner explain it: they “gathered leading CIOs from around the world to define the rights that enterprises should expect when they consume IT maintenance or negotiate cloud computing deals”. They see the Councils as “a new approach to solving some of the most deep-seated technology challenges facing enterprises, with the aim of changing the way the IT industry works”. Not a small agenda, then.

It will be interesting to see how the Councils develop. There’s plenty in Gartner’s track record to suggest they will be well worth while for members: the name may be new, but the idea of bringing together senior practitioners to share experience and develop ideas is not. There will be interaction between senior analysts (Daryl Plummer and David Capuccio, in this case) and clients. There will be a gateway to established and, perhaps, purpose-written research. There will be visibility at Symposium, and a stream of communications including the blogs.

For Cloud, the first headlined report is entitled Rights and Responsibilities for Consumers of Cloud Computing Services. This report, based on a CIO-level meeting, defines what it says on the tin. Rights include:

1. The right to retain ownership, use and control of one’s own data: this deals with audit and certification in data management, discovery issues, location and transit of data
2. The right to service-level agreements that address liabilities, remediation and business outcome: this includes access to information about the service (e.g. to assess risks) and outlaws unilateral changes to terms and condition
3. The right to notification and choice about changes that affect the service consumer’s business processes: including notification of planned outages and changes, estimates of whole-business restore times, and support for change of supplier
4. The right to understand the technical limitations or requirements of the service up front: related to capacity, pricing, limits of liability
5. The right to understand the legal requirements of jurisdictions in which the provider operates: location specification, restrictions, legal disclosure and other compliance issues
6. The right to know what security processes the provider follows: standards, audit, incidents

They identify one mutual responsibility:

7. The responsibility to understand and to adhere to software license requirements, e.g. affecting virtual servers, transferability, indemnity

Cloud users: catch up quickly! At present Gartner hold much of this information free of charge. And finally: thanks to my colleague Chris Woodhouse who spotted this before I did!

Links: (some links may need a guest account on Gartner.com)
• Gartner Global IT Council (information about both Councils here, with a video from Darryl Plummer and links to several reports)
• Gartner Global IT Council for Cloud Services Outlines Rights and Responsibilities for Cloud Computing Services: Gartner press announcement, 12 Jul 2010
• Know Your Rights in IT Maintenance and Cloud Computing, Gartner research, 30 Jun 2010 – similar to the press announcement but for the research community
• Rights and Responsibilities for Consumers of Cloud Computing Services, Gartner research, 30 Jun 2010: this is a report from the Council meeting with a precis of the discussion and a summary of recommendations in each of the seven areas, and a list of those participating
Gartner’s Global IT Council on Cloud Computing: Do You Have Rights? Blog, Darryl Plummer, 11 Jul 2010

Is it Nokia’s Bluetooth that sucks, or Apple’s?

Once upon a time I had a Nokia phone, an N73. I unwisely put it through a firmware upgrade. Apart from the fact that the computer crashed partway through the upload, so the phone had to go back to the manufacturer to be sorted, after the upgrade I found I couldn’t Bluetooth to my Mac. The two devices would go through most of the procedure, exchange passcodes, and then say “Unable to establish connection”. The phone also, perhaps not irrelevantly, no longer connected to my in-car hands-free kit. Previously, both had been fine.

Well, I put it down as one of those things that might get FITNR [fixed in the next release]. Then I upgraded my phone (a newer Nokia, nice touch screen, like it!) and the new one connects fine to the computer. It’s handy not just to replicate my contacts and calendar, but the Mac’s Bluetooth send-file interface is neat too. I use this for event stuff (registrations, travel arrangements and maps): the documents arrive as Bluetooth text messages, making them easy to file away, to refer to, and to delete after the event. QuickOffice Adobe Reader for Symbian, and the fact that the Mac has a PDF writer built-in, make all this a doddle.

But yesterday I was with a friend who has an iPhone, and hasn’t used the Bluetooth interface. So just for fun, we set out to connect. The iPhone wouldn’t see my Nokia. But I could see the iPhone and it was just like the old days. Try to pair; exchange passwords; and then “Unable to establish connection”.

What is it about standards that makes them unable to interoperate? And since this appears to be a well known problem between Nokia’s and Apple’s devices, why doesn’t someone fix it?

No Links, but try searches on Google, Apple Support and Nokia Forum.

Gartner’s AMR: Supply Chain conference makes it to Europe

As Gartner continues to integrate AMR Research into its way of doing things, there’s a positve benefit for Supply Chain executives in Europe. AMR’s Supply Chain Executive Conference is being launched in EMEA and the first European event will take place in London in September.

Worthy of note: the event will be chaired by Kevin O’Marah, now a Gartner GVP and billed as AMR Chief Strategy Officer. And although most of the listed speakers are recognised AMR names, from within what is now Gartner’s Supply Chain research group, there is one speaker (Tim Payne) who is a Research Director from the legacy Gartner Enterprise Business Applications and ERP group. From his bio, he appears to be the only European-based analyst in the list and is shown as “support[ing] Gartner’s European clients on all aspects of supply chain management”.

AMR/Supply Chain clients in EMEA: take advantage of the presence of these analysts in London and get your one-on-ones booked! Also, use the opportunity to emphasise to Gartner that if they are serious about supporting clients in Europe they need to expand their permanent and effective AMR presence to include some locally based analysts. This flying visit, hopefully, is only a start!

The announcement on Gartner’s website also includes a short video of Kevin O’Marah discussing this year’s AMR Supply Chain Top 25.

• AMR/Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, Sept 2010, London
(if you are looking for the Supply Chain Top 25 report, you have to go to the Conference home page and click the link)