Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Architect for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Systems Client Experience Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2016, Tony celebrates his 30th year anniversary with IBM Storage. He is
author of the Inside System Storage series of books. This blog is for the open exchange of ideas relating to storage and storage networking hardware, software and services.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson )
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Did you miss your chance to attend Storage Networking World last week? IBM has some upcoming conferences that might be of interest to you.
IBM Systems Conference 2009
In this inaugural event, IBM executives, developers and industry experts reveal the latest innovations, trends and directions. In the span of three full days, you will hear and see technologies demonstrated that are needed to transform and respond effectively in these economic times.
There will be three tracks:
IBM Systems -- Including storage, mainframe, POWER and x86 systems
Solutions for a Dynamic Infrastructure
Professional Development -- including negotiation skills, project management and TCO analysis
IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium
If the above conference is too broad, we have a more storage-specificconference. The [IBM System Storage and Storage Networking Symposium] brings IBM storage developers, architects, technical experts, solution providers and customer speakers together in one place to show you how to address the growing challenge of managing and securing retention managed data. You'll also learn about the latest IBM System Storage™ portfolio product announcements.
I have spoken at these perhaps 12 of the last 14 years. The list of presenters has not yet finalized, so I do not yet know if I will actually be there this year.
Two exciting things are new this year. First, instead of being in San Diego or Las Vegas, it will be held in Chicago, Illinois instead!Secondly, you get a two-for-one with the [IBM System x and BladeCenter Technical Conference]. That's right, they are co-located there in Chicago so that you can attend sessions from both! Perhaps you spend 80 percent of your time on storage, and 20 percent on x86 servers, or 80 percent servers and 20 percent storage, now you can register for one price, and decide when you get there.
If you act soon, you can save money with the early-registration discount by May 31.
Hopefully, this will give you enough time to plan and make travel arrangements!
Jim Stallings, IBM General Manager for Global Markets, will explain why a smarter planet needs a dynamicinfrastructure. I used to work for Jim, when he was in charge of the IBM Linux initiative and I was on the Linux forS/390 mainframe team.
Erich Clementi, IBM Vice President, Strategy & General Manager Enterprise Initiatives, will explain how to best leverage opportunities with cloud computing.
Steve Forbes, Chairman and CEO of Forbes Inc. and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine, will presentGlobal Outlooks and the Challenge of Change.
Rich Lechner, IBM Vice President, Energy & Environment, will explain the importance of Building an Energy-Efficient Dynamic Infrastructure. I also worked for Rich, back when he was the VP of Marketing for IBM System Storage, and Iwas back then the "Technical Evangelist". See my post [The Art of Evangelism] to better understand why I don't carry that title anymore.
In addition to these presentations, you will be able to "walk" around to different booths and have on-line chats with subject matter experts and download resources. Don't worry, this is not based on [Second Life], but rather using "On24" much simpler visual interface.Of course, you can follow on [Twitter] or join the fan club at[Facebook].
This is a worldwide event, with translated resource materials and on-line subject matter experts in six different languages (English, French, Italian, German, Mandarin and Japanese). Those in North, Central and South Americas can participate June 23, and those in Europe, Asia and the rest of the world on June 24. [Register Today] and mark your calendars!
A Forrester Analyst drew the analogy of a river to the upcoming onslaught of millennials. Some 100 years ago, smart companies positioned themselves near rivers, the water provided power as well as a means of transporting products. However, today, being positioned near a river doesn't ensure company success, and there are plenty of examples of companies that have existed a long time now filing for bankruptcy.
As we get out of this recession, the war for people will be intense. In the United States, as many as 76 million[Baby Boomers], born between 1946 and 1964, are retiring or approaching retirement, being replaced by 46 million [Gen X], born between 1965 and 1976. By 2010, there will be as many as 31 million [Millenials], born between 1977 and 1998, in the workforce.
To drive the point home, the Forrester analyst cited [Whirlpool] as an example, a company more than 100 years old, with 73,000 employees across 170 countries. Whirlpool manufactures kitchen, laundry and other home appliances. From 1997 to 2002, however, Whirlpool's per-ticket sales were dropping at a rate of 3.4 percent per year. To reverse this trend, they established the Whirlpool Young Professional program, assigned I-mentors, and invested in Web 2.0 collaboration tools. They realized that they needed to harness the Gen X and Millenial energy. The result?From 2002 to 2006, they had a compete turn-around, with per-ticket sales growing 5.9 percent per year.
Since I covered IBM's keynote session yesterday, I thought it would only be fair to cover HP's today.IBM and HP are the top two IT vendors in the world, and not surprisingly also the top two IT storage vendors, and are both platinum sponsors for this event.
Phil McKinney, VP and CTO of Hewlett-Packard (HP) Personal Systems Group
Phil presented "Enabling Innovation: A Strength In Any Economy", which covered HP's approach to innovationnot just within HP itself, but also to help their customers. He presented an interesting progression forIT. In the first, IT is very technology-centric, focusing on standardizing platforms and automating tasks.In the second, IT is more process-oriented, standardizing and automating business processes measured for reliable IT outcomes. In the third, IT is business-aligned, standardizing and automating services, measured on business results. He argued that the challenge was for companies to transform their IT through this progression to improve business impact.
To help customers, HP focuses on four aspects of an Innovation Management Framework:
Strategy, Measurement and Metrics
Systems, Collaboration tools and knowledge management
Culture, Education and Training
Ecosystem, business partnerships and customer innovation
He wrapped up his talk reminding us that ideas without execution are just hobbies.
Tom Peck, Senior VP and CIO, Levi Strauss & Co
Levi Strauss & Co. manufactures denim pants and other clothing apparel, and has been doing so for more than 150 years. Tom made a point to actually wear denim jeans and a sports coat on stage for his talk.His presentation "Dealing with Disruption" was not about disruptive technologies, but rather the disruption the economic downturn has impact the retail industry. To survive through this recession, IT leaders needto be bold about their hiring, reorganizing and rethinking of IT because disruption is everywhere.
IT is not a cost center at Levi Strauss, and represents only 3.5 percent of their total expenses. Instead, they have educated their stakeholders that IT is an investment for competitive advantage. They have focused on simplifying, which is important because their line of pants has grown incredibly complex. When you factor in the different fabrics, colors, styles, sizes, fit and finish, you end up with a large numberof different pants. This complexity came from an effort to provide exactly what every customer thought they needed. He cited a great quote:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” --- Henry Ford
This same complexity occurs in IT. To address the changes needed, Tom combined "Lean IT" principles with "Six Sigma" methodologies. Lean IT helped identify problems with the overall flow of processes and provided the tools to remove steps that did not add value. Six Sigma was applied to the remaining steps that did add value, to improve capability and effectiveness.
Companies that have been around for awhile, like IBM, Whirlpool and Levi Strauss & Co., have learned to adapt to the changing business and IT landscape, and adopt new ideas for new ways of doing things.
Forrester analysts kicked off the keynote sessions for Day 1 of the Forrester IT Forum 2009 event. The theme for this conference is "Redefining IT's value to the Enterprise."Rather than focusing on blue-sky futures that are decades away, Forrester wants to present instead a blend of pragmatic informationthat is actionable now in the next 90 days along with some forward-looking trends.
If you ask CEOs how well their IT operations are doing, 75 percent will saythey are doing great. However, if you dig down, and ask how their companies are leveraging IT to help generate revenues, reduce costs, improve employee morale, drive profits, improve customer service, or manage risks, then the percentage drops down to 30 to 35 percent.
What are the root causes of this "perception gap" in value between business and IT? Several ideas come to mind:
Some CEOs still consider IT departments as "cost centers". Rather than exploiting technology to help drive the rest of the business, they are seen as a necessary evil, an extension of the accounting department, for example.
Some CEOs consider IT's role as basically "keeping the lights on". They only notice IT when the lights go out, or other business outages caused by disruptions in IT.
IT departments measure themselves in technology terms, not business terms. CEOs and the rest of the senior management team may not be "tech savvy", and the CIO and IT directors may not be "business savvy", resulting in failure to communicate IT's role and value to the rest of the business.
This conference is focused on CIOs and IT professionals, and how they can bridge the tech/business gap. The first two executive keynote presentations emphasized this point.
Bob Moffat, Senior VP and Group Executive, IBM
Bob Moffat (my fifth-line manager, or if you prefer, my boss's boss's boss's boss's boss) is the Senior VP and Group Executive of IBM's Systems and Technology Group that manufactures storage and other hardware. He presented how IBM is helping our clients deploy smarter solutions. Globalization has changed world business markets, has changed the reach of information technology, and has changed our client's needs.To support that, IBM is focused on making the world a smarter planet, instrumented with appropriate sensors, interconnected over converging networks, and intelligent to provide visibility, control and automation.
It's time to rethink IT in light of these new developments, to think about IT in client terms, with business metrics. Bob gave several internal and customer examples, here's one from the City of Stockholm:
Covering nine square miles of Stockholm Sweden, IBM led [the largest project of its kind] for traffic congestion in Europe. To reduce congestion caused by 300,000 vehicles, the City of Stockhold enacted a "congestion fee" with real-time recognition of license plates and a Web infrastructure to collect payments. The analytics, metrics and incentives have paid off. Since August 2007, traffic is reduced 18 percent, a reduction of travel time on inner streets, and a 9 percent increase in "green" vehicles.
In addition to smarter traffic, IBM has initiatives for smarter water, smarter energy, smarterhealthcare, smarter supply chain, and smarter food supply.
Dave Barnes, Senior VP and CIO, United Postal Service (UPS)
Dave Barnes must act as the "trusted advisor" to the rest of the senior management team. UPS delivers packages worldwide. They put sensors on all of the vehicles, not just to know how fast they were driving,but also how often they drove in reverse gear, and sensors on the engines to determine maintenance schedules.Analytics found that driving in reverse was the most dangerous, and by providing this information to the drivers themselves, the drivers were able to come up with their own innovative ways to minimize accidents.This is one role of IT, to provide employees the information they need to enable them to be better at their own jobs.
Dave also mentioned the importance of collaborating across business units. Their "Information Technology Steering Committee (ITSC)" has 15 members, of which only three are from the IT department. This helped deploy social media initiatives within UPS. For example, Twitter has been adopted so that senior management can get unfiltered customer feedback. This is perhaps another key role of IT, to flatten an organization from cultural hierarchies that prevent top brass up in the ivory tower from hearing what is going wrong down on the street. Too often, a customer or client complains to the nearest employee, and this may or may not get passed up accurately along the chain of command. Twitter allowed executives to see what was going on for themselves.
Dave also covered the "Best Neighbor" approach. If you were going to build a deck in your back yard, you might ask your neighbors that have already done this, and learn from their experience. Sadly, this does not happen enough in IT. To address this, UPS has a "Tech Governance Group" that focused on business process across the organization. For example, they improved "package flow", reducing 100 million miles in the past few years.
Lastly, he mentioned that many technologists are "loners". They have a few like that, but try to hire techies who look to team across business units instead. Likewise, they try to hire business people who are somewhat tech savvy. For example, they have encouraged business employees to write their own reports, rather than requesting new reports to be developed by the IT department. The end result, the business people get exactly the reports they want, faster than waiting for IT to do it. Another role for IT is to provide end-users the tools to make their own reports.
(Dave didn't mention what tools these were, but it sounded like the Business Intelligence and Reporting Tools [BIRT] that IBM uses.)
These two sessions were a great one-two punch to the audience of 600 CIOs and IT professionals. First, IBM sets the groundwork for what needs to be done. Then, UPS shows how they did exactly that, adopting a dynamic infrastructure and got great results. This is going to be an interesting week!
Well, I have arrived safely in Las Vegas, and the [Forrester IT Forum 2009 conference] started today at noon, with a Welcome Reception at the Technology Showcase. As a platinum sponsor, IBM has a booth manned by several subject matter experts, on the fourth floor of the Sands Expo, between the Venetian and Palazzo hotels.
On the left side, we have Paula Koziol and our [Kaon Interactive] 3D touch-screen.
On the right side, we have Ira Chavis and Cris Espinosa, and a rack of some of IBM's latest offerings.
I'm here all week to blog about this event. When I am not in sessions, I will probably hang out at the Technology Showcase with my colleagues above. If you are in Las Vegas, and want to connect, please contact me.