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

A services framework for a one-stop experience

The core capabilities of IT organizations for the future definitely require the ability to manage 3rd parties effectively as well as the ability to deploy services seamlessly and securely. Tools and techniques are needed to enable this more dynamic environment.


For many organizations the Lines of Business have become frustrated with their ability to get what they need quickly and took matters into their own hands building up a layer of shadow IT (shadow IT can become a significant portion of the IT spend).


I try not to post too much on HP specific tools, except when it seems they are not getting the visibility they need – it was talked about back in December, but now it’s real.


HP Propel free catalog service is focused on helping deliver IT services. It was released today. Propel was announced on December 3rd 2013 and presented at HP Discover in Barcelona and in the web event on January 8 of this year.


HP Propel is the new services framework that delivers a modern portal, a service catalog, knowledge management, news feeds, and an open service exchange. It provides a unified experience to enterprise users, facilitating self-service support with aggregated catalog strategy and friendly request handling through integrated fulfilment engines. HP offers Propel as a free and as a premium service.

The key features of HP Propel free include:

  • Single portal as the one-stop shop for all IT services, from the latest IT news, shopping from a standard service catalog, or searching for the latest knowledge articles curated by HP.  Accessible from the web or mobile device, Propel is available in English, French and German.
  • Standard catalog with 100 of the most common IT services, fulfilled through email requests to IT’s existing back-end fulfillment engines.
  • Knowledge base with immediate access to 500 knowledge articles from HP IT, applicable to any user and IT organization.
  • IT News to keep end users informed and up-to-date. You can load your own RSS feeds to share your latest IT service information with web and mobile users.


Key benefits for customers using HP Propel free:

  • Quick startup of the Propel free service.
  • No upfront investment and operations.
  • Accelerated time-to-value in delivering your IT services, while continuing to use all existing service management products, for example HP or third party products.

Customers who wish to move to a more robust, premium service can design their own customized solution.


Take a look at the capabilities yourself, just register for Propel free.


Big Data news at HP Discover – HAVEn and a little Neutron

A range of big data solutions is being announced today at HP Discover. At the core of these was HAVEn, a set of services and products supporting the use of Hadoop, Autonomy, Vertica, Enterprise security, n of solutions (I guess that stands for the power of solutions).


The approach should address the common needs of organization today:


big data at discover.jpg


Supporting a range of consumption models:

- Operate yourself

  • HP Vertica Community Editiondelivering full power of the HP Vertica Analytics Platform – available at no cost up to 1 TB of data – with enhanced self-service support capabilities and an enhanced portal for better interaction.
  • The new Autonomy Legacy Data Cleanup solution is designed to address the cost, compliance, and control challenges confronted by organizations struggling to manage increasing volumes of legacy information.  Powered by Autonomy ControlPoint 4.0, this solution helps organizations gain access to, understand and classify, and defensibly dispose of outdated and unnecessary legacy information.
  • HP Operations Analytics providing transparency and insight into the complete IT environment via a platform to collect and manage operational big data from a variety of HP and 3rd party sources. It combines powerful search, guided troubleshooting and visual analytics to provide actionable intelligence to resolve ANY issue and a management cockpit

- Consume as a service

  • HP Actionable Analytics Services helping organizations unlock the information that’s hidden in their business data through direct delivery of analytics projects and consulting that develops and enhances in-house analytical capabilities. This services deliver optimization services for: Online Offers, Field Force, Procurement, and Inventory.

- Professional Services

  • HP Big Data Architecture Strategy Services helps customers develop an integrated IT strategy for the capture, consolidation and management of Big Data, includes:  HP’s Big Data Infrastructure Transformation Experience Workshop.
  • HP Big Data System Infrastructure Services New HP services that help organizations navigate the complexities of Hadoop design and implementation by providing customers with a detailed plan that considers deployment goals and supports growth, including. Services include: HP Enterprise Design for Hadoop, HP Reference Architecture Implementation for Hadoop and HP Implementation Service for Hadoop.
  • HP Big Data Protection Services helping organizations identify potential issues and achieve compliance with government and industry data security requirements. Services include: HP Big Data Protection and Compliance Analysis.

In addition to HAVEn, there is also project Neutron, a big data analytics solution for IT operations teams to analyze the volume and variety of IT data to predict, prevent and respond to application and infrastructure issues, preventing costly downtime, but I didn’t have much info on that. If you poke around the HP Discover Site later today you’ll find it.

Big Data - the opportunity for better decision making.

unlimited data.pngThis week I had the opportunity to attend one of Leon Kappelman’s classes at the University of North Texas to participate in interactions with students about their senior project/presentation. The teams of students were covering a number of topics like BYOD, Cloud adoption, Biometric based security… All topics where I felt fairly comfortable.


One presentation was focused on Data Management in the Age of Big Data and they had one concept well understood that many analysts miss.


The opportunity for better decision making.


Too often IT folks focus on the data and not the context the data describes and what actions need to be taken.


The team focused on 5 key issues. The lack of:

  1. Data Governance
  2. Data Quality standards and management
  3. Data Architecture and Security
  4. Operations support
  5. Business buy-in

We had quite a discussion about the business buy-in issue, since we needed them to explain why it would get this far without buy-in but they explained that the issue orbited around business culture and the implications advanced analytic techniques would have on the culture.


I was happy to see these students internalized these concepts, and hope the organizations they move into after graduation are ready for their perspective.

Does management in services differ from management for product?

business choice.pngThis week I was talking with some of the leaders at the SMU business school curriculum advisory group for Information Technology and Operations Management. During the meeting, we had a discussion about the differences between service organizations and product companies in the areas of governance, finance and HR. Sometimes these differences can be jarring for someone (or whole companies) moving from a product market to the services market or vice versa.


Services have definitely become the largest part of the GDP for many countries.


One of the most obvious differences has to do with personnel. For a product organization, people can be considered overhead and a resource that needs to be minimized. For many types of service organization, what is actually being sold is access to people and process. If you have no people, you have nothing to sell. Having a bench is what gives the organization the flexibility to grow. With the increase in analytics, more of these knowledge worker roles may be automated, but that just focuses the individuals on higher value activities.


The governance in the services space is also quite different. For IT roles as an example, there are industry processes and methodologies like ITIL or CMMi that the industry accepted as a constituent, best practice to produce work products enabling business leadership to make better and more consistent decisions.


SMU is defining an IT management certification executive education program to strengthen the understanding of leaders concerning best practices. Since IT is only a small part of the leadership within most organizations, this kind of external program seemed to be a good idea to focus on the skills an IT leader needs. I tried to get them to make it an on-line course, but that is not likely to happen, at least at this point.

Solid state storage and our future

solidstate.pngFlash memory was once viewed as special tool to improve performance or allow for easy transportation of information (e.g., thumb drive – I can’t recall the last time I gave someone a CD, let alone a floppy drive). Now flash memory devices are a standard component of any storage performance strategy.


As the Solid State Drive (SSD) came on the scene, it was used as a plug replacement for spinning media hard drives, providing better performance, but the characteristics of an SSD are actually quite different. The storage industry has only now started to design storage systems that take advantage of the differences in flash memory.


The Flash Translation Layer (FTL) translates the typical hard drive block-device commands and structure into comparable operations in flash memory. FTL is really a compromise for compatibility, since there is no need for the block and sector structure in flash. Additionally, the SSD controllers must perform a number of additional functions such as garbage collection, write amplification, wear leveling, and error correction, since the writeable life span of each storage cell of flash is limited (although there is discussion of a cure to this long-time flash illness). We’re going to see more applications that skip the need for FTL and take direct advantage of flash’s direct memory access capabilities.


High performance software capabilities such as databases currently circumvent the Operating System file system to attain optimal performance. Modern file systems such as Write Anywhere File Layout (WAFL), ZFS (which used to stand for the Zettabyte File System), and B-tree file system (Btrfs)are designed to take advantage of the various storage medias capabilities. The resulting systems were more efficient and easier to manage.


Storage system performance was a concern when operations were measured in milliseconds. It matters more on flash devices, whose operations are measured in microseconds. Future technologies like Memristor that will be even faster demand and optimized approach to long term storage and access of information. Compromises for convenience will exist but the penalties in performance will be high, impacting the application portfolio of organizations.

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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.