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Wrapping up this week's theme on Cloud Computing, I finish with an IBM announcement for two new products to help clients build private cloud environments from their existing Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) deployments.
IBM WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance -- a new hardware appliance that provides access to software virtual images and patterns that can be used as is or easily customized, and then securely deployed, managed and maintained in a private cloud.
IBM WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition -- a version of IBM WebSphere Application Server software optimized to run in a virtualized hardware server environments such as VMware, and comes preloaded in WebSphere Cloudburst.
With more than 7,000 customer implementations worldwide, IBM is the SOA market leader. Of course, both of these products above can be used with IBM System Storage solutions, including Cloud-Optimized Storage offerings like Grid Medical Archive Solution (GMAS), Grid Access Manager software, Scale-Out File Services (SoFS), and the IBM XIV disk system.
IBM is part of the "Cloud Computing 5" major vendors pushing the envelope (the other four are Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo). In fact, IBM has a number of initiatives that allow customers to leverage IBM software in a cloud. IBM is working in collaboration with Amazon Web Services (AWS), a subsidiary of Amazon.com, Inc. to make IBM software available in the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). WebSphere sMash, Informix Dynamic Server, DB2, and WebSphere Portal with Lotus Web Content Management Standard Edition are available today through a "pay as you go" model for both development and production instances. In addition to those products, IBM is also announcing the availability of IBM Mashup Center and Lotus Forms Turbo for development and test use in Amazon EC2, and intends to add WebSphere Application Server and WebSphere eXtreme Scale to these offerings.
For more about IBM's leadership in Cloud Computing, see the IBM [Press Release].
(Note: IBM [Guidelines] prevent me from picking blogfights, so this post is only to set the record straight on some misunderstandings, point to some positive press about IBM's leadership in this area, and for me to provide a different point of view.)
First, let's set the record straight on a few things. The [RedPaper is still in draft form] under review, and so some information has not yet been updated to reflect the current situation.
You can have 16 or 32 SSD per DA pair. However, you can only have a maximum of 128 SSD drives total in any DS8100 or DS8300. In the case of the IBM DS8300 with 8 DA pairs, it makes more senseto spread the SSD out across all 8 pairs, and perhaps this is what confused BarryB.
Yes, you can order an all-SSD model of the IBM DS8000 disk system. I don't see anywhere in the RedPaper that suggests otherwise, and I have confirmed with our offering manager that this is the case.
The 73GB and 146GB are freshly manufactured from STEC. The 146GB drive and 200GB drives are actually the same drive but just formatted differently. The 200GB format does not offer as much spare capacity for wear-leveling, and are therefore intended only for read-intensive workloads. (Perhaps EMC wants you to find this out the hard way so that you replace them more often???) These reduced-spare-capacity formats may not be appropriate with some write-intensive workloads. Don't let anyone from EMC try to misrepresent the 73GB or 146GB drives from STEC as older, obsolete, collecting dust in a warehouse, or otherwise no longer manufactured by STEC.
You can relocate data from HDD to SSD using "Data Set FlashCopy", a feature that does not involve host-based copy services, does not consume any MIPS on your System z mainframe, and is performed inside the DS8000 disk system. You can also use host-based copy services as well, but it is not the only way.
You can use any supported level of z/OS with SSD in the IBM DS8000. There is ENHANCED support mentioned in the RedPaper that you get only with z/OS 1.8 and above, allowing you to create automation policies that place data sets onto SSD or non-SSD storage pools. This synergy makes SSD with IBM DS8000 superior to the initial offerings that EMC had offered without this OS support.
I find it amusing that BarryB's basic argument is that IBM's initial release of SSD disk on DS8000 is less than what the potential architecture could be extended to support much more. Actually, if you look at EMC's November release of Atmos, as well as their most recent announcement of V-Max, they basically say the same thing "Stay Tuned, this is just our initial release, with various restrictions and limitations, but more will follow." Architecturally, IBM DS8000 could support a mix of SSD and non-SSD on the same DA pairs, could support RAID6 and RAID10 as well, and could support larger capacity drives or use higher-capacity read-intensive formats. These could all be done via RPQ if needed, or in a follow-on release.
BarryB's second argument is that IBM is somehow "throwing cold water" on SSD technology. That somehow IBM is trying to discourage people from using SSD by offering disk systems with this technology. IBM offered SSD storage on BladeCenter servers LONG BEFORE any EMC disk system offering, and IBM continues to innovate in ways that allow the best business value of this new technology. Take for example this 24-page IBM Technical Brief:[IBM System z® and System Storage DS8000:Accelerating the SAP® Deposits Management Workload With Solid State Drives]. It is full of example configurations that show that SSD on IBM DS8000 can help in practical business applications. IBM takes a solution view, and worked with DB2, DFSMS, z/OS, High Performance FICON (zHPF), and down the stack to optimize performance to provide real business value innovation. Thanks to this synergy,IBM can provide 90 percent of the performance improvement with only 10 percent of the SSD disk capacity as EMC offerings. Now that's innovative!
The price and performance differences between FC and SATA (what EMC was mostly used to) is only 30-50 percent. But the price and performance differences between SSD and HDD is more than an order of magnitude in some cases 10-30x, similar to the differences between HDD and tape. Of course, if you want hybrid solutions that take best advantage of SSD+HDD, it makes more sense to go to IBM, the leading storage vendor that has been doing HDD+Tape hybrid solutions for the past 30 years. IBM understands this better, and has more experience dealing with these orders of magnitude than EMC.
But don't just take my word for it. Here is an excerpt from Jim Handy, from [Objective Analysis] market research firm, in a recent Weekly Review from [Pund-IT] (Volume 5, Issue 23--May 6, 2009):
"What about IBM? One thing that we are finding is that IBM really “Gets It” in the area offlash in the data center. Readers of the Pund-IT Review will not only recall that IBM Researchpushed its SSD-based “Quicksilver” storage system to one million IOPS using Fusion-ioflash-based storage, but they also may have noticed that the recent MySQL and mem-cachedappliances recently introduced by Schooner Information Technology are both flash-enableddevices introduced in partnership with IBM. Ironically, while other OEMs are takingthe cautious approach of introducing a standard SSD option to their systems first, IBM appearsto have been working on several approaches simultaneously to bring flash to thedata center not only in SSDs, but in innovative ways as well."
As for why STEC put out a press release on their own this week without a corresponding IBM press release, I can only say that IBM already announced all of this support back in February, and I blogged about it in my post [Dynamic Infrastructure - Disk Announcements 1Q09]. This is not the first time one of IBM's suppliers has tried to drum up business in this manner. Intel often funds promotions for IBM System x servers (the leading Intel-based servers in the industry) to help drive more business for their Xeon processor.
So, BarryB, perhaps its time for you to take out your green pen and work up another one of your all-too-common retraction and corrections.[Read More]
My post last week [Solid State Disk on DS8000 Disk Systems] kicked up some dust in the comment section.Fellow blogger BarryB (a member of the elite [Anti-Social Media gang from EMC]) tried to imply that 200GB solid state disk (SSD) drives were different or better than the 146GB drives used in IBM System Storage DS8000 disk systems. I pointed out that they are the actual same physical drive, just formatted differently.
To explain the difference, I will first have to go back to regular spinning Hard Disk Drives (HDD). There are variances in manufacturing, so how do you make sure that a spinning disk has AT LEAST the amount of space you are selling it as? The solution is to include extra. This is the same way that rice, flour, and a variety of other commodities are sold. Legally, if it says you are buying a pound or kilo of flour, then it must be AT LEAST that much to be legal labeling. Including some extra is a safe way to comply with the law. In the case of disk capacity, having some spare capacity and the means to use it follows the same general concept.
(Disk capacity is measured in multiples of 1000, in this case a Gigabyte (GB) = 1,000,000,000 bytes, not to be confused with [Gibibyte (GiB)] = 1,073,741,824 bytes, based on multiples of 1024.)
Let's say a manufacturer plans to sell 146GB HDD. We know that in some cases there might be bad sectors on the disk that won't accept written data on day 1, and there are other marginally-bad sectors that might fail to accept written data a few years later, after wear and tear. A manufacturer might design a 156GB drive with 10GB of spare capacity and format this with a defective-sector table that redirects reads/writes of known bad sectors to good ones. When a bad sector is discovered, it is added to the table, and a new sector is assigned out of the spare capacity.Over time, the amount of space that a drive can store diminishes year after year, and once it drops below its rated capacity, it fails to meet its legal requirements. Based on averages of manufacturing runs and material variances, these could then be sold as 146GB drives, with a life expectancy of 3-5 years.
With Solid State Disk, the technology requires a lot of tricks and techniques to stay above the rated capacity. For example, you can format a 256GB drive as a conservative 146GB usable, with an additional 110GB (75 percent) spare capacity to handle all of the wear-leveling. You could lose up to 22GB of cells per year, and still have the rated capacity for the full five-year life expectancy.
Alternatively, you could take a more aggressive format, say 200GB usable, with only 56GB (28 percent) of spare capacity. If you lost 22GB of cells per year, then sometime during the third year, hopefully under warranty, your vendor could replace the drive with a fresh new one, and it should last the rest of the five year time frame. The failed drive, having 190GB or so usable capacity, could then be re-issued legally as a refurbished 146GB drive to someone else.
The wear and tear on SSD happens mostly during erase-write cycles, so for read-intensive workloads, such as boot disks for operating system images, the aggressive 200GB format might be fine, and might last the full five years.For traditional business applications (70 percent read, 30 percent write) or more write-intensive workloads, IBM feels the more conservative 146GB format is a safer bet.
This should be of no surprise to anyone. When it comes to the safety, security and integrity of our client's data, IBM has always emphasized the conservative approach.[Read More]
Recently, IBM and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) [launched an effort] using IBM's World Community Grid "virtual supercomputer" to allow laboratory tests on drug candidates for drug-resistant influenza strains and new strains, such as H1N1 (aka "swineflu"), in less than a month.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch will use [World Community Grid] to identify the chemical compounds most likely to stop the spread of the influenza viruses and begin testing these under laboratory conditions. The computational work adds up to thousands of years of computer time which will be compressed into just months using World Community Grid. As many as 10 percent of the drug candidates identified by calculations on World Community Grid are likely to show antiviral activity in the laboratory and move to further testing.
According to the researchers, without access to World Community Grid's virtual super computing power, the search for drug candidates would take a prohibitive amount of time and laboratory testing.
This reminded me of an 18-minute video of Larry Brilliant at the 2006 Technology, Entertainment and Design [TED] conference. Back in 2006, Larry predicted a pandemic in the next three years, and here it is 2009 and we have the H1N1 virus.
His argument was to have "early detection" and "early response" to contain worldwide diseases like this.
A few months after Larry's "call to action" in 2006, IBM and over twenty major worldwide public health institutions, including the World Health Organization [WHO] and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], [announced the Global Pandemic Initiative], a collaborative effort to help stem the spread of infectious diseases.
One might think that with our proximity to Mexico that the first cases would have been the border states, such as Arizona, but instead there were cases as far away as New York and Florida. The NYT explains in an article [Predicting Flu With the Aid of (George) Washington] that two rival universities, Northwestern University and Indiana University, both predicted that there would be about 2500 cases in the United States, based on air traffic control flight patterns, and the tracking data from a Web site called ["Where's George"] which tracks the movement of US dollar bills stamped with the Web site URL.
The estimates were fairly close. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [H1N1 Flu virus tracking page], there are currently 3009 cases of H1N1 in 45 states, as of this writing.
This is just another example on how an information infrastructure, used properly to provide insight, make predictions, and analyze potential cures, can help the world be a smarter planet. Fortunately, IBM is leading the way.
Continuing my ongoing discussion on Solid State Disk (SSD), fellow blogger BarryB (EMC) points out in his [latest post]:
Oh – and for the record TonyP, I don't think I ever said EMC was using a newer or different EFDs than IBM. I just asserted that EMC knows more than IBM about these EFDs and how they actually work a storage array under real-world workloads.
(Here "EFD" is refers to "Enterprise Flash Drive", EMC's marketing term for Single Layer Cell (SLC) NAND Flash non-volatile solid-state storage devices. Both IBM and EMC have been selling solid-state storage for quite some time now, but EMC felt that a new term was required to distinguish the SLC NAND Flash devices sold in their disk systems from solid-state devices sold in laptops or blade servers. The rest of the industry, including IBM, continues to use the term SSD to refer to these same SLC NAND Flash devices that EMC is referring to.)
Although STEC asserts that IBM is using the latest ZeusIOPS drives, IBM is only offering the 73GB and 146GB STEC drives (EMC is shipping the latest ZeusIOPS drives in 200GB and 400GB capacities for DMX4 and V-Max, affording customers a lower $/GB, higher density and lower power/footprint per usable GB.)
Here is where I enjoy the subtleties between marketing and engineering. Does the above seem like he is saying EMC is using newer or different drives? What are typical readers expected to infer from the statement above?
That there are four different drives from STEC, in four different capacities. In the HDD world, drives of different capacities are often different, and larger capacities are often newer than those of smaller capacities.
That the 200GB and 400GB are the latest drives, and that 73GB and 146GB drives are not the latest.
That STEC press release is making false or misleading claims.
Uncontested, some readers might infer the above and come to the wrong conclusions. I made an effort to set the record straight. I'll summarize with a simple table:
Usable (conservative format)
Usable (aggressive format)
So, we all agree now that the 256GB drives that are formatted as 146GB or 200GB are in fact the same drives, that IBM and EMC both sell the latest drives offered by STEC, and that the STEC press release was in fact correct in its claims.
I also wanted to emphasize that IBM chose the more conservative format on purpose. BarryB [did the math himself] and proved my key points:
Under some write-intensive workloads, an aggressive format may not last the full five years. (But don't worry, BarryB assures us that EMC monitors these drives and replaces them when they fail within the five years under their warranty program.)
Conservative formats with double the spare capacity happen to have roughly double the life expectancy.
I agree with BarryB that an aggressive format can offer a lower $/GB than the conservative format. Cost-conscious consumers often look for less-expensive alternatives, and are often willing to accept less-reliable or shorter life expectancy as a trade-off. However, "cost-conscious" is not the typical EMC targeted customer, who often pay a premiumfor the EMC label. To compensate, EMC offers RAID-6 and RAID-10 configurations to provide added protection. With a conservative format, RAID-5 provides sufficient protection.
(Just so BarryB won't accuse me of not doing my own math, a 7+P RAID-5 using conservative format 146GB drives would provide 1022GB of capacity, versus 4+4 RAID-10 configuration using aggressive format 200GB drives only 800GB total.)
In an ideal world, you the consumer would know exactly how many IOPS your application will generate over the next five years, exactly how much capacity you will require, be offered all three drives in either format to choose from, and make a smart business decision. Nothing, however, is ever this simple in IT.
Rather than hold this in IBM's Kirkland facility, we chose to have this instead at the [Chateau Ste. Michelle] winery, which was just a few miles away in Woodinville.
The weather was a perfect match to pair with the information we presented. Clear sky in the low 70s.
This was a typical roadshow event, serve breakfast, meet everyone, have four main-tent sessions, answer questions, then finish with a nice lunch. Here was the speaker line-up:
Jerry Mixon presented IBM Global Services to help customers improve service, reduce costs and manage risk.
Steve Loeschorn presented the latest on IBM System x and BladeCenter offerings. Steve showed how IBM'sSystem x servers were more energy efficient than x86 servers from HP and Dell.
Michael Middleton presented the latest from IBM POWER® systems. Michael had some interesting statisticsthat showed IBM's AIX operating system to be more reliable than Sun Solaris, HP-UX, andMicrosoft Windows. Based on a study of 400 companies, AIX averaged only 36 minutes of downtime per year.
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.
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!
Bob Moffat, IBM Senior VP and Group Executive who leads IBM's world-renown Systems and Technology Group, and Cris Espinosa, System x and BladeCenter platform sales specialist, one of the many employees like me at the bottom of same Systems and Technology Group.
Here'sBob Moffatholding an IBM BladeCenter HS22 blade server.A lot of the IBM executives were on hand to help show off IBM's strategy and vision, and highlight how to deploy IBM systems that are the right fit for today.
This is Ira Chavis, IBM consulting IT specialist, who covers how to manage and reduce energy usage today withIBM Energy Efficiency offerings.
Here is Casey Bell, our liaison for the conference, and Angela Reese, who presented Tivoli's latest appliances:
IBM Tivoli Foundations Application Manager
IBM Tivoli Foundations Service Manager
These are IBM servers pre-installed with IBM Tivoli software to help monitor applications and provide service desk support. These are part of our IBM Express initiative that focus solutions aimed for medium sized businesses. By offering them as appliances, rather than just software, these can be deployed in only an hour in most situations.
And here I am, Tony Pearson, IBM certified Dynamic Infrastructure solutions expert, covering servers, storage and networking systems that help to improve service, reduce costs and manage risk. IBM offers flexible systems, software and services to match a wide diversity of business needs, designed for today's challenges and tomorrow's opportunities.
This was a long day, and looks to be a long week ahead.
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.