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Archive for the ‘Funny & odd’ Category

Of course, December is always the time for predictions, especially when we are going to enter a new decade. No wonder that December also marks a time when new buzzwords are created. One of these is “UC4”. Don’t laugh! Silicon republic predicts that “UC4 is set to dominate the CIO’s agenda 2010”! You can imagine how I stumbled first when I read this headline. 😉 But seriously, what does the new year hold – besides “Unified Communication, Collaboration and Contact Centre” (UC4)?

I will not contribute to this discussion with another buzzword. I just want to predict that it will probably be above all the big year for the user. This goes close with Brian Duckering who predicts for 2010 that also “management methods shift from system-based to user-based: Managing systems has always worked just fine. But it has gotten a lot more complicated and costly as users become more mobile and less predictable, demanding that their workspaces follow them from one device to another, seamlessly. For many this has caused a re-evaluation of what the purpose of IT actually is. The systems don’t create value for companies – the users do. Yet, the tools and methods predominantly deployed target devices, not people.”

Take a look on the still maturing virtualization market. Forrester predicts that server virtualization will grow from 10% in 2007, to 31% in 2008 to 54% in 2011. It’s a pretty impressive growth rate, of course. But actually nothing compared to the explosion the Gartner Group expects for the amount of virtualized PCs in the same period; it will more than centuplicate – from 5 Mio in 2007 to 660 Mio in 2011.

2010 will possibly be the year when the hyping technologies around virtualization will hit the front-end – where the user is waiting. This can also cause trouble – especially without transparent process management. Because “virtualization without good management is more dangerous than not using virtualization in the first place” – as Tom Bittmann, Gartner Analyst, already put it in a nutshell a year ago.

Hope you are ready for 2010!

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Automatically generated messages can help us to survive in information overloaded environments. Think about the Out-of-Office-Notifications and how they help us to curb the amount of stuff we have to get through when returning from vacations.

There are probably several prosaic or poetic ways to circumscribe the only relevant thing you want to communicate in these Out-of-Office-Replies, namely the date when you are In-the-Office again. Considering this, why don’t we take the chance to have a laugh with it, as Zack Whittaker suggests in his ZDNet blog?

My favourite one is the following:

“You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, you wouldn’t have received anything at all.”

What are your favorites?

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“What a question. Certainly not!” you might burst out spontaneously. But at closer sight, this question is not bizarre at all. Because any IT professional who is willing to look beyond the edge of his plate will easily agree with Stephanie Balaouras, from Forrester Blog, that there are at least some implications of a spreading disease for IT operations: “What swine flu has done is reminded us all of the necessity to plan for threat scenarios that affect people more than Swine Flu Virusthey do data centers and other physical corporate facilities … You also have to think about your own employees: how will you run IT operations if key employees are out sick or can’t get to work? There’s a lot you can do remotely, but not everything. You have to ask yourself: how many employees have we cross-trained for other job functions? Can your storage administrators run backups? Could your server admins allocate storage or debug a storage network problem? Cross-training in critical functions is another part of workforce recovery or, I should say, workforce continuity.”

You still think of the blog title as weird? Maybe you should just use this opportunity to dust off your business continuity plan, or to automate some Housekeeping routines, which are both tiresome and business critical to your enterprise. It makes sense, even if the swine flu passes gentle the door of your data center.

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Last week I stumbled upon this cartoon in a current blogpost by Chris Boos. I became curious, also because I doubted the title: “Automation is Knowledge Conservation”. The article is all about transforming dull work into intelligent work by automating the “everyday hick-ups … you become very bored with once you know how to handle them.”

Corporate Culture without Automation

Even though pyramid building was more than a hick-up, I guess, the point of disagreement lies elsewhere. It’s the notion that automation is simultaneously the conservation of IT experience and a smart machine, “which knows how and when to apply these experiences” together with the choice of the title that I’m not so sure about. Why does Chris stress the conservation part and not the much more decisive automation aspect of transforming − processes, workflows and even corporate cultures? Could it be that his title was just the result of a little character consufion? Confusion!

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Technically speaking an event is a change in status. That’s not really inspiring, I know. But on the other hand, hitherto you got only half the truth. Because status changes are innumerable, and therefore you call an event only something which is changing a status AND (simultaneously) causing an action. That’s more tricky, I know, even in daily life. Because our digesting ability is enormous and sitting in front of the tv-set the procedure of absorbing huge piles of information without reaction becomes an important cultural skill. The weird thing is that in the media business, almost everything is an event and nearly nothing produces a status change within the audience.

No wonder, that in real life I sometimes feel like one of these old-fashioned schedulers, who can not respond dynamically to changing external data coming from business. So I remain sitting and eating junk, ignoring the data coming from the application (which is supposed to be the tv-program in my case).

The question behind is: when do I start thinking of a process not just as stupid external routine I cannot escape, but as something dynamic making me part of it? You wanna know the source of these thoughts? It was a white paper by UC4, which made me look Beyond Job Scheduling and the edge of my plate. Feel free to decide whether this event was user or system driven.

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Talking about the benefits of automation often leads to certain degrees of abstraction with highly sophisticated arguments. Of course, thoughts about boosting availability and performance, about minimizing failure, risks and process costs are not abstract in themselves, but sometimes I am searching for a language even a bean counter could understand.

It’s for once not about how CIOs could argue for automation when meeting the board of directors. It’s more about searching for a fleshy argument which really convinces them first, keeping in mind that most of the time change is a bottom-up process which doesn’t start at CEOs desks. But what if they are so focused on keeping equipment running that they forget to keep score, or perhaps they see the benefits as so obvious that it’s not necessary to calculate them.

Maybe you could just take a moment and read this story. It’s about a CIO from a big UC4 customers I spoke with a couple of years ago. He was a mainframe guy originally, and remembered a time where any dysfunction in the data center was announced company-wide over a Brazil-like loudspeaker system. No wonder, that he start feeling awkward whenever he left his office for inspection walkways or team meetings. This was before the automation project. “Now, it’s different and enjoyable to make my round, because there are no such announcements anymore” he attested when we get on to the benefits of automation.

I will always remember him grinning from ear to ear.

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Of course, this nobody could foresee. That the biggest competitor of Brad Pitt was sitting so close to him. Indeed curious is the case of Benjamin Button, who finally won the Oscars for Makeup, Art Direction and Visual Effects. Because being aware of all the computer techniques Ed Ulbrich, the movie’s digital visual effect producer, showed the TED audience, it’s getting difficult to tell where Brad Pitt ends and Benjamin Button begins.

Brad Pitt communicating with his digital puppet

Brad Pitt communicating with his digital puppet

It’s a bit like what happened with the sorcerer’s apprentice Bringing Benjamin Button to Life, as an exciting movie in-depth report by Bill Desowitz suggests. And it looks like automation was one of the secret sauces in this “technology stew” – as Ed Ulbrich calls it – to provide such a seamless interaction between the actor and his digital puppet, which – in the end – brought him 3 Oscars on the wrong side.

Maybe he should have listened to Eric Barba, Digital Domain’s visual effects supervisor on Button, pointing out that “with the bleeding edge of technology, you certainly get cut and hurt.” Let’s hope that Brad recovers soon.

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