Top 5 things about this year’s Gartner Symposium

October 23, 2009 Appirio

Ryan Nichols

After spending 5 days talking technology with thousands of CIOs and some of the industry’s most insightful analysts, we thought we’d reflect on the top 5 and bottom 5 things about this year’s Gartner Symposium in Orlando, FL. Here’s our “Top 5” list, and the implications for enterprise CIOs:

1. Clear conversations about the cloud

Cloud was a huge theme at this year’s Symposium, and for good reason– “cloud” is now the most searched-on term on, passing searches related to “cost” in Q3 of this year. And Gartner shed a fair bit of light on these topics for their CIO clients: Their cloud taxonomy is more nuanced than the standard SaaS/PaaS/IaaS division. David Mitchell Smith did a great walkthrough of the major cloud vendors. Daryl Plummer’s notion of a “cloud service broker” makes clear that enterprises need new type of partners to help them migrate to the cloud. David Cearley made all of this concrete with real customer examples (see #2).

So while it is fair to say that the majority of attendees would say “you can take my servers out of my cold dead hands” (to quote Eric Knipp), there’s clearly an early majority that is not just investigating the cloud, but actively including it in their enterprise architecture. The most concrete proof-point? The sea of hands that went up when asked whether they were considering switching to a cloud-based email…. 50% in a room full of enterprise IT decision makers.

2. Demonstrated examples of customer success in the cloud

But talk is cheap, and conversations about the cloud are just the starting point. We were also thrilled to see concrete examples of customer success… especially since so many of the companies highlighted are Appirio customers. Here are some examples of what Gartner had to say about our customers’ success in the cloud:

  • Japan Post’s customer management system: “The system was developed in only three months, with a 13-person team, probably cutting six to 12 months off the development period of conventional development methods. Japan Post attributes this success to the SaaS nature of the solution.”
  • Web application for a government agency: “Built in only 3 weeks, 40 million consumers expected to access site at peak times, expected to support more than 20 million transactions … 510,000 transactions in the first month”
  • Author Solutions’ Book Publishing Platform: “Developed application in significantly less time and for lower cost than that estimated for a traditional custom in-house application. Lower ongoing operational costs—50%-75% reduction in time and cost to modify”
  • JohnsonDiversey on Google Apps: “Rapid rollout and adoption of applications-3 ½ month for complete total project. Total investment pays back in 14 months. Reduced operating cost of email/collaboration environment by 70%. User satisfaction and use up more than 25%.”
  • Avago on Google Apps: “Migration took two weeks after six months of planning. Avago has called the Google help desk four times, and has 1 person managing 4,100 mailboxes. Google is meeting its 99.9% uptime SLA”

Congrats to all these Appirio customers for their success and a thanks for their willingness to share.

3. Real commitment from Google for the enterprise

For the first time, Google laid out a convincing ambition and vision for enterprise IT, laying to rest questions about whether Google is “serious about the enterprise.” Eric Schmidt thinks Enterprise will be the next $1B business for Google (and threw the best party at Symposium to prove it!). Here are some highlights from his interview highlighting why Google’s approach to the enterprise is so unique:

  • Disruptive pricing: “We measure users, not revenue. The revenue will follow. I thought our prices were too high for Google Apps, and we considered giving it away. But we decided to offer it for a disruptive price paired with high quality service”
  • Complete, from hardware to web apps: “In 1 year you’ll be able to buy a netbook for your employees that’s 1/5 the cost of current laptops, equipped only with a powerful browser”
  • Re-thinking the fundamentals: “We’re not trying to design the future—we invent it along the way…. In the enterprise, I’ve been struck by how frustrated people are with the architecture they’d inherited from the previous CIO. These architectures were built 10-15 years ago, and the end user can’t get things done.”
  • Already used in at least ONE large enterprise! “We dogfood everything internally at Google. When it breaks we know about it first, and trust me we’re not very nice about it internally”

4. Seeing a mainstream “Conference 2.0”

Web 2.0 conferences have been using social media to enhance the traditional keynote / breakout session format. It was interesting to see this approach work so well at a more traditional technology conference as well. There was a LinkedIn group, a private social network on the conference site, and lots of reminders to follow #gartnersym on twitter. The stream was very active, with fantastic insights from analysts and attendees alike, even several CIOs! We were following ….and of course tweeting (@appirio_ryan). Gartner led the way—contributing the dialogue, retweeting, and giving a public shout-out to insightful contributors to the dialog. And the dialog wasn’t entirely virtual – we left the conference with one promising customer lead and one potential job candidate courtesy of twitter.

5. Acknowledgement of a “New Normal”

The “shock and awe” felt by the enterprise IT community over the last year’s economic conditions is finally being replaced by a some sense of a new normal. Gartner reported that IT spending has fallen 6.8% to 2006 levels, and won’t recover to 2007 levels until 2012. So CIOs are looking for ways to do more with less. But it wasn’t the sessions on cost cutting and virtualization that were the most crowded at this year’s Symposium—it was the sessions on cloud computing.

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