Click here to close now.

Welcome!

.NET Authors: Greg O'Connor, Aria Blog, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Hovhannes Avoyan

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
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
As organizations shift toward IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection &E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships, will discuss how to cut costs, scale easily, and unleash insight with CommVault Simpana software, the only si...
Hadoop as a Service (as offered by handful of niche vendors now) is a cloud computing solution that makes medium and large-scale data processing accessible, easy, fast and inexpensive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Kumar Ramamurthy, Vice President and Chief Technologist, EIM & Big Data, at Virtusa, will discuss how this is achieved by eliminating the operational challenges of running Hadoop, so one can focus on business growth. The fragmented Hadoop distribution world and various PaaS solutions that provide a Hadoop flavor either make choices for customers very flexible in the name of opti...
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
Cloud data governance was previously an avoided function when cloud deployments were relatively small. With the rapid adoption in public cloud – both rogue and sanctioned, it’s not uncommon to find regulated data dumped into public cloud and unprotected. This is why enterprises and cloud providers alike need to embrace a cloud data governance function and map policies, processes and technology controls accordingly. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems, will focus on how to set up a cloud data governance program and s...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, had reached 30,000 page views on his home page - http://RobertoMedrano.SYS-CON.com/ - on the SYS-CON family of online magazines, which includes Cloud Computing Journal, Internet of Things Journal, Big Data Journal, and SOA World Magazine. He is a recognized executive in the information technology fields of SOA, internet security, governance, and compliance. He has extensive experience with both start-ups and large companies, having been involved at the beginning of four IT industries: EDA, Open Systems, Computer Security and now SOA.
HP and Aruba Networks on Monday announced a definitive agreement for HP to acquire Aruba, a provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise, for $24.67 per share in cash. The equity value of the transaction is approximately $3.0 billion, and net of cash and debt approximately $2.7 billion. Both companies' boards of directors have approved the deal. "Enterprises are facing a mobile-first world and are looking for solutions that help them transition legacy investments to the new style of IT," said Meg Whitman, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of HP...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
Operational Hadoop and the Lambda Architecture for Streaming Data Apache Hadoop is emerging as a distributed platform for handling large and fast incoming streams of data. Predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and Internet-of-Things analysis are examples where Hadoop provides the scalable storage, processing, and analytics platform to gain meaningful insights from granular data that is typically only valuable from a large-scale, aggregate view. One architecture useful for capturing and analyzing streaming data is the Lambda Architecture, representing a model of how to analyze rea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Vitria Technology, Inc. will exhibit at SYS-CON’s @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Vitria will showcase the company’s new IoT Analytics Platform through live demonstrations at booth #330. Vitria’s IoT Analytics Platform, fully integrated and powered by an operational intelligence engine, enables customers to rapidly build and operationalize advanced analytics to deliver timely business outcomes for use cases across the industrial, enterprise, and consumer segments.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Open Data Centers (ODC), a carrier-neutral colocation provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Open Data Centers is a carrier-neutral data center operator in New Jersey and New York City offering alternative connectivity options for carriers, service providers and enterprise customers.
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
PubNub on Monday has announced that it is partnering with IBM to bring its sophisticated real-time data streaming and messaging capabilities to Bluemix, IBM’s cloud development platform. “Today’s app and connected devices require an always-on connection, but building a secure, scalable solution from the ground up is time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone,” said Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub. “PubNub enables web, mobile and IoT developers building apps on IBM Bluemix to quickly add scalable realtime functionality with minimal effort and cost.”
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...