April 15, 2011

ESG “Ahead of the curve”

I spent the day yesterday at the Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) “Ahead of the curve” event. A full day from the office is always hard, and traffic on 128 always stinks, but there were a lot of really smart people there talking and it was definitely worth the time.

I feel a little bit bad about not tweeting during the event. I mean they did announce the hashtag for the event so everyone would be using the same one. In my defense I was too busy listening and absorbing, to remember to tweet, so hopefully I’ll be forgiven by the Twitter Gods…

I was a little surprised by two things. First that we are actually very far ahead at Enterasys with virtualization. We are considered to be advanced in the ESG maturity model, which didn’t surprise me with the automation we have. I was surprised how many people were in the Basic (22%) and Progressing (53%) category. Those percentages are from memory so I could be off a little.

Many people are still worried about security, performance and control. To me security and control are largely the same and we answer that with Data Center Manager. I won’t bore you all with that since I’ve already blogged enough about it. Suffice to say I really recommend it. I wasn’t always a fan so if you are saying “that sounds like a bad idea”, all I can say is try it. It is actually a really good idea….

OK enough on that. The other thing that really surprises me and frankly annoys me a little is that at every conference the biggest complaints are still “The business doesn’t like us,” “We can’t get aligned with the business” or “No one wants to play with us.” There is an easy two-step process to do IT turnarounds. It sounds so easy you probably won’t believe it; for what it’s worth I didn’t either.

  1. Stop saying no. That doesn’t mean you say yes to everything by the way, but listen and collaborate on problems. I talk about this in this blog post so if you want, go read that too.
  2. Talk to people. Really. On my annual review one of my goals is to spend 30% of my time talking to peers at my company (notice I didn’t say in the business, we are all in the business even IT). The talk can be about anything since it’s really about building a relationship. For example if I get a cup of coffee with someone from HR and we talk about skiing for 15 minutes, that still counts.

A few cool stories that I thought were interesting. There were a ton of great speakers and all of them had great insights. If you get time check out the ESG website. I think they are making the presentations available….

Chris Harney, who most anyone that does VMware in New England knows, told a story about being honest when something goes wrong. I can’t do the story justice, but in essence they embarked on a green initiative to replace all of the CRT monitors in their call center with LCD monitors. With the price of LCD monitors so cheap and power so expensive the ROI was pretty good, plus it helps with carbon emissions and probably employee morale, etc. However what they forgot to include was the fact that CRT monitors generate a lot of heat and in Maine we spend a lot of money heating so their electrical costs actually were a wash. Rather than hide it, they admitted the mistake and now have an even better relationship with finance and are much more credible.

Chris Clifford, who is the network manager for UMMS, is an Enterasys customer. They recently built a new data center and use our Data Center Manager product. They recorded 500 virtual machine moves in a 24 hour period, with no one even aware they were happening. Plus they can tell instantly where they all are, can see where they have been and still block rogue machines from getting on the network.

They also use NetFlow and ae in the process of implementing Scrutinizer so that they can trend over time. He said this will allow them to go back in time and see when a performance issue started and better correlate to the real issue. So if someone says to the IT folks that performance has been bad forever, they can go back and see when the spike really started and determine what application, or workload (seemed like the buzzword of the day) went online then.

I usually dread going to a day-long event, but this one was really good. The presentations were dynamic enough to keep everyone interested. I thought Mark Bowker and Jon Oltsik did a great job explaining the maturity model, which frankly I would have though to be a sleeper. Actually looking forward to the next one.

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