As we closed the year, Forrester analysts highlighted some important developments worth your attention as you plan the year ahead. I’ve added an extra issue this week to give you more visibility into some of this important work.
Are you trying to increase services like storage, security, communications, and application services for branch offices while trying to consolidate infrastructure and decrease costs? To date, most firms have deployed numerous point products to solve these woes tactically. Robert Whiteley and Stephanie Balaouras demonstrate that recent technology advancements will streamline infrastructure requirements by consolidating numerous functions — like routing, wireless connectivity, security, application acceleration, IP telephony, IP address management, and remote monitoring — into fewer appliances. So can firms deploy a branch-office-in-a-box? No. But, depending on the branch profile, firms can intelligently collapse similar services — like security with routing and communications, as well as storage with application acceleration — to reduce the management burden and still offer full-service sites.
Back at the data center, Stephanie points out, data was historically backed up to tape. But, with data growing at double-digit rates each year and backup windows shrinking dramatically or disappearing, enterprises are increasingly incorporating disk-based data protection into their backup strategies. Less disruptive offerings such as virtual tape libraries and advanced technologies like snapshots are now easier to manage.
So, how will you then get to the information you need when you need it? Some bright spots: A growing number of organizations are turning to document process outsourcing (DPO), a hosted solution for capturing and processing documents in support of a business process, instead of implementing the software on their premises. New Forrester analyst Craig Le Clair provides one example: docHarbor announced a partnership with salesforce.com, allowing almost any document to be associated with any page in salesforce.com. Whether it’s an end user scanning in a business card at the desktop or an IT department sending the entire run of monthly account statements as a printstream, the right documents are available on the right pages as links in salesforce.com’s customer relationship management (CRM) software service.
Meanwhile, Matt Brown tells us that IBM and Yahoo! announced IBM OmniFind Yahoo! Edition, a freely downloadable enterprise search product that installs with three clicks, packs the same features as a Google Mini, scales to half a million documents, and is built on open source technology from the Apache Lucene project. And, it’s free. This bodes well for information and knowledge management professionals deploying entry-level search capabilities but poorly for Google Enterprise, Microsoft, Oracle, SAP, and smaller vendors still looking to cash in on the entry-level enterprise search market.
For more specialized use, Barry Murphy notes that eDiscovery technology spending will grow from $1.4 billion in 2006 to more than $4.8 billion in 2011 as enterprises realize that they have no choice but to prepare for electronic discovery after amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure take effect on December 1, 2006. As you investigate eDiscovery solutions, get the right team (legal, records management, and IT) together to make eDiscovery solutions decisions, and expect a fragmented technology marketplace that may require you to source from multiple vendors or to outsource.
Don’t forget to think about the unthinkable. Disaster recovery and business continuity (DRBC) systems allow firms to have contingency plans in place to keep the business running in the aftermath of natural or man-made circumstances that render their primary business premises or data center unusable. To succeed, R?diger Krojnewski and Bill Nagel point out that risk management in general and DRBC in particular need to have broad visibility across business units; it’s one thing for IT to be aware of its responsibilities in this area but quite another to get funding adequate to the task. Secure your funding.
Turning to new development, Ron Rogowski observes that Web users like rich Internet applications (RIAs) because they’re easy to use. But how do the usability of RIA and HTML applications compare? To find out, we evaluated both. We looked for examples of rich Internet and HTML applications in each of four categories and compared how well they supported relevant user goals. We found that, on average, RIAs outperform HTML interfaces; at the same time, RIA usability can fall prey to basic design mistakes. To make the most of their investments, firms planning to invest in RIAs must apply design best practices and run multiple tests on their RIAs before, and after, they go live.
Till next time.