Win or Lose, its all about the chase

Watching a Discovery HD show now on a car buff who loves to hunt down rare cars, usually flipping them for a profit (often doing restoring along the way). He appears to really like what he does, which I admire.

His little pitch with the intro is “Win or lose, its all about the chase”. He loves hunting down that rare bird.

This is good advice for all of you. Do what you love. And enjoy doing it, and know that it is the doing that is the reward. There will be victories, and there will be failures. Most of us actually fail far more often than we want to admit.

Thinking deeper still, this is the attitude that the best technologists in IT seem to have. Not the ones that just know how to brand themselves and land a big paycheck, I mean the ones who are doing the real work and bring about innovation. Dont get too caught up in rewards, or success and failure. If you enjoy what you do, and do it with passion, you will lead. And it will never get old.

OK, its 12:40am and I still got a lot of crammin to do for the IBM 000-119 exam. Thank you car dude.

ITs whats for breakfast

Sitting at a table here at the Arrow conference during breakfast, a topic came up about why a particular large provider of IT equiptment and services is having challenges growing in the storage industry. It was a great opportunity for me to provide feedback on the storage product line. Amongst things that I brought up were the relative boring-ness of many 0f their products, the lack of a simulator availble (i.e. a virtual machine), too much process involved in handling system issues, a difficult to navigate parter site… it brought about some rather long faces.

But what is the real core issue? I looked two tables away, and there it was.

What I saw was a table of the lead sales and architects for this product line. It was mostly men, mid-50s, all wearing thick sport jacketss. It was clear, their job was to meet clients, sell boxes, and expect people to just keep buying boxes. Make your margins, sell boxes, make a good paycheck, and eat more breakfast.

I hope in our lifetime we move beyond IT being a cash cow. Its disrepectful to the potential IT offers us, and is holding us back. Customers spent a lot of extra money on products (beyond R+D, manufacturing, and support) to pay for all those professional salaries and big breakfasts.

Grab some salt to go with those practice cert tests

Its 10:37pm and I’m at the Sheraton in Fort Worth, Texas. It is the Arrow “May Days” event this week, and there will be ample opportunity to attend tech sessions (big focus will be IBM, the main event sponsor), meet vendors, and take cert tests.

Before I get to the point of this post, does anybody know why there is not a CVS or Walgreens within 400 miles of downtown Fort Worth? Not even a McDonalds. Im a simple blue collar guy (well, I think of myself that way) and after a miserable plane ride here today all i wanted was a 1.49 McDonalds crispy chicken snack wrap to hold me til dinner. All I can find are pinky-up burger joints, bistros, theme restaurants… perhaps town planners were going for a particular look. I can respect that. But this IS the United States, and as a citizen I EXPECT my McDonalds. For heavens sake, at least put out some hotdog carts. I enjoy fine dining as much as anyone, but I was tired.. I had studying to do.. and not to be anti-social I didnt want to sit in a restaurant and order and wait for food. And about that Walgreens – for the past year, since going to Germany when I was with EMC, I have been a sparkling water junkie. You would think that downtown Fort Worth, in its attempt to be a convention hub (international hub I hope), they would appeal to the popular demand of sparkling water. But no sir, and that alone is a big strike I have with this town.

Well, now that we have established how biased the author gets when he cant get his sparkling water, let me state a recent observation. Be very, very careful when studying for techncial certification exams using on-line questions and answers. Some of the questions are clearly answered wrong. Not sure if this was intentionally leaked by the test authors, or maybe the individuals who stole the questions simply didnt know the material that well.

A great example is as follows, from IBM 000-118:

Which of the following IBM storage products allows for 960 TB (raw) in one standard IBM rack?

  • A – XIV system
  • B – DS5300
  • C – DS8800
  • D – Storwize V7000

The source of this questions says the answer is “A”. Well, until this week, my knowledge of XIV was very limited. But never trusting these things, I did my research and learned that the XIV (as of today – May 2011) can handle no more than 360 TB, and that is raw. After system overhead, and mirroring, realistically you cant get more than 170 TB.

Meanwhile, the V7000 can handle up to 9 expansion enclosures per controller enclosure. Each controller enclosure can be 2U and have up to 24 internal drives. The expansion enclosures (also 2U) can also have 24 drives each. That yields 10 enclosures, 24 drives each = 240 drives in 20U. With 2TB drives, that yields 480TB of raw storage with a V7000 in only 20U. In a 42U rack, you can then have two of these configurations and have a total of 960TB, with a couple of U to spare for your PDUs.

Knowing that the correct answer is “D” for the Storwize V7000, we now have to make a guess. Is the exam itself wrong? If I answer “D”, would I get the wrong answer? Should I answer “A” just to get it right?   OR – was the individual who stole this question and published it on the net careless or perhaps just not strong with IBM?

I respect cert tests, the effort that goes into them, and believe they provide the best current solution to a complicated problem (proving abilities). Just dont go out there and memorize the questions and answers. Study them, and make your time worthwhile. And please be careful, as the suggested correct answers may not be right.

How information technology is impacting your speed

One topic that is without question delightful is the impact of crowdsourcing. Perhaps Im using the word loosely, but to me it is the ability to rapidly acquire data points about so many people, on so many levels, and measure the once unmeasurable.

Crowdsourcing allows you to use your phone to know where traffic jams are on the highway, before you even get on it. The data comes direclty from other peeople’s phones (or some type of device that reports information). Crowdsourcing is how retailers can acquire data on how much of certain things to stock, with a level of precision that was unthinkable year ago. But these are silly, virtually meaningless examples when compared to what lies ahead.

The big one, we all know, will eventually be healthcare in the US, and using information technology to monitor the activity level, diet, and even prescription medication use of citizens to best distribute what is and always will be a limited pool of resources. In case you are wondering, no – I have no opinion on the “goodness” or “badness” of this. It is what it is, and from a cold calculating efficiency perspective of society, one cant help but say “its about time!”

The ability to measure that accurately, and with permission of the court (although legal or not finances will make it happen), is still several years away, perhaps more than a decade.

But worry not, the stepping stone of “how many 36W jeans to stock in June” to this is starting to take shape. On the news today in Massachusetts was a piece on an auto insurance company offering a discount IF you let your car usage activity be monitored. Speed, miles, location, etc. Its called Snapshot (yes the impact of IT is so great we are re-using storage management lingo!). Snapshot makes all the sense in the world. If you drive like a robot and obey all the rules, why on Earth should you pay more to subsidize some maniac like me?

Next step would be that so much financial burden for insurance falls on faster drivers, that they too in large numbers slow down. Anybody who doesnt want Snapshot in their car will be a suspect to be a crazy driver even if their record is clean.

The whole of society is working here to eliminate waste and improve efficiency. Years of police tickets and speed limits have had no impact since it was far too spotty. But now, the link of information technology, crowdsourcing, and the need for operational efficiency amongst the members of society will make this happen no matter how one feels about it. Its sad, and its scary, but its perfectly logical in a cold kind of way.

This is a topic we’ll be sure to discuss frequently – the use of information technology to bind individuals together for improved efficiency of society.

Just what the world needs – one more blog

Well, that is mostly true. There is already such an overabunance of information, and streams of thoughts to captivate everyone, that the world really doesnt need another blog.

How many of you honestly read somebody else’s blog on a regular, religious basis? Not me. I just use Google to index the great Ether and grab information as I need it. But, more and more of that information is sourced from blogs, and less is from actual documents. Well, most is still from detailed documents and books, but the ability to see things from many different angles simultaneously is truly more powerful than the perspective of any individual.

Throughout my days I have many random thoughts. Many are on Information Technology (IT). Others are on economics, politics, sports, sometimes art and science. There will be days that I post details on VMware backup and recovery strategies. Some will be philsophical discussions linking IT and human evolution. Occasionally we’ll rant about the weather. Travel. Music. Briards. Home maintenance. Classic cars. History. Trail running (if I ever can do that again). Gardening. Weed control. Or maybe how bread and butter are the best things in life.

Someday, my time in this awesome crazy world will expire. Fortunately, those years are during that time life on Earth is going through an unprecedented level of evolution. This is being driven by the ability to save and link information, and build more information on that information. Its no secret Im not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but it is an honor to be part of this… “event”. If there is some possibility to make a couple of tiny contributions in this event, then it is my duty to do so. As all I know has been built upon the contributions and spirit of great individuals from thousands of years.

A thanks to all my family, and to Cheryl.