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Last month, I had the pleasure to help train Watson in its latest mission, to help answer questions from sellers, this are not just for the IBM feet on the street, but also for IBM distributors and IBM Business Partners as well.
In their post [Workers Spend Too Much Time Searching for Information], Cottrill Research explains the problem all too well. Here is an excerpt:
"... [survey by SearchYourCloud] revealed 'workers took up to 8 searches to find the right document and information.' Here are a few other statistics that help tell the tale of information overload and wasted time spent searching for correct information -- either external or internal:
In the early days of the Internet, before search engines like Google or Bing, I competed in [Internet Scavenger Hunts]. A dozen or more contestants would be in a room, and would be given a list of 20 questions to find answers for. Each of us would then hunt down answers on the Internet. The person to find the most documented answers before time runs out wins. It was quite the challenge!
Over the years, I have honed my skills as a [Search Ninja]. With over 30 years of experience in IBM Storage, many sellers come to me for answers. Sometimes sellers are just too lazy to look for the answers themselves, too busy trying to meet client deadlines, or too green to know where to look.
A good portion of my 60-hour week is spent helping sellers find the answers they are looking for. Sometimes I dig into the [SSIC], product data sheets, or various IBM Redbooks.
Other times, I would confer with experts, engineers and architects in particular development teams. Often, I learn something new myself. In a few cases, I have turned some questions into ideas for blog posts!
It was no surprise when I was asked to help train Watson for the new "Systems SmartSeller" tool. This will be a tool that runs on smartphones or desktops to help answer questions that sellers might need to respond to RFP or other client queries.
The premise was simple. Treat Watson as a student at "Cognitive University" taking classes from dozens of IBM professors, in a series of semesters, or "phases".
Phase I involved building the "Corpus", the set of documents related to z Systems, POWER systems, Storage and SDI solutions; and a "Grading Tool" that would be used as the Graphical User Interface. I was not involved in phase I.
Phase II was where I came in. Hundreds of questions are categorized by product area. I worked on 500 questions for storage. For each question, Watson had up to eleven different responses, typically a paragraph from the Corpus. My job as a professor was to grade the responses to some 500 storage questions:
Most of the answers were either 1-star (not storage related) or 2-star (mentioned storage, but poor response). I would search through the existing Corpus looking for a better answer, and at best found only 3-star responses, which I would add to the list and grade as a 3-star response.
I then searched the Internet for better answers. Once I found a good match, I would type up a 4-star response, add it to the list, and point it to the appropriate resources on the Web.
Other professors, who were also looking at these questions, would then get to grade my suggested responses as well. Watson would learn based on the consensus of how appropriate and accurate each response was graded.
I don't know where the Cognitive University team got some of the questions, but they were quite representative of the ones I get every week. In some cases, the seller didn't understand the question he heard from the client, making it difficult for me to figure out what they were actually asking for.
It reminds me of that parlor game ["Telephone" or "Chinese Whispers"], in which one person whispers a message to the ear of the next person through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group. I have actually played this at an IBM event in China!
Watson needs to parse the question into nouns and verbs, and use that Natural Linguistic Programming (NLP) to then search the Corpus for appropriate answer. I determined three challenges for Watson in this case:
I managed to grade the responses in the two weeks we were given. Part of my frustration was the grading tool itself was a bit buggy, and I spent some time trying to track down some of its flaws.
The next phase is in late January and February. This will give the Cognitive University team a chance to update the Corpus, improve the grading interface, and find more professors and different set of questions. I volunteered the most recent four years' worth of my blog posts to be added to the Corpus.
Maybe this tool will help me turn my 60-hour week back to the 40-hour week it should be!
technorati tags: IBM, Watson, Cottrill Research, SearchYourCloud, McKinsey, IDC, Google, Bing, Search Ninja, Internet Scavenger Hunts, SSIC, Telephone Game, Chinese Whispers, NLP, RFP, Storwize, RtC, Zoltar, Cognitive University
Fellow blogger Chris Mellor from The Register has an interesting post titled [It's a ratchet: Old storage guard face incoming tech squeeze]. Chris opines that the big traditional storage vendors -- which he refers to as the "old guard": Dell EMC, HDS, HPE, IBM and NetApp -- are being squeezed out by startups with new technologies.
Last week, I saw the play [Fiddler on the Roof], a musical production by Arizona Theater Company (ATC), and thought of various parallels with Chris's post.
For those not familiar, the story centers around a father named Tevye and his wife trying to stick to tradition, with five daughters who are open to breaking with tradition to get married. The family lives in a small rural town, back in a time long ago when people were persecuted for their religious and ethnic background. Aren't you glad we live in [more enlightened times]!
Back to Chris Mellor, he writes in his post:
"This old guard has so far failed to squash newcomers in the all-flash array, hyperscale, object and software-defined storage areas. This is despite the established firms adopting these technologies and acquiring some startups."
Should the old guard try to squash newcomers? Often, these startups provide much needed innovations that move the IT industry forward.
In the play, Tevye wants to stick to tradition, whereby the town's matchmaker would find a husband for each daughter, and he, as father of each bride, would then provide his permission and blessing to the match.
Obviously, these startups are neither asking the old guard for their permission nor their blessing. While I can't speak for the rest of the "old guard", IBM is leading in these various spaces. Let's look at each of these new trends.
In the play, Tevye realizes the world is changing all around him, he can either fight these changes and stick to tradition, or accept that he must change also, and move on. After 105 years, IBM continues to lead the IT industry, primarily by adopting new trends and technologies, moving to new business opportunities as they present themselves.
technorati tags: IBM, Chris Mellor, The Register, Fiddler on the Roof, Arizona Theater Company, All-Flash Array, AFA, FlashSystem, DS8000, Elastic Storage Server, ESS, SAN Volume Controller, SVC, , Storwize, IDC, Software-defined Stroage, SDS, Spectrum Storage, object storage, Spectrum Scale, Spectrum Archive, IBM Cloud Object Storage, POSIX, NFS, SMB, HTTP, Amazon S3, OpenStack Swift, Hyperscale Storage, Spectrum Accelerate
IBM is doing a bit of year-end housekeeping. The Storage Community (sto
IBM will continue to host a community for all of its followers and contributors to share insights on the latest trends in storage at [ibm
All of the most recent IBM content from stor
If you would like to contribute to the new community, please [register here]. Simply click the silhouette icon in the top right-hand corner of the page and select "register." Input your email address and create a password, then sign in. You will receive an email from IBM with further instructions to get you set up.
IBM's twitter handle (@SmarterStorage) will also be sunset as of January 1, 2017, but I encourage you to follow @IBMStorage, or my own twitter handle @az990tony, for the latest storage news and announcements from IBM.
Last Thursday, Dec 15, I had the pleasure to present to 162 clients and IBM Business Partners, followed by the premiere showing of [Rogue One, a Star Wars movie]!
(FCC Disclosure: I work for IBM. This blog post can be considered a "paid celebrity endorsement" for IBM products and services. I have no financial interest in Lucasfilm Ltd, or its parent company Disney, LEGO company, or any competitor mentioned in this post.. I was not compensated to review this film or mention it on my blog. All graphics from the film used in this blog and related presentation were publicly available under the U.S. "fair use" doctrine. There are no spoilers in this blog, so keep reading!)
This event was a collaboration between:
As a public speaker for IBM, I get to travel all over the world, and throughout the United States. This trip wraps up my travel for 2016, with 34 weeks on the road!
Normally, when I am asked to present, I am given a list of products or topics to cover. This time, I was just given the title "Has Your Data Gone Rogue? -- Using IBM Flash and solutions to obtain enhanced business insights" and the suggestion to keep within the theme of Star Wars.
I had 45 minutes to cover whatever I thought would be something of interest to the clients in the audience, which spanned a variety industries from Healthcare and Financial services, to Retail and Manufacturing.
I arrived to the theater early to setup and mingle with the clients in the lobby. The sponsors that organized this event had gifts to raffle off, including two drones, and three Star Wars themed LEGO sets.
I was told to be done by 7:30pm. It turns out that the movie is streamed electronically, rather than having the actual media distributed physically to the theaters, as a way to prevent piracy.
My PowerPoint charts were in 16:9 format to fill the screen. This was perhaps the biggest screen I had ever presented on! I look so tiny in comparison!
Deck is available on the [IBM Expert Network on Slideshare]
IBM has been a leader in all-flash arrays for the past three years in a row, and as an IBM Business Partner, Corus360 has been one of our top sellers in the Southeastern United States. IBM offers a wide array of choices, from DS8000 to FlashSystem to the new [IBM DeepFlash Elastic Storage Server (ESS)].
Rebels are inquisitive. IBM is considered number one in Analytics. For every type of question, IBM has analytics to help answer. Here are some examples:
I focused on the use of Hadoop and Spark with the [IBM Spectrum Scale] software pre-installed on the DeepFlash ESS device. The DeepFlash ESS combines powerful POWER8 servers with the DeepFlash 150, a 3U high JBOF that holds up to 64 solid-state boards 8TB each, optimized for analytics of unstructured data content.
Spectrum Scale is supported on any open source distribution of Hadoop and Spark, and is an optional add-on to [IBM BigInsights]. [IBM HDFS Transparency Connector] has 100 percent compatibility, allowing Hadoop and Spark analytics programs run directly without modification.
To provide valuable insight to the storage environment itself, IBM offers IBM Spectrum Control. The newest edition is [IBM Spectrum Control Storage Insights], a Soft
The Galactic Empire has a different set of problems. They are behind schedule, having worked on the Death Star for the past 20 years, and upper management is growing impatient. A major test is imminent to prove its progress.
To speed development and test efforts, IBM offers a variety of FlashSystem products:
As we learned in earlier episodes I to III of the Star Wars saga, a big problem was too many clones. IBM Spectrum Storage family has introduced the newest member: IBM Spectrum Copy Data Management. This software creates and catalogs data base clones to help with development and test efforts, reducing the number of rogue copies.
Lastly, the Empire must keep its secrets safe and protected. I covered the basics of data-at-rest encryption, the use of symmetric and asymmetric keys, [IBM Security Key Lifecycle Manager (SKLM), and how these are deployed on IBM flash, disk and tape products.
Then, we watched the movie. I found it quite entertaining!
technorati tags: IBM, #360RogueOne, Star Wars, Rogue One, Arrow, Corus360, Regal Medlock, SimpleMind, View Your Mind, mindmap, LEGO, DeepFlash, Elastic Storage Server, IBM Analytics, Spectrum Scale, IBM+BigInsights, HDFS Transparency, Spectrum Control, Storage Insights, Rebel Alliance, Galactic Empire, Death Star, FlashSystem, FlashSystem 900, FlashSystem V9000, FlashSystem A9000, FlashSystem A9000R, Spectrum Copy Data Management, Data-at-Rest Encryption, Security Key Lifecycle Management