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.

charity website copy (click pic to go to

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.

IMG_6370 - Version 2


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)


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.

Optimizing on the Question – Big Data Analytics

In life there are opportunity costs. I have spent many a Sunday fretting over whether to clean the basement, watch the game, or spend the afternoon on single track with one of my kids. We unfortunately can’t create a duality that allows us to experience two simultaneous events, I always have to choose across my options. Companies face opportunity costs too. Do you hire head count for Brazil, reduce inventory in mid west, manage COGS, or acquire a company. There are constant decisions that leave alternative opportunities like dust on the floor. Matter of fact, companies are really layers of opportunity cost decisions we call strategies.  Strategies allow us to plan and execute with focus. Sometimes strategies are new and/or overt; sometimes they are organic and implied (a kin to culture). Usually companies have an agenda that is known by most and for this conversation I will call it a strategy. I would say for the majority of companies, strategy isn’t always democratic and out of the box for everyone. There’s a bit of trickle down defined and disseminated. “This is a growth year for us, we need to penetrate the market…”, “We’re concerned about Europe…”, “Divisional goal is 500 million…” or something similar.

Many of us, at various levels in the organization, are bounded by constraints and are asked not to create and advance the cause aimlessly, but to a set of criteria. This is important to align the organization and execute with powerful sameness.  Yet once in a while something happens, the market changes, new tech shows up. When this happens, the technologists get geeky and the C-level gets hungry, scared, or both.  Something “new” arises from the corporation that breaks the rules, and clears paths for new ways of thinking.  Think about the Dotcom wave, it is currently the quintessential example of this scenario.  All of a sudden, 20 year olds were becoming executives, Dotcom companies had valuations that surpassed blue chips, and people who sold socks to dogs were getting millions in VC money. The “rule followers” were punished and mocked as dinosaurs. The companies considered long-standing cultural strategies as broken and many chose to replace process while revolutionizing their offerings.  This worked for some, destroyed others, and embarrassed many in the ranks. We’re now entering a similar wave around Big Data Analytics.

My term for this wave/bubble/era… is Big Data Analytics (BDA). I use this inclusive term for the wave of change that is taking BI and departmental analytics and merging it with social media, global mobile user, cloud, and various forms of big data. Here within this wave again we have many great examples about how knowing more about us (from what data exists around us) allows for new insights and is ushering a new age. There are examples like “The Human Face of Big Data” (#HFOBD) with Rick Smolan, EMC/Greenplum Analytics Workbench on a 1000 node cluster developed to study big data (i.e. twitter, facebook, etc). or SAP’s recent “Real-Time Race” (#RealTimeRace) pitting two System Integrators against each other on stage developing live solutions on HANA. These bits of news get us all thinking “what if”.  However, as a large group of capitalists, I’m not sure we know how to leverage it, how to make decisions around opportunity costs for BDA. We’re in a bit of an innovation bubble and the ultimate question is what can we do to improve and prioritize our choices?

I have a few recommendations for everyone to consider in their business. It’s a short list of 3 things that I believe the smart companies will consider either organically or by reading this blog 😉

1)      Data is the new Information Technology (IT). Read “The Big Switch” by Nicholas Carr and you’ll see that since the birth of the “industrial company”, there has been a “technology” group which consists of smart, well-paid resources who apply the latest tech to business. First it was electricity & machines, then business systems, then computers, then data centers, and I propose the next wave will be whatever Big Data Analytics becomes.  (I would call it “Knowledge Management”, but we already blew that logo in the 90’s…) What this means is BDA will be pervasive and inject itself in many aspects of business, not just creating opportunity to increase revenue through traditional means.  Companies need to build new disciplines that identify and develop data use. Picture the 1960-1970’s. We used vacuum based mainframes, typewriters, rotary phones, and business men took 2 hour martini lunches. The world of iphones, tablets and angry birds is very different. I believe our future world will be thoroughly basted with data driven wisdom which will have even larger impacts.

2)      A Corporate Decision Strategy is needed. How we make decisions and what questions do we ask? We need to be much better at asking questions than we are today. I am under impressed by the long line of shopping basket, alternative offer, or Twitter sentiment studies I see.  This is applying old perspectives of your customer to a field with much greater opportunity. How do we involve crowd sourcing, self-service, social media, and data analytics to change the customer experience, the corporate workforce, and ultimately what is considered corporate core competencies.  I think a great way to start is a review and inventory of BDA capabilities within the business and an assessment of how questions are asked that create data analytics projects. Questions and decisions don’t serve the strategy, they are the strategy going forward.  Also note, the people who can define the right questions are more like artists, musicians, song-writers.  Many know there is a strong correlation between scientists and musicians. Similar to how computing jobs became loaded with creative people, we’ll need to migrate these skills away from programming and towards question development and decision strategy. Good news, the new recruits have grown up as “gammers”, this plays well into foundational skill sets needed.

3)      Change Business Systems – I’ve written assembler code and I’ve run analytics models. They are both very difficult to conceptualize and navigate. It’s a relatively small group of individuals that can execute these skills and thus create a real problem of scale. AI and machine learning are the beginnings of techniques that begin to help the average person to become a contributing member in this new age. We need decision support within BDA to morph from manually running a “K Means” model or hand developing “ordered pairs” to something less academically rigorous, and data capture/management/cleansing to become more intuitive and automated.  If we can automate “Mario Kart” as far from assembler as it is today, we can do the same in the era of BDA.

As companies refine and develop their BI/Data Analytics programs into the era of BDA. I think there’s an equivalent need to rethink the questions they ask. Do we need less sales execs? Do we need more data security?  Do we want to know what else we could sell someone buying running shoes, or do we want to help them design a new shoe specifically match their demographic/health needs? Can our customer sell themselves? And if so, how do we need to change what we sell to be competitive? What are we good at? What companies should merge to exploit inherent opportunity?  These are the opportunity costs of the new era that will emerge from BDA. To gain insight from data, we must first ask the right questions of it…

Putting the Face on the IMMENSE WORLD of BIG DATA

As I start this blog I have to tell you I am reminded of what Steve Jobs purportedly said to John Sculley, an executive at Pepsi, to get him to come run Apple.

“Do you want to sell sugar water for the rest of your life or come with me and change the world?”  

You know it’s rare to be part of something that is so new and innovative that it’s hard to explain. What I’m trying to describe is the “fresh” before the fad. I’m not talking about being part of a flash mob, but join in on the very first. I’m not talking about the 20,000th wedding party dance down the aisle-a-thon, but a vulnerable moment…where you don’t know the outcome of your effort. Few of us are lucky enough to join a startup that takes an idea, and grows it to an empire, or be at the moment when something newsworthy is created. These special moments hard to find. They become salient memories when you are part of them.

Well I have one of these moments I can let you in on…

Like reading tomorrow’s newspaper today, I can prognosticate on an upcoming event, and I’m going let you in on the ground floor. Today’s blog is to let you know about an organized series of events that will measure our world in new ways, it will change the ways we see ourselves, and you can be right in the freaking middle of it all.

“The Human Face of Big Data” (HFOBD)Human Face of Big Data

EMC Corporation and Rick Smolan, in conjunction with Rick’s production company “Against-All-Odds” Productions, is launching one of the most aggressive, creative, and newsworthy projects the Information Technology (IT) industry has ever seen. It’s so audacious that it’s not even IT anymore. Out of what many would have traditionally called the marketing department, comes a project that is more akin to the benevolence of the Medici family funding Michelangelo’s Sistine masterpiece, than what your average Fortune 100 Corporation spearheads. EMC, its social network of partners and a diverse set of stakeholders have come behind this vision that employs the ancient art of storytelling. The story they will tell will introduce us all to the global face of big data. 

Don’t get distracted… I know you’ve read a blog on global big data, but this is no blog mad ‘am. When you take a visionary from photo journalism and the market’s think tank of big data idea people, you come up with something much more profound. This is an orchestrated process of multiple global events on a grand scale that will, by its very action, deliver new insights on the emerging data-rich world we inhabit. It will be a fractal analog of data analytics it’s self. We create, we explore and we learn.

I’ll stop and get to the details.  The HFOBD is a multi-point plan. I want to share with you some of the high and low level details so you can get excited and join in, while I’ll leave a fair amount for you to explore as you engage in the process.

So is it BIG?

Well here are some of the initial estimated data points on the project’s scope

  • 100 Photographers
  • 1,000 node Greenplum device
  • 10,000 data detectives
  • 10,000,000 human sensors
  • 1,000,000,000 media impressions

Will I learn anything?

  • Did you know that depression can be predicted a couple days before it happens? Find out more.
  • Do you realize scatter plots can prevent future crime? I predict a causative relationship!
  • Ever feel like you could do more to reduce your energy bill, but don’t have an outlet? (pun intended…)
  • “CONTEXT IS KING!” we can do more if we can bundle silos on knowledge via context. Open-minded data-driven solutions.

Are there some Milesposts along the Journey?

  •  From September 25nd  until October 1st, millions of people will interact with their mobile device (w/ HFOBD app) and the world around them. For just a few days, devices will collect both passive and active human interaction for millions across the planet.
  • Additionally as part of the experience children will be given devices to collect data about their world.
  • There will be a control center in the ballroom of the New York Stock Exchange where Big Data Big Shots will gather to manage the process.
  • During and after the event, thousands of data detectives will process and explore the data for new levels of knowing.
  • The experience will culminate in a handful of artifacts:
    • a website where you can explore the experience and you can additionally connect with people that are like you, in profile, across the globe. 
    • And, a large book of data and photos telling the story. The book will be distributed to the 10,000 of the world’s leaders and influencers in November.
    • A CNN Special documentary and other public events.

Where do I go?  What do I do?

  • TODAY– Get Connected  
    •  go register your email and share the link with everyone.
    • Start following on Twitter: @FaceOfBigData  ; #HFOBD
    • Vimeo Video:!/search/face%20of%20big%20data/slideshow/videos
    • September 25th thru Oct 1st – Download the App & Engage the App! 
      •  Each person who loads the apps changes the outcome.
      • Get involved, and inspire your network of friends to join
      • Carve off enough time to engage the device, carry on with who you are for 24 hours.
      • I’ll be at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco with 40,000 other people, hopefully all engaged in the big experiment.
    • October 2nd –  Keep Tabs on the Progress!
      • Keep an eye out for information that begins to post on the progress
      • Check the website routinely, what is planned sounds really cool
    • November 20th – Enjoy the Outcome
      • Book will be available in electronic form,
      • once published alsoin a free iPad app and also in PDF form.
      • Watch for the CNN Special

I can’t wait to share this memory with you.

Analytic-Driven Action, one step into the uncharted abyss… What Now?

 Hello everyone. A topic that has been running through my mind is what impact does “analytic-driven action” have on our analytic, reporting and operational business systems. First there is plenty of stochastic prose about terminology used in BI/BA space today. I think it’s important you are aware of my interpretation of the terminology, so I put a write up at the end of the blog.

Otherwise we’ll continue.

My interests today are around predictive analytics and real-time analytics. Let’s assume we’re using super fast equipment returning data in milliseconds or we’re leveraging predictive tools that allow us the ability to take on the proactive steps in engaging customers, partners or employees in real-time. If we have the ability to leverage new found intelligence to effect action (aka analytic-driven manipulation of the user experience) my question is what do you do with it and how do you set up your systems so that you can do not just one data-driven action, but essentially blend analytics and operational systems in an iterative social activity?

What I am talking about here is a perfect puree of business, sales, support, and analytics systems. In other words we’re talking 100’s of millions if not billions of dollars of transformation for you average Fortune 100 company to put this into action. So we have to make an enormous, profitable market while we’re at it. And, hopefully change the world.

There are a few ways I’d like to evolve the thinking on this topic to make it worth the effort. In this blog I have laid out a few areas to consider in forming an approach. First topic: if we’re going to do “Analytic-Driven Action” we need to include additional functionality beyond our CRM and ecommerce toolsets. Let’s also consider:

–          True Engagement – Sending a coupon based on my GPS co-ords is shallow and intrusive.  Engage me, know me, interact with me, and provide more than I know about myself and my surroundings. As Guy Kawasaki  likes to put it “Enchant me”.

–          Cross System Integration – You want to immerse and manipulate me, then you’ll need to bring multiple sources of information together to create data that expands my accessible knowledge about items in my locale, and about the other people around me who resemble me in a demographic way.

–          Process Management – We’ve all been on that phone call where 30 people join a weekly cadence and no one’s done anything… Our systems are similar we can’t shepherd important customer/client/constituent interaction without being able to take an action and follow through. We’ll need workflow technology to deliver on our promises.

–          Authorized Personal Profile – The privacy answer can’t be “no systems” or “no privacy”. We need concentric circles of privacy, where we allow access to our general profile, our personal relationships, and our financial/health data. Allow us to let people into our circles and establish a social contract of privacy that is democratic and individually controlled, yet universally leveraged.

–          Minimum Collective Knowledge – Recently I did an informal survey as I ran on the treadmill at my local YMCA. The Y had 4 choices in 24/7 news running (CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CNBC) That day I ran about an hour and in that time, I would tell you unofficially, these 4 stations only overlapped on about 10% on the news they covered, (overlap of all 4 on same topic was about 4%). There were interesting stories across the spectrum, but really quite different. If you didn’t invest in churning between channels, you really miss part of the contemporary experience. Ultimately, we’re living different lives side-by-side. If the polarization of our politics is any example of that, then I am concerned with the specialization of information creating more distance between us and our commonalities waning.  Yes this is a societal issue, but it has relevance in this discussion. We can’t get so specialized that we forget the value in a common dialog and the structures that compose that. If we get out of “broadcasting” activities how is that lessened need supported and/or replaced.

When we talk about Analytic-Driven Action, we often reference the use cases of “fast trades on the trading floor”, or “proximity offers to mobile user” as examples.  These are two early versions in this field of thought, but they don’t test out the conceptual model to my satisfaction.  Let’s find something more interesting.  Life’s two most important activities are to “live” and “reproduce”.  I want to keep my “G rating”… so I’m going to choose “Iive” as the verb for my use case.  We all want to live and we are all motivated to take action that will ensure we live while shopping, exercising, taking a business trip, etc. In my mind, living is made up of primarily 4 things:

  • Historic vices & virtues – what you’ve done right & wrong in the past. This has little to do with your future, but you may already have been impacted by it. I put stress in the “vice” category…
  • Current vices & virtues – what you do today really matters for your current health
  • Environmental factors – Is there a piano hanging over your head, or a hurricane off the coast?
  • Defects – Genetics… Some of us have defects that will appear, and some will be fatal.

So what could we do to improve a person or group’s chances of living?  A quick brain dump of marginal ideas rendered the following list:

  • Remind someone they haven’t exercised in two days, and provide suggestions on optimal time to exercise with close locations based on weather and schedule
  • Point them to 5 people within a mile that also would like to play a pick-up game of basketball
  • Report that you’re current hydration, heart rate and temperature for people you age has lead to ___% instances of hypovolemic shock in the last year.
  • Offer a note that someone similar to them has just sat down for coffee alone and wouldn’t mind a conversation.
  • Identify other close-proximity people in a traumatic situation, so that the team can group to survive.
  • ID tha someone 1 mile away is looking for an expert in your expertise. (service is healthy…)
  • Verbal “play by play” steps to perform CPR, merged with a launched 911 call with GPS co-ords auto supplied, notifying a doctor that is 200 yds away.
  •  See that you are late for you meeting automatically sending an email to the attendees with an estimated arrival and/or launch a bridge call to connect everyone to get started.
  • Suggest products that are located within walking distance (when you have a free 30 mins in your schedule) that people of similar profile have purchased for health reasons, and accept alternative requests from the user. “No I don’t want a Buns of Steel Video, but my wife did need a cartridge for the Brita filter, is there one close?”

   How do systems have to change?

So maybe I went on too long about ideas and I am sure there are tons of other, better ideas. My point is that let’s not do thinly veiled commerce with “did you know there’s a Tony Romo around the corner…” type activity, but let’s actually impact people’s lives in a positive way. Analytics can’t crunch through numbers in real-time, then feed little digital billboards to us and call it innovation. Instead engage with the ability to inspire and interact.  This requires something more than real-time analytics, it requires our operational systems to respond in similar ways. Not that everything will run in real-time, but the systems need to interact on demand, kicking processes off that then come back with answers or start execution of other events and deliverables.  Additionally, we need the ability to integrate with other sources of data and operational systems that are owned by others.  The “supply chain” revolutionized the retail store, thus this model will revolutionize our economy and ultimately society all by surrounding the individual and his/her tribes.  We need to apply various flavors of analytics in conjunction with operational systems with the individual in mind, instead focusing on short-money targets. Otherwise we will miss a grand opportunity to change the way we do business in the future.

=Terminology Reference Section=

Here’s my little reference section on terminology. Is there a difference between all the current buzzwords? I believe the answer is yes and there is a difference worth noting. Here’s a reasonable definition I support ( I have also provided my 2 cents on the differences of BI, BA, RTA, & PA in this section.

Business Intelligence (BI) was, is and will be a function within corporations that generates reports on internal operations, sales tickets and possibly soft targets like customer feedback. It is the reporting function that sits upon primarily relational databases today and has been mostly rear facing. The primary data management functions within BI are to aggregate and slice views out of the big chunk of data (i.e. June Revenue, Inventory Turns, Customer wait time, etc.). Companies read this intelligence and react to change their business. I do believe this term will evolve to incorporate the entire world of business analytics, if for no other reason companies like SAP with their BusinessObjects, Sybase, and HANA products will continue to use the term BI in their product suite. That’s ok, but in most companies today it’s their reporting system and different than analytics.

Business Analytics (BA) is different. I am NOT saying it’s new and that some companies haven’t been deploying business analytics/data analytics in their overall business intelligence investments, but most haven’t considered its impact at the same level that they do today. Business analytics is the leverage of statistical analysis to explore business interactions and data correlations. These tools were once relegated to the engineering or science lab, but now are being employed in BA. BA uses linear regression, logarithmic regression, k-means, hypothesis testing, scatter plots to iteratively push millions of bits of data through analytic pipes hoping to get new insight at the end. “We can say with 95% certainty that customers with yellow cars will likely to… in this scenario…” It’s more like archeology than a hardened business process.

Real-time Analytics (RTA) So what is the difference in real-time analytics and predictive analytics? These two are arbitrarily inter-changed in the press today. Probably because it is not profitable for companies to split hairs over such definitions and thus the lines blur, but in my mind they are distinctly definable and different. The term real-time comes from real-time systems. R-T Systems are required to not only compute, but compute at a given speed. While getting my masters, I worked at a company writing code for real-time systems, in my case NTSC (20 frames/sec). It is difficult to ensure that code written on one system runs consistently at the same speed on another system. As you can guess they don’t, you have to come up with algorithms that create the consistency.  So to me real-time analytics not only refers to systems that can deliver fast results, but that the analytics has some form of temporal requirement.

Predictive Analytics (PA) is not a time based activity, it is primarily leveraging tools like linear regression to determine the “Y” deviation as you plot x.  If you have thousands of examples of x,y plotted out and you know your “x”, you can predict your “y”.  For example: “If you are 40 years old, then you have a 50% or better likelihood of you will ___ your____”.  We’re using vast historical knowledge to predict behavior.

MAKING SENSE OUT OF ANALYTICS… It’s time to progress this!

Big Data”.  A phrase destined to live a long life because it’s catchy and amorphous enough to mold itself into the current conversation. There is a great deal of literature, lesson and lore now floating around on this topic. We know Hadoop customers store petabytes of unstructured content, we know there are approximately 5 billion cell phones in the world producing both data and mobile consumers, we know Facebook is this important global mind meld of  puppy-dog pictures, farmville, and patriotic prose. Today, I want to involve you in what has been speed walking through my brain, how do you take something as esoteric as analytics and apply big data to it?

If you’re not a data scientist already, go load the analytics package “r” on your laptop. Then, create yourself a list, an array or a matrix of data and run some of the analytic functions contained within the package (i.e.  t.test(), lm(), kmeans()) . If you do this,  you’ll quickly learn that:

a)      This is super deep complex activity that combines statistics and programming

b)      Not suited for the majority of brains in the IT industry today

c)        Manipulated, massaged, converted, and carefully transformed by humans from one analysis to the next making decisions as you go.

d)      And… the data for each analysis isn’t the most aggressive volume of data (in no. of gigabytes) you’ve seen before.

If this is true, how do we answer the following questions:

1)      How does the data get so big?

2)      How do we apply Big IT to Analytics?


Ok, let me baseline you on linear regression.  Linear Regression (LR) is the gateway drug to predictive analytics. LR is the assessment of existing data that shows a linear pattern as you traverse a set of variables. This is called “Best fit” or Least Squares Regression Line. With luck your data will provide a best fit that is so linear, when you predict one variable, it gives you an algorithm (or coefficients) to predict the other.  In the link I reference (here), is an example of tracking two variables “age” and “height” across a sample.  The result is an algorithm where we could enter an “age” and get a suggested “height” back, thus providing predictive capabilities.

There are other algorithms beyond LR. Shopping baskets are processed as key value pairs (KVP). Combining each pair combination looking to trends in buying patterns. KVP is in demand today, and it’s a culprit in creating large amounts of data. A classic example is predicting what consumers buy. Everyone always talks about groceries because everyone buys groceries and they buy lots of things each trip.  Being able to predict what people will purchase, would allow grocery stores to better serve, while reducing costs to help their razor thin margins. This is why there are so many grocery store examples…

However, I’d prefer a new target for our discussion. Its beach time, I’m heading to a North Carolina beach destination soon, so let’s do beach shop souvenirs. If you’ve been to a North Carolina beach you know it’s all about lighthouses, pirate legends, and casual fun.

In our example there are:

–          Pretty T-shirts

–          Rebel/Pirate T-shirts

–          Surfer/Cool T-shirts

–          Sea shells

–          Bow covered flip-flops

–          Pirate gear

–          Cheap surf/water gear

–          Sun tan lotion

–          Postcards

–          Lighthouse gifts

–          Boat-in-a-bottle gifts (BiaB)

Review my list, I think we can predict a few type of shoppers.  The contemporary “southern belle”, the “pirate on the inside” and the “surfer dude wannabe”. I would speculate that these three shoppers would tend to buy like in these patterns:

–          Southern Belle – Pretty T-shirts, bow flip-flops, sea shells, sun tan lotion, postcards, lighthouse gifts, and BiaB

–          Pirate Pete – Pirate/Rebel T-shirts, pirate gear, and BiaB

–          Spicoli Dude – Surfer/Cool T-shirts, Sun tan lotion, surf gear

Note, I speculate on my mental library of personal observations, KVP speculates based on data.  To come to a more definitive conclusion, we would use KVP to process a day’s worth of transactions. If we ran these tests, you would be able to appreciate the vast number of combinations to consider. If our goal is to identify correlation or causality in product purchase relationships (say a person who buys a shell, likely to also buy lighthouse at a 95% confidence), you have to consider all the combinations of purchase relationships across a large number of receipts. This mean comparing: one to one combinations, 2 to 1 combinations, up to N to 1 combinations where N is the number of items purchased (data scientists…yes this is a simplification, be kind with your technical assessment of it…). Now apply those combinations across 100’s shoppers in a given day, across a chain of stores, across the summer season.  Now imagine you’re a global retail giant. What rubik’s cube of potential value this could be, and how much data gets generated in the process. It’s the combinations of assessment that make the data growth sky rocket off the charts.  Now think about how you manage it, communicate it, leverage it, and do you ever throw it away?


I know the word Big IT sounds like something we’re trying to get away from, right? Scale up is dead, scale out is hip. However to me Big IT is the lessons we learned about mission criticality, scale, consolidation/virtualization, and service levels that run all our companies today. We have a hoard of global IT professionals keeping the lights on and analytics has to make the jump from academia and departmental solutions to Big IT to get to Big Data. If we really want to know infinitely more about us (US defined as myself, myself with others, others without myself, only men, only women, only women in Europe, only teens who play football, I think you get it…) we need the IP and assets we’ve developed in the last era of scale up.  We need the connectivity, we need the structure of  things like ITIL, we need hiccup tolerant approaches that run on systems management tools, not hundreds of IT resources flipping out blown out components  they bought at a school auction. The “science project” has to become big business.

So how do we apply something that is as complex and focused as analytics to IT? I think its organizational changes that provide a vehicle for architectural changes.  Companies need to consider a “Chief Strategy Officer” (CSO) role as a binding force. Some companies may make this an engineering position or a marketing position based on their primary culture, but the role should exist and that role needs to set an analytics strategy for the company.  First they should define an analytics mission statement. “What are we going to do with analytics within the company?” Then they need to answer the basic questions about what we know of: our employees, our customers and our processes. Additionally they need to ask what in the big “datascape” do we want to bring into our analytics engines to accomplish our mission.  With this they can set an architectural strategy that leverages old tech and incorporates new tech to meet the mission objectives. Otherwise the company is locked in silo’d perspectives and can’t get to the bigger order items, it’s hard to construct this monster bottom-up.  Many of the companies I talk to who are starting enterprise programs, still seem to be searching for the how to bring it together. The answer is, just like the CIO organized IT, companies need a c-level resource to define the charter.

With the correct organizational structure, a company can then look at an architecture that can index the outside bits for later use, adjudicate the data flow to peel off the useful content into higher functioning data stores and then apply analytics packages to distill insight. Techniques like machine learning will help automate the processing and allow the super smart operators to become more productive. And, the programmers will write applications to get the global-mobile user in active participation by both creating and consuming the information within the process.

– The American Carnival – Sapphire, EMC World & the Spring Tradeshows

What’s your spring like, flowers and rain showers? Mine is a criss-cross journey between Orlando and Vegas as I partially attend the 8 weeks of the American Carnival.  Similar to its Brazilian counterpart in little, the American Carnival of IT is a series of software and IT companies holding their major shows starting in early April to June.  Two of the biggest events are coming over the next two weeks: SAP’s SAPPHIRENOW and EMC’s EMC World. Luckily… they are not in the same place (complete sarcasm).  Sunday I head to Orlando, then travel to EMC World in Vegas for the following week.  Its maddening excitement as I prepare to present and participate in at least 80 or so meetings that will define many of the plans we will use to execute over the next 12 months.  The goal is simple: risk something, leverage another, and try not to pick up any poundage from the food.

What’s interesting this year is it’s been about 18 months since we saw Oracle get into the hardware business, SAP get into the in-memory business, and EMC proclaim is dominance in “Cloud Meets Big Data”. Though Oracle has had a rocky time of it as they engaged the majority of their partners in warfare, they did kick off a crossover buying binge that is changing the market. Look at HP’s acquisition of Autonomy and Vertica, look at SAP’s recent investments in Violin Memory, VMware’s investment in Cetas, IBM’s purchase of SPSS, EMC’s acquisition of Pivotal Labs.

Also let’s add into the soup pot SAP’s frontal assault on the traditional DB vendors (an eye towards Oracle) with their in-Memory database architecture, HANA. Who would have considered putting something as large as SAP on an in-memory database a few years back? Now customers have spent, I would speculate, 100’s millions investing in initial phase deployments.  Finally look at the scrappy EMC. Rewarded and punished by its impenetrable brand as the “pioneering storage giant”, has actually cracked the market’s stale perception of this firebrand turning it into a Cloud and Big Data company. Major R&D investment, acquisitions and a bit of quality marketing have worked to transform EMC into a major player at the crossroads of these two movements. 

You ask: “Is he off topic?”  maybe, but my reason is to explain where my interest lies as I pack my bag for Sapphire.  Like the point in the Hunger Games where they all pop up into the field and have a few seconds to consider their first action, how they will live or die, we are on the cusp of an epic “cage match”. There are no long term partners anymore; no one can see that far. Today it’s about who helps you for the next few steps, who wins with you as a partner contemporarily.  No one is going to respect the existing swim lanes going forward. Do you run for the margins or dive for the swords.

With that said there are some significant allegiances that seem to have a strong foreseeable future. Companies like Intel, Cisco, EMC, VMware and SAP have a shared advantage in a new world of big apps sitting on Clouds running on x86 platforms. These come together to provide better price, better performance, better flexibility and I am sure there will be more announcements across these brands about their interaction and investment.

If you’ve ever used a boogie board you know about double waves, when one wave consumes the other and creates a massive ride to the sand. Well we are really dealing with a double wave as we speak. The first wave is the Cloud. We’re started, but we’re not nearly done with the Cloud. We’re just now seeing the beginning of the main streaming of these technologies as many companies start to go into production with their Cloud platforms.  However, many have prioritized a second wave of activity to create the business justification or at least the compelling event for cloud.  From my perspective, those priorities are coming from either an effort to reach the end user or to process large amounts of data, often created by the end user (aka Mobility and Big Data Analytics). Customers want to build roadmaps that improve the business and use cloud as a transference mechanism.

My old boss always said its messy when you make laws or sausage.  We’re “moshing” cloud, VDI, mobile apps, social media, sensor nets, machine Learning, ERP, ecommerce into use cases for the business so we can better know our customers, better know our profit, or better know ourselves. I believe this means companies are exploiting the convergence of IT vendors, and customer are increasing their use of the global systems integrators to cut a path through this gnarly vine covered jungle.

That is what I’m looking for at SAPPHIRE, and EMC World. Where the use case meets the solution, and who are the vendors who are offering it up.

If you are interested in EMC being part of your developing mosh pit. Please come by to see us in Orlando or Vegas.  At EMC World you can imagine we have a presence… So, I’ll leave that topic to the many blogs that are already covering it.  Let me spend a few lines on Sapphire. EMC is an Onyx partner this year and we will have many activities to choose from.

Here’s a sample list:                

  • Big Data: Controlling Unstructured Data in the SAP Landscape, Andy Sitison & John Cooper, Monday 14th 3:00p at Partner Center Theater     (I’m introducing John who is our Chief Technologist based in Texas)
  • Virtualize SAP with EMC & VMware, Eric Walter, EMC – Monday @ 3PP, Tuesday @ Noon, and Wednesday @ 11AM, VMware Booth #1293
  • High Availability & Persistence for SAP HANA, Stefan Voss, EM, Monday @ 4pm, Tuesday @ 4pm, Wednesday @ 11am, Cisco Booth # 1185
  • Transforming SAP Apps with VCE’s VblockTM Infrastructure Platform. Monday, May 14th at 2:00pm-2:45pm, Partner Center Theater
  • Transform SAP by Replatforming to an Intel Architecture with EMC, Tuesday, May 15th at 2:00pm-2:45pm, Partner Center Theater
  • EMC, SAP & VMware: Collaboration in the cloud for customer success, Cloud Theater (Time TBD)   
  • Join us for the Vblock™ Platform Party, Monday at 4pm, Tuesday at 4pm and Wednesday at 3pm
  • Be sure to speak with our  experts at our workstations and demos to be eligible to win the Mini Cooper
  • Share your ideas at “THE CUBE”  with Dave Vellante & John Furrier.  (that team does a great job)
  • Come by the booth for a list of all the activities and micros forums.

Obrigado, I’m off to practice my Samba now…

Taking a Seat at the Big Data Table

Today EMC made a concerted effort to lay down the “table stakes” at the Big Data table, quietly demanding respect for their bid as an anchor player in the future of Big Data. At the start of day on the tech heavy west coast, word rang out of the EMC announcement in the industry press channels. Today, EMC announced their answer to expanding collaboration between data scientists, and the acquisition of the world-class development house of Pivotal Labs.  In a world inundated by an almost endless amount of corporate-generated press releases, this was noteworthy through the noise.

 Why?  Let me give you a few points to consider. Ok first, have you ever had a need to execute a mental task or two on your computer only to find that your virus scanner was running, or the company is installing something behind the scenes and you are relegated into feeling like you are living in the Slow-mo footage at ESPN? You wait seconds if not minutes everything slows down and somewhere in the process you realize you have forgotten EVERYTHING you were doing and your creative energy is all but drained from your person. You might as well just do email now…

Well I tell you this loss is pervasive in our IT world, often we lose the ability to execute on our most brilliant ideas because of timing, multi-tasking churn, and the inability to effectively execute on collaborative activities, all before the constant rush of information again flows over our levees’ and we’re buried in the next rush of content. Like waves at the beach we only have so long between the intervaled poundings to make real progress.  So if we imagine this to be true of the basics of our business lives, now imagine the pace of predictive and/or low-latency analytics where the provisioning, processing, analysis, decision and actions have to happen in a day, or an hour, or a second, or a micro-second.  We’ve got to get better at our ability to process in the cycle-times we have. Of course to address micro-second requirements will require machine based processes, but there is an immense opportunity to refine our cycles that fall in the realm of human processing.

One of the most critical tools of human invention is timely collaboration. Humans make better decisions faster when they can leverage readily available tools, data and peers. Imagine the perfect world where you can get data when you need it, you can get advice when you ask for it, you can push a result to another for review without technical limitations, and you didn’t even have look at an email to do it.  This is the big step EMC made today by announcing “Greenplum Chorus”.


Greenplum Chorus is a collaborative environment that allows the users (data scientists) to self-provision space, capture, transpose, assess, and share chunks of data without approvals, requests, or IT intervention.  We’ve seen how impactful social tools like Twitter or Yelp have been. The ability to connect, share and discover has profoundly changed the world, and now we have a similar social lever to use in the advancement of data analytics.  Chorus will additionally be a landing zone for an eco-system of 3rd party offerings allowing for freedom to advance the evolving strategies of its user community.


WOW, if that wasn’t enough to talk about.  The acquisition of Pivotal Labs is the laser sharpened sword hidden in a gentleman’s cane.  These guys are extremely competent, experienced, and pedigreed. If you were look at their customer and collaborative projects list, it’s the who’s-who of this IT age. Technically Pivotal Labs brings to the equation, their focus on agile development tools and an invaluable resume of cloud, analytics and mobile success stories.  In addition, Pivotal Tracker is an industry leading agile development platform with hundreds of thousands of active developers currently using the platform. Akin to SAP’s purchase of Business Objects, this provides EMC with not only great technology, but an existing eco-system to embolden the go-forward plan.


Easy as 1-2-3

EMC Greenplum is known for their high performance data driven solutions which are cloud ready. Now you add a collaborative platform that engages the users in socially empowered self-service model, and an integration platform to pull the story together and you can see an impact player in the making.

Big Data: The Quiet, Quick Death of Privacy

note: use the embedded links its good stuff! 🙂

Last week I wrote the first of a two part blog on Big Data. I discussed the evolution of digital data, the series of initiatives that have appeared to manage data and the impact Big Data will have on our current world. Today I want to discuss another aspect of Big Data and that is information privacy.

I will start by saying I am a bit disturbed. Not by progress, because I enjoy evolving. My concerns are in the dichotomy between massive change and the blind involvement of the average human in this process. It is a common sight to see a mother driving a Lexus with a phone propped against her ear, kids pushing Facebook photos to friends, or a college student typing out a few keystrokes on twitter in the local coffee shop. We’re all active participants in massive information usage. We are also the first generation in modern history to see a permanent revocation of privacy rights. Many would say these minor losses of privacy are needed to fight terrorism or to keep up with the criminals; but I would state the changes in technology and our new found social obsessions are equal contributors to this loss of privacy.

Very few of us are considering the changes in privacy in a broad societal context. We leave most decisions to the ill prepared politicians to poke their finger in the shadows of the black box without understanding the ramifications of their actions. Or, to those who will capitalize on the opportunity. Those who will leverage this information, possibly for great or nefarious purposes. I hope you see in this article I am not here to vilify anyone or to say we need the level of privacy we have had. Instead this is a call to action for us all to think about what this all means. I’m asking you to be the “cowboy”, not the “cow”. Big Data means data everywhere; it will undoubtedly impregnate our lives for the foreseeable future.

This blog will be broken into three parts. The first part will quickly hit upon the historical rise of freedoms, the second part will focus on the current world of information collection, and finally the third part will ask the question should we care? Before diving in, I will tell you that I have no “legal chops”. This blog provides a dime store tour of some of the legality of privacy. Take it for what it’s worth.

PART ONE: A Brief History of Privacy
Today’s modern view of rights and liberties principally start in 1215 with the “Great Charter” or Magna Carta. There was little in the way of specifics defined within the big “MC” related to personal privacy, but it kicked off a vein of thought that became our current global era which has afforded more international freedoms to more people today than in any other known period of time.
From the 1200’s through the 1700’s most rights and liberties focused on the freedom of religion, incarceration, taxes, and property ownership. Virginia led the colonies in drafting the “Virginia Bill of Rights” in 1776 which later became the starter document for the federal bill of rights Using the site, I was able to understand that much of the momentum for our privacy and protection in the constitution, came from the findings associated with a handful trials like “Wilkes v. Wood” where Wilkes won a suit against the practice of issued royal warrants allowing appointed agents to ransack the designee’s homes and seize their books and papers. These warrants were issued against those who spoke ill of the King. The revolutionary war and our formative years as a country solidified our resolve for liberty and gave birth to a new foundation of human rights.

Going forward through the decades, America and England set many standards for personal freedoms. New legislature and case law grew in support of the concepts of privacy, “Invasion of Privacy” to be specific. Interesting enough technology played a big role in the development of privacy. Newspapers, cameras, and TVs allowed the common man to see what was happening in mass and to begin to influence the law makers and courts to better protect privacy. Examples include tort laws on invasion of privacy which allow you to sue against those who intrude on your properties. One of the biggest “rocks in the river” happened in 1961, the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution.

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”                  – Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution

The fourth amendment protects against unwarranted search and seizure. To me what is interesting is the fact that our deep seated concept of privacy is actually a fairly recent addition coming into its current form just before I was born.

It is important to point out that privacy law is subjective. Case in point: the term “of public interest” seems quite broad, but is a key point leveraged in the legal interpretation of “invasion of privacy”. Case point: celebrities have less privacy rights than the average American because of such interpretations.

So I hope I didn’t bore you in the review of our collective, traditional perspective of privacy rights. I’ll finish part one with some related quotes through history:

“But no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people.” – John Adams 1776

“If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation;” – John Adams 1772

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. “ -Thomas Jefferson

“It all comes from, I would argue, this right to privacy that doesn’t exist in my opinion in the United States Constitution . . .” – Rick Santorum 2003


PART TWO: Current Events in Information Capture
One can say that up until 1990, privacy was a physical thing. A search warrant protected privacy of one’s space. You were required to have proper cause and approval to invade someone’s personal space. Today the digital world has no analog to protect your digital and physical privacy from a new wave of technologies.
In this section, let’s look at several current events that relate to the capture and use of personal information

Carrier IQ Article, Gigcom – Carrier IQ is a product that can be preloaded on your cell phone or device that can literally capture every action and designed to send that data to some collection zone. It was engineered for the cell business to create new knowledge, and arguably profit, from the data collected. Apple quit using it in iOS5. My carrier Verizon has a policy against this product, but other carriers like Sprint and AT&T have used it in some form. This article included a poll on whether respondants would change purchase behavior based on this knowledge, at the time of writing, 82% voted they would.
House Committee Bill on Data Retention Mandate, CNET – Here’s an excerpt from this article:
“Internet providers would be forced to keep logs of their customers’ activities for one year… 19 to 10 vote represents a victory for conservative Republicans, who made data retention their first major technology initiative after last fall’s elections, and the Justice Department officials who have quietly lobbied for the sweeping new requirements… rewrite of the bill expands the information that commercial Internet providers are required to store to include customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses, some committee members suggested. By a 7-16 vote, the panel rejected an amendment that would have clarified that only IP addresses must be stored. [so the all data would be stored…] It represents “a data bank of every digital act by every American” that would “let us find out where every single American visited Web sites,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren of California, who led Democratic opposition”
There is also an interesting “Government Snooping Timeline” in the article. Popularity can only be judged by the comments that follow the blog. They were damning…
CIA Mood Ring: Monitors Twitter and Facebook, Computerworld  – The CIA monitors up to 5 million tweets as day says Computerworld. They do this to rapidly assess the global sentiment. Feeding results to various governmental recipients like the president. The article additionally states that Homeland Security is looking at guidelines for privacy rights while it monitors social media. This is self-regulating and questionable if it would be successful.
Town Center to Monitor Christmas Shoppers w/ their Cell Phones, – These things hit close to home, my local town center “Short Pump” announced plans ( that they would track everyone that entered the town center via their cell phones and aggregate the data to determine shopping patterns. Though they did provide some news information on the web, the actual shopper would not be notified of this activity. Approximately 1 week later ( they announced they would be pulling the system out at least temporarily because of the backlash. However they imply they will be working on enhancements. I bought my presents at the competing malls this year.

Surveillance Catalog Article, WSJ – This article and video provide a laundry list of  new hacking, monitoring, and intercept technologies. Hey maybe something for under the tree?
CNN News – Just this morning I watched CNN where they talked about new surveillance companies providing police forces and other governmental agencies data collection and mining tools that take information from public wifi’s by penetrating laptops and devices on the network, even if they were password protected in some instances. Their next report was a discussion of drone planes and whether would we ever use them in American skies?
SCAN VAN – Ok… if you have survived the others without a flinch, this one has to get you a little. The company American Science and Engineering has installed and is selling backscatter vans (or x-ray vans) that can be driven up and down the road visualizing all the contents of houses and/or cars. To be clear through brick walls and through clothes while you pass on the street. Here are 2 news reports that differ in the support of such technologies as appropriate. (Young Turks, FoxNews worth watching both…). Once again we all have to decide if there is a line and where that line is.

So, hopefully you now realize that data is collected in very new ways that is without a doubt invasive by traditional views of privacy, yet it feels so right as we leverage the inter-connectiveness of our personal device world.

PART THREE: What’s an Addict to Do?
In 1949 George Orwell wrote the epic book called Nineteen Eighty Four about a society ruled by an authoritarian group called “the Party”. The people were constantly watched with little to no freedoms, they are surrounded by pervasive surveillance, they were subjected to mind control, and they were perpetually in a state of war. With constant devices and 24×7 news, sometimes I feel like I am on mind control…

Whether you’re ready to grab an aluminum hat or if you’re an “out of sight out of mind” type, I hope you see the acute changes that technology has brought upon our actual privacy and thus our rights. The question is what do you do about it? Do you shut off your phone? Put down the iPad? Write your congressman? Write a blog? Change your shopping patterns? Start a new data mining company? The answer is to take action, whichever you see fit.

As a society we need to step up our societal skills. There is lots of “whitespace” to be defined today and most of us are too busy with kids, soccer games, quarterly reports, and the daily DOW to focus in on these issues. If Thomas Jefferson or George Mason had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have the America we have today. Our founding fathers were consistent in their concern in the fragility of our democracy and our freedoms. They were extremely worried we would become complacent and apathetic to our luxuries. They were right. Form an opinion and share it. Maybe privacy is overrated… Maybe privacy and freedom are loosely correlated and do not represent a causal relationship. These are the things we should be discussing. Let’s formally and proactively reach that conclusion if so.

Big Data is coming and it is a positive force and will better our lives and our economy. Yet, I don’t want others defining my future while I’m watching a hulu clip.

The opinions written of this blog are solely my own and not those of my associations.

“One Throat to Choke” – Who’s Kidding your Hands Don’t Fit.

Well here I am, back from Oracle OpenWorld and banging out another week of work. OOW for me was 3 days, jam packed full of interactions with our customers, partners, and Oracle.   I found the show to be informative, and I definitely realized how invested EMC’s customers are in the Oracle-EMC solutions.  EMC and Oracle have been in an industry interlock through the last 2 decades together supporting some of the most impactful business processes in the world. As I talked to an endless stream of noteworthy customers, I felt that connection completely.  While there, I also poked around, attended keynotes, and talked to everyone who dared to look at me (a mistake they will not make twice!).

I’d like to tell you about all the insights I took away, but frankly, I can’t keep your interest for that long. So, let me work to edit and organize my thoughts. Today I will work in Vignettes. Why? Because, no one has told me I couldn’t, and I am feeling creative.

Vignette One: “Crazy Mixed Up [Open]World”

The scene opens in a super large room with bright lights and thousands of people, otherwise known as the Keynote hall.  Monday morning, I had the privilege to sit up front with a few of our customers and some serious players from EMC. Monday morning Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC, kicked off the keynotes. After a strong rally of all the great things EMC is doing around the Cloud (web coverage:, He introduced Pat Gelsinger who in turn introduced Chad Sakac. Pat and Chad had an entertaining presentation on EMC’s Big Data strategy. Data growth, EMC Greenplum, virtualization, analytics engines; many topics were reviewed in the context of EMC innovations. Pat also held up a new piece of EMC technology, Lightening flash cards . In beta, the Lightening flash cards have a CPU mounted on the blade, and they will provide a reported 320GB of lightening fast flash per card. Chad followed Pat’s lead and began to demo VMware’s integrated VFabric Cloud Application Platform (related coverage: This really showed how to take customer analytics requirements down through the software and hardware.  They also showed the card at work as it vaporized performance problems live on stage. The two ended by comparing the hypothetical auto insurance costs between 3 constituents, you may have heard of: Gelsinger, Tucci, and Larry Ellison. Larry’s was the most expensive since it had a jet and racing boat in his fleet of vehicles.  It was a humorous way to end, and a good time was had by all. 

What struck me was that in just a handful of years, how EMC was no longer a storage company, but a bundled solution company, much of what was noteworthy in the presentation was all the software and software integration that has been developed. And, other than the Lightening blade that Pat held up, there was little mention about the hardware.  Following the event, it was my job to take Pat to a meeting with a CIO from one of our customers. In that meeting and throughout the day, you could tell that the keynote message and the energy resonated.

Following the EMC keynote, Oracle took the stage for a couple of hours and presented on Exalytics, SPARC Super Cluster, they also reviewed Exadata and Exalogic updates. By circumstance, they reiterated many of the same functionalities EMC had discussed, but with an Oracle-specific platform to support Oracle apps. In their presentation, Oracle took shots at many of their new infrastructure competitors “23x faster than”, “more gigabit capacity for”, and “2 more DRAM of that”. The dialog continued…

Whether I was bored or in a new enlightened state, there listening to the keynotes it hit me. Like an episode from the “Twilight Zone”, our two companies had switched places. “Freaky Friday”, but it’s only Monday… We were spending our time talking about software and Oracle was spending their time talking about hardware. I wonder how many of the thousands of people listening thought the exact same thing?  It goes to show, as Joe Tucci said, “Cloud is the most disruptive tech wave ever”. The vendors our customers have worked with for years are going through notable changes to provide for a new era of IT technology. The good news, customers have quality options to fulfill their requirements with, and they will vote with their wallets.

Vignette Two: “Congestion at the Intersection of Cloud Meets Big Data”

Ever been in a canyon in Arizona when a thundering horde of cattle came pounding in your direction? I’ve done some hiking in New Mexico and Arizona in my life and…well ok I saw a cow or two, but no stampede. The closest I ever came was last week at the EMC booth at OOW11. About every 5-10 minutes we would run a theater presentation and as the crowd left, you’d literally watch the booth staff step aside to avoid being trampled. I didn’t count them personally, but I know that way more than 13,000 people took a few minutes to talk to an expert or watch a show in our theater. Additionally we had EMC IT speaking about our transformation to virtualize our Oracle databases internally, we had EMC TV taping customer testimonials, and our meeting space was packed for 3 days straight. Unlike a traffic intersection, there’s always room for more.  Come join the movement!

Vignette Three:  “One Throat to Choke – if you have hands the size of Manhattan”

So let’s talk a little about clouds. The cloud is a lot like a Mainframe(MF), without ownership issues… What you say?!?  Stay with me here…if you look at the systems in support of PaaS, IaaS, SaaS, etc. what are their major features: Virtualization, Scale, Consolidation, Multi-tenancy, Systems management, Chargeback, etc.  They are in ways very similar to a big MF from the 1970’s.  A major difference is that the MF was a vertically integrated mostly proprietary single sourced product. The efficiency of the system was high, but the flexibility of user to choose how she used the system was limited and costly.  It’s taken us 30 years to get back to the same concept with a small but massive innovation: choice.  The cloud is the cloud because it’s democratic. It’s made up of many providers providing a litany of options on open systems. You get the benefits of MF on a hyper scale.  These key concepts are the essence of the “tipping point” (Malcom Gladwell)  for the next wave of IT, and these concepts are what bothered me about Oracle’s strategy as they too join the cloud. 

The keynote on Wednesday claimed that Oracle’s new public cloud offering is great because it’s standards based. This claim mainly hung on Java as the development platform. It was said many existing clouds and enterprise software are not valid because they are not based on these similar standards.

Yet now for the third year in a row, Oracle announced new appliances and a proprietary version of Linux that continue to drive the Oracle apps and DB owners to single sourced, primarily proprietary solution. Luckily for the thundering horde, there are good alternatives that offer better alignment to their entire IT strategy.  However, it’s the overwhelming message that this is somehow good for the industry, is what I would call, un-productive to the cause. A clear eye will see this as a trip “forward to the past”, back to a world Tom J. Watson would recognize.

Vignette Four: “It’s Easier to Ask for Forgiveness than Permission”

A man walks into a doctor and says “It hurts when I run my Oracle apps without Virtualization”, the doctor says “then virtualize”.  If there was a predominate dialog running through the entire show it was customers asking if, when and how they can virtualize Oracle.  Oracle has traditionally tried to make it difficult to virtualize Oracle using VMware; [assumptive] because a lack of VMware drives demand to their appliances and thus OVM. However this has been a small puddle in the path of progress that many have already crossed for both non-production and more recently production DBs. With vSphere5 the limitations have been removed and now it’s on a normal technology adoption cycle.  I already mentioned that a company as big as EMC is converting to an approximately 99% virtualized environment. We will see many customers virtualize the database in 2012 as described in this recent press release on American Tire Distributors.  Of the customers I spoke with, their primary concern was that Oracle support contract states, if there is a problem that can’t be resolved the customer may have to migrate to a physical environment to resolve it.   That’s not a crazy statement to have in a support contract, and it’s also not crazy for customers to be highly concerned about how this statement will be leveraged.  I appreciate that this big opportunity, to better really important IT environments, is also a risk because they are so important. This is why a natural technology adoption cycle exists, and it is similar to the virtualization of MS Exchange debate 5-6 years ago. We’re way past that one, the databases are next to be taken by the Virtual Tsunami.

Two recent surveys came out that I want to bring to your attention.

  • Storage Attach for VMWare Environments (Source: Goldman Sachs IT Spending Survey, March 2011)
    • EMC went from 33% (Dec 2010), to 40% (Feb 2011)
    • next closest competitor was 17% (Feb 2011)
  • EMC #1 Choice for Application Storage (Source: IDC’s Wrldwd Qtrly Strge Sys Tracker, Mar 2011,SUDS Survey )
    • Across seven categories including Oracle, SAP, SharePoint, Exchange, VDI, Analytics, EMC is #1. 
    • The 2nd and 3rd positions were not swept by any other vendor.

At EMC, we see this happening. There is no doubt the train has left the station, it’s your decision which car to jump on, or if you’re taking alternate transportation.

 Vignette Five: “Tragically Upstaged”

On Wednesday, Larry Ellison held the keynote. If you’ve never seen Larry present he’s casual, charismatic, and poisonous to his prey.  For Wednesday the prey was SAP & Like an XBOX shoot’em up, there was gore everywhere; if you avoid the inaccuracies, it was a great demonstration sleight of hand and showmanship. He also announced a few new offerings that I should spend some time on, but I’m going with a different angle here.

What really interested me happened close to the end of the keynote. Let me take you back to my blog “Shake Rattle and Roll”  where I talked about the different technologies I used versus my kids during the east coast earthquake. I wasn’t on social media and thus less informed and connected than my daughters.   I am here to report I am reformed!  I was on twitter during Larry’s speech typing and reading. It is there where I got the sad news about Steve Jobs. I then watched people begin to get up and leave the keynote, first a trickle, then a flow, then a flood.  Those who were not on social media probably didn’t know what was happening.  I however, was connected to my fellow techies at that moment, and though be it that I was completely bummed by the news, I felt I had closed the gap just a little on the iGeneration.