Big Bet #1 – SharePoint 2013 Migrations and Hybrid Environments

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

SharePoint 2013 Migrations and Hybrid Environments

2014 will be a significant year for companies making a move to SharePoint 2013 and getting some of their SharePoint Infrastructure out to the “Cloud”.

Being in the Cloud has the promise of lowering dedicated infrastructure and personnel cost to keep the environment running. It also has the promise of always being on the latest version of SharePoint to get all the latest bells and whistles without the headaches of performing major version upgrades/migrations. SharePoint is entering a new era of enterprise software in the Cloud that has version updates on a scale of multiple times a year vs. every 3 years. Software is moving at a fast pace that demands a Software as a Service strategy (like Yammer is today). To stay competitive, SharePoint is moving to the Cloud to provide customers the benefit of the most current version of SharePoint and not have customers be left behind on a version that was deployed 3-6 years back in their own infrastructure.

Here are some numbers from a recent AIIM White Paper on SharePoint 2013:

9% of smaller organizations plan to move all of their SharePoint content to the 365 cloud, compared to 2% of mid-sized and 3% of largest. 29% overall are looking to a hybrid cloud, but half of these will use a third-party or private cloud, not 365. 24% are not going to cloud, and 43% are undecided. 20% are currently using Exchange 365, but only 8% are using SharePoint 365.

To avoid getting lost in all the terms that are in this post, I have created a quick cheat sheet.

Terms and Terminology

  • SharePoint On-Premises – When the SharePoint Farm is deployed within your company’s infrastructure (i.e. behind your company firewall)
  • SharePoint Online – When SharePoint is being hosted in the Cloud by Microsoft
  • Hybrid – A SharePoint Hybrid Environment is one that incorporates both SharePoint Online and SharePoint On-Premises
  • Azure (aka Windows Azure) – Azure has many services. In the SharePoint world, it can go as far as hosting your VMs for your SharePoint farm, but it is usually where you would host your SharePoint Apps
  • Cloud – A very overloaded term, but look at it as any software or infrastructure service that is not running within your company’s internal infrastructure (SharePoint Online – Microsoft’s Shared Infrastructure for SharePoint is considered in the “Cloud”)

From our experience, most large companies will not completely move to a full Cloud presence for SharePoint, but opt to go with an Hybrid Environment that will include SharePoint Online, On-Premises SharePoint and possibly infrastructure in places like Azure.

Going to a Hybrid Architecture does make your environment more complicated before it becomes simplified, but it is the most prudent step to take to preserve current investments while getting the benefits of SharePoint Online.

Why Invest in Moving to a Hybrid SharePoint Environment?

  • Let Microsoft start managing your server and software upgrades
  • Focus your teams on your business solutions vs. keeping a SharePoint environment healthy
  • Always be on the latest version of SharePoint and move away from expensive and timely migration efforts

Enterprises moving to the Cloud via a dedicated or multi-tenant environment for SharePoint is not a trivial task and is more effort than a traditional SharePoint On-Premises version upgrade.

Moving completely to the Cloud without some intermediate steps typically is not the most feasible path to preserve your current investments in SharePoint. Because some of your investments need to stay in SharePoint On-Premises for a period of time while you transition into SharePoint Online, you need to architect a seamless experience between the On-Premises and Cloud environments. Not only do you have technology considerations when moving to the Cloud, you will have legal implications to consider when organizations need to keep content in an On-Premises SharePoint Environment because that content is being potentially regulated or highly sensitive. This content should stay On-Premises until more appropriate updates to technology and regulations can address your concerns of properly protecting the content.

During this transition you do not want to confuse the customer by having two places for a user to go to for their SharePoint needs. If you decide to move in the direction of a Hybrid SharePoint Environment, you must consider things like:

  • how profiles are managed between your On-Premise and Cloud/Online environments,
  • how single sign-on can be implemented to have one login to authenticate you in both environments and
  • how to search SharePoint content across your On-Premise and Cloud/Online environments in a way that can be optimized for an enriched user experience within your company’s IT infrastructure and security policies.

These are some of the major considerations among several others that will be key to your success. The folks at ThreeWill are passionate about making sure this transition to the Cloud is done right. We also like to figure out how you can make the transition in a way that maximizes your current solutions as you leverage the benefits of being in the Cloud.

We are Here to Help you be Successful with SharePoint Hybrid Environments

We have already helped companies with this transition to Hybrid and SharePoint 2013, and we see 2014 as a big year for us to continue to help companies successfully navigate all the decisions to be made along the way. Our technology team has started sharing some of our experiences with SharePoint Online and Hybrid Environments on our blog (see the office-365 tag for some of our most recent sharing).

As I said earlier, this becomes more complicated before it becomes simplified. This transition will be significant, but getting to the other side will put your company in a position to take advantage of focusing on your business needs and dealing less with the infrastructure of SharePoint. I think most enterprises do not want to become SharePoint Infrastructure and Migration experts, but want to know enough about SharePoint to use the platform to support the success of their core business. SharePoint Online within Office365 moves companies further in that direction.

What do you think?

Any insights on what you are seeing?

Do you think this will be a big thing in 2014?

Leave a comment below to join the conversation.

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Tommy RyanBig Bet #1 – SharePoint 2013 Migrations and Hybrid Environments

What are your SharePoint big bets for 2014? Here are ours…

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

ThreeWill has bet on SharePoint for several years.  We continue to “ante-up” on that bet as we go into 2014.  This is a critical year for enterprises to make the right decisions as it comes to embracing Cloud, Social and Mobile solutions with SharePoint. The Top 5 areas of focus for 2014 at ThreeWill are:

  1. SharePoint 2013 Migrations and Hybrid Environments – How can we help our clients move off of older versions of SharePoint to reap the benefits of the investments that Microsoft has put into SharePoint?  How can we provide clear guidance on beginning to move to the cloud?
  2. SharePoint 2013 Apps – How can we help our clients build collaborative line of business apps on the latest SharePoint release?
  3. Mobile SharePoint Applications – How can we bring SharePoint to the mobile workforce?
  4. Enterprise Social with SharePoint – How can we drive more adoption of SharePoint with the recent advancements in social?
  5. Solution Sustainment – How can we make sure that our clients have a partner that will be around for years to come to make improvements and ad-hoc support for their SharePoint investments?

Each week I will put out another blog that shares our thoughts on why we see these areas of focus as critical for the upcoming year.  A key role that we play for our clients is to make sure they are getting the most leverage out of their investment in SharePoint.  With Microsoft’s move to the cloud and end user’s demand for mobile and social in the way they get work done, we see an incredible opportunity to help our clients. Let us know if you are focusing in on some of the same areas next year.  Cast your vote and see results from others…

I love to hear other perspectives on the ideas we present on our blog.  We welcome everyone into this conversation to affirm or challenge our ideas.  We look to innovate in the area of helping teams “Work Together Better” and that comes from putting your views out there and letting them be challenged and affirmed.  I look forward to the comments. Lastly, if you haven’t heard yet…we are bringing the Fab 40 to SharePoint 2013.  Let us know which templates are your favorite and sign up to be notified when they are released.

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Tommy RyanWhat are your SharePoint big bets for 2014? Here are ours…

Integrated Ecosystems

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Making 1+1=3

At ThreeWill we are all about integrated systems.  We love seeing innovations in enterprise software and get a kick out of pulling together best of breed software into an enterprise solution.  When it comes to building integrations that bring systems together for a larger purpose, our mantra is 1+1=3.  We are always looking to bring synergy into the integration.  Integrations can easily lead to a 1+1 = 0.5 and need to have a healthy product roadmap and proper consulting around the integration to yield the synergy of a 1+1=3 solution.

Seamless integrations are hard to accomplish with enterprise software, but we see the latest standards and platforms laying the foundation needed to create this synergy.  Better SSO strategies (like SAML), standardizing in web protocols (like HTML 5) and cloud based architectures are key elements to approach the asymptote of a seamless integration.  These key enablers need to be pulled together along with a focus on the key use cases that enable the right amount of secure information sharing that shows up at the right place and right time.  Achieving this and keeping this simple and intuitive takes constant refinement and feedback loops from the user community.

Break down Silos with Software Integration

ThreeWill’s view of an integrated ecosystem expands beyond Gartner’s view of the vendor having a tightly controlled single ecosystem of infrastructure and the application stack.  We believe enterprises want to have ways to bring best of breed systems into an integrated solution.  To be competitive in your respective industries, you tend to find that one vendor does not stay innovative enough across the spectrum of needs that are found in a large enterprise.  Users of enterprise software are demanding the features they need to get their job done effectively.  There is a great amount of pressure to get more done with less time and resources to stay competitive.  Having the software that is most effective for your team and at the same time integrated with software used by other teams allows departmental silos to be broken down and allows teams to use the software that works best for their tasks at hand.

In Summary

Our prediction is that in 2013 you will continue to see the trend of more integrations between major platforms allowing the customer to have better options to bring together best of breed software into integrated solutions that facilitate engaged users across departments.

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Tommy RyanIntegrated Ecosystems

Actionable Analytics

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Act on Data Before it Goes Stale

Having the right information available at the right time and right place is key to truly leveraging your enterprise IT investments.  Data in enterprises systems can become stale quickly and hard to find, so you need to employ intelligent ways to channel information to where the data can be actionable.

Use of Device Sensors to Provide Context

One area of innovation that is enabling the proper routing of key data is through the use of intelligent device sensors.  Many mobile devices today come with one or more intelligent sensors.  Mobile phones are definitely incorporating more and more sensors like an accelerometer, gyroscope, GPS, digital compass and soon even a barometer.  It’s crazy to think all these sensors are in our cell phones along with the hardware to record video, take pictures and of course make phone calls.

Device sensors give you context and can provide the right data and the right time to allow the user to take action based on relavent information stored in enterprise database repositories and/or public repositories.

Example of Using Sensors for Context

Imagine you are arriving at at customer’s location and your device’s GPS notices you are within 5 mile of a customer’s office.  You could be pushed a message from your CRM database that indicates the number of open opportunities and contacts for companies within a 5 mile radius of your current location.  This message could come to you at a local Starbucks as you are waiting to meet a new prospect.  Now armed with this information you can make better decisions with your time.  For example, if the new prospect cancels, you can now reach out to your contact at the customer nearby to offer to drop by some coffee since you are in the neighborhood.  This example is to show one way how context can better leverage the enterprise data that is typically underutilized.

There are also other common everyday consumer devices that contain intelligent sensors.  You might not realize it, but mobile headsets are becoming key contextual devices.  Today’s mobile headsets provide context to the caller in a way that bridges the context of the mobile phone (e.g. caller id) and the headset device state (e.g. powered, mute, ringing, position, proximity).  Pulling in device context into applications that serve enterprise needs creates a powerful experience that can influence the effectiveness of “Actionable Analytics”.  This mobile and device state allows applications to layer in more context without the user having to explicitly indicate this state.  The context can flow into the application providing more detail that can be leveraged for channeling the appropriate enterprise data needed in the context of a phone call.

Actionable Data Through Device Context

It is not good enough to show raw data and provide the ability to update that data.  Data needs to be preprocessed and only the relevant data should be served to the consumer of the data.  Filtering data through context allows the consumer of the data to have a higher probability that the data they see in their application is relevant and actionable.  For example, in the case of a mobile phone call, relevant to the person that is on the other side of the line.

We see that applications will have more actionable data if it is filtered through device context.  The signal to noise ratio of the data will be at a higher quality and the data will be more relevant to what the user is doing at that point in time.  We think this lowering of the friction between the user and the data will provide more efficient use of enterprise data, yielding higher return on enterprise software investments.

In Summary

Data needs to be available at the right time and right place to be actionable.  We see that in 2013 there will be more emphasis on data being provided with context.  There is a constant competition for people’s time at work and unless we have more intelligent ways to channel enterprise data, this data will grow stale and loose it’s value resulting in low returns on investment on enterprise software.

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Tommy RyanActionable Analytics

Strategic Big Data

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

Too Much Data and Not Enough Time

Big data is one of the biggest buzz words today in the world of IT.  It is almost used as much as “Cloud”.

As an enterprise integration company, ThreeWill is exposed to big data challenges with many of the Fortune 500 companies.  We see that most large enterprises still have the dream of one “Central Data Repository” and it is close to a futile effort.  The data that supports enterprise’s ability to provide their goods and services is constantly a moving target.  Standardization on software protocols and open APIs contribute to this being a moving target.  This application integration standardization allows best of breed products to be used together to support enterprise IT needs.  Having choices is good for a company, but the side effect is yet another data repository to incorporate into a company’s big data strategy.

This volume of data that comes from a variety of data sources can be quite a challenge to the consumer of the data.  The number of locations and volume of data can lead to users being overwhelmed and not having the time or patience to leverage the appropriate data needed to improve their effectiveness at work.  There needs to be intelligent aggregation and routing of this information so from this big data the user gets the right data at the time they need it.

Simplifying Big Data Through Contextual Intelligence

To not get overwhelmed with big data, we believe that you need to consume big data through “context”.  Real time filters that pick up on the context of your work.  Like an incoming call where your application can pick up on the phone number and then bridge that number with an email address to get into systems like Datahug to find relationships through your email server to find the strong connections that are derived from potentially billions of email messages.

ThreeWill’s product, Popcorn, has it’s crosshairs dead center on the challenge of big data spread across multiple systems.  We are attacking this problem by first connecting with Salesforce (along with Exchange through Datahug).  This is just a starting point for us and we have big plans for incorporating more sources that are proprietary to the company along with public sources like LexusNexis that enable businesses to know more about their customers from public data sources.

“Note that when it comes to the challenge of big data, you need to also consider public data sources leveraged by your business to effectively provide a good or service to your customer.  The challenge of big data is compounded by the need to leverage data from external data sources.  For example, when you look at a CRM system like Salesforce, you need to consider a strategy to integrate what your company knows about your customer or prospect with public sources like LinkedIn and LexusNexus to extend the information captured in CRM”

People today do not have the time to hunt down data.  They need data provided through their context.  ThreeWill sees that “context” will be a strategic component of how enterprises attack their big data challenges.

Learn More

As mentioned in my last “Predictions” Post, you can learn more about “context” through Plantronics’ website where there is a section of their developer community dedicated to Learning about Contextual Intelligence.

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Tommy RyanStrategic Big Data

Internet of Things

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

This is the second of five blog posts on a series entitled “ThreeWill Predictions for 2013.”

What Is the “Internet of Things”?

Gartner’s Strategic Technology Trend for the “Internet of Things” is stated as the following:

“The Internet of Things (IoT) is a concept that describes how the Internet will expand as physical items such as consumer devices and physical assets are connected to the Internet. Key elements of the IoT which are being embedded in a variety of mobile devices include embedded sensors, image recognition technologies and NFC payment. As a result, mobile no longer refers only to use of cellular handsets or tablets. Cellular technology is being embedded in many new types of devices including pharmaceutical containers and automobiles. Smartphones and other intelligent devices don’t just use the cellular network, they communicate via NFC, Bluetooth, LE and Wi-Fi to a wide range of devices and peripherals, such as wristwatch displays, healthcare sensors, smart posters, and home entertainment systems. The IoT will enable a wide range of new applications and services while raising many new challenges.”

How This Impacts Enterprises

The network continues to expand over time with more and more smart devices that contain specialized sensors.  These sensors can provide context to your applications and bring “intelligent” applications to a new level.  This “Internet of Things” is becoming a more prominent part of our company strategy as we see this as enabler for the mantra we have at ThreeWill, which is “does this solution help our customer work together better“.

At ThreeWill our passion is Work Together Better.  As you see front and center on our website our focus is to “… help innovative enterprises work together better by integrating leading collaboration platforms like SharePoint, Jive, and Chatter.”

We believe that in order for enterprises to “Work Together Better” it requires smarter applications.  Applications that can service you the right information at the right time.  For example, using sensors in networked devices to provide context to applications.  Taking that context and creating an intelligent push of information when a sensor in the device intercepts information that is important to the user (like receiving an incoming call on a cell phone).

Yesterday’s Science Fiction is becoming Today’s Non-fiction Reality

I remember talking to a large telecommunication client of ours about the very example of “pharmaceutical containers and automobiles” mentioned by Gartner about 3 years ago and it is so exciting to see cellular technology get to the point of putting intelligence into a pill bottle.  These are things that I remember seeing on science fiction TV shows like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek when I was a kid.  Very exciting to see this become reality.  What I am looking forward to is the Star Trek Transporter so I can avoid Atlanta traffic and easily visit my customers around the world.

Internet of Things and Contextual Intelligence

ThreeWill is diving in head first into contextual intelligence through our collaborative efforts of exploring next generation context aware applications with Plantronics.  Applications today need to take advantage of more than the PC or Laptop.  They need to be reaching to the edges of the network through devices like wearable technology that are incorporated into your everyday life.  One of the most innovative devices we have built a product for is Plantronics’ Voyager PRO UC.  It is an exciting “Internet of Things” device you can incorporate into enterprise solutions.  This device has sensors that detect states of the user and provide a bridge between the user and their laptop.  In our product Popcorn, we leverage the caller id to initiate screen pops of enterprise data that is related to the incoming caller.  This facilitates an intelligent contextual conversation.  The intellectual property of your company is served to you “at the right time and place”.  We are very excited about what our early adopters of this product have said about how this is “magic” and makes there days more effective and efficient.   This bluetooth headset as a value added device has brought life for us Gartner’s “Internet of Things”.

Learn More

If you want to learn more about contextual intelligence, Plantronics’ website has a section of their developer community dedicated to Learning about Contextual Intelligence that is a great place to start.

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Tommy RyanInternet of Things

Personal Cloud

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

This is the first of five blog posts on a series entitled “ThreeWill Predictions for 2013.”

If you step back and think about the “Personal Cloud,” you can definitely see how this has already influenced our digital life at a personal level.  More and more these days you are seeing the ability to access your data on any device (laptop, phone or tablet).  In order for that information to follow you to each of your devices, there has been an emergence of Personal Clouds.  In the consumer world, Personal Cloud examples can be seen through services from photo sharing on flickr to file sharing on Dropbox to note taking on Evernote.  Users do not want to copy this information from device to device.  They want it centrally stored in their personal cloud and in sync with each of their devices.

The beauty of the Personal Cloud is that it not only facilitates multiple device support for applications, but it hosts backup and recovery (not the responsibility of the device).  Cheaper storage and faster more accessible networks have enabled these services to emerge at an affordable price or “free.”  I still am amazed that I have unlimited picture storage with flickr for $24.95 a year (and what is harder to believe is that it was available for that price when I started that back in 2007). These Personal Clouds open up a world of new applications that can be built.

We believe our customers want our solutions to be seamless across devices and allow the user to access information at any time from any device and have that user experience to be intuitive no matter what device you use to access the information.  As application developers, the challenges we face for Personal and Enterprise Clouds are synchronization, data protection, mobile responsive design and local data cache management.  These are key challenges that we look at as we build our applications.

When I refer to “Enterprise Clouds,” I am referencing what is typically meant by the “Cloud,” which is multi-tenant web hosted services for your enterprise data like Salesforce for CRM, Jive for Social and SharePoint Online for CMS.

We look forward to the improvements to our applications that leverage Personal Clouds (Linked In, Twitter, Facebook) and Enterprise Clouds (Salesforce, Jive, SharePoint Online) in the applications we build (like Popcorn).  We believe Personal Clouds will be key to “accessing your information at the right time and the right place.”

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Tommy RyanPersonal Cloud

ThreeWill Predictions for 2013

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

At ThreeWill, we constantly challenge ourselves to look for ways to increase the value of our solutions and products.  As part of this challenge, we are always on the lookout for the next trends in the market.

Our favorite five trends for 2013 are: Personal Cloud, Internet of Things, Strategic Big DataActionable Analytics and Integrated Ecosystems.  Over the next five weeks leading up to the New Year, I would like to share our insights on these five technology trends.  I look forward to sharing that with you and hearing what others think about these insights.

We hope you enjoy this follow up on one of our most popular blog posts, ThreeWill Predictions for 2011.

  • We are ranked in the top 5% of Microsoft partners based on four independent surveys.
  • We have built over ten connectors for SharePoint for over twelve software firms including Atlassian, Jive, and Salesforce.
  • We are a Microsoft Partner with Gold Application Development and Gold Collaboration & Content competencies.
  • We are a Salesforce Product Development Partner.
  • Established in 2001, we are based out of Alpharetta, Georgia (the Technology City of the South).
  • All our consultants are Microsoft certified (many at the highest level), and each has an average of over ten years of Microsoft development and/or product development experience.
  • We have been a part of one of the largest enterprise implementations of SharePoint (over 250K users).
  • We have published books, articles, and have produced materials for Microsoft on technologies such as SharePoint, ASP.NET, C#, Office Development, and InfoPath.
  • Our focus is not just technology, but also project management and effective and agile processes that ensure predictable results.

Partnerships are central to ThreeWill’s success. We have been a Microsoft Gold Partner for over fifteen years. We currently hold the Gold Application Development and Gold Collaboration & Content competency. We are ranked in the top 5% of Microsoft partners based on four independent surveys.

Our promise to our business sponsors:

1. Control – We provide the structure for our clients to control priority of features and budget throughout the lifetime of the project​.

2. Choice – Because we deliver working software every two weeks, we earn our client’s business every two weeks.​

3. Commitment – We take on your challenges like they are our own; you will not find another business partner more committed to your success.

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Tommy RyanThreeWill Predictions for 2013

Cloud Computing Forecast?

John Underwood is a Technical Evangelist at ThreeWill. He has nearly thirty years of software development experience. He is an experienced technical instructor with superior presentation skills and is proficient in delivering standard curriculum as well as developing and delivering custom curriculum.

What’s the forecast for Cloud Computing?

As I sit here authoring this post I’m glancing out the window and looking at nearly 6 inches of snow on the ground. For someone that grew up in the Atlanta area and still lives there, that’s a statement I don’t get to make very often. (Disclaimer: those of you that grew up in colder climates are rolling your eyes and snickering right now; please humor me, I’m still enough of a kid inside to get excited about the rare snowfall here in the South).

I can remember the feeling as a kid at the mere mention of snow in the forecast. I’d make a point to watch the 6 o’clock news to get the forecast from Johnny Beckman or Guy Sharpe on one of the local channels. I can remember the anticipation building up to the big day. I can also remember the feeling when the event failed to live up to the hype (which seemed to happen quite often). There were so many times when it “just missed us.”

My most vivid memories, however, were those times when the weather event exceeded the forecast hype. The winters of 1973 and 1982 come to mind as years where we had major snow or ice storms. While my parents may have hated it, as a kid I was in heaven. No school, sledding, throwing snowballs… I could go on and on.

As a computer geek I can see a similar pattern in the way new technological fronts roll in. I’ve always been enthusiastic about “new things.” I can remember early in my career I would pore over publications like “Info World” or “PC Week” looking for a screen-shot or blurb about the latest, coolest technologies. And, much like the snowy weather, a select few lived up to the hype while many did not.

So, obvious weather metaphors aside, what’s the forecast for Cloud Computing?

It seems right now that there’s a fair amount of misunderstanding about what Cloud Computing actually is. Many seem to equate it to any sort of internet-connected resource (“to the cloud!”). Others say that it’s just another term for outsourcing your IT infrastructure to a third-party. While there are probably nuggets of truth to both of these statements, based on what I learned at a recent cloud computing conference these characterizations miss the true nature of “the cloud”. More than anything it’s about being able to employ computing resources on-demand.

Imagine a consumer-facing company that wishes to run a web-based promotion related to the Superbowl. They anticipate high demand on their servers… but how much? …and for how long? Trying to stand up the necessary server capacity for such an event would involve a lot of educated guessing. Purchasing too many servers would result in wasted money; not purchasing enough would result in a failed promotion, embarrassment, and a loss of reputation to the company. And, even if the planning was perfect, what happens to the servers once the promotion is over? Excess capacity that sits unused still generates utility costs, support costs, etc.

Imagine this same scenario, however, where there was an available computing infrastructure that could provide additional resources on-demand. Additional CPUs, memory, and storage could be brought to bear as needed to meet the demand and, once the demand has subsided, the resources are no longer employed. The company pays only for what it needs. The provider of the cloud services takes on the burden of providing capacity and passes the savings from economy of scale on to its customers.

So then, the forecast about Cloud Computing:

  1. It’s probably not going to completely replace existing infrastructure, but rather enhance it
  2. It’s all about meeting some kind of seasonal spike in demand
  3. It’s about paying just for the computing resources that are needed, and nothing more – CPU, memory, and storage become purchased commodities

Used properly, cloud computing has a real opportunity to exceed the hype. As a developer or IT professional you should consider adding cloud computing to the mix any time you have to meet a spike in demand on computing resources.

And, hopefully, this “forecast” will be a bit more accurate than the ones for snow in the South.

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John UnderwoodCloud Computing Forecast?

ThreeWill Predictions for 2011

Tommy serves as the President at ThreeWill. In this role, he works with his leadership team to hire the best people, find the right business opportunities, and ensure that ThreeWill delivers for our clients on projects.

What A Year…

It’s been an incredible year for ThreeWill. In addition to setting a new company revenue record, we have developed new and deeper relationships with some of the most innovative companies in the world: Jive Software, Accordent, Informative Graphics, Rover Apps and JackBe (to name a few).

When Gartner released the Top 10 Strategic Technologies for 2011 in October, we were excited to see that our clients were leaders in several highlighted trends. We thought that it would be helpful to share some insights as they relate to some of the strategic technologies mentioned in Gartner’s list.

What’s a “Strategic Technology”? From

Gartner defines a strategic technology as one with the potential for significant impact on the enterprise in the next three years. Factors that denote significant impact include a high potential for disruption to IT or the business, the need for a major dollar investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

It just so happens that the first 5 of 10 of the technologies on the list are the ones we will highlight. For each of these technologies, we’ll list the companies to watch along with some predictions for the year.

Top 10 Gartner Strategic Technologies for 2011

#1 – Cloud Computing

Prediction – Just like the magical third version of any Microsoft product, the stars are aligned for Office365 to be a huge success next year.
Microsoft’s Office 365 –

Microsoft has been doing a top-notch job getting their partner community ready for the option of Office in the cloud for their clients. They have been preparing for the transition to the cloud as an option for a couple of years now and from what we are seeing this is the version that will be the tipping point. We believe that support for ISV applications is critical for companies to make the move, and are very hopeful that Microsoft is serious about supporting the ISV community based on what was said by Eric Swift.

As usual, Microsoft will heavily depend on their ecosystem to make Office 365 successful.

To learn more about Office 365 ecosystem and other predictions for SharePoint in 2011, read what Joel Oleson has to say about Office 365 at the top of his 2011 Joel Oleson’s Predictions for SharePoint 2011.

By the way, we just updated our SharePoint Product Development white paper to include a section on Office 365 – read more and download the white paper.

#2 – Mobile Applications and Media Tablets

Prediction – Enterprise users will demand both native mobile apps and mobile access to information normally “locked up” behind firewalls.
Rover Apps –

We recently spent a couple of weeks meeting up with our enterprise clients to discuss mobility. Talk about a hot topic! We have been working with Rover Apps for a SharePoint Connector and are very excited about where this product is going. Imagine getting access to SharePoint content using native apps from a whole host of mobile devices. Mobile users are looking for a simple, but rich user experience. We believe the technology is in place to put low footprint – but highly functional – native mobile application on the devices that people are using today. Many enterprise users have wanted mobile applications, but have given up due to the cost of mobile enablement of applications. We are seeing that technology has caught up to make it affordable to provide mobile to the masses.

#3 – Social Communications and Collaboration

We’ll list two companies for this category, one for Social Communications (Jive Software) and one for Collaboration (Informative Graphics).

Predictions – The enterprise app store with social features will become the new normal for how companies deploy applications and users will demand social features in any new enterprise applications.
Jive Software –

Jive is nailing social business software and the next BIG thing at Jive is the Jive Apps Market. They are definitely betting big here and will enter a new arena of supporting an app market ecosystem of developers along with partners and customers. It is a good thing they have such a great platform for building communities (of course their Developer Support Forum for this initiative is in Jive SBS). We know from first-hand experience that this company has the DNA to take on such a great challenge. We look forward to the innovation they will bring to challenge traditional conventions for making social applications readily available to the enterprise end user.

Predictions – Users will expect to stay in the browser as they collaborate on documents and redaction will be a hot topic as more and more information goes online and is easily searchable.
Informative Graphics –

It is amazing how well Microsoft implemented the first version of Office Web Apps (viewing and editing an Office document like Word in the browser). They have set a high bar for viewing binary documents in the browser. We have found that people expect this for other document types and need to look to third parties for viewing other document types like Autocad files. We have recently worked with Informative Graphics to extend the ability to see binary content through the browser – either through search results or within a document library. We are excited about this extension to SharePoint and see that document viewing and redaction in the browser will enable a new class of applications that yield high business value. And with all the news about WikiLeaks, if you haven’t heard about redaction, you will soon.

#4 – Video

Prediction – Video asset management will be high on the shopping list for most enterprises.
Accordent –

Accordent’s new offering could span a number of these emerging technology areas, but we’ll give them Video all by themselves. Video capture, distribution, and lifecycle management are core Accordent competencies and they have a strong play in the enterprise with their recent release that includes SharePoint and Lync Integration. With the introduction of their SharePoint integration, we think Accordent has filled a large void that SharePoint has had since its inception with Video Asset Management. We think that video asset search and playback has been long overlooked and is defining a new niche within the SharePoint ISV ecosystem.

By the way, Accordent’s support of video user generated content is right in line with where the applications of the future are headed. If you follow Gartner, you will see that they recently stated that “Citizen Developers” will build at least 25 percent of new business applications by 2014.

#5 – Next Generation Analytics

Prediction – Enterprises are tired of big BI projects. Welcome to the age of agile Business Intelligence.
JackBe –

JackBe recently won Development Tool of the Year for 2011. We put them in the Next Generation Analytics bucket because, from recent conversations with enterprises, they have created an unique way to empower organizations to solve their complex Business Intelligence initiatives. Imagine building rich dashboards on the fly that connect to pretty much anything on the back-end. If you haven’t seen what JackBe has to offer, you should.

Innovation in 2011

Most interestingly, we are excited to see what is going to happen when you bring a number of these technologies together. Looks like 2011 is going to be a fun year!

We’d love to hear from you – leave comments about your predictions. Of course, our list is biased toward companies we are working with now so take it as ThreeWill’s view of the world.

All the best in 2011!

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Tommy RyanThreeWill Predictions for 2011