Bespoke IT vs. Fit for Purpose

I’ve been focused on blogging over at EMC’s InFocus blog for the last year, but I want to get back to Mr. Infrastructure and start blogging more frequently about a wider variety of topics. First up is some thoughts on a topic I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about these days: Bespoke IT versus Fit for Purpose. We’ve spent a lot of time on bespoke IT in the industry, building new applications, silos, architectures, etc. to meet a specific need based on the skills and tools we are familiar with. We often don’t have the luxury to go out and investigate what the right tools would be and learn them in order to best apply them. If I think of this in sartorial terms, we make some outstanding, finely fit suits, but it might be in last decade’s style or colors. The suit might be of the highest quality and yet might not meet the needs of the wearer, or might stand out for all the wrong reasons in a crowd. Just because it’s bespoke doesn’t mean it’s the best way to approach the problem.

This is a long lead in to what I really want to talk about, the idea of Fit for Purpose. EMC acquired Adaptivity and I’ve been lucky enough to get to work with that great team, and learn a lot about how they think about IT, Applications and Infrastructure. They have a lot of talent on that team and I’ve learned a lot in conversations and brainstorming with them. Their Chief Scientist is Sheppard Narkier and he’s started to share many of his ideas, thoughts, and experiences on InFocus, see his post on Lessons Learned: The Quality of Design is not Fuzzy. On the surface , “Fit for Purpose” is nearly self explanatory, the idea of designing IT and Business systems based upon what they’ll be used for and how they’ll consume infrastructure. But to those not used to thinking in that paradigm, this explanation could be considered too coarse grained as a definition, let me explain a bit further. Continue reading Bespoke IT vs. Fit for Purpose

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Analytics and Big Data for Infrastructure

I had an interesting conversation a few weeks ago and was asked where am I placing my big bets for the future of IT.  I’ve been very interested in Big Data and Analytics for awhile now and this question made me think about how I needed to evolve to reflect that.  I think the next big thing for me in IT is going to be applying the concepts of Big Data and Analytics to cloud services and cloud infrastructure.  This is going to be especially important for service providers, and I’ve been recommending to my customers that they become service providers and service brokers before their customers find some others in the marketplace, so it’ll be applicable to nearly ever sizable IT organization. Continue reading Analytics and Big Data for Infrastructure

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Cloud Conflation

Good for what ails ya! We are a few years into this whole Cloud thing now and I’m surprised by how people still talk about it as a Cure All, some sort of silver bullet, conflating Cloud as a Service Delivery model with all sorts of things like collaboration, increased productivity, analytics – analytics?!, and a new model for application development.  Wow, where can I get some of that?  How much would you pay for such a wonder drug?  You need only open an industry rag, scholarly journal, or turn on the TV to get blasted with some of this hype.  At least I haven’t seen a “To the Cloud!” commercial in awhile.

I think we need to be much more precise in how we talk about Cloud because all of this squishiness is not only misleading, but it distracts from how we should be designing and adopting solutions that use this service delivery model.  And let me once again beg for a new moniker for this service delivery model, I’m so over Cloud.
Continue reading Cloud Conflation

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Go big or go home!

Go Big or Go Home, seems trite, but it is applicable to IT transformation.  Companies that are successfully adopting cloud technologies are taking a transformation approach, not a technical project approach.  The larger the scale of the program the more traction they are getting across the enterprise, business and IT.  For too long virtualization has been conflated with consolidation and that’s been one of the sticking points when it comes to trying to get the business and application owners to buy in to change. Continue reading Go big or go home!

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What’s in the case?

Steve Herrod’s super session was one of the things I enjoyed most about this year’s VMworld.  Not only were the technologies and ideas that were introduced inspiring and where I was hoping to see VMware head but there was real passion for making content accessible evident throughout the entire presentation.  VMworld coming so soon after the great one day class from Edward Tufte really increased the impact of the message.  I had been thinking of content in terms of Big Information, of how do we present information to people, how do we share and collaborate etc.  Steve’s presentation pushed that point even further, it’s all about the content really, the receptacle that it’s delivered in is irrelevant, it could be a briefcase, or a Ming vase, all the end user cares about is what’s in it.  Just take a gander at Vincent Vega there staring at Marsellus Wallace’s soul, the briefcase isn’t what was cool in Pulp Fiction, it’s what was in it. Continue reading What’s in the case?

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What is Virtualization?

It's all about mobilityI’ve been interviewing several people to lead up the Virtualization group of my organization lately and one of the candidates asked me an excellent question, “Well, what do you mean by Virtualization?”. Very good question, am I talking about VMware, the hypervisor, virtualized infrastructure, what? Apparently I’m in a heretical mood these days because my answer was, “No, I don’t mean any of that, I don’t want to limit it to that. When I talk about Virtualization and what I want this team to focus on is bigger than that. Virtualization to me is technology enablement allowing IT to run the workloads you need to where you want to.” Continue reading What is Virtualization?

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Why Information is like Cognac

Nectar of the godsWith apologies to Chuck Hollis at EMC and James Governor at RedMonk I decided to take a crack at this whole “Why Applications are like fish and Data is like Wine” meme by extending it to posit that Information is like Cognac. Now, I’m not usually one to kick a dead horse but I think that all the talk of Big Data has maybe obscured something that I view as a problem with Big Data: knowledge workers don’t consume data, they consume information. I see Big Data as a problem quite frankly, and the IDC Digital Universe Study put it in context. If Big Data is the problem, Big Information is the goal, and to get there we need automation and analytics. So if you’ll bear with me I’ll share how I think Information is like cognac.
Continue reading Why Information is like Cognac

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The ever expanding Digital Universe

IDC Released their 2011 Digital Universe Study and the results are pretty amazing: data is doubling every two years! This is the fifth year that the IDC has released this study and each year I continue to be surprised by the results, just when I think things have started to reach terminal velocity around data growth they accelerate more. Currently data growth is outpacing Moore’s Law, suddenly the phrase Big Data just doesn’t seem to cut it any more. There are all sorts of findings in the study and the repercussions for our industry will require many changes.

I recently wrote here about the need for automation in security, and Christopher Hoff has suggested some practical ways to get started here and has started an initiative around Security Automata here. This is one of the ways that the growth of data is impacting security, the very framework for how we approach protecting assets needs to change in light of the deluge of data. Continue reading The ever expanding Digital Universe

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Join Us!

I’ve mentioned in the past just how much I enjoy working at EMC and since posting that I’ve been privileged to be able to continue hiring outstanding consultants and architects for EMC Consulting.  In addition to the satisfaction of having happy customers, being able to continue to grow the ranks of our talented organization is a real point of pride.  The Cloud and Virtual Data Center practice within EMC Consulting is currently hiring in North America and we are looking for flexible, creative subject matter experts who can help our customers achieve their aspirations while growing their careers within EMC.  I truly believe that EMC Consulting is the place for you if you are looking to help large companies plan and implement their next iteration of IT.  Please check out the positions listed below, or feel free to drop me a line at edward dot newman at emc dot com.

Southeast:
•    Sr. Practice Consultant – 61302   (4 open positions)
•    Practice Team Lead – 61306   (1 open position)
•    Practice Manager – 61301   (1 open position)
West:
•    Sr. Practice Consultant – 61314  (1 open position)
•    Practice Manager – 61315  (1 open position)
Central:
•    Practice Team Lead – 61316  (1 open position)
Northeast:
•    Sr. Practice Consultant – 60655 (3 open positions)
•    Practice Manager – 50999  (1 open position)

Applying to a position with EMC:
1.    Click on the following link – http://www.emc.com/about/jobs/index.htm
2.    Click on the “Apply Now”
3.    Enter the five digit req. number into “Requisition ID “ box
4.    Hit Search
5.    Check of the box and submit to position
6.    Candidates will need to register if they are not already in the system

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What a View!

It’s been a great VMWorld so far, and today’s announcements only add to all the buzz amongst the attendees.  I’ve always seen VDI and application virtualization as a way to extend the security, compliance, and availability of the data center out to the end users and VMware’s announcement of VMware View 4.5 with enhancements to security, “check in/check out” and an improved user experience helps further that vision.  Security and compliance has long been a key driver for the adoption of virtualized desktops and VMware delivers with the ability to combine RSA enVision, SecurID and DLP with guidance from an updated RSA SecurBook into your desktop solution.  I think that a ubiquitous and consistent end user experience is vital to the realization of Private Clouds regardless of whether the user is  on campus or not.  It’s not just about a product of course, although EMC and VMware together provide a very robust stack to build upon, you’ve got to approach your virtual desktop infrastructure as a transformation of the desktop, taking the design of the desktop, the virtual infrastructure acting as the delivery mechanism, deployment and migrations, application virtualization, security and systems management all into consideration for your solution.

Desktops have been a growing nightmare for IT organizations, so many different hardware profiles, OS builds, application portfolios, user communities, deployment methods, sprawl, process confusion and dubious security, not to mention spotty backup and recovery capability.  Security has long focused on the end-points as a way to control risk, I’m willing to bet we’ve got more laptops and desktops than we do routers.  And we hire very smart people and give them tools that may or may not meet their needs, a recipe for disaster really.  Desktop and application virtualization affords us the opportunity to do a global reset on a lot of that, pulling back data, applications, and profiles to the virtualized data center or Private Cloud giving your users a secure and compliant set of tools to do their work.  You’ve got to provide an environment that’s not only trusted, but also predictable, IT needs to understand the performance, scalability and interoperability of their virtual environment and application portfolio.

Layer into all of this the fact that many organizations are looking to move to Windows 7 and want that process to be easier than Vista and XP iterations were.  A holistic approach to desktop virtualization can leverage VMware View 4.5 to provide an easier upgrade path for the OS and the opportunity to do security right, building it in from the design of the solution rather than as a bolt-on after deployment.  The number of remote and mobile users is growing every year: security, compliance, systems management and performance concerns are growing along with them.  VMware View 4.5 and the tight integration with RSA’s security products running on top of EMC Proven Solutions for intelligent information infrastructure goes a long way in providing the foundation for an engaging, secure, and compliant end user experience, one of the key promises of cloud computing.

Taking a targeted approach for the implementation of a virtual desktop infrastructure to the most sensitive or highest change environments, like app/dev, is a good way to make use of the enhanced capabilities of VMware View 4.5 and the integration with RSA.  Providing access to a dev/test environment via VDI is a great way to amp up security and compliance if you’ve got a lot of development initiatives always underway or you’re working with offshore resources.  You can extend the security and compliance of a cloud service by making it accessible only via a VDI client, all data now lives in the cloud, secure and available.  Developers, or consultants, working on multiple projects?  Multiple VDI sessions rather than multiple laptops or desktops.  Gain successes and efficiencies and continue to expand the deployment of your VDI solution on their strength and ever important word of mouth.  At EMC we’ve talked about the concept of Information Lifecycle Management for a long time: get the right information, to the right people, at the right time, with an optimized cost structure.  Well RSA takes that concept and extends it with their integration with VMware View 4.5: allow the right people access to the appropriate data via a trusted infrastructure.

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