Microsoft update in London

I spent most of today at a briefing at Microsoft’s London Customer Centre, hosted by one of their development partners: a mix of Microsoft and partner presentations, covering Microsoft’s office (small ‘o’), collaboration and enterprise management tools. It’s rare to have this kind of opportunity since I left enterprise IT. But it’s important, because topics like Sharepoint and Microsoft’s cloud office services (Office 365 for example) come up regularly in conversations, and in technical events that I facilitate.

Leading off the event was James Askrigg, of Microsoft. He ran through some of Microsoft’s visionary directions: Natural User Interface (which largely means gesture), with reference to the Xbox Kinect; the future of real telepresence, meaning fully animated avatars re-creating a full representation of a teleconference participant by close monitoring of the movement of the real individual. Is this cheaper/more effective than full high definition video? Don’t know; but we saw that, too, when Polycom took the stage.

Askrigg took the discussion towards the variety of form factors and “Post PC devices” which are coming through, and the need to work generically with these categories. As was commented in an event I was working with yesterday: you can’t enumerate the possibilities, and deal with them individually, any longer. The approach has to be more generic. And he sees the move to cloud services as very much part of the solution to this problem. If services, and data, and authentication, and management are mediated through the cloud then provisioning unconventional devices becomes simpler. Bill Gates’s original vision of “A PC in every home and on every desk” has become “Continuous cloud services for every person and every business”. Cloud Power is a paradigm, not for provisioning boxes, but for delivering services.

And there was a considerable focus on Lync 2011: communication, collaboration and technology platforms brought together and integrated under the one marketing banner. As we saw these services demonstrated later, the story is a strong one. Windows Live (free for home users) and the new IE9 with HTML5 and features which increase the integration between the browser and the rest of the desktop experience: both are crucial parts of the overall picture. There was a lot on Sharepoint too, difficult to reflect in these notes particularly as the online demo suffered from loss of network connectivity (or something) and had no Plan B.

We had two other presentations from Eurodata, the hosts of the event. The first focussed on Microsoft’s Forefront unified access gateway (UAG) and Direct Access technologies giving users seamless (ish, as a later presentation showed) access to their enterprise network and services without the intrusion of a VPN connection. It depends crucially on IPv6; IPv4 can be integrated, but the feature set is less complete. Polycom then shared a joint presentation with Microsoft: if I have it right, Microsoft give Polycom the lead on “phones and TVs”. Polycom on their own have a strong Unified Communications and presence story, but the integration with other office functionality, essentially through Lync, offers a lot of user options and flexibility. Perhaps too many options? but the live interaction which was demonstrated moved smoothly between IM chat, voice, video and screen sharing; and the ability to see who’s online and available saves a lot of wasted calls. These concepts have been around for a long time. Perhaps they’re now coming to fruition. I need to look up the Unified Communications Interoperability Forum. “Presence is king”, as another Microsoft speaker commented.

Eurodata’s second presentation took us through many of the management tools in Microsoft’s new management suite: not something I’d ever been familiar with (or needed to) and, if I gathered correctly, something of a rebranding exercise as well as a redevelopment. Good capabilities, and quite a strong plug for the Hyper-V virtualisation service.

Finished with a client case study and a few Q&A. And in the lunch break I got interviewed for their video capture of attendee feedback. If it turns up on the Eurodata website, I’ll let you know!

• Microsoft Lync currently showing the 2011 launch with a Bill Gates video
• Microsoft Cloud Power (this is where you get by searching for Office 365)
• Microsoft Sharepoint 2010
• Microsoft Forefront
• Xbox Kinect
UC everywhere, by Polycom
• All you need to know about Microsoft in 2011: event page, 28 Jan 2011, from Eurodata Systems

Own your own medical data!

I just came off an IDC Health Insights trends webinar (see the immediately preceding post). Amid the trends-continue-as-before material was one point that was notable for something that wasn’t said – because it’s a social trend not a technology one.

IDC identified a data explosion arising, in part, from personal health monitoring. That’s, perhaps, individuals with conditions like diabetes taking their own glucose readings. It can also be the worried well measuring themselves.

If you upload the data to your personal health record, who owns it? There was a throw-away by the IDC analyst to the effect that the data can be viewed by your physician “if you give them access”.

Here’s the trend: as personal health management expands, individuals really will own and control their own health data. They will create it, share it and manage it. At present, such data are owned, for all practical purposes, by the physician or health provider; hence rules under the European data protection codes are needed to enforce the data subject’s right of access. When it really is your own data, the boot may be on the other foot.

IDC Health Insights webinar: Predictions 2011

I’m joining another IDC Predictions webinar this evening: this one is their Health Insights contribution to the overall Predictions suite (I reported on the general Predictions webinar recently too). From the point of view of an ex-Pharma employee, I want to see where the balance comes between healthcare provision and pharmaceuticals. I’m expecting a fairly US-centric view of the world, but prepared to be pleasantly surprised, because the presenters include Jan Duffy, Research Director, EMEA.

Something to look out for on the side: information about IDC’s “new Executive Program”. I’ll report on this shortly too.

To the content. And we’re promised relevance to life science as well as healthcare, with a focus on IT decisions. That’s hopeful. The context is on industry transformations through networking, analytics and longer term trends. And the presenters represent what Scott Lindstrom calls “a 360-degree integrated view” of healthcare. Also (later) there are, it appears, separate Predictions at the more detailed levels.

But … here we go … the drivers listed are all US legislation and American demographics. The jury’s out on the global perspective, I think. But the predication of “Reform-driven disruption” to market models may apply outside the USA. I’m skimping attention to discussion of integrated healthcare provision, but some of the technological side is essentially monitoring and telecare – something which in the UK is being promoted within social services rather than health. (Later … just been told there will be a separate Europe-focussed event … so although Jan Duffy is chipping in, the pleasant surprise has probably been postponed.)

We’re moving on to the Pharma industry where healthcare reform (i.e. provider-side) impacts the industry’s model. Trends such as a focus on emerging markets and cost measures including outsourcing don’t sound new. Smart analytics and better use of information have been trends for a long time (and sometimes they’ve been realised). Collaboration is of course crucial: but are there really novel methods of facilitated partnership emerging? It feels much more like what, in GSK, was regarded as “business as usual” several years ago.

Now, a focus on “three key themes”.

  • Actionable analytics: analysing clinical data to identify early interventions, integrate functions and reduce costs isn’t that new though. I have a new (American) acronym: ACO (Accountable Care Organisation), whatever the concept is … Jan Duffy, from the perspective of European government-funded healthcare, believes this side of the pond is actually ahead in this area. For IT, the key is the increasing importance of communications networks
  • For the life science industry this seems to be reinforcing trends that were already there: improving the payback from increasingly limited contact time with physicians (“detailing”), and in the US the implementation of rules about spending which requires unifying data about clinicians contacted both for sales and for research. Expect more on-line contact and less face-to-face. But there’s a benefit in this single view too in enhancing the relationship.
  • Second theme: advanced infrastructure and storage with demands from electronic medical records, storage of diagnostic images, and more. There’s a tech trend here to enterprise-wide, rather than departmental, storage solutions (dare one say “private cloud”? IDC didn’t … but they have just said “vendor-neutral archive” and “centralised storage”. Ah, “Cloud storage”). Storage for medical records is high profile in IDC, with separate themes and reports. And in the payor space, data explosion may stimulate business reorganisation, new structures and competitive opportunities.
  • Third theme (surprise!) is Cloud. As those of us who have tracked this under various headings for some years know, Cloud (“consumerised”) services are fast, flexible and effective to respond to a shifting market and new operating models. They assert that SaaS CRM is now the default for Pharma. And what about “ERM (electronic medical record) as a Service”? I think the prediction can be summarised as “Cloud really is taking off” – especially when linked to business process outsourcing, and especially again if the providers will share the compliance risk.

Summary: interesting discussion. I don’t recognise anything startlingly new in these predictions, which is a valuable insight in its own right, though the data explosion (and consequent storage impact) may be reaching tipping point at least in the US. Interesting idea that infrastructure providers might share compliance risk; I’ve always been taught that you can’t outsource this kind of responsibility.

Health Insights Predictions 2011, IDC webinar, 12 Jan 2011 (replay)
IDC Webinar: Predictions 2011, ITasITis, 2 Dec 2010
IDC Insights Community provides links to a wide range of content. Especially if you’re not a member, the analyst blogs are valuable

About cryptography: coverage

In preparation for an event next week, I’ve been engaged in some research (though quite sketchy) on the subject of cryptography. Here are some notes on the coverage that I’ve found.

As a general rule, search on “Encryption” if you’re looking for strategy and implementation; but for “Cryptography”, unless you’re looking for information on technical standards and developments.

Encryption is an element of what Forrester call “Digital Leak Prevention” or DLP, and Forrester’s coverage includes a recent (Oct 2010) Wave on DLP products. This is available for download from CA, who come out of it quite well. There’s also a document named from the aphorism Own Nothing. Control Everything, attributed to John D Rockefeller, which identifies “Five Security Patterns For Securing Data On Devices You Don’t Own”. Worth a read, if you’re a Forrester client, and worth a view of the outline if you’re not.

Gartner’s coverage, at least as thrown up by my search, doesn’t include this level of general advice; there are specifics for iPads, smartphones, and PCI (Payment Card standards) but no general or strategic guides.

But a blog search (via the InformationSpan index) identifies former Burton analyst Raymond Krikken as probably the key person in the Gartner network if you want to follow this area. As you’d expect from the Burton stable, there’s some specific and knowledgeable insight here; and research is still being published on Burton’s own website, in line with Gartner’s strategy to maintain the Burton brand. Burton too speak of DLP, and have advice for deployment of encryption (“technical position covers the choices to be made once an organization has determined to use encryption”, dating from mid 2009) and specific documents for Cloud and mobile device issues.

Looking at standards and interoperability, the best summary is probably from the US National Security Agency if you can read between the lines of the Agency’s own agenda. RSA Inc’s own information on public key standards which they co-ordinate seems to be fairly elderly.

If you need initial briefing, try Wikipedia (where I found material on the newer Elliptic curve cryptography as well as on RSA). There are FAQs on although much of this information appears (on a quick look) to be from newsgroup archives and not very recent.

• The Forrester Wave: Data Leak Prevention Suites, Q4 2010, Forrester Research, 12 Oct 2010; non-clients can follow the link from the CA release, below
• CA Technologies Named a Leader in Data Loss Prevention by Independent Research Firm, CA Press Release, 25 Oct 2010, with link to download the document
• Own Nothing. Control Everything, Forrester Research, 22 Jan 2010 (summary; full document client-only or for-purchase)
• Using Encryption to Protect Sensitive Data in Cloud Computing Environments, Burton Group, 31 Mar 2010 (full document client-only; non-clients may need to log in with guest credentials to get this link to work, or find it by search from their website)
What exactly makes a “secure tokenization” algorithm?, Raymond Krikken, Gartner blog network, 21 Oct 2010
• NSA Suite B Cryptography, US National Security Agency, 15 Jan 2009
• Public Key Cryptography Standards (PKCS) from RSA, Inc.
• Elliptic curve cryptography, Wikipedia (links to RSA and other sections)
• Cryptography FAQ Index from

Find the Gartner Blog Index and search on InformationSpan by following the link in the right hand panel.

salesforce closes Dimdim

I have an account with Dimdim, which provides internet-based conferencing and webcasts. I haven’t used it for some time (there were various problems when I tried it for a webcast) but it’s remained open.

Today an email popped up telling me that Dimdim has been acquired by

Dimdim has been acquired by Your free Dimdim account will remain active until March 15, 2011. After that date, you will no longer be able to access your free Dimdim account.

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for additional information.

We appreciate your understanding, and we thank you!

OK, a free account is a free account and in this case I’m not going to miss it. But when I look at the FAQs online there are no options even for paying customers to extend accounts beyond their current agreement’s expiry. Even the FAQ about accounts on automatic renewal simply say “No further renewals will be offered”. The service is being closed down.

Question: what’s salesforce buying? Clearly not a user base. Their intention is to uprate the live collaboration facilities of the existing Chatter platform. Chatter was only launched to the community in March 2010: salesforce claim 60,000 users who are, presumably, asking for more advanced capabilities. The press release headlines say:

Acquisition will extend’s Chatter collaboration platform with critical real-time communication technologies … Follows the proven Facebook model of combining real-time collaboration and communication into a single integrated service … Enables to build on momentum of 60,000 Chatter customers, accelerating the industry shift to Cloud 2

The look over the shoulder at Facebook is interesting! So’s the reference to Cloud 2, whatever that really means.

What did strike me, though, is that this is surely not the way to handle the sudden closure of a service. Does the FAQ offer any help for people looking for an alternative – especially the free account customers? No. Would that have been useful? Absolutely! Is there any real help “out there”? No, not really. So here goes.

Paying customers might do well to look at established conventional platforms such as WebEx, GoToMeeting or Intercall. Maybe they already have, as I did. Integration with conventional telephone conferencing still tends to beat IP audio for significant numbers – especially where bandwidth is being used to stream presentation content or video as well.

But others will still want to look for Free. There’s not much help out there – and discovery is complicated because “free” in searches often only means “free for a time-limited trial”. One review which claimed to be of free conferencing software covered only trials of this kind. The Web Conferencing Zone has a review article, but it’s nearly five years out of date. Of its three suggested services, two (Dimdim and Lotus Unyte) are no longer available and the third (Share from PowWow) I couldn’t check because I got “server not responding” errors. But the Zone itself is worth a browse.

There are a couple of real suggestions in Links (below) based on Google search; I haven’t checked them in any detail, but they both claim to be free for ever; and both have reasonable online summaries of features including maximum concurrent numbers. Any experience, or other suggestions, please add comments. Good hunting!

• Acquires Dimdim, PR Newswire, 6 Jan 2011 (interestingly, this statement is not, at the time of writing, available on the site)
• Salesforce opens up Chatter developer preview, ZDnet news, 17 Mar 2010
• Free web conferencing software review – solutions that are truly free, Web Conferencing Zone, 22 Jul 2006
Genuinely free services:
• Vyew free for up to 10 people
• Mikogo free up to 25
Paid services:
• WebEx from Cisco
• GoToMeeting
• Intercall

ITasITis: 2010 in review

This post was auto-generated by WordPress, slightly edited by me (but I haven;t fiddled the stats). One or two surprises: particularly, the ongoing number of hits on the Satyam post I wrote back in April. And interesting links coming in from the Gartner Blog network: I guess some of these are trackbacks, but don’t forget that we provide a structured group of indexes to Gartner Blogs via InformationSpan (link at the right hand side here).

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Fresher than ever.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

In 2010, there were 51 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 176 posts. There were 7 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 4mb.

The busiest day of the year was January 7th with 120 views. The most popular post that day was Gartner update on Burton and AMR.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for satyam case study, satyam scandal case study, case study of satyam, case study on satyam, and case study on satyam scandal.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Gartner update on Burton and AMR January 2010


Satyam: an analyst case study February 2009


About InformationSpan February 2008


Forrester get TechRadar on the road [updated] April 2008


What am I reading? May 2009
1 comment