E-mail I Should be Ashamed to Write…

…but I’m not.

The Setup:
I was traveling and had no access to my documents but could read e-mail.  SalesGuy was asking me what our bill rate was for a specific resource, which involves looking at a pricing model and finding a value in the relevant cell after entering some basic parameters like “pay grade.”  There was no way I could do it on the run, but anybody could have and SalesGuy left voice mail, e-mails and even called several of my key personnel, who then came back to me with the SAME QUESTION that should have been a simple task.

The last e-mail was the last straw… Continue reading

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The Geek Shall Inherit the Earth

No, seriously, we will.  If there is any doubt, I’m here with a set of PowerPoint slides a customer actually dared me to create to show them I could make a useful analogy about anything under my purview.  So they said:

Fine, then show us concepts from “IT as a Service” explained through Star Wars memes.

Game.  Fucking.  On.  Continue reading

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Fusion 2015 Full Presentation Text


Enriching the Customer Experience
“Staying Relevant in the Face of Changing Expectations”

Several apologies are due.  The first regards my tardiness.  I had intended to publish this immediately following my Fusion 2015 breakout session.  Good intentions, road to hell and all that.  Work got in the way.  I ended up with a promotion in the intervening months, so there’s that.

The second apology is due for the length.  This is one mean wall of text, but when you transcribe and copy edit 25 minutes of speechifying, length happens.  The precis is below; the full text is below the fold.

Finally- many many thanks are due to Mark Myers, one of the Practice Directors at Datalink, for sketching out the concept I eventually finished here.  He came up with the outline and some great analogies which, after a serious research project, put more books on my shelf and a lot of meat on the bones of this talk.  Without his thoughts on how to deliver this it would never have gotten done.  The man’s an analogy factory, so if he ever comes to speak, listen.  The precis below is almost word for word how he laid this out…

To stay relevant, Corporate IT services must be as easy to obtain as downloading an application and support the job at hand, from application development to basic collaboration.  In this discussion I will talk about maintaining relevance by transforming from a technology focused utility to services oriented IT. First, I examine some parallels in history, because we have been here before and there are lessons to be learned from heavy industry. Next, I explore some real world examples of how that problem has been tackled head on by my customers. Finally, I discuss some of the key questions IT needs to ask to start down the right path, right now.

Continue reading

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Fusion 2015 Interview


A few weeks back I spoke at Fusion 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin. I had hoped to get the full text of that talk up before the interview came out. Work got in the way. Many thanks to Mark Myers for coming up with the railroad analogy. 

I take issue only with the Socrates quote. I mentioned that his most attributed quote may or may not been his words but that it was the intent behind it that mattered: stop asking questions and start listening; try to come to a deeper understanding of the problem, not just a list of bullets. 

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Bespoke IT vs. Fit for Purpose

I’ve been focused on blogging over at EMC’s InFocus blog for the last year, but I want to get back to the Practical Polymath and start blogging more frequently about a wider variety of topics. First up is some thoughts on a topic I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about these days: Bespoke IT versus Fit for Purpose. We’ve spent a lot of time on bespoke IT in the industry, building new applications, silos, architectures, etc. to meet a specific need based on the skills and tools we are familiar with. We often don’t have the luxury to go out and investigate what the right tools would be and learn them in order to best apply them. If I think of this in sartorial terms, we make some outstanding, finely fit suits, but it might be in last decade’s style or colors. The suit might be of the highest quality and yet might not meet the needs of the wearer, or might stand out for all the wrong reasons in a crowd. Just because it’s bespoke doesn’t mean it’s the best way to approach the problem.

This is a long lead in to what I really want to talk about, the idea of Fit for Purpose. EMC acquired Adaptivity and I’ve been lucky enough to get to work with that great team, and learn a lot about how they think about IT, Applications and Infrastructure. They have a lot of talent on that team and I’ve learned a lot in conversations and brainstorming with them. Their Chief Scientist is Sheppard Narkier and he’s started to share many of his ideas, thoughts, and experiences on InFocus, see his post on Lessons Learned: The Quality of Design is not Fuzzy. On the surface , “Fit for Purpose” is nearly self explanatory, the idea of designing IT and Business systems based upon what they’ll be used for and how they’ll consume infrastructure. But to those not used to thinking in that paradigm, this explanation could be considered too coarse grained as a definition, let me explain a bit further. Continue reading

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Turn-Key Cloud: One Step Closer


This is a nice, unsolicited review of something Kent Christensen and I (mostly Kent) have been working on for a few months now.  I won’t say I’m unbiased but I will say I appreciate the hint of skepticism at the end.  The real meat of the article can be summed up here:

Datalink apparently realizes that just layering a cloud over private infrastructure doesn’t really move the needle and that what organizations are looking for is a full service offering that covers the totality of their needs.

This is really the only thing that matters.  Continue reading

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Nick Corcodilos – Another thread that delivers

It’s got InfoSec, bad behavior from HR, privacy rights, references to this blog and some of my snarky responses to lazy employers.  Heck, even the comments are pretty good.

What’s not to like?  Go go go…

Ask The Headhunter® | Nick Corcodilos – How employers help scammers steal your Social Security number

The only way it could get better is if he was discussing how cloud apps accelerate the process of HR acting stupidly by making research and spam mail mindlessly easy to distribute (and immediately receive bad information).  What?  He already did that and the app is called “LinkedIn?”

I knew I liked that guy for a reason.

Side note, I have in fact used that confidentiality agreement he cites in more than one circumstance and made reference to it in a couple others.  Reasonable employers react quite well to the reasonable assertion that sensitive or company confidential information (like your salary history) should be disclosed only when absolutely necessary or never.  Preferably never.  The rest?  You don’t want to work for them.

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On the other hand, some articles actually make sense

Like this one.  My buddy Brian Helm forwarded me this link a few weeks ago, so thanks for the tip.  I don’t know who Ivan Pepelnjak is from Adam but I’m going to start recording his show.  Some of my favorite quotes, which the author actually had the guts to use in the article:

The most important question is not ‘OpenStack or vCloud Director?’ The most important question is, ‘What do you want to do?’

Amen, brother.  Consumerization of IT service delivery is where we are headed and cloud infrastructure delivery models are bringing us.  That consumerist perspective doesn’t start with “whaddya wanna buy, bub?” but “what do you want to do today?”

In the typical company or enterprise that should read “what WORK are you trying to do?”  But that’s not all.  The next sentence…

…most companies aren’t actually looking for a private cloud at all, Pepelnjak said. What they really want is the ability to automate some parts of VM provisioning. To be a true private cloud, IT must offer more.

Who is this guy?  I’m loving it.  Yes, that’s what the majority of my clients want: automated VM provisioning, automated account creation and automated storage allocation.  They don’t want Cloud (bigC) so much as an enhanced virtual farm (littleC cloud).  By that I mean to say they don’t want ubiquitous access, true dynamic resource allocation, consumption based chargeback and so forth.  They just want a better virtualization experience.

Most of the rest of his observations and comments are spot on.  It’s all about understanding the end user requirements and building a cloud that somebody will actually use, with documentation that helps them consume the resources to productive ends.  And let’s be sure to acknowledge that most of these “Cloud” builds are really just cloud-y.

I’m going to look for more material from Ivan.

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ClickBait: Colocation providers solve problems the cloud can’t

This one landed in my inbox today:

Colocation providers solve problems the cloud can’t

Except for the part where there is not one single problem articulated that a co-lo solves where a cloud service provider flops, this is a great, mediocre, pure clickbait article.  It can’t even agree with itself.  Here’s an example…

Under “advantages”:

The company owns the server and the software — there is no haggling if and when the equipment or software is to be updated or replaced.

Then immediately following, under “disadvantages”:

Depending on the company’s location (urban vs. rural, for example) colocation providers may be quite far away. If so, that would increase the time and effort to upgrade and to get a system back online.

So…which is it?  Does the co-lo provider own the gear and, therefore, the maintenance of said gear or do you just rent a rack with your own gear?  Both of these are valid models but they are not the same thing and neither of these (nor the rest of the article) demonstrate some advantage over renting a virtual machine, application instance or entire virtual infrastructure from some cloud service provider.

I’m starting to feel like the Jon Stewart of IT news, minus the wit, broad knowledge base and audience.  So, nothing like Jon Stewart except for our shared revulsion at terrible reportage.

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San Diego County fires


For all you folks wanting to know how we’re faring over here, use the map.  The news is utterly worthless.


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