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Tony Pearson is a Master Inventor and Senior IT Specialist for the IBM System Storage product line at the
IBM Executive Briefing Center in Tucson Arizona, and featured contributor
to IBM's developerWorks. In 2011, Tony celebrated his 25th year anniversary with IBM Storage on the same day as the IBM's Centennial. 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 am Tony Pearson, IBM brand marketing strategy, located in Tucson, Arizona. I have degrees in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering from the University of Arizona. Over the past 20 years, I have worked in a variety of storage roles, including development projects, product and portfolio management, testing, field support, and now bring that technical experience to marketing.
There are a lot of things to discuss related to storage, and I am never short of opinions. As such, the standard IBM disclaimer applies: “The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of IBM or IBM management.”
I have invited other IBMers to post their opinions, and when they do, their opinions may not necessarily match mine either.
This is an open two-way conversation between IBM, Business Partners, Independent Software Vendors, prospects and existing clients. I encourage everyone to post comments about our products, services, and marketing efforts.
There's nothing worse that feeling you made a bad decision.My favorite is buying something, and then finding it at a lower price somewhere else. Or worse,being in a country where you haggle over prices, and finding out that I might havebeen able to haggle further down than what I had paid.
Of course, the solution to making better, more informed decisions, is getting more information.That's what I love about being in the storage business.[Read More]
'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.' --- George Santayana
This last week of 2006 seems like a good time to recap the past year, and review the upcoming new year.That said, a good start is PC World's Top 21 Tech Screwups of 2006.
Laptops made the news this year in a variety of ways. #1 was exploding batteries,and #6 were the stolen laptops that exposed private personal information. Someone I knowwas listed in one of these stolen databases, so this last one hits close to home. Securityis becoming a bigger issue now, and IBM was the first to deliver device-based encryptionwith the TS1120 enterprise tape drive.
IBM makes the chips used in all the major game consoles: Microsoft's Xbox 360, Nintendo's Wii,and Sony's PlayStation 3. Being all based on IBM technology doesn'tmake the games interoperable or compatible, and in the case of Sony, it made #8 for being incompatible with their own PlayStation 2.Sadly, Nintendo's Wii had its own set of problems, and I found this parody of asafety video on YouTubeyou might enjoy.
Microsoft had #5 (not understanding the holiday shopping season ends in December), #12 (not understanding people who use PCs prefer privacy), and #17 (not understanding how people useMP3 music players). At least they delivered their latest Xbox with minimal problems.As an engineer, taking on a market strategy role involved reading books and taking classeson marketing. I learned that it is all about understanding the marketplace well enoughso that your prospects "know, like, and trust" your company. Perhaps Microsoft should take a refresher course.
A few companies showed off their brilliant customer service. Comcast is representedin a video on #7, and AOL in a taped phone conversation on #15. Many of our clients areafraid of vendor lock-in, and how difficult it might be to undo the deployment of new storagetechnology. Fortunately, IBM is committed to open standards, making it easier for our clientsto make the right choice and feel good about it.
Hopefully, we can all learn from the mistakes of others, and not repeat them in 2007.
Continuing this week's theme of New Year's Resolutions for the data center, today we'll talk about one that people don't always think about on a personal level, that is to hone your tools and skills.
A long time ago, I used to be a regular speaker at the SHARE user group conference. One of the most attended sessions was Sam Golob presenting the latest CBT Tape set of tools. Over time, this large collection of "mainframe shareware" was handed out on 3480 tape cartridges, then on CDs, and finally made downloadable off the web.Sam's main point, which I remember to this day, was that everyone who has a job should figure out what tools they use, keep those tools functioning properly, and learn to use them well.
Later, I took some cooking classes at a culinary school. Among other things, we learned:
A sharp knife is safer and easier to use than a dull one, resulting in fewer accidents
Knowing what you are doing is the difference between food that is "simply awful" to that which is "awfully simple" to prepare.
A well trained chef can prepare most meals with just a sharp knife and wooden spoon.
The same could be said about software tools. What tools do you use in your job? Do you feel you know how to take full advantage of their power and capabilities?If you develop software, do you know all the features for your debugging tools? If you develop advertising or marketing materials, do you know all the features of your photo or video editing software? If you manage storage in a data center, do you know all the tools for managing your storage area network (SAN), disk systems, tape libraries, and reporting tools to identify all of your files and databases across your entire IT environment?I would not be surprised if you could replace a whole mess of tools with just one, such as the IBM TotalStorage Productivity Center.
IBM also has a vision for the future, and like Martin Luther King's speech, is startingto enable change. Last February 2006, IBM launched "Information on Demand", a visionthat involves bringing together our hardware, software, and services.
The impact has not gone unnoticed. Barron's featured IBM in an article titled "The New IBM".
I suspect bloggers helped get the word out. Here's a graph fromYahoo! Financeshowing the IBM stock price over the pastsix months. This blog started in September, when stock was in the low 80's, and now it is in thehigh 90's. I can't take all the credit, of course, as there are now over 3000 IBMers blogging, either inside thecompany, or externally to the rest of the world.
Next week I am "briefing" a client on a variety of topics, everything from our overall strategy, to our DS4000 disk systems, LTO tape, the DR550, and storage virtualization. A lot to cover, and they only gave me 60 minutes!
The challenge is not gathering the material, as it is shrinking it down to cover all the key points into a fluid story. Which reminds me of a saying we have inside IBM: "Develop with prose, Market with poetry." When I was in development, I had to write some huge specifications. Now that I am in marketing, the fewer words the better. In looking to see if this saying was a modified version of a famous quote from someone else, I encountered this interesting quote below. John Windsor of YouBlog might argue this could apply to most marketing attempts just as easily as most poetry.
Most people ignore most poetry because most poetry ignores most people. --- Adrian Mitchell
Roger over at Creative Think asks ifChip Heath is the Next Malcolm Gladwell?, relating to a book called "Made to Stick". I just started reading this book yesterday, but it starts out with how some stories are more memorable than others. Some just "stick" in your head, like songs, and others are quickly forgotten.
I tell a lot of stories, some stick, some don't. For example, I had read in a Barnes and Noble flyer a description of a book that interested me. I went to the store, but had forgotten to bring the flyer with me. When the person at the help desk offered to help me find it on their computer system, I realized that I could not remember the author, the title nor the publisher. The only thing I could remember was that it was a dark green book. It was actually a collection of short stories that were all 55 words in length, all winners of a 55-word story contest. She then took out the flyer itself, and we found it easily from there. She asked why I only remembered that it was green, and I told her: "Because I collect green books."
I am amazed that the writers could cram a setting, characters, plot and resolution into only 55 words, and then I saw Anecdote's post Let's Be Brief which talks about the latest 6-word story contest, inspired by Hemmingway’s shortest story, which was only six words long.
Wrapping up my week's theme of "diversity", with posts on a diverse set of topics,today I will suggest ways to spendyour time while you are walking 10,000 steps per day, as recommended by the authorsof the book "You: On a Diet".
(If you thought this was about the 10,000 steps it might take to implement a storage solution, you should switch over to IBM as your storage vendor. For example, the DS3200 and DS3400 can beimplemented in as little as SIX steps. That's pretty cool.)
Blogs like Lifehacker are an excellent resource for neat littletips and tricks to help you throughout your day, like how to use your iPod, cell phone or computer better, for example. These suggestions are based on the idea that you can walk your 10,000 steps with access to an iPod and cell phone.
Learning a language
... or refreshing yourself on a language you might not have spoken in a while. In addition to formal audio-based lessons from Pimsleur, there are podcasts you can get for various languages. In preparation for my upcoming trip to Japan and China, I have been listening to JapanesePod101.com and ChinesePod.com which have quick lessons that complement the formal training.This Lifehacker postindicates there are similar ones for French, Spanish, Italian, and Brazillian Portuguese.
Practicing your presentation
Walking while practicing your 30-60 minute presentation would be good exercise.MicroPersuasion explains how to turn your iPod into the ultimate PowerPoint accessory, and this article in PlayListmag.com providesthe steps to get a PowerPoint presentation onto your iPod. I did this, and the slides are found underPhotos->Photo Library. The images are small, but heck, they are your charts and you should recognize themwell enough to remind yourself what to say on each slide.Also, I am able to record my practice sessions using MP3 Recorder and listen as I page through each slide. (In theory, you can use your iPod to present your slides to your audience, plugging the iPod directly into the laptop projector, instead of a laptop, using cables available at your local Apple store, and use the iPod controls as your forward/backward remote.)
Working your To-Do list
You can download your to-do list to your iPod. I use BackPackIt from 37 Signals. You can sign up for a free account, or upgrade to a paid account, and have anamazingly simple browser-based tool to develop your to-do lists, one for each project or aspect of your life. Oncedone, the list can be emailed to you as plain text. Enable your iPod as an "external disk drive" and copy this text file to your NOTES directory on the iPod drive. Voila! You can now read your to-do list! (I could also send it to my cell phone, using firstname.lastname@example.org, but I find the iPod easier to read and navigate)
Think of something to add? Send an email from your cell phone. With BackPackit, I can send an email that will directly add my text as a note or todo list item. On my phone, this is simply sending a text message to "500" with text like:
"email@example.com todo # buy bread".
The hash mark (#) separates the subject line from the body of the email, and this is how Backpackit knows its a todo item or a note. If you pre-program the huge email address in advance on your phone, then it isn't as bad as it looks. It will be on your packpackit page the next time you log in.
Well, that's three suggestions. The next time you complain that there is no time to walk, you now have no excuse.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/
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!
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.
ESG Analyst, Tony Asaro, talks about the many small storage startups having aBillion Dollar Impact on the storage system industry. Tony has counted over50 storage system vendors that are now in the marketplace. Is it really that many?Most of the time, the media only focus on the top seven major players, but I agree that big players like IBM should take trends about small startups like this seriously.
EMC Blogger Chuck Hollis suggests that this trend might be the start of a squeeze play, where top players and new upstarts squeeze out the middle playerslike Sun and HDS, in his postDesperate Times In Storage Land?
(His statement that IDC and Gartner have listed EMC as number one in "almost all"market segments is perhaps a bit misleading. IBM is number one in overall storage hardware, as wellas leading in tape drives, tape libraries, tape virtualization, and for that matter,disk virtualization. I don't know if IDC or Gartner count EMC Disk Library in the "tape virtualization" category, or if either analyst distinguishes between "cache-based" versus "switch-based" disk virtualization as separate categories.Perhaps Chuck should have qualified this to say "almost all of themarket segments that EMC does business in," which of course is better than the othervendors in the middle.)
Guy Kawasaki is hosting a Web Conference next week on The Art of Evangelism.By this he is referring to promoting products and services, rather than the traditionaldefinition: the preaching or promulgation of the gospel.
A few years ago, I myself had the official title of "Technical Evangelist" for the IBM System Storageproduct line. I never liked the title, and asked to use something else, but since I was part of ateam of "Technical Evangelists," I had to keep it. A lot of companies were using this as a title,I was told, and everyone knew that it was not a religious reference, but a marketing one.
Sometimes, words do not translate well into other countries or cultures. Four years ago, on theweek of September 11, 2003, I traveled to Kuwait, Qatar and UAE for a business trip to present thelatest on our storage products. On arrival in Kuwait, I had to fill out my "visa application" to enterthe country, and it asked for my "occupation/title" but there were not enough spaces to write "Technical Evangelist" so I just entered "Evangelist".
The two Kuwaitis behind the desk looked it up in their Arabic/English dictionary, discussed it, andweren't sure if they should shoot me, or take me to the back room to video tape my proper be-heading. Our official hostcame over to ask what was the delay, and they showed her the dictionary translation. She asked me,"Why would you put Evangelist as your title?" So, I gave her my business card, and told herthat my full title of Technical Evangelist did not fit in the space provided.
She explained to the two behind the desk that I had misunderstood the question, and misspelled theactual word intended was "Engineer". She showed them the agenda of the IBM Technical Conference I wasspeaking at, and the list of Oil and Construction companies that were attending. They looked upthe new title "Engineer", and agreed the translation was suitable for entry, and that these two words,Evangelist and Engineer, used enough similar letters they could understand how one might misspell one for the other.
Our limo took a small detour to the middle of the desert so that we could burn and bury the ashes of the remainder of my business cards, before arriving to the hotel. All of my powerpoint slides that listed my title were changed to "Technical Engineer". The events themselves went very well,as IT people are the same all over the world, and had no problem setting aside religious or politicaldifferences in an effort to learn more about technology.
When I got back to the United States, I shared my experience with my fellow team-mates, most of whom never leavethe country, and would never have thought this might happen. Management agreed to let us change our titles.That was good for me, as I had to order a new box of business cards anyways.
Last year, I became "Manager of Brand Marketing Strategy" of the IBM System Storage product line.Now on business trips I just write "Manager" on the Occupation/Title line. It fits in every form I have ever had to fill, and translates properly into every language.