EMC World 2010

The first two days of EMC World 2010 have been that familiar and welcome mix of hectic and inspiring. This is my fourth EMC World and I continue to get to increase my level of participation year after year. I started with on presentation, then a presentation and a BoF session, then added participation in the analysts section and the inaugural blogger’s lounge and this year all of that plus the media session and the executive track. I am continually amazed by the level of participation of our executives, customers and partners. This year I’m lucky enough to share in the experience of having the area I spend the most amount of my time and energy on, the Private Cloud, be the organizing theme for the entire conference. Talk about feeling front and center. I’ve heard from analysts, the press present, customers and our partners that our messaging this year has incredible cohesiveness and vision. I certainly can’t take credit for that but am happy to hear that it is enabling those attending to get even more out of the event. The continued integration of our social media efforts into the conference as a whole is really paying off from what I can tell, an incredible number of hits to the micro sites, tons of Twitter traction, live blogging and even Joe taking part in a video blog from the Cube! Very cool stuff.

It would seem that having the conference in Boston has really amped up the media and analyst coverage, which I think is great. I had so many good, thoughtful conversations with the media this afternoon and am grateful for all the time they dedicated to my little corner of EMC. We really had some top notch reporters and thought leaders engaged with us from the press, I’m looking forward to seeing the output from the sessions this afternoon.

I’ll be dedicating a future post to some of the key announcements soon, I’m really excited about the possibilities they open up for cloud enablement and how our portfolio continues to grow. All in all I think this has been the best EMC World yet and I hope to get to run into you at the remaining sessions or to get your feedback via the comments or Twitter.

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The Web at 20!

The most recent edition of EMC’s ON Magazine contained a whole series of articles and musings celebrating the Web at 20 years and imagining what the next 20 years will bring for it. The EMC Community of bloggers has taken this meme and shared a number of very cool stories and ideas. I’ve been tagged by Christine Christopherson, one of our very talented user experience designers, to contribute my story and ideas for the future of the Web. Like my fellow EMC’ers I’ll be addressing the following three questions:

How has the web changed your life?
How has the web changed business and society?
What will the web look like in 20 years?

How has the web changed my life?
I was a research assistant in the Physics Department at the University of Notre Dame during the summer of 1991 working with Prof. Carol Tanner’s team researching Optical Atom Traps. The lab I was working in was not too far away from the computer lab with the recently acquired NeXT workstations. These things were exceedingly cool as up to that point I’d only been exposed to Apple II’s in my rudimentary programming classes and rather clunky IBMs that my Dad got through work. There was a team at CERN that was doing very similar work to the ND team and they were publishing their notes and results to an internal system utilizing the CERN httpd server, which funnily enough ran very well on NeXT. At this point I’d never heard of Tim Berners-Lee or his grand vision, it was simply regarded as the next wave of Physics documentation management. I remember being a little dismissive of it at that point, mostly because I was just in love with lab notebooks and couldn’t see how a computer would be better than that.

I forgot about httpd for two years until I was a software engineering student at the Illinois Institute of Technology and got reacquainted with the very nascent Web. I discovered Yahoo and all this new content that was coming online and played around with the W3C httpd server more, learning about HTML and UNIX administration in the process. The Web changed my life because it was the gateway drug to Solaris and Irix I must be honest. I became a UNIX snob, thrilled by the power of the Sun Sparcs and SGI Indys running their server daemons and databases. The Web and the openness of its communication lured me away from the closed systems that I had been programming for, after seeing the power of the Web there was no way I was going to sit in a cube and code 1 function or class for some humongous software package for three years. I became a Web administrator at Chicago Kent College of Law supporting the Circuit Court and the paperless law school and from there I went into consulting for first the Web, then intranets, then Data Centers until finally I was running operations for MyPoints.com, one of the top 10 web properties in 1999 and 2000. I learned a lot along the way about connecting people and ideas and have been able to develop a much more expanded vision of the power and purpose of systems and I am very grateful.

How has the web changed business and society?
Let me count the ways, they are legion. The power of the web to bring people and information together is exactly what drew me to it. It’s changed the way that I do just about everything, from shopping and learning about new products to finding information, teaching my daughters, watching movies and TV and interacting with my friends and peers. I think it is great the way that many companies are expanding their use of the Web, engaging their customers, learning what they expect of the products and services, how they’re being used, how they could be improved and allowing customers to get together to share even more about themselves around a shared passion or interest facilitated by that company. The Web has even changed product design, more and more companies crowdsourcing their designs or creating contests via the Web to develop new products. Nike has done a great job of this allowing everyone to design their own custom shoes and hosting design competitions online. Awesome stuff. Web-enabled customer forums help people get answers, best practices, unvarnished opinions and new contacts all in one place. EMC has done a ton of work in this area and I’m proud of the communities we’ve built for our customers. Gina Minks blogs often about our communities and has done a ton of work setting them up and managing them.

What will the Web look like in 20 years?
Well there certainly has been a lot written about the future of the Web and Technology but I’ll add my 2 cents. I am very much in the school of Neal Stephenson and his views presented in Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. The Web will become more immersive and more pervasive, if that’s even possible. I’m not sure if Virtual Reality will really take hold, but there certainly is a lot of potential there. I think the biggest differences we’ll see is around search and the ability to federate searches and be able to more quickly integrate and analyze the results a la Wolphram|Alpha on steroids. We’ll also see a lot more integration of location aware and other context based integration into search and content presentation. I’m especially excited by the possibilities of more integration of open-source and crowd-source design like that at Local Motors and in the Makers by Cory Doctorow. I guess I’d sum it up by saying ubiquitous access, high bandwidth, context aware natural language search and analytics with data privacy and even more by the way of integration of social networks and academics etc. Needless to say I am excited to be a part of the continued transformation.

At this point I’d like to tag that font of information Christopher Kusek aka CXI and Kathrin Winkler who I hope will talk about the Web and sustainability in 20 years!

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Five Years

I thought I’d post a few thoughts and get back into the swing of blogging on the occasion of my five year anniversary with EMC Consulting.¬† The last five years have brought a huge amount of change for me both personally and professionally.¬† I joined EMC Consulting two weeks after finding out my wife was pregnant with our first child, and the changes have just kept coming from then on.¬† I had spent the previous ten years working for small organizations and then growing with venture backed start-ups.¬† This new transition in many ways was my graduation into “adulthood”, first time working for a large company supporting well established products.¬† I was very hesitant at first, but haven’t regretted the decision once in the last five years.

In many ways the transition wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be, while EMC is a very large company the organization I joined was only a couple hundred back then.¬† We’ve both grown a lot in the last five years, I went from being a project manager to global CTO for my practice and the organization has gone from a few hundred people to a 2700 person global organization.¬† It’s been exciting and back breaking and fun.¬† While the consulting side has been growing the overall make up of the company has changed dramatically too, more than 50% of our revenue coming from software and services, a real sea change from where we were five years ago.¬† I’ve been lucky enough to watch our product portfolio morph into what I do truly believe is the most comprehensive in the industry for information management, we’ve accomplished much more than I would’ve hoped for in 2004.

This has been a real milestone for me, for ten years I hopped between jobs just about every year seeking new opportunities and challenges, constantly looking for the next organization I could help grow, not really wanting to grow stale in my role.¬† I can honestly say that hasn’t been a worry for me the last five years, constant challenges and new opportunities.¬† For a long time I never thought I’d find a place to settle down, but I can easily see myself working for EMC in 2014, and I couldn’t be happier about it.¬† So as I look back on the last five years I am grateful: for the work, the opportunities and mostly the incredible people that I have the privilege of working with.

Here’s to another five great years!

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