For two decades, IBM’s Power Systems family of high-performance servers has been considered the premier alternative to x86-based systems. Combining fast processing, high availability, and rapid scalability, Power Systems are optimized to support big data and cloud architectures. Popularly deployed to run IBM’s AIX and IBM i operating systems, the platform has seen stiff competition in recent years from x86-based Linux systems. In 2013, IBM responded to this challenge by investing a billion dollars into the development of enhancements to the Power line that would support Linux operating systems and open source technologies. This bold move was hailed as a strategy that would greatly improve the attractiveness of the platform and drive broader adoption.
If you’re like me, you are increasingly becoming reliant on online shopping to replace the more arduous task of physical in-store shopping. I find this is particularly true during the holiday season when the idea of fighting traffic and elbowing crowds to desperately search numerous shops in order to find just the right gift for Aunt Phillis (who’s just going to hate whatever she receives anyway) gives way to the more idyllic setting of web-surfing multiple stores simultaneously from the privacy of your home while the dulcet tones of Nat King Cole playing gently in the background lull you into the holiday spirit (a little spiced eggnog on the side doesn’t hurt either). But have you ever stopped to consider why you shop at some websites and not at others? Certainly item prices have something to do with it, as does the breadth of product selection. However, there is almost certainly a third element involved—one of which you may not even be consciously aware: The quality of the online store shopping experience directly impacts the likelihood that you (and other consumers) will purchase items on it. Websites that are friendly, professional, and easy to use are far more likely to produce sales than those that are confusing and difficult to navigate.
IT administration is a thankless job. Let’s face it—the only time admins gain any recognition is when something goes wrong. In fact, the most successful IT administrators proactively manage very stable environments where very few failures and performance degradations occur. Unfortunately, though, this is rarely the case, and it is far more common for admins to get stuck in the break/fix cycle of reactive “firefighting” where problems are never truly resolved and are destined to occur again. Making matters worse, increasing requirements for mobility, business agility, high performance, and high availability have substantially increased IT administrator workloads. With this kind of pressure, it’s no wonder IT professionals are frustrated.
IT administrators love to write scripts – at least, the most talented ones do. Scripting provides a powerful platform to automate simple and repeatable tasks. However, like with most powerful tools, there is an overwhelming temptation for scripting to be overused. When faced with a project deadline, a high-pressure failure event, or even just the need to simplify day-to-day events, administrators can unintentionally create scripts that are so complex they actually put the business at risk. I must confess that during my 2 decades-long tenure as an IT administrator and engineer, I’ve written a lot of scripts…a LOT of scripts…and learned a lot of important lessons. Scripting was never intended to replace application programming. Its purpose is to provide a quick and easy resource for performing simple and repeatable tasks. It is not uncommon, however, for scripts to start simple but balloon over time into complex code that is virtually unintelligible even to its author.
There is a reason orchestras have a single conductor. Can you imagine the cacophony that would result if a horn section performed out of sync with a string section? Or if the percussions played a faster beat then the woodwinds? But in IT management, it’s all too common for organizations to have separate automation platforms conducting individual software elements. In fact, this is often the cause of an increased IT complexity that results in degraded performance and reliability. For instance, SAP’s popular customer relationship management (CRM) software includes a built-in job scheduler – the Computing Center Management System (CCMS) – with some limited capabilities specifically designed to support its unique platform (such as to analyze and distribute client workloads). But this is an independent tool requiring administration and monitoring tasks separate from any other automated solutions. An average IT organization will need to manage dozens of similar management platforms, each with its own unique interface and operating parameters.
Chances are, in an average day, you are not accomplishing as many tasks as you would like … and neither are your colleagues or your employees. What is mystifying about that statement is that it seems today’s workforce is putting in more hours and more effort than ever before coinciding with an increased adoption of IT devices and applications designed to improve user productivity. In fact, this has been a key driver for organizations to enable workforce mobility – to provide flexibility in accessing business IT resources (applications, data, email, and other services) from any device at any location at any time in order to improve overall business performance. But even the most accomplished business professionals must admit there are days when little gets done despite herculean efforts.
Business Process Management in the Real World — Why It’s Important to Govern Both Automated and Manual Processes
In a perfect world, all business processes would be automated and all work tasks would be accomplished with the click of a button. This idyllic work experience seems to be the realization of Plato’s utopia…or, if you prefer, the world of the Jetsons. Regrettably, however, we clearly do not live in a perfect world. Put simply, while any repeatable process can be automated, not every process is repeatable, so automation is not a practical solution in all cases. This is particularly a problem for enterprises since business productivity is almost entirely dependent on the rapid and accurate performance of business processes.
Have you ever tried to create a major slide presentation on a tablet? Or edit a large spreadsheet? Or write a long document? Probably not. While it’s certainly possible to perform more substantial business tasks on a tablet, the small screen real estate and limited system resources (e.g., processing speed, memory, graphic support, etc.) are typically insufficient in current tablet form factors. However, carrying a laptop around with you everywhere you go just so you can access email is not very practical either. The reality is that we live in a multi-device world where the average worker employs 3 – 5 different computing devices in the regular performance of their job function. . . . and I would argue that’s exactly how it should be. Each user employs the device they prefer to optimally perform tasks at any particular time or place.
What does Big Data mean to traditional enterprise IT? Organizations of any size and industry are becoming more and more aware of the incredible importance of capturing, managing and analyzing the data available to them. The more comprehensively companies are able to tap structured and unstructured data sources, the quicker they can refresh this data and the more successfully they make this body of data available to all business units, the better they can develop advantages in the market place. Today’s business units are demanding the rapid implementation of these big data use cases, as well as optimal resiliency, cost efficiency, security and performance.