HTML5/CSS3, Java Programming Book Excerpts Available for Free Download

Murach Publishing, which specializes in programming books for professionals, is offering three excerpts from two of its latest titles to ESJ readers for free download.

Murach’s Java Programming has been updated to the SE 7 edition. It explains the Java skills you’ll use every day and covers object-oriented features such as inheritance, interfaces, and polymorphism in an understandable and useful way. We’re offering two chapters from this book: Chapter 1- How to get started with Java and NetBeans and Chapter 2- Introduction to Java programming.

Murach’s HTML5 and CSS3 explains how to use HTML5 semantic elements to mark up the structure of content on your Web pages, and how to use cascading style sheets to format and lay out that content. Download and read Chapter 5- How to use the CSS box model for spacing, borders, and backgrounds.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 03/19/2012 at 11:53 AM0 comments


IBM Study Highlights Data Center Efficiencies

How do you know if you’re running an efficient data center? A new report from IDC commissioned by IBM explains what separates the efficient enterprises from the inefficient ones.

Although the full report won’t be released until April, IBM released a preview of some of the results this week. The 65-question survey asked about key efficiency measures (everything from budgets and networks information to storage management and governance).

Of the 308 responses from 7 countries (and across 25 industries), only one in five (21 percent) are operating “highly efficient” data centers; the majority (62 percent) are classified as “moderately efficient,” and 17 percent are “inefficient.”

What separates the top from the bottom? For one thing, highly efficient data centers allocate 50 percent or more of their budget to “new products and innovation” instead of maintenance (which consumes up to 47 percent of the budget). For inefficient data centers, only 35 percent of the budget goes to new projects and 65 percent is spent on maintaining the existing infrastructure. (If maintaining and attracting IT staff is important, your enterprise will want to be investing in new technologies and projects -- so you’ll want to be efficient.)

IBM says that IT leaders who design more flexibility into their IT optimization are from efficient organizations. Such leaders are two times more likely than those working in inefficient data centers to be among the first to adopt new technology, and they do so in smaller increments. Furthermore, they’ve virtualized nearly half (48 percent) of their servers; those in the least efficient data centers have virtualized just 27 percent.

Efficient enterprises are also more likely to move VMs across servers (81 percent say they do so); only a quarter (26 percent) of inefficient enterprises take advantage of this feature. Efficiency helps data centers meet IT’s “do-more-with-less” directive: they manage three times more servers per administrator than do inefficient data centers, and they implement four to six times more storage optimization techniques.

Efficient enterprises also have stronger business continuity: 90 percent of IT leaders at efficient enterprises replicate their primary site with an active-active approach, whereas only 21 percent of inefficient enterprises do so.

You can request a copy of the report upon its release here (registration is required).

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 03/16/2012 at 11:53 AM0 comments


IBM Study Says Cloud Driving Fundamental Business Innovation

The number of enterprises using cloud computing to overhaul their business models will more than double within three years, according to a new IBM study. “Businesses that embrace the transformative power of cloud will have a significant advantage in the race to introduce new products and services and capture new markets and revenue streams.”

The IBM Institute for Business Value worked with the Economist Intelligence Unit to survey over 600 business and tech executives around the world about their current cloud use and future plans. The findings were released in its new report, The Power of Cloud: Driving Business Model Innovation.

“Companies are starting to understand -- cloud isn’t just about gaining efficiencies and cost savings; it’s about driving the kind of fundamental innovation that provides lasting marketplace advantage,” said Saul Berman, IBM global strategy consulting leader and co-author of the study.

Among the findings: 16 percent of executives surveyed say they’re currently using cloud capabilities for “sweeping innovation, such as entering new lines of business or reshaping an existing industry.” Although just over half said “improving organizational efficiency” was a business challenge today, just under a third (31 percent) expect it will be that way in three years. In fact, 35 percent expect to use cloud computing to transform business models in that time frame because they believe they’ll be focusing on growth and competitive initiatives instead.

Expectations are high for cloud initiatives. For example, the study found that 62 percent said increased collaboration with external partners is a key objective for adopting cloud. Over half (57 percent) said cloud was being driven by “competitive cost advantages through vertical integration”. Almost as many (56 percent) said “opening new delivery channels and markets” was a key business objective.

The study cites an example of an “online marketplace for handmade goods that has taken advantage of cloud’s cost flexibility to gain access to more powerful analytics online. The company is able to cost-effectively analyze data from the approximately one billion monthly views of its Web site and use the information to create product recommendations, providing it with access to tools and computing power that might typically only be affordable for larger retailers.” In other words: many companies envision that they can become mini Amazons.

The participants also say they’ll be moving front-office operations to the cloud, thanks to to the “cloud's capabilities to mask complexity and enable user-defined experiences, as well as its overall scalability and cost flexibility.”

You can download a copy of the executive summary, rich with specific survey details, here. No registration is required.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 03/14/2012 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Growing Bandwidth Demands Weigh Heavy on Network Admins

If you manage networks, the fifth annual State of the Network Global Study, released today by Network Instruments will likely verify what you already know: bandwidth demands are rising -- and rising quickly. One-third of the 163 network professionals (located around the world) questioned say bandwidth consumption will grow by more than half within the next two years.

The results of the study showed several drivers for such growth  For example, video conferencing has been implemented at 55 percent of enterprises surveyed, and that number is expected to grow to 70 percent next year. (Respondents cite inadequate user knowledge and training as their biggest concern about video, which includes video conferencing set up in rooms or on PC desktops.) Such growth makes a big dent in network performance, and it may get worse -- a quarter of respondents say video will consume half of available bandwidth within 12 months.

Cloud computing is also putting a strain on networks; only 60 percent of those surveyed are implementing the technology -- a figure that has remained the same since last year’s survey. What’s keeping the adoption rate steady? Participants blame concerns about corporate data security as their primary concern (74 percent), followed by the inability to monitor the end-user experience (at just 37 percent of respondents).

Although the percent of enterprises embracing cloud has remained constant, Network Instruments found that the number of implementations per organization is growing, especially software-as-a-service (SaaS), infrastructure-as-a-service, and private clouds (which grew 10 percent over the last 12 months). On average, the study says, “respondents expected one-third of their applications to be running in the cloud within 12 months.”

When it comes to managing performance and bandwidth, 83 percent said their biggest app troubleshooting difficulty is identifying the source of the problem (coming in second -- at 36 percent -- handling user complaints and errors). That could explain why 41 percent said that “network and application delay issues took more than an hour to resolve.”

Network Instruments includes this warning: [The] survey results again show that technological innovations such as virtualization, 10 Gb, and cloud continue to oupace the ability of those responsible to fully monitor and manage the capabilities. Unless addressed, this will likely cause delayed or extended rollouts and increased costs. More troubling, it may result in reduced overall service quality and degraded end-user experience, either of which can have material implications for the acceptance and ultimate success of these promising technologies.

An executive summary of the report is available at here.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 03/13/2012 at 11:53 AM0 comments


IT: Fundamentals Trump Technology in Hackett Group Study

Cloud computing and virtualization may be taking a back seat in IT priorities this year according to the latest annual survey of key IT issues released recently. In fact, getting back to IT fundamentals will be vital to helping enterprises reach their goals, but it won’t be easy. The Hackett Group’s latest report, 2012 IT Key Issues: Coming to Terms with the “New Normal,” found that among its Advisory Program members, volatility is part of the new business landscape. In the present global economy, financial uncertainty abounds.

“The percentages of companies emphasizing growth, operating margin, and presence in emerging markets have all increased over prior years,” the report points out, which explains why 92 percent of respondents rated “Accelerate revenue growth” as important or extremely important, and 90 percent gave that rating to “Improve operating margin.” Both of these priorities rose by over 3 percent from the 2011 study.

The push for globalization is driven in part because “new growth will be hard to achieve in the West’s slow or stagnant markets.” In addition, IT, HR, finance, and procurement functions have “lagged other aspects of the business,” but survey participants see that changing. Although 22 percent of those surveyed report that their supply chain is predominantly global or they’re pushing for a maximum globalization position, 37 percent expect to be in that position in 2-3 years. When it comes to internal operations and back-office support (including finance, HR, and IT), the goal is more aggressive: 13 percent report a predominant/maximum position today but over one-third (34 percent) say they’ll be there in 2-3 years.

Planning is always tough, but this year it’s especially challenging. In previous years, companies have built into their assumptions variability of key inputs and outputs of roughly 5 to 10 percent; today that figure is closer to 25 percent. When you compound that variability -- a 25 percent variation in energy costs plus a 25 percent potential difference in customer demand -- and you see the problem.

All these factors point to the need for business agility, which means enterprises will need to collect and analyze high-quality data to be confident in their decisions -- which, in turn, means they’ll be relying more than ever on IT. To that end, the study found that 69 percent say implementing business intelligence and analytics applications will be a top technology focus in 2012; data stewardship and standardizing on master data and data cleaning rated second on this list, at 64 percent.

To support these needs, the list of IT key issues for 2012, according to the study, include:

  • Improve business relationship management and IT/business alignment (69 percent)
  • Reduce technology infrastructure and application portfolio complexity (67 percent)
  • Technology enablement of transactional processes (60 percent)
  • Technology enablement of transactional processes (53 percent)

What’s getting in their way? It’s the fundamentals: IT departments are stymied in unlocking the “full potential of existing technology investments” (67 percent) and are challenged by the “quality of information and KPIs for performance management” (59 percent). These and other roadblocks, Hackett says, highlight to two main points: “Improving fundamental IT service delivery capabilities is of critical importance,” and “Excelling at IT fundamentals is more important for enabling the business strategy than mastering leading-edge technologies.”

The Hackett Group’s study asked “executive management and leaders of business support functions” in finance, human resources, IT, procurement, and supply chain at Global 1000 companies about their “functional priorities and initiatives” for 2012.

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted on 03/12/2012 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Are Mainframe Problems Being Ignored?

How well prepared for mainframe skills leaving your IT department? If you’re like the enterprises sampled in a new Compuware survey, the answer is -- probably not well.

Compuware’s study of 520 chief information officers in the U.S., Europe, and the Asia-Pacific region, focused on “how enterprise organizations are addressing the impact of retiring mainframe developer teams.” Nearly half (46 percent) of CIOs “admit to having no plans in place to address mainframe developer shortages.” (The figure was 60 percent for CIOs in the UK and just 23 percent for Australian CIOs.)

Filling positions from a pool of college graduates doesn’t look promising, either. Nearly 7 in 10 (69 percent) of survey participants “believe that a lack of change in the mainframe environment is turning IT graduates off from mainframe development.”

“Businesses are supporting new technologies like mobility and cloud computing at record pace, forcing mainframe teams to contend with the added workload of quickly and successfully integrating new applications with legacy mainframe applications,” said Kris Manery, senior vice president and general manager, mainframe solutions business unit at Compuware said in a statement.

“This rise in mainframe development coupled with a lack of new developers -- a trend we call the ‘New Normal of Mainframe’ -- puts teams at risk of becoming less effective in supporting the applications that are critical to today’s world economy.”

More than half (56 percent) claim that “mainframe developers -- continually challenged to do more with less in a rapidly evolving IT environment -- are struggling to meet the changing needs of the business.” Part of that may be due to the staid nature of the mainframe. After all, it’s not where all the sexy new technologies can be found.

In addition, employers aren’t doing much to modernize mainframe environments. Why? According to the survey, it’s due to “high acquisition costs (60 percent), complex integration (54 percent), and high training and implementation costs (45 percent).

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 03/02/2012 at 11:53 AM4 comments


SharePoint Security: Users Say No

The results of a new survey sponsored by Cryptzone, a threat-management solutions provider, should have security and SharePoint administrators worried. Although 92 percent of SharePoint users know that sharing data outside of SharePoint is risky for their enterprise, almost a third (30 percent) of those surveyed were willing to do so, saying they weren’t “bothered if it helps me get the job done.” One-third of survey participants (34 percent) admitted that they “never really thought about the security implications of SharePoint,” and 13 percent said that protecting company data wasn’t their job.

More troublesome: nearly half (45 percent) of those surveyed turn their nose up at SharePoint security, admitting that they “disregard the security within SharePoint and copy sensitive or confidential documents from the collaboration tool to their local hard drive [or] USB device” or will e-mail it to third parties.

Why copy documents from SharePoint instead of using the built-in controls the collaboration tool offers? According to 43 percent of those surveyed, they work from home or have to work with others who don’t have access to SharePoint (more than 55 percent use this reasoning).

As Cryptzone concludes: “What this practice demonstrates is that this new technology, while supposedly a business enabler, is recognized by many employees as a barrier and doesn’t live up to its full potential as an inclusive collaboration tool to enhance productivity.”

Porosity of the Perimeter

In a statement, Daniel Nilsson, data-loss-prevention expert at Cryptzone said, “Organizations recognize that today’s workforce needs to be able to collaborate effectively, but if this new-found access to data is introducing lax security practices, then the danger could quickly outweigh the benefits. While some might consider it admirable that their employees are so dedicated to getting the job done, the fact remains that they’re circumventing procedures and security put in place for good reason.

“Ignoring the consequences is a risky strategy. [I]s it any wonder, then, that we see so many data security breaches as a result? Rather than ignoring what’s happening, steps need to be taken that recognize the increasing porosity of the perimeter and allow the workforce to harness the power SharePoint offers without compromising security.”

The study also looked at security administration. It found that one-third of IT admins believe users can control access rights within SharePoint but aren’t allowed to do so, which explains why 69 percent say they’re responsible for managing access rights. Almost a quarter of users (22 percent) don’t know how to manage access rights.

More than one-third (35 percent) of SharePoint administrators go snooping and peek “at documents they’re not meant to read,” such as employee details (including salaries) or merger and acquisition details. Cryptzone says this indicates that “some organizations clearly aren’t getting the balance right.”

Nilsson recommends that organizations develop “even more innovative methods of communicating cause and effect to their users. Perhaps even consider sanctions to wake up the 12 percent that don’t consider it their role to protect corporate information.”

The full survey results are available at www.cryptzone.com/sharepoint-security-survey (no registration is requied).

-- James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 02/22/2012 at 11:53 AM0 comments


Why Performance Management Systems Aren’t Meeting IT’s Needs

According to a new global survey of 150 IT operations managers conducted by eG Innovations, IT professionals managing service performance “in transformational IT environments” find it difficult to keep up “with the performance management requirements of virtualized IT infrastructures.”

Transformational IT technologies -- think cloud and virtualization, among others-- offer some great operational and cost benefits, and they’re “changing the way IT services are provisioned and delivered,” the company said. They also complicate how IT manages business services; point the finger at infrastructure’s dynamic nature.

IT managers working in virtualized environments want management systems “as automated, agile, and easy to use as the virtualized infrastructure itself,” eG Innovations’ release points out.

“Management tools designed for physical environments are not only difficult to use, but are also not designed to handle the dynamic inter-dependencies in virtual infrastructures. The eG Innovations 2012 study finds that IT operations are looking for new performance management practices and solutions in order to catch up with the pace of technology change and deal with these new priorities and challenges.”

The survey revealed that getting at the root cause of problems in heterogeneous environments is IT’s greatest performance management challenge according to over half (54 percent) of respondents. IT can’t determine what’s causing “slow” performance -- the network, server, database, or VM?

“Today’s manual approach to troubleshooting performance issues is woefully inadequate in dealing with the complexity of transformational IT environments,” eG Innovations reports. Most (67 percent) of those surveyed would like to see performance management solutions help them “automate and accelerate the diagnosis and resolution of performance issues in heterogeneous service environments.”

IT is also struggling to manage virtual and physical machines. No surprise there. Over half (53 percent) are looking for a solution that “can manage performance of both virtual and physical machines, as well as the applications running on them, reflecting the new dynamics and inter-dependencies introduced by virtualization layers of IT environments.”

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed (60 percent) report that they are currently working with more than one independent performance monitoring tool -- “one for the network, another for servers, another for the database, and one for the virtualization tier.” No wonder they’re struggling -- and why 66 percent report that they’re looking for “comprehensive solutions that provide answers to cross-layer performance issues.”

The impact of these challenges will not surprise anyone in IT: customer satisfaction: Over half (53 percent) of respondents put lower customer satisfaction at the top of their “biggest business impact” list, followed by decreased user productivity (at 44 percent) and an increase of IT operations cost (44 percent).

The full survey results are available at www.eginnovations.com/survey2012 (short registration required).

James E. Powell
Editorial Director, ESJ

Posted by Jim Powell on 02/13/2012 at 11:53 AM0 comments