The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Displaying articles for: January 2012

Pod take 2 – this time even bigger

Pete Deacon and I looked at a miniature version of the HP Pod Data Center container in Montreal. In Toronto, we were able to walk through a version of the real thing:

 

 

 

We were able to talk about the flexibility it provides for organizations that have either expanded beyond their current capacity or just want to replace the whole thing.

Why and Cloud bursting?

cloud.pngA number of folks who are at the HP Master the Cloud event in Toronto got together last night for dinner and we had a pretty wide ranging conversation discussing technology and technology adoption.

 

At one point, someone at the table said "I understand Cloud Bursting", and naturally with my slightly contrarian nature I responded “Oh really, explain it to me, since I don’t think there are many people who actually do understand it. How does it work?” I realized I was backing them into a corner that probably no one – especially me – could get out of. I admitted to them that I was being unfair.

 

The reason I say that is that in order to answer the question, you need to understand what the organization is actually trying to do. What constraints are being placed on their environment? How do they measure value? What kind of software resources do they have available?

 

It is easy to say “cloud bursting” but quite a different level of expertise is required to actually implement it in software so it works reliably and securely. There is a level of architecture sophistication that is hard to find. I can guarantee only a tiny percentage of current IT systems can support this level of flexibility. It is definitely “doable” -- just not a simple answer and not everyone is going to be willing to pay for what it will take.

 

There are many aspects of the movement to a more flexible IT environment that have similar underlying complexities. It’s like using the 5 Whys to get to the root cause. It can really make you think about what’s important.

HP 35 – 40 years old today

hp35.pngThe HP-35 was HP’s first pocket calculator and the first scientific calculator. Its award winning approach brought a range of innovations (first product to have both ICs and LEDs), put many a slide rule on the shelf.

 

There is some interesting history about the calculator on-line (including the problems based on the lack of precision in the mainframe computers that effected the testing of the calculator).

 

You can still buy a version today.

Opening the Pod Door in Montreal

A while back I posted about HP pod computing and how pods are manufactured. While I was in Montreal last week, I talked with Pete Deacon, who unlike Hal was able to open the pod (bay) door. Pete provided some insight on what others were asking about pods, why they are so flexible and what new types of value they can deliver.

 

 

This computing technology allows organizations to move beyond the floor space constraints of their current data center into less contrained facilities or even their parking lot.

 

When I get to see the pod in Toronto this week, I’ll likely post a bit more.

Is there something special about cloud in Canada?

A perspective of cloud held by some is that it is something that can be deployed the same everywhere -- once size fits all. Once people get into it a bit further they realize this may not be the case. I had a moment at the HP Master the Cloud conference to interview a few of the HP executives about there perspective about what's special about cloud computing for a Canadian market .

 

 

Nick Vanderzweep one of the other cloud advisors interviewed one of the leaders of PCD Solutions (one of HP's partners at the event.

If you want to know more about the perspectives of HP's cloud advisors, you can review this post from last year.

Guest on Following the White Rabbit security podcast

security.pngAmerican Airlines is allowing free wi-fi on my flight back from Montreal so I thought I’d take a moment to blog. I was at the Master the Cloud conference HP hosted and while there met up with Rafal Los (Following the White Rabbit security blog) and Nadhan (who blogs on the HP ES blog) . We recorded a podcast focused on cloud computing implications hosted by Raf. Have a listen if you get a chance. I thought it came out well even though it wasn't done under the best circumstances.

Labels: HP cloud| security

Abundance -- the book

abundance cover-200.jpgOne of the concerns I’ve expressed since the economic downturn started dealt with the shift in IT capability, the value that IT can bring to the business and the opportunity for those who think about the bold use of IT.

 

I’ve phrased this as entering a “world of abundance in IT”. I think my first post related to abundance actually predated the downturn and was back in 2005.

 

While I was waiting to board a plane yesterday in Dallas, I saw a review of a soon to be released book: Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think (by Peter H. Diamandis , Steven Kotler).

 

The book goes into detail describing four forces that are bringing a new level and understanding of abundance to human life. 

 

“Providing abundance is humanity’s grandest challenge—this is a book about how we rise to meet it.”

The book comes out on Feb 21st. Naturally I had to order it and see how it aligned to my thinking.

Tags: abundance| Trends
Labels: abundance| Trends

Where Will Unified Communications Take Us in 2012?

bridge.jpgDecember and January are typically the months that we consider resolutions and predictions for the coming year. Technology is no different with this month’s bloggers predicting everything from the future of cloud computing to what’s on the horizon for IT outsourcing. Unified Communications is also a hot topic for predictions. Everyone from Larry Hettick at Network World to Zeus Kerravala of No Jitter have blogged about numerous adoptions and predictions related to UC including:

  • Increased use of HD video communications across all market segments. Eventually video will replace voice calls as a preferred real-time communications medium, but maybe not in 2012.
  • More businesses will cut the cord to wired voice services, eventually mirroring the trend among consumers.
  • The BYOD trend will continue as enterprise networks adapt, supporting mobile devices like smartphones & table computers that employees initially purchase as consumer electronics.
  • Tablet computing becomes the next big thing in business.
  • Campus LAN gets smart: With BYOD, the growth of smartphone/tablet usage among consumers and the unified communications market set to triple by 2015, the campus LAN will have to step up to the plate to meet demand -- 2012 will be the year the campus gets smart.
  • Unified Communications goes even more mobile in 2012.

What predictions do you agree or disagree with? What predictions of your own would you add to the lists?

 

Last year, HP’s Danette Hardin discussed how Unified Communications can be the step change that allows organizations to seamlessly integrate with their technology, and how consumers are driving UCC trends in 2011. This is part of a larger activity by HP started earlier. I think this is all only the start of a much bigger move to a more communications enabled enterprise approach bringing together social, analytics, and the computational resources into a whole new level of business productivity. This is an area I plan to spend more thought on this year!

 

How about your org? Have you already adopted UCC or are you considering implementing it in 2012? What trends are shaping your decision?

Cloud fallout

cloud effects.pngMany organizations look at cloud as a way of lowering costs, but the fallout can actually be much broader.

 

Cloud security and Mobile First – At the same time as organizations are looking at cloud computing and its impact, the consumerization of IT is forcing them to look at how information is delivered to the end users. The security implications of cloud and the delivery of critical business information to mobile devices come together to shift how applications are developed.

 

Application design shifts – The strengths of cloud (parallel processing in large volumes, remote automated/efficient compute pools, shared resources…) are somewhat incompatible with the way many applications have been written in the past. New techniques and training will be required.  The existing application portfolio will need to be review in-depth from a variety of perspectives (value/watt consumed…) to understand where effort needs to be concentrated.

 

Flexible contracting concessions – At least at the lowest level of cloud (IaaS), most of the cloud services will be sold on “take it or leave it” configuration. Although the service provider will be unwilling to reconfigure their offering to meet the needs of any individual client, they may be willing to trade favorable pricing or other concessions for longer-term or higher volume customer commitments.  These variables actually mean something to the service provider’s business plans.

 

Flexible Subcontracting – Although the standards are not quite there yet, the flexibility of a more incremental approach to consumption can allow for organizations to contract directly with the underlying cloud technology providers or the relationship  can be part of a larger outsourcing/service partner.  This is part of IT’s shift in focus from operations to management of relationships and services to ensure effective governance, efficient operation and rapid adaptation of a complex, extended enterprise approach. 

 

Consumption knowledge based behavior changes – Now that organizations know more about how resources are consumed, there can be a tendency to tighten the very screws that are providing the visibility and transparency. A shift from just consumption to a real value vs. costs tradeoff needs to be well understood by everyone involved. Know your costs before shifting work into the cloud and be wary of chargebacks or approaches that may stifle adoption if true value is being generated. Be aware of what portion of spend is being consumed addressing old problems and what has been diverted to innovation generating new value.

 

Back in 2009, I put out a post about measuring cloud adoption, these techniques may be applicable as well.

 

Those are a few thoughts related to cloud fallout off the top of my head. What others can you think of?

The way the future, wasn't

As technology advances, some technologies get lost along the way. So what of the future, what will be the major technology losers in the next 10 years?

Gamification and innovation

HPSW innovation.pngA while back I posted a few thoughts on gamification. Today I found this video out of HP software that talks about their approach to in-house innovation. What I found most intriguing was the integration of innovation gamification techniques.

 

The video is well worth viewing if you are thinking about an internal approach to capturing the numerous ideas that may lie dormant within your own personnel.

Making the world a bit smaller through bandwidth

earthday.jpgAnother of the trends to think about when planning for the future that I mentioned back in December was related to communications bandwidth. One of the megatrends is that distance is measured in bandwidth, not necessarily units of length anymore. NEC this month demonstrated the First Terabit/s Transmission over 10,000km tackling both sides of the distance issue. This is a significant advance over to old record.

 

This is a distance long enough to cross the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Using wavelength division multiplexing (WDM), NEC also combined four superchannels to simultaneously transmit 4 terabits/sec.

 

It appears the technology can use the current Internet infrastructure, avoiding the cost and difficulty of laying new oceanic submarine cables. Advances like this help make the world just a little bit smaller.

The exponential reduction in gene sequencing costs

genetic.pngOne of the big trends I mentioned back in December was the reduction in gene sequencing costs. Multiple companies have announced relatively low costs  genome sequencing machines for 2012.  One of these the Ion Proton™ Sequencer will be upgraded to sequence an entire human genome in less than a day for something less than $1000.

 

An IEEE Spectrum Tech Talk blog post argues that it is Moore's Law driving down the cost of DNA sequencing since it is the tiny fabrication techniques that enable the creation of the sensors as well as the data gathering.

 

Some wonder about the long-term value of genetic testing. With our ability to store massive amounts of information from the various aspects of our lives, we should be able to more effectively map drug efficacy to determine the right treatment for the individual, instead of how most people react. The “best” treatment overall, may not be the best treatment for an individual. The DNA sequence has quite a bit to do with documenting our uniqueness.

 

Since healthcare costs are rising and we’re all living longer, addressing the fact that nearly everyone will have chronic disease eventually can have a significant effect on business profitability.

Upcoming HP Mastering the Cloud event in Canada

hp_mtc_logo.jpgHP will be hosting a series of Cloud related demonstrations across Canada in January and February.

It looks like I am going to be there to help out at the events in Montreal and Toronto talking with people about cloud capabilities, HP labs and the new dimensions of business value generation that are possible when we begin to rethink the abundance of IT capabilities available to us.

 

Throughout each day, the HP team will be capturing interesting facts and trends and sending out real-time updates on Twitter. We will also be publicizing events happening in the Cloud Exhibit Zone.

TWITTER account: @HPenterpriseCA

Hashtag: #CloudCA

 

The Toronto’s event will also be featuring the HP Performance Optimized Data Center!

 

You can register here for the Canadian Master the Cloud event..

Enterprise Architecture adoption leads to agility and business efficiency

Enterprise ArchitectureI came across an interview article by Dana Gardner, president and principal analyst at Interarbor Solutions, with Jeanne Ross, Director and Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Information Systems Research

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the book Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, which she co-authored.  It’s a recommended read for Enterprise Architects.

 

In the interview Jeanne Ross shares how Enterprise Architecture and Enterprise Architects can help lead the way to successful business transformation.

 

Some key points from the interview:

 

“high performers in our sample of 102 companies, in fact, had greater architecture maturity.”

 

“there’s a cultural shift that takes place in an organization, when it commits to doing business in a new way, and that cultural shift starts with abandoning a culture of heroes and accepting a culture of discipline.”

 

“One thing you can’t get by spending more money is discipline, and architecture is very tightly related to discipline.”

 

“companies who were best at adopting architecture and implementing it effectively had cost pressures.”  Cost pressures force a company to make tough decisions.

 

“companies are struggling more than we realized with using their platforms well.”

 

A message for Architects is you need to understand how effectively are people in your company adopt the capabilities and leverage them effectively?  “the value add of the architecture is diminished by the fact that people don’t get it.”  “It requires persistent coaching.”

 

“The best architects are listening very hard to who is asking for what kind of capability. When they see real demand and real leadership around certain enterprise capabilities, they focus their attention on addressing those, in the context of what they realize will be a bigger picture over time.”

 

Companies need to ensure their enterprise architecture does not constrain them but instead enables them.  Effective Enterprise Architects can usually see the big picture even when the overall vision is not yet clear.

 

“What ends up happening instead is architects recognize key business leaders who understand the need for, reused standardization, process discipline, whatever it is.”

 

She’ll be sharing more insights at The Open Group conference in San Diego later this month.

HP Labs’ Collaborative Innovation Research Program

hplabs.jpgBetween now and January 27th, HP labs has the initial phase of the 2012 Innovation Research Program (IRP).

 

HP Labs' Innovation Research Program (IRP) is designed to create opportunities at colleges, universities and research institutes around the world for collaborative research with HP. Through an annual, open Call for Proposals (CfP), HP labs solicits the best ideas on a range of targeted research topics with the goal of establishing new research collaborations. Proposals are reviewed by HP Labs scientists and selected to receive funding awards based on their alignment with the chosen research topic and expected impact of the proposed research.

Awards made through the IRP are primarily intended to provide financial support for a graduate student to assist the Principal Investigator in conducting a collaborative research project with HP Labs. Awards provide cash support for one year, typically in the range USD $50,000 - $75,000 inclusive of overheads, renewable up to a maximum of three years at HP's discretion.

 

A list of the HP Labs’ 2011 IRP awards made last year is publically available.


These collaborative efforts don’t stop there. Educators interested in HP’s Social Innovation in Education programs should visit HP Global Social Innovation for more information.

Sensing and consumer retail

vending.pngI was catching up on my email backlog, since I was on the road all this week and a story caught my eye: New Vending Machine Can Guess Your Age. This machine behaves differently based on the perceived age of the patron, in this case providing free samples to those it thinks deserve it.

 

I am not sure how successful this will be, but it is definitely an innovative approach to capturing attention of the consumer using sensing, mobile…

 

“Called iSample, Kraft’s vending machine dispenses free samples of trial products to their target audiences. A new pudding product, for instance, is targeted to adults. The machine determines the age of a customer, who then uses a smartphone with a custom code to get the sample.”

 

Back in May I mentioned some innovations that soft drink manufacturers are using to change the interaction with their customers.

 

Personal customization and sensing enabled custom interaction are all great examples of how consumer retail is enabling a more personalized experience but using standard, quality enforcing techniques that benefit both the consumer and the provider. We should see some great examples of these innovation expanding into other industries in 2012.

Open Access to the SmartGrid – It’s here

Building the killer app for the energy SmartGrid just got a little easier.  Tendril, an energy industry software company, announced an application developer web site and an “Internet and Smart Home App Contest” to encourage developers to use the Tendril Connect Platform.   The Tendril platform enables access to a wide variety of energy components – meters, smart electric outlets, appliances and future smart devices.

 

Open accesses to the energy SmartGrid is intriguing but are we ready for it and is there enough interest from the end consumer?

 

I for one would love to have more control over the individual electrical devices in my house, know which ones are the power hogs and when certain devices go on or off.  If you’re a do-it-yourself type person you can make your own monitor with Tweet-a-Watt.  If the washer/dryer would simply let me know when it’s finished a load by a means other than a barely audible beep I would be grateful.

 

Given that Google Power Meter and now Microsoft Hohm have both discontinued their energy monitoring services I can only speculate that the idea is just a bit ahead of its time.  But, it’s a time that’s coming fast.

 

Ed Kettler, HP Fellow, has a recent blog post about the SmartGrid and concerns about vulnerabilities of energy grid components which are now exposed to communications networks that could be accessed by almost anyone.  With the realities of open API’s to the SmartGrid platforms and components the concern is real.  Ed offers some advice and also reminds us that the electrical grid is not the only grid that is getting smarter.  All of the utilities and vital infrastructure components are of equal importance and therefore require appropriate security and risk management.

Smart Grid Security - First Know Thyself

The Stuxnet virus that struck Iran's nuclear program served as a wakeup call for many utilities, but government and commercial entities of all types need to assess their vulnerabilities.

Atomic level wiring conforms to Ohm's law

klimeck-phosphorus.pngResearch from University of New South Wales and Purdue promises to extend Moore’s law for a number of years further, allowing for more densely defined devices, the smallest wires ever developed in silicon have been shown to have the same current-carrying capability as copper wires.

 

Experiments and atom-by-atom supercomputer models of the wires have found that the wires maintain low resistance despite being more than 20 times thinner than the copper wires in microprocessors. The wires are only four atoms wide, so Ohm’s Law will Survive at the Atomic Scale.

 

This kind of research is important to business since it enables the ever increasing functionality at lower prices and power levels that we have come to expect.

More opportunities for taking 3D entertainment technology into business

Recently some HP Labs personnel published a paper called Capture and Display for Live Immersive 3D Entertainment  (sorry you need to have a subscription to get to that link), but here is a poster with more details about the panoramic 3D described in the paper. This takes some of the large display work I’ve blogged about before, the Pluribus project, to a whole new level.

 

This imaging technology can create a solution enabling businesses in many industries to create unique, customized 3-D experiences for their customers.

 

3d Basketball.jpg

 

Left and right eye images captured by a Triple-wide HD 3D camera system at the NBA Summer League that was specially designed to capture the full court (normally a 5760x1080 image)

 

With advances in image object recognition , depth understanding and location as well as other real-time sensing and analysis techniques, whole new realms of possibilities exist.

Labels: 3D| Displays| HP labs| Sensors

Age vs. Experience

security lawn.pngI was catching up on my reading and came across a Baseline slide show that claimed Younger Workers Pose a Big Security Risk.

 

It reminded me a bit of some old curmudgeon shaking their fists and shouting “You kids get off of my lawn”. All the issues they mentioned like:

  • Rules are for other people
  • Their open books, since they don’t mind sharing personal information over the web

and 8 others are either applicable to all employees or all young people (through the ages) -- granted security issues abound. They have as much to do with inexperience as anything else. Even long term employees who are first going into social computing (as an example) make mistakes.

 

There is some good information here, but classifying the risk as “young workers” seems a bit short sighted. As our technology implementations shift we need to ensure that all the workers understand the implications of social computing, mobile devices, big data and other advances.  Enabling all employees to make the best decisions is an important part of governance.

Labels: Mobile| security| Youth

Game changers for cloud?

cloud factory.pngI was reading a post titled: 3 game-changers in the cloud: Get ready -- or else from InfoWorld. The three items mentioned were:

  1. Reduction in IT overhead creates a price advantage
  2. Better use of business data
  3. Expansion through new IT agility

Which all seemed to make sense for those who have not started down the cloud path, but it was not what I was expected from a post with that title. I thought it was going to be about game changers within the cloud space itself.

 

Here is what I think will be the cloud game changers (although we may not see them in 2012)?

1)      Standards – As we move into a truly interchangeable environment for the IaaS and PaaS space, cloud standards adoption will be very disruptive for those cloud players who don’t have efficient economies of scale. There are many efforts underway ranging from NIST to SNIA and the IEEE among others.
The fallout will be like the automotive market in the United States in the 20s and 30s, going from hundreds of “car manufacturers” down to a much smaller group.

2)      Low power processors – Solutions like HP’s Moonshot will have a significant impact on cloud market hardware purchases as more providers start to include an energy surcharge. Business and IT leaders and procurement specialists must expect to see energy costs isolated and included as a variable element in future cloud service contracts. This measure will be used to help differentiate pricing as IaaS becomes more commoditized.

3)      Software development tools – Most of the software that has been written to date are incapable of truly taking advantage of the parallel nature of cloud computing. This year will see many new software tools and languages that can shift the view of what’s possible to perform in a cloud environment. The industry buzzes with big data techniques but we have only seen some relatively simple implementations. The possibilities here are vast.

January 3rd 1906 first two-way transatlantic wireless telegraphy

Communications in the first decade of the last century was at its infancy. Transatlantic cables were laid as far back as 1858, but wireless communications wasn’t successful until January 1906. Naturally it used Morse code. The transmission took place between Brant Rock, Mass., and Machrihanish, Scotland. 


 

The first broadcast targeted at the public didn’t take place until December of that year. Radio stations were not formally licensed by the government until much later.

3D Chips in 2012

stacked.pngIEEE Spectrum has a feature on 2012 being the year of the 3D integrated circuit – 3-D Chips Grow up. It describes two areas of fabrication innovation that will give dramatic boosts in areas really count: performance and power consumption. They are applying 3D techniques at both the individual transistor and the integrated circuit.

 

”In 2012, the chip will start to become the cube.”

 

In May of 2011, Intel unveiled its plans for the first big move away from the planar transistor.

 

On the integrated circuit side of the problem is to shift to “stacking chips and wiring them together with interconnects that run straight down the stack, like elevator shafts in a skyscraper”.

 

This will have a profound effect, allowing greater performance and lower power. Something we’ve all been used to receiving from our hardware for decades

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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