What Fine Whisky Can Teach Us As End User Computing Professionals

David Johnson

When Something Is So Good, It's Hard To Imagine It Will Ever Be Matched
The famous connoisseur Jim Murray said of the 1974 Ardbeg Provenance: "This is the finest whisky I have ever tasted. As close to perfection as makes no difference." Ever notice that every once in a while, something comes along in which it seems heaven, earth and the stars were aligned? It's as if all of the ingredients came together to create something so amazing, it's hard to imagine it could ever be matched.

Microsoft Excel Is IT's Answer To The 1974 Ardbeg Provenance
I felt this way when I used Microsoft Excel in 1996. At the time I was a geologist responsible for accurately steering an oil drilling bit 3,000 meters below the surface of a Montana farm field. With Excel and the magical help of John Walkenbach's advanced Excel programming books, I could create a graphical representation of the well bore's profile from downhole telemetry data, condensed so that the drillers and I could easily see which way the bit was going thanks to Excel's charting functions and some tricky Visual Basic wizardry. It seemed there was nothing that Excel could not do.

Used In Ways The Designers Never Imagined
I am certain that the designers of Excel never envisioned that use case (I know this because one of the original product managers is a former colleague and we talked about it), but the product was so functional that a skilled user could make it do virtually anything. It saved us literally days of drilling at $30,000 per day because we could see so much more easily what was going on beneath our feet. We could drill a well an average of 20% faster than our competitors - a significant advantage when at the time the price of oil was so low, that the profit from the wells would take 5 years or more to be realized.

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Xsigo Expands to a Data Center Fabric: Converged Infrastructure for the Virtual Data Center

Richard Fichera

Last year at VMworld I noted Xsigo Systems, a small privately held company at VMworld showing their I/O Director technology, which delivereda subset of HP Virtual Connect or Cisco UCS I/O virtualization capability in a fashion that could be consumed by legacy rack-mount servers from any vendor. I/O Director connects to the server with one or more 10 G Ethernet links, and then splits traffic out into enterprise Ethernet and FC networks. On the server side, the applications, including VMware, see multiple virtual NICs and HBAs courtesy of Xsigo’s proprietary virtual NIC driver.

Controlled via Xsigo’s management console, the server MAC and WWNs can be programmed, and the servers can now connect to multiple external networks with fewer cables and substantially lower costs for NIC and HBA hardware. Virtualized I/O is one of the major transformative developments in emerging data center architecture, and will remain a theme in Forrester’s data center research coverage.

This year at VMworld, Xsigo announced a major expansion of their capabilities – Xsigo Server Fabric, which takes the previous rack-scale single-Xsigo switch domains and links them into a data-center-scale fabric. Combined with improvements in the software and UI, Xsigo now claims to offer one-click connection of any server resource to any network or storage resource within the domain of Xsigo’s fabric. Most significantly, Xsigo’s interface is optimized to allow connection of VMs to storage and network resources, and to allow the creation of private VM-VM links.

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Prediction: HP Cuts Loose Their Networking Hardware And Transforms Into A True Networking Alternative

Andre Kindness

HP’s startling announcement, two weeks ago, to discontinue Touchpad and all webOS-based products, purchase Autonomy Corporation, and split off its PC divisions, caught the market off-guard. Hewlett-Packard Chief Executive Officer Leo Apotheker feels the company could be the next Polaroid in the consumer products and mobile device war — a business that requires companies to be “much faster than a conglomerate can move in most circumstances.” The reality is this new strategic direction should not have surprised anyone who has read Leo’s résumé; it was the board’s intention to hire a strategic thinker who could evolve the company into a software and services organization by leveraging HP high-margin assets coupled with a few acquisitions. HP has one of the strongest orchestration software portfolios in the industry, which encapsulates everything from enhancing user experience through its APM solution all the way down to controlling Layer 2 through the Intelligent Management Center (IMC). With strategy toward creating and servicing cloud infrastructures, HP should examine what it has and figure out if its current networking portfolio differentiates the company, changes the way networking is done, and aligns HP’s networking division to HP’s strategic goals.

Three things I&O teams should think about when it comes to HP:

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It's Not About Apple vs. Microsoft, Or Apple vs. Google. It's About Freedom.

David Johnson

We are learning once again that what people want most is to be free
John Quincy Adams (sixth President of the US) said: "Who but shall learn that freedom is the prize…and on the oppressor's head to break the chain." Glorious change. Monumental change. Empowerment and Freedom. I submit humbly but with absolute conviction to all of you that we are in the midst of revolution in personal computing - the extent of which we will only fully comprehend once it's over, and established vendors and IT leaders alike are scattered on the side of the road.

It's not about Microsoft vs. Apple or Google vs. Apple. It's about freedom. Freedom from control. Freedom from establishments. Freedom of identity. Freedom from IT departments too understaffed and ill-equipped to help. Freedom from layers of management agents and miscellaneous junk that sap minutes to hours of productive time from our lives every day. The price of compliance and security you say? Hogwash.

End user experience is at an all-time low
The end user experience has deteriorated to the point that we sit and wait while the hourglass spins, as IT's remote bots take inventory, or install software updates while we're frantically trying to get our slides together for a customer meeting. The mindless bots scan for threats and lock the cursor while we're trying to write an e-mail, and we get embarrassing pop-up reminders while we're presenting to rooms full of people to make sure we know to update Adobe Acrobat. We're as mad as hell, and we're not going to take it any more! Who gave someone the right to assume that what their tool needs to do at any given moment is more important than the work we have to get done?

High performers are being hanged for taking matters into their own hands

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Intel Rewards Itanium Loyalists With Performance And RAS Features In Poulson

Richard Fichera

Intel Raises the Curtain on Poulson

At the Hot Chips conference last week, Intel disclosed additional details about the upcoming Poulson Itanium CPU due for shipment early next year. For Itanium loyalists (essentially committed HP-UX customers) the disclosures are a ray of sunshine among the gloomy news that has been the lot of Itanium devotees recently.

Poulson will bring several significant improvements to Itanium in both performance and reliability. On the performance side, we have significant improvements on several fronts:

  • Process – Poulson will be manufactured with the same 32 nm semiconductor process that will (at least for a while) be driving the high-end Xeon processors. This is goodness all around – performance will improve and Intel now can load its latest production lines more efficiently.
  • More cores and parallelism – Poulson will be an 8-core processor with a whopping 54 MB of on-chip cache, and Intel has doubled the width of the multi-issue instruction pipeline, from 6 to 12 instructions. Combined with improved hyperthreading, the combination of 2X cores and 2X the total number of potential instructions executed per clock cycle by each core hints at impressive performance gains.
  • Architecture and instruction tweaks – Intel has added additional instructions based on analysis of workloads. This kind of tuning of processor architectures seldom results in major gains in performance, but every small increment helps.
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What Steve Jobs' Resignation Means For Product Strategists

JP Gownder

First off, let me say this: I hope that Steve Jobs' health improves, and that he comes out of whatever challenges he's going through in the best of health. He's an amazing, visionary leader of a dynamic company -- and he's also a person with a family. Let's all wish him well.

While famously a CEO, Steve Jobs is also, it should be known, a product strategist par excellence. He's clearly been involved, in a deep way, in the development of Apple's product ideas, product designs, business models, go-to-market strategies, and responses to competition. These are the job responsibilities of product strategists. In his (and Apple's) case, product strategy has risen to the very top of the organization.

Product strategists of two different flavors are wondering how they might be affected by his resignation as CEO (and concomitant request to become chairman):

  • Product strategists who compete with Apple. Product strategists at companies like Microsoft, Google, Samsung, HP, Dell, HTC, and similar firms wonder if Steve Jobs' change in role might benefit them. They actually shouldn't wonder: His departure from the CEO spot won't benefit them -- not for a very long time, at least. Apple's product development road map stretches into multiple years ahead and has been shaped both by Jobs and by the organization he built. Jobs' departure won't affect Apple's product portfolio, quality, or competitiveness for a long time -- if ever.
     
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The Pit Of Despair Called Seat 54F, The MacBook Air, And Why People Are Bringing Them To Work

David Johnson

Most I&O professionals travel far less than the road warriors they serve, which means they could be missing an important personal connection with new forms of client computing. After years of lugging boat anchor-class laptops around and a broken shoulder from a skiing accident, I gave in last month and bought a new MacBook Air (yup, 13", i7, 4GB, 256GB SSD), and then spent the next month's worth of weekends getting it to work for my job. Here's why I did it, and why people in your firm are doing it too:

"Veev been vaiting for you," the Frau at the front of the 747 hissed as I stepped through the door with a sweat stain on my shirt roughly the shape of Alaska. Those of you who fly frequently on Star Alliance carriers may have noticed that Lufthansa is the only one that doesn't seem to care who you think you are on any other airline. I could be George Clooney (see "Up in the Air") with 10 million miles and a gold card from the chief pilot, and I'd still have to sit in a center seat -- 54F -- in the last row. No matter, it's where I always get to meet fun people like Ginny -- the wisecracking 101 year old grandmother from Wyoming, and Jim -- the head of desktop infrastructure for a large retail chain, who later became a customer.

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Would You Attend A Free ITSM Meet Up?

John Rakowski

Did the word ‘free’ prompt you to read this post  :-) ?

Stephen Mann’s post a couple of weeks ago on ‘Giving Back To The IT Service Management Community’ got me thinking in regards to ways in which the industry could give something back easily. The reality, I believe, is that we need to take ITSM back to its roots, back to focusing on IT customers.

One of the problems I see with ITSM adoption is that it is all too easy to get lost in a framework such as ITIL and to lose focus on the customer element. Unfortunately, ITSM adoption is not a one-size-fits-all approach and so adoption can be different from company A to company B, which means that trying to adopt a process from a guide can be difficult and can feel impossible.

The answer to good ITSM adoption practices lies within those practitioners who have implemented processes, experienced the highs, the lows, the sweat and even the tears. In order to really build best practices these people need to share these experiences back to the rest of the community. So one way I think we could do this is to arrange a ‘Free ITSM Practitioner Meet Up’ which I thought could maybe be called ITSMME (me=meet up). This would follow the successful Cloudcamp format and would be an evening, free to attend event with an agenda like this:

  • 6.30pm  – Introduction  - introducing speakers and maybe a theme.
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A Reflection Of What I Learned At Cisco Live: Growing Up Isn't Easy

Andre Kindness

Even though CiscoLive was a month ago, I’m getting a lot of inquiry calls from clients asking me what I thought and what does Cisco’s megalaunch mean to them. I feel Cisco’s emerging out of their teenage years of taking things for granted and is getting down to business. But is it too late? I don’t think so, but Cisco has a lot of work ahead of them to win the hearts and minds of infrastructure and operations personnel. On some strong indicators that positive change is in action, I&O managers can hang their hats on Cisco in three areas:

  • Vision. If there is one attribute that customers can bank on, Cisco always delivers a vision and helps provide a road map for enterprises on what networking professionals should expect to see their networks support. In general, their visions provide a guide light on value beyond the sea of commodity issues: price, features, and speed.
  • Operations. Cisco’s drive toward consolidating its own operations and dissolving technology silos into services is in alignment with what enterprises need to do and where technology solutions must evolve. Cisco is blending teams into five areas: 1) core routing/switching innovation and optimization; 2) collaboration solutions ; 3) virtualization (including data center and cloud) technologies; 4) video as a primary communication medium and IT task; and 5) architecture — defining and delivering IT architecture for businesses and service providers. I&O managers can expect to see much more integrated and simplified solutions. This should help enterprises reduce the overhead associated with long deployment times and expensive services built on complicated solutions.
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A Rift At The High-End For Server Requirements?

Richard Fichera

We have been repeatedly reminded that the requirements of hyper-scale cloud properties are different from those of the mainstream enterprise, but I am now beginning to suspect that the top strata of the traditional enterprise may be leaning in the same direction. This suspicion has been triggered by the combination of a recent day in NY visiting I&O groups in a handful of very large companies and a number of unrelated client interactions.

The pattern that I see developing is one of “haves” versus “have nots” in terms of their ability to execute on their technology vision with internal resources. The “haves” are the traditional large sophisticated corporations, with a high concentration in financial services. They have sophisticated IT groups, are capable fo writing extremely complex systems management and operations software, and typically own and manage 10,000 servers or more. The have nots are the ones with more modest skills and abilities, who may own 1000s of servers, but tend to be less advanced than the core FSI companies in terms of their ability to integrate and optimize their infrastructure.

The divergence in requirements comes from what they expect and want from their primary system vendors. The have nots are companies who understand their limitations and are looking for help form their vendors in the form of converged infrastructures, new virtualization management tools, and deeper integration of management software to automate operational tasks, These are people who buy HP c-Class, Cisco UCS, for example, and then add vendor-supplied and ISV management and automation tools on top of them in an attempt to control complexity and costs. They are willing to accept deeper vendor lock-in in exchange for the benefits of the advanced capabilities.

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