Thought of the morning (now afternoon), since we know that transparency is key with shadow marketing, why do so many Companies market and sell services that do not exist until after a sale? Surely its simpler to be honest, explain the model to your customers and advice them of the process. I like bespoke, sure if you take a standard architecture and tailor it ,that’s great but tell me that! (this is how I create service propositions usually). I understand the need to drive sales but you need to have the confidence and capability to deliver on your promises.

This isn’t to say everything needs to be 100%, I’m just thinking of situations where I’ve seen 100% bespoke solutions delivered as “cookie cutter” services.

As a customer a way to avoid this is thorough research & understanding, or if time/skills or risk mitigation prohibits that, buy some consulting services.

With the right skills, with advances in technology you can achieve a lot if you know how.

Enterprise Architecture – TOGAF 9.1 Maturity Assessment Tool

So I’ve finally got round to writing a new maturity assessment tool, this time it’s for TOGAF 9.1. I’ve constructed the bare bones of the basic tool (based in Excel) using the TOGAF ACMM (CMMI Based). The first phase was to construct the assessment tool using TOGAF’s defined ACMM levels which covers 9 capability areas. The next step is to develop a comprehensive version which covers more detailed questioning to assess each area in a granular manner. I’d imagine version 2.0 will contain at least 100 questions, the main bulk of time is not in creating what good looks like, but in writing 5 distinct levels for each question, something which some maturity tools have failing in. I’ll post more as I develop this further.

TOGAF 9.1 Assessment Dashboard

My Path to Advisory Services

The journey from support to advisory

To me everything seemed obvious, surely no one would NOT understand why having the need for services that were business management focused. The concept that having penetration points along all key elements of the lifecycle to me, has been obvious for years.

I thought I’d share some insight into my career to date so the path to today is a bit clearer – I tried to include some of the key highlights! There’s been far more excitement but that’s for another day.

IT as a business because of games?

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Evidence collection and capability maturity – how RaaS can help!

I was conducting a maturity assessment recently and I wanted to look into the customers datacentre hardware/software data. They were unable to provide anything on use so my recommendation in this area was fairly obvious – get greater data insight!
People often underestimate the requirement for fairly wide ranging IT data even on a day to day basis. A quick call to the service desk and I want to have confidence they will help, understanding my device load out and categories (laptop/desktop/tablet) would immediately give me some indication of confidence without access to data everything is re-active and generally takes longer.

So the general rule of thumb is, have semi-real or real time IT estate data, ensure it’s automated, link it to your CMS and make sure (where appropriate) the data is accessible to the masses.

On this note this brings me to the second point of this post – from an enterprise perspective I like to have fixed agent based tools and centralised reporting. However from a project perspective I like to have easily accessible project data so as not to put risk in my area. Here we can look at various tools, one of which is reporting as a service (RaaS). Here we can conduct data collection utilising a lightweight service and send it off to a central location to avoid having to pivot table the hell out of raw data.

Why do I mention this? Well Xtravirt have just opened up the beta of its SONAR RaaS platform. In its initial stages it’s VMware Vsphere focused, it will however expend out offering an exciting new way of enterprise and project based data insight! –

My Virtual Whiteboard: The differences between Enterprise, Solution and Technical Architecture

I often find in a number of organisations people are unclear about the differences between the different roles (EA, SA, TA) so I thought I would put together a very simple poster to demonstrate the differences. I’ve put together the image and PDF version. I hope people find this useful, I’m thinking I might do a whole series on IT architecture from conception to implementation.

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$5,000 dollar TCO reduction with a Chromebook?

I wrote this a month ago and remembered I hadn’t posted it. It’s no work of art but it should demonstrate how far people will go trying to use TCO as a hook….

So I’m writing this from a ChromeOS vm. First things first we’re going to have to make a few assumptions to verify this 5k figure. So we’ll go head to head on hardware to start with. Chromebook Samsung ​​is $249 when googled. To compare I’m going to grab a dell latitude 5000 with an Intel vPro chip for $729. So we’ve got more expense but far more bang for our buck, oh and an Ethernet port with the all important vPro AMT features.

Now we need some software, again using list prices we’ll go for SA desktop and office for our PC device and we’ll use VDA for our BYOD access on the chromebook. so SA per year is $50 and VDA is $100. Continue reading

Making Millions appear

So your writing a business case or trying to justify a crucial or innovative solution that will bring wonders to your/your customers organization. The only problem is it’s going to require money being spent before we get to this wonderful end state. Now I’m sure a number of people have utilized vendor TCO/ROI tools and have been amazed at how the numbers come out by clicking next, next, finish etc.

Well apart from the usual “default” values of 100% benefit on day 1 that they seem to provide they also almost always utilize indirect benefit analysis. Indirect benefit analysis is a way of providing financial numbers for an intangible event. For example: Continue reading

The future of IT Sales in the channel

Having worked in the IT channel for about 7 years now I’ve been involved in many aspects both from a technical, service delivery, strategic and sales capacity. I’ve worked with companies such as HP, Fujitsu, Intel, Dell, Softcat, Trustmarque, SCC and a number of other LAR’s, VAR’s, service providers and OEM’s.

The role of IT sales professional seems to be shifting, I’ve seen a great variety in the messaging and people involved in sales cycles. Solutions sold with no clear design, solutions selected based on margin, hardware for solutions that aren’t designed, opinions silenced to save face and all manner of possibly immoral actions taken to secure a deal. Because who care’s once it’s sold? If it doesn’t work the service delivery function will take care of it right?

Ok so I’ve listed out the worst of a very small number of incidents that I have seen that haven’t been great. However as time goes on I seem to see less of this occurring. The “I’m not a techie” or “I’m just the sales guy” approach is something that is being eroded away. As new generations take up positions and as the ever changing world of technology moves forward people are getting more and more educated.

I foresee the demarcation between “sales”, “presales” and “delivery” being removed in the near future. Sales professionals will need to become presales technical consultants and presales techies will need to learn ever more about sales. With this in mind I foresee that the two roles will not exist as they do now, instead in the future (in some organizations I already see this now) we will see a single role both business and technology focused, and perhaps a greater degree of customer value.

2014 the digital age? haven’t we had that already?

So I read a lot of analyst blogs and CIO top priority lists/predictions etc.

Sometimes what I struggle with is the idea that we as humans progress at anywhere near the rate of technological change. To give an example, I was at MS TVP for a partner Server 2012 launch event where we discussing cloud private/hybrid/public and the features, benefits and impacts this could have on our customers. I raised a question “considering how advanced technology used to be and how it is even greater these days, what do we do about the fact that organization IT maturity seems to be lagging so far behind the technology curve?”

Well there was some humming and pondering and a response of “well that’s a good point!” and then we continued to talk about technology features etc. etc.

My point here is that if we look ahead to the 2014 predictions we will see “mobility”, “BYOD”, “security”, “digital”, “SDDC” and all manner of other lovely acronyms and buzzwords. What I’d like to see is some thought about how we get there.

Let’s take this PDF:

On page 3 you will see a diagram that outlines something similar to that of a Maturity model. Here we can see that Gartner say that we are between “IT Industrialization” and “digitalization”. I would argue that we are not quite there yet, true in isolated areas in companies I’m sure we could find pockets where we are there, but as a whole I’ve yet to find a large number of customers who I would place at the “we are here” line. Sure from a high level viewpoint and from an Industry perspective I agree with the concept. What I’m failing to see is how we drag ourselves (and yes I believe it will require some heavy lifting) from today’s buzzwords into a reality whereby we are at a “rationalized” maturity which is capable of moving into this “Digitalization” phase.


VDI when to use it!

I thought I’d jot down a few notes around the good use cases for VDI. I often hear people sell the idea with a reduction in cost as a key driver. It’s true you can use the VDI initiative to reduce the direct total cost of ownership, but in reality the VDI element is not what causes the reduction in TCO. (I am also assuming we are reducing TCO based on a BASIC level maturity orginisation).

So without using reduced TCO as a driver, when would I recommend VDI?

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