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  • As mobility has moved into the center of the enterprise, business and IT leaders have been forced to shift their focus to an app-centric environment. This means creating new apps, updating existing apps and managing all the apps, which includes building in robust security protections. A new report from Apperian, "2015 Enterprise Mobile App Trend Report," examined nearly two million app deployments across hundreds of thousands of enterprise users. It found that mobile apps are rapidly expanding beyond external customers and encompassing partners, dealers, contract workers and others. Organizations are using these apps to streamline core business processes and drive productivity. "While there are examples of successful apps deployed across entire enterprises, [there are] some remarkably innovative apps that are fundamentally changing how business is done—even when only one or two apps are deployed to smaller organizations or single teams," said Mark Lorion, CMO at Apperian. Among the key findings: Companies are developing portfolios and mobile apps to serve their workforce, and these apps tend to revolve around function rather than industry-related or companywide initiatives. Not surprisingly, technology organizations lead the way in deploying mobile apps.

  • IT employees and leaders have a lot to worry about these days, according to a recent survey from NetEnrich. For starters, they're spending too much money on technology that either doesn't get used or fails to deliver on its promises, findings show. They devote too many hours to "keeping the lights on" rather than innovating. And the increase of tech acquisition decisions being made outside of the IT department (shadow IT) elevates existing risks about cyber-security and business app performance. Meanwhile, tech departments are still struggling with a lack of available talent to support agility and business advances. "Corporate IT departments are in a real bind," said Raju Chekuri, CEO at NetEnrich. "On one hand, demand for the services they provide has never been greater. On the other hand, they're spread thin due to a lack of skilled, available resources. … The result is poor oversight of existing projects, fewer new projects and more shadow IT. What's needed are tools and teams … that automate infrastructure management, while freeing up internal teams to be proactive in their support of business users." An estimated 200 IT executives at large and midsize companies took part in the research.

  • A significant number of businesses are deploying software-defined networking (SDN), or plan to do so within the next 12 months, according to a recent survey from QuinStreet Enterprise. In the accompanying report, "SDN Growth Takes IT Infrastructure by Storm," technology decision-makers said they're turning to SDN to reduce costs and improve network performance. They also expect SDN to improve productivity and security, while streamlining network operations. As with any new technology implementation, there are challenges, including considerations over associated costs, integration and interoperability, security and appropriate deployment models. SDN "is having a profound impact on businesses," according to the report. "As the technology matures, it is more than simply changing network infrastructure design; it is also altering how IT perceives its role and redefining the entire IT infrastructure. … The ability of SDN architectures to make network control programmable, often using open protocols such as OpenFlow, enables organizations to apply globally aware software control at the edges of the network." A total of 466 IT professionals took part in the research.

  • The challenge facing IT leaders is that there are so many forms of hybrid clouds that they don’t realize how extended a journey their organization may be on.

  • IT professionals who are part of an on-call team can expect to spend a week at a time working that shift, and an increasing number of those employees are experiencing fatigue as a result, according to a survey from VictorOps. The resulting "State of On-Call" report indicates that far too many tech issues turn out to be false alarms. And when there is a real problem, it often requires more than one person to resolve it. Organizations are providing some relief by adding non-operations professionals to the on-call team, including developers and DevOps staffers. "The clear signal over the last year has been the death of operations as the lone protectors of highly technical infrastructures and systems," according to the report. "More and more organizations are placing developers on the front line of rapid response and resolution of technical problems. Alerting 'someone' to a problem is no longer acceptable, and we are seeing this in many companies as they dismantle their Network Operations Centers (NOCs) in favor of routing specific system problems to the engineers [who] built the part of the system having issues. … Technology is changing fast and progressive companies are changing faster." In addition to incorporating more diverse skill sets into the on-call team, IT departments are trying to improve their post-mortem processes, and we've included some findings about that here. More than 500 IT professionals took part in the research.

  • In today's data-centric world, storage automation is a critical tool for organizations. However, provisioning and deploying automation tools and technologies is an increasingly challenging task. It typically involves launching and configuring Web servers, deploying clouds, stopping and restarting services, creating new accounts, and handling RAID grouping and drive sparing requirements. A recent study from flash storage vendor SolidFire, "The 2015 Storage Automation Report: How IT professionals are utilizing and benefiting from automation of the storage layer," examined the current state of storage, the problems that organizations face, and how automation can aid in building a better data center and enterprise data framework. "Storage automation adoption is closely tied with the evolution of the data center," according to the report. "As the adoption of cloud-native designs and IT infrastructure architectures goes, so too goes the adoption of new or different methods of automating the storage layer." The survey of more than 300 global IT professionals offers insights into the drivers behind storage automation, what tools and interfaces IT professionals are using, preferences around storage management plug-ins and software development kits, and the benefits realized by implementing storage automation.

  • The challenges of migrating to a digital business and IT framework are daunting. Today's fast-moving environment requires new information technology systems, different thinking and entirely new skills. A recently released report from Dimension Data and the Business Performance Innovation (BPI) Network, "Crossing the Transformation Divide: What Frontline IT Workers Need to Make the Leap," indicates that organizations are largely falling short of the desired mark, and many are close to failing, according to IT workers. Of course, all of this is significant news because IT transformation is increasingly a critical factor in determining whether organizations reach key business goals and achieve a competitive advantage. "Technology-led business innovation is now a critical competitive factor in every sector of the global economy," said Donovan Neale-May, executive director at the BPI Network. "But … most companies lack the people, processes and investments to make transformation a reality." Among the most pressing concerns for the 200 IT workers surveyed? A chronic shortage of essential skills, an inability to adapt to rapidly changing conditions and slow progress down the road of transformation.

  • Collectively, they represent the innovations that have the greatest potential to make a profound impact on enterprises—and society—for this year and beyond. They are the "Top Nine Technology Trends for 2016," presented annually by the IEEE Computer Society. The trends are all about speed (as in 5G mobile networks) and power (the Internet of things [IoT]} and artificial intelligence-based advancements. With respect to the latter, the "next big thing" will go far beyond machines that can process information with stunning velocity: Companies are now creating computers that can essentially "teach" themselves about data and then make predictions based on their newly acquired knowledge. To support such efforts, another top trend called "nonvolatile memory" will enable enterprises to store more data at a lower price. And if all of this seems interconnected, well, that's because it is. "Some of these trends will come to fruition in 2016, while others will reach critical points in development during this year," said Dejan Milojicic, a past president of the IEEE Computer Society. "You'll notice that all of the trends interlock, many of them depending on the advancement of other technologies in order to move forward. Cloud needs network functional virtualization, 5G requires cloud, containers can't thrive without advances in security, everything depends on data science, and so on. It's an exciting time for technology."

  • Enterprises that deploy analytics to obtain deep insights boost the odds for success, but ones that stumble may find their organization reeling or even failing.

  • As the demand for more IT-enabled capabilities increases and the expectation that IT will become more of a strategic partner to the business grows along with it, organizations will face more critical decisions than ever when it comes to accounting for application development and maintenance (ADM) in their budgets. With that in mind, software analysis vendor Cast Software asked Saad Ayub, a former CIO for companies such as Scholastic, the Hartford and Aetna, to craft an approach to ADM budgeting that would help companies craft budgets geared toward ensuring their applications are delivering the desired business outcomes. As Ayub made clear in the summary of the resulting nine-step process he created, budgeting for the care and feeding of applications is a delicate balancing act. "The easy part is around defining what new capabilities need to be built," Ayub wrote. "The hard part is getting an agreement on appropriate investments for improving the application landscape, which will ensure that the company is positioned for long-term growth." Ayub hopes that his methodology can help organizations achieve the right mix of collaboration and metrics needed to make the most of an application portfolio.

  • While overall sentiments remain high, tech leaders are slightly less optimistic than they were a year ago about a number of critical factors that will impact their IT organizations in 2016, according to the most recent "year ahead" survey forecast from TEKsystems. A still-strong but declining number of these leaders, for example, are confident in their IT department's ability to meet overall organizational demands, findings reveal. Expectations are similarly scaled back when it comes to tech budgeting and staff salary increases. Results also indicate that departments outside of IT will play significant roles in tech acquisitions and deployments, especially within marketing, sales and operations. At the same time, they'll need to tackle issues related to organizational alignment, governance and skills gaps, among other top challenges. "With so much technology spend coming from areas outside of the IT department, it's clear that IT leaders are taking into account the evolving nature of their responsibilities as they look to 2016," said Jason Hayman, research manager for TEKsystems. "Despite lower expectations for budget and salary increases, anticipated growth of full-time and contingent headcounts points to a healthy core IT team. However, IT leaders should be mindful that failure to properly adjust salaries in a competitive IT labor market will make it difficult to attract and retain the talent they need." More than 500 CIOs, tech directors and other IT leaders took part in the research.

  • An intelligent business cloud is focused on business outcomes and on connecting all the capabilities a company needs to become a digital business.

  • It's no secret that software licensing has become a giant thorn in the side of both IT departments and the business in general. Not only is today's licensing environment incredibly complex and becoming tougher, it's also undergoing radical change. Virtualization, clouds, software as a service (SaaS), mobile apps and entirely new digital delivery models introduce both opportunities and challenges—and alter the stakes dramatically. A new report from digital security firm Gemalto, "Software Licensing: Expectations, Challenges and the Future," notes that new and evolving models are affecting the way software vendors and buyers interact. The key themes the report identifies include: the need for a framework that supports anywhere, anytime access; user-centric licensing that revolves around individuals and not machines; better usage tracking and pricing models; and a common-use experience that spans on-premise use, clouds and various devices. Here are some of the key findings from the survey of 600 enterprise software users and 180 software vendors.