Aligning IT with the business – exposing the fundamental data center flaw
August 26, 2013
To build upon my previous post, where I shared how the big market shifts – cloud, security, big data, and mobility – are calling for a new style of IT, I’m now going to explore the fundamental data flaw that’s holding IT back. These major market shifts have accelerated everything, with IT caught up in the center of it all. But IT’s challenges don’t end with the dizzying pace of change. More enterprises are adopting BYOD policies; more applications are demanding broader, faster processing of Big Data; and the CMO is clamoring for more valuable information and analytics. The business is outpacing the data center by leaps and bounds! Here’s why: Few data centers were designed to accommodate this new speed of business. In fact, many were designed to accommodate the needs of just a single application. And in the race between business needs and data center readiness, the application has become an unintended hurdle. This makes the fundamental data center flaw quite clear. The underlying data center technologies and the way IT is set up today are not aligned with the way applications need to be built, managed and consumed. In other words, the “build a unique infrastructure-per-app” mentality is simply obsolete. If they hope to stay competitive, companies no longer have years to plan, nine months to develop version 1.0 of an application and another nine to launch v.2. They can no longer take 10 weeks to deliver a new service. This is what led to the building of over-provisioned and underutilized technology silos that waste time and money, cannot be easily repurposed for changing workloads, and devour limited resources for operations and maintenance. Times have changed, and time is no longer a luxury. Things need to happen in weeks or even days, not months or years. The ‘piece part’, ‘stitch it together’ approach is broken. It’s too slow. It’s too costly. And it doesn’t scale. These are exactly the reasons we need a new style of IT powered by infrastructure convergence. And the reasons HP Converged Infrastructure solutions are designed with the applications in mind. In this way, data centers are able to turn the application hurdles into turnstiles of flowing data; turn on a dime when needed; and stay ahead of the demands of the business. This last point is where IT will be paramount in the evolving digital age, where turning information into valuable insight will be critical. IDC forecasts a 30x per year per app increase in frequency of application updates and 50-fold growth in the digital universe from the beginning of 2010 to 20201.The HP app-centric approach is what drives simplicity and speed today, setting up the data center to become the center for innovation and the revenue engine of the enterprise going forward. All this is why the innovations across the HP Converged Infrastructure solution portfolio start with unique IP that goes deep inside all the critical components (servers, network, storage, management). It’s the secret sauce of convergence, if you will, enabling smarter hardware that can be managed in a frictionless way. It’s the basis for the fast-growing integrated system market that can address all your workloads quickly (delivered by HP with HP Converged Systems). And it’s the way to quickly and easily break down today’s IT silos so you can always be one step ahead of the business. I invite you to explore more about:
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Everywhere is Fun
August 23, 2013
I’ve discovered an interesting phenomenon since I started at Long View. After celebrating my one-year anniversary, I looked back and thought to myself how quickly those twelve months seemed to fly by. It’s probably because time really does fly when you’re having fun. And I think the more fun you have with people the better you feel you know them. I started with Long View in the Calgary office after working in some fairly corporate environments. I’m happy I found this company because it’s made a huge difference in the way I feel about and approach my work! We definitely have a distinct way of doing things and I’d never experienced so much flexibility and spirit at a place of work before. The things that created that sense in the Calgary office are just as true in Vancouver. I had always wanted to live on the West Coast and when the opportunity came up to move to Vancouver with Long View, I jumped. I’ve only been in Vancouver since June but I’ve already connected with my team and many others in the office. We do cool stuff out here that helped me get to know everyone really quickly. Most recently a huge group of us attended a minor league baseball game between the Vancouver Canadians and the Eugene Emeralds on a Sunday afternoon. It was a great opportunity to spend more time with some of the consultants and others that work out of the office. I spent more time chatting with my work friends than watching the game…and to be honest I can’t even remember who won! There’s always energy in the office on a daily basis, too. When I first started in Vancouver, someone noticed that all of the bananas in the kitchen were brown and instead of throwing them away we divided into teams and had a ‘banana bread bake off’. One of our technical guys won the bake off – he woke up early so it was freshly baked and warm still! Things like that help create a dynamic and vibrant atmosphere. Sure, we work hard, but it’s nice when you come in and it doesn’t always feel like "work".
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August 21, 2013
I started running to help me deal with the emotions I was feeling when a very close friend got very sick. If you run far enough, eventually, there’s a point where your mind lets go of everything else. It can become meditation. And that’s what it became for me. I ran a marathon, and then a second marathon. But I started to wonder, “how far can I go?” and I started to look into ultra marathons. An ultra is just that – it’s beyond any distance greater than the traditional marathon distance of 42km. I did one. Liked it. And then on August 3rd I did my second, the Canadian Death Race, which took place in the mountainous terrain around Grande Cache, AB. It was 125km - 25km longer than I've ever run before - and included very significant net elevation gain – 17,000 feet in the Rockies. I had some goals going into it and some pretty fantastic memories coming out. Turns out "how far can I go", is answered with "at least 125k", cause I made it. But it wasn't easy. The 125km distance was spread out over five checkpoints and racers were allowed 24hrs to complete it. Only 30% of racers finish on average each year and that includes the 5 - man relay teams. I knew that I had to break the race down into smaller, more manageable distances. But the weather really didn't cooperate. Just going over the first major peak we were hit with hail and a wind that I would guess was hitting 50-60mph. The rain made the descents greasy with mud and very tricky. You could hear people wiping out all through the night. I kept hoping that they’d extend the finish an hour or so because the weather was so bad, but of course they couldn't do that. I had to make my legs move and not let myself off the hook because I knew that if I did I would never make it. I kept yelling "NBD!" (which stands for NO BIG DEAL) into the night.. I’m sure people thought I was crazy but it was the mantra I had been given from Johan, a member of my support team, and it helped. Speaking of support, I definitely want to stress that the Death Race requires the commitment of a team to help you do it. The support team needs to be at each of the feed-zones, leapfrogging ahead after they supply their runner with the right food, drinks, and clothing for each leg. My team was amazing and I couldn't have done it without them. Casim, Nathania, my amazing wife Hannah, and my son had my back the whole time. They had a Long View T-shirt on a big pole so I could see them in the middle of the night. They were running down into a laundromat in town to dry my clothes and clean up the shoes I’d wear for each leg. Just seeing them helped immensely. Also all the messages of love and support from my Long View family were a tremendous source of inspiration especially at 3 am when you have hit a wall, thinking of all the people that were behind me supporting me kept me going. I did it for me, but I wanted to do it for them, too. In the end, despite the awful weather, I was able to finish in 22 hours and 23 minutes. I was 20th in my age group, which I’m really happy with. I have a demanding career that I love as Director of Cloud Services here at Long View. It’s helped me in big ways. I really don’t think I’d be as successful if I wasn't in the culture I’m in; surrounding yourself with positive, motivated friends has a significant impact. I work with people that are always doing stuff, some of it athletic, but lots of it community - based. When I see my friends out there doing different things it gets me thinking about ways I can participate or challenge myself. Those attitudes come right out of Long View’s culture. That’s a core reason why I even thought to take on the Death Race in the first place. I wanted to push myself to grow and see where my limits are. I learned a long time ago that if you have the right friends and you work in the right places, your dreams and goals can be achieved.
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Navigating IT’s new directions. Are you ready for the New Style of IT?
August 19, 2013
Is your company prepared for the new style of IT convergence? During a recent tour of the Americas, Asia and Europe, my meetings with customers were dominated by conversations about IT convergence. Data center convergence is rapidly ascending to a whole new order of importance for IT Managers and Enterprise Architects. Let’s start with a look at how some major market shifts – Cloud, Security, Big Data and Mobility – are influencing how IT needs to be built, how services are consumed and how businesses operate. As you know, the world in which we live and do business is changing. Fast. The volume of data and complexity we must manage keeps growing; and to stay competitive, businesses must respond to new opportunities – and new challenges – the likes of which our industry has never seen. The numbers are staggering. According to industry analysts IDC, “recent research shows that worldwide spending on public IT cloud services is expected to approach $100 billion in 2016.”1 This might be good for businesses seeking speed, but it also poses a big threat to IT departments. Why? Because if IT can’t deliver apps at the speed the business needs, the LoBs will simply step over them and head to the cloud. It’s not just about cloud. With the explosion of mobile applications, the rate of smartphone adoption and the ever-evolving mobile-enabled workforce, everyone’s role is being reshaped and redefined. As social business and digital commerce mature, they are vastly changing the customer experience and the sales fulfillment process and spurring innovations that touch all customers, partners and suppliers. Before long, each of these groups will become an integral part of the business feedback and workflow processes. I call that the “human experience”...and it’s poised to become mindboggling. At the center is all the long-dormant information that’s quickly becoming the new currency of business. Again, according to IDC, “The worldwide Big Data technology and services market will grow at a whopping 31.7% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) — about seven times the rate of the overall information and communication technology market.”1 As mobile devices, analytics and storage blur the boundaries of the traditional workplace, enterprise IT environments must contend with enormous volumes of data – something I call the Big Data Mountain. All this requires a new style of IT. Data center leaders need to turn on a dime, flex capacity on demand and serve up information to the right audiences in whatever device they desire. But the question remains: How do enterprises accommodate all these tectonic shifts while remaining nimble enough to compete? The new style of IT is among HP’s top priorities, and the answer can be found in HP Converged Infrastructure. In this short video, HP President & CEO Meg Whitman explores the new style of enterprise IT. View the full one-hour webcast with Meg and HP Software EVP George Kadifa at http://www.hp.com/software/webcast Converged Infrastructure is all about aligning IT to the application for any workload at any scale. Perhaps you’re thinking, “Aligning IT to the business has been talked about for years – just build an application-specific silo and voila!” Not anymore. Today, the app-per-silo mentality will only get you up the foothills. Conquering the mountains and gaining the simplicity, speed, agility and performance you need demands an approach that not only streamlines on-hand resources (servers, storage, network, management) but optimizes their use across the sum of your workloads. And everything must be dramatically simplified across the data center as a whole. (I can’t count how many times my customers have mentioned their longing for “simplicity.”) IT remains at the heart of all these shifts, and IT still propels the business. As such, the pressure on IT is huge…and growing bigger. Using ‘piece-part, bolt-on’ solutions is no longer an option. Designing technologies and solutions to “just keep up” (versus designing them for convergence and the way businesses operate) is a recipe for diminishing returns. You need to provision, plan and start climbing. Embrace the shifts and adopt a new style of IT that will power your climb. As an HP Preferred Partner and HP Converged Infrastructure Specialist, Long View can help guide your ascent.1 http://www.idc.com/prodserv/FourPillars/bigData/index.jsp Duncan Campbell is the Geo Focal Executive for Converged Infrastructure in the Enterprise Storage, Servers and Networking (ESSN) Worldwide Marketing Organization at Hewlett-Packard. He is also at the helm for Converged Infrastructure for the Small and Midmarket Business for HP’s Enterprise Business Group. Duncan’s 25+ years of enterprise and midmarket marketing experience span software, networking, services, PCs and systems as well as deep channel and regional expertise. Previous appointments include VP Marketing for Adaptive Infrastructure and VP Marketing for HP StorageWorks. He holds an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and BSc (Chemistry) from UCSD.
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Through Hell and High Water
August 2, 2013
The flood is certainly one of the worst things our area has ever experienced. Some were hit far worse than others, but all of us felt the impact as our city was ravaged by forces we didn’t see coming and couldn’t do anything about. It was disheartening to hear about friends whose lives were financially devastated, to learn there were families who would never return home and businesses that will likely take years to rebuild. The effects of the flood created a financial blow that will be felt for a long time. In truth, it was for many nothing short of a disaster. But what happened after the flood is nothing short of a triumph. I knew Calgarians and Albertans were tenacious and generous but I didn’t understand the extent to which those attributes were true until I saw them in action. Early on Monday June 24th a tweet went out asking for 600 volunteers at McMahon Stadium. By 10am there were 3,000 people in rubber boots asking, “What can we do?”. Kevin Crowe, Director of Cloud Services, relays his experience of working in a basement filled with water alongside 30 or so other people when an Enmax employee showed up looking for the homeowner. Of the 30 people in the basement, not one of them was the homeowner, and what’s even more astounding, not one of them knew the owner. That story isn’t an anomaly, I heard it over and over again. People’s homes were filled with strangers, doing hard manual labour in sewage filled basements for nothing. Outside their homes, strangers were coming by with dump trucks, Peter’s Drive-In, Tim Horton’s, port-o-potty’s, guitars, and alongside them were SAIT massage therapy students offering respite in the form of back rubs. No one was really in charge, definitely no one was being paid, and there was very little organization. Yet the results were nothing short of astounding. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t spend a day wading through sewage water for a thousand dollars, but give them the right reason and they’ll do it, with a smile on their face, for nothing. I always assumed people were motivated by the intrinsic rewards of working for something they believe in, but after watching our city spring into action in the days following the mass devastation of the flood, I am moved by the extent to which I now know that to be true. Which got me thinking about Long View. What reason have we given our employees to believe in the work we’re doing? There are many answers to that question, but here’s the one I think matters the most. Our employees can believe in the work they do for Long View, because we believe in them right back. We have a shared vision based on belief. That’s not lip service, it’s not just something that gets said and swept aside. I can tell you unequivocally that is the truth. We honestly care. It’s in our founder’s DNA, which is why it’s in Long View’s DNA. It’s why we have CLPs, it’s why we have weekend long Christmas Parties, it’s why we go above and beyond for our employees in times of need, and it’s why things like the 20-Mile March are important. In order for Long View to continue being a great place to work, we have to keep growing, we have to keep serving our clients and we have to continue getting better. It’s work that requires each and every one of us, but it’s work we can do content in the knowledge that our efforts are not for ourselves alone.
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Driving Greater Value Through Enterprise Architecture
July 31, 2013
Two of our core tenets at Long View are Competence and Value, and this is why I recently found myself representing our company at the world’s leading event on the topic of Enterprise Architecture (EA), the Gartner Summit, held in National Harbor, Maryland. Ensuring competence and delivering value in Information Technology (IT) requires that we are engaged in the conversations taking place at the leading edge of our industry. IT is often seen to be reactive, a connector or safety net for business. We link everything together; ensure its security, performance, and permanence, and then work to help businesses deliver to their goals. But the true value IT can deliver comes in much earlier than this, in the business planning. Enterprise Architecture starts with the observation that, at a base level, any modern business is a system of processes that work together to achieve goals. The larger the business, the larger and more complex the systems involved. Take something like Amazon, for example. Ordering a book online is a minor miracle of process interaction. You make a click of your mouse and a series of events occur, rippling down a long line of systems that eventually ends in you receiving whatever it is you bought. EA is the thinking that proactively optimizes the process of that purchase, and looks out for ways to safeguard it as well as optimize it in the future. At Gartner I was able to attend two jammed packed days of keynotes, tutorials, interactive workshops, and roundtables with a who’s-who of IT and EA professionals. The EA discipline is evolving and exists in a bit of a grey area, loosely defined, still often seen as just part of the infrastructure connecting business together. However, what the Gartner Summit was best able to demonstrate is a strong clarity of what Enterprise Architecture can do to proactively drive value, introducing the idea of business outcome oriented Enterprise Architecture. By bringing IT to the planning table at the earliest stage possible, businesses can avoid a common cycle where IT is playing catch up to strategy. Instead, we should be looking to help shape and define that strategy from the onset, road-mapping and setting direction, not following. This is what’s next. The business rockstars of the future are an emerging hybrid of business acumen and IT know-how, able to integrate technology with business requirements. At Long View we want to stay at the leading edge by continuing to provide this EA exposure to our people and by helping our clients recognize where EA can optimize their business.
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The IT Tipping Point: Cloudy with a chance of Big Data
July 30, 2013
Gartner (Laura McLellan, Vice President Marketing Strategies) has predicted that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on IT than the CIO. Has IT’s time passed? I have spoken to many people that have expressed concern (some overtly and some subtly) over the role of IT as companies move to adopt cloud services. For those with a vested interest in the continued success of IT this is a valid concern – cloud will be and is today disrupting the status quo. However, if you broaden your view the consumption of cloud services can be viewed as a necessity that allows IT to refocus resources on services that are directly connected to delivering the capabilities your company requires for future success. The real question is “Is IT willing to deliver the innovation required to capitalize on the opportunity?”. “Operational efficiency is now relegated to table stakes. You still need to deliver on it to stay in business but it doesn’t drive competitive advantage.” If we look at the significant projects that made our organizations more efficient (ERP, CRM, etc.) they generally standardized and improved business processes allowing the business to deliver better results. These improvements initially provided a competitive advantage but today the playing field has been leveled. Virtually all competitors are using the same (or similar) software packages to implement best practices. Operational efficiency is unlikely to provide competitive differentiation in the market and as everyone has implemented the same best practices they are good candidates to be deployed as a cloud service. To some, this validates their fears of the decline of IT but it also provides tremendous opportunity. To find the opportunity you need to ask yourself the question “If every organization has implemented the same set of best practices how can organizations differentiate themselves in a competitive market?”. Operational efficiency is now relegated to table stakes. You still need to deliver on it to stay in business but it doesn’t drive competitive advantage. The next phase will be to differentiate by making better business decisions. Decisions based on intuition or gut feel are just as often poor decisions as they are good ones. Consistently making great decisions is what is going to separate the superior organizations from the mediocre. To do this involves making informed defendable decisions based on all available data to understand what options are available, the likelihood of success with each option and the risk factors that could alter the outcome. This approach has been branded Big Data. (A name I feel does a disservice as it is not representative of all the ways organizations may use data for decision making. Big Data can be small.) “Organizations with a strong enterprise architecture team should already have researched big data technologies and stay abreast of the continued innovation. “ For IT to increase its relevance it must overcome its reputation (valid or not) of slowing down the process and making it more difficult to achieve success. Speed and agility are valued and IT must be perceived as a group that can accelerate the process and deliver results. Today, business groups outside of IT are being targeted directly by product and services vendors offering “big data” solutions. The value proposition is to deliver what existing corporate IT systems have been unable to provide. Generally, these business groups are embracing Big Data solutions to:
- Provide previously unknown insights hidden in the data
- Reduce decision latency
- Identify new products/services to monetize data assets
- The current technology does not deliver the capability required to perform the analysis or operate on the diversity of the data.
- The current technology cannot complete the analysis quick enough.
- Scaling the current technology is cost prohibitive.
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Just Doing It. Supporting Our Community at Denver’s Highland Running of the Bulls
July 26, 2013
I work in IT, it’s 9:00am, and I’m running down the street with fourteen of my co-workers, trying to escape a large group of roller derby women that are trying to whack us with whiffle bats. And I paid to do it. Ok, let me back this up. You’re going to need a bit of history. I know that out there, beyond our walls and our field, there exists a certain stereotype of what IT is like, culturally. But the great thing about Long View is that while we can certainly admit to some qualities inherent in being IT professionals, we’re definitely not that easy to pin down. We’ve taken a very deliberate approach to fostering and building a community of fun within our offices. My 9:00am roller-derby-whiffle-bat-story a case in point. Recently we put together a Community Relations Committee to discuss and communicate out the things we found many of us were already doing in our communities. We kicked off the formation of the committee with our first event on July 13, the Denver Highland Running of the Bulls. 2013 was the third annual occurrence of this unique event. Inspired by the running of the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, the Highland Running of the Bulls is a fundraiser that raises money for Denver’s Tennyson Center for Children, an organization whose aim is to help children and their families overcome abuse and neglect. In Pamplona, participants in the event dress all in white with red accents. And then bulls chase them. In Denver, we also dressed all in white with red accents. Only we were chased by members of the Rocky Mountain Rollergirls team. With whiffle bats. So we had to run pretty fast. The course is only a kilometer long, which is less than a mile, but it’s long enough! About 300 people donated funds to help this year and there were 15 of us from the Long View Denver office taking part. We met up beforehand in our whites and reds and we all lined up together, thinking we’d stay close. That didn’t last long - once they set us loose, it was every man or woman for themselves. I’m not sure what’s scarier, being chased by the bulls of Spain or by the roller girls of Denver. The run finishes off in a street that’s lined with patios, many of which were local businesses that sponsored the fundraiser. They were all filled with cheering people as we came running into the final stretch. It was definitely a lot of fun and a rewarding feeling knowing that all of it was supporting kids in our community. This was just the start of things in our Denver office. What’s next for the Community Relations Committee? You’ll just have to check back here to find out. In closing, this might seem like it goes without saying, but for me, one of the best things about working at Long View is the people I work with. It takes all types to do what we do, and to have found so many individuals that possess the same sort of spirit is a pretty cool thing.
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3 Tips every IT staff should consider as they move to Converged Infrastructure
July 23, 2013
We know that there are major IT shifts every 10-15 years and we have all seemed to successfully survive at least one or more of the recent trends: mainframe, client server computing, and the birth of the internet. The next wave of changes rapidly approaching is all about cloud, mobility and big data. Today many of you are evaluating products and solutions that promise IT convergence to help you handle this wave of change. Another critical factor to evaluate is the actual skillset of the IT staff. Explore this topic with Helen Tang, HP Converged Infrastructure Solutions, and Patrick Eitenbichler, HP Expert One, as they discuss the impact this New Style of IT will have on people and skills. Listen to the 3 tips on how your IT staff can plan for new skills in IT convergence and Cloud to handle the challenges mobility, big data, and Cloud may present. Long View has two client engagements for addressing these market changes; the Maturity Model Assessment and the Envision Workshop. Click here to read more. Expert One Certifications can help you succeed in the New Style of IT. Learn more now.
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An Extraordinary Time
July 17, 2013
It goes without saying that the floods that struck southern Alberta just two weeks ago created a lot of difficulty and hardship for people living in the impacted areas. Our Calgary office was closed when the power grid for the downtown area went down. And we were shut out for almost the entire week afterwards as the City of Calgary worked to restore power. That week will be remembered by all of us for a long time. I was truly proud to be a Calgarian and felt both inspired and moved by the extraordinary lengths Long View employees, as well as friends and family, went to in order to help others recover. Our response in Calgary had three equal, and just as important, parts to it. The first was to look after our staff, some of who were displaced. The second was to ensure our clients were up and running. And the third was to see how we could help in our communities. The Thursday before the flooding, we were closely watching the changing weather forecast. That afternoon, we told employees in the Calgary office they could head home early because reports of the flooding were coming in. The next morning, when we all saw the images of our city under water, we assembled a team to help coordinate our efforts to this unique situation. Twenty-one Long View employees were forced from their homes. We quickly set up an intranet discussion board that Calgary staff could access remotely. People offered up things like carpooling, babysitting and housing. When the power came back on and we were able to get into our building, we quickly realized that our staff might have a hard time getting into the downtown core. So we arranged a Long View bus from the south part of the city to get them to and from our office. Meanwhile, as we were looking out for our team, we were also doing everything we could for our clients. Members of our Managed Services team worked around the clock to make sure all impacted systems were safely powered down, and then powered back on once we had services. A lot of Long View customers were also forced out of their offices due to the flooding and were working remotely, so our consultants with expertise in remote access systems like Citrix were kept pretty busy keeping everyone connected. I’m happy to say we didn’t miss a step, and noticed that more than one client decided to make the switch to our Cloud and OnDemand technology. Above and beyond our desire to help our own staff and customers, was our desire to help impacted communities. Once we had home base secure, we gave Long View employees carte blanche to get out into affected areas to help with clean up and restoration. We had people rolling up their sleeves and cleaning out basements in Bowness, Mission, Roxboro, and all along Elbow Drive. I’m hoping that we don’t ever see anything like that again. But seeing how the Long View family came together to help each other, our clients and our communities, was something I will never forget.
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