A recent frenzy of storage acquisitions--with 3PAR going to HP, Isilon to EMC, and now Compellent to Dell--brings storage full-circle. Your next enterprise storage purchase? Almost guaranteed to be from a leviathan.
One of the once-amazing changes in the computer business was the birth of independent storage vendors. For decades there've been a few odd after-market and third-party storage vendors. But they were mere pilot fish congregating around the truly big, important swimmers: systems vendors. When you bought storage, it generally came from the same company that made your computer. That was the natural order.
I recently discussed techniques for reviewing projects to improve their likelihood of success. Underlying this is the reality that projects do fail often, at a greater rate than we'd like to admit.
Some failures are spectacular. After spending tens or hundreds of millions of dollars over a period of years, nothing ever really works. The entire investment of time, money, energy, effort, and focus has to be completely written off. Those are the legends. The laughing stocks.
But it's a mistake to conflate failures and catastrophes. Most failures are mundane and much smaller scale. They result from changing … Read more
I've been following the evolution of client-side computing off and on for over 20 years. Remember ASCII terminals? Green screens? Beehives? X terminals? If you do, they're most likely dimming memories.
The history of client side computing is filled with efforts to shift the balance of power between the server (ne host) and the client device. Which side is responsible for what, and how the sides communicate with each other, determine the cost, control, security, flexibility, and richness of the result. Some years it's "do everything meaningful on the server." Others, "do most work … Read more
I recently argued that everyone has a blind side. When people or organizations miss important threats or opportunities--ones that are perhaps obvious to you--it's easy to think badly of them, to assign blame. My goodness! Why ever could they not see that coming?! Idiots! But it's not simple to avoid being those idiots.
I've dealt with department managers with unimpressive budgets who truly "get it." And I've worked with international governments and captains of industry who wouldn't recognize a clue if it dressed up as Colonel Mustard and bludgeoned them with a lead pipe in the conservatory.
In my experience, truly incompetent individuals and outlandishly oafish organizations are the exception. What I usually find are intelligent, well-meaning folks who can't see what they're missing--not because they're stupid, lazy, or in any other meaningful way blameworthy--but because they're focused on other tasks and looking the other way.
Last week, I promised to share some techniques for dealing with the blind side. I wish I could say "Combine a pound of black beans, a quart of skepticism, three eggs, four product evaluations, and a dash of focus group feedback in a large mixing bowl; stir until creamy; pour into well-greased pan; and bake for an hour at 325 degrees." But it's not like that. Improving your perception and handling of things that are over the horizon, camouflaged, latent, or visible only in the "negative space" (i.e., what's missing rather than what's there)--those are skills to be learned, not recipes to be followed. Nevertheless, I've used these these techniques with excellent results:
Admit It, Move On People tend to be embarrassed by, thus defensive about, their blind spots, weaknesses, ulterior motives, errors, and failures. Ego drives us to pretend they don't exist. But when you're pretending something isn't a problem, it's hard to do much about it. So get over it. Accept that you have significant weaknesses, fears, and other assorted ugly bits--that there's an often large gap between where/what you are and where/what you want to be. Getting over shame and blame and getting your ego out of the way lets you get on with the real work. If it's not your ego in the way, help whoever's ego is in the way to get out of it.… Read more
I spend a fair bit of my working life meeting with people, listening to their plans for their next product, project, strategy, initiative, or campaign. My job? Review, evaluate, and give feedback. It's great when I can confirm they've got things right. Check! Good! Yep! Oh, yeah, I like that! I help confirm and build confidence in the plan.
It's a good thing I have the opportunity to be positive, because the larger and more important part of the job is decidedly less affirming: figuring out where they've gone wrong. What's missing? What's vague … Read more
It's only been around about 50 years, but information technology has already affected almost the entire landscape of human activity. How science is pursued, how products are designed, how commerce and supply chains work, how businesses are run, how human beings communicate with one another--there's almost no arena in which IT isn't a critical enabler.
Given this, it may sound peevish to say IT has, at the same time, been hide-bound and conventional. But IT has been conventional. Oh, sure. We've had our moments--modernizing supply chains starting in the 1970s, the PC and distributed computing blooms … Read more
This week, the Open Data Center Alliance announced itself. Yet another industry association? I hear you yawning already. Don't nod off, though. Within two years, the ODCA is likely to be the most important, powerful, and useful industry association in information technology. How is that possible?
The association is creating a culture of sharing between global IT leaders, allowing them to learn from each other and cooperatively influence tens to hundreds of billions of dollars worth of annual IT procurements. That is a wow-worthy new world order.
It's true that IT is already chock-a-block with industry associations. We … Read more
I'm always wary of analyzing corporate organizations and reporting structures. They change frequently--every year or two, in some companies--so they're always in flux. And the details of who reports to whom, or what they want to call this business unit or that--those things matter, a bit, but not nearly so much as the products and services a company offers, how it goes to market, who its competitors are, and so on. Finally, company structures are very "inside baseball"--the kind of detailed who's-on-first, who's-warming-up-in-the-bullpen information that industry insiders may find interesting, but that isn'… Read more
At the recent Structure 2010 "Year of the Cloud" conference, Amazon.com CTO Werner Vogels railed against "the false cloud"--the idea that cloud computing can be done internally, within an enterprise. The "true cloud" in this worldview can only be realized using the facilities and resources of network-accessible service provider. Anything else? False. A misappropriation of the cloud name and concept--a pretender that cannot deliver the benefits of cloud computing.
Oddly, another big theme of the conference was the idea that cloud is not defined by specific technologies, but rather by the benefits … Read more
"Cloud computing" is so overused and overhyped that it doesn't really mean anything anymore. It's has become kind of a vague "what comes next in IT" label, with no specific meaning, applied indiscriminately to whatever the latest vendor to stop by wants to sell us today.
I now hear this complaint with great regularity--but I don't entirely agree. Sure, every vendor is eagerly "cloud washing" whatever products or initiatives they have to fit in with the latest buzzhype. And the "cloud" term is thrown around with pretty reckless abandon. … Read more