Friday, November 27, 2015

Laying on a stone step.

Laying on a stone step.

After a long hot and humid week in Washington DC I took the opportunity to rest on a stone step. Yes it was hard, cool and strangely comforting as my tired body seemed melt into the surface.
How odd it is for me to find comforting what most may find unpleasant. 

As I gazed upon the sky my thoughts drifted to the homeless I saw earlier in the day. How fortunate I was to have option of where I rest.  Indeed to have the blessings that come with a predicable income and the resulting home, food, clothing and other not so essential items. There many whom for reasons under their control or not are significantly less fortunate a thought that continued on its own journey to another place.

Work.

Much like resting on a stone step, our work can be uncomfortable even when we know we need it.

How often do we find ourselves inconvinced by our jobs? What is our reaction, do we rage against it, reel away or embrace the challenges to do what must be done for others?

In a society caught up in self centered assertiveness, materialism and even greed, do we connect with what we have and find balance just to appreciate simply what is?

The challenge is thus, take a moment in simple and someone unpleasant spot. What blessings do you find?
Have you been over looking rewards that most take for granted?

As you begin your work week will your stone step be your uncomfortable bed or a step from which you move forward and up?

Laying on a stone step.

After a long hot and humid week in Washington DC I took the opportunity to rest on a stone step. Yes it was hard, cool and strangely comforting as my tired body seemed melt into the surface.
How odd it is for me to find comforting what most may find unpleasant.

As I gazed upon the sky my thoughts drifted to the homeless I saw earlier in the day. How fortunate I was to have option of where I rest.  Indeed to have the blessings that come with a predicable income and the resulting home, food, clothing and other not so essential items. There many whom for reasons under their control or not are significantly less fortunate a thought that continued on its own journey to another place.

Work.

Much like resting on a stone step, our work can be uncomfortable even when we know we need it.

How often do we find ourselves inconvinced by our jobs? What is our reaction, do we rage against it, reel away or embrace the challenges to do what must be done for others?

In a society caught up in self centered assertiveness, materialism and even greed, do we connect with what we have and find balance just to appreciate simply what is?

The challenge is thus, take a moment in simple and someone unpleasant spot. What blessings do you find?
Have you been over looking rewards that most take for granted?

As you begin your work week will your stone step be your uncomfortable bed or a step from which you move forward and up?


Hotel Cali..?

Hotel Cali?

CompUSA and Computer City remember them? Two big box computer superstore retailers that competed head to head back in the 90's they were power houses.

They competed so vigorously they often we located near each other, competitively 
"shopped" each other, trying to out do each other with sales.  Both went out of business, and frankly their clients rarely got the best our industry could offer. Just a marginally lower cost or a marginally better feature than the other guys.

I worked at one such store while I had friends who worked at the other.  The competitive philosophy was similar at both,  "we don't need to be the best, just slightly better than the other guys". 

And this is exactly why their clients while thinking they were getting "a good deal" really were getting the lowest common denominator not the best deal or the best services.

In our industry like many, there is a notion of certification, that helps to establish credentials to some known level.  Intended to be a good way of assuring that a person, product or service meets an established criteria or level of quality.

While these certification can serve as some basic form of datum point we need to be very mindful how much of our own intellectual integrity we abdicate to these certifications.  Otherwise we can very easily find ourselves making decisions based on beliefs that certification establishes the level of quality or qualities, when in fact in most cases if not all merely establish the floor of minimal qualities.

Standards are best when they define how two pieces fit or function together, when it comes to services being provided, so called standards or best practices become a floor rather than describe the what is functionally best for your business as a whole.

Security people often retell tales of companies who purchase a security or firewall appliance based on its credentials and perceived pedigree, rack and stack it with little to know thought to the specific configuration required. Utilizing the "out of the box" or pre-configured setting they often unhappily find holes in security they hoped to gain.  In this case after chasing out the bad guys and remediating the rules they can recover.  In the case of data centers and their networks, a stickiness exists that is challenging and expensive to over come.  Once selections are made, contracts signed and equipment placed, it is very unlikely that an exit is economically feasible.

While the person who made the recommendation or purchase decision can attempt to hide, many times successfully behind the excuse they based their decision on established norms or certifications.  However the world is maturing and many organizations realize selections based solely on criteria of a few established norms are not sufficient and decision makers are being held accountable for failing to meet the more than minimum requirement.

I suppose this is like having the absolute minimum state requirements for car insurance.  Should you have a crash and get sued, you may be responsible for the total cost of damages regardless if your insurance covers it or not. 

Likewise when you select a site to host your IT systems and the functionality they provide, just using established industry "standards" alone is actually a very risky approach.  After all what you are truly getting with most if not all standards is a minimal or lowest common denominator. 

I would assert that it is a better practice to apply an intellectual exercise both, internally and through discovery in the industry to determine which leading edge practices and services are available and important to meet your organizations goals.  

On a practical level for many years Data Centers and networks were evaluated on a number easily measured criteria such as; the 9's of availability, N's of redundancy, times to respond, mean time between failures.  Entire commercial industries sprung up selling validation of compliance to these measurable characteristics.

I like to equate this to having a '65 Corvette certified to accelerate from 0 to 60 in 2.3 seconds, the problem is I need transportation in Upstate New York where we average 10 feet of snow fall in the winter and on icy roads that car is completely impractical to get anywhere, much less quickly.

Many of these certifications while recognizable and having some comparative value of the minimums completely miss the important criteria for todays and future IT workloads.

Our industry is undergoing a phase of extreme mobility, contraction and expansion. Advents of highly leveraged shared services such as;  data exchanges,  IOT data collection, Big Data Analytics, social media collection directly with the consumer. Combined with growing shifts in where, when, whom and how data flows. Yielding more concerns about privacy and security while at the same time partnering in data exchange and connective-ness. Doing that with extremely lean organizations, higher dependency on partnering and commodity lower cost devices. 

These trends yield an entirely different set of requirements such as; silkiness to a data center ecosphere that allows for dynamic movement rather than stickiness, dial up and down of capacity on demand, dynamic rerouting of links to and through geographies to enable location intimacy, ability to replace or supplement job functions to partner on demand with over stressed organizations.

So while your checking the boxes with your service provider against the floor of minimum standards, please avail yourself to explore how the service provider fulfills your future business needs in the wider context of Next Generation IT.  I'm recommending you avoid the trap of getting into an agreement in a sticky center that checks the boxes but isn't practical for your business. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Oh and don't forget to order some Data Center with that.

It  was 1990 something in Rochester NY, and Andy Ernst from Applied Digital was paying me a visit as all good sales people do from time to time.  We found ourselves sharing ideas on the current state of technology,  local news and of course, discussing projects for the coming fiscal year.  

As a parting shot of tongue and cheek Andy quipped; and of course you'll want some SAN with that too? 

So many of Andy's clients were asking for a Quote for SAN.  What a SAN was they weren't exactly sure but they knew the latest Tech Rags we're excited about this new promised land and they wanted in. Often they weren't exactly sure what they needed or how they would use it but they were confident any salesman worth his salt could turn back a quote in a couple of minutes.  

A story that is more than flush with a few object lessons, one I find poetically salient is a notion that many of us fall victim to that, IT can be treated like a collection of objects.

"Hello. Welcome to MacNology may I take your order?"  The speaker crackles and hisses.
"Yes" I shout excitedly,  "Gimmie 100 VM number 3's, a SAN number 4 with de-duplication, 25 CyberSecurity with Access Control and Extra firewall,  hold the reverse proxy and plenty of service desk to go with it all."  

Bizzurt the speaker cracks, "we are having a special on SaaS and BPaaS  today, buy one get one free, can I interest you in a Medium? it would go great with your order!" 

Wow! I had not even thought of it "certainly" I reply and salivate thinking how excited everyone will be when I bring that to the office.

Snarraak the speaker buzzes again "so that will be..(repeats order flawlessly)... Did you want to supersize that for a million extra?"
I reply, "No thanks but I do want redundancy for DR thanks", duh never to be so dumb as to fall for the upsize. 

"Will there be anything else?" 
Oh my, I realize almost too late and blurt out "oh yes just one more thing, would you toss in some data center and some networks to connect it all?"

Bizzurt the speaker cracks again,  "Sure no problem, I'll put that on the take out tray for you. That will be $12 million 500 please pull around to window 3, and Thanks!

Well as silly as this may sound, frankly it seems all too often our fast food culture tries to make its way into our professional lives. 

Not only do our technology decisions get dumped down from high complexity considerations to something more easily digested,  the achievable business value in the selections are often akin to the nutritional value of cheep holiday candy.

Most importantly we often overlook the most important decision, the data center and their attendant networks as an after thought rather than, as I would argue, the single most important decision.

Choosing the right data center and networks is the dinning equivalent of looking at the fat content or selecting the appropriate beverage.

Too much of it or the wrong selection ruins the meal and leaves one feeling uncomfortable, too little and the satisfaction isn't as enhanced, one may even feel a little wanting.

All that we do rides over the network and those networks are accessed through data centers.

Yea, yea, we all know.. "The network is the computer" and all that jazz!

So it's simple to find the hottest networks and sexiest data centers, done and dusted, next,  right ?

Not so fast guest number 42.

Take a look at the disruption from social media, IOT, Big Data and Analytics. 

The needs of business change with the needs of the customer.  The customers connect in new and different ways from new markets. 

If you invest in sites with fast networks, the hot sites of all hot sites, what do you do when those sites become irrelevant? 

Consider just the word "Cloud" what is an IT cloud, is it something that stores all of your infrastructure somewhere in the "sky" perhaps.  

One thing I know about clouds from hours of childhood laying on my back eating fries and watching clouds,  clouds - move.  

They change shape horizontally and vertically the travel across the sky they rise they fall. 

Locking your IT environment into a specific site is the dining equivalent of eating a diet of some sugar coated deep fried fat pill of epic proportion.  

Oh yes it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, now your spending money and time dieting and exercising to get yourself lean enough to move again. 

Network and Data center choices need to be about dynamics, flexibility, and having the services you need available at the speed of LAN. Most of all, you need to be able to consume just enough to get and stay fit, to be in an agile condition, to be able to adopt and stay centric to your consumer.



Consuming with intelligence and forethought towards change will help to prevent finding yourself having to spend money just to get moving.