Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sybase acquired by SAP

Another blast from my past as SAP announced that it is acquiring Sybase. I remember Sybase as much for their lavish AR (Analyst Relations) than anything else. I attended quite a few of their events, most memorable of which was held at the NYSE - with lunch in the Boardroom, and this not that long after 9/11. How they pulled it off I have no idea, but it was an amazing and quite surreal experience.
Long dismissed as has beens Sybase (though I never truly understood their business), recognized that they had lost the database battle long back, and very smartly and quietly consolidated their business in high finance, and in Asia - whilst making serious investments in the mobile world. From a skunkworks set up in Canada its the mobile infrastructure piece of the pie that has added to their spectacular price paid by SAP - $5.8 Billion - a lot of money for a company written off by most everyone.

I chose the image above, as I still have sitting on my desk a rather lovely brass Kaleidoscope given to me as a gift by Sybase AR in 2002 - that has Mardi Gras (AR event clashed with the start of Lent) beads in it.....

Friday, April 09, 2010

Best Practices

Every consulting client asks if I can provide them with best practices as part of the advisory engagement. I don't object to these requests, in fact I can fully understand why they ask, but my advice to any one out there looking for such things, is beware of the person who offers them to you.
Best practices scare me a bit, they remind me of the nonsense of the late 90's when everyone was benchmarking, trying to mimic best practices and getting enthusiastic about Business Process Re-Engineering. What we learned, or at least should have learned from all that is that what works well in one place does not necessarily work well anywhere else. For sure there are wrong ways to work, there are inefficient ways to work and there are downright stupid ways to work - but once you eliminate the plain bad options, there are a multitude of possibilities left.
You need to match your needs, goals, organizational psychology (culture/dynamics) and resources with elements of what has worked well elsewhere and make up your own patchwork quilt of what works best for you, from what has worked for others....

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Server sales rise dramatically in 2010

This morning whilst reading the FT and sipping my coffee I started reading about the dramatic increase in server sales that the market is currently experiencing. Everyone from IBM and HP through to AMD and Intel have seen sales rise dramatically.
It is as they say "a perfect storm", as budgets are loosened after a year of belt tightening, old hardware and software is reaching a point where it has to be upgraded, and the new server technologies pretty much guarantee they pay for themselves in a matter of months. They pay for themselves due the spectacular rise in computing power they deliver over previous generations, and simultaneously a spectacular drop in power consumption.
This all took me back to project I was involved in whilst at Wipro. To this day I have no idea why but I somehow became the link man between Wipro and Sun Microsystems, to partner on a Solaris 10 initiative. It was slam dunk financially, as Solaris 10 was open source, as even if one only got service revenue and ran Solaris 10 on non Sun hardware (HP for example) the cost savings were so huge compared to say Solaris 8 or pretty much any other flavor of Unix, we were doing well.
The problem was we did not do well - the Sun brand at that time was so tarnished, so connected with failure that it was like climbing a mountain even to get a meeting with some clients to discuss the potential. Sun had great people, and some awesome technology, we had a clear cut business case - but no means to spark a conversation, due to perceptions around the brand and the potential future of Sun.
It's likely (or at least it should be) that Oracle is now reaping the benefits of all Suns hard work and expertise. Not just because of an improved economy, but because people feel secure with Oracle. Its the same with IBM and Microsoft and that is to some extent why they dominate the IT world, sentiment and perception carrying more weight in buying decisions than we realize.
Something of a ramble as always, but that's the point of a personal blog - but reading the FT really did bring back some memories.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

ECM does not equal Green IT

There are two things that instantly get my back up these days. ROI/ Pseudo scientific IT calculations and the claims of the Green IT movement. To be clear upfront, I am the resident Tree Hugger at The Real Story Group and take the environment and our stewardship of it seriously, I also believe that information management initiatives can and do deliver clear and measurable results. But maths that only tackle one side of the equation, and Green claims based on hot air really do not resonate with me.

So imagine my apoplexy when I read an article today that claimed that you could radically reduce your carbon footprint by utilizing ECM software. Again, to be clear - my blood pressure is not rising because I don't believe its possible, rather it is because of the wacky math that is used to support such a claim. In this article (including graphs) the measure of success was the fact that this University 'saved' 347,000 paper pages in the admissions process this year. Instead of the paper documents, they used electronic documents. The carbon footprint reduction came through saving lots of trees (43 trees to be precise based on their calculation of 16 reams of paper from a single tree). This all seems like laudable stuff until one stops think about what is missing in this lopsided calculation.

First, and fairly obvious is that the University has not apparently heard of recycled paper, secondly and probably more importantly there seems to be an assumption here that electronic documents do not have a carbon footprint. No apparently, the toxic time bomb that constitutes a computer these days counts for nothing, nor does the power to run the computers, servers, data centers etc. No discussion either at the ease of proliferating multiple and redundant copies electronic documents. I have no idea what the actual carbon footprint tally for running a document management system is, but I know its not zero.

Nonsensical calculations, and spurious eco-claims are totally unnecessary in the world of information management - just a look around at the information chaos we call normality is enough to tell us there is business value in doing the job properly. You can build real business cases, and use real numbers - you can measure information management success properly and accurately, there is no need to wander into fantasy.