Turbotodd

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

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Live @ Pulse 2012: Steve Mills Keynote: Running Linux Like A Scalded Dog

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Welcome to the Day Two Pulse Keynote summary, whereby I try to consolidate a gazillion thoughts, stories, and case studies into a coherent narrative.

First, know we had to turn off all our digital gadgets so that “iLuminate” could come onstage and dance with their lighted costumes. Their performance was amazing, but I don’t have any pictures to share so you’ll just have to trust me or go watch them on YouTube here:

Tivoli veep Scott Hebner came back onstage after the dancing was over to explain that today we were going to share our client’s success stories and that “we must achievee sharper insight into a seemingly endless infrastructure.”

Today was moving day, as it were, where we start to learn all about implementation and roadmaps to success, Hebner promised.

Really?  I thought it was the day of the night that Maroon 5 took the stage!

Hebner went on to assure the Pulse audience that “we spend as much time as we can how to support our customers, as we do actually building the technologies.”

He then explained the critical importance, capabilities, and skills of our business partners through a pretty standard but relevant BP interview video, before going on to congratulate all the IBM Tivoli Business Partner award winners for 2012.

Before Hebner turned the stage over, he mentioned one last key point, that IBM has long been committed to open standards, a commitment that continues with cloud computing and IBM’s co-founding of the “Cloud Standards Customer Council (see www.cloud-council.org), which already has over 300 active members in the form of companies like Boeing, Kroger, and others.

Customer-driven cloud standards, not vendor driven.

Hebner then introduced IBM senior VP and group executive, software and systems, Steve Mills, who “has three decades of helping our clients solve their business problems.”

IBM Software senior VP and group exec, Steve Mills, throws down the gauntlet at Pulse 2012, explaining that "Linux runs like a scalded dog" on System z and that more IT organizations need to make more decisions based on economic realities.

Mill’s keynote today was impassioned, as much didactic lecture as informative overview.  Mills explained he was going to give a perspective on information technology that “centered on economics,” clearly perturbed at the continuing politics in many IT organizations that lead to bad decisions driven by turf rather than data.

To prove his point, Mills used the IBM story as one that he could relate “the art of the possible,” one of consolidation and efficiency that focused on best outcomes and achievements, not internal politics.

He put up a slide (see sidebar below) that explained how smarter planet solutions are increasing the demands placed on IT.  For example, data centers have doubled their energy use in the past five years, and there’s an 18% increase in data center energy costs projected.  The costs of the IT assets themselves, Mills pointed out, are only a small and marginal component of IT’s overall costs.  Labor, energy, and other costs are a much more substantial component of the costs, so IT has to work much smarter, and in a much more automated fashion, to keep the costs reasonable.

Smarter planet solutions have increased demands on IT, with 50% year-over-year growth in the digital universe and internet-connected devices growing 42% year-over-year.

Sprawl drives costs, Mills explained. “We know this from IBM, talking to thousands of businesses around the world.”

But, he went on, “we eat our own cooking,” and that IBM consolidation efforts to date had saved over $100M and counting, and that the TCO comparison for distributed workloads versus those on z Systems is a substantial savings on virtualized Linux via z.

“Linux runs like a scalded dog on the mainframe,” Mills asserted, the quote of Pulse 2012 thus far.  Mills elaborated on IBM’s investments in System z: “If the work can be consolidated onto Z, we do it.  System z plays a critical role in IBM’s journey. Migrations to System z have delivered almost 60% of the project’s total cumulative savings to date.”

But too many organizations don’t look at putting the right workloads in the right places and systems.

With much of IBM’s own IT workload consolidation, “We can give better service faster in IBM relative to the applications they run” Mills detailed.  For example, IBM reduced server provisioning from 5 days to 1 hour. Configuration, operations, management, and monitoring labor was reduced by 50%.

In the collaboration realm, IBM now has more than 300M meeting minutes in the cloud per day and supports >85% of IBM’s overall web conferencing needs (which are, trust me, extensive. We IBMers mostly don’t live in offices anymore — we live in emeetings from our home and mobile offices!)

His message was clear: Focus your IT investments based on the reality of your business, not territory or political alignments.

As always, Steve concluded with some key customer examples. Nationwide Insurance saved $15M cost savings over three years using Linux on Systems z.  Now, they have 85-90% server utilization and an 80% reduction in environmental costs.

Technische Unviersitat Munchen replaced 150+ servers with two IBM Power servers, saving 85%, and energy consumption reduced by 80%.

Carter’s Inc., a leading children’s apparel company in the U.S., now accelerates data backup by 83% and achieves a 23:1 data compression ratio when it virtualizes its data storage environment. This has reduced data backup time from 12 hours to 2 hours.

Then, Steve Mills did something he doesn’t often, and that was to open the kimono.

In fact, yesterday during our interview with Steve, I asked him what, if anything, had changed since he had taken helm of the IBM Systems group (along with his existing Software responsibilities).

His response was revealing: Nothing had changed. Work integrating our systems and software for optimizing workload would continue as it had, if not accelerate.

The following slide reveals some of the details.  Based on these comments, I would expect more news on this front very soon.  : )

I wouldn't want to read *too* much into this, but it looks like to me, IBM's coming out with some new and integrated systems, and soon. Just so long as they continue to run that "scalded dog Linux!"

Written by turbotodd

March 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Live From Impact 2011: IBM Software’s Steve Mills On Business Agility

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Katie Linendoll, the “chic geek” technojournalist for both CNN and CBS, spiritedly kicked off today’s Impact 2011 morning keynote.

Scott and I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie yesterday afternoon for Impact TV, whereupon Katie went out of her way to give Scott a hard time about his pad and paper “Think” pad (Us cool kids both had iPads, albeit mine, a 1st generation, Katie’s the iPad 2).

Katie explained that for today’s session, we were going to focus on the how of building towards business agility, and then promptly introduced IBM Senior VP, Software and Systems, Steve Mills.

Steve had also joined us for an Impact TV interview, on Sunday, and continued to relay to the gathered 8,000+ member audience some of the key messages he had communicated during our interview.

In his comments, Steve pointed out for the audience how well received the IBM customer participation in both keynotes and breakouts has been, and he highlighted several in his talk: Caterpillar, NY State Tax Authority, Isbank (in Turkey), all of whom have realized great efficiencies and agility via business process management.

Mills explained that over the past decade, we’ve collectively been on a journey with SOA to build towards business agility, seizing the opportunity to leverage open standards and start to build more horizontal business processes that were no longer isolated to vertical applications.

SOA, Mills explained, has been about trying to unlock those applications and assets which define your business and the particular processes that make your business run, but that you can’t get there without unlocking your own data and assets.

But Mills also pointed out that there’s not a lot of new things in IT.  Watson, for example, the computer system that recently took on and beat “Jeopardy!” world champions, is not 4 years old. “There’s over 40 years of IT science behind Watson.”

Applause from the Impact audience. Mills continued: “The last four years were really fun. The past 40 were really hard.”

Business agility requires a robust SOA infrastructure, Mills explained, and we at IBM have worked on helping build a complete infrastructure because we understood our customers wanted to tie a lot of services together and to have flexible, high-performing infrastructures.

This, in turn, could help organizations build less, reuse more, and realize significant economic benefit by bringing down the cost of execution (Most businesses today spend 70-80% of their resources managing the runtime of thousands of programs).

Mills comments about the backstory of SOA served as a perfect segueway to the customer story video Katie introduced about how the City of Madrid built a coordinated emergency management response system after the horrible 2004 bombings there, and is now realizing a 25% faster response time for emergencies (and improving all the time).

And, to Phil Gilbert, IBM VP BPM, and his demo of the new IBM Business Process Manager.  Gilbert observed that there are $1T in losses in process inefficiencies every year, and yet both good and bad events have increased in both severity and frequency.

Citing Alfred Sloan, former CEO of General Motors and process improvement guru, he explained that “good management rests on decentralization with coordinated control.”

IBM’s approach to BPM can deliver such coordination.

Written by turbotodd

April 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm

IBM Industry Summit: Ginny Rometty On The Business Evolution Towards A Smarter Planet Agenda

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At the kickoff sesion of this morning’s IBM Industry Summit, IBM senior vice president of sales, marketing and strategy, Ginny Rometty, articulated a vision for organizations around the globe on how they could practically execute against the smarter planet agenda.

IBM Senior Vice President Ginny Rometty guides the IBM Industry Summit audience as to how companies can navigate their way to smarter business in the "new normal."

But first, she helped to rearticulate the problem statement through an example many may have already forgotten, the rice shortage crisis from early 2008.

Rometty explained she was traveling in Asia, and befuddled that in this day and age there would be a run on rice.

Once back at her office, she polled several colleagues from IBM Asia, and asked them what they thought was the cause of the shortage: Market speculation, climate change, growing demographics, what? In truth, it was all these things, but the “system of systems” had been overrun by its own complexity.

And ironically, a report released over a year later from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture stated that 2007-08 had been a record crop for rice!

Too much complexity, indeed.

There were huge inefficiencies in the vast distribution and supply chain system for rice, and not unlike the global financial crisis, it was those inefficiencies and interconnectedness that led to the rice riots to occur in the midst of the greatest rice crop in years.

With that as the backdrop, and the problem statement established, Rometty then began to explain what organizations around the globe must do if they wish to embrace the complexity of such “systems of systems,” and start to capitalize on the new opportunities they present.

Because this one example was emblematic of broader, but common challenges facing the world: All the systems that govern our businesses are really interconnected.

Also, companies everywhere have started to realize the increasing costs of their longstanding inefficiencies.

Which leads to the third understanding: We have to change. This is clearly not sustainable.

Rometty mentioned a study which revealed that since the global crisis hit, one-third of all CEOs have been replaced (Monster.com, anybody?)

To respond (and keep their jobs), CEOs must start to focus their energy on productivity and structural change, continued Rometty.

“You’re going to either take a market, or make a market.”

Therein lies the promise and the aspiration of a smarter planet. It really is a new way of thinking about your business and its opportunity in the world.

So how as a business do I get started on this concept of a smarter industry, Rometty asked?

Rometty answered the question by outlining the fact that IBM has done over 600 engagements around the globe, and half were done with partners like those in the room here in Barcelona.

Rometty then fully hit her stride and outlined for the CEOs and partners gathered in the room the three general phases people go through as they move towards a smarter business:

  1. Instrument to Manage
  2. Integrate to Innovate
  3. Optimize to Transform

The first step is simple: Understand the performance of your business by instrumentation.

You can’t know how fast you’re driving if your car doesn’t have a speedometer.

That’s why IBM has related this idea of embedded technology (RFID, sensor data, etc.)  To bridge the digital and analog world, we have to instrument, measure, and then manage it.

As an example, Rometty mentioned a Vietnamese seafood company which uses RFID sensors to monitor, from trawler to market, its fish catches to ensure quality control, manage inventory, and prove the premium value of its catch.

Second, companies must integrate to innovate. Organizations must be willing to evolve and adapt horizontally, across all their systems and structures, so that they can then be prepared to apply business analytics more effectively.

Rometty mentioned Toyota, which built an industrial waste efficiency project that the company spun off as a separate business unit, Ecomanage Network Corporation, to help other manufacturers facing the same waste management challenges.

Rometty also mentioned how supercomputing capability has evolved during the past decade. We’ve gone from Deep Blue, a supercomputer playing a chess game (but one with ultimately finite moves) to “Watson” (named after IBM’s founder, Thomas Watson), the new supercomputer learning how to play against humans with infinite possibliities in the “Jeaopardy” TV game show.

The host provides the answers, Watson has to come up with the questions.  Watson’s currently in training against other humans, but Rometty indicated that “She’s learning quite fast.”

Much laughter in the audience before Rometty moved on to the third step: Optimize to transform.

Now that you’ve built a foundation using instrumentation and new analytics, you can now move on to the art of the possible: Optimizing your system towards a specific business goal.

Predictive analytics is very different from the “looking backwards” model businesses have historically depended on.

The next decade, argued Rometty, will be one of predicting the future before it happens.

Unless you think she was now on to soothsaying, Rometty mentioned the Singapore Land Transit Authority, where technology is helping Singapore predict bus arrival times at a 98% accuracy rate, and helping commuters understand bus seat inventory via their mobile devices.

So what’s required to pull off this transformation, Rometty asked?

Three things. Leadership featuring an analytics based-culture. Systems thinking. And new forms of collaboration.

With regards to analytics, it’s actually simple to say (harder to do): Get your company and its people to move from guessing about your business via HIPPO (Highest Paid Person in the Room) and gut judgment, to one based on facts and trusted data that yields action.

Two, don’t get caught in the rice shortage paddy! Develop a culture of systems thinking so your organization is more adept and able to respond to unexpected crises, no matter their orientation.

And three, build a culture of collaboration. Your partners, your suppliers, your customers, all are key constituents in a supply chain of new ideas and possibilities for your business, but only if you facilitate and tap into their expertise and insights.

Pioneering companies which rethink their business systems and models, reinvent their outdated processes, and leverage analytics effectively moving will be poised to move beyond the “new normal” and instead realize new growth and outcomes for their companies.

Freakonomics @ IOD: Examining Data Ain’t No Monkey Business

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Apologies in advance if you had no incentive to show up at the Freakonomics keynote session earlier this morning at Information on Demand, because it was, without question, the highlight of my week here in Las Vegas (aside from the Bengal tiger I discovered hiding in my hotel bathroom).

Freakonomics co-authors Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner expound on sex, lies, economics and monkey business in their hilarious Information on Demand 2010 keynote session.

Just as with Malcolm Gladwell last year, author Stephen Dubner and economist Steven Levitt artfully integrated some of the themes of the event into their two-man show, and in the process perhaps nearly stole the whole show.

Dubner spoke first, asking the audience to “raise your hand if you’re a genius,” then recognizing the power of his own incentives, warned us away from stealing Levitt: “Find your own, he’s mine.”

Two best-selling books and a documentary movie later, I can’t say as I blame him.  Dubner kicked the session off explaining how he and Levitt came into one another’s orbit, arguing that he was fascinated Levitt was using data to find out what was going on in “the real world.”

Levitt, on the other hand, explained how he eventually became the accidental economist who was abysmal at math and clueless when it came to different varieties of derivatives, but was still able to muscle through at the encouragement of his father, who had found his own niche as a medical researcher on “intestinal gas.”

“The king of farts,” went the GQ profile headline about his father, joked Levitt, before Dubner returned to the stage and kidded that that made Levitt “the prince of farts.”

All hot air aside, Levitt explained his niche became the study of the nichest, yet fascinating, realms of data, and the people who helped unravel them.  Ultimately, though, Levitt was studying the power of incentives, and how they motivated — or didn’t — people across all walks of life.

Like the guy at the IRS who realized there weren’t really 7 million people named “Fluffy,” and how, almost overnight, 7 million people suddenly disappeared from U.S. tax rolls when the Social Security # started being required by filers in 1987 and they could no longer file their ghostly dependents!

Levitt went on to explain he wanted to become the kind of “real economist” who, when he made a mistake, could throw world markets “into convulsions.”  But of course, to be a real economist, he’d have to be good at math, so instead focused on problem sets that nobody else was interested in.

Dubner returned to the fore to explain one of those scenarios, a Yale researcher named Keith Chen who wanted to understand the impact of money in a monkey economy.

That is to say, how capuchin monkeys would react to having money introduced into their milieu (in this case, a research cage at Yale).

The hilarity of the story that ensued couldn’t possibly be done total justice in my retelling here, but know that it had the makings of a great story which you can read more about here in a New York Times article by the authors.

The long and short of it is that monkeys don’t monkey around with money much, at least not how Chen the researcher thought they might, particularly when said money interferes with what the monkeys really wanted more of (food and sex), but they did find a novel way to fit money into their Yale cage monkey business.

As Dubner explained the lesson, economists are all about measuring preferences (revealed and declared), and that the monkeys started to buy more food when the prices of the things they liked to eat most went up, not unlike people.

Ultimately, it’s all about loss aversion, whether the loss be more food or sex.

Speaking of the latter, Levitt returned at this point to close out the session, using another anecdotal example that demonstrated the power of pricing in that most marginal of markets, prostitution.

Never one to shy away from the fringes, Levitt explained how he became acquainted with a high dollar escort in Chicago through a “mutual acquaintance” and who was interested in helping him with his research on the economics of street level escorts.

Turns out, the escort had a Palm Pilot filled with useful data for his investigation, but also came loaded with a background in computer programming and now street business savvy, and she was ultimately able to one-up Levitt when he asked her to lecture to one of his classes, charging a full $100 more per hour than her standard hourly rate, but apparently giving one of the best lectures at the University of Chicago that his students had had in their entire four year tenure.

Though it may not have said much about he and his colleagues’ teaching abilities, the story did reveal to the global IOD audience that Levitt and Dubner continue to unearth powerful data where seemingly none exist, and to relate the revealing insights behind that data in a way that gives testament to the truths and lies of the human condition.

Written by turbotodd

October 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Steve Mills Keynote: Big Data, Big Picture

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In this morning’s first general session keynote at IBM Information on Demand, IBM Senior VP and Group Executive, Systems and Software, Steve Mills, got right to the bottom line on how organizations can go about implementing a smart information agenda and use business analytics to help them make better decisions.

IBM senior VP Steve Mills addresses the challenges of Big Data in his 2010 Information on Demand keynote.

As always, Mills painted in broad brushstrokes to help his audience see what has become something of a George Seurat “pointillist” painting, a sea of data, a mosaic of million and billions of bits and pixels of information that is piling up around us.

It’s increasingly daunting, both in terms of size and volume and velocity, and yet is an enormous business and knowledge insight opportunity as well.

So, you can either run for the hills, or you can buck up and dive into that sea, finding ways to organize it and make sense of it all…and maybe even learn something valuable for your organization.

The world is becoming more instrumed, interconnected, and more intelligent, but by leveraging this massive amount of new information, you can create a new kind of intelligence for your business, suggested Mills.

But it won’t come without some pain, trials, and tribulations.

Mills joked about the explosion in data and real world events, nodding his head to the ever-growing (but meaningless) Twitter and Facebook stream.

What Happens In Vegas…

“Remember,” he seemed to be warning the parents of teenagers in the audience, “what happens in Vegas…will stay on the Internet for a hundred or more years.”

Of course, with 44X as much data and content being generated over the coming decade, and with 80% of world’s data being unstructured (much of it that flow from the Internet, as my friend Ron ironically observed via Twitter), there’s a huge need for a structured approach to managing all this data.

Customers are clearly wrestling with this issue: 35% of customers will look to replace their current warehouse with a pre-integrated warehouse solution in the next 3 years, and only 14% have today.

And yet 83% of CIOs cited “Business intelligence and analytics” as part of their visionary plans to enhance competitiveness.

So, the IBM approach to mastering information for the purpose of optimizing business results is to build a flexible platform for managing, integrating,  analyzing, and governing information.

This is not a random path, but rather a structured, well thought through approach that takes an holistic look at information management.  Mills acknowledged we’re living in a federated world, one with a disparate set of information sources.

That’s why the Big Data challenge requires a Big Data approach, one that can help organizations deal with and benefit from massive and growing amounts of data, that can handle uncertainty around format variability and velocity of data, that can handle all that unstructured data, and one that can exploit big data in a timely and cost effective fashion.

IBM is offering a comprehensive set of solutions for Big Data, one in which interoperability will be key to addressing the unique challenges of the big data ecosystem.

Mills concluded with a big picture statement about all this Big Data: “We’re at an inflection point where IT is going to change the world in the next decade in ways even greater than that which we witnessed over the last 50 years.”

Written by turbotodd

October 26, 2010 at 6:25 pm

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