Monthly Archives: December 2010

Where is a power plug when you need one

A constant bee in my bonnet is the lack of plugs in shops and coffee bars, and the inevitable angst when faced with that ‘10 minute’ warning before your laptop shutdowns Sad smile

I have bemoaned that as soon as someone can write an ‘App’ for an iPhone or Phone 7 that pinpoints your GPS location and then indicates places with ‘laptop friendly’ power sockets then I’m sold to the highest bidder!!!

Until then I suppose I need to do one of the following:

  • Carry a spare battery
  • Buy a solar charger ( and a bigger bag )
  • Get a PR 2 – watch this video
MR2; a robot that can find somewhere to plug in !!!!!!!!




Silver Lining



The importance of research

  • Do we make decisions on some gut reaction or vendor recommendation?
  • Do we speak to someone who has deployed what we are thinking of buying and go from that?
  • Do we test all the options before making a decision?
  • Or do we take stock of available research data to help make the decision?

If we are buying a mobile phone or HD TV then we may do all of the above. But what about big decisions on IT systems and infrastructure. I mean there is so much research out there that anyone who doesn’t at least have a favourite research ‘place to go’.

Well I am amazed that I find a lot of people don’t subscribe to any research or if they do it is ad hoc and random ‘I read this in a magazine’ or ‘ I went to a conference and listened to this fantastic analyst”.

The problem is that for many, making a big decision becomes ‘emotional’ and ‘too unconscious’, and the business case is totally devoid of any research data. (I’m discounting vendor research data obviously). Why is this? Well a lot of the time people believe they don’t need to assimilate research data because ‘everyone is doing this technology’ or ‘I don’t have time to waste on pointless research because there is this white paper I found on Google that clearly demonstrates we are making the right decision.’

To do research you need to do it consistently and with purpose and strategy. It is easy to waste money on developing ideas that go nowhere, but getting it right can lead to business stability, security and long-term profits. With cloud being the big deal that it is, make sure research is high on the list before committing to big decisions.

R&D should be included in your overall business plan. The plan should illustrate the direction you want the business to take and how R&D fits in with your other business activities. Set out clear objectives, time frames and budgets.

My view of research is simple:-

  • always expect research data in a business case to support a proposition; always mistrust a document expecting large scale investment without any substantiated research.
  • always use reputable research bodies and get to use a ‘safe list’ of trusted research sources
  •  web based research ( no matter how much you do ) is unsubstantiated and cannot replace proper research
  • industry specific research is paramount; general ‘everyone is doing it’ research means ‘everyone ISNT doing it’
  • Be careful of intellectual property issues
  •  allow time for research; avoid ‘give me a day’ responses.

Without a doubt my most important tip is to identify 2 or 3 trusted research peers ‘people who have earned their status through peer recommendation’ and use RSS feeds to keep up to date with what they are saying.

Make 2011 the year of research.



Is the Cloud a Black Swan

I read a while back a book entitled – The Black Swan by Nassim Nicholas Taleb – and had the pleasure of reading some it again via another book I was reading.

The concept of a Black Swan ( all swans are white right? ) has been something often dismissed or compounded over time, with sightings of black swans in Australia attempting to disprove the White Swans only theory. There are no Black Swans – they are presumed not to exist.

All this stuff got me thinking about some of Taleb’s points  and what a Black Swan event is all about. According to Taleb a Black Swan event is the following: –

  • It lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility. ( otherwise known as an Outlier )
  • It carries an extreme impact.
  • Human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable.

So 9/11 or The Internet are some well know Black Swans.

But what interested me the most is whether Taleb would feel that the Cloud was a Black Swan. Why do I say this?Well according to Taleb there are 3 things that make up a black swan:-

  1. The event is a surprise (Cloud is most definitely a surprise to most of us !!!)
  2. The event has a major impact ( Cloud has already and will continue to have a major impact)
  3. After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it could have been expected (e.g., the relevant data were available but not accounted ( totally true. There is a lot of hindsight moments with Cloud discussions and everyone says they are ‘told you so’.)

And finally, Taleb has a plan for building systems that are robust to Black Swans. I’ve highlighted a few ‘cloudworthy’ ones below.

  1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small. Nothing should ever become Too Big to Fail. Sort of sums up cloud computing.
  2. Do not let someone making an “incentive” bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks. Or let them manage your cloud computing needs.
  3. Counter-balance complexity with simplicity. How true with cloud architectures.
  4. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible “expert” advice for their retirement. Be wary of the cloud ‘been there done that’ brigade. Chose wisely.
  5. Make an omelette with the broken eggs. ‘Every cloud has a silver lining!.

Anyway if you feel in the mood consider Taleb’s book. A good read.

Take care



People who read this blog













Have a fantastic Christmas.


Cloud is NOT a part number

So you are buying some IT and you get the list of equipment. It doesnt matter what it is. It is a shopping list or say call it a Bill of Materials ( BOM).

Now you look at cloud. Spot the difference? There are no PART NUMBERS. Cloud is just Cloud.

You buy one of them and you pay a fee. Cloud is the product and you don’t need to worry about part codes and quantities. No need to worry about counting up the assets, paying for maintenance and obsolescence.


As always I make it all sound so simple and clean and of course, it isn’t but it probably will be one day. Look around for similarities in your daily life and you will this separation from the old and the new. So look at how you used to tune a TV set versus the dynamic menu and programme selection all for a flat fee.

Now if you are sensible and conscious, you will realise that the true world will be a combination of the BOMs and the Clouds. We need them both. Because remember. If you are conscious you will realise all you need to buy is WHAT YOU NEED and not WHAT EVERYONE ELSE BUYS or WHAT YOU BOUGHT LAST TIME.

Quite topical the last bit. I mean how many pairs of socks can one get for Xmas?

Ho Ho.


How much is spent on IT

Someone said to me the other day that I seem more interested in economics of IT than the technology itself. Not strictly true but there is a truth in the fact then understanding how people spend their money on IT is quite important whether it is a home user or a business person.

So keeping this short and sweet here are 3 interesting facts and figures about IT spend in the UK.

  • The Median spend on an individual end user per annum is £3,227.
  • The highest spending industry sector as a percentage of turnover is Education, followed by Business Services. Manufacturing and Construction were in last place. Retail wasn’t good either.
  • The ratio of OPEX to CAPEX for organisations over 1000 users is 85%. Meaning these customers have a typical IT OPEX budget of £4.5Million and a IT CAPEX budget of £778k.

I cant reveal the source as I haven’t checked that I can do so, but these figures are well represented I believe and pretty much out in the public domain. Or you could say I have made them up.

Now why is this important. Well the fact you may be asking that is a worry but apart from the obvious, lets examine the type of questions a CIO will be thinking about when they consider these figures.

1. How do I lower the cost of end user computing yet raise the service and innovation I deliver?

2. How do I deliver the ‘right’ IT to the ‘right people’ versus the ‘wrong IT’ to ‘all of the people’?

3. How do I innovate and do more for less against decreasing % share of the revenue slice of the cake ?

4. How do I really switch CAPEX to OPEX or vice versa depending on my situation. What are my big bets to achieve this?

5. How many vendors and partners do I need to achieve this?


Of course there are more but if you are presented with these 5 simple questions what would be your response? Food for thought. The last one in particular.



BTW – I flunked A Level ( high school ) Economics and Mathematics – so give me a break.


The bible had the Cloud

When thinking about the cloud phenomenon or paradigm shift or whatever analysts may call it, the origins of cloud can actually be found way back in the good book itself.

I was reading a passage the other day and the following jumped out of the page at me, and I thought – Cloud.  As you do of course.


And Ye Shall Know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8, 31 )


So I did some digging and came up with some other cloud references which sort of struck home.


With a cloud you led them in daytime, and at night you lighted their way with fire (Neh 9,12)

I am overcome with terror; my dignity is gone like a puff of wind, and my prosperity like a cloud. (Job 30,15)

Whenever the cloud lifted, the people of Israel broke camp, and they set up camp again in the place where the cloud came down.(Num 9,17)

Moses went on up the mountain into the cloud. There he stayed for 40 days and nights (Ex 24,18)


Sort of sums up the Cloud and all the stuff we talk about don’t you think?

PS. A similar search for words such as Virtualization drew a blank… into that what you wish.



Merry Xmas.



Fix one thing a day; FOR GOOD

A close friend of mine works for a major vendor of technology. He is a senior guy.

The other day he recalled a great story of a meeting he had with a CIO and his leadership team discussing strategic planning. The meeting was going OK but it got to some ‘sticky’ stuff where there were some low level tactical ‘issues’ that were preventing some of the plans moving forward. It appeared that the ‘list’ was quite long, and none of his senior managers’ were responsible and there was a ‘grey’ area.

My friend told me that the CIO stopped the meeting in its tracks and called for a comfort break.

When they all came back in he asked them all to stand up and got one of them to draw up a list of these ‘nagging’ issue’ on the wall in the main office in front of the IT masses. He asked them each to describe what they needed to do to ‘fix’ these issues for good. He explained he wanted the issues to be fixed but permanently. He then qualified how long all this was going to take to ‘fix’ and sent them off to ‘go fix’. He did this in front of his entire team. My friend described it like a ‘public flogging but in a nice way’.

Apparently the CIO gave them a week to fix ‘stuff’. The issues were left on the whiteboard in full view of the IT masses, and  he got the senior managers to walk up to the board and cross out their assigned issue once fixed permanently. I would have loved to have seen that! Smile

Of course what the CIO was doing was simple.By fixing just one thing each day but for good, he was getting people who should know better to go back to basics and focus on the small things. Everyone wanted to be strategic because it is cool and its why we get up in the morning right?

Well for this CIO he was just bringing some common sense and humility back into his senior people as a very public example to his whole team that by ‘fixing just one thing a day; for good’ was a positive result.

Privately the CIO told my friend it meant he could go home at night and be more relaxed about answering the question “what did you achieve today darling”.


Anyway off to fix my printer. Ha.