Archive for the 'VIS' Category

Software, Swainson, Forrestor analysis

Forrestor have published an interesting analysis of the new announcement that John Swainson will be joing Dell next month, I’m not sure about the protocol for passing on information such as this, by I thought it was an interesting analysis. “Suddenly Dell is a software company, and can flourish under new President John Swainson“. Kevin Kwang, over on ZDNet Asia expands on the Forrestor analysis here.

I need…

I had planned a long year end post that was around of all that happened in the past year, including some important updates on some of the software development that’s been going on here at Dell. Suffice to say the complexity of writing something that wouldn’t get me in trouble either for disclosing too much, or making it sound like finger pointing, which it wouldn’t have been, meant it never got written.

I had a great end of year Christmas trip back to the UK, the main reason for the trip was to get a new US Work visa, since my change of status, Permanent Residence aka Green card hadn’t been approved. After a few days in the West End dealing with that, I decamped to Islington and spent a few days out there including a great trip out to Stratford and the site of the 2012 Olympics. While in East London I caught this track a few times, called, I need – performed by Maverick Sabre who is now from Hackney, East London.

Maverick was of course one of our software project code names, the words made me laugh, “I need sunshine, I need Angels, I need something good and I need”. The irony won’t be lost. Enjoy.

The first Maverick Sabre album, Lonely are the brave, will be out Feb 6th, 2012.

OSGI and simplicty

from my conversation with James Governor after my flying visit to London for Dell Tech Camp, I’d known James was interested in OSGI from our conversations when it was an emerging technology and I was still at IBM; I hadn’t realized how much though until our recent discussion, and his blog entry for today, James quotes Kevin Cochrane, VP of marketing, CEM at Adobe. Kevin says of OSGI:

“There are 3 OSGi use cases relevant to customers:

1. updates. ie bug fixes to customer production systems. there is no need to bring them down.

2. extending new services. you might have 12 services, and a huge user community – you can still roll out extensions with no downtime.

3. discovery of new services. find a pre-packaged piece of code. browse, integrate and deploy.”

And yes, those are the key benefits that I can see us exploiting and delivering direct customer value through what they enable, rather than simply what they are. OSGI has many other “technical” benefits in the architecture and development space, but these three deliver the most value to the customer.

OSGI features, functions

Image from @kkirk.com

NeuralSoft and Dell VIS — Improving IT Efficiency

One of our customers, NeuralSoft, gives a high level overview of their use of VIS/AIM.

New VIS Blog/web sites

A couple of new VIS related web sites to be aware of.

First up there’s a new converged infrastructure web site on dell.com – It’s a great launch point to get an overview and links to the complete space we are working on under the VIS umbrella.

Second, as part of it’s Ziff Davis Enterprise web site, dell has sponsored the Dell Virtual Integrated System blog, written by Sean Gallagher. This isn’t product specific but covers some useful supporting, background and industry news.

Getting the ball moving

It’s getting interesting now as we start VIS 1.1 planning and design, while also working on the technology evaluations for VIS 2.0. At the same time seeing VIS 1.0 coming toward the end of it’s development sprints, with the final “tuxedo” UI replacing the “pyjama” UI, the simplicity and ease of use is looking really good.

So it was good to see this IDC White paper, sponsored by Dell, on  improving datacenter productivity. The IDC opinion section of the report aligns, unsurprisingly with the key areas we are working on, at lists the key capabilities. Mary Johnston Turner from IDC has also provided some useful background information.

Simplicity versus, well non-simplicity

I’ve had an interesting week, last Friday my corporate Blackberry Torch that was only 2-months old, was put in a ziploc bag with my name on it, and I was given a Dell Venue Pro phone with Windows Phone 7 in it’s place. I’ve written a detailed breakdown of what I liked and didn’t like. The phone itself is pretty rock solid, well designed, nice size, weight etc. and a great screen. Here is a video review which captures my views on the phone itself, a great piece of work from Dell.

What is interesting though is the Windows Phone software. Microsoft have obviously put a lot of time and effort into the User Interface and design experience. Although it features the usual finger touch actions we’ve come to expect, the UI itself, and the features it exposes have been carefully designed to make it simple to do simple things. There really are very few things you can change, alter, almost no settings, only very minimal menu choices etc.

What makes this interesting for me is this is exactly the approach we’ve taken with our UI. When trying to take 79-steps, involving 7x different products and simplify and automate it, it would be easy to make every step really complicated, and just reduce the number of steps. However, all that does is mean that there would be more chance of getting something wrong with each step; my experience with this type of design is that not only is the human operator more likely to make a mistake, but the number of options, configurations and choices drive up the complexity and testing costs become prohibitive, and eventually mistakes are made. Combinations not expected are not tested, tests are run in orthogonal configurations.

Back when the autonomic computing initiative was launched some 10-years ago at IBM, there seemed to be these two diametrically opposed desires. One desire was to simplify technology, the other was to make systems self managing. The problem with self managing is that it introduces an additional layer, in many cases, to automate and manage the existing complexity. To make this automation more flexible and to make it more adaptable, the automation was made more sophisticated and thus, more complex. The IBM Autonomic Computing website still exists and while I’m sure the research has moved on, as have the products, the mission and objectives are the same.

Our Virtual Integrated System work isn’t anywhere near as grandiose. Yet, in a small way it attempts to address whats at the core of IBMs’ Autonomic Computing, how to change the way we do things, how to be more efficient and effective with what we have. And that takes me back to Windows Phone 7. It’s great at what it does, but as a power user, it doesn’t do enough for me. I guess what I’m hoping at this point is that we’ll create a new category of system, it is neither simple, nor complex, it does what you want, the way you want it, but with flexibility. We’ll see.


About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group. I was formerly Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell, and an IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.

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