Friday, December 20, 2013

ERwin 9.5 shines - partnering with users benefits CA solutions

CA announced the latest version of ERwin at its fourth on-line ERworld 2013 event held November 12-14th. Presentations and announcements can be viewed[1] for free online at: is  worth spending some time there to hear from actual users and IT professionals about how they have benefitted from and leveraged ERwin capabilities.

This blog discusses how CA leveraged customers and increased interaction with them to improve access to the product and explain its value to a growing number and variety of potential users. But first, a short digression about product management tactics that, properly implemented, benefit both customer and vendor.

One consistently beneficial tactic is ‘listen to and understand what the customer is trying to do’. Correct execution requires more insight and effort than what you would first think. What the customer identifies as the solution they want isn’t necessarily what is needed to accomplish what they want.  In that, it is akin to the hoary tactic about ‘partnering’ with your vendor, solution provider, etc. Both ideas have a long history of verbose commitment. ‘Partnering as a strategy’ has been asserted since I was a young Software Product Manager. It had a dubious reputation even then. However, as we’ve remarked before, both are enjoying renewed and enhanced popularity. The good news is that in many cases those embracing these tactics are implementing in all the right ways.

This applies to CA and the latest release of its Data Modeling solution, ERwin 9.5, as a clear example of how both of these maxims are enjoying renewed support and successful implementation. The payoff is evident for both the vendor community and users. For ERwin, this is evident in new features, messaging and marketing. Let’s see what the impact of closer collaboration and partnering with users has done for CA ERwin.

The enhancements in Release 9.5 are in response to the ‘Information Overload’ experienced, not simply by IT, but all professionals. The list of problems themselves is well known, i.e. too much data, too many platforms, diverse sources and formats of data, etc. In addition, it is difficult to extract insightful information from the data; typically that requires not just sophisticated tools but equally educated, scarce professionals. Compounding the problem today, is the accessibility of all this data to users with diverse responsibilities who NEED data-based insights, but lack the ability with analytics.

Many who could profitably use ERwin’s data modeling didn’t recognize what it could do for them or had only a limited knowledge of its capabilities. For example, even among its users, ERwin’s most frequently identified competitor was VISIO, followed by Excel and PowerPoint, all products with far less functionality.

CA now presents ERwin in a way that is understandable to business users. They describe what ERwin does and can do with explicit examples that demonstrate ERwin providing insights into the data to solve business problems.

For example, Facebook wanted to know how many unique users were active at any one time. They had lots of data about logins, active links, etc. that told them from a technical viewpoint about connections. They had no way to define a business user (i.e. unique – as a single entity, not personally). ERwin, by providing insight into the data and its sources, gave Facebook the insight and opportunity, as well as the capability to build a business-relevant model of a user.

Data modeling with ERwin sounds complex and difficult. The ability to provide a centralized business-based view of where the data comes from and resides, a single, consistent view of data relationships and locations is more understandable and makes ERwin a helpful asset. The CA ERwin Web Portal provides an interface that is accessible and understandable across enterprise roles and user teams. It allows data visibility and sharing of analysis and scenarios. It is a key differentiator, made stronger by the three new elements in ERwin 9.5:

  • ERwin Report designer – fully configurable way that makes it easier to share data and resulting insights across enterprise business boundaries;
  • Big Data bridges – access through ERwin’s graphic interface to and integration with multiple Big Data sources and platforms Apache Hadoop adds information sources for business users;
  • Teradata certification -  platform for Data Warehousing projects that supports a key CA technology alliance partner and customer, adds to existing Oracle, DB2, SQL Azure support.

There is much more to ERwin, we recommend that enterprise user, interested in getting the most from their data, take a look at this product.

It requires active listening, interaction, and close attention to clearly understand what the client or customer is trying to accomplish, the problem they want solved or the need to be filled. I’ve learned not to jump too quickly to accept what they ask for as the solution needed. Understanding their goals assures that what we deliver, whether it is advice, support, research, analysis or services, is most effective for and useful to that client.

The point of all this is that vendors and users are becoming more closely linked. The consumerization of IT and penetration of social media provide more opportunities for interaction and collaboration that benefits both. The partnership between vendors, channel and technology partners and the consumer provide a rich ground for cooperative efforts that will benefit all three. In the case of CA Technologies and ERwin 9.5, the results are evident in product messaging that makes it easier to recognize by a larger set of potential users who need it. Additionally, the new product capabilities make it both easier to use and more effective in application for its users.

Overall, we are pleased to see productive collaboration between vendors and customers. It is both highly welcome and much needed.

[1] Available until February13, 2014

HP Cloud Announcements Target Enterprise Reality

By Bill Moran

HP has finally gotten really serious about its cloud offerings, which is a very good move for them and the industry.  After all, they have been a major industry force for decades. Not all of their initiatives have worked out and the company has certainly seen turmoil in its management. However, things seem to have settled down, thus allowing HP to more closely focus attention on offerings for the next several years including, most definitely, cloud.

HP’s basic Cloud strategy is unchanged, i.e. to be the leader in the hybrid cloud space for enterprises. They assume customers operate in highly heterogeneous environments, and need solutions that reduce operational and management complexity. Their plan is to deliver full support for hybrid clouds with hardware, software, management tools and a full suite of consulting services. HP will create an enterprise-class public cloud as part of its hybrid cloud strategy – on a single platform (Cloud OS / OpenStack) and able to be managed from a single pane of glass.

HP recognizes that multiple companies are offering cloud services and their plans must reflect situational reality. Most enterprises operate a mix of traditional IT, internally built clouds and external clouds from different vendors. Some clouds will have been installed by user departments without involving central IT. Most IT staffs struggle at managing the mix. HP plans are specifically targeted and designed to cope with this “mess” or “hybrid hell” as HP puts it. We believe customers will welcome with open arms a vendor that successfully delivers on that promise.

HP’s own Cloud offering is built on OpenStack, of which are an original member and major contributor (with IBM, Rackspace, Red Hat, Dell and many others). Oracle has recently joined.

Another view of this situation sees the rest of the industry joining forces against Amazon. Over time it will be an interesting test of an Open Source platform against a proprietary solution. Customers will benefit from this competition.

Starting from an OpenStack base, HP will test and add to create an enterprise-ready product; tested to assure strong performance on their hardware. Although not significantly different from what others are doing, it leverages HP’s experiences and understanding of enterprise customers’ needs.  Many companies offering public clouds today have little or no real experience in selling to or satisfying the enterprise market. HP does.

The IT industry is subject to periodic enthusiastic waves of interest in new technologies. But, there should be no doubt that no single technology can satisfy all requirements. Not all workloads will run in and benefit from the cloud.  HP has identified six workloads that they believe will benefit and where they will focus their efforts: 
  1. Development and test
  2. Cloud Apps delivery and hosting
  3. Analytics
  4. Business continuity and compliance
  5. Technical computing
  6.  IT infrastructure

 HP uses these workloads to further classify the type of customer jobs they address. Their added-value comes from helping customers develop the right strategies to apply cloud technology to solve workload issues.

Let’s now turn to the five just announced products and services. See Table 1.
New Cloud Offerings
             Offering                                                  Comment
Hybrid Cloud Professional Services
Key component of HP’s Strategy
New HP Cloud
Built on OpenStack
Virtual Private Cloud
Gives choice of physical and virtual configurations, network, etc.
Management Platform for Hybrid Cloud
Needed to control heterogeneous Clouds
HP Flexible Capacity
Not really a Cloud offering but fits in well.
Table 1

The last two offerings merit a few words. HP’s Cloud management platform includes HP Cloud Service Automation version 4 for automated management of both public and private cloud environments. A key attraction of HP offerings is their ability to co-exist and work with third-party tools in heterogeneous public clouds e.g. mixing HP, Amazon and Microsoft clouds.

Support for hybrid clouds means a customer can manage multiple vendors’ SLAs.  If this lives up to HP’s promises, it will be a clear winner and very attractive to customers. It is a major step toward reducing the complexity of multiple cloud offerings.

HP’s Flexible Capacity Services allows a customer to install HP equipment in their datacenter while HP retains title to the equipment. The customer pays only for the usage not ownership. This may become an attractive offering; but, contract details will determine the real payoff.  It will take time to determine how this will work in practice.

We like HP’s acknowledgement that they are unlikely to be the sole choice as a cloud provider in today’s rapidly maturing market. This reality-based view and the resulting solutions portfolio will help to gain them a presence in many shops.

Friday, December 13, 2013

HP's Evolving Cloud Approach

In anticipation of its HP Discover 2013 user conference, HP pre-briefed industry analysts about their upcoming Cloud announcements. As expected, HP is announcing several new solutions in its Cloud lineup. And, although the announcements were the focus of the pre-briefing, what I found most interesting was the change in HP’s strategy and approach. (For those interested in the announcements, look for my colleague, Bill Moran’s blog.) Much of HP’s overall cloud strategy had not changed. However, I detected a subtle change in approach, which is noteworthy for HP customers and watchers.

HP is sharpening its focus on Cloud. They now have a dedicated HP Cloud business unit, a core cloud R&D and product team, a centralized solutions sales organization, alignment of partner programs, and aligned marketing.  For their Cloud business unit, they’ve brought in personnel from outside HP (for example, Microsoft) as well as from other parts of HP. Also of note, HP has made a “significant increase” in investment across all functions. (Note that Meg Whitman mentioned HP’s need for investment about a year ago.) 

HP also discussed its approach for this year’s HP Discover. One aspect of its approach is speaking to customers in terms of their challenges and solution needs, instead of how HP is organized internally. In the past, HP typically spoke about products, features and functions. (As vendors, they were not alone in this practice.) If they are successful in communicating with customers in a customer-centric way, it represents a welcome change for HP.

In its overall approach, HP is aligning its cloud solutions around key customer workloads. These workloads are: Dev/Test and Run, Cloud application delivery and hosting, business analytics, business continuity and compliance, technical computing, and IT infrastructure. Coalescing around typical customer workloads will make their solutions more relevant and actionable for customers running those workloads. 

In addition, their Cloud messaging this year is tighter, with a single cloud theme and sub-themes. In contrast to their Cloud briefings in the past, which sometimes seemed like a litany of product announcements cobbled together into a presentation, with a high level marketecture to tie them together. In the past, there was a missing layer in the middle that could have connected the high level messages and the product details into a coherent message that addressed customer needs. It seems that HP has now found that missing intermediary layer. Perhaps I’m reading too much in-between the lines. But, the improved alignment in messaging likely results from HP’s more centered focus on Cloud and its Cloud-focused business unit, in contrast to its previous loosely connected cross-company initiative.
In general, HP’s approach, which includes its cloud messaging and focus on the customer, is not necessarily new in the industry. But, what is significant is that it is new for HP -- shifting focus from speaking about technology to focusing on customer needs. The focus on the customer and what the customer wants is a welcome and much needed change for HP. However, making this change is easier said than done. It requires a change in perspective as well as approach. Only time will tell if HP will be successful in making this transition, not just at the top of their organization and messages, but it must be deeply absorbed by all sales teams and partners. If they are successful, the payoff will be significant not just for HP, but their customers and potential customers as well.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

HP Converged Systems – simplify and speed time-to-value

 By Bill Moran, Rich Ptak

HP has announced fully integrated systems, including some of which are solution-specific systems. They call the family Converged Systems. Thus, HP joins IBM and Oracle to provide systems delivered to the customer’s location in very close to production-ready status. The big attraction is that the integration work no longer falls on customer shoulders. Instead, all the connecting and testing of the hardware is completed before shipping. HP does the background work to assure that the hardware layers converge. Customers can choose a ready-to-run VMware or Microsoft system.

HP’s goal is to simplify the entire process of configuring, ordering, installing, testing and operating the system. They have done significant work in each area to make this happen. The initial announcement is for three standard systems. These are the HP ConvergedSystem 300, the HP ConvergedSystem 700 and the 700X. They differ in the number of supported virtual machines. The 300 normally supports 50-300 VMs. The 700 supports 100-1000+ VMs. The 300 will include a VMware environment, while customers for the 700 will have a choice of a Microsoft or a VMware hypervisor. 

In addition to the three standard systems, HP will offer four specialized systems. The first is the HP ConvergedSystem 100 for Hosted Desktops. It is a Moonshot system providing desktop support in conjunction with Citrix. The next is the HP ConvergedSystem 300 for Vertica. This system offers big data processing with powerful analytics. HP also offers the HP AppSystem for SAP HANA. It leverages SAP’s in-memory technology to provide a platform for high speed database work.

The last item discussed is the HP CloudSystem, their next generation cloud offering. It offers a hybrid cloud based on OpenStack technology to reduce vendor lock-in risks. It will be aligned with HP’s new OneView infrastructure management software.

By standardizing configurations, and keeping them simple, particularly in the case of the 300, HP aims to drastically shorten the time to configure, order and move systems into production. HP is quoting a typical time of 20 days from the time of the order till the system shows up at the customer location. HP has allowed 2 days at the customer site to make the system ready for production. As might be expected, for the 700X, which offers more flexibility, things are not quite as simple and will likely take longer depending on the choices made by the customer.

A new financial model is as important as ordering simplicity and quick delivery. Here the goal is also to make it as painless as possible. HP offers a fixed payment model starting as low as $2,250 per month. Customers can grow their systems with expansion modules for as little as $550 per month. Customers can also add a utility payment model with HP Flexible Capacity Services.

HP is offering ConvergedSystem customers a free upgrade to HP OneView management software in 2014. HP already sells this software for its blades and ProLiant systems. Frost & Sullivan has recognized HP OneView with an award for excellence[1].

HP identified key applications it expects customers to run on these systems. For these, they developed application maps, called App Maps. These contain work load configuration and operational details for key software to speed implementation. Initially, these are available for SQL Server, Exchange, and SharePoint. App Maps allow HP to leverage its increasing best practices experience and expertise.

We like what HP has done with these new systems. Their efforts to simplify the ordering and other processes necessary to move a new system all the way to production appear successful. They also have available appropriate consulting services to handhold less experienced customers.

They will be adding more solution software to their converged systems as time goes by. Their new OneView software will be useful for customers to manage their infrastructure including Cloud when it becomes available. We think that HP will have real success in the marketplace with these systems.

IBM provides a new view (VUE) on charging for software

By Bill Moran

IBM is offering a new way to charge for software on the mainframe. For specific software, customers will have the choice to either pay a monthly license charge or to pay a one-time charge. The idea behind the new charging methodology is to give customers a choice to move software costs for certain types of projects from the operating budget to the capital budget. The plan is not mainly to cut customer costs for IBM software, as we will see, but in some cases that could very well be the result.

IBM is trying to encourage several new workload types on the mainframe by making them eligible for this charging approach. The desired workloads include the following:
·                 mobile support
·                 analytics
·                 business rules
·                 integration
·                 new batch work usually implemented in Java.

The workloads will use one or more of the following IBM software products:
·                 CICS Transaction Server for z/OS Value Unit Edition V5.1
·                 IMS Database Value Unit Edition V13
·                 Websphere MQ for z/OS Value Unit Edition V7.1
·                 DB2 for z/OS Value Unit Edition

The DB2 Value Edition has been around for a considerable time; IBM says that they have 100 customers using the product.

When implemented, these products will run in a special LPAR called zNALC. Before you ask, the NALC stands for New Application License Charge. However, IBM says that the software code for the value unit editions is identical to the code in the monthly license versions. This means that if, for example, the staff is trained in the normal version of CICS, there is no training or adjustment period needed to use the VUE edition. It also should be no difficulty integrating the two versions even though they run in different LPARs.

Let’s discuss some of the rules surrounding this new offering. IBM says that the OTC for these new products will be approximately equal to 50 months of monthly charge. The customer will also pay a software subscription fee and a maintenance fee. The subscription fee entitles the customer to get any new product releases. The customer will need to estimate the maximum resource utilization of the products. The OTC is based on this estimate. If, when the application reaches production status it exceeds this resource limit, the OTC will need to be renegotiated. This license will be reviewed by IBM on a yearly basis.

However, there is another condition that is potentially financially beneficial to the customer. There is a reduced price for the z/OS that runs in the special zNALC LPAR. IBM has not provided an indication of the size of the reduction.

The process to apply for IBM approval for the one-time charge license appears to quite simple; therefore little is lost by making the effort. We think that most customers will keep new projects in production for more than 50 months. Therefore they may really save the long term. However, it is necessary to consider a number of other factors to be sure. For example, review the cost of capital, tax impact, etc. to determine potential saving. Still, the mere flexibility of moving software cost off the operations budget and to the capital budget might be worthwhile in itself.