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/


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/

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

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