EMC Gives Back – A day with FeedMore.Org

#RVA Local?  Don’t miss Zest Fest Gala (Feb 28th) hosted by FeedMore.org

EMC has a wonderful program we call “EMC Gives Back” which takes crusty old business-hardened individuals like myself and tells them its ok to not have your iPhone glued to your hand and calendar memorized for at least one day. It sounds silly, but you know where I’m coming from. Though I work endlessly without reference to a clock, I have an internal drive to constantly contribute. The contribution is ok, but this program helps people like myself to re-adjust the focus and add more targets for my value-add. In this case non-profits.  Since I have started supporting EMC Gives back, I have actually increased my volunteering across the board, and which has been as rewarding for me as my sweat equity is for others. To finish my prologue… I’ll say “thanks EMC”.


EMC Corporate chose to focus on water security last spring and summer, and food security this fall and winter. The EMC office in Richmond, VA took this to heart and has scheduled several afternoon sessions at FeedMore.org .  This high energy group is organized by Gina Moore and Mike Blow, two courageous do-gooders I’d say. I am appreciative of their efforts to organize the team.

Well next week TEAM EMC/Richmond is heading over for our second installment of can-slinging in the food distribution warehouse, but I unfortunately will be traveling during the visit. I was not going to let that keep me down… I decided to take things into my own hands. If you’ve followed my past blogs, you know my daughter is in a program called “SERVE” at Virginia Tech, and she is still in town for break. It was an easy pitch for me to get her to join me on a little afternoon adventure. We both headed to FeedMore.


So let me tell you a little about FeedMore’s history.  FeedMore is a “giving tree” who’s roots started in the 1980’s. Rising hunger concerned the local community and 60 non-profits/charities came together to form the “Central Virginia Food Bank” (CVFB). CVFB was named “Best Food Bank in the Nation” in 1998 and continues to be a leader program for the nation. In 2008 a powerful move was made to consolidate CVFB with Meals on Wheels and to create a Community Kitchen as an enabler of nutritional health in the community. This innovative merger has been recognized as a national model for driving collaboration into the fight for food security.

Interesting FeedMore Stats:                                                                                            (stats from FeedMore.org website and through conversations at facility)

– Aprox. 22 million pounds of food has been processed and served to the community through this network, based in Central VA. (4 million through the specific facility I was in)

– 83,000 pounds of food is distributed every day

– FeedMore supports 31 counties in Central Virginia.

– Major contributors include the Boy Scouts, and major grocery chains like  Wal-Mart and Kroger.


I was in impressed on many levels. I was surprised to see how big an operation this was. Its a small army of volunteers everyday that makes this work. Let’s also point out the goodness of the major grocery chains. These companies go to a notable effort to take slightly old and astetically damaged product and get it to FeedMore in great shape. I saw a couple examples where they went to the trouble to reprint labels so the product could be used. Many of these contributors additionally do a matching program in $ which is a huge benefit. I guess you could say we all pay a couple pennies more for our food, but it is great to know all the tons of damaged food gets repurposed. This is a Karma booster for us all.

It was also interesting to hear that the Boy Scouts “canned food drive” is so large it takes them from late fall to early summer to process it all.  This brings up a good point for you to know. These distribution centers across the country take a period of  time to process contributions. I am sure many of us give more around Thanksgiving and Christmas, however those contributions don’t hit the streets until January.  We should start our food contributions in September through the holidays…

So what’s the worst thing about FeedMore’s distribution center? They have a high standard of quality!! They required me to look at every little “BEST BUY BEFORE” date on every can and every package… Do you know how small those #($*&%! dates are??   Though I was a little dizzy by the end, I survived; and the  crew we adopted kicked butt. We cleaned out the room with a few minutes to spare and we were told we were an exceptional crew (they may tell everyone that, who knows…)


I didn’t make any new lifetime friends and I only towed the line for just one afternoon, but I made a difference to somebody. Its newly acquired wisdom that tells me the small gifts given frequently are the most important. As for work, I believe I came back to work a little more energized, and ready to contribute. These are truly win-win scenarios.

“It takes more that one feather for a bird to fly… Feather your wings and soar.”                       

#RVA Local?  Don’t miss Zest Fest Gala (Feb 28th) hosted by FeedMore.org


What Happened in Vegas – SAP Insider Follow Up

ImageWell I’m back home from a trip to SAP Insider’s conference and I promised to answer a series of questions based on my conversations from the show. If you will allow me, I am going to change how I deliver on my earlier commitments.  I found my questions morphed drastically as I engaged the attendees.  Why?  well frankly I stink at being a reporter and in fairness, the show’s attendance changed this year enough that I found myself going in a different direction.

Go back four or five years ago and there were two shows called “Admin” and “BI”. They were primarily attended by BASIS teams who were dealing with infrastructure issues.  With SAP’s M&A strategy and SAP’s messaging evolution, the event has changed to reflect the new SAP. Now the show had divested to create “Cloud & Virtualization”, “Mobile”, & “Business Objects Bootcamp”.  Let’s admit it, since 2009 the economy and general show attendance has fluctuated. I am sure that has something to do with the shows coming together in a co-located venue allowing for those attending to stay in a single track or blend their experience across multiple domains.  This is not intended to be an Oracle Open World or SAPPHIRE level event, it’s not that big. In my experience the 2nd-3rd level shows tend to be better attended on the east coast.  So net-net, even with the bundling of multiple shows, the attendance was a little light this year. Additionally a show that used to be a haven for BASIS teams seems to have changed in personnel and now is a different show entirely.  I think this is important because it is a reflection on the wider changes in the SAP industry.  I have a couple of insights about this that I will explain through a discussion of those who attended amd those who didn’t.

 There were 3 types of people present at the show and 2 types surprisingly absent:

1)      PRESENT: Those who want to catch up on virtualization/Cloud.

If I generalize the group, the Cloud attendees were a more “matter of fact” group. They were either going to the cloud, had an upcoming RFP, or presented themselves in a way that they felt they needed to “catch up” with everyone and get virtualized or to the cloud.  This is an interesting dynamic given that this same time last year Cloud was the fresh buzz and only those with iron guts were talking about venturing their mission critical to the cloud.  This shows the pace of innovation in the current market and ultimately that the cloud benefits have “held” and the scary risks have subsided. This adoption is also in the face of all the HANA interest which today is not (practically) a cloud ready product. So in a careless and causal way I’ll make the broad generalization that many if not most are taking a “get to the [private, hybrid, public] cloud now and pilot HANA in the lab” approach with the assumption HANA will somehow fit into their overall architecture as they mature their programs.


2)      PRESENT: Those who want to deploy HANA or are active BOBJ users:  

I arrive at my statistical certainties by the scientific process of “# of questions asked” and how many people attend various session topics. Given my sample size, time of day differences, and the deviation in how much coffee I have consumed at a given time, make my prognostications suspect at best. However, let’s not let truth stand in the way of knowledge.   I would have to give the hands down vote of “topic of highest interest” to HANA. HANA sessions were packed  most attendees seemed to be staging HANA pilots or were BOBJ users who were investigating how HANA would impact BOBJ over the next few years. The Keynote given by Steve Lucas, Senior Vice President and General Manager Business Analytics at SAP was all Big Data. He talked about open source, unstructured data, Hadoop and brought it all back to SAP’s data analytics stack, which is based primarily off HANA and remnants of the Sybase.  SAP is Big Data obsessed and so are its customers.


3)      PRESENT: Those who are looking to deploy mobile apps that integrate with SAP

I must admit I am most impressed with SAP’s dive into the mobile market. Within just several months they have taken this global ERP company, added Big Data and integrated a mobile BYOD story as if it was always there. It’s very tight messaging, even if the technologies are still coming together in a few spots. I really enjoyed the well attended sessions on the details of the SUP.  What’s “SUP”… “dunno, What’s up with you?”  SUP is Sybase Unwired Platform. This is the API and code set that was added to SAP’s arsenal through the Sybase acquisition which allows users to write platform specific or platform agnostic applications. As they pulled back the covers at the show, it’s not perfect yet, but it does provide a solution that many of the install base can use to close down on the “last mile” (aka the mobile user).


4)      ABSENT: Those who’ve already began executing the Cloud

The Surprising VOID of the show was the contingent of folks who are actively deployed or who are deploying a cloud solution.  I personally/causally know many who just weren’t there. Of those I talked to before the show, I had a perspective. They said they are deep in deployment and weren’t sending anyone. What I didn’t realize was how pervasive a phenomenon this was.  I’m not saying there was no one chasing the cloud, but it was notably down and my minor investigations into this, presented a plain fact. Customers “get it” and are “doing it”. Interestingly enough, this is exactly where EMC IT is in their multi-phased process to reach Cloud-enabled ITaaS.  They too stayed home this year. Though I missed the constant discussion of Cloud, I realize a more important event has happened. In past blogs I have talked about Gladwell’s Tipping Point for the cloud. I think we’re there.  Cloud for mission critical has moved into the mainstream.


5)      ABSENT: Those who are making investments in Big Data other than HANA:

Another interesting attribute of this event was that the broad heterogeneous all encompassing world of Big Data is seamlessly shrunk to nothing but BOBJ and HANA (with a token Hadoop thrown in).  Ok, you may say that SAP has aggressively driven the competition away from the venue. Maybe, but that isn’t the vibe I get. Even those that come up to you in conversation, do not seem to have a vocabulary or interest that extends much further than the SAP Landscape. I attribute this to a couple of factors. One is that SAP is a big animal. It’s like a youthful trip to the amusement park. You couldn’t see the boundaries, it felt endless. I think many who build their careers on SAP, live within a large ecosystem that can consume your focus without the need to test the boundaries.


Secondly I think it is a function of how “new” data analytics/Big Data is to SAP. BOBJ is Business information integration technology, and before Sybase there were few who considered SAP in the realm of database management.  HANA is a fairly new concept, only appearing a few years ago.  So the SAP user community is comprised of people who haven’t traditionally been players in the pre-cursors to Big Data and thus possibly not broadly trained on the overall market.  This is not to imply an inability to execute, only that this is really new and the SAP ecosystem is evolving. It will look notably different in a couple of years.


So those were my major insights from SAP Insider sessions in Vegas. I hope you pulled at least one nugget from the pan. Until next time, stay informed. Adios.


ImageYou can tell I’m a jet setter, why? Because I am finishing up a winter cold this week that I either got from the team in LA, the folks in Boston, my trip to NYC or from my kids.  Anyway I am on the mends with excessive dosages of germ cleansers and bug killers because next week I am in Vegas for SAP Insider. As far as Vegas goes I can take it or leave it, but SAP Insider has been a staple event for me for several years. I wouldn’t want to miss it. This year they have combined 5 SAP-related, Insider sponsored events into one venue: BI, Cloud & Virtualization, Administration & Infrastructure, MOBILE, & Business Objects Boot camp.

First, let me tell you about how EMC has organized for the event (#EMCSAP). As a gold sponsor, you’re going to see a great deal of EMC around the show. We’ll be spending most of our time talking with customers around Cloud and Big Data solutions we’ve brought to market.

What you’ll find interesting this year is that much of the conversations will include “hindsight” (aka lessons learned). We’ve been busy the last couple of years taking customers into virtualization, and into the hybrid clouds. We now have the luxury of an install base that provides some direction for those who now begin the journey.

This year we’ll have 3 expert speaking sessions that should be full of content about what we’ve learned from working with our customers to reach the cloud.                                               

Date:  2/28

EMC Accelerates the Journey to Your Cloud by Replatforming to an Intel Architecture – 2:45 pm, RM 106   – Abstract:  SAP customers today are evaluating how to move to virtualization confidently and improve daily operational efficiency—while ensuring the highest levels of availability. Discover methodologies and how replatforming to x86 with can accelerate the journey to your cloud and help accelerate SAP deployments.  You will gain practical insight into what you can do today to build a virtualized, dynamic SAP infrastructure for tomorrow’s private cloud computing model.       

Date:  2/29

Reduce Costs and Improve TCO by Virtualizing SAP with EMC & VMware – 10:00 am RM 106 – Abstract:  The business benefit of cloud technologies are appealing; however, virtualizing mission critical applications carries significant risks associated with performance, security, availability and management complexity. In this session, learn how SAP and EMC are partnering to develop secure clouds that are highly scalable and available within the performance requirements of SAP applications. Key topics covered will include: Physical to Virtual computing solutions, backup consolidation with deduplication, and availability and disaster recovery in a virtual environment.  You will gain practical insight into what you can do today to build a virtualized, dynamic SAP infrastructure for tomorrow’s private cloud computing model.

Title:  Case study: EMC IT shares lessons and tips based on its enterprise virtualization initiative – 2:15pm RM 301 – Abstract: Explore EMC IT’s Journey to the Cloud and best practices on how enterprise mission critical applications like SAP are designed and deployed in virtualized datacenters. By referencing EMC’s own large scale SAP ERP global deployment, you will learn about the approach used to integrate 80+ applications into a “Common Integration Cloud”. 

I know this next line sounds like sleazy marketing, but it’s true…Last year our sessions were standing room only, so get there early for a seat. If you get there too early we promise to entertain you with brilliant conversation.  Worst case… if you miss the time slots, you can always tweet me @ASitison and I can hook you up with the presenter or just come by the booth for a handshake and some giveaways (CAN YOU SAY PLASTIC CASH!).


What I like about the SAP Insider series is traditionally it is the “workers” who show up to learn and to think about new ways to address problems that they have experienced in the last year.  This is “reality” walking the halls by the thousands. This is not where people come to hear about how the next great thing that will change the world in 5 years, it’s where you hear from those who are changing their world today. And, it’s a great place for a guy like me to get a dose of what needs fixing in 2012.  

I’m going to approach the event a little differently this year.  Usually I get consumed by meetings with customers I am currently engaged with. I rarely make it pass the hotel restaurants and the tradeshow floor. This year I am going to carve off some time and take on a new mission. My iphone and I are going on a journey to capture some of the stories about the problems and solutions that everyone is solving and to document a few of the interesting ideas that are readily available in the conversations on the floor.

On my journey, I’m going to try to answer:

1)      How are companies doing and how are they leveraging SAP in their strategy?

2)      What are the major problems being solved today (i.e. cause & symptoms)?

3)      How are they solving them and how are they pacing their roadmaps (i.e. cure & dosage)

4)      What does big data look like to them and how central will SAP products like HANA and BOBJ be to their strategy?

5)      What is their cloud strategy and have they “ventured into the mist…” Do they have personal stories about chargebacks/metering, provisioning, multi-tenancy, etc?

6)      How has globalization changed their plans?

7)      What do they want from their product and integration partners?

8)      Are there trends to be identified in everyone’s collective activities?

I will leverage twitter while I am at SAP Insider (#SAPInsider). If you’re there, please reach out @ASitison and we’ll get one of those extremely weak coffees together. I’d love to hear your story. I will also monitor the social media activity for any valuable content. If you have questions you’d like me to answer while I am there send me something through Twitter and I’ll be your trained monkey. When I get back from the trip, I’ll post a summary of my findings back here on the blog site for your consumption.   Wish me luck, hunt me down (figuratively), and/or come back to see what I found out.

Monkey signing out.

Big Data: Data Science emerging field to support new levels of understanding

note: lots of good embedded links this time 🙂

Today’s blog is one of a pair of essays I’m going to write on two different perspectives associated with Big Data. I believe Big Data is notably important and impactful to the immediate future of our culture. First we’ll look at what Big Data is and the dynamics of dataology, or what most people call Data Science.

I am a latent Data Scientist.  It was probably my calling. Today I’m in the sales function of our business, but I started my career with a Masters in Database Management. I was doing C++, B-trees, Bloom filters, working with SAS  data sets and taking endless classes in statistics/economics.  Frankly, I loved it. My passion was the data structures and the insight that could be acquired by slicing the chunks.  Organized data, in its prescribed context, is real. It’s not some pundit’s opinion on the 247News.com.  It is based on facts.

 For whatever reason, I ended up going down the “line of business” systems integration path. My career led me into workflow, document management, and supply chain technologies.  These were connective and provided an immersive business process environment, but the treatment of the data was still inefficient, and disrespectful to its value.

Yes, I have been branded a “purist” in my past life, but ultimately, my focus was more on the data and the data models than on corporate profit.  I consistently ran into the walls of “good enough”.  And I realized that rich data models weren’t considered profitable endeavors by the majority of the American industry.  Instead, most wanted little snippets of data, transactional crap, when we knew so much more.

Several industry initiatives showed up: “Business Intelligence” (BI), “Information Lifecycle Management” (ILM) and “Master Data Management” (MDM) all with promise of a better strategy for data, but they were realized into purpose-built tactical systems to address specific real life problems of sales growth, regulatory submissions and company acquisitions. None of them truly structured and exploited the fundamental Intellectual Property (IP) of the data that each company has about their customers, employees, and processes.

Add to these points that we all see “the disconnect” between data points in our daily lives. Banks that don’t recognize the “savings account you” from the “home loan you”. Or, my employee electronic health records system that shows all my doctors visit records and tests, but when I take an online health risk assessment, it still asks me pages of questions about blood pressure and cholesterol.    

Well I am an optimist, and I believe that the current industry initiative called “Data Science” has structural differentiation from past trends and will likely get closer to my vision in several ways.

Data Science will be more scientific with data because:

  • Data is growing in such a manner that we are actually in trouble. We have multiple points of failure in people, process, and technology; and most industry leaders recognize it. Look at this page on the digital universe, if you don’t believe me. 
  • There is a convergence of three powerful movements.
    •  Data generating devices both personal mobile and industrial assets are creating data.
    • Global data mining and analytics is on the rise.
    • Significant improvement in data warehouse and, data analytics technologies allowing for the next level of processing.  Here’s EMC’s Big Data page as an example
  • Big Data is the aggregation and analysis of heterogeneous data sets/collectors.  The concept of big data is an important pillar in the new “Data Analytics” investments which will be pervasive over the next several years.  By definition, Big Data is not just about infinitely large purpose built databases.  It’s like a hive of bees; Big Data to me is broader, more dispersed and hierarchical in nature.  It’s funny we will know less about each individual piece of data, but in mass, we’ll know more about ourselves in many more ways.  Today these initiatives will be funded by the standard engines of power and profit, but some of the most impressive data science I have seen so far is in the scientific community.  Spend an hour watching TED Videos like Hans Rosling leveraging Microstrategy visuals on his HIV data analysis work.  Or one of my favorite books of all time, freakonomics based on the data analysis work of statistician Steven Levitt.

So, I am excited about the advancement of “Science” and “Data” in this emerging field.  EMC Corporation is showing industry leadership in this growing discipline including funding studies and an annual conference for data scientists.   EMC’s Data Science Summit (EDSS11) May 23 2011 brought together an international consortium of data scientists to help define core fundamentals and highlight the building need for resources in this field.  I applaud EMC for stepping into the proactive mentorship of the data industry. It’s a great fit for EMC and a place we need to invest in advancement.  Additionally, EMC just published a survey from the summit.

Here are some of the summary findings:

       Informed Decision-making—Only 1/3 of respondents are very confident in their company’s ability to make business decisions based on new data.

       Looming Talent Shortage—65% of data science professionals believe demand for data science talent will outpace the supply over the next 5 years – with most feeling that this supply will be most effectively sourced from new college graduates.

       Customer Insights—Only 38% of business intelligence analysts and data scientists strongly agree that their company uses data to learn more about customers.

       Lack of Data Accessibility—Only 12% of business intelligence professionals and 22% of data scientists strongly believe employees have the access to run experiments on data – undermining a company’s ability to rapidly test and validate ideas and thus its approach to innovation.

       Advanced Degrees—Data scientists are 3 times as likely as business intelligence professionals to have a Master’s or Doctoral degree.

       Higher-Level Skills—Data scientists require significantly greater business and technical skills than today’s business intelligence professional. According to the Data Science Study, they are twice as likely to apply advanced algorithms to data, but also 37% more likely to make business decisions based on that data.

 You will note in the survey that data scientists are inherently different from BI professionals.  This confirms my beliefs that we’re going somewhere more all-encompassing than a “sales report” and that we’ll spend more time and money on the submerged part of the iceberg.

If you’re interested in next year’s summit click this link EDSS12

“The CLOUD of the TITANS” – SAP, EMC, and VMware Strengthen their Partnership around Cloud Computing

 In Madrid Spain, on November 10th, Pat Gelsinger, Paul Maritz and Vishal Sikka virtually join together and take the keynote stage at SAPPHIRE NOW Madrid. The three will talk about what is covered in today’s SAP Press Release: “Preferred Three-Way Strategic Collaboration with EMC and VMware to Deliver Greater IT Efficiency and Business Agility

Before we dive into the details of this release, let’s look at these 3 people on stage:

    • Ever heard of Paul Maritz?  He was a key leader during the rise of MS Windows into the ubiquitous desktop and server operating system it is today.  Later he created a company, “PI Corporation” focused on what was then the obscure concept of “Cloud Computing”.  Now he’s the CEO of VMWare
    • How about Pat Gelsinger? He contributed to the Intel 286 and 386 chip design which brought the computer to the masses, and then was the executive over the development of a continuous line of best in class products that made the Intel brand what it is today. Now he is the President/COO of EMC.
    • Vishal Sikka has been the CTO at SAP since 2007, overseeing the rollout out of ECC 6.0, acquisition of Sybase and now the adoption of HANA into the SAP customer base. He sits in the technical top seat for a company with over 120,000 customers.

It’s rare to see 3 people who’ve had more impact in our industry, co-presenting on a stage.  It is probably worth listening to what they have to say.

So, what is being talked about in Madrid?  Here are some of the notable excerpts from the release:

  • “SAP will work closely with EMC and VMware and is currently evaluating options to deliver an end-to-end stack optimized for running mission-critical SAP applications. Together, the three companies plan to invest and integrate best-of-breed application, database, virtualization, management and information infrastructure technologies, as well as deliver new services to support and accelerate customers’ journey to the cloud.”
  • “SAP and VMware expect to deliver an extended support program by integrating a configuration and health check for SAP systems running on VMware cloud infrastructure into SAP® GoingLive™ Check services and SAP EarlyWatch® Alert service…”
  • “SAP also intends to drive a radical improvement in the manageability of enterprise applications in private clouds by evaluating the delivery of VMware vSphere®-based virtual appliances, orchestrated by declarative models in the TOSCA language…”
  • “SAP and EMC will explore collaboration opportunities around the SAP HANA™ platform to deliver high-end system availability and EMC’s fully automated storage tiering technologies (FAST). This deep collaboration will further strengthen SAP in-memory computing technology…”
  • “SAP’s next-generation architecture is truly bringing the power of these disruptive innovations to our customers without disruption. Our work with EMC and VMware demonstrates this.

So why should you take note of these “notes”:

  • My first reason I’ve already pointed out. There is a convergence of pioneers in our industry lining up around these technologies, around these companies.
  • End to End Stack”, that is a powerful statement coming from this group.  Think about the last time EMC and VMWare reported on a triangulation with Cisco.  The company VCE was born and they deliver the “Vblock” which is already having an impact on the SAP install base. SAP, EMC, and VMware together could really change the playing field. Best in class, market share leaders, all in one end to end package.
  • Virtualization Health Check, Application Manageability, these are both improvements that will help the large SAP community further adopt virtualization and private cloud improvements. Allowing even the conservative IT departments to progress on platform modernization.
  • HANA & FAST, This is an interesting announcement between EMC and SAP. EMC is the first non server company to be singled out in this way.  One can assume that this collaboration will lead to best in class model that provides a clean scale out solution for the HANA in-Memory platform, allowing for better controls, availability and information protection.
  • First to Market Fitness, What this messaging really communicates is here are the current innovators for the new generation of SAP landscapes that are driving into the cloud. These 3 companies individually have been the most active in innovation for the support of SAP over the last few years. Customers want to accelerate their consumption of modern platforms that are more agile, and that have better price to performance, yet they feel they must wait for the proper level of maturity to be demonstrated. This collaboration is an accelerant.  If you want to mitigate risks in mission critical environments, what better way, than to bring together this group of titans? A Recent Study Named EMC as the No. 1 choice for Applications. The IDC study showed EMC swept the no. 1 slot including SAP. A similar study by Goldman Sachs showed EMC no. 1 choice to support VMWare environments.  These companies together, have an over whelming level of capital in “Market Trust”.

These press releases tend to come and go. What excites me is the promises made within. Keep your eye on the things to come.

Link to Press Release: http://tiny.cc/gfxbi

Snakes Swallowing Hippos – Reducing the Gag reflex

I don’t want to imply the world’s corporations are “snakes”. However they remind me of a viral video I once saw of an African Rock Python who had swallowed a small hippo whole. The major growth into the world of “big data” resembles this metaphor. Many data analytics initiatives are like hungry snakes consuming colossal amounts of data at rates we did not conceive of five years ago. Ingestion, query processing, provisioning, indexing/data structures, backup, availability, retention, and governance requirements are all viciously attacking the traditional architectures, and we’re all learning the lessons that come with each innovation in the field.

Someone once explained to me that system performance is like plumbing. If you have a system full of partial clogs, but the water volume is 1 % below capacity everything works great. Once you reach capacity on any one spot, the system slows or stops (then your wife yells at you). If you remove the clog, that actually frees up more volume that may create another delay later in the system. In other words, the software and hardware that make up a computer stack create a complex and interdependent system. Growth can outpace one or more capacities. Most of the challenges I see in our customers are related to limitations in capacity and throughput as the business world begins the era of big data.

 I want to point out that cloud, in theory alone, does not free us of this burden. These same agitants will transfer to the cloud. Cloud providers have to work diligently to tune capacity and utilization in multi-tenancy environments so that as you float around in your cloud, you don’t accidently bump into the harsh side of an iron box. This has been witnessed in various news clips lately. Cloud will help by the function of major consolidation allowing for better utilization and allowing for shared “slack”, but it is held to the same rules of physics. “If you run at a wall, eventually you will hit it”.

 OK so back to data analytics, we are in a powerful growth phase of big data and there is a community of vendor companies on the edge of this movement. That includes traditional providers of data management software like Oracle. It also includes new innovations like EMC’s Greenplum data warehouse solutions, and Isilion for scale-out of unstructured data (i.e. videos, GIS maps).

I bring this up because there are only a few events a year where so many of the experts get together to discuss these topics, one of those opportunities is in two weeks. If you’re game, and you can find a hotel room, dive head first into a sloppy big mess of big data @Oracle OpenWorld (#oow11). OOW will be held in San Francisco at the Moscone Center starting Oct 2nd with a reported attendee list of approximately 42,000 people. The majority will be bringing some of the freshest challenges and ideas to what will be a very interesting soirée.

So if you’re a snake looking to swallow a hippo, this show is a hotspot. EMC has been a long time player with a large customer base in support of Oracle and other mission critical applications. When it comes to big data, we help reduce the “gag reflex” of consuming large quantities of the stuff. Both the associated Oracle teams and the big data teams at EMC spend their time divining answers to the challenging questions of how to speed, backup, de-duplicate, copy, protect, and virtualize data systems to support the rate of growth. Imagine hundreds of guys as smart as Sam Lucido (@Sam_lucido) running around with the single mission to help customers “digest the hippo”. If you are going to Oracle OpenWorld here are some of the key topics we’ll be covering and their venue:

 o (Session ID 33580) Virtualized Oracle: More Performance, 80% Faster Provisioning and 50% less Cost Monday @ 11am

o (Session ID 33640) Oracle Data Warehouse meets Big Data: Blazing Fast Loads, Queries and Analytics Monday @3:30pm

o (Session ID 33600) Deduplication and Oracle RMAN: More Full Backups, Faster Recovery, Less Cost Tuesday @10:15am

o (Session ID 33660) Migrating Oracle to the Cloud: 10x More Performance and $7M saved on x86/Linux Tuesday @3:30pm

o (Session ID 33620) Clone Oracle Databases Online in Seconds with Oracle CloneDB and DirectNFS Wednesday @1:15pm

Ok let me especially highlight these 2 events where you can see my friend Ramesh Razdan from EMC IT present. Like “500 brake horsepower”, this is where “smoking rubber hits the road”. Ramesh is all facts when it comes to running one of the largest integrated and cloudifying IT organizations on the planet.

o (Session ID 3560) Ramesh will serve in a panel discussion as part of a Cisco session

o Ramesh Razdan will be presenting in Cisco Booth (#721) on 10/3 and 10/4 @3:30 pm.

Did I save the best for last? You bet. Joe Tucci, EMC’s CEO, is doing the Keynote on Monday 8:00am (@oracleopenworld). Joe has been the master mind of EMC’s growth through the acquisition strategies of companies like VMware, Data Domain, Greenplum and Isilon. He’s at full pace as he takes EMC to the crossroads of Cloud Computing and Big Data. Super smart guy and I think you’ll find inspiration in his session.

Ok, if you miss something while you’re there you can always come by the booth and be inundated with prizes, smiling faces, and #EMC experts to answer questions. BOOTH 901 There will be quite a few announcements so keep your ear out that first week of October. Also keep a look out for the “Most Intriging Man in IT (www.facebook.com/IntrigingMan)

I look forward to a healthy slice of hippo…see you there!

Liv’n the Dream at SAP TechED

 A New Era Underway 

I am sitting in my hotel room in Las Vegas. I just packed and I am ready to head to McCarran airport for my trip home. This week I attended SAP TechED. I know “what happens in…stays in…”, but I wanted to take a moment and share some insights I took away.

SAP has made it clear, all bets are on Hana.  Hana is SAP’s vision of a new platform for their landscapes that will reside in memory. Most customers and System Integrators are interested, most are still trying to determine exactly what it is and how it will apply to their specific environments. The concept creates big changes for everyone. Everything will need to be integrated to Hana, both SAP’s products, their partners’ solutions, and customers’  landscapes.

There are a wealth of things to consider and address, like backup, high availability, disaster recovery, systems management, piping data between Hana and non Hana piece parts.  Many things are still unclear as this vision gets realized; it’s really new so it’s understandable. I grew up in North Carolina and have seen my share of Hurricanes. The climate at TechED reminded me of that feeling you get right after a storm goes through. Everyone’s not sure what to do yet, but we’re all in the yard picking up sticks, and working together to make progress. Hana is their future, that much is solidified.  Here’s a write up from ComputerWorld on the same topic.

Ok, I tend to bring “cloud” into the conversation and I want to live up to my reputation…  First let me say, cloud is not the biggest topic for SAP, they tend to talk of terms like “TCO”, “Business Process Realization”, etc. They have traditionally minimized their focus on the architectural mechanisms upon which SAP sits and allowed the world-class eco-system drive this segment. Hana arguably starts to change that. Hana will have more impact on the design of the infrastructure than past approaches.  Then the question is can Hana exist in a Cloud?  I believe it will, but I’m not sure we all know exactly how yet.  And will SAP find themselves deeper in the Cloud discussion out-right.

Much of the official dialog still tends to focus on traditional landscapes where a customer buys and deploys everything as one chunk either on premise or hosted.  However, their customers are innovating.  People are connecting up a diverse mix of on premise, hosted functionality, and cloud offers all within the same environment. Here’s a little taste of what is being realized.

I have to start by saying “virtualization is king”. I estimate in my own discussions virtualization was mention 99% of the conversations. I spent some time with Andre Kemp of VMWare. Andre is a key resource at VMW covering SAP. With Vsphere 5 released, capacities increase and virtualizing SAP is not an interesting idea, I would call it a mandate. Andre is one of the busiest guys in the business right now. I did an informal survey as I talked with customers. My straw poll showed the market is overwhelmingly VMWare, with a notable number of companies using LPARs on AIX. I also heard Citrix and Hyper-V more than once.  I also mentally collected why most were creating initiatives. The top three reasons were:

1)      Reduce hardware costs

2)      More flexibility in their architecture

3)      Improve disaster recovery service levels

Yes I know those are obvious reasons, I didn’t say you were going to be shocked and impressed! It’s the basics that matter and boy do they matter.

Let’s get back to the clouds. There were other interesting models coming out. In fairness to my large and powerful friends who work for the large system integrators and service providers, they tend to make their sponsorship investments in “Sapphire” each spring. Those who attend TechED are there to learn. This year was no different, what we saw in the booths were smaller, specialty SI’s and are the focus for this conversation.  

A few years back Texperts showed up on the scene as one of the innovators driving cloud. Over that time, they have built a full suite of cloud services to help customers understand and integrate private systems; or to buy a service level offering. They were one of the few pioneers driving the message. The notable difference this year was they weren’t alone. I had at least five companies approach me to tell me about their cloud offerings.  The services market for cloud has arrived; the best and brightest are making their bets for cloud in 2012.

Another company who has worked with our customer base quite a bit over the years is Wharfedale Technologies (WFT).  They too have been pioneers on the “virtual prairie”. They specifically have been involved in some of our recent Vblock customer deployments for SAP and have been really helpful to the effort.  They brought, to the show, one of the most innovative ideas I have seen yet. A good friend of mine, Ganesh Radhakrishnan, is the CEO of WFT and demo’d for me his newly released “WFTCloud”.  WFTCloud is a web venue where users can purchase SAP development environments over the web for a daily price of buying a can of soda.  You go on the web, sign up and boom you have an environment that has many profile options for getting the hardware/VMs to look like your environment.  Ganesh was showing me this on his mobile phone and we watched a couple orders come in while we were talking.  This could be a great opportunity for increasing development productivity for many companies and individual contractors.

OK, how about EMC?  Well I could talk a while about all the different solutions we showed and events we held at the show, but I’m not a marketing guy and this is my blog, so I won’t.  Instead I’m going to grab just one moment from it all.  One of our speaking sessions we had Bernhard Schulzki and Bill Reid present.  Can you say too much talent for just one stage?  Based near SAP’s Walldorf headquarters, Bernhard recently became EMC’s VP covering the SAP relationship. Prior, Bernhard worked for Vishal Sikka heading up many of their virtualization and cloud initiatives over the last several years. Bernhard took the packed audience through several key technologies. Duplicate snaps, geo clustering, security, de-duplication, virtualization and cloud where covered. He also shared how we are investing to further integrate with SAP like their new LVM product for managing virtual environments.  Bernhard then introduced Bill Reid. If you haven’t met Bill yet, you’re missing something. I am a big fan of Bill’s. He is Director in charge of our “Project Propel”. Propel is the very large deployment of a green, 100% virtualized SAP deployment and based on my knowledge of the install base, it will likely be the largest, 100% virtualized SAP deployment worldwide when it goes live next year.  Bill drips data when he sweats. The guy is so jam packed full of knowledge nuggets, that I’m not going to attempt a  proper summary of Propel. However, I will  point you to EMC IT’s  blog site that gets into a lot of what they are working on. Let’s just say he’s putting to practice what we preach to our customers and his team is invaluable to our cause. 

In Summary we’re all “Liv’n the Dream”. Big visions, with real payoffs, that are works in process.  There were no head spinning new announcements, we didn’t need any. The buzz was on the progress of customers who are on the move to a new era of landscapes and the organizing eco-system that supports them to get there.