FOOD SECURITY – Nutrition Shouldn’t Be A Luxury…

“If its ORANGE below, click on it! its a link”


Today, I joined my daughter and her friends for a community project. They are part of a service group at Virginia Tech called SERVE  They had driven down from the mountains to do a weekend of service around Richmond. Before they headed back this afternoon, I decided to join them for their last project. The goal was to weed and clear out two garden beds at a local school.  For this project, they were joined by a representative from Shalom Farms in Goochland, Va. Based on reviewing their website, Shalom Farm’s mission is to grow produce for underserved communities and to provide experiential learning to help children and adults gain the know-how to grow organic food. Shalom partners with this school to train their students on organic gardening and nutrition science.


The school where we met today is a local non-profit middle school located in inner-city Richmond, VA. This private school focuses on providing a better education to children in this challenged neighborhood. The school sits on the same block as the largest public housing facility in Richmond. This neighborhood is comprised of people who struggle for time, resources and safety for their families. Forget that many of the adults in this community work multiple jobs to support their families, the crime index for this area is 107% higher than that of Virginia as a whole; Violent crime is 263% higher. If you live within this housing community, you have a 1 in 15 chance of being impacted by crime. A family of five has the odds working against them.


The reality of these statistics, lead to compounding problems. This neighborhood is a “food desert”. There are no grocery stores within miles and many rely solely on walking or buses for transportation. The result is that most do their shopping from convenience stores and children are often deprived of basic nutritional staples.


The NoKidHungry website states that “1 in 5 kids in America struggle with hunger” [the new term is “food security”]. This is not only a global crisis, but deeply effects every American city. Nutrition makes a difference in our societal success in foundational ways. The website goes on to state the fact: “On average, students who eat school breakfast earn 17.5% higher math scores, attend more days of school, and are 20% more likely to graduate.


So our role today was small, we spent a couple hours helping clear the garden beds for next years planting. An extremely small price to pay to help, and to appreciate the daily challenge of living “food insecure“.

As most of you know, I work at EMC and you may have read my work with#EMCGIVESBACK last spring as we worked to fund a water well for charity:water. As we go into the fall the theme will be coincidentally “food security”. I look forward to working with EMC’s programs to drive impact in this area.


I can feed my kids, one of them is a #HOKIE and today I worked with her to help others “get the goods” they need to go to college themselves. Think about that the next time you bite down on a carrot, or get mad at yourself for eating an extra slice of provolone.

charity:water…We Unlocked a Well at SAPPHIRENOW!!

Hello Everyone,

This is my final installment of the triology of charity:water and SapphireNOW experience. I do apologize for taking a week to report in, many of you know the results at this point. I did have a busy week and a daughter graduating High School so, it is what it is…

Even if you  know already that WE FUNDED ONE WELL FOR ETHIOPIA!!!!  Hopefully  you’ll read on and enjoy the pictures :)

EMC Booth #412 at SAPPHIRE this year was a great experience for EMC’ers, our customers, and our partners. Tons of meetings, but we found time to highlight the charity:water cause and through out the week, people came along and engaged themselves in the experience.

As you can see from this  picture, the back side of the meeting room was dedicated to charity:water where there were many photo ops for customers and partners holding the jazzy yellow Jerry cans.



Our goal was to get show attendees and other SAP focused people in the twitter-sphere to tweet or retweet three hashtags #charity:water #EMC #SAPPHIRENOW.  Our show goal was 1,000 tweets to unlock $10,000 for one well.



The first day we finished just shy of 600 tweets… Awesome I was able to breathe a sigh of relief…
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Now no one seem to take more pictures with the Jerrys than Erica and Teresa, but it was a popular past time during the show. the cans below this sign were full of water and super heavy

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We gave away stickers at the booth to give everyone a little portable “Love” they could carry with them w/o having to actually haul the Jerrys around





We started to see the stickers making it around the floor  on name badges. Mildly viral… Yes good!   Messaging in full production mode.

Several of our tweets cracked the trending ceiling and became short-term celebrities during the show.

SOSTwitter RZTwitter hwtwitter Grptwitter

 A few social stats…

  •  We increased EMC social impact by 486% year over year
  • We had 3 hashtags in the top ten (#4, #6, #7)
  • #EMC trended above #HANA
  • We owned 73% share of the voice against our competitors.
  • That’s right, we’re striding in the social game…

We chose to not fund parties, or t-shirts, or foam rubber Ninjas… We took our money and put it behind the sustainable value of one well of water. We hoped that our partners and customers would appreciate our gesture and that this would not get lost in the noise of the show.  We were embolded by their response

And then around noon on Thursday, the word came from our Social Specialist Extraordinaire…we had done it. We reached 1,000 tweets and we were funding a well in Ethopia!  YES!!!! AWESOME!!!  RIGHTEOUS!!!



Even after the hand slaps and cheering died down. The message still carried on.  I found this gentleman by himself, like many other passerby’s during the show, stopping and watching a simple video that profoundly shares the duality of those who have and those who don’t. One more person touched… Hopefully one more step towards an better equality of fundamentals.



On my flight home. I looked down at the can of water I was provided on the airplane and thought how many countless times I had consumed such a quantity without any note. I am proud to say today, I don’t believe I will ever drink water again without a minor celebration of the luxury of it.



Misson Accomplished! We planned, we sweated, we shared, and we gave and we spent our money to help the cause of charity:water.  To all those on the team who believed in the cause and got it done…








charity:water … A water walk with my daughter

I took the opportunity on this beautiful Saturday morning to spend a little time with my daughter Hallie, and have her experience what life would be like without the plumbing and the water access we are accustomed to. I explained to her that one yellow Jerry can is 5 gallons of water, only 1/16 of what our hot water heater holds for our family of 5.

We have a creek at the end of our our street only about 80 yards from our house. So I talked this teenager into making a trip down to the creek to fill up the Jerry can and haul it back, knowing its only a tiny fraction of the water our family blindly uses everyday.

So we’re off!

Hallie is a Warrior. She’s a cheerleader, gymnast, diver, and stays pretty active so we’re not dealing with a whimp here.



Its pretty light to haul an empty Jerry can so no big deal to walk out the front yard and…



to trot past a couple houses and down to the creek



Alright time to climb into the creek and load up some water. The most danger she’ll face is a terse stare of a squirrel or chipmunk. No crocodiles in these waters.



Hallie filled…



And filled…



And filled… It took about 10 mins to get water into the can and it wasn’t really full. There was not really a place that allowed Hallie to fully fill the Jerry can. If you were walking a mile and not just 80 yards, you’d want to get a full can before leaving.



Hallie started to struggle as we made our way back. There were several “set downs”. to readjust. Note she’s not smiling as much.



About half way she wanted me to carry her shoes, I said “Nope, going for the full experience here!”



Well about 3 or 4 minutes later we crossed the distance and made it back to our home. I think we both appreciated our luxuries just a little more. And remember… this is pretty clean water that consistently flows. It is not a muddy stagnate pool. Our staged walk could have been so worse than a short trip to our neighborhood creek


charity:water is a wonderful non-profit, working to provide clean and accessible drinking water to communities who do no have this basic necessity.

At #SAPPHIRENOW next week, the #EMCGivesBack Team will be working to unlock funds for one new well during the show. We’re doing this through the social-sphere. Please join in and help us unlock this well which will changes the lives of one community. Join us on Twitter June 3-5 and include hashtags: #charitywater #EMC #SAPPHIRENOW. Be a part of making this change happen!

Thanks for your help,

Andy Sitison  (

charity:water…My Day of Service to the Cause

Yesterday I spent the day walking around with two extremely heavy water containers called “Jerry” cans. These cans are similar to what many people around the world use each day to provide water for their families. Many of us don’t realize that we have a global water crisis today. Over 1 billion people don’t have access to clean drinking water, which leads to a litany of health problems, all avoidable if they just had access to clean drinkable water.  Additionally the burden of acquiring water is borne by women and children, who walk up to three hours a day to accomplish this task. This impacts their ability go to school, work a job, and care for the family’s well being.

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Think about that for a minute… You didn’t miss your flight, your didn’t spill you starbucks, you didn’t lose your wallet at the restaurant, and you didn’t roll your eyes at your kid who won’t get off their iPhone; instead your problem is you don’t have a clean source of drinking water for your family, and you may lose one of your kids to preventable illness.  Also imagine for a minute you had to squeeze another three hours into your schedule in order to address your basic human need for water. #WaterIsLife  For me this concept leaves me profoundly empty, and I feel I have a personal responsibility to apply a fraction of my skills to reduce senseless suffering.

Those that know me, know that I rarely pursue something half-heartedly. When I had the opportunity to be an involved leader in our EMC Gives Back program I jumped in and immediately became inspired by Scott Harrison’s program charity:water. I was reminded of a quote from Jerry Garcia. I don’t normally get my advice from “Dead Head” guitarists, but the authenticity of his statement continues to move me, and the cans are called “Jerry”.

“If we had any nerve at all, if we had any real balls as a society, or whatever you need, whatever quality you need, real character, we would make an effort to really address the wrongs in this society, righteously.” – Jerry Garcia

Dead On Jerry!  Why are we here if not to evolve? I won’t get into philosophies, but seeing EMC as a multi-national corporation put the power of the company behind transforming lives, and transcending stereotypes for corporate objectives, I said I have to be a big part of this initiative.

So I have been helping the program in many small ways and a few big ones. Next week EMC will be highlighting #EMC Gives Back and #charitywater at #SAPPHIRENOW (SAP’s big user convention). On top of having charity:water represented in the booth, including full Jerry cans, we’ll be using social to unlock enough funds to pay for one well!  Twitter don’t fail me now! We’ll be engaging this very socially inclined audience at SAPPHIRENOW in the dialog of clean water and solving this problem for one community in the process.

To raise awareness before the event. We dreamed up the idea that I should carry around Jerry cans all day and put my experience out of the social-sphere. I gladly adopted this plan which I fully executed yesterday (ok I did go the restroom once with out them, but otherwise I was true to my cause).


Here’s some of the journey captured in pictures below:

Once I  got the Jerry cans in the mail, I took them outside and filled them. This was easy for me because I have running water at multiple places. I did have awkwardly reach around bush to cut it on…


Each of the full Jerry cans weighed 51 lbs. I understand that a gallon of water weighs 8 lbs so either I put more in, or my scales weigh heavy (wouldn’t that be nice). All in, my new friends, the “Jerrys”, added 102 lbs to my load.



Ever seen the show “The Middle”?  Well my son is smart and accomplished, but at home he often acts like the teenage son “Axel” on the show. I believe he owns a shirt but it disappears the moment he walks in the door.  All said he’s a dedicated wrestler and spends 25-40 hrs a week exercising. Even he struggled a little bit picking these things up and carrying them around the house. This is no joke, they are heavy. I don’t think you can appreciate it through pictures. I really can’t imagine hauling these for a mile anywhere.



So yesterday I put the strap on my briefcase, donned my hip new charity:water T-Shirt and I headed out the front door to work.

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How appropriate for my fake safari is my Jeep for the ride to work. Definitely taking the jeep…



Did a little tie down work. In reality I felt the weight of these cans shifting all the way to work. When I got to work I realized that each of the lids had to be tighted, not just the front ones…  A small inconvenience, but there is required skills to transport water.IMG_6376


Next stop was the dry cleaners. Other than a very confused counter clerk, It was uneventful.



As I approached Starbucks I thought, if I go in with two yellow cans into a busy Starbucks during commuter time, everyone is going to think I’m hauling gasoline with bad intentions. I rerouted myself to the other starbucks that had a drive thru. I know this was cheating, but I had to get on the phone with Germany at 8:00a and I couldn’t afford a conversation with the local authorities. Even though I was driving, the cans added 10-15 mins to my commute. Inconvenient!




I got to the office and I had 1 briefcase, 1 venti bold, and 2 Jerry cans… I decided to make the trip twice so I could adequately carry my coffee. Yes, I did carry the coffee on both trips!



There were many in the office who lined up to get there swing at bat. This guy in front, Tim Sherman, used to be the quarterback at UVA. I think I he wavered slightly when he picked up the cans, but he’ll never admit it, nor would I ever tell anyone…






Erin Fitzgerald was a good sport and she’d complained a lot less than Tim, but I could tell it was an effort for her to pick up the Jerrys.

So I got to admit, about  half way through the day…I was thinking about what I wasn’t going to do, because I didn’t want to haul those cans. I cheated and went to the coffee pot without them, but I could see them just over there…


Mid afternoon workout. I wish I had these at the office all the time (maybe half full) to do a little work out activity. All day long I kept underestimating the weight of these cans. Each time I had to kick in a little extra to hoist these lead bellies.


Well I made it to the end of the day. I left a little earlier than normal, cause I needed to make sure someone could take my picture leaving.  From here I took them home, and they sit on my porch at the moment. I’m not carrying them still, but the experience is still deep in my mind. Big tough guy, with brilliant luxuries and opportunities, was just a little humbled yesterday by to short guys named Jerry.

IMG_6406 So, If you are inspired by this story PASS IT ALONG!!!   Then go to charity:water site and get educated.  Maybe you’ll be inspired to take up your own journey to change the world (one day at a time).

If you are at SAPPHIRE or Social PLEASE HELP US UNLOCK a well for charity:water June 3-5 2014 by Tweeting these hashtags #charitywater #EMC #SAPPHIRENOW. Each tweet unlocks $10.00 towards the well!  (we need 1,000 tweets)

PUT UP OR SHUT UP – EMC Goes big with Flash & Cloud Day One EMC World

Just a quick type out to the followers. EMC World Keynotes with Joe Tucci, Jonathan Martin and David Goulden were, without doubt the most action packed 2 hours of EMC World history. Big announcement galore.

I don’t have time to take you through the details… But I thought I’d share some photos


Just before Keynote. Jonathan Martin splurged on great graphics this year.



Joe Tucci of CEO EMC Federation. Kicking of theme “REDEFINE”


Joe took the audience through the EMC Federation. A major change in EMC’s alignment across its companies



The MASSIVE announcement EMC acquires DSSD, Andy Bechtelsheim’s Secret project that will change storage forever.


Joe and Bill McDermott Talking about how the tight the “family” is.  And how DSSD will bring EMC and SAP together for future opportunity.


Some of EMC’s  SAP Team tweeting away as all the layers of announcements played out.




The Million Dollar Flash Performance Guarantee (complete with Guards)



I don’t have a picture, but EMC announced EMC Hybrid Cloud “EHC” reference architecture that will allow our customers to enable the cloud and manage their workloads like a broker of IT Services.


Remember this was just in the first couple of hours… MORE TO COME.  Get on Vpass.  Talk later


@Asitison – Twitter handle

What is Authentic Change?

   (and What’s happening at EMC World…)

Global business is in a mega shift as their business lines envelope the global, mobile consumer with data rich offerings; as their operations eagerly vet out cloud as a platform for agility while hoping it delivers a better cost model for IT. We’re in a waiting game of sorts as companies test this out.

SAP, as the current reigning champion of global business apps, is in the middle of this conversation in a large number of the companies who are working to evolve.

We believe the end game for now is to convert IT from its old data center centric roots into a broker of IT services, with the CIO at the helm. Even today large companies often have an “Energy Broker” function where they bid out their energy requirements for the company. Similarly IT will be provide the best value/risk ratio to the business by implementing a brokerage model for IT.

Imagine: A “Line of Business” resource wants to kick off an SAP HANA project with a partner. They go into the services catalog, select an SAP HANA development environment, determine what they’re willing to pay, what risk they’re willing to take, what level of performance, and what geo they want the development environment. Moments later, they have their environment. The brilliance is not only that they could do that, but also that IT would have orchestrated these options with potentially several different provider companies or with their own IT staff. This allows companies to define profile-based services and keep the offerings competitive. It makes it a buyer’s market and that makes IT a hero to the business. Here’s a little video I had my team put together to highlight this concept. Worth a quick view.


So if you buy my idea of a service broker model for IT, let me provide you a handful of recommended next steps you can take to jump right into your own journey to “HERO”:

1) VIRTUALIZE – You have to virtualize. 100% Virtualized environments provide the kick off to a Software Defined IT environment and your services broker model. If you take a Ford F-250 an inch off the ground, there’s a good chance you could move it, if any part of it is touching the ground, there’s an equal chance you won’t be able to. You have to get your apps, data, platform, VMs, all off the ground. You have to virtualize. Here’s a story from Columbia Sportswear about their Virtualization of SAP a few years back and the pay-offs it provided.

Columbia copy


2) COLLABORATE – Don’t go at it alone and don’t get your knowledge from one book. There are many in similar kayaks in the river with you. Chat it up with your social network. (Get a social network…) Running the rapids is more fun if you know where the rocks are.

At EMC we saw the need to bring our customers, partners, SAP and our experts together to evolve the dialog one whiteboard at a time. For years we have been holding “SAP Weeks” across the globe. They are so popular, we often meet fire code limits in our facilities. Here’s a link to @EMCSAP Travel guide if you’d like to engage with in an upcoming event.

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3) TRUST EXPERTS – At this time of great change do some due diligence on who’s “Talking” about change and who’s actually “Walking” through change. Find those who are the next great leaders based on where they spend their money and where they leave their sweat. EMC as a major IT company deserves a modicum of respect and interest for their place in this change. However, not everyone knows that 3 years ago this company of 50,000 or so people completely pulled out of Oracle eBiz and replaced their global business app with SAP. Impressed? What if I said they did that and implemented ITaaS at the same time? Really Impressed? Ok, well what if I said they also Virtualized the entire footprint while they rolled it out and implemented a broker model for application connectivity? Super impressive I believe. The IT org has been on a wild ride of advancement and optimization ever since.

They recently have been one of the first companies making major investments in “Virtualized HANA” aka running SAP HANA on VMware. They will be presenting much of this at next week’s EMC World (Las Vegas May 5-8). If you can’t make it here’s some information about their efforts (Blog & Whitepaper below)



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4) COME TO EMC WORLD – Next week at the Venetian in Las Vegas is going to be a blow out show. Cloud and Big Data will be center stage all week and SAP will be an important point of conversation.  SAP is a Platinum Sponsor this year at EMC World. There will be Global SI and SP partners, customers from all over the world. Keep your ears out for announcements, as there may just be something that peaks your interest.

Here are just a few of the things Attendees will see:

  • Keep your ear tuned to Joe Tucci’s, Chairman keynote.
  • Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware’s Keynote will talk about their solutions related to SAP.
  • Follow the action on #EMCWorld and @EMCSAP
  • Whiteboards and technical presentations at the SAP kiosk in the EMC Solutions Pavilion
  • SAP LVM in the Hands on Lab
  • Meet the SAP Mentors & EMC Elect at EMC World
  • Live demos in the “Build-A-Cloud LIVE!” area in the Solutions Pavilion that includes automated SAP Provisioning
  • Get Social around SAP Topics  Tuesday 4:30 PST 

SAP related Breakout sessions:

  • REDEFINE IT for SAP Cloud and Big Data
  • Virtualized HANA demo in the SAP kiosk in the Solution Pavilio
  • EMC and virtualized HANA presentation @Mini Theatre at Vmware booth on Tuesday
  • VMAX & SAP HANA: Tailored Datacenter Integration with the VMAX Family
  • EMC IT Business Transformation: Running SAP & SAP HANA on vSphere
  • VPLEX: Continuous Availability for All Business Critical Applications  like SAP
  • Application & Database Migrations with Zero Downtime Using EMC VNXTransforming Your SAP Landscape Using VNX & Isilon


Let’s continue the conversation!

@Asitison – Send me a Tweet for a meet up at EMC World, Sapphire, or just to continue the dialog over social.

Software Defined Enterprise: Bridging to the Cloud

Welcome 2014! I hope it is a glorious year in which we all realize our healthy doses of the tremendous change that has been bearing down on us for the last couple of years. What change? You know the line up:  cloud, big data, real-time computing, mobile, etc.  For 2014,with the change, we will also continue to see a fair dose of hype. The hype will go on and possibly increase in volume as vendor providers aggressively click their hockey sticks at the puck of progress.  For this blog, I’d like to get into one topic I feel is getting over-played at the moment; public clouds.

No haters please!  I am not saying public clouds in total are hype, but there is an expansiveness that reads to me as overly eager. Public clouds are a handful of years in the making and there are some great successes to point out “Salesforce”, “iCloud”, “Ariba” are just a few examples of successful business models that have proven the validity of public clouds. These examples have additionally demonstrated adequate stability for businesses in order for companies to consider leveraging this innovation. These are rudimentary steps toward an inevitable shift towards what I call the utilization of IT. Public clouds will continue to increase in importance. The ultimate spoiler was Nicholas Carr when he called out this trend years ago in his book “The Big Switch”.  I also agree this is not a question of “if” but “when” and in what manner. With all this said, I think we’re going too fast. I am seeing an over-rotation to what looks like a “2-minute drill” to drive public clouds into all aspects of IT for mid market and multi-national organizations, ASAP! However, I believe we’re still building the necessary groundwork to make this feasible and I worry about the risks.

One doesn’t have to watch the news for more than a couple of weeks to see a significant cloud outage, or massive breaches in corporate security. As a global industry that is building new cloud disciplines, we are less than a decade into a massive inter-connected world where everyone leaves their digital signature throughout their endless online activities.  Corporations open themselves up to constant attack from malicious opportunists in order to try to keep up with the growing opportunity within this global online economy. This alone is a MASSIVE step forward and we haven’t gotten it right yet. Like a fine wine, our processes and technology have to evolve/mature. We’ve become a society where the gas pedal must stay flat to the floor (and I’m the worst…), but we have trillions of dollars at stake in this evolution. If we have learned from our history (e.g. DotCom, Year 2000 bug) we will remember as IT escalates and speeds beyond our ability to consume the change, we find ourselves sub-optimized and less wealthy from our over-steps.  Ultimately in these scenarios we find ourselves led to a correction of some sort and back to the whiteboard for remediation work. It’s a significant hit to productivity and unnecessary.

Evolution, it takes time…

If we all agree it would be great to avoid another unproductive, over-zealous dive into the future, let me offer a governing function for your consideration. What I see trending in businesses is a smaller, more prudent step that creates less risk, but still delivers profound change that optimizes operations and builds a foundation for better decision-making.

I call it the Option E business model where the “E” stands for everything.  If given a clean choice, I believe corporations will not choose: “Public Clouds”, “Private Clouds”, “Appliances”, “Traditional Data Centers”, but option E… all of the above. Companies will choose to leverage all types of market offerings in order to address their specific needs and strike a balance between value and risk to match their profile. This approach can be aligned with the concept of the “Software Defined Enterprise” (SDE). SDE is the transformational change where functionality is abstracted away from its hardware limits through virtualization. We’ve all tested the waters of virtualization and reaped the benefits. However once you are 100% virtualized and you move into this realm of SDE, it’s like crossing over into OZ. Now things that were manual and slow, can become automated and agile. No longer do you have to wait on a FedEx truck to stand up a replacement server. You can provision automated/on the fly, and disaster recovery becomes a button click. This is all possible because now it is virtual: a software-based world.

What’s important here is SDE is integral in the delivery of all clouds, so you will be leveraging SDE regardless of your plan. The question is will you get the most from it? Are you reworking your processes to exploit it? Have you squeezed out the buffers and slack time that are prevalent in traditional IT processes? That “protective layer of fat” was there to reduce risk, but now it is not needed. Ultimately these efficiencies equate to real dollars and speed to the business.

Ok, so why not just jump to public cloud and wash your hands of it all? Aren’t public clouds the future? Maybe, but there are some good reasons to gauge your plans. I already mentioned there are more risks associated with public clouds than your traditional IT operations. I want to add a few other reasons to consider. A big reason you should pace yourself is cost. Today you are evaluating the “cost” and “speed” of public clouds against your traditional operations. This is an unfair fight. You have potentially $10-$50-$100 million or more of optimization opportunity within your business that can be easily attained.  One of the best examples of this is EMC’s transformation to SAP and ITaaS. The project was called Propel (, please give it a read.cropped-crayons2.jpg

There are many examples of companies insourcing workloads that previously sat on public clouds, and as a result saved millions in operational costs. Publicly offered clouds are first and foremost convenient, although they rarely stack up against a hybrid SDE model on protection, cost and flexibility.

Finally, some of the public cloud offerings today are a bit like Hotel California: “You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave….” Today, It can be difficult to divest from a public cloud decision. Companies who have spent little to no time building disciplines and processes around SDE ( service brokering, automation, classification, portability, migration, security, etc) are taking undue risks with their customers’ data and with their corporate viability itself.  We must remember that, although as a global commercial/industrial complex, we are working to reduce the cost and complexity of Information Technology, we have never been more DEPENDENT UPON IT!

In summary, its time to evolve, plan your steps wisely. Look to convert IT from an operations function, to a broker of services leveraging all that is available to you to meet and exceed your constituents’ expectations.  This means developing news skills and new processes. Also it is important, to keep your C’s & V’s from signing quick checks that rob the company of opportunity and take away the CIO’s ability to effect positive change. Build a story about your approach to evolving the business. Taking control of that corporate perspective of clouds is your prime objective. It’s not really about clouds, it’s about providing a service. Don’t let your company give away your competitive advantage in an effort to evolve.  Good luck, and ping me if you want to brainstorm about your company’s plans.

I’d Rather have a Jeep and a Tent than an RV

If you are like me (hopefully you’re not), you just shoved a 5-state travel-a-palooza into three days of your short holiday. If you did, you might have seen me driving my breadbox on four wheels.  When I say breadbox, I mean my square; right angled 4-door Jeep Wrangler with manual 6-speed and limited slip differential.  I expect your response to this new insight is… “Why is this successful IT leader hauling around like a college wannabe in a Jeep and not in some token of European engineered refinement?” I offer in response, because my mountain bike and kayak fit great on it whether the top is up or down…  When I said “breadbox”, you might have thought I was talking about the other breadbox on the road, the recreational vehicle or “RV” as we’ve come to call this elephant of the road.  I saw a few while driving, but I wasn’t that poor soul.


Thinking about these two ambulatory machines does however provide me with a great metaphor for the change we see in the IT industry. Let me explain further… On the East coast USA, we tend all plan, for our families, the proverbial trip through the Western United States (aka #TripOutWest). When one plans such a trip, you end up considering taking an RV along for the ride. I have considered this trip myself. Each time I have I always end up back in the same position; I would rather have a Jeep and a tent, than an RV.

First off RV’s are super expensive and don’t hold their value.  They not only cost a lot, they cost even more to run them.  They are bulky and lumbering to drive. Then when its time to park, you pull into a questionable camp ground, where you and a hundred guys named “Bubba” park diagonally 10 feet apart, all loosely connected to an aromatic septic system, which you had to hook up, right after you balanced the RV with stands. For this pleasure you spend $59.99 a night. We’re not done. Because your transportation became your immobile home, you have additionally been hauling a trailer with a golf cart on the back, or…. Yep you guessed it… a Jeep.

Alternately, you can optimize your story. A Jeep is cheaper, more agile, and flatly more fun than an RV. I can get there faster, drive further, and climb trails if I like. From within the ample trunk space, I can grab the tent, walk a couple miles into the woods and experience real camping; finding the wilderness I so long to commune with (not Bubba’s cigar smoke).  Additionally, there are many adequate Motor Lodges where I can rent a room for $59.99 a night providing me better comforts of home than my RV’s shower/toilet combo.  Better yet, since I am sleeping under the stars for some of the trip, I can spend even more on my rooms.  Bottom-line I have a cheaper, more profound experience, and I am not burdened by excessive weight and complexity.

This brings me to IT and the changes we are experiencing as we evolve to what IDC has coined the “Third Platform”. Social is big, the global-mobile user has become the new user. We have the consumerization of the application as platforms burst into a seeming-less infinite number of business services functionality. Cloud computing collapses traditional data center strategies; and big data provides new opportunities for revenue and customer service for those who can master it. If the third platform is your “Trip out West”, how do you choose your tools?  Do you want an RV?  All in one does everything and yet nothing well approach?  Probably not.

The economics for re-platforming are now available. Companies are looking at redefining their landscape to best stage for opportunity. Through this process, workloads like OLTP and OLAP aren’t going away they are just becoming less value-able and less optimal to be the top of the food chain any longer; if compared to new business services like “real-time remote decision support” as an example.  However, new and faster doesn’t mean you can now apply a one-size-fits-all approach.  Every company has to reassess the workloads of the future and build out IT to support that. Or within the metaphor, build IT like a “Jeep and a tent”. The jeep is your core IT competencies, the hotel is your off-prem compute when you need it, the tent is your efficient provisioning and orchestration that increases your ability to respond and exploit opportunities that present themselves.

I can continue to apply the metaphor to the software industry. I think software vendors have to additionally re-think the concept of “platform”. I question the staying power and momentum of the traditional platform play as an effort to stem the tides of change that rage against this model. Platform providers need to free themselves from the concept of being a stand-alone platform and become collection of compute engines and value based processes that are part of an interconnected network of compute and connectivity where data and activities flow across. Otherwise the “platform” will be just another node on an endless network of nodes becoming irrelevant. Everyone else, who is competing on this floating field of play, will have decoupled from the burden of “platform” and become 100% focused on creating inter-operable, purpose-built computing at lightening speeds.

IMG_0761Though an iconic platform of the past, the Jeep still envelopes the principles of what we want in the future: agility, toughness, stability, and performance at a fair value. My recommendation…buy a Jeep, lift kit is optional.

The Candle Story

As we all celebrate the brilliance of our modern Christmas season, a portion of the strength I pull from this time of year comes from something deeper, more ancient.  I am taken back to an archaic time, time before Christmas or even Saturnalia. A time whose traditions shine through other celebrations like Hanukah and the Norse traditions of Yule.   I go back to a time where we as a people were at our most primitive state. Where life was more physical, more vulnerable, and we had no conveniences such as lights, or heating, or well chairs.

This time was a very new time for us, and we began to form our first traditions and build a diverse global culture.  During these times, in this season, the hunting was slowing, the berries were gone, the land laid ensconced in ice and the darkness at night seemed endless. Man’s answer to this bleakness was one of hope. Someone; man, woman, or child first raised up a flame as a symbol of the brightness and warmth yet to come again in the spring, and our friends and families found happiness in the simple act of togetherness around the swirling crackle of a well-primed fire.  I don’t know what they called this celebration, if anything at all, but I know we share an instinctual imprint of these early times in common still today, warmth from fire and the fondness of others we hold close.


This season, please have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Pancha Ganapati, or celebrate in your own tradition.  With this time I ask you to light a candle with someone, sing a song, tell a story, or just watch the flame. For in this act you reach back to your beginnings, bonding with all those who have come before, and carry on for all those who will come after.

Merry Christmas

HANA Cloud, Mobile, and Sports Analytics – Sapphire Followup

So I am back from 4 weeks on the road and I wanted to do a follow up from SapphireNOW. Based on the economy and the general gossip in the industry around travel restrictions that many companies have in place, I was concerned both EMC World and Sapphire would be “lite” to say the least. However, I found that not to be true, both shows were busy, with little options to find a seat. Even the beanbag chairs were taken. I mean who sits in a beanbag chair in a suit…?

IMG_3428 I have now been to around 6 Sapphire and SAP TechED events each and I can pretty much call what the buzz is going to be about. I said before the show. “Cloud, Cloud, HANA, HANA, HANA”, I also said you would see emerging innovations from smaller companies taking the new platforms and making purpose-built solution bundles. I was completely right.  With that said, I did find a few insights during the show of which many I will work into this Blog.  So how about some highlights you say? OK!

First, let’s talk up the keynotes. Unlike Oracle, this isn’t the Larry show, the stage is a bit egalitarian and its somewhat an art form in the way SAP integrates global social issues into their software roadmap. This year, Bill McDermott, has expanded on his traditional “sexy-customer” parade of UnderArmour and McClaren, by adding a few organizations from major league sports industry. The MC this year was James Brown from CBS Sports…good call. (An upgrade from the Morning Joe host last year) James and Bill introduced their all-star line up: Kevin Plank x-U of M special teams star and CEO of Under Armour, the deputy commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver; and San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York all up on stage in a sports show theme format. They drove into how analytics are changing the game of sports across training, marketing and fan consumption. It was mentioned that China alone has over 450 million fans of the NBA. Wow, can you imagine how that will effect the price of a season ticket over time?  This is a great example of how massive an opportunity exists to find consumers with technology and without technology, you can never supplyenough product to them. Imagine a stadium that could hold the global demand…  By the way, they carried this theme on to the show floor. Is was like walking into a Dicks Sporting Goods in some areas. They even had Gary Payton from the Sonics doing demos and talking to customers (Last year I didn’t see Reggie Jackson do any iPad demos…)

Ok, I got to admit, the theme was so good,that when they were in the keynote, I kept waiting to talk about how the Baltimore Ravens let there Super Bowl winning team completely disband (Protect this House!). It made me want to go watch a little sportsbar TV.  I also wonder if Bill has put too much pressure on HANA? Can HANA’s analytics prowess alone fix the 49er’s? Probably not.  Bill, EMC is based in Boston and we have many sports partners. The Patriots and the Red Sox may be a better test bed for HANA.  Ok my diplomacy seems to vacate when I talk sports, so let’s move on.


Jim Snabe took stage day 2 and in his normal flair, started with a big image of a indian tiger. He talked about how this female was an evolved specimen, close to perfection. He then moved into a discussion of evolution and anthropology. He took us from big bang, to dinosaurs to “in memory” and “persistence storage” requirements for HANA (only Snabe…)  I loved it, he is a great speaker.  Last year Jim said “The stone age didn’t end because they ran out of stones, and the disk age won’t end because we run out of disks”. Again, I loved how clever that comment was, BUT last year HANA was all in-memory in the diagrams. Customers by the droves walked up to us and asked “is disk dead”? I injected my reality that has unfolded. That reality is like electricity, there is a natural evolution of Information Technology that started in late 1800’s, and we are on that journey that will carry us forward for at least a couple more decades further as we  “utilitize” IT. I also believe large customers will deeply leverage HANA, but storage and data center ready solutions will continue to be critical functionality. A catchy quote and a sales quota isn’t going to change these trends. This year, Snabe’s diagram put storage back in a prime position. This to me means SAP’s HANA is maturing and they are listening to their customers, which is a good thing. For example, most customers want to see HANA in their landscape standards, not a rip and replace appliance model. This you could see in the tenets of the keynote narrative.


Hasso Plattner, took the stage on Day 3. Hasso literally took the audience through a 501 level data structures class discussing memory allocations, columnar databases, merge tables, indexes, etc.  At first I was like this is odd to have the chairman of a large company taking me through a DBA level discussion, but then I was actually quite impressed with his intimacy with the details and the fact that most people who focus on this knowledge never become executives in top-level companies. He is a unique man. I thought it was an informative refresher. At the same time Hasso made a few comments that worked like a cross-cut saw against the grain of the industry trends.  For example he brought up Virtualization and said (paraphrased) that virtualization is good for splitting up infrastructure between multiple small companies, and he said we never virtualize large companies. He was using this in a context of HANA, but WOW this is so not the direction of the customer base. First virtualization has been a huge driver for transformation across SAP customers building for the  last 5 years. EMC, Cisco, VMW, and Intel built the Joint Venture VCE and their Vblock product a little over 3 years ago, creating the converged infrastructure market. “I often tell people casually virtualized converged infrastructure is half the price of traditional and twice as fast”. Of course I am lying, its actually much better than that, but no one would believe me without facts. In the last 4 weeks, I have met with say 150-175 SAP customers? (Many of them the biggest companies in the world) I will tell you 90% or more of them have virtualized a significant portion of their landscape or will do so in the next 12 months. Here’s an example of EMC “Riding our own Wave“.  X86 has won, virtualization is a done deal, and HANA will need to support it. VMWare and SAP had a big announcement last week at Sapphire on Virtual HANA, they have dislodged it from the “single node” limitation that neutered its value and I now see virtual HANA demand increasing over the next 12 months.


What else…Mobile users, I saw some maturation in the mobile community. There were let’s say 15 or so booths dedicated to mobile solutions companies. SAP additionally has evolved some of their interfaces. Including cool stuff around analytics toolsets from Hasso Platner  Institute in Pottsdam. I don’t believe I have ever seen so many tablet displays on a show floor , short of a Microsoft or Apple conference.


Who was busy?  All booths looked busy, well… Oracle’s booth had to hire an exterminator to keep the cricket noise down, but hey that’s to be expected at an SAP conference. At OpenWorld, I imagine the SAP booth is pretty empty. Actually I would say the big names in platform were slightly less attended than the booths of consulting companies (Picture below is from Optimal’s Party at ICE BAR (they must be broke…because it was packed). I don’t have pictures but the same is true for events I attended with Deloitte, Secure24/Sparta, Wipro, and Accenture. It seems everyone is super busy in 2013.

Additionally the small start ups seemed busy for purpose-built solutions.  This is a trend for Sapphire, because of the high number of Line of Business attendees who focus on company processes and I think its also fair to say SAP has transitioned the conversation from cost-cutting optimization to innovation over the last two shows which drives focus to the business process change agents.

There were many announcements about the Cloud. Examples include CSC announcing SAP support in Cloud IU, SAP announced HANA Enterprise Cloud, and VMW announced VMWare Cloud support for SAP HANA. I am pretty familiar with some of the details. As far as prep work, I am huge fan of the CSC Cloud IU offering, their investment in assets, processes and creating a top-notch cloud offering is second to none. There pipeline has been swelling drastically following Cloud IU’s introduction and I’m sure they had a busy Sapphire. We co-sponsored a customer reception and I got to hear first hand from their execs in charge, David Parsons and Lou DeCarlo, on the staging and solution streams they have injected into the process. Here’s a video at the show from Dave on the topic. Worth a deep review if you are serious about the cloud.  The SAP offering is a Bring Your Own license model, which currently only offers 99.5.. uptime for the customers. I think it is a smart move for SAP  to get the customers and partners engaged in HANA as a service. I also talked to some of the partners who are back-ending the offering and they seem to have some talent, but I am not sure if this is primary direction for SAP. Offering HR on a cloud is easy money, hosting HANA for ECC or say AFS in the cloud is another matter, (which they theoretically will consider on a customer by customer basis as of GA last week). Either way it moves the ball forward for HANA. Finally, VMWare’s cloud offering is a serious contender in its support and features. VMWCloud (my nickname for it) offers a virtualized subscription service which will have a sales channel through multiple paths including SAP. Both CSC and VMW’s offerings are not SAP specific, so customers can look at a broader landscape as they plan for the cloud. With that said I see most customers looking to put module by module in the cloud, not move entire landscapes, so we’ll see how these, and other offerings, will be consumed. I do believe there is a healthy market for HANA by the drip to address specific needs, you can see the options formulating now.

I will finish with one insight, I see the squeeze through the portal of today’s battle for dominance hinged on these factors:  Cloud, Big Data, Mobile and In-memory computing. You could say that 6 of the top 10 HiTech players will be in head to head war to win this cocktail of the new economy. I say just like Client/Server I believe this will be an expanding function, a reverse funnel. From Micro-computer to Client/Server we expanded the eco-system, demand and opportunity, we didn’t shrink it. Though we’ll continue to see consolidation of the HiTech industry, we’ll also see more options for cloud, big data, mobile and in-memory computing options, we’ll see a new level of interope

rability, and a growing productivity as the result. The question is how much of this will be on-premise, and how much will be addressed behind closed data center doors of cloud providers? Honestly, I don’t know the mix yet.


I will predict that both SAP and EMC are great harbingers of change who have a great deal of synergies which will positively impact a very important joint customer base.