Monthly Archives: July 2013

Heard the one about the different 3 Vs?

There was Volume,  there was Velocity and of course, there was Variety.

The three Vs.

Story has it that when the technology world realised that the insatiable thirst for information meant that capacity of data was reaching a level that surpassed mans understanding of storage, the industry  came up with the 3Vs – Volume, Velocity and Variety. To most of us these three words relate directly to the Big Data explosion and can thank the Meta Group ( now Gartner ) for coining this new terminology.

So the three Vs in the context of big data goes something like this.


The size of available data has been growing at an increasing rate. This applies to companies and to individuals. A text file is a few kilo bytes, a sound file is a few mega bytes while a full length movie is a few giga bytes. More sources of data are added on continuous basis. The world’s technological per-capita capacity to store information has roughly doubled every 40 months since the 1980s;  apparently by 2012 every day 2.5  Quintillion (2.5×1018) bytes of data were created. OK this is big big data. And getting bigger. Never smaller. Inevitable.


The importance of data’s velocity — the increasing rate at which data flows into an organization — has accelerated with the Internet and mobile era  as we deliver and consume products and services using a plethora of personal productivity devices and MachineToMachine (M2M ) devices , generating a data flow back to the provider.


Rarely does data present itself in a form perfectly ordered and ready for processing. It could be text from social networks, image data, a raw feed directly from a sensor source like a M2M network of cameras, digital capture sensors and self service units.  Variety also exists with the devices, browsers, and interactive connectivity devices.

Big data is data that exceeds the processing capacity of conventional database systems. Who would have thought it. To leading organisations, like Wal-mart,  Amazon and Google, this power has been in reach for some time, but at fantastic cost. Commodity hardware, cloud architectures and open source software bring big data processing into the reach of the less well-resourced. Big data calls for scalable storage, and a distributed approach to querying. Many companies already have large amounts of archived data, perhaps in the form of logs, but not the capacity to process it.

The trend to larger data sets is due to the additional information derivable from analysis of a single large set of related data, as compared to separate smaller sets with the same total amount of data, allowing correlations to be found to “spot business trends, determine quality of research, prevent diseases,  combat crime, and determine real-time roadway traffic conditions. Take the Large Hadron Collider . You know the thing that is buried beneath the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva and run by CERN. The data flow from all four LHC experiments represents 25 petabytes annual rate before replication This becomes nearly 200 petabytes after replication.

So the three Vs puts data management on a new level because as we are all learning big data is difficult to work with using most relational database management systems and desktop statistics and visualization packages, requiring instead “massively parallel software running on tens, hundreds, or even thousands of servers.  Economical not viable. So unless you have deep pockets to buy big data fabric infrastructures to support Apache Hadoop and other big data  platforms like MongoDB, Nutch and Pentaho you are looking to partners to provide such services. Cloud of course. Oh BTW – what great names for such platforms and tools. Its like all common sense and naming convention has gone out of the window and why not I say 🙂

OK Brummie so thanks for the lesson on Big Data but whats the 3Vs in your world?

Well I see a different set of three Vs that are much closer to home for the typical IT organisation.  Perhaps not so sexy like Large Hadron Colliders, NASA systems and Google search servers but closer to home and very pertinent I believe to the IT organization.

Here they are.


The volume of ;’events’ in a modern IT organization has grown. How much? No one can probably quantify to the depth of the big data chasers but I maintain that because of the traditional 3Vs the impact on the IT organization has seen exponential change in the volume of events that need handling. Perhaps I am talking about the classic ITSM – incident, problem, resolution, helpdesk trend reports etc – but perhaps I am also talking about all of this plus  event logs being written, reports being run, printing, self-service events, scanning, data transfers, emails sents, conversations, access requests and so on. How many of these ‘events’ therefore happen in a given day. In a week. Last year. Who knows but IT has to handle them either manually, semi-automated or via self -service tools and processes. I wonder how many an average user generates in a day. A month. A year.


The pace of change to applications – Systems of Record, Systems of Innovation and Systems of Differentiation ( see my post about this – is driving such velocity of light weight ‘front office’ apps that originate from public cloud ‘stores’,  allowing an empowered mobile user to create ‘IP’ for themselves that allows them to communicate and be smarter. And totally outside the ‘eyes’ of the IT organization.  Such velocity whilst intuitive for the user creates a new dynamic for the IT organization as they look for tools and controls to manage this velocity. Are they there yet? No of course because for many this velocity is not measured – or even seen by IT. Its hidden. Or in the shadows.


The devices explosion has introduced so much variety of operating systems, hardware types and application choices that the IT organization of the future has to build a command and control infrastructure that will manage devices that ‘they have no knowledge of nor where it is located’. The idea that a user will create content that the IT department will never see, backup and audit is often a scary ( but inevitable ) thought. How much variety does an IT organization face each day. Compared to last week. To last year. What about next week. Next year.

Of course my 3Vs is really a subset of the real 3Vs,  but I often wonder if an IT organization has ever ‘captured’ the growth of these 3Vs rather than get fixated by the perennial debate around ‘ do we need big data’, ‘do we have big data’ ,’if we don’t have big data lets get some’ and ‘now we have it what do we do with it.’

Now that would be an interesting infographic to keep an eye on!


PS. I am going to post quite soon on another dynamic I now see around the competing forces  as traditional IT gets squeezed by more dynamic forces driving change from outside the IT organization.


Glass and Devices. It’s where it happens. Today and forever. Inevitable.

Have you ever looked at the glass in your mobile device?  Your tablet? Well of course you have. On your mobile phones. Its what you stare at intensively from dawn to dusk as you trawl through email, text, social updates, web content and generally, browsing the global internet. On and to play games.


But all the other devices you use has glass but we don’t feel a closeness to the glass itself. Yet we use the glass to print documents, scan documents, take pictures and so on.

Glass. You touch it. You pinch it. You swipe it. You connect via it. You communicate via it. Its a persuasive interface to reach information and people and for the first time ever it matter a lot. Remember the glass in the VDU, CRT Screen and notebook you used before. No? Exactly. The experience of the glass was not the big deal.  You didn’t touch the glass so why would it? But now we touch the glass. All the things we were told by our mothers not to do when a child is now fair game. Touch that glass, as much as you like – go for it – our mothers wont worry about smearing the glass 🙂

So what does your glass look like?

My glass consists of a fairly typical  38 cm laptop glass, a 10cm smartphone glass and a 25 cm tablet glass. Others have many more pieces of glass they carry round with them. What’s the average device count per person? I read it may be 3 devices a day. 3 pieces of glass a day.

You see the glass is the ultimate Looking Glass asset we have today. We search for information via this glass and we use this glass to inform, judge ( be judged ) and transact our lives whether it is our personal live, our corporate live or both – simultaneously. We present documents to the glass and transmit content to other people, to applications and to storage locations. We cant use the Cloud without the Glass. We swipe at things we see and the cloud makes it happen.

Watch a young person interact with glass. It is surreal as they create so much ‘content’ on a device where the glass is just part of the experience as it quite often not relevant to the device that is carrying the piece of glass because a young person can equally find another piece of glass to consume their content. Now watch a very, very young person use glass. Now you get the importance of glass.

But as we print less we find we consume more. And the glass becomes even more important.

Now we take ‘content’ digitally produced by a host of devices either automatically as a result of a search or aggregation of content provided by third parties or by our own hand or a colleague or friend, and we ‘consume’ manipulate on a range of devices – all using glass.  Glass is now the looking glass into interactive displays that are so much more than We even project content onto buildings using glass to display and reflect imagery and messages. Its like a surface.

The concept of the desktop has now slid along to become a worktop or surface. Microsoft even promote a product called Surface. Apple have nailed the glass concept. Google have a product called Google Glasses. All  of these companies are competing for  the vision ( actually a reality ) that the future resident of this planet will want to touch things they see that they want and need and use tactile gestures to communicate ( actually a reality ). Walls, ceilings, tables and even buildings are fair game for presenting digital content.

One just has to look at some of the stuff these companies are doing in their R&D labs and it gets really exciting because you know that glass is here to stay as the clever people find more and more ways to present digital content to us via the interface of glass.

The world of technology has a special use of glass. You see the glass we use has special features that make it so special. It is ultra-thin, environmentally friendly alkali-aluminosilicate  designed specifically to function as a cover glass for portable display devices. It is stronger than other chemically strengthened glass, allowing it resist and withstand damage. After all we hammer the glass. Look at how many times you touch glass every day and how many times you are ‘going to touch’ glass in the future. High volume traffic. Puts the old mouse clicks and keyboard presses into the dark. And what is cool is that its easy to clean the glass, spill water on it and remove dust and dirt. With superior viewing in outdoor and harsh lighting environments the glass is significant to our everyday lives.

For Joe Public this is not a great story – they don’t buy a smartphone because of the glass. They don’t use a tablet because the glass is cool. Of course they don’t.

But for Corporate IT Organization the glass is part of the story – a very important story.

You see the glass lives in a DEVICE and its the DEVICE that’s the big deal here. You didnt think it was the glass did you?

Look at how we collaborate. We take content and share it using more devices than ever before. We may have an idea. What do we do? We commit to some form of digital content on a range of DEVICES at our disposal and at varying speeds and locations. These ‘documents’ we create are shared to others who consume our content via their DEVICES. We may then use other DEVICES to present the same content to a wider audience – say a web conferencing session or interactive whiteboard session. Across the world we connect DEVICES to share our content. All the time we are pushing our use of glass to the extremes.  Data can be visualised now on glass the  size of a building – seen that? – and people can view the content on personal DEVICES  they can wear as items of clothing. As we travel we are surrounded by glass that communicates with us. Satnav, Multimedia streaming on trains , buses and planes. All contains glass but are all just a DEVICE. The DEVICES has  a name. It has an address. It is owned. It has end of life characteristics. It gets stolen. It gets lost. Perhaps on its  own it is dumb but connected with other DEVICES  it is all powerful. And its the glass that makes it so much more powerful to us all. Of all ages. Young and old. Regardless of locations.

People call it the Internet of Things but more accurately it feels like the Internet of Devices. And OK I know the Internet of Things contains devices that do not contain glass,  but if you think this is where this post breaks down consider that as things develop the Internet of Things does not actually require people. So don’t worry about the glass when this happens!

But for IT organization this Internet of Devices is a worry as they struggle to cope with delivering the IT Service. Because the glass allows us to circumvent security policies. It makes it easier to let unauthorised people to view what we see via our glass. We can leave a device on the train and someone else can pick it up and use the glass to expose our intellectual property.

This Internet of Devices present challenges. Practical ones. Asset management. Security. Data Loss. Procurement. Licensing. Support. And so on.

You see not all is rosy in the world of glass.Whilst it may make our lives abundantly more fulfilling it may make the lives of a typical IT organization a lot harder. Of course it depends whether you have a ‘half glass full or half glass empty’ approach to IT services.

Excuse the appalling pun by the way but it sums up to me how an IT organization is viewed by the business when the subject of Devices comes up.