Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Season to Move On

To everything there is a season. For the season of the past decade that thing for me has been the IT industry analyst business. I came in near the height of the dot-com boom and, in the years since, have seen many hot technologies and companies prosper, perish, or maybe both.

The experience has been great and I want to wholeheartedly thank Jonathan, Judi, and the rest of the crew I've worked with at Illuminata, my fellow analysts at other firms, and of course our clients over the years. I learned a lot, had a ball, met many people who I count as friends, assisted companies large and small, and have no regrets about having spent the majority of the last ten years at Illuminata.

All that said, and sincerely meant, the season is changing. I echo many of Andi Mann's sentiments upon leaving Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) to join CA. We're in a period of enormous change in IT. That always seems to be the case but we're seeing some particularly fundamental shifts in the way that applications are delivered and infrastructures are operated. Vendors are re-aligning in response. There are new horsemen.

I wanted to be involved in those changes in a more hands-on way than was possible as an analyst, a job that is inherently a bit academic and outside-looking-in. (Indeed that somewhat detached perspective is one of the values that industry analysts bring to those in the trenches.) It's been a great ride but I'm looking forward to being back on the vendor side of things as I was during my earlier career at Data General. There were many things I liked about being an industry analyst, but I did miss working with development teams and being directly involved with bringing products to market.

To cut to the chase, Red Hat has offered me the position of Senior Cloud Strategy Marketing and Evangelism Manager out of the Westford MA office and I have accepted. I'll be helping to develop and implement Red Hat's cloud business and marketing strategy. It's a very exciting opportunity at a great company that puts me right in the thick of the changes I mentioned above.

I'll be taking a few weeks off and will go largely off the Net during that time. However, once I plug back in, I plan to remain very involved with many of the communities in which I participate. I will remain on twitter (@ghaff). I will continue to write my personal blog (and likely other blogs as well although this is among the details that need ironing out). I expect to spend lots of time out and about. I look forward to continuing to work and talk with many of you, albeit from a different perspective and in a different role.

I’d like to close by again thanking the many clients who I have had the honor of working for and with over the years. Illuminata and I appreciated the purchase orders, sure. But you’ve also helped me learn and provided intellectual stimulation along with many good times. Illuminata remains at your service and, although I will no longer be an analyst, I look forward to our paths crossing in the future as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Links for 03-22-2010

Friday, March 19, 2010

Links for 03-19-2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some Thoughts on Going from Exchange to Gmail

Over the Christmas holidays, my employer, Illuminata, migrated from Exchange to Gmail. The main impetus was that Exchange worked OK—until it didn’t. And then it was a major crisis to get email up and running again. We made the move to Google Apps with the aid of a local consultant and it went smoothly for the most part; the main issues weren’t directly related to moving off Exchange but with associated changes in our IT infrastructure. Here are my impressions after a couple of months.

Gmail uses a fundamentally different organizational scheme from Exchange/Outlook. It uses labels while Exchange uses hierarchical folders. Generally speaking I find labels/tags/keywords to be a better approach because many items don’t lend themselves to a strict hierarchy. However, a lot of people are used to a hierarchical system that mimics physical file folders and filing cabinets. Furthermore, some things—such as those related to client projects, business transactions, and so forth—really do work better as a formal hierarchy. You can do some things to mimic a hierarchy using labels but it can be a bit of a force fit.

Unsurprisingly, Gmail organization is also built around search and, in fact, doesn’t give you a way to sort other than by the default newest to oldest. Mostly I’m fine with this; the searching works great. However, when cleaning out my mailbox in Outlook, I found it handy to sort by name as a way to quickly delete or archive a lot of recurring emails from a single source. (Yes, I’m aware that I can use Outlook and other desktop clients with Gmail but I try to just stick with the Web interface.)

As someone who uses a fair number of different clients, I really like having a very functional Web interface wherever I am. Exchange has a decent fat client in Outlook—which I have installed on a couple of systems—but otherwise you’re stuck with a Web interface that’s mediocre, especially if you don’t use Internet Explorer. Furthermore, using Outlook meant that I needed a working VPN connection which often breaks in hoteld and at conferences for a variety of reasons.

The calendar in Google Apps works nicely, including for shared calendars. I find it a bit quicker to enter events than with Outlook though the difference isn’t that great. Again, though, the Web interface is much better than accessing Exchange through a Web interface.

One area where Google Apps is weak is contacts which is sort of messily tied to email. I’d really prefer to have a dedicated contact database of some sort. (I think part of the problem is that the import from Exchange wasn’t especially clean.)

Overall, after living with it for a couple of months, it’s not perfect but I definitely prefer it. The Web interface may be the biggest win but the ease of searching is nice too given that I’ve never been especially good at manually organizing.

(Overall, the office is more split on the move. The people who don’t like it are probably most bothered by the move from a folder hierarchy to labels which does require some mental reorganization and, as I said, isn’t as good a model for certain things.)

Links for 03-18-2010

  • The Official Netflix Blog: Friends Update - Wasn't something I used but seems counter general trends to kill social recommendation.
  • Brocade’s unraveling - "The OEM channel is popular in tech because it removes the expense and exasperation of selling to end-users. You work with fellow engineers at the OEM to qualify the product and their sales people do the work. You don’t think you need much marketing – really, you do, but few realize that – and very few sales people. And the sales people you do need are the cool, savvy relationship cultivators, not the high-pressure closers. It’s almost all good. The bad is the loss of control. Other people position you, test you, support you and ultimately use you for their gain. That can work well if, like DEC early on, your widget is buried inside another product and you’re free to market to end-users."
  • How Privacy Vanishes Online, a Bit at a Time - NYTimes.com - "But Jon Kleinberg, a professor of computer science at Cornell University who studies social networks, is skeptical that rules will have much impact. His advice: “When you’re doing stuff online, you should behave as if you’re doing it in public — because increasingly, it is.”"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Links for 03-17-2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Links for 03-16-2010

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Links for 03-10-2010

Monday, March 08, 2010

Links for 03-08-2010

  • Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Nowness - "There are times when human beings are able to correct the bias of a technology. There are other times when we make the bias of an instrument our own. Everything we've seen in the development of the Net over the past 20 years, and, indeed, in the development of mass media over the past 50 years, indicates that what we’re seeing today is an example of the latter phenomenon. We are choosing nowness over ripeness."
  • RSA Interview (c/o Tripwire) On the State Of Information Security In Virtualized/Cloud Environments. | Rational Survivability
  • Red Hat Cloud Business Unit | Virtually Speaking | ZDNet.com - Appropriate cautions.
  • Adapters: Micro 4/3 - Interesting, Micro 4/3 adapters for many types of older lenses.
  • Data Center Strategies: Client Virtualization: Where Does It Fit? - "If the customer has already deployed a good application virtualization and desktop management solution (e.g. Symantec Altiris, Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack, or Novell Zenworks), moving to a virtual desktop infrastructure may not save much money in the long run. Moving to a desktop virtualization solution has to be a strategic (business) decision not a tactical (IT) one."
  • Press Gang § SEEDMAGAZINE.COM - Tricky questions. In this day and age, saying that a journalist only works for a "publication" doesn't work. But neither does saying anyone with a "laptop and WiFi connection" is.
  • Your Favourite Technology Will Not Kill Anything | Andi Mann – Übergeek - "Even if, as Gartner predicts, by 2012, 20 percent of businesses will own no IT assets – which I find highly dubious; and even if the cloud computing market will be worth $160bn by 2011 – also somewhat dubious; then still a vast majority of organizations will continue to own their IT assets. Even allowing for some substantial private cloud deployment (much less dubious), there is no chance cloud computing will kill the on-premise, installed and owned, IT environment."
  • Voice recognition gets "cloudy," but is it the "new touch"? - "As someone who has used speech recognition regularly for years on multiple platforms, this future is "within sight" in the same way that I can see the moon out my window every night. Still, that's something, and anyone who tried to use voice recognition before, say, 2005 will be shocked by its capabilities and actual usefulness today. As companies like Microsoft, Google, and Nuance deploy more voice services that live in the cloud and not on a local machine, advances in understanding should accelerate—an exciting prospect for anyone (*cough* Editor in Chief Ken Fisher *cough*) who has ever had speech recognition software turn "but the fields" into "blood to feel.""

Friday, March 05, 2010

Links for 03-05-2010

Monday, March 01, 2010

Links for 03-01-2010