Thursday Jan 28, 2010

The Oracle acquisition of Sun is complete - New Opportunities

I'm absolutely excited that Oracle has completed the acquisition of Sun Microsystems, Inc. No other enterprise software company is better suited to leverage the large suite of Sun technology than Oracle.

Acquisitions of this magnitude require changes as well as new beginnings.

I've concluded the timing is right for me and I will be leaving Oracle/Sun.

I will certainly miss the many talented people at both Sun and Oracle.

Just as in Major League Baseball; inevitably most players and coaches move among teams to compete and work for the betterment of the industry.

I wish the best of luck to the new Oracle and my many colleagues there.  My personal thanks to each and every team member of mine over the years at Sun.

I plan to continue with my blog which has been migrated in its entirety to http:\\\\bobporras.wordpress.com\\

You can also subscribe to my WordPress RSS blog feed by clicking on the orange icon to the left.

Click here to go to my WordPress blog page and sign up for email delivery (at the blog page scroll down and look to the right for EMAIL SUBSCRIPTION and follow the directions).

I can be contacted via LinkedIn, Facebook or bob.porras@gmail.com

Enjoy.

The views expressed on this [blog; Web site] are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.

Thursday Jan 07, 2010

What Progress was Made at Copenhagen 15?

The fifteenth United Nations Climate Change Conference is over.  Copenhagen hosted this 12 day conference which gained worldwide attention for leaked speculative data on actual planet temperature data.  There are many opinions out there as to what are the scientific facts of the effects that humans contribute to global warming.   Developed countries have learned both the economic and human effects when dealing with hazardous waste.  Hopefully other countries will not be willing to sacrifice their people and ecosystems. 

However here is where a dilemma is created.  Developing nations may perceive pollution conformance as a means to slow down their economic growth, especially if developed countries are strong advocates.  Global climate change conformance puts a large financial burden on the countries that are out of compliance compared to the developed nations. 

I have been to developing countries where it hurts to take a breath... literally.  I also remember the days of leaded gasoline, asbestos and mercury thermometers in the U.S.  Do you think that developing nations feel that developed nations polluted their way to prosperity so why can't these countries do so as well?

There is a large amount of public data available on global warming.  Fossil fuels seem to have the largest target on them for producing greenhouse gases which contributes to global warming.  I recently finished reading SuperFreakonomics.  There is an interesting chapter called "What Do Al Gore and Mount Pinatubo Have In Common?"  It's a good first step into seeing a counterpoint to the global warming scientists data.  For example Lowell Wood, who studied under Edward Teller, thinks that the current climate prediction models are "enormously crude."  Another well known scientist Ken Caldeira, who was misquoted in the book, shares his thoughts as well.

As for my opinion, all nations need to be environment responsible, especially the largest emitters of pollution.  However I'm on the fence with the data.  I have a feeling that there are signs of an economic agenda... as always is the case.

Wednesday Dec 16, 2009

48 Core Microprocessors... What's next? - Quantum Computing?

Intel has produced a gem with the Nehalem microprocessor.  While the architecture limits the chip to 8 processing cores today, Intel is doing research and advanced development with much bigger ideas.  The samples of 48 core processors (see picture on left) that some people in the industry are envisioning capable of scaling to 100 plus cores one day is impressive.  In the old days when I was doing large SMP server development, single core clock rate was a major vector that drove computational performance.  Then, as predicted, a few years into the twenty first century the technology started to run into the laws of physics.  Increasing the clock rate was no longer an available option.  However scaling problems were now starting to be addressed by building multi core architectures.  In other words placing multiple processing engines on a single die addressable by software.  CPU to cache interconnects become smaller and parallel computing is beginning to approach a commodity.   Introduce software to program these multi-core CPUs and parallel computing can realize significant gains.

An impressive fact of the Intel 48 core research chip is the power consumption of 125 Watts.  That averages to about 2.6 Watts per core.  This 48 core chip also has the ability to dynamically control voltage and frequency via software.  So the power consumption can be much lower than 125 Watts.  Keep in mind in the early 2000 time frame, 32 microprocessors in a SMP server would alone consume ~2 Kilowatts!  In my opinion the rising costs of energy and cooling will become a barrier similar to that of the laws of physics.  If your interested you can find more info on extreme core architecture here.

What are the industry folks in academics and research thinking 10, 20, 30 or more years out?  The semiconductor world is quickly approaching process geometry limits.  For example 45 nanometer technology is so small that you are manipulating layer thickness measured by atoms in the single digits.  Margin of error keeps getting smaller and smaller.  Is reliability a factor too?  Absolutely.  So where could technology lead us once we are manipulating single atoms to produce silicon?  In research labs today the industry has already been able to manipulate single atoms.

One option would be to discover another variable beyond clock rate or multi core.  Another option may have some promising hopes.  Have you heard of Quantum Computing?  All of us in Computer Science can relate to binary, octal, hexadecimal and decimal.  Are you ready to learn about the difference between bits and qubits?  Click here.

Blog is also available at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Wednesday Dec 02, 2009

Isn't Chrome OS another Linux distribution?

Google released the Chrome OS open sourced code base on November 19, 2009.  The first netbooks running the Chrome OS are not expected for at least another year.  There are some nice features of this streamlined Linux variant such as fast boot using solid state disk technology built into the netbook. However just about any OS has the ability to support SSDs.  In fact more than a few operating systems, file systems and databases are SSD aware.

With several other Linux offerings such as RedHat, OpenSuse, OEL, Centos, etc. why yet another?  (Have you heard of Moblin?)  Chrome OS appers to me as more of a thin client rather than desktop device.  All applications on a Chrome OS device execute via the Web somewhere.  The users interface to the given application is through the Chrome web browser.  All the data and the application code is NOT on the netbook running The Chrome OS.

The major software desktop platforms want to optimize seamless operation of the desktop and the World Wide Web. Microsoft has Windows 7 and Linux desktops are no longer only for the hobbyist.  Also look how far Apple has come with the UNIX based operating system developed at NeXT, now called Mac OS X.

Now this desktop/netbook/Web client situation sounds familiar to the various smart devices already all over the world.  A particular embedded OS in smart phones really does make a difference.  The Blackberry OS can multitask and therefore you can run multiple applications at once.  The iPhone OS cannot run more than one application at a time but the iPhone experience and application portfolio has set the standard.  Google has the Android OS for intelligent handsets now coming to market.  Will there be a Windows 7 CE?

My opinion is that two camps emerge.  The set of companies whose business model is totally focused to monetize the Web.  Everyone else is focused on maintaining their business model AND creating ways to monetize the Web.  Consumers want simplicity and low prices.  Unfortunately simplicity and low price are inverse proportions for the enterprise. 

Crossing this chasm is what makes the IT industry very exciting today and for the next several years!

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

IT Infrastructure Products, Partnerships and Paraphernalia

Announcements have certainly accelerated lately with respect to integrated infrastructure technology.  Multiple vendors who provide infrastructure hardware for compute, storage and network are either partnering with each other or pursuing a "go alone" strategy.  Few will disagree that more tightly integrated solutions will benefit IT customers.

However an IT solution has always had the expectation and requirement to be integrated.  That is why the IT industry has developed over the years standards and protocols.  In other words, common industry accepted methods to move, process and protect business as well as consumer information.  Traditionally large complex IT solutions have been integrated by VARs, management consulting firms or consulting services for a given customer.  Is that beginning to change?  Also the IT solution is comprised of more than just tightly integrated hardware blocks. 

Let's not forget about the various applications that need to run on any given vendors hardware platform.  In addition to the applications, virtualization is becoming a standard requirement to maximize the utilization of any vendors integrated hardware platform.  Infrastructure providers will need to adjust to the fact that hypervisor technology may sell less hardware because utilization and efficiency will be largely improved.

Does this new focus on consolidation favor software stacks that are both heterogeneous and therefore ubiquitous?  The IT industry has become a mature business.  New ideas will always continue but IT will still be comprised of both hardware and software. 

A good analogy is the automobile industry...  Automobiles have had tremendous amounts of progress over the past 100 years.  For example there have been many optimizations and efficiencies with car manufacturing, car fuel efficiency, etc.  Over the past 20 years the automobile industry has highly leveraged the use of embedded electronics in cars.  But the basic components of a car (tires, engine, brakes, steering wheel, etc.) have (and for the foreseeable future) not changed.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Wednesday Nov 04, 2009

A Time Capsule for the Enterprise?

On Halloween I upgraded the desk side PC from Windows XP to Windows 7.  Between multiple reboots, application installs, recovery of email, print server configuration, etc. my wife asked "Why does it have to be so hard?"  As she said this I was looking at the Apple Time Capsule sitting on top of a small cabinet in our home basement. The only item coming out of the Time Capsule was the power cord connected to the power outlet.  I run the Time Capsule as a wireless client in our home network for data backup.  The data consists of many pictures, video clips, songs, the kids homework and basically many various files (some of which are important).

My home (LAN) network has grown over the years from a few PCs connected via an old 802.11b router to a dual band (802.11g/802.11n) router connecting a multitude of wireless clients. These include a XBox, iTouch, PrintServer, OpenSolaris, Ubuntu, Mac, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7 devices.  Basically a heterogeneous environment.  Will the older Window versions be phased out at home eventually?  Yes.  The Unix/Linux clients will remain out of necessity as well as for hobby.  It's difficult to currently beat the Mac experience.  Adding a Time capsule into my existing home network was relatively easy.  The Airport setup updated the Time Capsule firmware and configured the device in straight forward steps.  It wasn't as "fun" for a "techie" as say CLI commands, but simple is defined as "fun" for most consumers. The Windows XP to Windows 7 full upgrade was painfull but I have to admit the network configuration experience was much improved.  I was pleasantly surprised freeware Bonjour discovery services just worked and the W7 system configured the Time Capsule as a usable share.

One could imply a similar situation in the enterprise space.  For an enterprise business "fun" is defined as high margin dollars on a growing revenue stream.  This usually means your costs are contained, you implement continuous improvements on efficiency and you simplify.  Vendors in the technology industry are all trying to provide a truly "Enterprise Time Capsule" or Appliance.  There has been a large amount of innovation over the past 20 years.  However today's innovation is tomorrow's PDP-11Minicomputers were appliances that Mainframes couldn't be.  The evolution has continued over the years in every technology segment.

Enterprise customers want it simple as do consumers.  While the stakes are much higher in the enterprise, the bar is significantly raised for "just working" each and every time.  It doesn't matter if you are playing catchup, you are the incumbent or you are the new thought leader-- the winners will be the set of vendors who provide the tool that "just works" each and every time in the harshest and most complex environments. 

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/


Wednesday Oct 21, 2009

Around Oracle Open World in less than 180 hours

The turnout of customers and partners of the enterprise technology segment certainly did not disappoint at Oracle Open World this year.  While other large IT events have been canceled this year do to the economic downturn, Oracle Open World attendance of 42000 IT professionals was basically unaffected from the 2008 attendance.  Even more impressive was that virtually every enterprise vendor that partners, competes and analyzes Oracle attended this yearly gathering in downtown San Francisco. The multiple exhibit halls, sessions, events, activities and networking certainly created an environment for plenty of information exchange.

Every vendor at Oracle Open World is a cog (of varying sizes from small to large) that builds into the enterprise IT stack of:

  • applications
  • middleware
  • database

Every item from storage management, computational speeds, networking feeds, disaster recovery, hosted IT, employee productivity tools and various communication mediums all factor back into connecting the above 3 areas of the enterprise stack.

In my opinion enterprise IT is becoming much less driven by vendor loyalty and a great price to the vendors that can provide competitive advantage to their customers.  During an economic downturn as well as post recovery, the competitive advantage will more than outshine a good price.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Wednesday Oct 07, 2009

Technology spending? Economic growth? Have you heard of UAE?

Recent news of increased economic stability in the world is comforting.  However how much of it is based on sound fundamentals?  If you are an investor or run a business where in the world do you want to invest for growth and equityUnited Arab Emerates may be a place of interest.  The UAE growth rate in GDP is astounding.  While not all economic indicators are objectively sound, you have to speculate where can you find a better risk/reward ratio. 

Western based banks have recovered their share price as well as balance sheets, but new credit lending is still tight.  Loan losses are still surging in the West.  In my opinion there remains too many toxic, complex, leveraged, convoluted, imaginary assets out there that have not been exposed to date.  In order for the world economy to move forward the majority of bad credit instruments need to be exposed and liquidated.  Otherwise we will continue to regain the false sense of consumer comfort that eventually got us into trouble. 

Most world economies are driven by consumer spending, but consumer savings is the buffer from repeating what we are seeing today.  One issue is where (globally) to place your assets into safe saving instruments with a secure and viable return. 

I'm not sure anyone out there has all the answers...

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Monday Sep 21, 2009

China & India Fuel Growth With Infrastructure Projects

While the U.S. is still trying to stimulate spending of U.S. consumers with its economic stimulus programs, countries such as India and China appear to be making much better progress.  On a recent trip in September to China and India via Singapore one can visibly see that Asia Pacific is not standing still and putting idled factory workers toward new infrastructure projects.  Talking with customers and partners in China and India only confirms what could be described as a best practice for any nation looking for economic recovery.

Earlier this year Beijing announced a $585 billion (U.S. dollars) stimulus package (~13% of China's 2008 GDP). As part of this stimulus package China will spend this year $50 billion (U.S. dollars) alone on the ambitious worlds biggest high-speed (started in 2005 and expected to finish in 2020) railway which will connect Beijing, Dalian, Xuzhou, Lanzhou, Shanghai, Kunming and Guangzhou. Beijing's economic stimulus is directly targeted at the ~20 million idled workers in China due mostly to the 20% decline in foreign sales.  Notable statistics of the new high-speed railway include:

  • The buttresses which carry the tracks will consume 117 million tons of concrete

  • 16,000 miles (25,749 km) of new track will be built
  • The Beijing to Shanghai line will consume enough steel to build 120 "Birds Nest" Olympic Stadiums
  • In addition to construction labor the railway will create jobs for engineers and lot's of them.  The railway will be computerized and require a lot of IT spending and resources.  You can be certain the large IT companies are looking to win this business and provide hardware, software, services and support.  A great opportunity.  Bill Powell wrote a great article in FORTUNE magazine with many more exciting facts which you can read here.

    India's growth is equally impressive despite the global recession.  India still needs to build massive amounts of infrastructure while China is already upgrading infrastructure previous built.  I like to describe China as organized chaos while India is still dealing with unorganized chaos.  In Beijing you see cars, buses, trains, people, bikes, motorcycles all in congested traffic in harmony with the traffic signals.  In Bangalore you have the same as Beijing but with everyone only in harmony with themselves.  Traffic signals get ignored, motorcycles are riding on the sidewalk and intersections, at rush hour, give no clear indication as to who has the right of way.  It's simply something that every business professional should experience because you need to know the customer you are selling.  Both are beautiful cultures and part of the solution of economic recovery in the world.  India too will consume massive amount of engineers, software, hardware and services not only to fuel their IT outsourcing industry but to rapidly build their own nation, infrastructure and ultimately their own economy as a world leader.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Monday Sep 07, 2009

Gamma Ray Burst (GRB) = a bad day somewhere...

The worldwide economic downturn that accelerated in the year 2008 and 2009 certainly has caused problems for everyone.  The situation was caused by people and the remedy lies with people .  While the majority of people on Earth focus on the numerous everyday issues of our only known habitable planet, there are other people who think about problems beyond Earth.  Think beyond social, personal, government, economic, humanitarian, business and climate issues and try to solve the unknowns of the universe.

Astrophysicists think about problems that extend into the known universe.  I specifically say known universe because we do not fully know or understand what we don't know. Some questions may seem like nonsense, especially as applied to Earth. 

Imagine harnessing the energy of 1 single star over its lifetime.  How many stars are in the known universe? It's billions upon billions.  How many stars are within a single galaxy?  It's billions.  How many galaxys are in the known universe.  It's billions.  That's a huge amount of energy!  In fact the energy of 1 star is huge.  To comprehend what we know today about the universe can make the common persons head hurt.  To try to understand what we do not know or understand about the known universe makes all astrophysicists heads hurt every day.

Speaking of energy there is a distant binary star (WR104 - see video clip above) 8000 light years away that will eventually go supernova when the star cores collapse.  If events align right a gamma ray burst can result which is the known mother of all luminous electromagnetic events in the universe.  In addition it appears that one end of the gamma ray burst beam, which will exit from the polar ends of the rotating star could be pointing directly at Earth. 

Perfect alignment of two large objects 8000 light years away with a narrow beam of 12 degrees in an expanding universe is possible, but I feel that issues such as global warming are better near term problems to address.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Monday Aug 17, 2009

Use all the Tools in the Tool Box...

Ultimately it is the software application that most IT customers look toward solving their business problems.  However software applications have a lot of moving parts sitting logically under the stack that enables the given application.  Some of these parts include operating system components, hardware and usually a large amounts of data.

A car, like an IT solution, requires more than a few set of tools to complete the job. While companies share many common problems, as do car manufactures, company solutions ultimately need the entire tool box to be fully utilized.  This is necessary in order to get the right solution to a company's IT problem.

Healthy competition amongst vendors enables multiple degrees of freedom for application solutions, but more technologies in a given vendors tool box only enables the ability to build better IT solutions.  The same applies to those who are in the business of building cars.  From a business perspective it is absolutely critical that the technologies have to be articulated into a cohesive and complementary strategy for success.  For example Ford builds cars, trucks and hybrids.  Ford does not depend on putting a truck engine into a Ford Focus and vice versa for obvious reasons.  The same applies for technology.  No "one solution fits all" has ever been successful in any market. 

Venture Capitalists and public companies have been chasing "the" goal for many years that one given technology can satisfy all aspects of a given marketHowever when you combine and use multiple technologies in your portfolio and present the right business and sales focus the results can be pretty awesome.

Here is a good example of software technologies:

from the tool box combined with partner technology to produce an ultimate software application solution.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Friday Jul 31, 2009

8 years and counting...

Another year and another milestone with my battle with cancer.  8 years cancer free.  I view it as having two birthdays: September 14th, when I came into this world and August 1st when I was given the chance to fight for 8 more years.  My life odometer is approaching 49 and it seems like yesterday that I noticed my blinking "check engine light."  I recently got my (now yearly) dose of needles, xrays and the seldom loved CT scan.  While I have had my urologist reset the engine light for another year, general health maintenance is always wise.  Not that I desire anymore needles since my second birthday, I was just treated to a cortisone injection into my left shoulder to help fight arthritis and shoulder stiffness.  The pain relief was instant but my eyes got wide with what looked like a pipe instead of a syringe.

Another year has passed and there are people who have lost the battle.  It remains difficult for me to hear of people in my local community who did not get that 2nd birthday as given to me.  Children who have lost the battle to cancer remains the most troubling for me.  While I have had the opportunity to grow into an adult, no child deserves to have their short life ended prematurely due to an illness.  Surviving over children who have lost the battle with cancer still causes me some guilt.  Knowing that I am a fighter brings some relief.  The majority of the relief comes from talking about the illness and promoting early detection via education.  Get yourself a yearly checkup no matter what is your current situation.  I'm living proof.  You are no different than an automobile when it comes to maintenance and early detection.  Continuing to drive with your check engine light on is basically denial which can prove costly for your automobile as well as yourself.

I admire Lance Armstrong for his cancer battle.  He inspired me and keeps me going with mine.  Farah Fawcett remains a remarkable woman for the documentary of her own battle with cancer that she ultimately lost.  Patrick Swayze is as courageous as anyone could be with his own battle with cancer.  With these type of people as inspirations (Randy Pausch included), I cannot stop fighting for those who have lost the battle with cancer. 

I'll keep fighting for you, one second birthday at a time...


Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Tuesday Jul 21, 2009

Do you remember your 1st job after graduating university?

Do you remember your first job out of college?  More importantly do you remember your first manager?  Yes that  person who decided to give you a chance.  I was on vacation during the July 4th holiday weekend in Maine and had a chance encounter.  This young person named Pat R., who was working the concierge service, was off in the corner being quiet on a slow night.  My wife Ellen and I along with our gang of three Michael, Michelle and Mikayla (are all versions of the name Michael) were the only guests having an early evening snack.  So I struck up a conversation with Pat.  I asked him if he was from Maine and was this his summer job, to which he said yes to both questions.  I also found out that he was entering his senior year at Colorado College.  I asked Pat what was his major and he replied Computer Science.  Bingo... my wife and kids were probably thinking: "we are going to be here for a while..."  I told Pat I worked at Sun Microsystems and then he started talking about Java, Java and more Java.  Pat admitted to being a Xbox 360 heavy user, especially at college.  My son really liked this part as I pester him for his diligent practice of his  Xbox dexterous skill.  My son enjoyed that Pat was a Halo 3 and Call of Duty player as well.  As we left to go back to our room I wished Pat good luck and we agreed to keep in touch via Facebook or Linkedin since he is a member of both networks.  Even though I only interacted with Pat for a short period of time I sensed he was well rounded and envision him doing well in his future.

There are many stories throughout the world from people who speak of remembering that first chance that “someone” gave them.  Through all walks of life from business, entertainment, sports, cuisine, medicine, etc. there are instances of people not forgetting that initial opportunity that started their climb in life.  I was in New Zealand recently and was told a story by my driver of his friend. His friend is the sole provider of beef in New Zealand for a large U.S. based fast food franchise.  Many years ago this gentleman responded to a small local newspaper advertisement.  He eventually won the contract over much larger companies in New Zealand because the decision maker had a good instinctive feeling about him and was willing to give him a chance.

I've been fortunate to have given several college graduates their first chance in their career and it is one of the most satisfying parts of the job.  To be able to watch young college graduates transform into seasoned industry veterans is similar to watching your own children grow into adults.  Listening to graduates from all over the world tell their story of what education has enabled for their lives is humbling.  It reminds me of the stories of my grandparents when they immigrated to the U.S. They too got that first chance which eventually led to my own first chance in the working world here in the U.S.

As an engineering undergraduate I had to complete 2 years of full time work experience in order to graduate from Northeastern University.  In 1979 Tom Seiker gave me my first cooperative education job at AVCO Research Laboratory in Everett, MA.  I also completed cooperative education at the Mitre Corporation in Bedford, MA.  Bob Preuss, Dr. Greg Robertshaw, John Roberts and Dr. B.N. Suresh Babu all gave me a chance at Mitre.  In fact, Bob Preuss made me do an official daily written status report that was logged and filed as part of the company record.  As you can imagine few engineers enjoy writing words, myself included, but because of his insistence writing became much easier for me.

My cooperative education was  mostly working on classified projects that required a secret clearance, so I naturally interviewed with the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  I decided that the commercial industry was right for me.   Ten companies wanted to give me a chance and I picked Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC).  Bob Raspallo, Jim Scott and Mike Pennington gave me my first chance at DEC.  Thank you, I have not forgotten and continue with what you started with me.

Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Tuesday Jul 07, 2009

Congestion, Creativity, Capital and Competition

Despite the global economic downturn some businesses are aggressively spending for the opportunities of the future.  However the spending of today has conflicting objectives that some would argue are necessary.  Let's take wireless mobile providers throughout the world.  In this market, competition is fierce and beneficial to consumers.  The services offered to subscribers are plentiful and rich but they do come at a high cost for the providers.  Subsidizing the phones from the likes of Nokia, Apple, Samsung and Blackberry is one big cost to get the customer's subscription.

It's great that technology has enabled GSM phones to work almost everywhere in the world except Japan "where you'll need a special phone that either supports CDMA or uses the 3G standard UMTS in the 2100 MHz frequency band. Sony Ericsson, Nokia, and a few other phone manufacturers now offer multi-band GSM phones that also include support for UMTS 2100. Coverage also extends to some cruise ships." There is a crowded group of companies looking for the opportunity to connect to individuals to provide any and all content. It's as if companies have discovered another Gold Rush.

I'm excited to see wireless and cable providers compete and innovate for delivering services to all of us around the world.  Watching cable providers offering land line service over IP and phone companies offering internet connectivity is a good example of the competitiveness out there.  The days of just delivery of service or being only the data pipe are long gone.  Providers want to delivery the data but more importantly they want to create the applications that produce the data.  The telco, cable provider and handset manufacturer all want to own as much of the subscriber stack as possible.  Now that's competition!  Here in the U.S. Comcast and Verizon are aggressively competing to win one subscriber at a time for internet, phone and HD television service.  As a result both companies are making massive investments in capital expenditures.

In fact, despite the global recession, capital spending continues throughout the world by some companies as a competitive advantage for the rebounding economy in the future.  Having spent the past few weeks talking to customers in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and reading newspapers such as the Financial Times, I've collected a group of random data.  This data can be basically summarized into Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection and applies to business as well as nature.

  • world airlines have 866 Boeing 787 Dreamliners on order.  Each 787 averages ~$200M U.S. each!
  • new cargo ships ordered or under construction is ~50% \*more\* than anticipated need
  • telcos are making huge capital investments but they understand they cannot be sustained
  • will energy become so expensive that transporting it becomes prohibitive?
  • will multiple countries practice protectionism such that localization becomes attractive again?

I'm excited that new technology will be able to help address the above as well as new economic problems we will all face in the future.


Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

Monday Jun 22, 2009

Customer Service - It Matters...

The random nature of life events can be summarized by the phrases "right place at the right time" or "wrong place at the wrong time."  There is a scene in the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."  that portrays the randomness of an accident.  How appropriate given the events last month for my household.  The good news is that nobody was injured and that is the most important outcome.  It doesn't stop one from wondering that if one random event was different then the whole situation might have not occurred.

One Friday rainy morning my wife was driving my son to high school.  As she was coming back home at ~7:25 am there was an electrical short circuit on a power line that had shut down the road to one lane.  A junior at the same high school was running a little late and came around the corner of the road only to see traffic stopped in front of him.  He panicked and locked up his brakes and skidded across the road and hit my wife's vehicle.  Not the car in front or behind my wife... but my wife's car as you can see in this picture above.  When I arrived at the scene the high school student was looking glum.  It may have been the surcharge on his insurance he was thinking along with the warning he received for speeding under the road conditions.  I was glad that everyone was physically fine.  Both vehicles had to be towed and the tow trucks were on site quickly.

The next set of events came as a big surprise to my wife as well as me.  Prior to this accident she had never had an accident or even a parking ticket.  She called Liberty Mutual our insurance provider to file a claim.  The woman on the other end of the phone took information from my wife for about 15 minutes.  While still on the phone with the insurance agent my wife received a call from a car rental company notifying her that her substitute transportation (a 2009 minivan with 6000 miles/9656 km) was ready.  The towing company called as well asking if my wife decided on the repair facility and was requesting authorization to deliver the vehicle.  My wife then said to the Liberty Mutual claim representative:

"This is going too easy!..." and the Liberty Mutual claim representative responded: "It's supposed to go this way..."

Needless to say my wife was speechless only having to make 1 phone call.  She was also told that your deductible is being waived and since your vehicle has less than 12000 miles/19312 kilometers; only new original manufactured parts can be used for the repair.  In less than a week the repair shop had the replacement parts and she picked up her repaired vehicle 3 weeks to the day later.  The vehicle had over $5500 in damages!  Looking behind the scenes of the insurance company they have a sophisticated IT infrastructure that automates and consolidates B2B transactions in real time.  As a result all vendors in the value chain have the incentive to respond.  Repeat business and customer satisfaction are main drivers here for everyone.

When you are a customer you know how you would like to be treated.  A good thought to keep in mind with your own customers.


Blog is available also at: http://bobporras.wordpress.com/

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The blog of Bob Porras - Vice President, Data, Availability, Scalability & HPC for Sun Microsystems, Inc.

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