I am back safely from my travels to New Zealand and Australia, and would like to wish everyone today a Happy [Earth Day]!
The Tucson area has been cont
"One critical area for cost-effective investment is technology. We are converting all of our customer water meters to digital in order to reduce the amount of labor required to manually read all the 225,000 customer meters each month. And we are replacing our Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system in order to improve our ability to control and manage our water distribution system.
While this is certainly good for the environment, IBM's focus on helping the Earth become a smarter planet has been good for its bottom line as well. According to the latest 1Q 2013 financial results, IBM revenues related to Smarter Planet initiatives, including the Smarter Cities campaign, have increased 25 percent year-to-year.
Wrapping up my week teaching Top Gun class in Sydney, Australia, I could not resist taking a photo of the cityscape.
Sydney is a beautiful city, and the view from the 13th floor of the IBM Centre at St. Leonards in North Sydney is always worth a picture!
Vic, Scott and I all have engineering backgrounds, so it is easy for us to drop down into the technical weeds in discussing each product and solution. However, the student feedback from both Auckland and Sydney was that some of our material was just too technical.
"Shoe salesman should know how to tie a pair of shoe laces, but do not need to know [how the little aglets at the tip of each lace are made] just to sell a pair of shoes!"
Rather than presenting my standard 137-slide "Dea
Last week, we celebrated Joe's birthday in Auckland. This week, it was Vic's turn, so we went to the Garfish restaurant at Manly beach. Here we are with bacon-enhanced oysters.
The four-day class finished Thursday afternoon, and I went out with some of the students to celebrate their graduation. I started with beers at the Cabana, then wine at [the Ivy Room], and finally dinner at Uccello on the rooftop [Pool Club]. Dinner was awesome: pork sausage-stuffed olives to start, roasted chicken with polenta, and finally a capuccino to finish the meal.
I would have never found these places on my own, and the students provided me some interesting feedback about the class and how to improve it.
This week, I was in Sydney, Australia teaching IBM Storage Portfolio Top Gun class.
Our hotel is near [Circular Quay], and our class is at the IBM Centre at St. Leonards, just six metro stops away. There are also ferry boats from Circular Quay to other parts of the city.
Here are other members of the teach team. Scott McPeek covers the IBM SmartCloud Virtual Storage Center, SAN Volume Controller and Tivoli Storage Productivity Center. Vic Peltz covers high-end disk, disk replication, and competitive issues. Here we are in front of the [Sydney Opera House].
We arrived at 4:15pm to discover they weren't open for dinner until 5:30pm. We managed to find some beverages at the bar next door. Corona beer?!?! I just travelled thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean to be offered Mexican beer I can get locally in Tucson? I don't think so! Instead, we got some local Tasmanian brew.
Once seated, our table at Doyles was outdoors on the patio, with stunning views of the sunset. The weather was just right, cool and crisp sea air, but not windy.
I tried their Sydney Sangria which combines red wine, fruit juices and ginger beer. This had an interesting kick. If you have never tried Ginger beer, I highly recommend it! For dinner, I had the Flathead fish and chips. All of the fish at Doyles is locally sourced.
We got done with dinner just in time to catch the last ferry boat at 6:55pm! We literally were the last three to get on the boat before they pulled up the gangplank!
On Monday night, after the first day of class, our friends at [Brocade] invited us to a Pizza-and-Beer reception at the [Cabana Bar and Lounge], similar to the Brocade reception at Sale Street Bar last week in Auckland. Here I am with Katie, one of the Brocade employees hosting the event.
While at the reception, we had a terrible rain storm. I am so glad we were not on the street at that time. Some of our colleagues were not so lucky, and arrived soaking wet!
Special thanks to Tim Lees, the Brocade partner manager to IBM in ANZ, for hosting these receptions in both Auckland and Sydney!
On Tuesday, I once again presented the [Storwize family, DS3500 and DCS3700 disk systems]. Based on student feedback from last week's Auckland class, we took out some of the more technical details of each product, and added more information on the business value of each feature.
For my presentation on "IBM's Big Four Initiatives - Understanding Social, Media, Analytics and Cloud", I added more explanation on Hadoop for the big data analytics section. I even installed [IBM InfoSphere BigInsights] on my laptop to run a sample MapReduce job. The [Basic Edition 2.0 version can be downloaded from developerWorks] for free!
Continuing my week in Auckland, New Zealand, I presented my last three topics for the week.
We often joke that I.B.M. stands for "Information Between Meals"! Here we are at a restaurant in the [Britomart] area. I am on [the Paleo diet], which is low-carb, high-protein, dairy-free and gluten-free, and am trying to stick with it even when on the road traveling. Sometimes it can be challenging. Tonight, I opted for a light dinner, just roasted vegetables and grape-flavored beverage.
The folks in New Zealand love sheep. There are nine sheep for every person in this country. Here are some metal sculpture lawn ornaments.
Hyein and I needed new "desktop wallpaper" photos for our laptops. For those who want to dress up their laptops, here's one for each of us. (Click on each photo to see full size). Hyein kept getting her hair in the way. I didn't have that problem, but was worried my cap would fly off my head. This cap was a gift from my clients at [James Cook University in Brisbane, Australia].
In Top Gun classes, the top students are given "Top Gun" caps and their picture is published on the official website for all to see their success. Overall, the entire class did very well, and these three outstanding students had the top scores.
I am now in Sydney, Australia -- to teach Top Gun class again!
I returned safely from my trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma.
(A special shout-out to Shannon at [In The Raw] sushi restaurant, and my new friends I met at the rooftop of [the Mayo]!)
Last week I was in Auckland, New Zealand teaching Top Gun class. Top Gun teaches IBM Business Partners and sales reps how to sell our products, services, and solutions. I have been teaching Top Gun classes around the world since 1998.
(Why didn't I post sooner? Because IBM's developerWorks was getting an exciting upgrade to IBM Connections 4.0, and bloggers like me have to wait for the conversion to complete!)
While many of my trips in the USA involve traveling alone, that is not the case for Top Gun classes. Our class manager, Joe Ebidia, brought his wife Karen. Our class administrator is Hyein (Hyein is a Korean name that rhymes with rain). In addition to some local instructors, I am joined by my IBM USA colleagues Scott McPeek (Tivoli Storage) and Vic Peltz (Dis
The rest of the teach team arrived a day or two early to adjust to jet lag. I, on the other hand, got off the plane Monday at 6am, and had a business meeting that same morning with GTS architects from Wellington.
(To those asking why I have only the bellies of Karen and Joe in the picture, I was focused on taking picture of the food.)
After setting up the classroom, we took a ferry over to [Devonport], a charming seaside village just minutes across the bay from Auckland. The ferry boats were close the the Central Business District our [Stamford Plaza hotel] was in, and they run every 30 minutes.
The four of us walked up to the top of Mt. Victoria to see the views of the city. I highly recommend this! Once you get to Devonport, you can walk along the streets to see all the cute shops, or enjoy the parks and natural beauty. I had [done this before], but it is always worth doing again!
The class is four days long. I had six presentations. Here were the first three:
I will save the rest of the week for the next post!
Last Tuesday, we had our official "Grand Opening" for the new Tucson Executive Briefing Center!
We sent out fancy invitations to all the IBM executives who supported this center, local dignitaries from the Tucson and State of Arizona level, and all of the IBM employees on the Tucson campus.
Since our new center is significantly cozier (5700 square feet versus our previous 15,000 square feet), we split the day into two separate events. The first for the IBM executives and local VIPs, and the second for the rest of the IBM employees on campus.
Of course, there is no free lunch. The day started out with a series of speeches. My manager, Doug Davies, was the master of ceremonies to introduce each speaker.
Alistair Symon, IBM Vice President of Enterprise Storage, explained how important storage affects everyone's lives. If you use an ATM machine to withdraw money, for example, you are most probably using IBM System Storage behind the scenes. Nearly all of the IBM disk and tape storage products are designed here in Tucson.
Bruce Wright (shown here) directs the University of Arizona's Office of University Research Parks, serves as CEO of the UA Tech Park, and the founder and president of the Arizona Center for Innovation. Bruce said a few words on how please he was that IBM decided to reverse its July 2011 decision to leave Tucson. The UofA owns all the property, renting back four of the eleven buildings back to IBM, so is effectively our landlord. Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of IBM's sale of the technology park to the University.
Tucson Councilwoman Shirley Scott talked about the improtance of high-paying jobs to the local economy. While IBMers in Tucson are paid less than our counterparts in San Jose, Austin, Raleigh or Poughkeepsie, we are certainly [paid more than the average Tucsonan], thus helping to raise the standard of living here.
Dr. Michael Varney, president and CEO of the local Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, praised IBM for its strong reputation in ethics and diversity.
My new second-line manager, Karl Duvalsaint, and my new third-line manager, Doug Dreyer, emphasized the importance of co-locating Briefing Centers in sites that have Research and Development activity. It is important for clients to interact directly with developers, and it is also good for developers to understand directly from clients their needs, preferences and requirements. Worldwide, the IBM Systems and Technology Group has only twelve Executive Briefing Centers, and the Tucson EBC is one of them.
This is not to say that IBM does not have centers in other locations. Our newest client center in Singapore is a shining example. Of course, if they want experts to speak to clients there, they need to be flown in. Doug Dreyer mentioned that IBM plans to launch six such centers in Africa as well.
Next was the ribbon cutting. From left to right, Lee Olguin (our Gunny Sargeant), Tucson Councilwoman Shirley Scott, UofA's Bruce Wright, IBM VP of Program Management Calline Sanchez, My second-line manager Karl Duvalsaint, IBM VP Allistair Simon, my first-line manager Doug Davies, Tucson Chamber of Commerce President Dr. Michael Varney, and my third-line manager Doug Dreyer. We had a member of the local high school band do the drum roll.
Once the ribbon was cut, the IBM Executves and local VIPs were brought in to see the new facility, which has two large rooms, one common dining area, an 800-square foot green data center to showcase our products, our own set of restrooms, a galley to stage up the food and beverage service, and two smaller rooms for private conversations or conference calls. A local high school band provided live music throughout the day.
I am back from my awesome vacation in and around Portland, Oregon! I rented a hybrid Toyota Prius from Hertz, which got about 50 MPG for this trip.
On Wednesday, I walked through the gardens of [The Grotto] on Sandy Blvd, ate a German lunch at [The Rheinelander], then visited the [Crown Point Vista House] along the [Columbia River Gorge]. There were several fabulous waterfalls that could be seen from the parking area without hiking into the wilderness. We wouldn't want to encounter a bear in the woods, or a cow in the field!
Friday morning I spent at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry [OMSI], which had an [explosive exhibition based on the television show "Mythbusters"]. I then saw the OMNIMAX film ["Sea Monsters"] which followed the life of a pre-historic sea animal called Dolly.
In the afternoon, Rafael, Mo and I explored Portland's waterfront and various bridges via [Segway tour]. The cherry blossoms along our path were in full bloom. If you have not ridden on one of these Segway scooters, they are a lot of fun!
On Saturday, Portland held their [Saturday Market] with arts and crafts for sale. This is similar to Tucson's 4th Avenue Street fair. The difference is that the "Saturday Market" occurs every Saturday of the year and Tucson's 4th Avenue Street Fair occurs only twice per year. The weather was very nice, so, many of the locals were in t-shirts and shorts. A live concert by [Grupo Condor] were playing on the main stage.
I walked past the [Voodoo Donuts store]. There was a long line to get in. A woman leaving the store carrying a pink donut box complained she waited 2 hours just to spend $28 for a dozen donuts. The magic is in the hole!
Getting out of the hustle and bustle of the Saturday Market, I had some green tea at the [Lan Su Chinese Garden]. A sister city to Portland is Suzhou, China, and this garden was very peaceful to walk through.
Nearly everything was closed on Easter Sunday, so I went down to the [TulipFest at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm] in Woodburn, OR. This was the opening weekend, with over 40 acres of flowers to walk through, various food carts, wine tasting, and rides for the kids.
My final dinner in Portland was at the [Red Star Tavern and Roadhouse], just a few blocks from my hotel.
Getting back to Tucson proved to be a bit challenging. The flight from Portland to San Francisco was delayed due to fog, so we got re-routed to Seattle, then back to Los Angeles, and finally to Tucson.