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/

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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