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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How Will IT Support "Cloud" Applications?

Copyright © 2012 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
November 19, 2012

Changing IT Responsibilities For The “Clouds”

In the early days of business computers, premise-based mainframes, supported with only basic OS software and application development tools (Cobol, Fortran, Assembly Language), every using organization had to have large IT staffs or third-party help, to develop and maintain all their customized software applications. That task became somewhat easier in 1960, when Informatics, Inc, developed and sold the first successful software product, the Mark IV system, to IBM computer users for developing batch-mode, premise-based database retrieval and reporting applications.
Around 1964, Interactive “time-sharing” allowed remote individual users with “dumb” terminals (teletypes) to dial in to a mainframe computer and use it “interactively” in real time, rather than in batch mode. This was the beginning of online applications, but the advent of PCs killed the “”time-sharing” service concept and shifted the role of online applications to premise-based servers for remote users.
Now, with Internet data access, we are seeing hosted/managed “cloud”–based software applications for both information access and person-to-person communications rapidly displacing premise-based application server hardware systems, along with the need for internal IT staffs to develop and maintain such application software. The timing of this transition is opportune because of the rapid consumer adoption of multi-modal mobile smartphones and tablets, and the consequential need for integrating (UC-enabling) business process applications with flexible and personalized mobile interactions for BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) usage.
The question now is what role should IT groups play in making the transition from premise-based, desktop application software to “cloud”-based, multi-modal, mobile apps?  It’s not a question of “if,” but of “how” and “when.”

Is The “Cloud” And Business Innovation A Threat Or An Opportunity For IT?

As innovative communication and application services replace both premise-based legacy hardware and software for business process activities, the diminishing control and responsibilities for IT staff appear to be threatening, according to Saugatuck Technology. At their recent 2nd annual Cloud Business Summit in New York City, the changes to IT’s role in any size organization was discussed with invited enterprise CIOs and CTOs.
While there may be a shift in who develops and maintains application software, as well as where that software will be physically located, there will still be a need for technology and infrastructure expertise to support and manage the selection and usage of all applications to insure proper and effective results. Whether that expertise resides internally or is provided through third-party management services, is a question that must be answered on an individual application and organizational basis.
Basic “cloud” services, whether private, public, or hybrid, offer a platform that is location- independent of the actual software applications and the data they use, and can be accessed and integrated from anywhere. Such applications can be for multi-modal person-to-person contacts, online business applications of all kinds, and, of course, process-to-person CEBP contacts for outbound alerts and notifications. That makes the “cloud” applications not only useful for virtualizing desktop usage, but more importantly, ideal for any individual mobile user with a smartphone or tablet. It really will be the specific business process and the individual end users who will be authorized to selectively use those applications that will be the challenge for managing an organization’s various “cloud”-based activities.
The suggested transitional changes in IT roles are laid out in Figure 1 of Saugatuck’s report. It is a starting point to consider in planning for IT organizational change to what Saugatuck calls the “Boundary-Free Enterprise”Ô. Those transitions involve moving computer applications from location-based hardware to “virtualized” software, and making all forms of contact with people more flexible and interoperable through UC-enablement.
A key insight from the Summit discussions for the future responsibilities of IT management was:
Users first. The widespread scale and scope of easily-adopted, Cloud-enabled, individual productivity capabilities shifts power and influence more toward Business users, not Business organizations. Specific Business processes and functions are the initial means of Cloud incursion into the enterprise.”
Of course, mobile BYOD and its impact on communicating with people, is also part of the game change involved in “cloud” services. So, by definition, moving to a “cloud” environment will also mean UC–enablement and CEBP integrations for all business applications involved with any mobile end users, whether they be employees, business partners, or consumer customers. This will be particularly important for customer interactions because of widespread mobile “consumer BYOD.”    
For some additional Cloud Business Summit perspectives on “cloud” applications and it’s impact on IT organizations, you can find more commentary from this Saugatuck web site.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"BYOC" For UC Driver Communication

Copyright © 2012 The Unified-View, All Rights Reserved Worldwide
November 10, 2012

“Bring Your Own Car” Hits Mobile UC

It is time to recognize the need for UC-enabled “dual persona” applications for all types of mobile device interfaces, including built-in car dashboards. Aside from personal and entertainment applications, business applications fall into two basic categories, person-to-person communications and automated, Communications Enabled Business Process  (CEBP) applications, all of which can be or will be “mobile apps” available through public and enterprise “app stores.”
All types of organizations are being challenged by this shift to application mobility for several reasons:
·      UC-enabled multi-modal communications and CEBP are more complex than the siloed, premise-based communications of the past.
·      BYOD, by both employees, business partners, and consumers, is adding to the complexities of different user interfaces, as well the loss of control over the end user mobile devices.
·      “Bring Your Own Car” (BYOC) for mobile apps to be used while driving, is becoming another contender for mobile apps, where “hands/eyes-free” user interfaces have to be easily accommodated automatically when needed.  
·      Legacy online desktop applications for workers must be converted to support wireless tablets, smartphones, and car dashboards, while online customer/consumer self-service applications must also do the same.
·      With application mobility, there is also a need for UC-enablement, which means that both input and output must be multi-media to support an end user’s current situation or status.
·      Since all applications are primarily software based, they will constantly be changing to dynamically support a variety of end user needs.
·      The above considerations are driving the shift of mobile applications to exploiting the wireless Web and hosted/managed application services.

Car Manufacturers View UC-enabled Dashboards As Competitive Feature

A recent announcement from the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC) at it’s second annual summit, reported that it’s new industry standard, MirrorLink, which will transfer a user’s current mobile device user interface to a car’s dashboard entertainment control and display screen, is now being offered to third-party application developers. Although 80 percent of world automakers and 70 percent of global smartphone manufacturers are members of the CCC, “adoption of the standard has been slow.”
The CCC hopes to have mobile application developers certify their apps for “drive mode functionality” as a key benefit to mobile users who will be using their mobile apps while in their cars. This will be particularly important for all forms of text messaging to exploit speech recognition and text-to-speech while driving, as well as for voice interfacing with on-line applications.
The CCC standard should simplify how voice-to-text and text-to-voice multi-media interfaces will work for various driver applications. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that functional mobile applications provided by auto manufacturers as options for different car models have to be identical. Just as smartphones can exploit personalized, mobile applications, so too, that personalization can be applied to car models.  

Business Communications Means Both Work and Commerce

The convergence of all forms of “business” communications, including both work and customer interactions with people and business process applications, will require that mobile endpoint devices support all of the above. The difference is “who” controls “what.” When it comes to mobility, the car has become a new endpoint for the drivers, and will probably become subject to enforcing driver safety rules, such as “hands-free/eyes-free” contacts while driving. That’s what they did with testing drivers who were inebriated.
UC has become important for both flexible person-to-person contacts, as well as for application user interfaces. However, both categories have to broken down further in terms of control and responsibilities over contact accessibility and application access to a shared mobile device. Making mobile devices both flexible and secure, means restricting the device to being used just for access through “thin“ clients, not for storage of sensitive information. This is often described as “dual persona” controls over endpoint device usage; adding your car’s capability to access a variety of personal and business mobile applications means that your car must also be “dual persona!”