Monday, February 27, 2006 publishing real-time system status

Reacting to complaints about service outages, has set up a new website,, that reports real-time system availability for each instance of its systems worldwide.

The site reports historical information for the past month. For example, in North America, on February 16, the status reads,
Time: 6:28pm PST

Category: Service Disruption

Detail: The NA1 system experienced a disruption in service due to the failure of a hardware server in our cluster. a manual restart restored availability.

Root Cause: At 6:28pm PST, a primary hardware server in our cluster failed and one of our North American (NA1) servers did not automatically recover. This required a manual restart of the NA1 database, which completed at 7:30pm PST.
Although not a substitute for maintaining expected service levels, broadcasting the current system availability can go a long way toward satisfying customer demands for information.'s move to make this information publicly available, even to non-subscribers, is to be applauded, and I believe this sets a precedent for other on-demand providers. If on-demand computing is to take hold, this level of transparency is needed.

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Yet more outages at
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Sunday, February 19, 2006

How to cost-justify an IT investment

I'll be speaking on the subject, "How to Cost-Justify an IT Investment," at AFCOM's spring Data Center World conference in March. The presentation will explain how IT managers can use the concept of economic value added (EVA) to build the business case for IT infrastructure and data center investments.

Business executives aren't writing any blank checks to IT these days. Therefore, data center managers and other IT executives need to be able to present the cost and benefits for each IT project in terms that executives outside of IT can appreciate.

Too often an IT manager will present a new project in terms of why it is important. But, every project is important to somebody. With limits on funding, business executives think in terms of which project delivers more value to the organization.

For example, it may be obvious to the IT group that server upgrades are necessary. But when the request gets to the executive committee, it is competing with a new plant in Idaho, or a new warehouse in Buffalo, which are also important. So the IT group needs to find a way to show that those server upgrades either make money or save money. It's not always easy.

Part of the presentation will focus on application of economic value added (EVA) as a tool for IT investment analysis.

AFCOM's Data Center World conference is being held March 19-23, 2006, at the Georgia Word Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia. To request a free conference brochure or to register for the conference, visit AFCOM's website at

AFCOM is the premier association representing the needs of enterprise and Internet data center executives and vendors around the globe. Established in 1981, AFCOM has become a forum for data center professionals, where they can share best practices and disseminate education on key management issues through the media, trade shows and conferences. The Data Center Institute--AFCOM's think-tank--provides the industry's most comprehensive insight and analysis on key issues affecting all data-intensive organizations. The association's members include data center managers, CIOs and other IS professionals from Fortune 1000 companies.

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Using Economic Value Added (EVA) to justify IT investments

Friday, February 17, 2006

IT security: large firms lag behind

At Computer Economics, we've just released our new IT Security Study. There are some interesting results regarding who's leading and who's lagging when it comes to IT security.

By nearly every measure, large firms lag behind mid-size organizations in IT security spending, staffing, technology, and management best practices.

IT securityAccording to our recently released 2006 IT Security Study: The Current State of IT Security Budgets, Management Practices, and Security Incidents, companies with over $750 million in annual revenues lag behind mid-size firms in relative spending for IT security, adoption rates for security technologies, and deployment of best practices for IT security management.

In addition, many companies of all sizes fail to implement a number of basic security management best practices. For example, 65% of all organizations do not provide periodic IT security training for their employees, and 67% do not conduct periodic software audits of desktop computers to ensure that unauthorized programs or content are not present. A number of other statistics from the study confirm this finding.

The study also found that, in spite of these deficiencies, most companies are not authorizing more money for IT security. The median company in our study had zero increase in IT security spending last year, and the budget increases that did occur were mainly among small and mid-size firms.

IT security may be a hot topic, but that doesn't mean that management is willing to spend more money on it.

The budget squeeze is most evident among small firms and large firms, where roughly half of the respondents said that their security budgets are not adequate to provide the level of IT security needed. In mid-size firms, only about a fifth of the respondents felt that way.

The study, based on a survey of North American IT security managers, analyzes information security spending, staffing, incidents, the rate of technology adoption, and the deployment of security best practices for large, medium, and small organizations.

The full IT Security Study, of 186 pages with over 150 charts, is available for instant online purchase from the Computer Economics website. An executive summary with key findings and trends is also available.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

NetSuite scoops Microsoft resellers

A strong reseller channel is a key success factor for selling enterprise systems to the small and midsize business market. As I've noted in the past, the population of such resellers is limited, and its not easy to build a reseller organization from scratch. The reseller has to make a significant investment in hiring experienced salespeople and implementation consultants, then they must be trained specifically in the vendor's product. Sales cycles are long, and implementation projects can be risky, stretching out collections.

So, the easiest way for a vendor to build the reseller channel is to steal resellers from another vendor. This has been going on for years.

According to the Channel Insider, the latest example is Netsuite, an ERP on-demand vendor that appears to have picked up five former resellers of Microsoft Dynamics (formerly, Microsoft Business Solutions, MBS). The five are Altico Advisors (Marlboro, MA), Roux Business Systems (Baton Rouge, LA), VAR2 (Beaverton, OR), Premier Computing Technologies (Salt Lake City, UT), and Nolan Computers (UK).

The need for resellers is so important, that NetSuite, like other vendors, offers incentives to jump ship.
The NetSuite program offers Microsoft Dynamics VARs selling products such as Great Plains, Solomon, Navision, and CRM a 35 percent margin, a 50 percent discount on NetSuite for internal use, and free sales training for up to five people if they switch to its hosted ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution.
Not that Microsoft isn't also trying to poach resellers from other vendors.
Microsoft has announced its own program to grab Sage resellers for its Dynamics family. VARs selling Peachtree will receive a $200-per-seat discount up to $1,000 on Great Plains, Navision and Solomon products. VARs selling MAS90, MAS200, MAS500 can receive a $500-per-seat discount, up to a maximum of $10,000, on Dynamics Professional version.
eWeek has the story.

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