CA’s Perfect Storm (But For How Long?)
Nov16

CA’s Perfect Storm (But For How Long?)

LAS VEGAS:  This would appear to be the perfect time for CA Technologies, which has gathered its key customers and partners here for CA World ‘17. A growing data deluge, a sweeping digital transformation revolution, a heightening focus on security, and the exploding need for constantly evolving apps are all driving this perfect storm at which CA should be at the epicenter. However, neither a perfect storm, nor an epicenter can be weathered without severe risks, and based on the software giant’s most recent financial results CA’s success is still problematic. On October 25 the company reported FY18 Q2 revenue of $1.034 billion, and while that was up 2% year over year, net income was down 13% and bookings were down 1%. The outlook for the remainder of the fiscal year is approximately 5% increase in revenue to between $4.22-$4.25 billion, and a 5%-8% decrease in earnings per share. While painting an optimistic picture — highlighting the SaaS business growth, total new sales, Enterprise Solutions new sales, and Mainframe new sales “all outperformed the year-over-year decline in the renewal portfolio” — during the analysts’ call following the earnings report, CEO Mike Gregoire also noted “disappointing” sales execution in Q2. “In particular, velocity in sales outside of the renewal cycle of Enterprise Solutions products was short of our expectations.’ Overall, Gregoire said the company was well-positioned for the future. “We are well positioned in great markets, and our solutions are solving real problems for our customers.” CA sees itself as the toolmaker for the DT generation, pushing its modern software factory philosophy. Digital transformation should be an ISV’s dream market: spending on DT technologies will exceed more than $1.2 trillion this year, and continue to grow at almost 18% per year to $2 trillion by 2020, almost 20X the anemic growth forecast for the overall IT market. At last year’s event the company trotted out the its Built To Change paradigm, and reinforced it with the ‘Built to Change Summit’ in June. This week’s theme, No Barriers, is all about marrying CA’s own transformation experience with its products, services and expertise, to help its customers overcome the barriers embodied by DT, as Gregoire stated in his keynote yesterday. “The focus today is on innovating the next big shift for your company,” he said. “That is the number one priority we are focused on – providing you with solutions that will remove the barriers between your ideas and outcomes.” CA is helping a lot of companies to change, and Gregoire called out a few, including FedEx, Netflix and Citi, as well as telling the audience that they will be instrumental in...

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Talent-Gap Cure Or Just Cur-AI-ting IT?
Oct19

Talent-Gap Cure Or Just Cur-AI-ting IT?

Cisco originally pitched a story focused on its latest initiatives to address the ‘IT skills and knowledge gap’, which is a big and growing problem, and while the just-released AI-powered predictive services can be folded, spindled and mutilated into a ‘talent-gap cure’, it appears more to be just a really good set of business solutions. The costs and resources required to keep the datacenter lights on can account for 70-80% of IT budgets, said Bryan Palma, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cisco Advanced Services, but while improving efficiencies and uptimes will pay a huge business dividend, that doesn’t mean those freed-up resources will translate into the IT skills and knowledge required to facilitate the new IT reality, digital transformation, which by one estimate will be worth $493.39 billion by 2022, and is speeding along at a CAGR of 19.1%. The new services, available immediately, fall into two categories — Business Critical Services and High-value Services — and are extensions of what the company has been providing for some time, said Palma. Services is the second largest business unit at Cisco, at $13 billion and 25% of revenues, with 90% of its services revenue recurring. A big part of the company’s competitive advantage is its installed base of 50 million networks, he told IT Trends & Analysis, and the telemetry data from that provides Cisco with a better picture of what’s going on in the IT environment than practically every other vendor. Professional services can leverage that data to help customers shift their focus from maintaining their datacenters and network infrastructures to finding new ways to improve customer services and generate revenues, he added. “At the same time we’re seeing that IT has been more defensive and they are looking to be more offensive, and that’s where we’re looking to take them.” Calling it a new portfolio of subscription services, Business Critical Services ‘deliver more capabilities including analytics, automation, compliance and security by Cisco Advanced Services’ technology experts’. “In the past it’s been called optimization,” said Palma, and as part of their ongoing focus on constant improvement, have made a number of improvements. “What we’re trying to do is give them the flexibility to move with their strategic options.” The new service benefits include helping minimize human error by: reducing complexity and cost through automation, orchestration, and technical expertise; accelerating business agility and transformation through advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities; and reducing risk with automated compliance and remediation services.The business outcome objectives are to help reduce downtime by 74%, resolve issues 41% percent faster and reduce operational costs by 21%. The other side of the services portfolio, Technical Services,...

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Will Cloud DevOps Re-Energize ‘Big Iron’?
Oct05

Will Cloud DevOps Re-Energize ‘Big Iron’?

Not only has ‘Big Iron’ shrugged off its naysayers — suffering neither Monty Python’s ‘flesh wounds’ nor Mark Twain’s ‘reports of my death’ — the mainframe appears to be poised for a renaissance, one that software developer Compuware hopes to accelerate with its recent DevOps announcement for Amazon’s popular AWS cloud platform. “We’ve made Topaz [its flagship solution for mainframe Agile/DevOps] into what customers are evaluating and incorporating as a force multiplier,” said CEO Chris O’Malley. “The next step is bringing Topaz to AWS,” he told IT Trends & Analysis, accelerating DevOps availability to “minutes instead of months. In some cases, it can take more than a year for competitive products.” The mainframe, or at least IBM’s version, has been a staple of IT for more than 50 years, and it shows no signs of disappearing. The numbers speak for themselves: 55% of enterprise apps need the mainframe; 70% of enterprise transactions touch a mainframe; and, 70-80% of the world’s corporate data resides on a mainframe. However the installed base appeared to be shrinking as newer, less-costly alternatives proliferated. Annual mainframe system sales have declined from a high of about $4 billion earlier this decade to $2 billion in 2016, accounting for just 3% of IBM’s total revenue (although the associated hardware, software and technical services accounted for nearly 25% of IBM’s sales and 40% of its overall profit last year). Apparently Big Iron is back in vogue. According to a new study, the global mainframe market is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 2.58% between 2017-2021. In March it was reported that mainframes had reached an inflection point where they will either continue as a revenue-supporting mechanism or evolve into a revenue-generating platform. “IDC believes that the mainframe has a central role in digital transformation; businesses that do not take advantage of its broad range of capabilities are giving up value and, potentially, competitive advantage,” the research company stated. ‘The mainframe is not going away, but the way that you use it will change,’ noted Robert Stroud, Principal Analyst, Forrester, in a blog entitled DevOps And The Mainframe, A Perfect Match?. ‘Containers and microservices are coming to every platform, including the mainframe. Gradually breaking large monolithic applications into smaller services will help you transition to a containerized future that promises faster application delivery, greater scalability, and better manageability – regardless of the platform.’ A month ago IBM refreshed its z series mainframes with the LinuxONE Emperor II. “LinuxONE is a highly engineered platform with unique security, data privacy and regulatory compliance capabilities that doesn’t require any changes to developer or open source code, combined with...

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Compuware Revs Up Mainframe Threat Detection By 30%
Apr06

Compuware Revs Up Mainframe Threat Detection By 30%

It is generally accepted that the mainframe, AKA Big Iron, is the most secure IT platform available, and a significant reason why: 55% of enterprise apps need the mainframe; 70% of enterprise transactions touch a mainframe; and, 70-80% of the world’s corporate data resides on a mainframe. However, the things which are driving today’s dominant IT paradigm, digital transformation — cloud computing, Internet of Things (IoT), big data and analytics (BDA), mobility, social media and security — are also increasing the mainframe threatscape, and Compuware is trying to do something about that. “It is the most secure platform by far,” said Compuware CEO, Chris O’Malley. But breaches happen, he tells IT Trends & Analysis, although most of these things that happen can be prevented. “Most of the breaches are from the inside.” That was the challenge a customer presented to Compuware, identify where and how recurring breach was taking place. The mainframe software vendor’s response led to Compuware Application Audit, a cybersecurity and compliance solution that ‘enhances the ability of enterprises to stop insider threats by fully capturing and analyzing start-to-finish mainframe application session user activity.’ The new standalone solution is a one-stop shop to: -detect, investigate and respond to inappropriate activity by internal users with access; -detect, investigate and respond to hacked or illegally purchased user accounts; -support criminal/legal investigations with complete and credible forensics; and, -fulfill compliance mandates regarding protection of sensitive data. A year ago the company partnered with CorreLog to provide a similar set of capabilities by integrating Compuware’s Hiperstation Application Auditing solution with CorreLog SIEM Agent for z/OS. The new solution brings a number of advantages, including collaborations with CorreLog, Syncsort and Splunk, to enable it to be integrated with popular SIEM solutions such as Splunk, IBM QRadar SIEM and HPE Security ArcSight ESM. While cybersecurity is not and won’t be a core focus of the company, Compuware Application Audit continues the company’s recent practice of making a major product introduction every 90 days. “We’ve put in more innovation in the last 10 quarters than our competitors have done in the last 10 years,” said O’Malley. The mainframe computing environment, with protocols dating back decades, is a new frontier of exploration for both the White Hat (ethical) and the Black Hat (criminal) hackers. “Ultimately we want people to understand that, because of its widespread usage as a core system in many critical infrastructures from finance to air travel; its relative obscurity; and lack of real wide-spread exposure to the hacking public; this system is rife with opportunities to be further secured and hardened.“  Chad Rikansurd (@bigendiansmalls) What he’s saying is that mainframe computing environments...

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BMC: Mainframes Aren’t Going Away

Even while rumors continue to circulate that IBM is trying to unload its z Systems business, evidence continues to emerge supporting the ongoing — if not growing — need for the mainframe. Key findings from the 2016 BMC Mainframe Research Report indicate that mainframes are helping drive Digital Transformation, with ‘superior reliability, performance, and security’ cited as key factors influencing mainframe investments. “With 89% of survey respondents ( more than 1,200 executives and technical professionals) projecting continued strong support for the mainframe, it is clear that companies view the mainframe as a long-term platform,” said Bill Miller, president of ZSolutions Optimization at BMC, in a prepared statement. It is also clear that the company has a vested interest — and 25% of their annual revenues — tied up in mainframes, but as BMC’s John McKenny, VP Marketing and Customer Support of ZSolutions, told IT Trends & Analysis, the research data, including the information they keep private, provides a better understanding of what the different customer segments are doing, and looking for. The respondents fall into three categories: -58% are in the increasing group and looking to grow their investment and use of the mainframe; -23% indicate they will keep a steady amount of work on the mainframe; and, -19% plan to reduce the usage of the platform. For the third segment, reducing cost was the number one concern, said McKenny. They are “not going to get off in the next few months… or years… and we have developed solutions that can help with cost,” he added. One of the interesting findings with the ‘increasing group’  was that automation and analytics had risen to the fourth priority. “From a tactical perspective, we use a lot of this information… we have a lot more that we don’t share publicly… to help us be laser-focused with customers”. Server shipments — including mainframes — increased 2% year-over-year in the second quarter, but revenue dipped 0.8%. IBM, which held down third place, was way behind front-runners Dell and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), and turned in the worst performance, with 9.1% ($1.2 billion) of the market, down -34.4%. Apparently the z Series was the biggest culprit, with a -40% YoY decline, while the Power-based servers fell a mere -24%. One reason Big Blue may be waffling over selling the business is the profits it makes: with a gross margin of 56.5%, it’s second only to IBM’s Cognitive Solutions segment. Another reason is the upcoming release of the Power9 CPU, which is due out next year and is reported will be competitive with Intel Xeon Servers, something the current generation can’t provide. According to IBM, mainframes...

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