Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for July 24th, 2012

New IBM Study: Enabling A Flexible Workplace

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What is work?

Click to enlarge. IBM’s recent workplace study revealed that 74 percent of CIOs prioritize flexible workplace investments over all other IT spend, with many forward thinkers seeing a 20 percent jump in productivity and 20 percent reduction in costs.

Is work a place? Is it something you do? Is it a combination of the two, or is it something else?

Those questions beg a larger one, particularly in our always-on, increasingly globalized business environment: What is the workplace?

Or, more specifically, what constitutes a flexible workplace?

IBM’s Center For Applied Insights recently conducted a study to try and better answer this question through a survey of 675 CIOs and IT managers of large enterprises in Australia, China, India, Japan, the U.K., and the U.S.

The study was intended to gain perspective on the flexible workplace and to develop insight into what the most successful implementers of this workplace are doing that sets them apart.

Survey respondents suggested that such a flexible workplace is a new reality, with 74 percent of CIos and IT managers placing greater priority on the flexible workplace compared to other investments over the next 12 months.

The vast majority, in fact, expect to make significant investments across all the key attributes of the flexible workplace in the next one to two years.

More importantly, they expect these investments to yield productivity gains and enhanced security, and nearly half believe it will reduce costs and potentially increase revenues.

What Is A Flexible Workplace?

Today’s workplace is a virtualized and physical environment characterized by connections, collaboration, and user choice that enables the worker to be more agile and perform activities anywhere and anytime.

This redefinition of the workplace is the result of industry, demographic, and behavioral trends in technology and work habits. For example, with the introduction of smartphones, workers expect such tools that have enhanced their personal lives to play an increasingly important role in their business lives, a trend that poses important challenges and opportunities for the organization supporting the workplace.

The workplace study revealed that the most successful companies implementing the flexible workplace are reporting 20+ percent improvement in productivity and cost savings.

Facing The Challenges Of The Flexible Workplace

The study also revealed there are some important challenges that need to be met to accomodate the flexible workplace, most notably security and cost.

Security is seen as the most significant issue, but it’s also seen as a key benefit.

Improving colalboration is also key, with those organizations that leverage social business technology to strenghten two-way communication and sharing — amongst employees, partners, customers and vendors — becoming a competitive advantage.

In the attached infographic, you can see what the survey respondents highlighted as being key characteristics to becoming a more flexible workplace.

To learn more, register to download the full study results here.

Or, take this self-assessment to learn how your organization can increase its workforce productivity and reduce costs through enhanced and more flexible workplace development.

Look To The Heavens

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If you’ve ever fancied yourself a sort of Walter Mitty-ish astronomer, you’re going to like this one.

IBM announced today that the Victoria University of Wellington, on behalf of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) Consortium, has selected IBM systems technology to help scientists probe the origins of the universe.

This effort is the result of an international collaboration between 13 institutions from Australia, New Zealand, U.S. and India.  The MWA is a new type of radio telescope designed to capture low frequency radio waves from deep space as well as the volatile atmospheric conditions of the Sun.

The signals will be captured by the telescope’s 4,096 dipole antennas positioned in the Australian Outback in a continuous stream and processed by an IBM iDataPlex dx360 M3 computing cluster that will convert the radio waves into wide-field images of the sky that are unprecedented in clarity and detail.

The IBM iDataPlex cluster will replace MWA’s existing custom-made hardware systems and will enable greater flexibility and increased signal processing.

The cluster is expected to process approximately 50 terabytes of data per day at full data rate at a speed of 8 gigabytes per second, the equivalent to over 2,000 digital songs per second, allowing scientists to study more of the sky faster than ever before, and with greater detail.

The ultimate goal of this revolutionary $51 million MWA telescope is to observe the early universe, when stars and galaxies were first born.

By detecting and studying the weak radio signals emitted from when the universe consisted of only a dark void of hydrogen gas — the cosmic “dark age” — scientists hope to understand how stars, planets and galaxies were formed. The telescope will also be used by scientists to study the sun’s heliosphere during periods of strong solar activity and time-varying astronomical objects such as pulsars.

The IBM iDataPlex cluster will be housed on-site in the Murchison Radio Observatory (MRO) site around 700 km north of Perth, near the radio telescope antennas.

With a 10 Gbps communications link to Perth, it will allow the images to be transferred and stored and made available for research. The MRO site will also be the Australian location for a significant portion of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope and is being co-hosted by Australia and South Africa.

The MWA project is led by the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at Curtin University and is one of three SKA precursor telescopes.

You can learn more about the MWA telescope here.

Softer Networking

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The Turbo radar sensed more disruption on the technology M&A front overnight.

Actually, it was my RSS feed reader, but hey, close enough for jazz.

VMWare, the virtualization technology provider owned by storage technology stalwart, EMC, bought Andreessen Horowitz-backed Nicira for $1.05 billion buckaroos.

Nicira is an open source software developer for network virtualization, and has been adopted by VMWare most likely for its development of “software defined data centers.”

Historically, data communications controls have been managed by proprietary software sold in combination with hardware (think Cisco, Juniper, etc.)

With Nicira, control functions are separated and moved down the stack, so to speak, so they can be run on a variety of servers and not just proprietary hardware.

According to Wall Street Journal’s coverage of the announcement, VMWare CEO Paul Maritz “predicts that nearly all of the hardware in current computer rooms will be replaced by software running on commodity-style servers.”

The software-defined data center. Veddy interesting.

It’ll be even more interesting to see how Cisco and the other networking hardware vendors respond…or not.

Written by turbotodd

July 24, 2012 at 3:08 pm

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