|By Brent Smithurst||
|November 29, 2012 08:45 AM EST||
The defining moment came when I was in Grade 8. My social studies teacher, Mr.Thiele, told us how and why Japan became a manufacturing leader after World War II. He had a theory. As the Japanese were forced to rebuild factories and infrastructure from scratch, they used cutting-edge technology to leapfrog other nations like Canada and the United States. My classmates were not convinced. How could it be an advantage to start all over again? Mr. Thiele contended that by building anew, Japan had access to newer and more efficient technologies that were beyond the reach of other countries. Combining modern management techniques and new infrastructure, Japan surpassed nations burdened by antiquated infrastructure and no money or compelling motivation to invest in new technologies.
I'm not sure Mr. Thiele got all his facts right, and I don’t mean to trivialize the challenges faced (and overcome) in post-war Japan. But starting from scratch with newer and better technologies can allow a company to gain a competitive edge. In this context, the Thiele Principle has guided me throughout my IT career.
Japan to Greece: A Thoughtful Approach for Improving IT Processes
When I investigate how an IT process works and why it came into being, I like to use the Socratic method to stimulate critical thinking and to generate new ideas. One of my favorite questions to ask IT staff is, how would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today? Usually the question gets the creative juices flowing, and people brainstorm new solutions. Which leads me to ask the next question: Why don't we go ahead and make the change then? In my opinion, this is a more effective way to solicit input rather than asking people to think of change simply in terms of cost-benefit analysis. It often turns out that IT staff see sunk costs as the biggest hurdle. That’s not good enough. I believe that sunk costs are irrelevant to the debate and lead to paralysis. Let me demonstrate the method with a real-life example.
The Road to the Cloud: From On-site to Co-located Servers
An employer had all its servers located in-house, with the exception of the web and incoming mail servers. This practice led to all kinds of problems. Water was often turned off in our aging office tower to allow for plumbing repairs. With water unavailable, the air conditioning did not work, and we had to turn power off in the server room to avoid over-heating.
In-house servers also required our staff to maintain them and transport backups to an off-site location on a daily basis. Capital costs were running too high. Most importantly, with no 24-7 on-site staff to troubleshoot server crashes, our European employees and partners had no access to the system during their working hours.
"How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"
"Well, I'd have our servers moved to a co-location facility with guaranteed power, 24x7 staff, and have them do the backups."
"Why don't we go ahead and make the change then?"
Nobody could think of a good reason not to make the change, so we went ahead. The switch to co-located servers solved some of our problems, but not all of them. And new issues arose. Scaling on demand was unavailable due to hardware constraints and custom software design. It still took months to requisition, configure, and put new servers into production.
Once again I asked, "How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"
"Well, I'd go with virtual servers instead of our own co-located ones."
"Why don't we go ahead and make the change then?"
This time, staff came up with legitimate reasons why we couldn't just toss our existing servers and move to a virtual infrastructure. It was simply too costly to terminate co-location contracts with external vendors. It also meant we would have to rewrite all our applications to make them work in a virtual environment. Still, we decided to use the then fledging virtual private server technology for our new projects. We achieved mixed results. While we could spin up a physical server in an instant, it would be unprovisioned with our environment, and required middleware and heavy-duty IT involvement to make it work. Development, staging, and production environments were not identical, which resulted in many errors.
"How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"
In reality, there was no good solution to the problem at the time. At least until the private Platform as a Service (PasS) came along.
Private Platform as a Service: Opening the Path for Innovation
In the last six to eighteen months, the advent of viable enterprise private PaaS products has significantly changed the IT landscape. PaaS guarantees an identical environment throughout the development and deployment cycles, can handle any language, and is automatically configured and scaled on demand without IT intervention. PaaS effectively removes all the barriers that delay project rollouts, and allows staff to focus on real business problems rather than waste time fixing the IT infrastructure. With PaaS, innovation becomes possible.
Technology changes so rapidly that a business will be left behind if it does not constantly consider newer and better ways of doing things. Innovation starts with asking the right questions. When reviewing legacy systems and practices, ask your team, “How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?” The Japanese taught us that a frog in a well does not know the great sea. Chances are that if you are not thinking out of the box, looking ahead, and making continuous advancements, your competitors will. And it may take you years to catch up if you miss the boat.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2017 New York. The 20th Cloud Expo and 7th @ThingsExpo will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Internet to enable us all to im...
Dec. 9, 2016 12:30 AM EST Reads: 876
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Dec. 9, 2016 12:00 AM EST Reads: 685
"Once customers get a year into their IoT deployments, they start to realize that they may have been shortsighted in the ways they built out their deployment and the key thing I see a lot of people looking at is - how can I take equipment data, pull it back in an IoT solution and show it in a dashboard," stated Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 8, 2016 09:45 PM EST Reads: 1,237
What happens when the different parts of a vehicle become smarter than the vehicle itself? As we move toward the era of smart everything, hundreds of entities in a vehicle that communicate with each other, the vehicle and external systems create a need for identity orchestration so that all entities work as a conglomerate. Much like an orchestra without a conductor, without the ability to secure, control, and connect the link between a vehicle’s head unit, devices, and systems and to manage the ...
Dec. 8, 2016 09:15 PM EST Reads: 960
Complete Internet of Things (IoT) embedded device security is not just about the device but involves the entire product’s identity, data and control integrity, and services traversing the cloud. A device can no longer be looked at as an island; it is a part of a system. In fact, given the cross-domain interactions enabled by IoT it could be a part of many systems. Also, depending on where the device is deployed, for example, in the office building versus a factory floor or oil field, security ha...
Dec. 8, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 331
Amazon has gradually rolled out parts of its IoT offerings in the last year, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. In addition to optimizing their back-end AWS offerings, Amazon is laying the ground work to be a major force in IoT – especially in the connected home and office. Amazon is extending its reach by building on its dominant Cloud IoT platform, its Dash Button strategy, recently announced Replenishment Services, the Echo/Alexa voice recognition control platform, the 6-7 strategic...
Dec. 8, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 392
Everyone knows that truly innovative companies learn as they go along, pushing boundaries in response to market changes and demands. What's more of a mystery is how to balance innovation on a fresh platform built from scratch with the legacy tech stack, product suite and customers that continue to serve as the business' foundation. In his General Session at 19th Cloud Expo, Michael Chambliss, Head of Engineering at ReadyTalk, discussed why and how ReadyTalk diverted from healthy revenue and mor...
Dec. 8, 2016 05:45 PM EST Reads: 1,726
As data explodes in quantity, importance and from new sources, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and cloud environments grow with it. Managing data includes protecting it, indexing and classifying it for true, long-term management, compliance and E-Discovery. Commvault can ensure this with a single pane of glass solution – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enter...
Dec. 8, 2016 05:00 PM EST Reads: 1,822
Financial Technology has become a topic of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 20th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York, June 6-8, 2017, will find fresh new content in a new track called FinTech.
Dec. 8, 2016 04:45 PM EST Reads: 2,256
You have great SaaS business app ideas. You want to turn your idea quickly into a functional and engaging proof of concept. You need to be able to modify it to meet customers' needs, and you need to deliver a complete and secure SaaS application. How could you achieve all the above and yet avoid unforeseen IT requirements that add unnecessary cost and complexity? You also want your app to be responsive in any device at any time. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Mark Allen, General Manager of...
Dec. 8, 2016 04:45 PM EST Reads: 1,851
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Dec. 8, 2016 04:15 PM EST Reads: 2,321
Bert Loomis was a visionary. This general session will highlight how Bert Loomis and people like him inspire us to build great things with small inventions. In their general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Architect at IBM Bluemix, and Michael O'Neill, Strategic Business Development at Nvidia, discussed the accelerating pace of AI development and how IBM Cloud and NVIDIA are partnering to bring AI capabilities to "every day," on-demand. They also reviewed two "free infrastructure" pr...
Dec. 8, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 1,246
Unsecured IoT devices were used to launch crippling DDOS attacks in October 2016, targeting services such as Twitter, Spotify, and GitHub. Subsequent testimony to Congress about potential attacks on office buildings, schools, and hospitals raised the possibility for the IoT to harm and even kill people. What should be done? Does the government need to intervene? This panel at @ThingExpo New York brings together leading IoT and security experts to discuss this very serious topic.
Dec. 8, 2016 03:00 PM EST Reads: 536
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Dec. 8, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 945
"Dice has been around for the last 20 years. We have been helping tech professionals find new jobs and career opportunities," explained Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 8, 2016 02:15 PM EST Reads: 1,198
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 8, 2016 01:45 PM EST Reads: 800
"At ROHA we develop an app called Catcha. It was developed after we spent a year meeting with, talking to, interacting with senior citizens watching them use their smartphones and talking to them about how they use their smartphones so we could get to know their smartphone behavior," explained Dave Woods, Chief Innovation Officer at ROHA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 8, 2016 01:45 PM EST Reads: 782
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Dec. 8, 2016 12:45 PM EST Reads: 1,755
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal...
Dec. 8, 2016 12:00 PM EST Reads: 544
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Dec. 8, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 2,352