Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year's Resolutions

I wrote a blog over at IBM called New Year's Data Resolutions aligning popular personal resolutions with things you should do in the data center: Lose weight, Get Fit, etc.

It was fun to write. What actually impressed me was the social media work done by my colleague.

Some useful (data) resolutions as we start off in 2016.

This showcases one of the rules of content marketing today. Break up content into bite sized chunks with a specific audience or message in mind. She did great job! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Good to be IBM

This week is I will be at SuperComputing in Austin. (#SC15 for those who know).  It will be wonderful to be back among the brightest minds I've ever met. Those drawn to SC15 are dedicated to solving hard problems with insight and validated computational results. They are rigorous and creative thinkers.

Among the attendees at SC15 are people who modeled turbulent flow problems well before airlines saved trillions with wingtips. Built huge systems to understand climate change before it was a political debate. I will be meeting with scientists and engineers who use the computational power behind the nuclear stockpile to advance drug research and protein folding. SC15 represents those who are relentless in using the latest technology to solve difficult problems.

However, they have an almost universal design flaw. The SC15 crowd is almost never interested in easy or good enough. This puts them at odds with most of the rest of the technology world, which brings me to my point.

The biggest impact of technology is not computational, nor algorithmic, nor mechanical. It is and will

be the human ability to interact, absorb, interpret and control. This is the age of design - and Apple is our Merlin.

My revisionist history of modern IBM starts with Watson - an engineering approach to solving this problem. You have seen the IBM Watson ads. Algorithms and systems so smart that a child, a genius and Bob Dylan can relate to it.

But what if you change the paradigm to focus on the people 1st and engineering second? 

Here is the answer in a  NY Times article on pervasive Design-Think at IBM. The shift from starting with the engineering constraints to the human interaction is profound. Systems and software developed to do what a human wants to do, rather than solve an engineering problem, is innovation, not incremental evolution.

If IBM can continue down this path, it will be a good time to be IBM.

I may work for IBM, but these thoughts are my own. Any resemblance to IBM statements is merely coincidence. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The important big data

IBM took another step in software-defined storage this week  - announcing Spectrum Scale 4.2. (and a lot more.) This product has a long history of leading performance in scale-out technical computing. (and still growing in that market - See IBM at SC15)  However, this release goes well beyond that installed base. 

It used to be the important big data was the raw data from which great decisions could be made. The old important big data were things like manufacturing simulation, financial risk analysis, genomics, and seismic. Things computers could crunch! 

The new important big data is user behaviors, digital marketing results, output from 1000s of sensors, healthcare records and images -- lots and lots of images, videos, digitized voice. Some of it for big, but most of it we just used to throw away. This data isn't just crunched. It's massaged, interpreted visualized and factored. The inputs are messy and the outputs can be surprising. 

The new important big data needs to be accessed via object because RESTful APIs are easier to program. The spectrum of HDFS tools are needed to walk through it, plus the various commercial plugins to validate and visualize it. The new release of Spectrum Scale has unified object, HDFS transparency, as well as the traditional file support. For the new big important data, file servers don't cut it. 

Going even further, the new important data isn't just for experts. Spectrum Scale  has a UI - and a pretty good one by the look of it. (See Bob Oesterlin's post on his first impressions.) The new important big data needs to be quick and adaptable and multi-application - and easy to use. 

Spectrum Scale 4.2 - a good example of why it isn't just GPFS anymore. 

Cross Posted to Linked-In

Friday, October 16, 2015

On the death of EMC...

"It's not the tragedies that kill us; it's the messes."
Dorothy Parker

The acquisition of EMC by Dell is a tragedy for Boston and the storage industry whose impact on the start-up world will be felt globally.

You need to read Antonio Rodriguez's take on it called Garbage trucks and the death of EMC to get a truly pessimistic view.

Or something a bit more practical, Changes in the IT Industry, from the always spot-on Chuck Hollis. In this light, Chuck's moves from EMC to VMware to Oracle seem logical response to the external stimulus of commoditization.

I am mourning the death of a respected competitor and a true industry leader. EMC's unique culture of arrogance and ruthless determination impacted everyone they could touch, which was many of us and global. EMC does not believe in luck or the mythical 'better product'. They earned every dollar and percentage of market share.

Demanding, but also willing to work just as hard alongside you, is the EMC culture. When I was running operations in dot-com land, they worked me, my board, my partners and even my competitors to surround my little project with EMC. In subsequent years, they acquired well and used their salesforce as a cudgel to introduce technology to companies. Every start-up I've worked with would be pleased - and a little intimidated - to have EMC buy you.

Companies, technology and even people I know have gone to Dell and disappeared. I hope EMC isn't one of them.
"The report of my death was an exaggeration"
Mark Twain

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

$694M of Respect: Dot Hill & Seagate

The Rodney Dangerfield of storage, Dot Hill, earned the acquisition premium from Seagate. 
Dot Hill never got to be big enough, smart enough, clever enough to be their own brand, but they pushed on as the primary provider of good-enough, clever-enough, robust-enough storage behind many other brands. They never got respect, but a lot of people knew them and liked them.

Dot Hill never created a storage brand for themselves because they didn't have the proprietary software team(s) required to deliver storage for the previous decade. They were pushing the boundary of enterprise storage with new de-dupe, compression, DR technology. They didn't invent new protocols and clustered scale-out systems. They stuck to what they did well, which was a really solid disk array. It wasn't sexy and that's OK.

Times have changed. That software that EMC, NetApp and others locked so tightly into their boxes is breaking free. Software-Defined-Storage of all sorts has cracked the box and all that magic software is now available to run on x86 servers with 'good-enough' storage arrays as the target. Even worse, SDS allows mixing heterogenous storage into single pools that are transparent to the user.

And, that is what defines a mature, commoditized market.  Seagate has been in that business for years. They know how to extract value from incremental innovations and profit from supply chains.

Dot Hill outlasted, not outwitted. For the next battle, they needed to get bigger. Seagate is bigger.

My reading list:
Joe Landman's few words...

El Reg's Take

Monday, May 4, 2015

Some Writing

When I first joined my company, I did a few videos and a couple of internal writing projects. Then, I got pulled into some very complex market and product analysis projects that ate up every free moment I had.

I'm entering a new phase to propose a new product roadmap, including another new product launch. The time pressure is different, so I've been asked to write a few pieces again.

Here's the latest published on Solutions Review

Worried About Security in Cloud Backup & Disaster Recovery?

It uses Bruce Schneier's quote from several years ago "Security is both a feeling and a reality." 
I'll have to fit his Security Theater material into another one. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Coffee, Music, Wifi… Work!

 Saturday mornings I drop my daughter off for her job feeding horses and I head to the local Panera to crank through a few hours of writing.

And, what do I do first?

Coffee! Because no matter how often I do this, I am still not a morning person. 

Music! Because coffee isn’t enough to get the neurons firing. This morning it’s Husker Du

Wifi!  Because… Well, really I have no real reason for needing Wifi.

Everything I should be working on is already on this laptop: Notes, Files, & Applications.  Everything but the human connection. What is missing is the ritual of checking social media, the latest news, and affirming my place in the herd.

Morning ritual complete, now on to work.