Eric D. Brown, D.Sc.

Data Science | Entrepreneurship | ..and sometimes Photography

Tag: planning (page 2 of 3)

So you have big data…but do you have the Infrastructure to support it?

Big data is everywhere. Everyone wants to be doing big data.

There’s one big data induced problem that many aren’t talking about or acknowledging.  That problem? Infrastructure.

Where’s the infrastructure to support all the big data initiatives? Where’s the systems and storage to process and store all the data needed for all these ‘cool’ big data projects?

The CIO’s and IT groups that I talk with today struggling to find the infrastructure to support big data projects that are planned within their organization.   Many of the CIO’s I talk to have different approaches to solving this particular problem in the short term and in the long term.

While these organizations are looking to the cloud to solve their short-term problems, they are also looking for long term solutions that include cloud and managed service providers as well as internal capabilities.

The one positive about this particular problem is that vendors and partners are generally one step (or two or three steps) ahead of the issue. Thankfully, a CIO who’s in a crunch today can reach out to a partner, vendor or service provider and get help quickly and efficiently introduce infrastructure to allow big data projects to get their start.

With the right partners and technologies, CIO’s and IT groups can quickly bring the right infrastructure in place to stay in front of the many big data projects that are coming today and those projects that will come around in the future.

To help the CIO’s and IT professionals out there with understanding where the help can come from, IBM has put together a nice infographic worth sharing. I hope you enjoy.

SC_Storage_InteractiveInfo_Full_090513

The Top Trends in Storage

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Do the Hard Work Today for an Easier Tomorrow

Originally published on Its All About Recovery as Do the Hard Work Today for an Easier Tomorrow.

4172394956_653cbf4ef5_mTwo years ago, you and your team spent a great deal of time and a good deal of money on a new backup and recovery system. The system and vendor you selected hit all the check boxes in the technology selection plan, and the demos of the system were perfect. In addition to the great platform, the vendor was wonderful and the system has been working well.

Your selection project went off without a hitch, as did the implementation phase. Things are going well and, for the most part, everyone is happy with the new platform.

About six months ago (a year and a half after implementation), the organization started going through a growth phase. This growth added additional requirements for your systems and processes. New people meant new computers. New computers meant new support and storage, which meant new administrative processes and tasks.

These additional requirements were fairly easy to meet. The platform and vendor you chose easily kept up with the growth requirements, and your team has been able to keep ahead of the changes and growth.

While the organization is undergoing growing pains, you and your IT staff have been able to continue to provide top-notch service. Things look easy these days, and you’re being congratulated from all corners of the organization for the great work you and your team have done.

Then one day some systems went down. These systems were mission-critical, and everyone was screaming to have them back online as soon as possible. Unlike previous backup/recovery processes where recovery time was measured in days and weeks, your system was able to get your most critical applications and servers back up in less than three hours.

Based on the quick recovery and the months of great service from the IT staff, the CEO called a town hall meeting to deliver a well-deserved congratulatory message to the entire IT staff. Everyone’s happy with the work the team has done, and there are plenty of folks applauding the efforts of the team.

As we all know, it’s not easy for IT to be applauded. IT is usually behind the curve when it comes to growth. IT is usually struggling to do more with less. So in this case, you and your team are very proud of the work you’ve done.

But the great work you’ve done today has its foundation in the hard work your team has done for years. In fact, it goes back many years. It goes back to the preparation for the selection phase of your new system, when you and your team spent many days and weeks preparing the selection criteria and researching systems and vendors.

One area that you spent a great deal of time on was considering the future state of the organization and how you could select a system today to allow you to future-proof the organization. You and your team spent a lot of time understanding what the future requirements are for the system. Your team had to truly understand what your system should do for your organization today and what the system needs to do the next year and for years to come.

This hard work in the past has helped you prepare for today and tomorrow. Your team was able to future-proof the systems within the organization to prepare for exactly the scenario you’ve just encountered.

Easy never comes quick and easy. It takes hard work and long hours to make things look easy. Hard work and a little bit of future-proofing can go a long way to making things look easy.

How are you preparing your team and systems for the future?

Image Credit: Hard Work on Flickr

Originally published on Its All About Recovery as Do the Hard Work Today for an Easier Tomorrow.

CIO’s – will 2013 be different?

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

5099428444It’s a new year and time for review of 2012.  This coming year is an important one for anyone, but especially for IT and the CIO.

In 2012, we’ve seen many more people talking about ‘change’ and having more involvement in owning technology from non-IT pieces of the organization.

Is it time for change?  Dunno…but its worth taking the time to try to change.

According to HP’s E.G. Nadhan, It’s now or never for CIO’s to ride the wave of change,    In that post he reflects on his articles from 2012 and the fact that they’ve all highlighted the need for change.  I see some great articles that I had missed in that list.

Mr. Nadhan asks a relevant question in the first paragraph when he writes:

The New Year gives you an opportunity to identify strategic steps you can take in 2013 to create change, based upon your experience in 2012.

Most folks have probably already taken a step back and revisited 2012…but have you looked back to determine what you did right and wrong…then look for ways to truly improve things?

I’ve always been a believer in not only looking for ways to improve but also in ways to be different.  Not just ‘different’ for the sake of being different, but different from our competitors and more importantly, different from how we have ‘always done things’.

One of the problems that I’ve always noticed in the world of IT is that we are very focused on ‘sameness’. This comes partly from processes and security but also from the personalities that are drawn to IT.  Now…I’m not talking about the people within IT per se…IT is a very diverse environment.   When I mentioned ‘sameness’ I’m talking about how we ‘do’ IT operations. How we ‘do’ project management and application development. How we ‘do’ everything.

This sameness comes from the world of best practices.  It worked for them, so it must work for us….or…it has worked for us for the last 10 years, so why change it?

It’s this sameness that has led many IT groups and CIO’s to become set in their ways and inadvertently become anti-innovation.  Its this sameness that has led many in IT to become the keepers of ‘no’ as well.

Before I get too far in the weeds talking about IT being the keeper of ‘no’, lets get back on track and talk about what you are doing to change in 2013.   What are you doing to make 2013 different   What are you doing to walk away from the ‘sameness’?  Anything?

Is 2013 going to be another year of the same? Are you going to end the year with the same problems you started with? Let’s hope not.

Image Credit: Review libro fotográfico Hoffmann By Jexweber.fotos on flickr

This post sponsored by the Enterprise CIO Forum and HP.

Windows 8 Migration Tips for Small Businesses

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve seen the announcement of the release of Windows 8 from Microsoft.

For individuals purchasing a new computer you’ll most likely be forced to buy one that has Windows 8 installed.  This may cause some consternation at first with having to learn a new operating system…but after a few days, weeks or months, you’ll pick it up. If the idea of another new Windows release scares you, you’ll be able to find computers with Windows 7 installed if you look hard enough (e.g., Dell sells computers for “business” that will have Windows 7 installed).

For businesses looking to roll out new computers now (or over the next year or so), you’ll be able to continue to use Windows 7 but a migration plan to Windows 8 is most likely being discussed.

If you are on the fence about migrating to Windows 8, it might be worth taking a few minutes to review some of the sites out there focused on what Windows 8 delivers. Dell has a pretty good page titled What You Need to Know About Windows 8 that provides some basic information about the new OS.

Large organizations have most likely been planning a Windows 8 migration for quite some time now using pre-release versions of Windows 8. This allows IT professionals to test out features, functionality and think through integration and roll-0ut plans.   For most of these organizations, there’s a group of people focused on this migration plan and how they will (or won’t) roll it out over the coming months/years.

I’ve spent time in projects like this and can tell you there is quite a lot of work involved for an organization of any size to roll-out a new operating system.  Not only do new processes and procedures have to be created but documentation has to be updated, user training created and a full roll-out of new computers has to be performed.

From my experience, the decision to migrate to a new operating system (OS) is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The large organizations have the abilities, skills and people to plan out these types of migrations, but many small businesses are completely in the dark when it comes to migrating to a new OS.

Most small businesses have no capabilities to plan for a migration like this. The IT staff of most small organizations are completely understaffed or non-existent.  If an IT staff exists, they’re usually overloaded by just keeping things running on a shoe-string budget.  Rolling out a new OS is just adding to that overload.

For the small business owners and managers out there, it is still worth finding some time to look at Windows 8 and think through a migration plan.  As a way to kick-off that thought process, a few steps that you can take to better prepare for Windows 8 are provided below.

  • Get buy-in from your users – whether you have 100 users or 10 users, if they are dead-set against Windows 8 (or any OS change), you may want to spend time understanding and addressing their concerns. You can built the best OS migration plan in the world, but if your users mutiny when it rolls out, you are in trouble.
  • Test the OS –  This is time consuming and may require some outlay of capital to get a new Windows 8 computer (or computers), but it is money well spent.   Find a tech-savvy user within your company (or better yet, a few of them) and provide them with a Windows 8 computer.  Start this test slowly and allow them to keep their old machines for day-to-day work and have them slowly migrate to the new machines over a few weeks.  Have them test all your organization’s applications from a user’s standpoint.  Ask them to do everything they would normally do with the old machine and have them note any issues they find in a central document/repository.  These ‘notes’ will need to be addressed before a larger roll-out.
  • Use a “roving” computer – When buying your ‘test’ computers, buy an extra machine that can be passed around the organization to multiple people. The more people that can get their hands on a new machine with the new OS, the more change you have of dispelling any negative feelings/rumors that might exist.  Build a calendar that allows people to use the machine for a few days/weeks at a time before handing it off to another user.
  • Test the Security – One of the biggest issues for any new OS migration revolves around security. Windows 8 uses AES encryption in Windows Bitlocker Drive Encryption system, so one of the first things you’ve got to do is test out how that encryption works. Does it slow the computer down? Does it cause any issues for a user? It shouldn’t cause a problem…but you’ve got to test these types of things out.
  • Test out the Cloud – One of the big pushes for Windows 8 is the integration with the ‘cloud’.   While I’ve not physically tested out this integration, what I’ve read and seen in marketing materials is impressive.    The Cloud is here to stay so it’s worth the effort to figure out how to uses the features for day-to-day work….and how best to secure against any private information making it into any non-private cloud locations.

This might seem  like a lot of extra work for an already overloaded small business, but its work that can be done in parallel to day-to-day operations, especially if you get a few of your tech-savvy users to help test things out.

For additional tips and information about migrating to Windows 8, check out Dell’s Windows 8 Migration site for some excellent content around migrating to Windows 8 for organizations of all sizes.

This is a paid post in conjunction with IDG and Dell

Do things when you should…not when you have to

should what? By 416style on flickrAs a consultant, its my job to help my clients understand their options.  Its also my job to help them understand which of those options are best and which should be their focus over the near term (or long term).

Sometimes, I’m paid to provide strategic options and then my client decides to implement those options themselves. Other times, I provide the options and help execute those options.

I prefer those clients that hire me to develop and implement over those that just want a report on what their options are.

Why?

Because – for the most part – those clients that want me to implement the recommended strategic options are the clients that do the things that they need to do when they need to do them.

We’ve all seen organizations who hire consultants, pay a good bit of money for  ‘strategy’ and then do nothing after the strategic plan is created.  What’s worse, we’ve all seen organizations pay for that strategic plan and then wait until they ‘have’ to implement their strategic plan.

When you (or an organization) wait till you have to do something rather than doing something when you can or should, you’ve put yourself in a bad spot.

Waiting till you have to do something forces you to work from a position of weakness rather than one of strength. Doing something when you have to do it causes corners to be cut and shortcuts to be created.

Doing something when you should…or at least when you can…is a much better proposition.  Doing something when you should gives you the ability to think things through, build a good plan and execute without pressure. Doing things when you should also allows you to  get a couple of false starts under your belt and even fail once or twice…but you should have time to recover.

When i get a call from a client asking if I’m interested in working on a project that has a 3 month deadline and is ‘uber-urgent’, I always ask for background. I want to know why its ‘so urgent’.  Is it because they’ve waited to long to initiate the project and are doing it because they ‘have’ to or is it because they want to get a jump on their strategy and do things when they should?

The answer to that always guides my thinking in whether to take the work or not.  I’d rather work with the clients that do things when they should.

What about you? Are you doing the important things when you should or only when you have to?

Image Credit: should what? By 416style on flickr

Flexible tools and platforms for a changing world

146/365 square peg into a round hole By rosipaw on flickr

square peg into a round hole By rosipaw on flickr

In the IT world, we tend to take a single-minded approach to our technology platforms.   We have email systems. We have web systems. We have HR and Finance systems.

Many organizations are implementing collaboration tools and social tools in the enterprise.  But…most organizations are implementing these platforms with blinders on without long-term plans for how those tools might need to adapt for how users really want to use it.

As we’ve seen in recent days/weeks in events around the world….technology is being used for much more than that. Technology is being adapted for their situation.  They are using the tools at hand in ways that weren’t really considered when those tools were created.

Linda Tucci had a great comment on this in her recent post titled Egypt’s CIO lesson: We use IT tools in ways unintended by toolmakers. She writes:

The truth is that tools take on a life of their own once put in the hands of human beings, who, by nature, are innovative. People are hard-wired to adapt tools in ways the toolmaker never intended — sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.

Very true.

How many times have you seen a technology platform implemented within a company to find that nobody uses it…or….people use it differently than planned?  It happens often.

If you are planning a new technology implementiation, are you thinking about how your people will use that technology? Are you thinking about how that technology might be used (or not used) once implemented. Are you thinking about the culture of your organization and how the technology fits with that culture.

You know people will attempt to use a technology differently than originally planned…so are you planning for those changes to come in the future? How will your technology strategy & platforms accommodate these changes.

Something to keep in mind during your next technology assessment / technology selection project…you don’t want to build a square peg today and find that you have a round hole next year, do you?

Image Credit: square peg into a round hole By rosipaw on flickr

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