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/

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/

Thursday Feb 28, 2008

Green Eggs and XAM

I am XAMXAM I am.  Sun recently made another open source contribution-- this time in the space of fixed content storage software.  Fixed content storage is growing at an exponential rate.  As an example, stop and imagine how much fixed content data will be generated by the Summer Olympics 2008. Pictures, video, tickets, security data, statistics, invoices, hotel bills, airline reservations, etc, etc. etc.  A massive amount of data that will be stored and preserved digitally for a long time.  Customers depend on Archive Products, even better if they are open.

There is now a fully open source code base contributed to opensolaris.org, java.net and the SNIA XAM TWG.  Read Scott Tracy's perspective. This code base eliminates the need to roll your own digital archive using piece parts (server, RAID HW, database, etc.)  Yet another storage solution built on the equation:

Powerful considering this implementation is not proprietary and uses industry standard APIs. Our contribution to XAM further emphasizes the commitment to eliminate the barriers in the fixed content storage arena. No more closed APIs to a specific vendors hardware or software stack, but rather as an industry standard such as Ethernet. Some vendors are being forced to open their APIs as opensource is having a positive effect for customers.

Code contrbutions can be found at java.net, opensolaris.org and for more info on joing SNIA please go here.

A great start for building your own digital archive appliance with proven enterprise software that is available as an open source code base.  A common theme for some vendors that are leading the way


Thursday Jan 31, 2008

Spending Time to Save $$$ or Spending $$$ to Save Time...

Mårten Mickos the CEO of MySQL hit upon a key trend occurring in the web core which is also known as SAAS, web hosting services,  the internet cloud, etc. . "Some people spend time to save $$$ and some people spend $$$ to save time."  In the open source arena the majority of folks (actually it's a pretty vast majority) are spending the time to save the $$$.  50,000 downloads a day of the most popular open sourced database is an eye opener.  That certainly sounds like a vibrant and active community to me!  People who help develop, enhance, promote, utilize, advocate, lead, govern, market, plan, discuss, etc. There is power in numbers  Are individuals using this database?  Yes in the droves.  Are companies using the database?  Wikipedia, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, SecondLife are using MySQL.  Would banks be interested in this technology alternative?  That is a good question.  Are some enterprise companies experimenting with CentOS today?  The answer is "yes."  Can you purchase commercial grade support on CentOS?  It is probably a barrier for certain application deployments in the enterprise today.  Seems like the potential is there... Commercial grade support from a Fortune 500 company can broaden the reach to new customers. A company that  generates new technology rather than simply gather and glue technology together in a distro can be an advantage as well as an attraction.

Does an open source business model want to shift enterprise customers from spending the time to spending the $$$.  Of course. When those customers are ready to do so on their terms because it is a business decision.  Think of "free" but drop the letter 'r' (for me it's easy since I'm from Boston) and you have "fee" for commercial grade deployment-- which typically means support, various service offerings and SLAs.  If you become "the" largest open source company in the world you drive for new and repeat customers via opportunities not by mouse traps.  Opportunities are generated by downloads, partners, OEMs and direct sales.  While the MySQL acquisition is subject to closing and regulation approvals it is clearly a move that complements nicely an existing software business that is growing.

How much data is currently being stored via this relational database?  I imagine it is many tables of stored data and many more tables of the relations between those tables of stored data.  Can MySQL help drive synergies with storage products and other offerings? 

A big yes.

This is making too much sense.


About

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

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