Archive for the ‘#awesomesauce’ Category

#awesomesauce isn’t cricket, part two.

21/06/2010

Whilst we are in the throes of one of the most wide open World Cups in memory with some predictable results and some less so …Switzerland beat favourites Spain one nil?! …Germany lose to Serbia one nil after having trounced Australia four nil?! …Brazil predictably found their ‘gear’ and now look to be getting on form …and understanding our all important qualifier with Slovenia on Wednesday afternoon …please excuse me for taking us back to cricket for a few moments.  If you missed the first part in this two part series, click here.

I promised to give you four more reasons why #awesomesauce isn’t cricket in addition to the first I began a fortnight ago so let’s get going before that kickoff on Wednesday.

2. The whole will always be greater than the sum of the parts.

One of the things I love about cricket is the consistency and concentration required for a good batter to become a great batter …standing at the crease for hours to score his century, and the like.  In that respect, being a great batter means being able to hit against different bowlers, deliveries, in differing conditions …consistently.

Whilst there have been some significant improvements in data storage over the past five years in the form of thin provisioning, data deduplication, grid, and so on I wouldn’t look at any of these developments as saviours in and of themselves.  What many of them represent are the evolution of data storage technologies and not the revolutions which the marketing hyperbole would have you blieve.  Equally, I must admit that I struggle when I see either a vendor partner presentation or customer RFP which seems intent on focussing on just one particular feature as opposed to what a complete feature set would deliver over not just an ROI period but, rather, over a period of five years.

I’m not saying that our vendor partners shouldn’t be proud of what they develop to help customers, but I do think that to focus on just one feature …or call it a ‘product’ …runs the very real risk of devaluing a positive by turning it into #awesomesauce.

3. A good cricket captain knows his side so he can select a great batting order and setup his fielders as conditions change.  So too should our customers have a usable Service Catalogue for IT which focusses on much more than simply cost.

We have some exceptionally talented Service Designers in Computacenter, so I won’t pretend to be an expert in the design and implementation of Service Catalogues and leave that to our experts …but what I do know is that as IT has evolved so too have our business challenges …and Service Catalogues aren’t just for managed/outsourcing contracts, they have much to offer the day-to-day running of IT within a modern organisation.  Indeed, I would go so far as to say that a good Service Catalogue is the foundation to an organisation utilising their internal IT department as a true service provider as opposed to treating it as a cost centre.

So what is a Service Catalogue?  I think Chris Evans …the Storage Architect, not the ginger bloke from Radio Two …has written what I would consider to be one of the easiest to understand and well written definitions on the subject.  In fact, Chris has taken the time to write a series of posts on what he calls the ‘Four Pillars of Storage Management’ which are well worth a read.

My short view is that when we are discussing data storage in the context of a Service Catalogue we need to be focussing on what the storage needs to do and, ideally, how much we would like to pay per user per year as opposed to selecting #awesomesauce componentry.

How would we do this?  Well, there are many ways but I would start with defining the workload …how quickly do users require response time? …in the event of an outage, to what point do we need to return [Recovery Point Objective, or RPO]? …in the event of an outage, how quickly should we be able to recover to the RPO [Recovery Time Objective, or RTO]? … and so on.  The answers to these queries will enable us to define the storage infrastructure required to support the workload(s) and fit into the Service Catalogue along with compute, network, application, et al.

4. Watching live cricket will always trump watching on the telly but, either way, show me.

I’m not a huge fan of slideware as it is often a two dimensional solution to what is a three dimensional challenge.  Our customers rarely have 2D issues which can be solved by my throwing some slides at them, so to my mind slides should be aide-mémoire as opposed to the solution.

So what should we be using as opposed to slides?  I don’t think this is a zero sum game, so in addition to any slides I think we should be showing our customers live demos where possible …and demo videos where they aren’t possible.  In an ideal world, the demo would be using the customer application, data, etc.

Demos give us the ability to describe the why and how as opposed to what …I could describe why I love cricket, or I could take you to Lord’s and you could see cricket for yourself and decide.

Do demos always come 100% right in the first instance?  Not in my experience!  And that is half of the ‘fun’ …working with a customer so that they can see the solution for what it is and decide if the why of our solution is sufficient for selection.

Heck, even Steve Jobs has a demo fail every now and again.  And I’m not sure that I’ll reach the lofty heights of having a demo fail in front of millions of users, analysts, and the like!

5. What are you spending today and how will this enable me to spend less both now and over the next five years?

Finally, in what may be the most challenging of the sequence …what are you spending on data storage today?  If we understand this metric, we should next calculate the cost benefit of deploying the storage solution over the next five years.

We would of course need to understand how much data is being created …known as the CAGR or Compound Annual Growth Rate …such that we would be able to understand how much data storage will cost us at the present rate of growth multiplied by the amount we are spending per GB, per TB, per user, what have you.

And, to be fair …if we can’t show how the proposed solution will reduce the storage spend over the next five years, we do have to ask ourselves …is this solution appropriate, or have we just found ourselves some #awesomesauce which is best avoided?

Right, Mrs. PL is giving me ‘the look’ which means time to wrap this up and take PL Junior to school and then off to work so have a great week and COME ON ENGERLAND!

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