As I mentioned last week I presented on the importance of understanding Attention in business to the New Horizons Forum , part of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) conference. I put the Attention Scarcity in a Connected World presentation out in slideshare, if anyone is interested.
The nice thing about going to a conference outside your normal area of concentration is that it allows you to look at things differently. One thing that caught me a bit by surprise at the conference was the degree of overlap with the concepts presented in the New Horizons’ keynote titled "Big Bets in USAF Research and Development" by Maj General William Neil McCasland, Commander, Air Force Research.
Much of his presentation was about the impact autonomous and semi-autonomous systems were having on the military and the shifts that need to take place in both the implementation, validation and testing of these systems, as well as the processes that surround them. Granted he was coming at the problem from a different perspective and was focused much more on the automation side than the interaction between the humans and automation, but he touched on many of the same points as my brief presentation.
These overlaps drove home the “perfect storm” that is taking place in automation, regardless of the industry. Many people realize that the tools are out there and have different perspective of what the tools can do. These differences are actually what innovators need to look out for, since in many cases they can complement an approach. Even when they are not complimentary, the lessons learned may still be applicable.
The panel I was part of at the conference was moderated by Rupak Biswas, NASA Advanced Supercomputing division chief. After our panel, we had a long discussion about the shifting role and capabilities of automation, behavior modification and the role of IT organizations within organizations.
One of the areas we discussed was the use and deployment of gamification within an organization, specifically related to knowledge management and sharing of expertise. Although the IT organization definitely needs to be involved in the integration of information and its flow related to knowledge management and collaboration tools, the business side needs to be responsible for the goals, metrics, rewards and behavior changes that are required. They are the ones who will judge success of the project.
Collaboration between these two groups will be required, since neither can accomplish the task effectively on their own. This may seem obvious, but since some organizations view the IT team as a more cost conscious, support organization and that core business process tasks need to be funded and attacked separately from the IT efforts, this isolationist view may be a luxury that is too expensive to maintain.
In Texas, the role of a engineer is actually licensed – by law. The testing is now extending to software engineering as well. This means the legal use of terms like “engineer” and “engineered” are protected.
The new NCEES Software Engineering PE exam is ready and will be offered for the first time in April 2013. Everyone practicing software engineering in Texas is encouraged to register for the exam.
There has always been some concern about the cavalier way the term engineer is used – especially in the area of software. In many parts of the world, the boarders for these terms are more clear cut than in others. Having clear definitions should have a wide impact, especially in this world of XaaS and high job turnover.
I had a few minutes to kill and thought “Is there anything I should blog about?” Then suddenly I realized I walked through one of the HP compute pods yesterday and didn’t even mention it on here.
The concept of compute pods have been around for a while, but for HP they are definitely entering the mainstream. Performance optimized data centers (PODS) have some real benefits when compared to having to build a new bricks and mortar data center. It sounds like they have quite a few under construction at any one time and they're cranking them out on a regular basis to locations all over the world.
There are a number of different sizes of containerized data centers as well as a nearly infinite number of configurations. I walked through the smallest and most modern variation. They pulled it into the parking lot where it was hooked up to an external generator. I am not sure what they did for the network connection.
PODs have a few major advantages:
1. Rapid optimized growth - New data center space that can be up and running in a fraction of the time of traditional data center build-outs
- The HP POD can ship in as little as 6 weeks
- Factory Express provides services for complete rack integration, testing and installation in the POD
- The HP POD can ship directly to a customer site already fully loaded with integrated and tested racks
- Add PODs as you need additional data center capacity saving up-front capital expenditures
- Rapid deployment and commissioning at the customer site.
2. High density - The HP POD is optimized to efficiently support high density IT deployments
- Provides 700kW per sq ft power capacity
- Delivers the equivalent of 5,000 sq ft of data center space in a 40ft/12m HP POD
- Average 27kW per 50U rack (max rack capacity 34kW)
- Designed to support up to five c7000 Blade Enclosures per rack
3. Flexible design - The flexible HP POD design supports a variety of different applications
- Available in 20ft/6m and 40ft/12m sizes
- Industry standard racks support HP and other brands of IT designed for front-to-back airflow
- Dual path power busway design allows for either redundant or non-redundant configurations
- Wide variety of options to allow customers to customize features
- Weatherized design allows for installation either outside or inside a shelter
4. Energy efficiency - HP POD is designed for state of the art data center energy efficiency
- Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) ratio as low as 1.25
- Allows for warmer cold aisle temperatures due to closely-coupled cooling design
- No ducting or under floor routing required for cold air circulation
- Optimized for high efficiency delivering 3-phase power through the HP POD and 240V within racks
Two of the other HP fellows contributed to an article about Technology Strategies Every Enterprise Needs. In it they focus on:
- On-line testing
- Master Data Management
- Cloud Computing Security
When I think of these three areas, I am surprised at how these are overlooked and what new opportunities are available that are not discussed. In the testing space, most organizations have a fully occupied testing organization and may not realize the extent of testing that needs to occur when moving to the cloud. Even if it is just a move to an IaaS service, performance and functionality testing is required, let alone if they want to actually take advantage of the clouds parallel processing capabilities to perform functions more quickly. Many times the in-house organization will need to supplement their testing capabilities during the transition period. These extra resources allow for higher quality testing and can help with understanding of the new environment as well.
The MDM space has always been an issue organizations need to address. Having systems of record and ensuring consistency between systems takes unnecessary confusion out of the organization – at a minimum. If an enterprise is moving to higher level of cloud capabilities like Software as a Service or even BPO, this linkage need can be easily overlooked in the planning process. Having live links with external systems will be difficult to maintain, but that is a price to pay for access to the SaaS Intellectual Property. If it doesn’t look like you can maintain the links, you’ll likely need to rethink your strategy – eventually. This kind of Enterprise Architecture activity is more important in the cloud than ever.
Cloud security is the one area that really worries organizations. In many cases it is because they have relied on the physical structures of the compute center to provide a (false) feeling of security. Although this is an important issue to everyone, some industries have their own set of rules and regulations (e.g., Hipaa, PCI) . Understanding those rules and what they are trying to address will strengthen everyone’s security understanding. Security thoughts need to be expanded to disaster recovery and business continuity as well. Just because a cloud provider has 99.99% availability within their data center, it doesn’t mean your service has that level of availability end-to-end.
The one area that I don’t think is getting adequate coverage in the cloud area is the user interface consistency needs. We can’t expect to put a hodgepodge of in-house and vendor provided interfaces in front of the user community and expect high productivity. There are cases when it can happen and the cost of consistency may be too high, but I rarely hear organizations plan for it as an issue.
Although cloud activities may have a great deal of similarities to the current IT environment, numerous active decisions will need to be made, don't expect a passive approach to cut it.