By Marvin Goodman
On Tuesday, 29 April 2014 (at 3:45 pm Las Vegas time) Ben Stern and Peter Marshall will be presenting a session at the IBM Impact2014 conference entitled “Service Management SaaS: Not Your Daddy’s IBM.” If you go to the conference, be sure to attend this session, but don’t let them take credit for coining that “Daddy” line. Because I got barked at for slipping it into an interview video, I should at least get the credit for coming up with it if it goes viral.
Ben and Pete pledge to tell us how their company is addressing the shift to SaaS by delivering business value to both their customers and business partners via a “SaaS First” strategy for their portfolio of Service Management offerings. They’re promising to “help IT practitioners build and manage next generation applications and infrastructure better, faster, and with dramatically less effort.” I'll leave it to Ben and Pete to discuss IBM’s specific implementation of these plans at Impact2014, but what sort of market forces are they alluding to here, that would cause them to put Dear Old Dad’s IBM out to pasture?
In explaining this shift to our business leaders, we’ve been getting a lot of mileage out of a “wave” metaphor. If the beach is the place where business applications reside – an endless series of colored umbrellas and beach blankets perhaps – then the ocean is the world of businesses using those applications as part of their revenue stream. Think of a teeming sea of application developers, line-of-business owners, IT Operations professional and so on. How do those sea creatures (it’s possible that this may not be the most flattering metaphor guys… sorry for that) connect to the apps that their customers are using? Via waves of course! And we’ve seen the nature of those waves change as part of various historical cycles.
Now, let’s assume that some sort of far-away weather event has generated some new and different waves, and a few watchful surfers (the proverbial “early adopters”) have eagerly started riding those waves, and are thoroughly enjoying themselves. In today’s digitally connected, social world, they won’t be alone for long. Word will spread quickly, and the wave will soon be full of folks capitalizing on the great conditions to have a blast.
Having all but worn out that metaphor now, I trust that you’ve seen where I’m going with this analogy. As an energetic, opportunistic group of application stakeholders has proven the viability of Cloud application development and deployment, ever larger enterprises have gone way beyond taking notice, and are executing plans – at various paces – to move more and more of their applications out of their traditional data centers and onto “The Cloud.” Small operations may have launched on the Cloud out of necessity – it’s hard to build a proper data center in your Mom’s garage – but the drivers of Cloud adoption are largely the same for a small or a giant enterprise:
Reduce capital spending.
Deploy applications (and updates) very quickly.
Move application workloads in response to business conditions or global opportunities.
Grow and shrink dynamically, in response to sudden changes in demand.
Easy for non-administrator types to use, with intuitive interfaces that make sense to people that aren’t monitoring experts.
As enterprise IT budgets have changed, and as they have been forced to keep up with nimble, customer-friendly applications quickly spun up on the Cloud by new competitors, they have realized that they need to be on this wave as well. The result, as you’ve doubtless noticed, is a movement by large companies to spin up private Platform as a Service instances, or to move workloads to public clouds, often decentralizing IT to a degree and telling individual lines of business to go forth and host applications where it best meets their needs and budget. We’ve been reading about this for some time.
The “Not Your Daddy’s IBM” line comes from a parallel dynamic now impacting the software vendors that cater to those large corporations, and have traditionally served as their application and infrastructure management vendors. Sure, they’re all smart people, and they saw this wave coming, but the majority of their customers weren’t on the wave yet, so their business imperative was to remain focused on their existing customer base, while a crop of new SaaS-based vendors emerged to quickly seize control of the Cloud Application Performance Management space.
Things sure have changed over the last year or so. In 2012, survey data showed that less than 10% of application development by large enterprises was done on the Cloud. In less than two years, that number has leaped to 39%, a dizzying growth rate. As that number surged upward, we watched traditional enterprise APM vendors start to ride that wave, building new solutions or adapting legacy ones to cater to that paradigm and its stakeholders. What exactly does that mean? For a SaaS-only vendor, or one that only has to support modern Cloud workloads, it’s not a terribly daunting proposition. Enterprise vendors, however, have to balance ongoing support for that legacy customer base (or would be foolish not to) while still investing in modernizing their portfolio for the new Cloud paradigm.
But far more importantly than being able to do both of these types of Application Performance Management, is the need to do hybrid APM. In other words, those enterprise customers are rarely going to switch over to Cloud application development and deployment all at once, meaning that they'll need to monitor those modern workloads at the same time that they’re monitoring legacy workloads still running in their data centers, often connected to those customer-facing Cloud applications as their back end. We’re watching traditional APM vendors tackle this dichotomy with a mixture of organic development and acquisition, but in either case, the goal must be not to have both types of APM solutions in their portfolio, but be able to adapt to either type of application deployment with a single solution.
In that respect then, maybe the phrase should be “Not Just Your Daddy’s IBM.”