Archive for June 2011

Today, Cisco announced AppHQ, a corporate-focused Android app store for its Cius tablet.

What makes AppHQ different from the consumer app-based open source Android Marketplace is that AppHQ’s applications will focus primarily on the enterprise market and unique corporate mobile use cases (and not just tablet versions of corporate applications). For example, many AppHQ apps will be vertically oriented, i.e., focused on medical, field service, campus workers and corporate executives – and that will be a great differentiator for Cisco and allow the company to stretch its lead over Microsoft and other competitiors.

See the Yankee Group report “Cisco Expands its Communications and Collaboration Portfolio with Cius and AppHQ” for further analysis.

Think of AppHQ as a business oriented Android marketplace.

Last year at Cisco Live, the company launched its Cius tablet (see “Zeus on Cius” blog). Today Cisco announced the AppHQ ecosystem, which provides the unique mobile experience for the tablet. AppHQ is an enterprise-focused repository for tablet-based applications. Think of AppHQ as a business oriented Android marketplace, which will have both a public and private element to it. I look at AppHQ as Cisco’s best attempt to get the Cisco Developer Network (CDN) program finally going.

The reason I think CDN is so important to Cisco is that it moves Cisco from being an ecosystem-supported company to being an ecosystem-led company. For years now, Cisco has been surrounded by a huge ecosystem of companies that support Cisco. This includes management platforms, testing tools and other things that make deploying or managing Cisco environments easier. Cisco is the lead and the ecosystem supports it.

I was on a flight earlier this week and watched one of my favorite movies – Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. It made me think about how the movie, and even the original TV shows that dated back to the 60, gave us a look into where technology was going and indeed has gone today.  I’d like to point out some of the more advanced technologies in Star Trek.

  • Virtual resource mobility. About a quarter of the way through the movie, the Reliant attacks the Enterprise and Mr. Scott tells Admiral Kirk that he’s diverting all power to life support.  A few moments later he diverts the power to phasers as they attack back.  Juxtapose the fluidity of IT resources that the Enterprise has compared to current IT environment.  Mr. Scott was able to move a compute resource — power — to the system that required it most, as business policy dictates from a centralized management console.  If Mr. Scott had to go manually move from silo to silo, the Enterprise could not have been agile enough to respond competitively.  This is a great example of why organizations should look to virtualization and pooling their own IT resources.

Last week the White House announced that Vivek Kundra, the first ever federal government CIO, will leave his position in August.  Prior to Kundra, federal IT was considered about as aggressive as Lebron James in the NBA finals.  When Kundra took over that post in 2009, he became best known for his “cloud first” policy for all federal agencies, which resulted in a plan to shut down over 800 federal data centers.

However, it’s worth noting that he modernized the federal government in many other ways.  One of Kundra’s initiatives was to modernize the government through consumer technologies like iPads and Google mail.  At Yankee Group, the consumerization of IT is one of our primary research areas and Kundra’s ability to consumerize the government is taking that to the extreme.

So where does the government go from here?  Whoever is named the successor to Kundra cannot take their foot off the gas.  For the first time ever, the US government has the opportunity to show the world “what’s possible” when it comes to technology.  There will be some challenges to come for Federal IT between CIOs but that doesn’t mean the brakes will be put on.  Life goes on and so should the modernization of the Federal government.

As IPv6 rolls out, IPAM is becoming a core component of any IT operations strategy.

Last week the industry celebrated World IPv6 Day and it started me thinking about what kind of impact IPv6 will have. We’re closer than we ever have been before from moving IPv6 from this visionary thing way out in the future to something real that organizations need to deal with. Combine this with the other factors such as an explosion in endpoints from M2M, unified communications, tablet computing and data center automation, and it moves IPAM from being a nice-to-have to a need-to-have for IT departments.

Back in the day, when I was an engineer, IPAM was used by the largest or most disciplined organizations, but many of us managed by spreadsheet. Managing by spreadsheet wasn’t the best idea but it worked when we were using v4 addresses, the number of IP enabled end points was less than 1 to 1, and our infrastructure was static. Today the number of devices per worker is easily 3 to 1 and some estimate it to be as high as 7 to 1. Even at the low end that’s a 300% increase. Virtualization, data center automation and mobility mean that our IP addresses are on the move as well, which makes tracking them very difficult to near-impossible. Lastly, IPv6 addresses are much longer and more difficult to deal with than IPv4 ones. It’s definitely time for IPAM.

A school district requires iPads–for kindergartners.

The concept of consumerization is gaining momentum in many organizations today. Bringing consumer devices to work promises to change the way we work, learn and live. The potential exists for this to be among the biggest technology shifts of our lifetime. As great as this trend seems, I’m not sure if we’ve taken the time to ask, can this shift be taken too far and what are the potential risks involved?

The local school system in the Massachusetts town where I live, the Ashburnham-Westminster school district, may have gone too far and too fast. The school district is proposing a mandate that all students coming into Kindergarten next year must have an iPad and bring it to school daily. Not high school or middle school or even older elementary school kids, but only kindergartners. That’s right, the same kindergartners that are learning how to line up will bring tablets to school. Not any generic tablet either, specifically Apple iPads, the Cadillac of tablets.

One of the most important changes in scaling corporate data center has been the evolution of the application delivery controller (ADC).  The ADC bridges the network and application environments together.  By having the ADC at this strategic control point, organizations are able to scale their data center infrastructure without disrupting the service to the user.

As we move more and applications and infrastructure to the cloud, the ADC will play a similar role in scaling the cloud.  As more traffic moves to and from the cloud, the ADC will play an increasingly important role in ensuring that this can happen without degradation of performance.  That much is well understood.  What’s not well understood is what the form factor of the ADC should be.

Many of the data center appliance vendors have shifted their strategy to build virtual versions.  The thought being that if the server and storage infrastructure is virtual, and then so should be all of the appliances that sit around it.  This would include ADCs, WAN optimizers, security devices and other functions that surround the server infrastructure.

However, before the industry proclaims, “All hail the virtual appliance”, it’s important to understand there are some limitations to the model of the virtual appliance.  With the ADC playing such a key role, it’s critical that cloud providers understand where these limitations are.

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