georges' blog

April 24, 2007

Gartner Symposium: The Future of Infrastructure and Operations

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 11:09 am

I just left a very hard-hitting seminar by Gartner analyst, Thomas Bittman–very deep and thought provoking. Basically he and Gartner are predicting that the future of IT infrastructure and operations is shifitng from a physical paradigm to a virtual one. The orientation is basically taking into consideration that businesses and organizations are shifitng to a business and service focus. Essentially business has an “I don’t care as long as it works” attitude toward IT. IT should be invisible.

Now businesses, our organization included, are making a shift toward server and application virtualization. Toward that end we are delivering most of our end user appliacations via Citrix and migrating as many servers as possible to virtual machines. We now have about as many virtual machines as we have physical boxes. In any case, virtualization will continue in the future. Many applications vendors are now also virtualizing thier applications. Java VM is an early example of this, but many vendors are now lookig to run their apps on a virtual OS–a layer of abstraction between the OS and the application–making the application OS independent. VM Appliaces are manefestation of this. More and more vendors will produce their software apps as single function VMs. Here are some bullet take aways from the seminar:

  • Business policies driven
  • Service oriented
  • Reduce costs, increase quality of service
  • Provisioning: workload, resources, and identity management–users get/lose access automatically as they come and go
  • Availability
  • Unified communications
  • By 2010 the majority of businesses will have integrated communications into thiet busines strategies
  • In the future unplanned downtime will be caused by application failure rather than operations failures and errors
  • CMDB (Configuration Management Database) and RBA (Run Book Automation)
  • Virtualization
    • Abstraction between applications and OS: SUN containers, MS Softricity, Virtuozzo
    • Abstraction between OS and harware: VMWare, Xen Server, Virtualiron, HP integrity VM, IBM, MS Veridian
    • Appliances–single function, thin/hidden OS, segregating applications onto VMs

  • Remote access, software streaming
  • Thin OS: JEOS
  • Agility and costs: pay for services based on usage. As the business grows the costs grow incrementally. You only pay for waht you need.
  • Economics was the only thing driving IT, now there is a shift to agilty, and quality of service.
  • Need to have a maturity model, what is your plan for managing this evolution.

April 23, 2007

Gartner Symposium: Collaboration Trends and Technologies

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 4:32 pm

Surprising little information here. Basically they said that the way we use IT to communicate personally is the way we will collaborate professionally. There was not a lot of very specific stuff to “hang your hat on.” Here are some bullet take aways:

  • Convergence. A user can see who is online and have a palette of collaboration tools available from one interface and select the tool that makes the most sense for the required interaction.
  • 3D worlds.
    • These guys seem to have bought into the Second Life hype. I should write about this separately.
    • They made an observation that I’ve heard before, that “digital natives” can navigate the world quickly and intuitive. Others may find it difficult to get around.
  • How can IT managers support evolving collaboration reqwuirements? Know how your users work.

Gartner Symposium: Megatrends

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 1:04 pm

There weren’t a lot of major shockers at the Megatrends seminar. Perhaps the most interesting point that was made was that the number one priority for CIOs is how they can use IT to fuel business growth. This is a trend from the past few years. However Gartner predicts that in five years, the number one priority for CIOs will be using IT to grow their customer base and relations. Here are some quick sound bites from the Megatrends seminar:

  • Greatest growth economic growth is in the developing nations, nations like India, China, Mexico… No surprise here.
  • Economic growth in the west is predicted to be lower than the overall global growth rate. The US growth rate is predicted to be 2.2% which represents a major slow down from previous years.
  • CEOs are confident that their companies are likely to experience revenue growht over the next 12 months and 3 years.
  • IT budgets will get greater scrutiny. IT budgets are expected to grow 3% globally.
  • By 2008, nearly 50% of data centers will lack necessary power and cooling.
  • Growing disatisfation with outsourced IT among customers of the top ten providers.
  • Prediction for the future: Should I as CIO server IT operations from my responsibilities? The CIO would still be responsible for design, planning, or implementation, but operations would be handed over to another business unit, like the COO.
  • CIO’s are asking how do I reduce the cost of IT security. This is heading in the wrong direction. IT security already does not have adequate attention from the CIO.

Gartner Symposium: Welcome Keynote

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 11:53 am

This is my first Gartner ITxpo and Symposium and they’ve made a good first impression. The main keynote auditorium is very professionally set up. It’s like a rock concert–the sound and video system is top notch with bass you can feel. I am also grateful for comfortable chairs at the Moscone Center since my butt is going to be in one for eight hours a day all week long. In February, I attended the Southwest regional conference for Educause and the chairs at the Omni in Austin were murder. After about 45 minutes your glutes were asleep–it was genuinely hard to pay attention. In any case forget about the seats and the eye candy. The content of the kick off address was powerhouse–attention getting. Gartner CEO, Gene Hall, started things off by telling us that IT was in trouble. We are looking a decline in IT growth from 4.8 % in 2007 to 4.2% in 2008 with that trend continuing for three more years for a total of 5 years of declining growth in the IT sector. Considering that the IT sector is growing in Asia, this is very bad news for IT in the US and Europe. The problem in a lack of innovation and ideas. Innovation is stagnant in the west. Generally speaking IT vendors are afraid to be the first movers… they are risk averse.

Here are a few of the take aways from the first keynote:

  • The current trend is for decentraliazed decision making
  • IT projects are never finished. Implement when they are 80% ready. “Beta is beautiful.”
  • Consider IT from the perspective of business impact for the dollar. Use finacial metric, ROI.
  • 30% of all IT budgets are spent at the businessunit level.
  • Integrate IT in business decision making–IT is not secondary, but should be viewed as foundational to business success
  • “IT has the power to destroy business”–It has the power to destroy your competition when leveraged properly; it has the power to destroy your own business if it is not utilized properly
  • The customer must be at the center of decision making
  • “Be a hero of the IT revolution.”

March 18, 2007

Movie Review: The Prestige

Filed under: Movies — kendall @ 3:47 pm

Man! What a great film. A genuinely unique film and joy to watch. I’ve watched it twice now. It has some major twists in it that make it a very fun watch. Even the second time it is fun to watch even knowing all its secrets. I can’t stand movies that have to tell you everything at the end because there wasn’t enough along the way to figure it out. The best is when all the clues are there and the final piece is revealed and everything is laid out. This is how The Prestige unfolds. All the clues are there, but there is also enough ambiguity to keep you guessing. More that this all the sets are done fantastically. They really set the stage for the drama which takes place mostly in London at end of the nineteenth century. David Bowie is also well cast as the eccentric scientist, Nikola Tesla. Now this film is unlikely to win any Academy awards, but in my opinion it is one of the most unique and most enjoyable films that has come out in a long time.

Movie Review: Man of the Year

Filed under: Movies — kendall @ 3:30 pm

I watched this film on an international flight. Granted it takes a lot for a film to really knock you out on a plane with the little screen, typically bad audio, and all the background noise. This film really didn’t need the handicap. It was not going to impress even in a theater. It was not a good film. And too bad for that. It had a lot of potential. This movie could not make up its mind if it was a political comentary film, a comedy, or a thriller. It essentially was about a third of each and that doesn’t add up to a whole movie. Avoid this film if you haven’t already seen it.

February 23, 2007

Movie Review: Marie Antoinette

Filed under: Movies — kendall @ 5:12 pm

Let me not waste my time or yours–Do not watch this movie! This movie was a complete waste. The movie is a period piece about Marie Antoinette, played by Kirsten Dunst of Spiderman fame. It is long, boring and goes no where. This movie should never have been made and probably would not have been made except that it was written and directed by Sofia Copala, the daughter of legendary director Francis Ford Copala. It tries to be interesting by mixing it up with a modern pop sound track, much in the same way as Knight’s Tale (a good movie, worth watching). However, Knight’s Tale had a lot more going for it, namely a story, and a lot of fun sword fighting, jousting, and off beat comedy. Marie Antoinette had none of this. It had a lot of fancy French sets and period costumes and that’s about it. In the end all I could look forward to was the main characters getting their heads cut off and guess what? It ended before that. What? After all that I don’t even get the satisfaction of watching these actors and actresses pay for their crimes against cinema.

Movie Review: The Departed

Filed under: Movies — kendall @ 4:58 pm

First of all let me say up front, I watched this movie on a plane. For that reason alone, I cannot unconditionally recommend this film. I’m sure that much of the sexual content was trimmed out. Anyhow, what a terrific film in its edited for air travel format. The Dearted tells the story of a mobster who goes undercover in the police department and a police detective who goes undercover in the mob. It is very edge of your seat as these guys go deeper and deeper into their respective organizations and as each gets closer and closer to getting made. It featured a very talented line up, all who performed fabulously: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Alec Baldwin, and Jack Nicholson. Fantastic film making. Fantastic acting. Riveting story. This is what all movies should aim for. Highly recommended in its made for air travel format.

Do Not Judge

Filed under: Spirituality — kendall @ 2:27 pm

It seems that many times the scripture “Do not judge and you will not be judged,” (Luke 6:37) has come up in my reading and listening recently. Each time I hear or read it, I increasingly get the idea that we Christians should not judge others. Strange, huh? I mean, Jesus said “Don’t judge others.” Maybe we shouldn’t judge others. Hmm. I have been getting increasingly puzzled how often my fellow Christians have this habit of reading the Bible and then explaining how what it plainly says is not what it really means and that what it really means is the exact opposite of what it plainly says. For example, “Do not judge” means “by all means, we must judge others.” “Do not judge” means we must “exercise righteous judgement.” I’m sorry, but I don’t get this. I think that to a non-Christian righteous judgement probably feels a lot like plain old judgement. And judgement, righteous or otherwise, does little to attract them to the beautiful and amazing love of God expressed in the person and work of Jesus. We’re really getting this thing wrong. Greg Boyd writes in Myth of a Christian Nation, “Ask any random sampling of pagans in America what first comes to mind when you say the words evangelical or born again Christian, and chances are close to zero that anything like ‘outrageous, sacrificial love’ will be the first thing out of their mouths.” We all have a good idea what would top that list and that should trouble us all. We’re getting this wrong. Jesus said that they will know we are Christians by our love. Unfortunately, what we are getting known for is our hypocrisy and judgmentalism. We need to be know for our love. We need to be more like Jesus. A good place to start would be to give up judging others altogether. Personally, a total moratorium on judging others, righteous or otherwise, is in effect in my life as I seek to love and serve Jesus.

Book Review: The Myth of a Christian Nation

Filed under: Books — kendall @ 11:44 am

Gregory A. Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005. 207pp. Hardcover.

I haven’t even finished reading this book and yet “Wow!” This is one of the heaviest hitting most compelling books I’ve read in a long time. It is the most important book written of late. This book should be read by every mature American Christian. However, it will probably not be and Greg will be anathematized as most dissenters from the status quo are. As the title suggests, Greg attacks the myth of America as a Christian nation head on. He treats the topic comprehensively and passionately. However, it should not be inferred that this is merely a persuasive work. Greg does get emotional at times, but his arguments are solid, substantial, and difficult to refute. His fundamental goal with this book isn’t so much to tear down or criticize America or American Christians, but to exalt Jesus and promote His genuine and beautiful heavenly kingdom. To accomplish this Greg must show that America cannot be considered a Christian nation now or ever in its history. Greg’s essential premise is that since Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world, neither America or any other nation can be considered a Christian nation–by definition. However, honorable, noble, and just a nation may be, it will always fall short of Jesus’ vision for the kingdom and can never substitute for it. Jesus had the opportunity to establish an earthly kingdom and rejected that course for the establishment of a beautiful spiritual kingdom. Greg argues that the notion of “taking back America for God” is fundamentally flawed because America cannot be considered to have ever been acting purely Christ-like in its history. America has had a bloody history punctuated by frequent wars. No matter how just these wars may have been, Jesus taught his followers to love their enemies, not kill them. Don’t misunderstand, Greg is not suggesting that America does not have the right to exercise military force in the protection or promotion of its national interests. He does not suggest that a nation subscribe to an isolationist or completely non-military policy. Governments have the “power of the sword” and the responsibilities that go along with it. He is just saying that the power of the sword is fundamentally not like Christ, so when any nation goes to war in the name of Christ this is false, tarnishes the name of Christ, and does substantial harm to the promotion of the Gospel. America’s history of oppression, exploitation, and outright slaughter of Native Americans; slavery, rape, and murder of Africans; and discrimination against other non-whites from colonial times to the present further illustrate that American cannot be considered to adequately represent Christ. Greg gets most emotional as he argues that this earthly vision of America as a Christian nation obfuscates the Gospel of the Kingdom and hinders its advance both in the US and abroad. Two centuries of violence and oppression in the name of American Christianity have hardened untold millions of hearts against the beautiful and attractive Gospel of the Kingdom.

This book helps Christians like myself who are having increasing difficulty defending America’s unchristian history and present unjust and violent foreign policies. It puts solid arguments behind what has been an otherwise uneasiness with the notion of America as Christian nation. It also helps us to maintain a proper focus as American Christians. We should be focusing our efforts on loving and serving people rather than political activism. We should be focused on getting more Americans to be fully Christian rather than trying to get America as a whole to be more Christian. The former transforms individual lives; the latter does not transform lives, and may actually make individuals more resistant to the Gospel. The former will transform the nation as individuals behave more Christ-like and consequently transforms the climate of the nation. The blessings of God have remained on America, not because America is a Christian nation, but simply because there are Christians in America.

More to come when I actually finish the book.

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