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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior Software Engineer for the IBM Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing 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. You can also follow him on Twitter @az990tony.
(Short URL for this blog: ibm.co/Pearson
I can't believe I have been blogging for a year now!
I have Jennifer Jones from IBM to thank for getting this started. She was my predecessor in the job I have now, and she was moving on to bigger and better things, and during the transition for me to take over, she suggested that we start a blog, podcast, or similar. While there are many blogs and podcasts inside the firewall of IBM, I wanted something to be accessible to all of our IBM sales team, IBM Business Partners, existing and prospective clients, and to enable comments, to enable two-waycommunication. Podcasts are very one-way, so we chose a blog instead.Getting it set up took a while, convincing our own management that this was worthwhile, and dealing with our legal department on the IBM blogging guidelines of what we can and cannot write about, we finally got it going last year, launching September 1, just in time for our 50 years of disk systems innovation campaign.
It has been a wild ride, a great learning experience, and has proven quite fulfilling for job satisfaction. Here are some observations and lessons I have learned along the way.
Roller is the open source blog server that drives Sun Microsystem's blogs.sun.com employee blogging site, IBM DeveloperWorks blogs that this blog exists on, thousands of internal blogs at IBM Blog Central, the JRoller Java community site, and hundreds of others world-wide.Whereas there might be fancier blog systems elsewhere that I could have chosen, hosting my blog with IBM Developerworksseemed like a good choice. I can access from any web-browser capable machine, and enter my blog posts in nativeHTML, that I develop in the tool itself, or offline with a standard basic text editor like Microsoft Notepad that I can then cut-and-paste back in.
One lesson I learned the hard way was that Roller generates the Permalink URL for each blog post based on the first five words of the title. For that reason, it is important to chose an appropriate and unique title, avoiding the use of punctuation, quotation marks, or pharmaceutical "enhancement products" that might get rejected by SPAM filters.Once chosen, you can't change the title afterwards as it won't match the Permalink anymore.My blog post "Aperi is (enhancement product) for SMI-S" caused no end of grief to our Press Release team.
Writing blog posts in native HTML is not as hard as it sounds. I am limited to hosting a maximum of 24MB of files, and they can only be jpg, jpeg, gif, png, mp3, pdf or ppt format.So, wherever possible, I point to other websites for content.For those new to blogging, I recommendThe Barebones Guide to HTML.
Roller also generates for me a spreadsheet of all my page views for the week. Tracking blog traffic closely is as crazyas checking your company's stock price every day. These "web-stat" e-mails get filed directly into my Bacn folder on Lotus Notes.
In my earlyadvice to bloggers, I mentioned my choice of Bloglines as my RSS feed reader. When I subscribe to a new blog, I specify Full entries, not Partial,which allows me to scan it quickly, but filters out many of the non-text content like videos. It also allowed meto see what my own blog posts looked like from within a reader, so that I can write them appropriately.
I find if valuable to read other blogs, including those written by employees of our toughest competitors. Evenif you don't blog yourself, following blogs can be extremely valuable. Be careful what you leave as comments onother blogs, they may come back to haunt you later.
Currently, I track 55 blogs, some about storage,marketing, Web 2.0 issues, Second Life, Linux, or other areas of interest. I prefer blogs that make only 1-5 postsper week, so blogs like LifeHacker and LifeRemix are off my Bloglines list, but are excellent resourceswhen I am searching for something specific. If you think 55 is a lot of blogs, consider Timothy Ferriss' post onHow RobertScoble reads 622 RSS feeds each morning.
I have quite an international readership, so I have to be careful using American idioms and pop cultural references.For example, in my blog post IBM acquires Softek, I mentioned "shotgun weddings" and had various responses asking what exactly did that mean,all from readers outside the USA. I've learned that sometimes you need to link them to an American Slang dictionary,or Wikipedia encyclopedia entry to explain these terms and phrases.
Technoraticurrently tracks over 100 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media. Getting my blogtracked had some issues. You have to join, thenpost a "claim"on your own blog. My mistake was having a case-sensitive URL with a mix of upper and lower case letters, but Technorati prefers all lower case. IBM worked with Technorati to get this resolved.
Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website -- the primary use is to store your bookmarks online, which allows you to access the same bookmarks from any computer and add bookmarks from anywhere, too. On del.icio.us, you can use tags to organize and remember your bookmarks, which is a much more flexible system than folders.
I use Firefox, Safari, Dillo and Internet Explorer web browsers, so it is nice that I have access to allmy bookmarks in the same consistent manner. When I see content on a website that I might like to reference laterin a blog, I tag it with del.icio.us so that I can get to it later.
Fellow GTD-ers will quickly recognize this acronym, but for the rest of you, it refers to David Allen's book "Getting Things Done®".This is a great book! I learned about it reading other people's blogs, and found it incrediblyuseful helping me organize my time.There are various online tools available to help employ this method. I use Lotus Connections Activitiesfor group projects with co-workers at IBM, and BackPack for projects withmy friends outside of work.
The success of YouTube encouraged IBM to launch IBM TV, a portal for IBM's video and multimedia assets and make it easier for IBM employees, customers, partners and prospects to access and view IBM multimedia. The plan is to have eight anchor episodes per year, professionally hosted by TV personality, Joe Washington, and point to related offers and other resources for viewers to learn more.
Blogging also introduced me to Second Life. I asked around if anyone else within IBM was using Second Life, anddiscovered quite a few. I got invited to join our internal Eightbar group, and participated in various events, including an IBM Holidayparty that I discussed in my blog post"Building a Snowman in Second Life".
In April, we had a launch of our newest products in Second Life, and we plan to have two more Second Life events,September 20 and another in November, staged as "Meet the Experts" question and answer panels.
I wrap up with Facebook. Actually, whereas most of my Web 2.0 efforts have been work-related, I have quite a few friends and family who follow my blog. Several were inspired to start their own blogs, such asPassages from Pamand Barry Whyte on Storage Virtualization. Bridging the gap is Facebook, something I can use to keep tabs on my friends, as well as my storage industry-related contacts.
Wow, that's quite a lot in one year. Well, I am done with my meetings down here in Sao Paulo, Brazil. My colleauges and I are returning tonight to enjoy the long Labor Day weekend.
August 31 is my good friend Jim Cosentino's retirement day as a full-time employee at IBM. After over 30 years at IBM, in various marketing, sales and consulting roles, he is going to be thinking about happy things instead of working. His last seven years has been at theIBM Poughkeepsie Customer Executive Briefing Center as the lead System Storage presenter.
The past few years, I've traveled with him around the world on various business trips, teaching our IBM sales force and IBM Business Partners about our System Storage offerings, and presenting to clients. He is a class act, always positive, laughing, seeing the bright side of things.
While "spend more time with his family" has become a business cliche, I know Jim will actually enjoy his retirement years, spend more time with his family, take on other pursuits and hobbies, and perhaps do some more traveling.
Jim, if you are reading this, I have one suggestion. I know you have lots of friends within IBM, and count myself as one of them, but may I suggest your first goal is to makeat least three newfriends, to help you in your transition to retirement.
Congratulations Jim! Enjoy your well-deserved retirement!
It is perhaps coincidence that I learned that two people have blogs today.
Dinh Phan is an IBM Field Technical Sales Specialist (FTSS) for IBM System Storage for the Western region of United States. He contributes to the Solsie.com blog from Costa Mesa, California. While this blog is focused on Mobile technology, Dinh has told me he plans to contribute postings about storage. One posting I found heart-warming was about IBM's historic donation of technology.Find his blog entries at:http://solsie.com/
Several of my IBM colleagues will be attending the "Virtual Worlds 2007" conference today and tomorrow. This conference sold out so quickly that they have already scheduled a second one for October. The focus is on 3-D internet technologies likeSecond Life. Attendance is expected at over 600 people.
IBM is investing heavily in this new concept of v-business. Last year, I was one of only 325 IBMers on Second Life. Now, according to this Better than Life blog entry from Grady Booch, IBM Fellow, the number is over 4000!
Of course, the challenge for IBM, and others, is learning to market in virtual worlds. Already, my team is in-world, and we meet several times a week. Using Second Life is quickly becoming an essential business skill, like participating in conference calls, or responding to instant messages.
What does meeting in-world entail?
Scheduling a time and a place
Finding a time that people can meet is no different than scheduling a audio or video conference call. In general, you don't have to worry about travel, but you do have to be actively somewhere connected to everyone else.
Finding a place involves actually determining the island, region and coordinates to hold the meeting. You need to find a place with enough seating. You don't have to worry about daylight, each person can control how much or little sunlight shows up on their screen. You do have to make sure you pick a spot that nobody else plans to use at that same time. Just like scheduling conference rooms at the site or hotel, we have to schedule rooms in advance.
To avoid this hassle, I have created the "pocket conference room". This is a single object that I can "rez" onto the ground, from my inventory, with 40 chairs, a PowerPoint presentation screen, a podium for a speaker to stand behind, and stools for speakers to sit on if they are next on the agenda. Now, I can hold impromptu meetings in any sandbox, grassy knoll, or the roof top of a building.
As with any other meeting, you need some basic ground rules. I am not talking the usual "no shooting, no gambling, no selling" rules that you see everywhere in Second Life. Instead, rules like an avatar must stand up before speaking. Anyone with a question must first "raise their hand" and get recognized by the chair. These ground rules can be as formal as Robert's Rules of Order or more casual, depending on who is participating.
It costs 10 Linden Dollars (L$) per PAGE to upload a PowerPoint presentation. This has the immediate benefit of having everyone spend more time and effort on their presentation, trying to cut down the number of charts, and focus more on what they are going to say.
Public Speaking Skills
It is amazing. People who are too scared to speak in front of an audience in Real Life have no problem having their avatar stand in front of other avatars in Second Life. This has greatly broadened the pool of speakers to tap into.Are you a woman with a husky masculine voice? Are you a man with a high-pitched feminine voice? Now, you can create an avatar that matches your voice.
This turns out to be the biggest challenge. In Real Life, organizing a face-to-face meeting involves time and effort making sure the venue has everything you need, a platform, a podium, good Audio/Video system, etc. All people have to do is show up, sit in a chair and listen.
In Second Life, however, the aspects of venue are all covered, but getting people to show up is another story. People have to sign up for Second Life account, create an avatar, wear appropriate virtual clothing, figure out how to teleport near the venue, walk or fly the difference to get to the exact building and room, master the sitting-in-a-chair and hold-coffee-and-sip-occasionally process, and pay attention.
Perhaps the best part of Second Life is that if you are not paying attention, your avatar noticeably falls asleep, into a hunched-over position, what is called "afk" (short for Away From Keyboard). On the other hand, if you do need to step away from your desk, you can put your avatar in "afk" mode immediately, tell everyone why and perhaps when you'll be back, and then re-activate when you return. This is one of the best improvements over regular audio conference calls.
I suspect the need for having places in Second Life to hold meetings will become more and more in demand.At a time when real-estate sales in the US is slowing down, Coldwell Banker's Second Life efforts are ramping up. I am not making this up. Coldwell Banker is one of the nation's largest real estate brokerage firms. They are trying to bring the same "adult supervision" to virtual real-estate transactions, offering to help people buy and rent properties in Second Life.
Sometimes, it's difficult to explain the products I manage to people outside the IT storage industry. How do you explain FCP vs. FICON, Giant Magnetoresistive (GMR) heads, the SMI-S interface, etc. enough to then explain how your job relates to those technologies. At least my friends and family read this blog, so they can somewhat understand some of the things I am working on. When I visit my folks on Sundays, we sometimes discuss items they read in my blog that week.
In addition to a "take your children to work day", we have discussed within IBM a "take your parents to work day", especially for the young new hires who have a hard time explaining what their new job is to the rest of their family.
The problem is not just your parents, but any of your co-workers old enough to be parents who haven't bothered to keep up with the latest advancements in Web 2.0 technology. Here are some examples:
A project leader working with a technology partner asked if me if there was a difference between a "blog" and a "wiki" and which should his team use. This was not a simple yes/no answer, and involved some explanation, conversation and understanding of what he was trying to accomplish.
For one of my meetings, someone instant-messaged me asking where it was, was it "face-to-face" (F2F) or Conference call (CC). I replied back, "A2A w/CC" (avatar-to-avatar with voice over conference call). When you are meeting other avatars in-world in Second Life, it gets quite distracting having everyone typing away, with their hands and fingers moving furiously, so we use a conference call to complement our 3D interaction.
That's why I was very excited to seeLinden Lab announces voice beta in Second Life. It won't be fully ready until later this year, but adding voice to Second Life will greatly reduce the hurdles we now have trying to coordinate conference calls with in-world activity.
I realize not everyone can keep up with all the new and different technologies, but the social networking aspects of some of these new developments are worth looking into.
I will wrap up this week's theme on travel, conferences and Japan discussingGroundhog day, celebratedtoday (Feb. 2) in the US.
I thought of this because there was a 2003 movie called"Lost in Translation", the title of yesterday's post. This movie is about an American actor, played by Bill Murray, coming to Tokyoto film a whisky commercial. I first saw it with my sister and father, and we musthave been the only three who have actually been to Japan, as we were laughing hysterically,while the rest of the audience was utterly confused. If you have never been to Japan, see the movie before you go, then see it again after you get back home.
Ten years earlier, Bill Murray also played the lead role in another movie called"Groundhog day".In the movie, Bill Murray's character is TV newsman "Phil Connors" who travels to a small townwhere they bring out a small groundhog. If the groundhog can see his shadow, it predictsat least six more weeks of winter. If it does not, winter will end sooner. The nextday, Phil wakes up to realize that he is re-living the same day, over and over, like a modern-day Sisyphus or Promethius. Howhe handles himself in this situation, is what makes the movie so memorable.
When I explain what I do for IBM, to people I meet at home and abroad, I get asked the same set of questions.
Don't you get bored presenting the same presentations?
The fact is, I never give the same presentation twice. Since I focus mostly on visual informationand what I say, versus the words of text on the page, I am able to customize my presentation toeach unique audience. In much the same way that Bill Murray's character managed to do somethingfun and different each day in the movie, despite his situation.
I do pity those presenters who focus entirely on text, turning their back to the audience, and then reading verbatim what is on each page.They should read Seth Godin's Really Bad PowerPointwith advice like "Bullets are for the NRA".
Another problem are presenters who apologize because they did not develop the materials they are presenting. Sorry, bub, you present it, you own it. The only person held accountable fora bad presentation at a conference is the speaker. When I make charts for others, I expect themthem to adjust it to their own speaking styles.
As a speaker, if you inherit materials fromsomeone else, have the courage to change it, or accept the parts you can't change, and have thewisdom to know the difference.
Don't you get tired of traveling?
At first I thought this was odd. It's like asking "Don't you get tired of doing different things and eating different foodswith different people in a different country every week?" How can anyone grow tired of variety?
As with any question, you have to go inside the mind of the person asking the question.For most people, travel is an ordeal, outside their comfort zone. They are travelingto attend a funeral, family reunion, or a theme park with spouse and kids in tow.If that is the only kind of traveling a person knows, then it is understandablewhy they might ask this question.
Don't you get annoyed answering the same questions at conferences?
As if this only happens at conferences!
Seriously, it might be the 17th time I've heard the question asked, but might be onlythe first time the person is asking it, and my response may be the crucial "first impression"that sets the stage for later engagements.
In this case, I focus on continuous improvement. What is the best way to answer thisquestion? How could I have answered that better? How could I have phrased the answerso it will be well-remembered? Again, like Bill Murray's character in "Groundhog Day",have fun with it, take advantage of the opportunity for improvement.
Stephen Colbert, of The Colbert Report, explains the name changes in recent mergers of the Telecommunications industry. A discussion on "changing names" and how that impacts storage seems like a good way to wrap up the week's theme on naming conventions.
Name changes are sometimes painful, but often times done for a purpose, such as to promote a family. In the US, when a man and woman marries, the woman often changes her family name to match her husband, and the kids all adopt the father's family name. I say "often" because there are times where the woman keeps her name, or adds to it in a hyphenated way. ABC News reported that a Man Fights to Take Wife's Name in Marriage. KipEsquire, a lawyer, writes about it in his blogA stitch in haste.
IT industry changes the names of products that people knew as something else. Other times, they re-use an existing name, when really it is or should be different from the original. Last year, I took on the job of helping transition from our brand "TotalStorage" to the "System Storage" product line under the new "IBM Systems" brand. I help decide what stays the same name or what changes, when it should change, and how to announce that change.
On the disk side, IBM renamed Fibre Array Storage Technology, or FAStT, which was pronounced exactly like "fast", to DS4000 series. This was a big improvement, as people couldn't seem to spell it properly, with variations like "FastT". Nor could people pronounce it properly, saying "fast-tee" instead. The advantage of "DS" is that it is both easy to spell, and easy to pronounce. The DS4000 series continues to be "fast", providing excellent performance for its midrange price category.
IBM's Enterprise Storage Server (ESS) line went from model E10, to F20, to 750 and 800. When IBM came out with its replacement, the IBM TotalStorage DS8000, some people asked why it wasn't named the ESS 900, for example. The DS8000 is quite different internally, new hardware design and implementation, but is highly compatible with the ESS line, and shares much of the same functionality from microcode. Last year, it was replaced by the IBM System Storage DS8000 Turbo. Again, newer hardware, so it was easy to justify the new name change from "TotalStorage" to "System Storage".
Renaming a product risks losing its certifications and awards. For example, IBM spent a lot of time and money getting the OS/390 operating system certified as a "UNIX" platform. When it was renamed to z/OS, IBM had to do it all over again. Learning from this experience, IBM decided not to rename the SAN Volume Controllerto a new designation like "DS5750", as it enjoys the "number one" spot on both the SPC-1 and SPC-2 performance benchmarks, and is recognized as the leader in the disk storage virtualization marketplace. Renaming this product would mean losing that collateral.
IBM's "other disk systems" the N series posed another set of challenges. The current DS line already has entry-level (DS3000), midrange (DS4000) and enterprise-class (DS6000 and DS8000) products. The OEM agreement that IBM has with Network Appliance (NetApp) resulted in a new set of entry-level, midrange, and enterprise-class products. But these didn't fit nicely into the DS3000-to-DS8000 continuum. Instead, IBM decided to go with N series, using N3000 for entry-level, N5000 for midrange, and N7000 for enterprise-class. These are different than the numbers used by NetApp for their comparable, but not identical, offerings.
On the tape side, IBM decided to name the tape drives TS1000 and TS2000 range, tape libraries and automation with a TS3000 range, and tape virtualization to the TS7000 range. A lot of tape products already had 3000 numbering that had to change to fit this new scheme. This is why IBM's popular 3592 tape drive was renamed to the TS1120. The replacement to the 3494 Virtual Tape Server was named TS7700 Virtualization Engine.
Obviously, you can't change the names of products that are currently in the field, but what about existing software with minor updates? IBM decided to leave "TotalStorage Produtivity Center" under the "TotalStorage" brand until it has a significant version upgrade. Many people say "TPC" as a convenient acronym when referring to this product, but TPC is a registered trademark of the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) to refer to its "Tournament Players Club".
How can anyone confuse "managing storage" with "playing golf"? One activity is full of frustration that takes years or decades to master, involving the need to understand a variety of equipment and techniques to use each properly to accomplish your goals; and the other is an enjoyable activity, immediately productive in front of a single pane of glass managing all of your DAS, SAN and NAS storage, from reporting on your files and databases to managing storage networks and tape libraries.
Shakespeare wrote "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet." This week my theme will be on names, naming convention, and how we access information on storage.
Take for example these two sentences:
The Bears beat New Orleans. Chicago clobbered the Saints.
Though they appear very different, football fans who might have watched either or both of the two conference title games yesterday would quickly recognize that they refer to the same two teams and the same end-result.
I'll be traveling to Asia next week. While most people call me "Tony", my legal given name is "Anthony" which is what appears on my passport and other legal documents. Most English-speaking countries handle this fine, but it can be confusing in Japan or China, where "A. Pearson" doesn't match "T. Pearson".
In the US, our given and family names are referred to as our "first name" and our "last name", relating to their positional sequence. In Asia, family names come first, followed by their given names last. To help avoid confusion, we have started adopting the practice of putting the family name in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, so I would "Tony PEARSON" while my colleague may be "WONG Francis".
In Japanese, "Mr. JONES" would be "Jones-san". However, Pearson-san is such a toungue-twister, that most just say "Tony-san" which is fine with me. I have been called "Mr. Tony" in a variety of countries, perfectly acceptable.
You can call me anything you like, just don't call me late for dinner.