by Cara Hogan

Tech experts sound off: The IBM WebSphere investments for 2014

Published October 15, 2013


It’s budget season and every business is aiming to make the best possible technology investments this year to get ahead of the competition. The pressure is on to decide what percentage of money your company needs to spend on software for cloud, big data, mobile, in-memory computing, and other buzz-worthy technologies.  

Striking the right balance of investments can be complicated and there is no clear-cut strategy that leads to success. Add to that complexity the fact that many of the emerging technologies are intertwined and interdependent, according to Massimo Pezzini, VP and Technology Analyst for Gartner Inc.

“The big picture is what Gartner calls the Nexus of Forces—the convergence of social collaboration, mobile, cloud and big data in a single consistent architecture, which is not only an IT issue, but a business issue,” he says. “In this context there are several emerging technologies and opportunities.”

"The convergence of social collaboration, mobile, cloud and big data in a single consistent architecture is not only an IT issue, but a business issue."

Massimo Pezzini, VP and Technology Analyst for Gartner Inc.

For businesses that can get on board early, combining these technologies in a creative and consistent way can provide a huge return, Pezzini says. One example of that combination of powerful new technologies is the Internet of Things  (IoT), which uses connected sensors on everyday objects to collect vast amounts of data.

“Mobile devices, cars, engines, windmills, planes and more are all connected together through the internet,” Pezzini explains. “We’ve been speaking about this for a long time, but we are definitely seeing growing organizational investments now. That is one emerging technology which is going to be significant going forward.”

Tech investments: A year-over-year comparison>>


Analyst Jim Rapoza shared some results from recent research on technology investing from Aberdeen Consulting Group, where the firm asked companies about their 2013 investments and their plans for 2014.

They found that 44 percent of companies already deployed mobile in 2012 and 36 percent plan to implement it in the coming year. Public cloud also made large gains last year, with 42 percent of companies already using a public cloud and 21 percent planning to implement one next year. In contrast, fewer people implemented big data solutions or a hybrid or private cloud in 2013 than the growing number who plans these projects in 2014, according to Rapoza.

“Forty three percent [of respondents] are planning to implement some sort of big data and 44 percent are planning to do a private or hybrid cloud implementation [in 2014],” he says.

Read more in the full report from Aberdeen, “Don’t Let the Rising Tide of New Technologies Swamp Your Networks."

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Analyst Maribel Lopez of Lopez Research agrees, but adds that most businesses aren’t yet up to the challenge of utilizing the high volume of data created by the IoT. The key first step to gaining actionable insight into business processes is to create the big data processing and analytics infrastructure, made possible by solutions like IBM PureData System.

“If you don’t have the big data and analytics, you can’t do IoT,” she notes. “You need to get your house in order with the underlying technologies. And before you invest, you need to be thinking about what makes sense for your business. People with supply chain might have big data and IoT more on their forefront than some other organizations.”

The big money in Big Data
This type of investment in data can be expensive and involved. As data collection grows, it requires more powerful engines to make sense of the data as it is generated. Jim Rapoza, an Aberdeen Group Senior Research Analyst, says the trick for data is the ability to make useful business decisions based on the information you can glean from online, mobile and in-person transactions.

“Businesses are taking all of that data, sucking into these giant dynamic databases and trying to leverage business intelligence out of all of that data,” he notes. “That can be really powerful, but obviously you’re pulling in more data over your networks, so you need more resources to manage it. There’s a lot of work involved in controlling the complexity. It’s like drinking from a fire hose—you need the data, but you need to invest in BI and analytical tools that allow you to bring that fire hose down to a drinking spout.”

Pezzini recommends that businesses looking to make the most of big data use in-memory computing, which enables real-time data analysis.

“Big data is becoming more and more important, not only for strategic decisions, but for operational decisions,” he says. “So deciding on the fly whether to authorize a big order from an unreliable client—you may have some analytics that can help you make this decision, but they are typically [based on] stale data. In-memory computing gives real-time visibility into your data.”

Mobile has become one of the main drivers of the influx of data. Users are able to interact with companies through mobile devices, on social media and more. This provides businesses with a new way to connect with, market to and learn from their customers. Because of this enticing opportunity, about 44 percent of companies have already deployed a mobile strategy, according to Rapoza, and he predicts companies will not decrease their investments this year. According to a survey of WebSphere Insights readers, 30 percent of companies rank mobile as their number one investment for 2014.

"The businesses I’ve found that have been the most successful are those that do the groundwork and investigation."

Jim Rapoza, Aberdeen Group Senior Research Analyst

“Everyone knew that mobile would be the number one way that people would consume data, but I think it’s happened a lot faster than businesses expected,” Rapoza says. “We’re now seeing 90 percent of all business users interact with corporate through a tablet or smartphone. Businesses are scrambling to make mobile apps and services they’ve traditionally had on web and desktop side. It’s been a big pressure point and a lot of businesses are still planning to invest in those areas.”

Security shifts cloud cover
Cloud computing is also beginning to heavily influence the middleware marketplace, according to Pezzini. While public cloud were heavily invested in past years, 2014 will be the year of the hybrid and private clouds, as companies become more concerned with security. Gartner anticipates that Platform-as-a-Service and will grow by 30 percent in the next five years, which Pezzini says is very evident when looking at integration patterns.

“Businesses are realizing that applications need to be integrated in the company business processes, like legacy apps on the mainframe with Java,” he says. “For simplicity is of use and the rapid time to integration, organizations are increasingly turning to Integration Platforms-as-a-Service. For IBM, this is what IBM Cast Iron offering provides.”

Avoid 2014 investment gotchas
What about technologies that your company shouldn’t invest in? Rapoza said there are a few technologies he doesn’t recommend for most businesses. He specifically warns against hitching onto the trend of virtual desktops—where people aren’t given laptops or PCs, but instead use terminals to access the corporate network. While this technology does add value in specific markets, like manufacturing and heath care, for the majority of businesses it is not user friendly.

“The appeal is that when they shut down, the company knows things are secure and aren’t leaving the corporate office,” he says. “The problem is that has a huge impact on networks because you’re sending a whole operating system over your network. There’s a lot of lags, the mouse doesn’t move with your motion and makes doing anything really impossible. There was a push for businesses to adopt, but with the rise of mobile, most businesses just aren’t that interested.”

The way to separate technologies with promise from those that lack utility is due diligence. For companies looking to seriously invest in new technology, Rapoza advises every team to do serious research ahead of time.

“The businesses I’ve found that have been the most successful are those that do the groundwork and investigation, understand what’s coming down the pipeline and understand the technologies,” he says. ” This is something that will impact our business, something that won’t be a huge deal for our specific sector, but the companies that are successful are building infrastructure that is adaptable.”

For more information on technology investment trends, read a new Infographic on Investing in 2014.



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