While the rest of Americans were glued to their televisions watching President Obama explain his plan for recovery, my colleagues and Ihad dinner with clients from Canada.
|One in particular claimed her father was known as the kingpin of[Flin Flon]. She lives in Ontario now, but she grew up in this smallmining town in Manitoba made famous for winning a government contractto grow crops for medicinal purposes.|
Shown at left is the town's mascott, Flinty. Yes, apparently thetown was named after a fictional character of a paperback novel.
Of course, in conversations with clients, it is best to avoid topics like politics or drugs,but the intersection of government health care and implications on IT can't be disregarded.Since Canada has a more efficient healthcare process, the government enjoys a lower costper citizen. President Obama has suggested that the United States should adopt reforms to make the American system more efficient, including electronic medical records.
Not surprisingly, [smarter healthcare] is part of IBM's latest set of strategic initiatives.Digitizing medical information has a variety of benefits:
- Information isn't stranded on islands
If there is any situation that needs to deliver the right information, to the right people,at the right time, healthcare is certainly one of them. Having the right information canhelp reduce medical mistakes.
- Physicians spend time with their patients, not paperwork
I personally know some doctors here in Tucson, and they are the first to admit that theywould prefer to focus on their core strengths, which they spent many years in medical school,and leave the administrative details to someone else. Focusing on core strengths is acommon theme for successful businesses, and this is no different.
- Expertise needs no passport
Medical emergencies do not always happen near the hospital or clinic that your medical records are stored at.An exciting feature of digital information is that it is easy to transport to where it isneeded, unlike paper records or X-ray film.
To learn more about IBM's strategy and vision, see IBM's[Smarter Planet] Web site.
technorati tags: IBM, Barack Obama, smarter planet, smarter healthcare, Flin Flon, Canada, electronic medical records[Read More]
Today we watched Barack Obama get inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States, and he reminded all Americans that the power and strength of this country comes through its diversity.To some extent, this is also what gives IBM its power and strength as well. While not quite the orator of President Obama, IBM's own CFO, Mark Loughridge, gave a rousing speech about IBM's 4Q08 and year-end financial results.
In 2008, IBM was not just successful because it had a wide diversity of servers and storage hardware products, but also a diversity of software, and a diversity of service offerings.And lastly, IBM sells to a diversity of clients in different industries, throughout a diversity of markets. While the current economic meltdown might have affected businesses focused on the US and other major markets, IBM did particularly well last year in growth markets, including the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
IBM's approach to invest in R&D and its nearly 400,000 employees for long-term success continues to pay off. Where "Cash is King", IBM can also afford all those acquisitions and strategic initiatives, positioning the company for a brighter future.
Where there are challenges, IBM finds opportunity.
technorati tags: Barack Obama, inauguration, IBM, 4Q08, financial results, BRIC, Mark Loughridge
This is our so-called black-out period that prevents me from talking about how well IBM is doing or making predictions about our industry that might affect stock prices, so instead I will talk about my New Year's Resolutions.
First, let's see how well I did against last year's[Resolutions for 2008]:
- Improve my writing skills
For this, I purchased the[Associated Press (AP) Stylebook] which some consider to be the Journalist's Bible for how to spell, write and phrase things correctly.I also followed various blogs about writing, including John E. McIntyre's[You Don't Say], Dan Santow's[Word Wise, and the Quotation's Page[Quotes of the Day].
- Improve my HTML and Web design skills
- Contribute to the OLPC Foundation
Last year, I resolved to contribute my time and effort to the One Laptop Per Child[OLPC] project led by Nicholas Negroponte. It didn't takelong for them to contact me, and I had wonderful experiences helping the folks in Nepal andUruguay.Despite building and delivering half a million laptops to deserving kids, the OLPC team has been impacted by the recent economic meltdown. From their [announcement], theOLPC team is making some shifts in their direction and priorities. Here's an excerpt:
"This restructuring is also the result of an exciting new direction for OLPC. Our technology initiatives will focus on:It's not clear how involved I will be with OLPC in 2009, and I will probably wait for the dust to settle on this one.
- Development of Generation 2.0
- A no-cost connectivity program
- A million digital books
- Passing on the development of the Sugar Operating System to the community.
With regard to deployments:
- Latin America will be spun off into a separate support unit
- Sub-Saharan Africa will become a major learning hub
- The Middle East, Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan will become a major focus"
- Eat Healthier and Drink more
I hired a nutritionist and improved my diet. I also drank more (that was an easy one to keep!). Unfortunately, there is still room for improvement on this one.
- Attend more movies and film-making events
I've renewed my membership with the Tucson Film Society, and attended several of their eventsin 2008, including a meeting Will Conroy, screenwriter for the Action/Suspense thriller[Transsiberian] starring Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley.
- Get better Organized
Well I carried my [Hipster PDA] in my back pocket most of 2008, but it just did not catch on. I did get somewhat better organized, with three-ring binders and a scanner that converts paper documents into searchable PDF files.
While some might find the concept of New Year's resolutions silly or pointless, I find themuseful. Here's some interesting research on Wikipedia:
"Recent research shows that while 52 percent of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12 percent actually achieved their goals. Men achieved their goal 22 percent more often when they engaged in goal setting, a system where small measurable goals are used (lose a pound a week, instead of saying "lose weight"), while women succeeded 10 percent more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends."
Here are mine for 2009:
- Spend More Time with Friends and Family
According to this [article by Albrecht Powell], reconnecting with friends and family is the number one on the Top 10 list.I think the economic meltdown served as a great wake-up call for people to focus what is mostimportant in your life and adjust your priorities accordingly.
- Enjoy Life More
Back in 2007, I vowed to laugh more. While the current economic crisis might not seem like an appropriate time for this one, I think there is hope, a new US President, and some much-needed enthusiasm for change.
- Learn Something New
At a dinner with clients, one of the IBMers had brought his 20-something daughter and hersimilarly-aged friend. Their college was closed for the week after a student shooting, andhe felt it best to give them a change of scenery. They couldn't wait until they were "done withschool" so they could get on with their lives. I had to break the bad news to them that intoday's world, they should expect life-long learning. Gone are the days where you can learna specific skill or trade, and do that the rest of your life. Hopefully I didn't frightenboth into giving up a career in favor of marriage with such advice!
With the world getting smaller, flatter, and yes "smarter" also, I resolve to learn somethingnew. I don't necessarily know what that is yet, but I will keep it in the back of my mind.
- Make Tucson a better place, and enrich the lives of its residents
I've actually gotten complaints that I was helping people in other countries, through OLPC and [Kiva],and that I should domore for people right here in Tucson. That's fair. This year I resolve to investigatethat further.
- Get Better Organized
Last year was a good start, but I can certainly do better in 2009, both at home and at the office.Perhaps I need to dust off my old copy of ["Getting Things Done"] by David Allen and read it again!
Hopefully, this list might inspire you to come up with your own resolutions. Not surprisingly, writing them in a public forum helped me keep most of them, and stick to my resolutions throughout the year. Here are [other hints to help you], and some[expert advice on maintaining resolutions].
technorati tags: IBM, New Year's Resolutions, AP, Stylebook, HTML, CSS, ASP, OLPC, Transsiberian, Will Conroy, Woody Harrelson, Ben Kingsley, PDA, PDF, Kiva, GTD, David Allen
It's Thursday here at the [Data Center Conference
] here in Las Vegas. Trying to keep up with all the sessions and activities has been quite challenging. As is often the case, there are more sessions that I want to attend than I physically am able to, so have to pick and choose.
- Making the Green Data Center a Reality
The sixth and final keynote was an expert panel session, with Mark Bramfitt from Pacific Gas and Electric [PG&E], and Mark Thiele from VMware.
Mark explained PG&E's incentive program to help data centers be more energyefficient. They have spent $7 million US dollars so far on this, and he has requested another$50 million US dollars over the next three years. One idea was to put "shells" aroundeach pod of 28 or so cabinets to funnel the hot air up to the ceiling, rather than havingthe hot air warm up the rest of the cold air supply.
The fundamental disconnect for a "green" data center is that the Facilities team pay for the electricity, but it is the IT department that makes decisions that impact its use. The PG&E rebates reward IT departments for making better decisions. The best metric available is"Power Usage Effectiveness" or [PUE], which is calculated by dividing total energy consumed in the data center, divided by energy consumed by the IT equipment itself.Typical PUE runs around 3.0 which means for every Watt used for servers, storage or network switches, another 2 Watts are used for power, cooling, and facilities. Companies are tryingto reduce their PUE down to 1.6 or so. The lower the better, and 1.0 is the ideal.The problem is that changing the data center infrastructure is as difficult as replacingthe phone system or your primary ERP application.
While California has [Title 24], stating energy efficiency standards for both residential and commercial buildings, it does notapply to data centers. PG&E is working to add data center standards into this legislation.
The two speakers also covered Data Center [bogeymans], unsubstantiated myths that prevent IT departments fromdoing the right thing. Here are a few examples:
- Power cycles - some people believe that x86 servers can typically only handle up to 3000 shutdowns, and so equipment is often left running 24 hours a day to minimize these. Most equipment is kept less than 5 years (1826 days), so turning off non-essential equipment at night, and powering it back on the next morning, is well below this 3000 limit and can greatly reduce kWh.
- Dust - many are so concerned about dust that they run extra air-filters which impactsthe efficiency of cooling systems air flow. New IT equipment tolerates dust much betterthan older equipment.
- Humidity - Mark had a great story on this one. He said their "de-humidifier" broke,and they never got around to fixing it, and they went years without it, realizing they didn't need to de-humidify.
The session wrapped up with some "low hanging fruit", items that can provide immediate benefit with little effort:
- Cold-aisle containment--Why are so few data centers doing this?
- Colocation providers need to meter individual clients' energy usage -- IBM offers the instrumentation and software to make this possible
- Air flow management--Simply organizing cables under the floor tiles could help this.
- Virtualization and Consolidation.
- High-efficiency power supplies
- Managing IT from a Business Service Perspective
The "other" future of the data center is to manage it as a set of integrated IT services,rather than a collection of servers, storage and switches.IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is widely-accepted as a set of best practices to accomplish this "service management" approach. The presenter from ASG Software Solutions presented their Configuration Management Data Base (CMDB) and application dependency dashboard. Theyhave some customers with as many as 200,000 configuration items (CIs) in their CMDB.
The solution looked similar to the IBM Tivoli software stack presented earlier this yearat the [Pulse conference].Both ASG and IBM "eat their own dog food", or perhaps more accurately "drink their own champagne", using these software products to run their own internal IT operations.
The next [IBM Pulse 2009 conference] will beheld here at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, February 8-12, 2009.
For many, the future of a "green" data center managed as a set of integrated service are years away, but the technologies and products are available today, and there is no reasonto postpone these projects any longer than necessary. For more about IBM's approach togreen data center, see [Energy EfficiencySolutions]. You can also take IBM's[IT Service Management self-assessment] to help determine whichIBM tools you need for your situation.
technorati tags: LSC27, Green IT, data+center, Mark Bramfitt, PG&E, Mark Thiele, VMware, PUE, ERP, ITIL, CMDB, IBM, Pulse08
Wrapping up this week's theme of thankfulness, I am thankful for theOne Laptop Per Child [OLPC
] and their Get-One-Give-One (G1G1)offer.
Last November, I was one of the first to [sign up for the G1G1],and when mine arrived December 24, I posted initial observations in this[OLPC series].Over the past year, I have had the pleasure of helping out teams in Nepal and Uruguay,collaborating with developers in France, India and the United States. Giving back to othershas been a richly rewarding experience for me. I made some new friends, built up newprofessional contacts, and learned some new tricks as well.
Last year's G1G1 offer was limited to US and Canada, but this year, the OLPC have enlisted [Amazon.com] and made the offer available worldwide. You can choose to either give a single laptop for $199 USD, or get two laptops, get one for yourself or your family, and give the other to someone like Zimi, for $399 USD.
I'm thankful I did. Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers in the USA!
technorati tags: OLPC, G1G1, Zimi[Read More]