Don’t tell me “It depends”! But it does!


Ah yes, the consultant’s answer. If you’ve been in working long enough you will have had it happen to you that opening an answer with “It depends” gets you an angry look, eyes being rolled in frustration and a short tempered “don’t give me that consultant crap” sneer. The injustice. First of all I’m not to blame for people hiring lousy “consultants” that hide their lack of skills behind that phrase. Sure you might have been conditioned into thinking it’s code for “I have no clue but I’ll bill you by the hour anyway” but that’s not my problem. Secondly I’m most probably not consulting for those people. There’s no point being a consigliere if they don’t want to listen, let alone if they won’t spend the time needed to explain their needs so I can listen. Most probably they can’t distinguish between valuable advice and expensive advice anyway. People who can’t see the difference are not observing very well as the distinction is crystal clear.

I’m always a bit disappointed when it happens. You’ll have to grow up an live with the fact that a lot of things are a bit more complex. If you don’t have the time to explain yourself or the intention to listen to someone you have asked to provide the best possible answer you have two options:

1. Do whatever you want to do (you have already decided)

2. Ask me to decide for you. In the absence of a clear cut answer I’ll just flip a coin for you and call it. As least that’s cheap and efficient.

When I tell you “it depends” I will gather as much information from you as I can.  I will also explain my answers and go into (great) detail as to the why, where, what and when of this. This can take some time and it can/will require effort due to complexities. It’s not code for “I don’t know” of “go away”. In my experience people who hate the “It depends” answer are the ones who don’t really want it. They quit at that opening sentence. Do engage and you might get the best possible advise from it in regards to your particular situation. With that in hand you can investigate further and work to the best possible solution for your needs in your environment.

Got it? Good.

Predictions for 2015? You asked, we deliver but only if you have sense of humor!


I got quite a few requests to share some mind musing on trends and deliver some predictions for 2015.  You’d think Warren Buffet would make more sense as the person to ask but what do I know.

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Luckily Andreas offered me his second hand palantir for sale …

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So now, together with my splendid sense of humor we have what we need for a blog post so here we go:

The big 4 resources & cloud

Memory

Ever more (and bit faster) at a steady but slow pace but with latency dips as a bummer. As long as the other resources don’t push it forward this will continue. And this is starting to happen. They need to kick into action with more capacity and way higher speeds, lower latencies and less power consumption or they’ll become the bottle neck in a few years time. So that’s a an easy roadmap for the industry, so make it happen and don’t bother me with those pesky technical details (sorry, management training kicked in).

Networking

TCP/IP & Ethernet … the old breed … well they’re going strong and brave. 10Gbps, 40Gbps, 100Gbps … Look, generally speaking, if you renew you data center networking today (as you think public cloud can’t handle it all yet) and 10Gbps is not a major or even the default player I don’t know what to tell you anymore. Love what Mellanox has done so far. Some issues with the quality of other vendors worry me some times.

FC … it will be around. Just a even less dominant. FCoE? I see very little of it in the wild. iSCSI yes, even lossless iSCSI (DCB). NFS is doing well, SMB3 keeps growing (and people will make some mistakes learning the technology). Infiniband? Well the low cost is a major benefit still and if they could have 300 or 500Gbps in place before Ethernet get’s there … it will be around in the future.

Oh and iWarp wise Chelsio needs competitors that rock and drive down prices or I’ll keep doing RoCE where ever I can, even if it’s harder (DCB configs remain a learning curve).

IPv6 will keep growing  … but not as fast at it should unless something really weird happens in enterprises.

Compute

Intel will remain dominant for some years but the landscape is changing.  Bar some innovative attempts under way the fight for the PC/Server CPU is not raging anymore. Intent is nice for the prosecution or defense at a trial, not for success in the market place. 2015 is not going to be major shift in compute but it’s an interesting space to watch.

Storage

Prices will drop more and more and that will mean the SAN in combination with flash will fight on a bit longer. Some hyper converged solutions need better and easier manageability to prove them selves worthy. Also I’d love to see flash only storage, for IOPS/latency but also for power/cooling. Give me 6TB SSD for archival & backups, & fast 1TB disks for that can handle huge amounts of read/write for speed. When they get to a price point where this becomes feasible I’ll be the first in line. Basically breaking the price barrier is key here and it matters a whole more to me that the SAN/Web Scale/Hyper Converged discussion. If the new players can start addressing their weakness (i.e. stop bashing SANs for their weaknesses but learn from their strengths) they’ll move faster to a better market position. Data protection, replication, centralized ease of management etc. It took the classical SAN storage world 15 years to get to good general solutions (not great ones) and I think the web scale (I don’t like that name), hyper converged  will need some time to get their act together in those areas. They tend to focus a lot on their strengths but they have some very annoying operational weak spots in my humble opinion. I hate data silos. I want data to be able to move & flow to where I want it. Mobility is key. Either storage delivers this or the hypervisor will.

The good news is storage vendors are under pressure to deliver ever more value / $ and that’s a good thing for us customers.

Software Defined Anything

Work in progress. It’s a journey. Most software defined pundits will have to deal with the fact that reliable and predictable hardware is not to be taken for granted when you dive into layering offloads on top or with each other and into ever more layers of abstraction and functionality. Humble pie: hardware vendors delivering quality seem to do more that just wield a soldering iron Smile

Cloud

  • Public Cloud => for the win!
  • Hybrid cloud => depends on you definitions & business but it’s strong and can be very useful when done well for the right reasons.
  • Private Cloud => think very carefully if you have the scale, need and if it makes sense and really delivers value.

The Vendors

IBM will slowly but surely dump all hardware(bar some golden chicken varieties) and focus on expensive services, business consulting, overpriced refurbished job site pick up “consultant” pimping & the newer markets of the IoT. I get that, no use in trying to win the previous war.

HP will cost cut itself into oblivion a bit more in 2015. Only interesting piece of kit they have right now is moonshot and, forgive me, I don’t think it will be that hard for anyone to make a similar solution that’s better. Look at what CISCO UCS did to the server business. I do wonder in what manner the split my give us a surprise or will it be a non event?

Dell needs more visibility. I hope that while they are off many people’s radar screens they’re hard at work to surprise us in the next years. If they can remain profitable they might just become the gold standard of OEM hardware as the others have left or failed & the low end is picked up by the budget players. They do need to watch those.

Oracle? Oracle has been dead to me a decade ago. Unless you have their RDBMS & 3rd party solutions on top that are over priced & underwhelm (SAP,  …) in place and your stuck throwing money at them. You should have learned a lesson from IBM mainframe customers but you didn’t.

Google. Profitable as can be I guess. I love their search mojo but I do not trust any of their offerings. I only use it for low value and throw away use cases. They’re not trustworthy enough for me.

Apple. Overpriced, under delivering hardware. A tax on stupid people with a magnificent glossy wrapper. But they have a truckload of cash and they might wake up and pull the IoT thingy with IBM off in the enterprise.

Amazon. Top notch cloud shop and that’s the problem. Can they sustain the war of attrition with Microsoft or Google? I’m afraid they won’t be able to.

On the whole 2015 will be another step in ever less vendors taking ever more pieces of the cake. Bad for competition, innovation & the customer in the end. The IT world is looking more and more like the energy market. Nobody but the money men like ‘m, but we can’t live without them. Just like telcos.

“They barely make a profit” you say? If so they’re either incompetent or they are so in love with hoarding ever more money that they confuse that with their main business, supplying a commodity service. So let’s hope the cloud doesn’t end up there, but I’m not betting on it.

Just like with telcos the barrier to entry is too big for meaning full competition, bar some superb initiatives like

B4RN Logo Logo

Even a large telco cannot compete in cloud offerings on a serious level. Look at this gem to proof this.

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Microsoft. Well there in an ever lasting fight for survival today and for their future as all companies are. Nadella is wicked smart and seems to have a positive effect and a clue. Let’s hope that continues. With some smarter licensing and some honey they could grab more of the competitors market and make up for it in volumes, but if they don’t have to they won’t, after all they’re in business to make money.

Businesses & Organizations

What will most organizations do in 2015? Some will thrive, a lot will be stagnant and try to maintain status quo or at least keep up appearances. Some will dig deeper and deeper down the hole they’re already in.

The good

Switched on companies figured out long ago it not of matter of what to use. It’s where and why. You can use everything available on the marketed form commodity to custom designed as long as you use it where it makes a difference. Use what you need for the job at hand. Not all jobs and situations require the same tools or methods. That’s why the arsenal of known (commodity) and secret (innovative) tools is so diverse & big. The “secret” sauce is having a clue. Those are the business where you can work, have fun, learn and grow.

The bad

A lot don’t have a clue. So lacking the secret sauce they buy what’s on the shelf labeled “great & proven track record”. Meaning they’ll cut costs more than anything else. This one is very popular. It’s easy and measurable. Especially if you don’t look at the holistic result and are very careful to only measure what constitutes savings and smooth talk runaway costs as a more mature, complete & professional solution where under deliverance is a “growing pain’.

The ugly

We’ll see people copy game books from the last wars & hope to build for the future while destroying it. Inertia will do it’s corrosive work, destroying capital, time & motivation driving them into a downward spiral of ever more costs for ever less return as the usual suspects blame culture & disengaged employees.

Some will even manage to show up with a dreadnought in a modern conflict  because literature states that outgunning the opponents battle ships is key in winning battles. Never mind it’s an air battle, as long as it ITIL compliant, there’s a service catalog & CMDB. It all reminds me of children playing “war”. Whilst I realize that keeping you inner child alive is important, this is not what they mean by that.

Final note

I think this blog post just graduated me as a IT journalist of some kid Winking smile

Dilbert Life Series: Mediocrity Kills aka Show Me Your Strategy Or Be Doomed


Disclaimer: The Dilbert® Life series is a string of post on corporate culture from hell and dysfunctional organizations running wild. This can be quite shocking and sobering. A sense of humor will help when reading this. If you need to live in a sugar coated world were all is well and bliss and think all you do is close to godliness, stop reading right now and forget about the blog entries. It’s going to be dark. Pitch black at times actually, with a twist of humor, if you can laugh at yourself.

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity trust upon them.”
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

I don’t do mediocre. There, I said it. I only do good to great. Well sort of Smile.  The point is that no matter how good you are, you still mess up. While perfection is not of this world it doesn’t look too great on my résumé when I have to write “As a real team player I collaborated enthusiastically to achieve mediocrity”. Sure I might cover it up with fluff like “I integrated the lateral dynamics of horizontally deployed technologies across a vertically integrated stack to realize an optimal use of resources exposing their inherent value to the business while leveraging the synergies of the cloud”, but I won’t. image

As no one likes to be mediocre we sometimes see creative attempts to make sure we all pass the bar but we won’t discuss that here. Whilst every organization will have its share of mediocre processes, way too many are mediocre as an entire organization.

Indicators of mediocrity

Claiming to be innovative

Avoiding mediocrity is not about being original or “innovative” all of the time. Quite the opposite! Sometimes not being mediocre means using plain good commodity solutions that are great for the issue at hand. The good old 80/20 rule, “good enough is good enough” & commoditization delivers the best value for money here. Don’t spend vast amounts of money and time on custom or “boutique” solutions when a commodity will do. This has secondary benefits as well. That time and money can be used for some custom or creative design & work on the things that do matter a lot and make a big difference.

Groups providing false security

For some reasons mediocrity tends to flourish more often in groups and committees. I see this way too much. This danger of sliding into mediocrity exists as an individual but it seems to become more prevalent in a group or organization. Some of my peers call the “this the race to the bottom”:

”Mediocre people working for mediocre organizations delivering mediocre results”

Nobody wants to be that way, it just turns out like that. It has many reasons. The Peter Principle, The Dilbert Principle, B People hiring B people, human behavior in an environment where it’s wiser to conform & play politics than to get results etc. Don’t underestimate the group pressure to conform, avoid mistakes, be a team player or a “can do” person. And then there is the desire to avoid responsibility. Which also happens to be easier in group. The bigger the group in a meeting the bigger the risk of this, a group enforces indecisiveness & caters to fears.

Some organizations tolerate and even reward mediocrity. Management lead by example, whether they like it or not. The effects of this can be partially hidden and mitigated by real leadership in the group (competent employees, highly skilled external help), but it cannot be stopped. If management doesn’t care, they can’t expect others to care. If managers talks about team work & going the extra miles but don’t do so themselves, things break. If the need for safety, fear for failure or not looking good is what drives them you won’t progress & see success. Success cannot be bought and you can’t lead from behind.

Mediocre groups can be manipulated quite easily. “Politicians” like this. It’s like water following the path of least resistance. By leveraging the group you make them accomplices and they can’t complain about decisions made over their heads. Some (most) probably know all to well that they are being manipulated, but why struggle if there is no benefit in it? It safer to conform a when risk aversion sets in, great ideas die. Here’s a beautiful summary (thanks to Kathy Sierra):

Riskaversion2

Avoiding reality is game we all play to some extent. The abuse of best practices, methodologies and such by clinging to time like a life craft or actually thinking that following the bullet points will magically result in stellar results. This leads to needing ever more resources for ever diminishing returns on investment. The organization becomes an overly complex entity where avoiding responsibility is a top priority and perception is everything. ITIL done wrong will achieve exactly that. It drains the all the fun out of work, and grinds progress to a halt. But no one is to blame as all rules where adhered to. Risk Avoidance As a Service (RAAS™).

Personal note: The power of a group lies in the excellence of the individuals and their ideas. Harvesting those to create the best possible solution is far from conformity to different points of view. It’s about leveraging the discussions, the different or opposite points of view to come to better solutions. In this respect I find the view that “people should learn to do what they’re told” misguided, dangerous & counter productive.

Who’s managing and who’s leading, if anyone?

It doesn’t take very long to walk into a group and observe who the real leaders are. Often these are not the people with the rank, title, mandate. In a lot of cases they are very different persons. This might sound great as a fail safe, but there’s only so many wrongs bottom up approaches can prevent or mitigate, let alone solve. “Bottom up” can only do so much.

This isn’t surprising as middle management is used a dumping ground for people they can do without in critical functions and are willing to sell their souls for the illusion of advancement. They often become a burden to employees & progress.

Now employees do notice this and it ruins trust. Sure you can blame the culture and bad attitude but hey when the team or the organization fails it is their fault and their responsibility. No this is not to harsh. They are all to eager to claim higher wages & ownership of success. Well that knife has two edges and you can’t blame it on the culture. You get the culture you cultivate Smile. Those that can’t handle that responsibility are the ones to fail as managers & most certainly as leaders. You cannot complain to your subordinates as a managers. Shit flows down, gripes flow up. Go it?

Read The Dilbert Life Series – A Bad Manager’s Priorities. Your personnel already has enough crap to deal with, just like you. Don’t add to it. Not that employees can’t be total fools and pains in the proverbial behind but hey, I have posts on that to.

Strategies, Tactics & Execution

Mediocrity is seen where real strategies, tactics & execution are missing. They just do or buy stuff, often without any understanding of the ecosystems they operate in and the relations between them. Their situational awareness is zero and that’s deadly. So we have “managers”, “architects”, “analysts”, both in house and consultants, that cannot even explain what a strategy is. They might claim or believe to have one, but they don’t. It’s opportunistic actions towards the flavor of the day. Such an organization is doomed for mediocrity and survival is by chance, not skill.

Who’s to blame?

Most people just try to survive or perhaps get ahead to a nicer job and/or a better paid one. But no one will admit to it on a performance review, so we have institutionalized lying. At best you’ll get justifications when you ask, but no real explanations. It’s not just as simple as managers being stupid or lazy. When it comes to strategy many are playing a game they don’t understand, let alone master. They are out of their depth and as such they are bound to lose. They’re being used.

However it’s very in vogue to blame the lack of Business – IT alignment for the woes in these volatile IT times. The problem is not IT or the business. It is the entire organization that allows for mediocrity. Sure you read that “IT is an old school ivory tower” all over the internet and it has to prove it’s value.  It’s pure management failure who don’t seem to know who does what and why in their organization. The division is purely artificial. It’s man made and kept alive as it serves political, personal & careerist agenda’s. Book authors, coaches & business consultant smile as they collect their fees discussing this at length. Welcome to mediocrity and failure. You have exactly what you have built.

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Nobody has any incentive to fix it either. There is good money to be made and job security to be had by prolonging the problem on both sides. Are these people to blame if some one keeps paying them for that? These woes are true both in the private and in the public sector. Bar some minor detail differences in buzz words they all get handled by the same players. These are the ones that deliver the lobbyists and advisers that turn out ever less services for ever higher costs. They sell “solutions”. One size fits all if possible. Gartner makes a killing from this situation and they do have a clear strategy for that.

No IT strategy? No map? You’re doomed, indecisiveness will kill you.

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If you don’t map out your game on the field you play on you can have no strategy. Without that you just do stuff. At best it’s functional (which is an achievement by the way) but often not. Planning, methods, tools … al of these fall victim to indecisiveness. So execution becomes impossible.

Here the result of decisiveness & purpose of action. You create green waves. When all the lights are green, you can ride the green wave. No starting, stopping, but a fluid highly effective way of moving ahead towards your target.

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You’re not always in that situation and the light will turn orange & red along the way. That’s live and it’s not too bad unless you get caught in deadlock traffic jams during rush hour.

That situation requires a solution as it’s stressing, frustrating and detrimental to achieving your goals. In extreme case the time between the colors becomes shorter and shorter and eventually drops to zero …

There is another form of deadlock. Doing everything for everyone at the same time to avoid making choices. All the lights are on, on all sides, at all times. You do not get a clear signal or guidance.

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Indecisive action kills or grinds you to a halt. Whatever the case you’re losing time and fail to reach your goals. Either by doing everything for everyone at the same time or by being stuck being in a mess. Game over.

Dilbert Life Series: The War For Talent


Disclaimer: The Dilbert® Life series is a string of post on corporate culture from hell and dysfunctional organizations running wild. This can be quite shocking and sobering. A sense of humor will help when reading this. If you need to live in a sugar coated world were all is well and bliss and think all you do is close to godliness, stop reading right now and forget about the blog entries. It’s going to be dark. Pitch black at times actually, with a twist of humor, if you can laugh at yourself.

Attracting & retaining talent

If you listen to the talking heads in the media, recruiters & companies and read business related publications you’ll have noticed that when it comes to “Human Resources” there is supposedly a global war on. A war for talent. It’s not just attracting the best and brightest employees that is a concern but retaining them is even a bigger challenge it seems. When things are not to their liking they just pack off and fly off to the next awesome job opportunity which are available in vast numbers and give freedom to excel whilst paying great salaries.

They are talking about somebody else

Keeping employees happy is supposed to be a major concern in “the talent wars”. All companies are in this war we’re told. Perhaps even if just for the fact that no company will admit they are not looking for great talented employees. All evidence to the contrary I might add as a lot of organizations do not act as if they are in a war for talent at all. Good jobs don’t seem to be available in any decent number either. It often looks more like they are in a race to the bottom.

Last year of our major news papers had front page news. “War for talent? Forget it, that doesn’t exist”. They point to high unemployment, low wage jobs, social dumping, demographics, immigration, age, sex, race, … discrimination. In short a slew of reasons to conclude the war for talent doesn’t exist. Basically it boils down to this: if companies are in a a war for talent they can’t afford to lose so they can’t afford to act like this. Ergo, there is no war for talent.

I kind of disagree. There is most definitely a war for talent and there has always been one until computers & robotics outsmart us (dream on!). But let’s face it reality, 95% of us is not considered talent at all, but a resource, so we’re not in that war. As a resource we’re as expendable as ammo in a war. As long as they can keep the supply line filled they’ll fire (pun intended) and waste those resources at will.  Basically we’re lucky if we’re smart enough and young (cheap?) enough to be considered employable. Forget the lower 20% of our unskilled workforce, for them the deal is even rougher. And when you get fired at > 50, well good luck “grandpa”. All this while the talking heads blabber on about working beyond 67 …

You want proof? Look around you. Here’s where the war for talent is raging: A Google Programmer ‘Blew Off’ A $500,000 Salary At A Startup — Because He’s Already Making $3 Million Every Year. Well that isn’t me and probably not you either. Now don’t think everyone at Google is in that position, it’s a minority. => Techies CAN sue Google, Apple, Intel et al accused of wage-strangling pact. You see they want your talent, but not pay for it in free market.

Lets look at some evidence that there might be no war for talent.

Toys & work force multipliers are not salary or a career

BYOD, a smartphone, tablet, laptop paid for by work. They bombard us with commercials about how we need to supply & support this if we want to stand a chance to even attract young talent. That’s only partially true. If I’m true top talent I’ll be able to afford those my self, thank you. I’d rather take a 6 figure salary and 30 days paid vacation & affordable quality health care. After all you need to take good care of talent, right?

Performance Reviews

A golden oldie. When judging by the annual performance review practices out there, they are trying to make talent walk by proving to them the organization is too hopeless to even stop totally useless evaluation practices.

November 14, 1993

In corporate life your management often has no clue what you do. They often don’t even understand it. To add injury to insult you often have to write them yourself.

January 06, 2003

Usually there’s only  a stick

If you don’t have promotions, bonuses, rewards (not a merit badge, that’s just Neanderthal gamification done very, very wrong) or pay raises in place what’s with this war for talent anyway?

The fact that you can fire me if I’m not up to your standards? What kind of a messed up model is that? If we’re below standards you have a stick, I get that. If I meet, exceed or absolutely own those standards what exactly do you have to offer? Absolutely nothing? March 10, 1995

Ouch! We cannot do anything for you, it’s out of our control, they’ll tell you. Could be, but I cannot get away with that answer when it comes to delivering results. Do you even offer a career path? Employees don’t get promoted and if they do, it’s without a pay raise. Pay raises themselves are dead except for the legal minimum.

The exit interview to improve retention

The exit interview is as useful as a post mortem in preventing death. It helps find out what went wrong after the facts, but slightly less accurate than a real post mortem because in general the deceased don’t lie to you when you’re probing around and they always show up, all be it they have to be carried in. Just think the people left you was because while you’re great & wonderful and they just didn’t fit in and leave it at that. You’ll sleep better and waste less time.

You are creating your own hell

Most CxO types complain constantly about the lack of skilled employees that can think independently and have the ability to execute in order to achieve an end state.  In reality that is their own fault. The system doesn’t work. The expect to buy and discard talent at will. Well there isn’t enough talent to go around anymore because too many don’t really invest in developing it for short term accounting benefits.

Talent needs time and opportunity to develops skills and expertise. No one wants to give that any more. So you’re creating your own shortage as it’s not magically going to start growing on trees. Secondly when you have people that have the intrinsic motivation, drive and abilities to develop themselves to be experts you don’t reward them. Instead they demand ever more from them and pay them nothing more then anyone else or even less as you promote the bodies you can do without. We’re creating our own skills gap hell. But it’s easier to cry that you are a victim of a failing education system that doesn’t deliver experts that are experienced and cheap straight out of college.

Short term perceived gains for real long term damage & costs

Without the right people in the right place you no longer have analytical, design and architectural expertise. You have outsourced all that to vendors, “partners” and consultants. So now who can evaluate what is valid and valuable for you? No one. You’ll just get sold the flavor of the day that generates them the most profits. And of that doesn’t work there is always new stuff to sell you that will fix it. You fell for the trap of easy and cheap access to expertise meaning you lost all the expertise you had yourself. You are now dependent on mercenaries and their aim is to make money for themselves and survive even if it means killing you.  Every penny you spend wisely internally is an investment. Every penny you spend stupidly on a vendor is buying stuff that potentially makes you more dependent on them.

Companies are the ones to blame as they’re constantly in search of quick & dirty wins for short term (personal) gain. “Quick” is forgotten as fast as the word itself entails but the dirty part lingers around and stinks up the place long after the facts.

War for talent? Think again.

So exactly what’s the game play here? Employees doing exactly enough not to get fired? Because by the rules that ignore the above everything we do above that level is a misallocation of our resources. That’s very, very Office Space like dude.

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In general it’s a race to the bottom leading to ever more mediocrity at ever higher costs and we all know who’ll get to pay the bill. Let’s hope some spin doctors can turn it into “good news”.

Windows 2003? Let it go!


Reflecting on some of the discussions I was in recently I can only say that there is no escaping reality. Here are some reference blogs for you.

You can’t get of Windows 2003 you say? Held hostage by ancient software from a previous century?  Sure I understand your problems and perils. But we do not negotiate with hostage takers. We get rid of them. Be realistic, do you think this is somehow going to get any better with age? What in 24 months? What about 48? You get the drift. What’s bad now will only be horrible in x amount of time.

Look at some issues people run into already:

Issues like this are not going to go away, new ones will pop up. Are you going to keep everything in your infrastructure frozen in time to try an avoid these? That’s not even coping, that’s suffering.

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What ever it is that’s blocking you, tomorrow is when you start planning to deal with it and execute on that plan. Don’t be paralyzed by fear or indecision. Over 12 years it will have been a supported OS by its end of life. Windows 2003 had a real good run but now it’s over. Let it go before it hurts you. You have no added value from a more recent version of Windows? Really? We need to talk, seriously.

UPDATE: Inspired by Aidan Finn (@joe_elway) who offered a very good picture to get the message across => click the picture to get the soundtrack! LET IT GO!

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Looking Back at the DELL CIO Executive Summit 2014


Yesterday I attended the DELL CIO Executive Summit 2014 in Brussels. Basically it was home match for me (yes that happens) and I consider it a compliment that I have been given the opportunity to be invited to a day of C level discussions.

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Apart from a great networking opportunity with our peers we had direct access to many of DELL’s executives. I found it interesting to see what some existing customers had to say and share about their experiences with DELL Services. Especially in the security side of things where they provide a level of expertise and assistance I did not yet realize they did.

The format was small scale and encouraged interactive discussions. That succeeded quite well and made for good interaction between the attending CIOs an DELL executives. We were not being sold to or killed by PowerPoint. Instead we engaged in very open discussions on our challenges and opportunities while providing feedback. It reminded me of the great interaction promoting format at the DELL Enterprise Forum 2014 in Frankfurt this year. You learn a lot from each other and how others deal with the opportunities that arise.

To give you an idea about the amount of access we got consider the following. Where can you walk up to the CEO of a +/- 24 Billion $ company and provide him some feedback on what you like and don’t like about the company he founded? Even better you get a direct, no nonsense answer which explains why and where.  Does he need to do this? My guess is not, but he does and I appreciate that as an IT Professional, Microsoft MVP and customer.

Before the CIO Executive Summit started I joined the Solutions Summit, to go talk shop with sponsors/partners like Intel and Microsoft, DELL employees & peers and lay my eyes on some generation 13 hardware for the 1st time in real life.

It was a long but very good day. As the question gets asked every now and then as to why I attend such summits and events, I can only say that it’s highly interesting to talk to your peers, vendors, engineers and executives. It prevents tunnel vision & acting in your village without knowledge of the world around you. Keeping your situational awareness in IT and business requires you to put in the effort and is highly advisable. It’s as important as a map, reconnaissance and intelligence to the military, without it you’re acting on a playing field you don’t even see let alone understand.

DELL CIO Executive Summit


I’ve been invited and I’m attending the CIO Executive Summit with DELL’s Executive Leadership Team on Wednesday September 17, 2014 in Brussels. It’s an opportunity to meet and network with my peers and IT leaders.  It also provide the opportunities to discuss challenges with Dell executives and where they see DELL help us with those.

It runs parallel with DELL Solutions Tour 2014 Brussels (see http://www.dellsolutionstour2014.com/ for events near you) where I’m sure many will be looking at the recently released generation 13 servers & new Intel CPU offerings.

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I’ll be attending 2 “Strategic Deep Dive Sessions” that address some of critical challenges facing IT C-Level professionals. I’m doing the one on security. This is important as alone eternal vigilance, preparedness & situational awareness can help mitigate disaster. The technology is just a force multiplier.

The other track is on future ready IT solutions. That means a lot different thins to many of us. The new capabilities and ever faster evolving IT places a financial and operational burden on everyone. I’m very interested to discuss how DELL will deal with this beyond the traditional answers. The need for fast, effective & cost effective solutions that deliver great ROI & TCO is definitely there but the move to OPEX versus CAPEX and the potential loss of ownership also introduces risk that can cost us dearly if not managed right. IT, is still more than a financial model of service billing, even if sometimes it looks like that. It’s important to keep the mix in balance & do it smart.

So on Wednesday I’ll be focusing on strategy and not action or tools. Something that get’s missed way too much by way too many way too often. Michael Dell will be there and if I get the opportunity I’ll be happy to give some feedback.