Hello from yet another Netevents – my bi-annual vendor/analyst/press jolly, sorry – symposium, that I am attending as a judge of the awards of the same name (as well as a CW blogger, a tester, alleged wine expert etc).
This one’s in Istanbul, where there appears to be lots going on in the Telecoms/ISP world. And, yes, it is full of kebab (kebap) shops. I’ll be reporting on the debates over the next two days, and trying to do a count on how many times the word “virtualisation” (or virtualization) arises. Likewise cloud.
Which brings me onto the subject of IT “speak” and imagining what it might be like to be transported forward 30+ years into the contemporary ‘net world and see a browser screen for the first time, with ads such as “Novell – Cloud Management”; little would they believe we can now manage the weather, but, at the same time, ’tis exactly the kind of futurist thing they would expect.
Then there’s this headline I saw on an IT news website today: “ LinkedIn users attacked by deadly Zeus spam”
For anyone only familar with Greek gods and Danish pork produce, this would be a pretty surreal headline. And I guess “LinkedIn” would sound like some bizarre sex format, so I suspect they would simply be thinking “serves them right”.
Meantime, in the land of converting this stuff into meaningfulness, can I please point you at our brand spankers report on securing the virtual data centre – where we used real, virtual products (not so much of a contradiction in terms as it sounds) to prove the case using a Spirent test bed and donor kebab, sorry, product, from TippingPoint of the HP variety (not the sauce).
Anyway – tis available for download from our website: www.broadband-testing.co.uk
The reality is that vendors are pushing out virtual solutions without having been able to test them; so we’ve taken up the challenge on their behalf. Join the queue here my good vendors…
Anyone who read my previous installment of the soap opera that is and was FedEx’s inexplicable failure to deliver a parcel of HP goodies (one of which is for me to test) should be pleased to know…
The package has finally arrived – in Grenoble at HP EMEA HQ that is, not with me yet…
There – the proof. So, in case you didn’t believe the – admittedly outlandish sounding – story of this parcel’s travels, here’s the trace, taken from the FedEx website:
(note – most recent entry at top, so go down to bottom and read upwards for best results, starting at August 13th…). BTW – it’s a long read… Film rights are a must.
Sep 7, 2010 11:31 AM
|Delivered||GRENOBLE, FRANCE FR|
|Sep 7, 2010 8:56 AM||On FedEx vehicle for delivery||ST QUENTIN FALLAVIER FR|
|Sep 7, 2010 8:32 AM||At local FedEx facility||ST QUENTIN FALLAVIER FR||Package not due for delivery|
|Sep 6, 2010 9:57 PM||Departed FedEx location||PARIS FR|
|Sep 6, 2010 6:07 PM||Int’l shipment release||PARIS FR|
|Aug 30, 2010 8:35 PM||Clearance delay||PARIS FR|
|Aug 30, 2010 8:18 PM||Arrived at FedEx location||PARIS FR|
|Aug 30, 2010 8:18 PM||In transit||PARIS FR||Package available for clearance|
|Aug 28, 2010 10:00 PM||At local FedEx facility||PARIS FR|
|Aug 28, 2010 7:04 PM||Arrived at FedEx location||PARIS FR|
|Aug 28, 2010 1:24 PM||In transit||LANTAU ISLAND HK|
|Aug 28, 2010 12:34 PM||In transit||CHEK LAP KOK HK|
|Aug 27, 2010 11:50 PM||At local FedEx facility||LANTAU ISLAND HK|
|Aug 26, 2010 10:47 PM||In transit||LANTAU ISLAND HK||Package available for clearance|
|Aug 25, 2010 9:38 AM||Departed FedEx location||ANCHORAGE, AK|
|Aug 25, 2010 8:06 AM||Arrived at FedEx location||ANCHORAGE, AK|
|Aug 25, 2010 1:57 AM||Departed FedEx location||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 24, 2010 11:24 PM||In transit||MEMPHIS, TN||Package available for clearance|
|Aug 23, 2010 8:46 PM||Arrived at FedEx location||PARIS FR|
|Aug 23, 2010 11:21 AM||Arrived at FedEx location||PARIS FR|
|Aug 22, 2010 9:43 PM||In transit||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 22, 2010 8:06 PM||Departed FedEx location||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 19, 2010 11:41 PM||In transit||MEMPHIS, TN||Package available for clearance|
|Aug 19, 2010 11:01 PM||Arrived at FedEx location||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 19, 2010 10:39 PM||In transit||PARIS FR|
|Aug 19, 2010 9:02 PM||Departed FedEx location||PARIS FR|
|Aug 19, 2010 6:39 PM||Arrived at FedEx location||PARIS FR|
|Aug 18, 2010 10:40 PM||At local FedEx facility||PARIS FR|
|Aug 18, 2010 9:05 PM||Arrived at FedEx location||PARIS FR|
|Aug 18, 2010 4:42 AM||In transit||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 18, 2010 4:25 AM||In transit||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 18, 2010 3:55 AM||Departed FedEx location||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 17, 2010 3:16 PM||In transit||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 17, 2010 4:16 AM||Arrived at FedEx location||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 16, 2010 8:00 AM||Delivery exception||CORDOVA, TN||
|Aug 15, 2010 9:48 PM||Departed FedEx location||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 15, 2010 9:30 AM||In transit||MEMPHIS, TN||Package available for clearance|
|Aug 14, 2010 11:56 PM||Arrived at FedEx location||MEMPHIS, TN|
|Aug 14, 2010 10:05 PM||In transit||CHEK LAP KOK HK|
|Aug 14, 2010 10:02 PM||In transit||LANTAU ISLAND HK|
|Aug 14, 2010 4:30 PM||Left FedEx origin facility||TSUEN WAN HK|
|Aug 14, 2010 12:05 PM||Picked up||TSUEN WAN HK|
|Aug 13, 2010 6:13 AM||Shipment info sent to FedEx|
This summer’s been interesting.
It’s supposed to be holiday time, but the IT world is mega-active at the moment. Consequently I’ve been out to Utah with a client there, Paris and now… er, Crawley (where the “summer” weather is 12 degrees and the sky has consisted of several varying hues of grey (or near solid rainfall) for the past five days.
One thing I’ve found interesting in this time is that none of my vendor clients (or other locations I have been residing in – hotels etc) have anything like as fast an Internet connection as I now have in the official home of technology exotica that is Andorra. I notice this particularly in the US. It’s like they get ahead initially and then sit on that technology and get spectacularly behind the times. Think, cable, GSM etc…
Meantime, in Crawley I’m busy testing with Spirent’s (test equipment vendor) excellent new virtual test rig – i.e. does all the fancy L4-7 bells and whistles tests but sits as a virtual appliance on a VMware VM. So, we’re looking at securing a virtual data centre with a virtual test device. How virtual is that? Anyway, if you’re worried that your VMs aren’t going to be as secure as a regular OS, you can read the report when it comes out next month…
And talking of travel and virtual in combo, how about a virtual courrier service? This is one we’ll define as a global courrier service that doesn’t actually deliver anything. A big-name courrier who we won’t mention by name (but it’s not DHL or TNT and they allegedly do EXpress delivery) has been attempting to deliver an Access Point from a vendor client of mine (whose name we won’t mention but they recently acquired 3Com) for almost two weeks, to our French office for me to test. And it still hasn’t arrived. It HAS been to the Far East on more than one occasion (from where I understand it originated), China, Hong Kong, the USA four times, Alaska and Spain once and actually France TWICE, before it headed off to Texas, then Hong Kong and is theoretically on its way to Grenoble as I type (for the third time). So, here’s the “official” explanation:
“Apparently the postal code for Grenoble is the same as Millington, Pennsylvania USA which is what has been causing issue at Fed-ex. What I find amazing is when “France” is listed as the country you would think this automatically rules out any postal codes in the USA…”
Of course, the above assumes that the folks in the USA have actually heard of France. I kid you not – ask my mate at HP, Martin O’Brien…
Escaping the summer UK weather tonight to head back across the channel (probably suitably bumpy) and test that wretched Access Point if it ever turns up. Meantime, to cut the travel down marginally, I’ve worked on a way of remotely testing software with my UK-based client Certero (Varrington, to be precise) from aforementioned Andorran ‘net connection. Unlike Ryanair and Squeezyjet, both of whom I would happily never see again, I’m hoping this methodology does take off.
Had the opportunity this week to catch up with an old IT mate, Nigel Moulton – recently of D-Link, anciently of 3Com with several stops in between – now installed at Avaya,
Avaya, that is, who spent a few $ on the Nortel Networks Enterprise business at the beginning of the year. Given that I’ve got a corner of the lab which could easily double as a musuem of Nortel Networks/Bay/Wellfleet/Synoptics products over the past two decades, I have a genuine (and warm) interest in the future of these product lines. It was therefore reassuring to hear Nigel confirm that the old product lines are being maintained and progressed, so the future for enterprise customers is sorted (technical term), in which case, if you’re longstanding (or short, sitting) enterprise customers of Nortel, you don’t have to dash off to Cisco, HP etc… There is an alternative which is to not actually alternate at all.
Nigel also spoke about a new Avaya product for the call centre which is – sit down, buckled up with a stiff drink at this point – designed to make you, as the caller, the focal, centralised point of the conversation, so – instead of being passed around from one staff member to the next, or from one automated voice to another (are you listening Barclays?) and then being dropped somewhere along the line… Instead, you become the fixed point and stay put so, in theory, you don’t get dropped and the emphasis is on the call centre individuals instead in the form of a collaborative type session with you at the centre.
It might just work and here’s a sort of precedent. The Netevents – www.netevents.org – industry symposiums I regularly attend and speak at (there’s no escape!) originally had a series of round table interviews between vendors and press/analysts, whereby the vendors had individual tables and the press went round from one to t’other – with a timetable and agenda – except that they regularly failed to make several of the meetings, getting, er, “lost” along the way, especially if a bar was close enough at hand. So, this was solved quite simply by giving the press/analysts fixed table spots and the vendors moved around instead. Since the emphasis was very much on the vendors to attend the meetings and powerpoint people to death, making the meets press-centric did the trick. Spot the similarity between this successful about-turn and what Avaya is doing at the call centre?
Hoping to get my hands on some of the Avaya products for testing but, meantime, we did include an Avaya solution in a recent report on the HP ProCurve 2520 Switch, which is available (FOC of course) from the www.broadband-testing.co.uk website, as a wee taster.
Wine Tip: And talking of wee tastings, as is my secondary missive here, if any of you are heading to the Costa Brava this summer (there is one going on in Spain, honest and we won’t get into the Tossa de Mar jokes here) then do try the local Emporda D.O. wines, as they are excellent and have some whacky, old grape types in them too.I can especially recommend – as a rosé wine author – the Espelt Lledoner Rosat, though they’re all worth a try, including some sweet reds.
Over the past couple of years, at Broadband-Testing we’ve carried out a number of power consumption tests, primarily focusing on switches of the Ethernet variety.
While we found that there are considerable differences in the amount of power drawn by different switch products – for example, just a supervisor module in passive mode on a Cisco chassis switch can draw three times as much as a 24-port Gigabit switch by D-Link at full blast – in reality, compared with the amount of power used by the PC population of most companies, the savings that can be made at the switch level are not always significant.
So, we’ve switched (ahem) focus to power consumption of said PCs with a test of independent UK company, Certero’s PowerStudio 2.0 product, wot is being launched right now. The report will be released shortly on the www.broadband-testing.co.uk website (so watch this space, or keep visiting the website for an update) but meantime I can leak a few details of our findings.
First, it’s important to understand what Intel and others means when they describe each latest-generation PC product as being more power efficient than its predecessor. Yes they are, on a watt per CPU cycle basis, but the increase in performance each time as boggo PCs become multi-core, multi-CPU (in somes cases) beasties means that they actually draw MORE power overall than their forebears (a largely untold Goldilocks story and prequel to the famous one).
In a proverbial nutshell (think almond-sized), what PowerStudio does is to let you create a baseline measurement for total PC population power consumption (alliteration enters IT blogging!) and then create any number of power saving schemes to deploy and measure power saved (with lots of different metrics options) as a result.
Where the product gets really clever is that it can auto shutdown/wake PC clients remotely, using techniques such as Wake On Lan in combination with emails – very neat. Better still, it intelligently saves and reloads MS Office docs as well.
All this is great and means that the lazy user base can be controlled with lots of flexibility to suit any kind of business. However, the idea is for the software to act as an incentive for the users themselves to be more efficient and actually beat the software at shutting down their PCs. A “name and shame” list of worst users can be generated, as can a “star pupils” report, so we have a new employee competition to embrace. Obviously, this shouldn’t be taken too far with large bonuses offered, otherwise users simply won’t power their PCs and, instead, discuss TV for eight hours a day at the coffee machine and then get bonuses as a result of their power saving though, obviously, this has to be offset against additional power consumed by the coffee machine.
The reality is, however, that with a sensible set of power schemes in use and a well-behaved user base, cost savings can be absolutely huge. Moreover, with government schemes meaning that power consumption footprints need to be minimised to avoid punitive charges, there is every reason to look at something like PowerStudio and calculate just how much you can save by using it. Then, and only then, should you look again at power-efficient Ethernet switches. As that supermarket wot makes multi-billion pounds annual profits says, “every little helps….” It most certainly does in their case and it can in yours too.
So we’re coming up to holiday time – funnily enought, the idea for me of getting on a flight to a hot destination…doesn’t really work for someone whose life should be co-sponsored by Ryanair and Easyjet.
However, on my travels and the occasional 2-day break I do stay in a mix of “business-class” and “real” hotels, preferring the latter by far, in the same way that I prefer drinking local beer in local places, rather than global, industrial-strength lager. In other words, you take your chance a little more but the rewards can be far higher.
But here’s the real deal. How many people worldwide are working in or with IT in one form or another, who need access to email and maybe don’t want to run up vast Blackberry bills when they are on the move, biz or hols, despite the new enforcement of reduced tariffs across Eorope? So, where are the hotels that cover that splendid middle ground between Hilton and “High Tide”? Interestingly, increasingly the latter are more likely to offer free WiFi than the former, though it is still all too often either ludicrously expensive and often unreliable, or simply non-existent.
Given the number of homes now with WiFi/Internet access – even if the Nintendo Wii is the primary channel – what has happened to hotels since WiFi began to popularise itself 5-6 years ago? Essentially they’ve barely moved on.
And even when you are loaded with two 3G data dongles with two different operators and a mobile phone with a third different operator and various WiFi enabled devices, it doesn’t guarantee you can get ANY access as I found out recently on a brief visit to Fowey in Cornwall. Given that our testing last year showed how bad many smartphones are in the first place at maintaining calls/signal strength, this – combined with the massive holes still in mobile network coverage – the only alternative, unless Femtocell technology gets a look-in, currently is WiFi/cable. So why doesn’t every public establishment have it? Is it because it’s too expensive (surely not now?), or too complex (let’s face it many places have Sky TV but don’t seem to offer access to the bundled Internet access) – I don’t think so.
Is it because us IT guys should be running the hotels (and pubs, bars, cafés etc) instead? Fancy yourself as a Basil Fawlty? Or is it because there is still a huge (and largely artificial) gap between what is seen as “business” class and “leisure” class? And “business” means milking every penny on the assumption that its “guests” are on business expenses and that the business is question is not run by them. But increasingly guys in any form of business are totally accountable and expenses are not the free meal ticket they once were. And – the number of people who run their own business, or are involved in small, “don’t spend owt that’s not essential” companies is signficantly higher than it once was. And, whereas once a holiday meant precisely that, for too many of us, it simply means an office relocation by the sea/in the mountains etc, with email access – even just once a day – being essential.
Let’s then start a campaign for IT-enabled hotels that don’t have to belong to the Hilton/Marriot etc chains, but can be owned and run by Fred and Doris Smedley and serve real, freshly cooked breakfasts to order while offering free WiFi for you to check emails while downing a second cup of cofffee. Or freshly baked croissants and “wiffy” if in France and run by M et Mme Mangetout etc etc.
Or let’s just approach a VC with the idea and become to the hotel trade what Steve Jobs is to the IT world. The word iPad could take on a whole new meaning….
One of the issues I’m all too aware of as someone who often gets involved at the “plumbing” level of networking is that it’s the applications sitting on folks’ PCs (or MACs) that are the key to IT working successfully or otherwise.
I mentioned the other day that my mates at AppDNA – them wot make migrating between OSs easier – had commented on the huge uptake of Windows 7 in the business world. Speaking with Paul Schnell of AppDNA regarding the launch of a new version of their AppTitude product, Paul really made it clear just what the scale of such change is.
Whereas, with the previous releases of AppTitude customers had readily looked at maybe a couple of hundred application migration engagements, now they are seeing multi-1000 application engagements at both Enterprise and Service Provider levels. That’s a lot of applications and a serious potential headache. Having tested the previous incarnation of AppTitute (and we’re hoping to get our paws on the new version asap) it became quickly clear how, what appeared to be an insurmountable task in manual mode – i.e. testing lots of applications for compatibility etc – became not just feasible but a relatively straightforward task with AppDNAs product.
But that was just looking at XP to Vista migration. Now we are not simply looking at Windows 7 migration but also the virtualisation worlds. Paul Schnell said that basically every customer is committed to going down the virtual route, even if some of them don’t actually know what a virtual desktop is… So, not only are we looking at Windows migration issues but whether these applications can also be virtualised or not. A key feature that has been added with the new release of AppTitude is full remedial functionality, so an auto-fix option is available when problems are encountered. Brave stuff, eh – kind of, come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough. But when you’re talking about 1000+ applications all automated help is welcomed. Just trust your application migration application…
Another major issue Schnell noted was that of application and upgrade delivery. Basically companies simply cannot cope, whether they go down the msi auto-install route or whatever. So one of the new applications for AppTitude is application delivery management, probably never on the original roadmap for AppDNA but, hey, that’s organic software development for you. As a result, what was taking two weeks to fail now takes 10 minutes to succeed. That’s progress for you. Unsurprisingly, Schnell noted that ROI justification for the purchase of their software suddenly got a whole lot easier…
Watch this space for more on the new product when we get it on our test radar.
Just been swapping notes with my mates at the heart of the enterprise software revolution that is Thingamy.
For those of you who still think of terms of ERP meaning “Enterprise Resource Process” or similar, let’s start again.
ERP means… Easily Repeatable Process. It’s the same deal though: predictable, linear, structured production processes that account for approximately 30% of worldwide GDP.
This is a market we are all familiar with – the world of SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and others. From my perspective it is still a spectacularly restrictive and expensive world where ISVs make you pay millions for their software (and millions more on consultancy) in order to join their club and do as they say.
The problem is that the modern IT world does not revolve around easy repetition; it’s far more dynamic than that. Hence, the modern understanding of BRP or Barely Repeatable Process, which stands for a staggering 60% of worldwide GDP. These are the kind of processes you meet on a daily basis nowadays. They are unpredictable and unstructured, where the process is handled manually by hierarchies, budgets, emails, reporting, meetings and other variables.
In reailty, about 65% of resources and time in these kinds of processes is spent on handling the process/flow and not on value creation. In other words, it is the old story of IT not adding to the business but taking away from it.
Sig Rinde, CEO of Thingamy, claims his company provides the only IT solution capable of handling BRP positively with the ability to increase the world’s GRP to a 67% share. This is not an idle boast and one that is being taken very seriously now by the big boys, including SAP – see Sig’s blog at: http://blog.thingamy.com/
In other worlds I inhabit, such as ITSM, as mentioned recently, the likes of Sunrise Software are also trying open up what have been closed, restricted practices and make them customer-centric, rather than ISV-centric. The likes of Thingamy and, to a lesser extent, Sunrise’s Sostenuto platform can be the basis for ALL new enterprise software. They are not shrink-wrap products and they are not “this is how you do it” frameworks, but simple methodologies for modelling your business in software. The likes of Cisco and others looking to expand their private universe should be looking very closely at this stuff.
It’s the future and it’s not orange. Apologies to any Dutch footie supporters ahead of the World Cup…
First we had the Top Gear boys powering cars on cow poo.
Now we have HP looking to do the very same thing for Data Centres:
Thought I’d enter the URL link the report, just in case you didn’t believe me. And no, it’s well past April 1st. The theory is that a farm of 10,000 cows could power 1,000 servers – 10 cows to one server in other words. So does this means that suddenly cattle farms are the hotspots for new Data Centres developments? And with the onset of virtual Data Centres do we need virtual cows?
Unfortunately it’s currently only a theory on a piece of paper. Fortunately that means you don’t need gas masks yet.
About to take a look at some of the 3Com H3C data centres switches that the folks at HP will be inheriting. The plan currently is to use electrical power to fire them up, but if that plan changes I’ll let you know….
Meantime, a pre-test report of said switches will appear on the Broadband-Testing website (www.broadband-testing.co.uk) before the weekend, so check it out.
Just a final thought. If cow poo power sees off the wind farms that are taking over the world will be it be a case of the s**t hitting the fan big time?
A report last week said that 10% of Windows users are already Windows 7 users.
Is that already more than Vista achieved (allowing for all those Vista users who reverted to XP)?
Anyone who has suffered Vista will appreciate the benefits of Windows 7; the problem is, once again we have the issue of knowing whether or not your old apps will work with the new desktop OS. London-based AppDNA has released a video discussing said problem (if you look on the Broadband-Testing website at www.broadband-testing.co.uk you’ll find a report from Jan 2008 on AppDNA’s AppTitude app migration tool).
The video – The Road To Windows 7 Parts I and II – is hosted by CWs very own Cliff Saran, looking all the fitter for his autumn regime of running – with me as coach, of course, extending to right hand technique in the pub afterwards – that he has since bravely kept up through the winter. In addition to AppDNA CTO Paul (“Hey Paul, you’re S. African, do you have any spare World Cup tickets?”) Schnell, the videos feature chaps from HP and Microsoft – check out how geeky the Microsoft guy is…
Among other points of interest in the videos – which you can find at: http://www.app-dna.com/news/Journey-to-Windows-7.asp is the scale involved here in trying to manually check migration suitability; we are talking in excess of 110,000 known applications to check against for compatibility. Add in those in-house developed apps and on a per company basis the migration issue is clearly massive. Maybe that’s why people traditionally only changed their OS with their change of PC/laptop. However, Vista has kind of made people’s minds up for them. The more interesting question is whether all the XP users will be prepared to make the move. Recent research from Forrester suggests that around 42% of the XP user base is stalling indefinitely.
The second part of the video covers areas such as hardware readiness, security/access control changes potentially playing havoc with app compatibility, integration of MS apps (never the “given” you think it should be) and whether the next gen desktop will be one or several OSs.
The “V” word – Virtualisation – is key here of course, and a primary reason for using AppTitude. AppDNA claims a 3-5 times ROI using its software in terms of time saved and, based on our last review of the product I can believe this. Hoping to get a play with the new version of AppTitude in the very near future so watch this space on that one…