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This week I am in Maryland, teaching at our Top Gun sales training class.
Of course, often it is the students teaching me something new. Bringing up freshnew ways at looking at things.
Take for example this new online video game called Capacity Crisis. In it, you are the storage administrator tryingto get additional storage capacity to all the different departmentmanagers that need more space.
Christopher Carfi on his Social Customer Manifesto blog has a great post[Let's Look at the Big Picture]that talks about Information as the new form of "money" by looking at how the concept of "money" wasfirst formed 150 years ago. Here's an excerpt:
Lesson 1: "Money" was very fragmented for a very long period of time after the colonization of North America
"Money" as we think of it in the form of cash/paper currency has only been around for about 150 years. Over a period of almost two hundred years both before and after that time, a number of fragmented methods were used to exchange value.
Lesson 2: Everybody needs to win
After the ideas of "cash" and "checks" had taken hold and become widespread, there were still many inefficiencies in the system. Cash is cumbersome, and subject to loss. Checks may bounce. This continued until the mid-1900's.
Enter the credit card.*
The credit card resonated with both customers and vendors because both parties received benefits.
Now, the widespread usage of credit cards was not something the occurred overnight. Instead, it was something that occurred over a generation. In 1970, only 16% of American households had credit cards. However, by 1995, that number had climbed to 65%.
We are now looking at Information in much the same way. It is fragmented, it is used to represent value, it is hoarded by some, shared by others. In much that "brown" is the new "black", does that mean "information" is the new"money"?
A related blog post from Shawn over at Anecdote discusses a panelist discussion of Albert Camus' work,The Stranger. Here is an excerpt:
... meaning is not pre-inscribed in the world around us and we are continuously seeking meaning in an inherently meaningless world. I almost toppled off the step machine. Do we live in an inherently meaningless world? On first thought I think the answer is yes. The onus is on us to make sense of our world.
And here is where information, by itself, is not of value unless people place value on it. Just as people valued Wampum and Furs, and could therefore trade it for other goods, people trade information for other itemsof value. But the onus is on us to make sense of the information, to determine the meaning of it, and use thisto help drive business or other accomplishments.
Are you leveraging information as well as investors leverage other people's money? If not, IBM can help.
Well, it's the last day of the year, and I will be celebrating the new year soon.In the mean time, I leave you with an interesting triple combo related to information.
Nick Carr in his post [Cleaning the Slate] offers a list of articles he did not have time for in 2007.Of these, I enjoyed the 7-page keynote address[Information, Knowledge, Authority and Democracy] by Hunter R. Rawlings III.He talks about the importance of recorded knowledge, including discussions by the US founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, and how information is an essential part of democracy.Here's a brief excerpt:
Following the burning of the Capitol in 1815,President James Madison restored the Library of Congress by purchasing ThomasJefferson’s library for the nation. It was Jefferson’s unique classification scheme that thefirst full-time Librarian of Congress, appointed by Madison, used in reorganizing theLibrary. The United States, embodied in the Congress, was to have the best library inthe world because knowledge was necessary to its fundamental purpose, the creationand protection of liberty.
James Madison believed, in other words, that he lived in a “knowledge age.” In ourmyopic way, we like to think that we invented the knowledge age sometime late in the20th century. We did not. Madison and his contemporaries had complete faith andconfidence in the necessity of what they called “useful knowledge,” which, of course,privileged many things we no longer consider useful, such as the ability to read Latinand Greek and to understand the lessons of ancient history.
...by employing collaborative filtering, you use other people’s time to weed out the things that would waste yours. In fact, Del.icio.us and Stumble Upon polls your friends and people with similar interests for the most crucial sources of information and anything else you might have accident skipped over. If The Wisdom of Crowds has taught us anything, it is that a large group of people is drastically more efficient than you’ll ever be on your own.
Unless you enjoy grinding yourself to the bone, use this principle—whether you call it “crowdsourcing” or otherwise—to stop drinking from the information fire hose. It’s not more information, it’s better information, that distinguishes the real winners in business and life.
Finally, Galacticast presents [A Copyright Carol],a humorous 5-minute parody video on what might happen in the future as a result of lawslike the Canadian Digital Millennium Copyright Act[DMCA].
Philip Rosedale, chief executive of Linden Labs, which produced the Second Life virtual reality environment, said Second Life and Facebook are popular because they give people a new environment to interact in that they are comfortable with.
Of course I have blogged for months now on my involvement in Second Life, and how IBM is investing in this platform for business purposes. Recently, IBM made news for publishing its Code of Conduct,and set of guidelines on how you run your avatar in virtual worlds, including Second Life. IBM recognizesthe business potential of virtual worlds, and has formed the "3D Internet" group exploring the possibilities.Over 5000 IBM employees now use Second Life on a regular basis.
I was surprised to learn that there were over 23,000 IBMers already on Facebook. I used to be on LinkedIn,but found FaceBook to have more IBMers and have made the switch. Recently, we were told that these 23,000 IBMers spend 19 minutes, on average, per day visiting Facebook pages. Nobody askedme how much time I spend every day on FaceBook, but with over 350,000 employees in the company,I am sure some have ways to track the lives of others.
Both of these count as adding more "FUN" into the workplace, which everyone should strive for. It is also good to know that the skills you developusing Second Life or FaceBook can carry over to your next job role or your next employer.The number-one question I get from new colleagues when I mention either these exciting new ways to communicate and collaborate is: "But how is this related to business?"
Second Life is obvious, a new innovative way to hold meetings with colleagues, Business Partners and clients isgoing to have business value. Meetings in Second Life help you focus on what is being discussed, versus a plaintelephone call where your eyes may wander to other things in your view. Of course nothing beatsthe effectiveness of face-to-face meetings, but Second Life offers a more energy-efficient alternative than traveling to other cities or countries.
When I was a kid, we didn't have online access to anything. Either yourparents were rich and generous and bought you the latest set of encyclopedias, or they were poor or cheap, and you hoofed it to thenearest library.
Now, I rely heavily on Wikipedia, and other wikis, to find information I need.The key here is the ability to find stuff. With the old 27-volume set ofencyclopedias, you had to know what word something would be filed under, andhow to spell it, so that you could find it. Today's search facilities are much moreforgiving. If you guess wrong, you are only a few clicks away from what youwere really looking for, in a Kevin Bacon six-degrees-of-separation kind of way.
Wikipedia is now looked at more often than CNN.com or the New York Times website.Why? It is amazingly good at summarizing a situation in succinct terms, even fornews "as it happens". The recent episode at Heathrow airport a few weeks agoserves as a good example. I was in Washington DC that week, on my way to Miami and Sao Paulo,Brazil, so it is good to have the news I needed, when I needed it.[Read More]
Well,This is completely off-topic, but now that I have a bluetooth-enabled Thinkpad T60, I have been interested in this new wireless technology. I have a bluetooth cell phone, a bluetooth wireless headset, and my thinkpad, and they all work together seemlessly. I am able to speak on my cell phone through my headset, listen to music and videos on my laptop through my headset, and even dial in to the IBM network through my cell phone, all without any cables!
A variation of the Wi-Fi soup-cantenna has emerged to intercepting bluetooth signals. Check out this coolBlueSniper Rifle
Before dinner, I was able to catch up with my colleagues from across the pond. Here I am pictured with Ola Surowiec, a Power Systems sales specialist from Scotland.
The dinner was set up as self-service buffet style, with choices of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine. This is largely the heritage of the Ottoman empire to provide a fusion of flavors from its neighbors.
The city of Istanbul is considered the border between Europe and Asia, with one side of the city on the "European" side, and the other side of the Bosphorus strait being the "Asian" side.
With a population of over 14 million, Istanbul forms one of the largest urban agglomerations in Europe, second largest in the Middle East and the third-largest city in the world by population within its city limits.
The entertainment started with two [belly dancers], one male and one female. (IBM is an equal opportunity employer!) For those not familiar with this particular form of performance art, it is improvised folk dances based on torso articulation and abdominal movements.
I have seen dancers before in Egypt, the country that most people associate with the origin of belly dancing, but the Turkish version is considered more energetic and athletic. Certainly both of our dancers were quite flexible.
This was followed by a live cover band that played the latest English-language hits. Several Americans at the table asked "Wait? We come all the way to Turkey and the local band sings the songs in English?"
In the corner, attendees were invited to dress up as their favorite sultan to take photograph. Here for example, are some of the members of the STU event team. Mo McCullough, Don Meyer, Marlin Maddy, Glenn Anderson and Alex Abderrazag pose with two lovely local ladies in full costume.
The word "sultan" derives from the Arabic word meaning "strength", "authority" or "power". Sultans ruled the Turkish empire from 1299 to 1922.
The [Topkapi palace], where I visited earlier in the week, contains clothing on display of the sultans and princes from the second half of the 15th century to the early 20th century.
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.
Yesterday, I went to the Bodyworlds exhibition. Here the anatomy of real human cadavers are on display, in full detail, thanks to a process calledPlastination.This was a great way to present anatomy in a 3-D visual way that can be easily understood and appreciated.I was glad to see so many children were there, although I warn parents that some sections of the exhibit maybe a bit shocking. I heard people speaking French and German, and it was great that anyone can be fascinatedby the human body, without having to read or understand English.
In the exhibit, you got to see the bones, nerves, muscles, digestive tract and other organs.Some in action poses, like swinging a baseball bat or ice skating, while others were stretched into specific poses to help emphasize one part or another.
In some cases, they would show side by side healthy and unhealthy organs, for example, the lungs of someone that smokes tobacco cigarettes, compared to the lungs of a normal person. Quite a difference!
Visualization can be an effective way to understand and gain insight from information. Presenting information in a visually stunning manner can be challenging, but often worth the effort. It reminded me of Edward Tufte, who has written several books on this subject.
Today, I went looking for reading-glasses. Unfamiliar with my surroundings, I asked several people where I might be able to find and purchase these, and was sent in various directions. My first stop was a bookstore. It would make sense that since many people need reading glasses to read the books, that they would sell them there, but no. The staff didn't know where I could go, but pointed me in the direction of a mall. At the mall, I found a pharmacy. Many pharmacies sell reading glasses, so I stopped in, but no, not this one. The pharmacists suggested the super-store nearby. I walked in to the super-store, and asked the first employee where they keep their reading glasses, and they said the other corner. The other corner was the electronics department. It made sense that they sold CDs and DVDs in the same section as the equipment that plays them, but reading glasses? Skeptical, I went to the pharmacy department, and the young and beautiful lady (everyone is young, thin and beautiful here) had me follow her, and she led me back to the electronics department, whereupon she pointed to a rack of sunglasses. I indicated that I need reading glasses, not sunglasses. She pulled one out, and it was indeed reading glasses, 1.25, just what I was looking for. Others were tinted, so you can read the newspaper out in the sunlight. The pair I chose cost only $97 in the local currency.
After reading the last sentence, you might be thinking I am describing my "avatar" in Second Life, but no, I am talking about my search for reading glasses on the streets of Mexico. I am here this week in meetings with IBM Business Partners and sales reps to discuss IBM's latest System Storage products and offerings.
We used to tell people they should "clothe" servers with storage. IBM offers both, so yes it makes sense to offer both as part of a complete solution. However, when you look through a dictionary definition "to clothe" you learn it is to dress, wrap or cover with clothing, an implication that it is external, and perhaps temporary, easily changed, like switching from sunglasses to reading glasses. In Second Life, objects can be "worn", simply by attaching or detaching them to your "avatar". Sometimes clothing serves a purpose, like reading glasses, provides protection, like raincoats, and other times, more decorative, like"icing on the cake" or "gold plating".
This concept was fine 50 years ago, when we were in a server-centric world, and dumb storage devices were attached to very intelligent servers. Back then, we used the derogatory term "subsystems" to emphasize that storage was just part of the server, not a system of its own.
Today, we live in an information-centric world. The information outlives the media, and the media outlives the servers that access it. It is not unreasonable to attach dozens or hundreds of servers to a single storage system, or collection of storage systems. Over 20 percent of IBM System Storage DS8000 series, for example, are attached to Windows rack-optimized or blade servers. Imagine a refrigerator surrounded by dozens or hundreds of pizza boxes. Storage is no longer a subsystem, but a system on its own right, dressed, wrapped or covered by servers that deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time.
So perhaps we should reverse it, telling people they should "clothe" their storage with servers!
Well, it is Halloween back in the USA. I am in Seoul Korea this week, so it is already Thursday, November 1st here, but thought I would comment on Colin Barker's piece in ZDnet titled[SNW offers the frights].The article starts out with an oversimplification:
The storage industry is enjoying a boom currently thanks to the requirement for IT managers to keep everything. With the possibility of being sued any time by any company for no good reason at all, everyone is keeping everything, or at least all their data. Result? Loads and loads more kit being bought to the benefit of EMC, IBM, HP and every other supplier with any kind of storage product.
While its true that IBM System Storage grew yet again in 3Q07, exceeding our own internal business model, I would not call this an overall "boom" for the storage industry. While companies are growing in "TB capacity" by 30-50%, this translates only to single digit growth in terms of "Dollar revenues". This is because we continue to make storage with declining dollar-per-GB.
One should not confuse what people do with what people are required to do. I am not a lawyer, but most regulations pertaining to storage of information state that certain records need to be kept for a set amount of time, either a fixed period of years, or based on some event. For example, broker/dealers need to keep emails of their clients for six years after the client closes their brokerage account. After those six years, the records can be destroyed.
Unfortunately, many IT managers look at the laws and come up with the simplest solution: keep everything forever. While this might meet the regulators audit requirements, it does expose their employer to subpoenas for data that should have been deleted, and may not be very cost-effective.
The alternative for many IT managers involves having to leave their comfort zone, and talk to their legal counsel, the lines of business, and try to classify their data, determine a set of policies, and inact some forms of enforcement. This is perhaps the "scary" part of the storage of information, it has grown outside the walls of IT, forcing IT managers to interact with the rest of the business to get their jobs done.
Compliance is the only game in town and that is most certainly where the money is.
Anytime an analyst tells you that something is the "only game in town", they are usually wrong. In this case, IBM has had great success in other areas that are not compliance-related. For example, digital video surveillance (DVS) is being used not only to help reduce shoplifting, but also to help identify patterns in customers perusing through aisles and window-shopping. Identifying what people are interested in has proven effective in moving product displays around to better attract buyers and motivate them to make purchases.
Take, the keynote from Andy Monshaw, general manager of IBM storage, and thus a man who is very much in a position to know. He spent his allotted 30 minutes, or whatever, listing all the security, compliance, threats and related issues that are currently making the jobs of most IT manager a cause for concern. Now, there is an argument that suggests that it is absolutely the right thing to do to frighten IT managers into sorting out their issues. They need shaking up say some. Especially analysts.
I helped develop the content of Andy's SNW presentation, working with his speech writers and graphic artists to make a consistent and coherent message fit in the 25 minutes he was given. The challenge with SNW is that we needed to make this presentation applicable across the entire storage industry, without sounding like an infomercial for IBM offerings.
Some people have compared the storage to the "insurance industry", claiming that backups, remote disk mirroring, continuous data protection and other storage related features are costs that can be compared to insurance you pay to protect your home, business, and other assets. You hope you never have to use it, and complain how much it costs, but when bad things happen, you hope it is the best money can buy.
Unlike Y2K, which was a one-time event that had a specific date of occurrence, the threats and risks mentioned by Andy in his presentation may never happen at all, or in other cases, may happen more than once, without knowing when or where. For the sake of your shareholders, and your stakeholders, it is best to be prepared for these possibilities.
The counter argument says that IT companies just smell the money.
Is this a counter argument? Can IBM not both help customers mitigate their risks, and at the same time, turn a profit? Trust me, you do not want to do business with any storage vendor that is not interested in making a profit. The better ones have incorporated addressing client's most pressing challenges into their strategy. I gave a quick summary of IBM's strategy last August in [Day 1 Storage Symposium].
Helping our clients mitigate risks is just one of IBM's core strengths. If you want to learn more, contact your local IBM Business Partner or storage rep.
Continuing this week's theme on Enterprise Applications, today I will cover Oracle.
IBM is Oracle's number #1 integration partner, and has the leading market share, nearly 40 percent, for IT hardware running Oracle applications. In the coopetition category, Oracle's databases competes against IBM's DB2 database offerings, and Oracle'sapplications compete against SAP's set of Enterprise Apps. While SAP offers its own internal database, most production SAP environmentsuse either an Oracle or IBM database instead. Comparing license revenues, Oracle's application side earns roughly 70 percent of the amount SAP applications earn.
To compete against SAP, Oracle has been on a spending spree of acquisitions. This includes PeopleSoft, Siebel, Hyperion, Agile, and JD Edwards.IBM can help with all of these applications, and many clients continue to use IBM DB2 as the underlying database, rather than switching over to Oracle database. For example, IBM has sizing tools to help identify the right amount of servers and storage based on "best practice" experience.
Oracle's database uses a number-letter combination. "9i" was Version 9, "i" for Internet. "10g" and "11g" are versions 10 and 11, "g" for Grid. Most of the Oracle customers I deal with are still on 9i or 10g. The 11g releaseis supported on Linux and Windows, with the other platforms to be delivered in a staged approach.
As with SAP, it is possible with Oracle to run a front-end application on one server platform, and theback-end database on a different server platform. Many of IBM's largest customers run the front-end onAIX or Linux, and then use z/OS on System z for the back-end database.
Oracle has implemented a "Scale-Out" approach called Real Application Clusters [RAC],pronounced same as "rack", which I discussed before [Similar Sounding Storage Speech].Several servers can act as an "application cluster" to access a common database. This approachallows customers to use a bunch of x86 servers instead of a bigger System p or System i machine. Additional processor capability can simply be added into the "application cluster" as needed.
IBM and Oracle are both staunch proponents of Linux. Oracle offers theirOracle Enterprise Linux support program.In this support program, Oracle will offer support service contracts for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) corporatecustomers.This could explain why Oracle decided to support[Linux first]on its new 11g database, rather than Windows.
To deal with all of their acquisitions, Oracle has announced its Applications Unlimited strategy. Inthis strategy, the Oracle Fusion middleware will support all of Oracle'sapplications, including JD Edwards, PeopleSoft, and Seibel. This is good for IBM, as it will simplify IBM's testing of server and storage platforms for its Oracle clients.
To support pre-sales efforts, IBM and Oracle have formed the IBM Oracle International Competency Center,[IOICC]
This is page 34 of Sequoia Capital's[56-slide presentation] about the current financial meltdown. In the past, IT spending tracked closely to the rest of the economy, but the latest downturn has not yet reflected in IT spend.
The rest of the deck is worth going through, with interesting stats presented in a clear manner.
Continuing my week in Auckland, New Zealand, I presented my last three topics for the week.
Selling IBM System Storage against competition - Part 1. You would think that since IBM's storage products are, in general, easier to use, faster, at a lower cost of ownership than the offerings from our competitors, there would not need to be a presentation like this. Since there are so many reasons why IBM is better, I split the session into two parts.
Selling IBM System Storage against competition - Part 2. With so much material, I needed to provide some structure. In the past, some Top Gun instructors organized by category, Enterprise Class, Midrange, and Entry level. I chose, instead, to organize by the different competitors themselves.
Selling IBM PureSystems. IBM PureSystems feature the Storwize V7000 and Flex System V7000 disk systems inside, and support all of IBM's disk and tape offerings outside the frame. I covered Flex Systems, PureFlex, PureApplication and PureData, including the newly announced PureData System for Hadoop.
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!