dinsdag, maart 31, 2009

Choose: Intel Xeon 5500 or Open Cloud Manifesto

Sounds like a strange question indeed. Do we really want to compare between Apples from Venus and Oranges from Mars? Should we care about Intel’s launch of its ‘Nehalem’ processor for servers – the Xeon 5500 – or should we be much more interested in the recent publication of the Open Cloud Manifesto? When I probed this dilemma on Twitter and Yammer (a very effective way to do a quick poll), most people would tend to the Open Cloud Manifesto. After all, who is interested in yet another processor series, if computing is now ready to disappear in the cloud and becomes the specialty of just a few suppliers?

Well, not so fast, maybe.

I think we all agree on the fact that the cloud will drastically change the IT landscape as we currently know it. But we are living in the downturn of 2009 and companies want to see quick, proven results with a solid business case. We are definitely getting there with the cloud. But we need more experience. And better scenario’s for migration, integration and security. And we desperately need interoperability between cloud solutions. The fact that we now have a first Open Cloud Manifesto does not solve that issue. Actually, it illustrates that we have a long way to go. To be quite honest, the manifesto is a nice, politically correct document that nobody can really oppose to. But it is very low on substance. And some of the most influential - or aspiring – cloud players (think Microsoft, Google, Amazon) did not sign the manifesto; neither did the Cloud Computing Interoperability Forum.

So quite some air around the cloud so far.

I would say Intel’s new processor series are definitely a better way to achieve quick, tangible results. We tested the new processor at an early stage ourselves on some typical server workloads and found very impressive performance improvements (300% and more, even on non-optimised applications) combined with an even more relevant drop in power consumption (35% and more). Add up the enhanced support for virtualisation, and you can do the math yourself.

So maybe Apples from Venus are not so bad after all. And to all you manifesto fans: Venus is the most cloudy planet in the solar system. There is always hope.

First published on Capgemini's CTO blog

maandag, maart 30, 2009

Architecten eindelijk aan standaards (Dutch)

De rol van architecten is cruciaal voor het succes van IT-projecten. Maar het vakgebied van de architect ontwikkelt zich maar langzaam. De activiteiten van The Open Group, zeggen Erik Proper en Ron Tolido, geven hoop. Twee elkaar aanvullende standaarden – TOGAF en ArchiMate – kunnen het vakgebied flink op weg helpen.

Lees het hele artikel in de Automatisering Gids.

donderdag, maart 19, 2009

Dear Twitter followers: this Slow IT column is not about you! Flibbertigibbet

Twitter, a now quickly expanding number of people consider it a gift from heaven. Face it: sooner or later you are fed up with blogging. Having to read and write 10 sentences over and over again, it just starts to get at you doesn’t it? If you are gifted with the attention span of a Flibbertigibbet, having to concentrate that much is a physical hurt. Twitter then, is the solution. For those few, other-worldly hermits that still are not initiated: we are dealing with a massively popular system on the Internet in which you use a maximum of 140 characters to tell something to the outside world. You can also use SMS or your smartphone. Others can subscribe – as followers - to these ‘tweets’ and vice versa.

At its best , Twitter is a magnificent tool for the corporate, collaborative worker of today to effectively stay in touch with a true ecosystem of people, knowledge, insights and events. While tweeting (possibly through a company-restricted variant like Yammer) you find just as easy lightning-fast answers to focused questions as links to new, interesting sources of information. And by carefully calibrating the list of people that you follow, the social network around you becomes more and more valuable.

At its worst however, Twitter happily deteriorates into a universe of randomly chattering, megalomaniac ADHD professionals. Shallowness, straight from the goblet of Total Nothing. Purely for professional reasons, I decided to indulge myself for a few days without any restrictions and filtering in this world of virtual chit-chat. Eventually, I ended up staring agitatedly at the screen, my hollow eyes waiting for the next tweet to arrive. And it never was further away than a few seconds. Another 140 characters to read, another discussion to follow, another subject to have an opinion about, another link to click on. Sometimes, an interesting topic would rush by. More often, it would be of a lamenting irrelevance. Somebody opens up a can of beer. Another tells me every three minutes what song he is playing. A third apparently throws every new thought on Twitter, probably to secure it for eternity. A fourth feels no shame at all in sharing private conversations, lunch dates and the most intimate coaching sessions.

At last, I was able to liberate myself from this maelstrom of tweets. After having some supplementary feeding and a long night of sleep, I could carefully try to read the complete front page of a paper without interruption. Outside, the sun finally announced spring. Then I heard a blackbird sing.

It was the most beautiful sound in the world.

First published on SlowPlanet, as part of my Slow IT series. This is the edited,  English version of a previous column.

IT Executive column: Kwetteren (Dutch)

Twitter, voor velen een geschenk uit de hemel. Op een gegeven ogenblik heb je het immers wel gehad met blogging. Elke keer minstens tien regels moeten lezen of schrijven, het gaat je niet in de koude kleren zitten.Als je de attentiespanne van een windvaantje hebt, doet zoveel moeten concentreren bijna fysiek pijn. Twitter is dan een uitkomst. Voor die enkele wereldvreemde zonderling die nog niet is ingewijd: we hebben het hier over een razend populair systeem op internet waarmee je steeds in korte zinnetjes van maximaal 140 karakters iets laat weten aan de buitenwereld. Je kunt daarvoor ook een smartphone of sms gebruiken. Anderen kunnen zich abonneren op jouw gekwetter en andersom.

Op zijn best is Twitter een geweldig hulpmiddel voor de Nieuwe Werker om effectief contact te houden met een waar ecosysteem aan kennis, inzichten en gebeurtenissen. Al kwetterend vind je net zo makkelijk razendsnel antwoorden op gerichte vragen als verwijzingen naar nieuwe, interessante bronnen van informatie. En door slim om te gaan met wie je volgt, creëer je een steeds waardevollere kring om je heen.

Maar het kan ook op zijn slechtst uitpakken. Dan ontaardt Twitter in een universum van willekeurig leuterende, megalomane adhd-types. Oppervlakkigheid, gedronken uit de beker van het Totale Niets. Puur uit beroepsmatige overwegingen heb ik me eens een paar dagen volstrekt ongeremd laten meeslepen door het virtuele gekeuvel. Op het laatst zit je met schrikachtige, holle ogen naar het beeldscherm te staren, in afwachting van de volgende ‘tweet’ die binnenkomt. En die is nooit meer dan een paar seconden verwijderd. Weer 140 karakters om te lezen, weer een discussie om te volgen, weer een onderwerp om een mening over te hebben, weer een link om op te klikken.

Soms komt er iets interessants voorbij. Veel vaker is het lamlendigheid troef. Iemand heeft zojuist een flesje bier opengemaakt. Een ander laat elke drie minuten weten welk nummer hij aan het draaien is. Een derde gooit zo te zien elke opkomende gedachte op Twitter, waarschijnlijk om ze voor de eeuwigheid te verzekeren. Een vierde deelt zonder schaamte privĂ©conversaties, het maken van lunchafspraken en intieme coachinggesprekken met de buitenwereld.

Uiteindelijk heb ik mezelf uit die knettergekke maalstroom weten te bevrijden. Na wat bijvoeding en een lange nacht slaap kon ik voorzichtig weer eens proberen een hele krantenpagina zonder onderbreking te lezen. Buiten brak een pril lentezonnetje door.

Ik hoorde een merel fluiten. Wat een ongelooflijk mooi geluid.

Te publiceren in IT Executive, 25 maart 2009. Voorpublicatie op Ambtenaar 2.0

zaterdag, maart 14, 2009


Vooruit, ik zal het maar niet opvatten als plagiaat van mijn eigen One Blog Item Per Year initiatief. En trouwens, de Twitter-roman belooft heel interesant uit te pakken. Ben benieuwd of ik ook een keer aan de beurt kom....

donderdag, maart 12, 2009

Stop the Drooling: this crisis needs technology

Guess we all agree by now: there is no point talking about an economic downturn anymore. It’s a straightforward crisis. Period. And it is an unprecedented crisis too, which is almost impossible to compare with earlier situations. There is obviously very, very little use in referring back to the great depression of the ‘30s. But even if we look much closer to home – the collapse of the Internet bubble happened just a few years ago – the differences are striking. Back then, many IT organisations had the doubtful honour of owning a portfolio of expensive projects that had no solid business case, combined with a pile of unmanageable legacy systems and a bunch of heterogeneous infrastructure solutions. No wonder that when the economy went down, it proved to be very rewarding to cut down on IT costs. Fancy hobby projects were stopped, offshore development and outsourcing exploded and the profession quickly learned how to rigorously consolidate applications and infrastructure.

All valid lessons indeed and nowadays many organisations will claim to possess an optimised, mean and lean IT household. Well done there and what it means, is that the old Pavlov reaction to economic headwind – cut the IT costs, just do it – won’t work this time. There is simply not enough fat on the patient, even if we turn to the newest advances in virtualisation, systems management and cloud computing. Besides, achieving some new savings on an IT budget that is at best a few percent of the organisation’s revenue, may be useful but certainly not remarkable.

And we want to do remarkable things with technology, don’t we?

We have found that our TechnoVision approach to creating a business / IT strategy is particularly suitable for finding these remarkable things.

Technovision provides a simple and elegant framework to position emerging technologies but even more importantly, it emphasises the linkage to well-defined business drivers. This provides a bridge between tangible value and IT, a much needed foundation for priorities and business cases. The concept of business drivers is thus crucial in TechnoVision and analysis showed us that – next to cutting IT costs – there are at least 7 categories of ‘downturn and/or crisis’ business drivers that are directly affected by the ability to master technology:

1. Operational cost and cash
2. Customer focus and sales
3. Products and services
4. Supply chain and partners
5. Workforce planning and HR
6. Trust and transparency
7. Rising in the recovery

As this is a blog – and not a white paper – I will not harass you with an overflow of text at once. Instead, I will pick up on these items one by one in the forthcoming days. And stepwise, it will become clear that technology has a crucial role to fulfil in battling the crisis. So – for a change - let’s stop drooling. Let’s forget about Pavlov and find new, creative ways for IT to be part of the solution rather than the problem. Remarkable but true: this crisis needs technology.

First published on Capgemini's CTO blog

vrijdag, maart 06, 2009

IT Specialist Certification: Experience Counts

Talked to Computable magazine (in the world language Dutch, sorry about that) about the need for open, global certification of IT Specialists (best practice: Open Group ITSC), based on real experience and proven competences, rather than passing some multiple-choice tests. Quite a discussion thread too.