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Archive for February, 2010

James Burke is best known for a series called Connections that he did in the the 70s and again in the 90s. The central theme to these shows was to demonstrate how seemingly inconsequential things led to things of great consequence by examining how they are connected. His latest project is called ‘the Knowledge Web’.

Burke’s vision is rather grand. He believes that formal education is structured mostly to make it easy for the teacher. By reducing things, by placing things in well defined boxes it becomes (relatively) easy to teach them. Examination of any school’s curriculum bears this out. Burke’s point is that the world, that knowledge is much more complicated than that. By being reductive we manage to lose a lot. In Burke’s words:

“The Knowledge Web counters the tendency of modern education to encourage specialized learning and thinking. With formal education today, learners may study either history or physics, or perhaps only Renaissance history and astrophysics,” says James. “People tend to become experts in highly specialized fields, learning more and more about less and less.

“Unfortunately, so much specialization falsely creates the illusion that knowledge and discovery exist in a vacuum, in context only with their own disciplines, when in reality they are born from interdisciplinary connections. Without an ability to see these connections, history and science won’t be learnable in a truly meaningful way and innovation will be stifled.”

Interesting stuff.

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Read this http://blogs.idc.com/ie/?p=543. The CAGR works out to over 26%. This represents significant growth to say the least. The hype machine keeps on hyping. When I read numbers like this, I am pushed back in time to consider other markets and forecasts. Unified communications, which the Yankee Group dubbed ‘the 0 billion dollar market’, stands out as a good example. Plenty of promise, but a market that seemed to have trouble getting traction. The cloud may well be different, but there is always a danger with forecasts like this…

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Larry Digan at ZDNet has blogged on Rackspace and its cloud strategy. In essence Rackspace foresees a hybrid solution approach that sees customers switching between  hosted and cloud environments. Digan also points to some Forrester Research work that  states that “only 5 percent of large enterprises have either implemented cloud computing or plan to in the next 12 months.” I think Digan got the next bit wrong though. The blog says “Simply put, a hybrid approach is likely to be the norm for a while.” I agree on the hybrid approach part, but disagree on the ‘a while’ comment. I think the market is likely to stay in permanent hybrid mode.

Like I have written in previous posts, while cloud computing represents significant innovation, it does not represent a solution that will meet the needs of the entire market. It is important to consider these needs beyond satisfying the IT department and to reflect on the organization at large. Some companies will continue to use hosted and in-house solutions because the cloud does not mesh well with the strategic imperative of the company. While exploration of a cloud solution for certain applications may make sense (think about Salesforce.com, HR and Payroll), applications that are deemed core to the business will likely remain closer and will never make it to the cloud. At least to an external cloud…

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Back to our hosting discussion…

There are a number of hosting options, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. I am going to be minimalist with this – so don’t get upset. There are numerous books and dozens of in-depth research reports from the likes of Gartner, IDC and Tier1 Research that cover it off. I am trying to do this justice in the context of a blog, so I am going to broad brush stroke it and try to focus on the big picture. This post will essentially serve as a back drop for upcoming posts.

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I have spoken to outsourcing in a previous post.  I am going to bring a little focus to the discussion by examining the hosting business. Why the hosting business? Simply because it brings together multiple pieces of the puzzle, combining outsourcing physical infrastructure, management of said infrastructure as well as the potential management of  associated, outsourced services.

I am going to cover this off over the course of the next week or so. I will spend some time discussing the outsourcing decision and follow this up with a discussion of the different hosting models that are in the marketplace today.

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