Click here to close now.


Microsoft Cloud Authors: Jordan Sanders, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Keith Mayer, Jayaram Krishnaswamy

Blog Feed Post

Microsoft Partner Teams Coming Soon

teamsIn the very near future, your client’s criteria for finding a Microsoft Partner for their organization is going to change. Instead of  looking for a firm that has an in-house base of expertise across all of their needs, they might be more interested in whether you play well with others. We all know that Technology is very…. well it’s technical. It always has been. For decades, technology consulting firms have strived to be a one-stop shop for any client’s needs. “Here at Acme I.T. we say From a broken mouse to a custom business process workflow, we can handle that”.

In our firm, we focus exclusively on Microsoft Cloud Solutions. Yet, not a day goes by that a client does not ask me if we can also handle X, Y or Z for them. For many customers, particularly in the midsized business space, there seems to be an assumption that if you know any technology, you must also know every technology. When I tell someone, we are not the guys who can fix their broken mouse, I sometimes sense disappointment that maybe we are not as savvy as they thought we were. I guess that is why so many firms would have answered yes.

VooDoo for all

As technology consultants we are all guilty of supporting the notion that I.T. is Voodoo; a powerful black art, only understood by a few. This has served us well as we now have a vast client base who wouldn’t dare try to figure out what we are doing. “So why do I need all this stuff again?”; “Don’t ask, or the Voodoo gods will make your email stop flowing”. Like patients, who after an incomprehensible diagnosis from their Doctor, do whatever he says in order to prevent some misunderstood, but potentially terrible thing from happening to them. But the real value of Voodoo has been is ability to hide mediocrity. The client has an “I.T.” problem… we may, or may not be qualified to solve it, but fortunately the client has no idea. Our firm would be considered “I.T. Consultants”, but if a client said they were having network problems… well, that’s Voodoo to me. The dollars client’s have spent on highly qualified people, attacking problems for which they are not at all qualified just because it falls under the I.T. umbrella, has to be staggering.

Fake it till ya make it

The imaginary concept of an all-knowing I.T. Consulting firm is starting to show some cracks. Two major drivers are behind this. First, clients are getting smarter. We should have seen that coming. People are curious by nature and skeptical. Tell me that I need to replace my malfunctioning on-premise Exchange with a hosted version, and I not going let your “Because I said so” fly anymore. Nope, I’m gonna go do a little research on my own. Uhoh. This is not good. When I come back and ask if you checked the DNS, I am going to figure out pretty quickly that your recommendation that I move everything was only due to the fact that you don’t know shit about fixing Exchange Servers. Just like Doctors, I.T. Consultants’ opinions are increasingly being challenged by clients. The other major driver? At the same time our clients are getting smarter, we are getting dumber. It’s not that we are literally losing brain cells, rather our brain cells are fully saturated. There is too much to learn and it is changing way too fast.

The Death of the Master Builder

There was a time many years ago that if you wanted to build a house you would hire a Master Builder. Together with a few helpers, he would literally undertake every single task, from clearing the lot to installing the ceiling fans. As systems became more complex, municipalities stepped up and questioned this “Expert in Everything” impact on public safety and started requiring special licenses for certain tasks like electrical and plumbing etc. The Master Builder gave way to the Contractor, who was now required to assemble a team of separate experts to build the same house. The idea that a single firm could obtain all of the licenses, with the knowledge and testing that would be required, was no longer viable. Yet, for years clients have hired “Master I.T. Consultants”.

The Rise of the I.T. Contractor

As a business grows from small to midsized or larger, their I.T. requirements grow exponentially. Business owners may not realize this, but we do. There comes a point were we have to make a choice. Do I provide unqualified help for certain issues and hope I can bullshit my client, or do I confess, that for this particular issue, I do not have the expertise required. This is where the contractor model could come in. I can tell my client, “Yes, I can handle that for you by bringing in another firm with that expertise.”. But this presents its own hurdles. First, am I prepared to tell my client that I don’t know everything there is to know, and have my client start thinking they need to find another firm who knows everything? The other hurdle: what if I bring in another firm and my client likes them better and kicks me to the curb? If you have not built a solid relationship of trust with your client then these are high probabilities.

A Foot in Both Camps

For many years I was in the commercial real estate development business and so I have dealt with many construction contractors on large projects. The successful ones knew how to strike a balance between advocating for me, while supporting their sub-contractors, all in the shadow of the knowledge that a change-order from a sub-contractor usually resulted in additional revenue for the contractor also. The ability to balance these conflicting interests is a skill to be learned by the I.T. Consulting community. I expect my contractor to call out his sub-contractors for shoddy work or falling behind schedule or over-charging for a change in their work. At the same time it is a challenge for me to fully trust that my contractor is doing this as my best interests are not always aligned with his, trust is crucial.

Why is this Inevitable?

At this point many of you may be thinking that I am full of crap and this will not only never happen, but is not even necessary. Fair enough. Let me give you something else to think about. I was looking at the Dynamics CRM Online Roadmap yesterday. In it were five significant waves of enhancements, new features, etc. All five are supposed to land in FY14. I would like to think I am somewhat of an expert in this field, but I confess, I don’t know anything about these new waves, and neither does anybody else, at least not enough to claim expert status. I will have to be in a continuous learning mode just to maintain a level of competency in this one single thing: CRM. I will do this, and many of my contemporaries will also, but you will not. You cannot, because this is just one thing and you are offering 20 things. The rate of change is accelerating at a pace that no one can keep up with more than a few things, and you can’t justify staffing up with experts for all of these things because you don’t have enough continuous demand across all these things, no matter how big you are.

What will this look like?

I foresee a time in the very near future where a client will hire an “I.T. Contractor”, not so much based on their specific domain expertise across all of their needs, but on their ability to manage a team of independent partners, each possessing a high level of domain expertise in their respective fields.  I know, this is supposed to be the role of a CIO. But frankly, particularly in the small and midsized space they either do not exist, or too many are doing a piss poor job. Many of today’s midsized CIOs are Voodoo perpetrators themselves. And if you agree that it is difficult even for us to maintain competency in this fragmented landscape, the corporate CIO has no chance. Yet they continue to try to be Contractors themselves. Even as vain as Donald Trump is, he still hires real contractors to build his buildings.

Vertically Vertical

Microsoft has been preaching that the best way to grow your practice is to focus on an industry vertical. Sound advice indeed, but even this does not solve the issues I described above. Even if you focus on a vertical, their I.T. requirements are just as wide as anybody else’s. I think we will see more and more firms focusing on not only an industry vertical, but also a platform vertical. Like a Manufacturing/CRM consultant, or a Healthcare/SharePoint expert. There are an awful lot of combinations there to me made. But could you find enough work in a niche of a niche? Well, if the consultants who are currently trying to fill those requirements with incompetence, instead embraced Partner Teaming, this would absolutely work and be the best solution for the client. I get calls all the time, mostly from India, asking if we need any SharePoint help from their 600 person staff, this does not impress me. But imagine thousands of smaller firms, each specializing in a vertical and platform, and assembling an absolute all-star team to serve a client.

Hmm… so how do we get from here to there?

Let me know your thoughts on my prognostications below.

Source: Microsoft Partner Teams Coming Soon Forceworks

Read the original blog entry...

@ThingsExpo Stories
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" in this scenario: microservice A (releases daily) depends on a couple of additions to backend B (re...
I recently attended and was a speaker at the 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center. I also had the opportunity to attend this event last year and I wrote a blog from that show talking about how the “Enterprise Impact of IoT” was a key theme of last year’s show. I was curious to see if the same theme would still resonate 365 days later and what, if any, changes I would see in the content presented.
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Ben Perlmutter, a Sales Engineer with IBM Cloudant, demonstrated techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, faster user experience, both offline and online. The focus of this talk was on IBM Cloudant, Apache CouchDB, and ...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application delivery by allowing increasingly popular Mobile Backend-as-a-Service (mBaaS) platforms to quickly crea...
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical to maintaining positive ROI. Raxak Protect is an automated security compliance SaaS platform and ma...
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Yet a closer inspection at the data reveals less than half of these cloud projects involve production...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound cha...
We are rapidly moving to a brave new world of interconnected smart homes, cars, offices and factories known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Sensors and monitoring devices will touch every part of our lives. Let's take a closer look at the Internet of Things. The Internet of Things is a worldwide network of objects and devices connected to the Internet. They are electronics, sensors, software and more. These objects connect to the Internet and can be controlled remotely via apps and programs. Because they can be accessed via the Internet, these devices create a tremendous opportunity to inte...
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context with p...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
Just over a week ago I received a long and loud sustained applause for a presentation I delivered at this year’s Cloud Expo in Santa Clara. I was extremely pleased with the turnout and had some very good conversations with many of the attendees. Over the next few days I had many more meaningful conversations and was not only happy with the results but also learned a few new things. Here is everything I learned in those three days distilled into three short points.
DevOps is about increasing efficiency, but nothing is more inefficient than building the same application twice. However, this is a routine occurrence with enterprise applications that need both a rich desktop web interface and strong mobile support. With recent technological advances from Isomorphic Software and others, rich desktop and tuned mobile experiences can now be created with a single codebase – without compromising functionality, performance or usability. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, demonstrated examples of com...
As organizations realize the scope of the Internet of Things, gaining key insights from Big Data, through the use of advanced analytics, becomes crucial. However, IoT also creates the need for petabyte scale storage of data from millions of devices. A new type of Storage is required which seamlessly integrates robust data analytics with massive scale. These storage systems will act as “smart systems” provide in-place analytics that speed discovery and enable businesses to quickly derive meaningful and actionable insights. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Paul Turner, Chief Marketing Officer at...
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bruce Swann, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Adobe Campaign, explored the key ingredients of cross-channel marketing in a digital world. Learn how the Adobe Marketing Cloud can help marketers embrace opportunities for personalized, relevant and real-time customer engagement across offline (direct mail, point of sale, call center) and digital (email, website, SMS, mobile apps, social networks, connected objects).
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, exploreed the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
Two weeks ago (November 3-5), I attended the Cloud Expo Silicon Valley as a speaker, where I presented on the security and privacy due diligence requirements for cloud solutions. Cloud security is a topical issue for every CIO, CISO, and technology buyer. Decision-makers are always looking for insights on how to mitigate the security risks of implementing and using cloud solutions. Based on the presentation topics covered at the conference, as well as the general discussions heard between sessions, I wanted to share some of my observations on emerging trends. As cyber security serves as a fou...
Continuous processes around the development and deployment of applications are both impacted by -- and a benefit to -- the Internet of Things trend. To help better understand the relationship between DevOps and a plethora of new end-devices and data please welcome Gary Gruver, consultant, author and a former IT executive who has led many large-scale IT transformation projects, and John Jeremiah, Technology Evangelist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), on Twitter at @j_jeremiah. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.