georges' blog

April 26, 2007

Gartner Symposium: Last Day

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 5:01 pm

I’ve sat in on four sessions today so far and there haven’t been too many take aways. I don’t know if I just haven’t chosen well, or if they saved all the dull and uninspiring content for the last day. As the day progresses, it seems more and more people are playing hookie or just flying home. However, with a $3700 price tag, I figure I better try to get all I can out of this conference. Since there isn’t much to say about the sessions I’ve sat in on, let me just take this opportunity to make some general observations:

  • The prizes have been very nice. They had a drawing for a Segway and gave out four $100 AMEX gift cards to runner ups. They had a drawing to participate in a trivia game and each participant got a free ticket to the 2008 Symposium–that’s a $3700 value. One vendor was giving away iPod shuffles to every vistor to their booth. I’m looking forward to getting that in the mail.
  • The wireless access hasn’t been ubiquitous, but it is adequate, and by the end of the first day I knew where to sit in the main auditorium and which seminar rooms I’d have to work offline in.
  • I geneally get four hours of battery life out of my 12″ PowerBook. Others were probalby suffering for battery, like this guys with a giant Dell XPS desktop replacement, because charging your laptop not terribly convenient. There was counter with powerstrips, but you had to work standing up. If you were one of Gartner’s premier customers, they had VIP lounges–I can only imagine what pleasures were within those partitions, but easy access to power was probably among them. Some participants popped open wall panels in the corridor to jack in. These poor vagabonds could be seen sitting on the floor in pairs near every outlet. My favorite place to charge and work was the Blounge (the blogging lounge). It had easy access to power and the most confortable general access chairs. The rules of the lounge allowed only for blogging. I pretty much honored this, but others were obviously shamelessly flouting the stated purpose of the area by checking email. I was surprised how few people were taking advantage of the Blounge, since there was no enforcement of the rules. i could generally get a seat in a comfy chair and no one asked for the URL of my blog to confirm my credentials.
  • The food has been great. They’ve had breakfast and lunch every day and a couple of dinners. On Monday they served Haagn Dazs ice cream bars for dessert. Yesterday they had a hot chocolate fondue fountain with a variety of fresh fruit on skewers. Decent.
  • Generally, they give out lame tote bags at conferences. However, the Gartner tote was a full-sized computer backpack. I probably won’t use it again after the conference because of the power blue and branding, but it has been useful for the conference, to hold my laptop, conference materials, and my jacket–the weather has been great, but a bit windy and chilly especially in the morning and evening coming and going from the conference center.
  • The pen was good too.
  • The chairs have been comfortable, especially compared to those horrid chairs at the Austin Omni Hotel, for the Educause Southwest Regional Conference. I’m telling you, I will never forget how uncomfortable those chairs were.
  • The A/V equipment has been invisible. It works and I’ve only noticed a single minor and brief technical glitch so far.
  • For the most part the pace of the conference has been good. The first two days had a vendor track at 3 PM, which wasn’t of interest to me. It would have been good if that track were at the end of the day, so that those of us how were not interested could have bailed out early instead of having to kill time until the 4:30 session. Other than that, the sessions have been pretty much scheduled every hour and a half. This allowed for an hour session and a half hour intermission allowing plenty of time for refreshing one’s coffee, restroom break, checking email, making a phone call, or whatever. It has pretty much allowed me to take in six or so sessions. That may sound like a lot of information and a lot of sitting, and it is. But, I’m a machine.
  • The coffee and beverage service runs continuously all day long. You can basically nurse your caffeine habit all day long for free. And if you are not a coffee or soft drink junkie, they have fruit juices and sparkling water all gratis.

Bottomline: The conference has been pulled off very professionally, with generally top-notch content, and with generous amenities.

April 25, 2007

Gartner Symposium: Enterprise Applications in a Web-Centric World

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 4:49 pm

Either this session was way over my head or these guys weren’t really saying anything. They threw around a lot of terminology and buzz-words. Here’s a list of the top buzz-words that seemed to be central to the point they were making:

  • Web 2.0: Community, Mash-ups
  • SOA (Service Oriented Architecture, spelling it out for anyonenot familiar with the acronym)
  • WOA
  • Rich Internet Applications (RIA) & AJAX (a subset of RIA)
  • Extreme Self-Service
  • Data-driven proces

About all I could really hang my hat on was the section on “Disciplines of Market Leaders.” Essentially there are four disciplines and successful businesses must focus attention on one or more of these four areas and refine their process and distinguish themselves to succeed in their sector.

  • Customer Intimacy
  • Product Leadership
  • Operational Excellence
  • Brand Excellence

It organizations need to leverage web technologies to help the chosen strategy succeed.

The recommendations also brought the presentation down from the stratosphere to something I could get a hold of:

  • Revisit the idea of self-service as a way of doing less to create more value.
  • Ensure that all new applications introduced into the portfolio are Web 2.0-centric.
  • Review vendor plans to make existing applications Web 2.0-centric.
  • Take a balanced view across technology, business model and delivery model when determining the effects of Web 2.0 on your applications.

I still need to apply some brain clock-cycles to apply these recommendations to my environement and organization.

Gartner Symposium: Keynote Panel: A Look Into the Labs with IBM, Intel, and Microsoft

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 3:28 pm

I have seen the future. There has been a lot of talk about theories and processes and ways of doing business in the future in the sessions at Symposium. But this session showed videos of real stuff that Microsoft, IBM, and Intel are working on right now and we will see on the store shelves in the not too distant future. It was very, very cool and mind boggling. The pace at which science fiction is turning into science is startling.

Microsoft showed some killer user interface and environment awareness applications. Remember how the computer worked in the film “Minority Report?” Tom Cruise’s character put on these gloves and was able to manipulate these videos–resize, play, rewind, pan, zoom, rotate… using his hands on a large glass display. Imagine this exact thing, but without the gloves! They showcased, placing a document on a pane of glass. The image was scanned and then displayed instantly on the glass. Then the user could move, rotate, and enlarge the document with their hands. They showed the same kind of thing but with two users manipulating the same workspace but from different locations. It was cool. They showed two people each with a piece of paper and a pen and each drawing and even moving their paper, but the software was seamlessly integrating the two physical documents.

Intel showed off their roadmap for multi-core processors. They have already developed an 80 core processor running at 62 watts. One of the applications showed was software that analyzed a soccer video. It was able to track the ball and the players and analyze the audio tract all simultaneously and in real time. They also showed 3D graphics rendering that used real physical laws for gravity and how light interacts with physical objects. They showed light interacting with moving reflective objects and transparent glass. They showed a ball dropped in water and a glass filled with water all acting exactly like they would in the real world. Light, shadows, reflections, refraction through glass, water effects, gravity, physical interactions… it was a scary move toward being able to exactly duplicate the physical world virtually–in real time–a move toward the Matrix. To ratchet up the fear factor here, the Intel VP for research mentioned in passing another real world application: artificial intelligence. These new chips will move us one step closer to where computers can learn and think like a human being. So it is nearly assured that the robot revolution of 2025 will be running on Intel processors (probability 0.8).

What IBM revealed was technologies that are CRM oriented. It started off rather boring but then turned very scary. IBM was basically looking at technologies that try to predict the future behavior of customers or users based on their historic behavior. Essentially the application tracks variables of the user’s behavior and detects patterns in order to predict their future behavior. The admin defines zones and users and relationships and automates the collection of data and routes communications. The application that was showcased was a doctor moving in and around a hospital and updating his availability based on his location. For instance, if the doctor was with a patient, calls would be routed to voice mail. If he was in his office, phone calls would be routed to the phone at his desk, for instance. If he was in the cafeteria, calls would be routed to his mobile. Certain relationships would never be able to directly reach the user, they’d be routed to a secretary or voice mail. Other relationships would have elevated priority. IBM’s presentation, like other technologies showcased, fed right into a surveillance society. Personally, I don’t like the idea of a computer tracking my movements and behaviors and trying to predict my behaviors or evaluating my future behavior. People get a bit bent out of shape about racial profiling at airports, this technology could be used for profiling ALL behavior–not just terrorists, but any sort of crime, for insurance companies, employers, etc. For instance, if an employer used this to calculate my value to the company, compared me to other employees, predicted my productivity… Imagine if an employer did this to applicants, before they even started working. A prospective employer could select employees based on a profile of a person’s entire life up to that point before. The government could determine your likelihood of committing a crime and single you out for additional scrutiny. The whole idea is frightening. In the movies, they’d try and convict you of a crime you hadn’t even committed, but were merely likely to commit based on your pattern of behavior (probability 0.6).

April 24, 2007

Gartner Symposium: Keynote with IBM VP for Innovation, Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 6:39 pm

There wasn’t much to take away here. A lot of what was said was similar to what has been said before only not as fast or with as much inflection. Here’s one of the godd take aways:

How do we design applications and systems that support our business processes? How do you design systems that support abstract business processes? You cannot design what you do not understand. Designers do not understand the business and the business process. Application developers and systems designers must understand the business. This is the heart of SOA. SOA–or Service Oriented Architecture–is clearly in the lead for buzzword of the conference.

Gartner Symposium: Keynote with Second Life founder and CEO Phillip Rosedale

Filed under: Gartner Symposium 2007,Technology — kendall @ 6:36 pm

Illustrating just how powerful the Second Life reality distortion field is, Second Life’s CEO and founder, Phillip Rosedale, garnered the top keynote slot at Gartner’s April Symposium.  I am in the pessimistic camp when it come to Second Life.  My first post about Second Life will give you some idea as to why.  However, that being said, I was impressed with Phillip Rosedale’s presentation.  He freely admitted that Second Life as it represents the 3D web is in its infancy.  “We’re where the web was in 1994.”   What impressed me about his presentation is that although they don’t have all the answers to the questions about the 3D web in general or the eveolution of Second Life in particular, he and his staff at Linden Labs seem to have the critical issues on their radar.  In particular, I was thinking, if Second Life is our best hope for the 3D web, it needs to be liek the 2D web–it needs to be open.  See, right now, anyone can get a webserver and drop it on the Internet and bam you have a presence on the web.  It is not proprietary and it has virtually unlimited potential for growth.  However, as Second Life stands right now, though the client is open source, the servers are proprietary.  However, Rosedale indicated that their plan was to open it up to third party providers/hosts.  This should drive down the prices of getting on the 3D web.  Right now costs over $1,500 US to get in on your own island plus $295 per month maintenance.  That is pretty steep for a casual user and even for a business that is a considerable investment on an unproven technology.  I have to get back into Second Life and see what it would cost to get in on some pr0perty on the main island.  The average sale price of property in SL at the time of this writing was $10 USD per square meter.  Anyhow, opening up Second Life is a major step in the right direction for moving Second Life from a niche application to something with mass appeal and wide adoption.

The second major bit of good news was their plan not just to add voice chat to SL, but ther vision of how to implement it.  Instead of dialing as you do with Skype or MSM and other voice and video chat services, their plan is to try to simulate the way voice works in the real world.  Distant conversations cannot be heard but as you pass by people who are talking their conversations would come into range.  It sounded pretty cool to me.  As I was talking to my wife about it, she was asking why this would be any better than a conference call in Skype or anywhere else.  I’m not sure it is, but I think the visual cues of seeing everyone in the conference room is kinda cool.  Rather than spending a bunch of time with “hey, is so and so on yet…” you would just quickly scan the room and when you have enough people to start, you just start.  Depending how the voice implementation works out, the prospects for collaboration are intriguing.  Rosedale kinda indicated that they were already trying out the voice in some kinda beta version and it sounds promising.

I’m not a convert yet, but Second Life is something to keep an eye on.

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.”

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