by November 1, 2006 0 comments

Technologies could wax and wane in popularity-something could be as cold as
permafrost and then suddenly become hot because of an event somewhere that
changes the rules of the game. For instance, DR was something that people knew
about and did as part of their routine task till 9/11
happened and then the Asian Tsunami hit. Now, suddenly this is a very hot thing.

Scams rocked the business world one after another which brought in mandates
like Sarbanes-Oxley (USA) and EU-8 (Europe) and now the Clause 49 (India). This
added the dimensions of disclosure and with it came the need for information
security. So what is it that you should be doing?

Should you really follow the pack or forge your own road when it comes to IT
deployments in your organization or would you rather take an informed decision
on when it is right for you to move into something? That’s one question we
will try to answer in this strategy guide.

Peer action
So what are other CIOs out there gearing up to deploy? DR seems to be the
universal answer with over 76% of our respondents saying they were planning to
deploy disaster recovery in the near future.

Information security (which is a related area) is also high on the list with
65% CIOs considering it. Otherwise hot areas like SOA and VoIP figure lower in
the order with 30—40% favor. The reason for this seems to be clear. Some of
the most common problems in the way of deployment still include the following

  • Getting top management buy in for the technology. This is important for
    any deployment project to succeed. With a plethora of technologies and
    alternatives available today, choosing between them is also a problem.
  • Then there is the gap in getting what you want from the vendor. Vendors,
    it is alleged, often promise you things that they later do not deliver on.
    These may also include how the solution would improve productivity and
  • 83% of our respondents also feared new deployments would break something
    that was already there and this would cause a downtime. This is a
    significant percentage and indicates a need that new deployments
    (especially) need to be first tested and verified against internal
    conditions before they go live.
  • A good 71% of them emphasized that ensuring alignment of solution to
    business needs was essential before they could consider it.

Now, let’s move on to test how their plans stand vis-à-vis what’s being
considered hot and happening elsewhere in the industry.

All the brouhaha over SOX, EU-8 and Clause 49 seems to have left the IT decision
makers unfazed. The kinds of compliance they are talking about include the ISO
and BS. Upto 81% of our respondents felt that compliance in this direction
governs their IT purchase strategies. But, with yearly purchase-related audit
cycles and committees sitting to approve them, these decisions could take a
while, as they would require convincing from the technology champions before
they actually buy technology.

But you can be sure that Clause 49 is going to be big in the next couple of
months, given that the deadline for ensuring compliance is Dec 31st this year.
Already, solutions are appearing from several vendors to help with this.
Prominent vendors include: Skelta Software, PricewaterhouseCoopers, NewGen and
CRISIL. These tools let the top management ensure that a predefined hierarchy
audits and approves organizational financial processes, thereby essentially,
transforming financial activity into a workflow with an audit trail. Watch out
for action in this area, with more hectic activity in atleast the early part of
2007 to catch up with and disperse compliance procedures through all your
departments and business units.

Just 35% of respondents said they were considering SOA for the future. This has
two meanings. One, SOA has been now happening for some time and if you’re on a
big-vendor platform then the chances are that you are already using SOA. That,
in turn, means that there is relatively little to do for the future. Future
needs here would be to extend existing business applications to other areas-like
Web, mobile or create inter-business portals to interact with vendors and

Although only 41% of the CIOs we asked replied that they were planning VoIP
deployments in the next few months, we feel this is a very hot area and that
this number would have been lower last year and rise higher in the days to come.
We are starting to see a slew of products hitting the market aimed at VoIP (see
the PowerDsine Midspan reviewed in this issue, for instance). All that is sure
to make it easier for enterprises to deploy IP telephony. Of course, there is
one pull-back factor that has surfaced in the days before we went to press: the
two major Indian telephone
carriers announced that they were slashing long distance call rates in the
country and bring it on par with a local call. The high cost of such long
distance calls was the driving factor for VoIP taking off in the country. We
need to watch the action in the coming days before we can safely say how this is
affecting VoIP deployments in Indian enterprises.

Identity management
RFID is still the most popular means to do identity management. Web-based
spyware and worms that replicate via email are adding to the threat as data
theft can happen along these pathways without the user even being aware that he
has been victimized. Lots of vendors have ID management solutions out and these
should be checked out to save later embarrasment. With 41% of the CIOs in our
survey planning to deploy identity management in the near future, the question
is-are we complacent or confident?

The tower to racks to blades thing has long ceased to be a buzzword. Most
enterprises have already been there and done that. But advances like multi-core
computing, with servers on the x86 platform also going multi-core (see our
article on multi-core server processors elsewhere in this issue), consolidation
will hot up once again. The 47% of CIOs who answered Aye to this query in our
survey will reap this benefit in the coming days. Remember, every additional
processor core in a server lets you reap that much more benefit in performance
as well as thermal control (as one dual core will put out less heat and consume
less electrical power than one single core). And, there are 8 and 17 core CPUs
headed your way in the not too distant future.

Compared to the US scenario, where working from all over the place, working from
home and in the car is a way of life, Indian enterprises still are not that
savvy a workplace. Clunky desktops still dot executive work spaces in every
office. And, how many enterprise applications that you have deployed actually
let you use it over the mobile (like a smartphone)-or, if they could do that,
how much of it is being enabled and used? While it is great that traveling
executives get a notebook to work from and employees can check and respond to
email using their Blackberries and smart phones, the enterprise itself still has
a long way to go before it becomes fully mobile. Some 24% of our surveyed CIOs
indicated they would like to improve that situation by implementing mobility in

Business applications
If we consider the number of projects we saw during our Best IT Implementation
survey in June earlier this year, we notice that a significant number of them
were enterprise business application related. They may not have been called ERP,
CRM or SCM applications, quite a lot of them simply were. The ratio of in-house
software to labeled software here was healthy. So, even though 40% of our
respondents in this survey say they will do ERP and just 18% will do CRM, this
does not mean that the flow of EBA has died down.

Wish list
Consider this: when going in for new purchases, CIOs feel that their top
management is largely receptive to the new ideas (41%) if they are able to
justify an ROI for the project. But, this needs to coincide with business needs.
Therefore, the priority on their wish list is to get tailormade solutions that
would let them calculate and justify returns for.

With a per enterprise annual purchase budget that varies between 1 and 50
crores and rising yearly, this is a hungry market that’s demanding to be
satisfied.The key here is that enterprises are keen on watching their
competition. A good 53% of these CIOs would immediately call their experts to
understand the technology. So, they would not go out to implement the same
necessarily. This is important because it points out the common misconception
that if a few people are doing something, its a hot and happening trend. Also,
this indicates that the industry is hungry for knowledge, also evidenced by the
59% responses we got clamoring that not enough information was available to
satisfy their questions. Perhaps they should have paid a visit to the PCQuest
Enterprise Solutions Showcase over the last couple of months.

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