Professionalism Still Exists: True Story

Working in a service related industry (high tech), I have seen the ebb and flows of professionalism and changes within organizations, for the good and for the bad, relating towards the treatment of customers as well as peers, subordinates and contemporaries. I had written an article about professionalism, Professionalism In A Scripted World, which referred to the trend towards having a scripted conversation with customers, which all to often, as well intended as the creators are, ends in a non caring approach to working with others. With the constant trend towards voice recognition software and automated answering systems, human interaction is reducing to a bare minimum.

When on vacation the past 2 weeks, I had the pleasure of seeing true professionalism, as well an true “caring” customer service. I was on a 35 acre island, in the middle of nowhere, and one of the staff I had grown acquainted with was Timothy Scotland. Timothy works at Galley Bay,  but, due to the latest hurricanes that shut down the resort, the parent company moved him to Palm Island while Galley Bay was rebuilt. When I took a shuttle to the neighboring Union Island and was walking down the street, Timothy called out from a second story restaurant and we spent the afternoon drinking beer and chatting. Quite ironically, Timothy brought up a gentleman he got to know as a guest of Galley Bay, Allen Balik and I was shocked, as Timothy has never been to California wine country and Allen is a writer, consultant, facilitator among the other things he does, whom I have been on numerous wine country excursions that he hosted. Timothy mentioned an article that Allen penned regarding customer service, Allen Balik: Customer Service, and upon reading I remember the previous article I wrote (and how much better and to the point Allen’s was).

Now, there were many examples of true professionalism on Palm Island, but, I have to say that Timothy really stands out based on the genuine caring and adhoc responses to customer queries, complaints, and the sort. This type attitude and interaction rejuvenates me and really makes those around you actually feel better about themselves and I have to thank Timothy for being an example of what we “should” be, as we are all in a service related industry, in one form or another, if we interact with our fellow men/women.


IIoT and the Application of Technology

IIoT, or the Industrial subset of the IoT (Internet of Things), has been making a lot of hay around the technology circles over the past year amongst my friends or at industry events. Everyone seems to think they are the ideal technology to “help” the IoT surge that’s upon us.

After a number of meetings with IoT company executives, I was wondering if it really needed anything new (technology wise) or not.  Most of the people I spoke with were relating to very small amounts of sensor data or very few sensors (it’s actually funny when 1000’s of sensors can be “a few”).  Any relatively modest single computer could handle these environments locally, or passing the data back to a centralized datacenter did not induce to much latency in getting an answer or applying new “knowledge”, so, everyone can answer the need of the low end IoT, but, is it a need at this point?

Then came the real meetings…  Meetings with the people equipping “warfighters”, be they boots on the ground or geeks behind a keyboard. I really began learning the absolute benefit to knowledge acquisition, and acting on that knowledge to either make something better (such as the IIoT would want), save or make money (as in a banking example where nanoseconds matter in a HUGE way), or shortening a killchain (saving soldiers’ lives or eliminating bad guys, sometimes achieving both those goals). These volumes of sensor data and the velocity at which they are coming in is extremely important, and will be key points of an upcoming blog.

Discussing these warfighters, reminded me that some equipment (such as the F35, a single seat stealthy muli-role fighter, built by Lockheed Martin for the US Military) are perfect examples of a sensor aggregation and dispersing tool that is invaluable to soldiers. This enables soldiers’ to complete their mission better, faster and more effectively, exactly what the industrial world wants and needs, especially in a global economy.

I was privy to a conversation an advisor of ours (who works at GE) had with another board member.  The discussion was about GE engine sensor data, and how you could predictively service those engines based on that sensor data, thus reducing failures and lengthening flight time.  I started looking at the sensor data from the new Boeing 787 and other IoAT (Internet of Aviation Things) and it really resonated that a new platform may be needed to actually process this massive amount of data. Rethinking of how and where we process Industrial data so that we can get those answers quicker, and apply them where we will see the most savings are where companies can make the most money, quickest.

Imagine that a 787 airframe can generate 844TB of data in a 12 hour flight.  It’s not practical to send that data anywhere “in-flight”, and getting that data from any of the 1000’s of airports it can land at to some central processing center is not practical over the wire.  (Is Fedex really the best option? It might be the only option now…).  Enter edge computing where processing of key sensor data in the field, or at “the edge” where it is actually generated, means you now only move the pertinent results over the wire to a central location.  This speeds up access to that data and answers to questions of in flight stability, and when maintenance should be done.  This is not limited to airlines, but in other sectors like a company drilling for gas or oil, when should one buy or sell a given stock, or (from the military) should we invade a given complex now or get more resources. Processing at the “edge” of sensor data, gives you a much needed speed advantage in any given sector.

Edge computing has been discussed more in the last couple of years, and it may seem like a re-application of consolidation at a different point in data processing.  However, with the unprecedented amount of data from sensors in the IIoT, technology like Axellio from X-IO truly could be a game changer in how we ingest and process that sensor data.  This enables the industrial arm to learn, adapt, and morph based on the new answers obtained from an ever-increasing sea of sensors embedded in everything around us.


Keep an eye on the Edge.  It does seem to be growing rapidly and IIoT, IoT, and the like will push it to the limits.


Changes in Edge Computing, Architecture does matter

Working specifically in storage for the last 15 years, the significance of big data has typically been that of how much storage is required to house the data and, more often than not, the storage tends to be a huge bottleneck in the access of that data.

We know that analysis of big data can be separated into 3 basic things:

CPU to process

Memory to speed up access

Storage to house the dataset

With those considerations in mind, the actual architecture for working with big data is changing significantly.

I read an excellent write up forwarded by a partner, Streaming Big Data, which walks through a lot of the structure and architecture of big data, especially in streaming scenarios and processing that data to get the most value for the business. When reviewing this article, the concept of edge computing comes up often. Edge computing (like cloud or many other IT words) has many definitions, but the end goal is to get the HW and SW architected to be 1)where they are needed most, and 2)when they are needed the most.  Edge computing can be thought of as results that are needed where the data sits, be that in the edge of the cloud or the edge of the data center. The point, imho, is that the architecture needs to be isolated from other production functions, and it must be able to house and process that data quick enough for the business to be able to capitalize on the results.


With that in mind, X-IO feels that the development that they did with Intel for over 3 years results in the perfect implementation of NVMe (fast, dense storage), dense cpu, large potential for memory, and an extremely fast PCIe fabric (FabricXpress), all in an extremely small footprint.

The product is being called Axellio FabricXpressTM,  and is in beta now, do to release later 2017.

Keep an eye on this beast as it can change the world of big data!




Professionalism in a Scripted World

Professionalism in a Scripted World

Have you ever had to talk yourself off the proverbial ledge, put the razor blades away and stow the bottle of pills you, just minutes earlier, so longed to swallow to end your pain, anguish and agony? Ever been on the brink of yelling “DOESN’T ANYONE CARE ANYMORE!!!!”? Ever need to remember lines from “Anger Management” or “Lion King”,”Goosefraba” or “Hakunamatata” (sorry if I mis-spelled either), and just go into a deep meditative state to prevent from going insane, all because of someone else’s actions or inactions when “helping” you?

So, this whole things started out as “Professionalism in an Unprofessional World”, but, I realized when I typed so much that there was a different tone and most did not want to read pages of my recent experience with Comcast. This all started with a simple call yesterday, a call that harkens a comment once said to me, a comment that I have to say is the most significant compliment ever paid to me, and I don’t know if the issuer ever realized how great a compliment it was, simply said “You make me feel like a professional when working with you..” or something to that affect, stated after leaving a particularly hairy call on a customer in Illinois. I truly do enjoy being seen as a professional and try to be that every day, although at times it is a bit difficult, when faced with some of the most blatant unprofessionalism. Sort of makes you feel a little compassion for the term “going postal”.

To sum up my experience with Comcast yesterday, I wasted 90 minutes of my life on the phone with people constantly following a script, or flowchart as it were. That experience made me think of any sales or customer service experience I have gone through lately and really makes me hurl, or at a minimum, want to retire in wine country…I only wish. Scripts are a great thing, we use them as baselines to most jobs, to help bring a better and more consistent outcome, great idea! Scripts help us organize our thoughts into a process which in turn helps us educate or win over other people that much easier. Unfortunately, I am seeing this go astray way to much lately, how can we be so wrong, can anyone say “Idiocracy” (great movie, BTW)? The net-net, why do we have process, for the sake of process or for a better and more consistent outcome?

A key example, McDonalds has grown because of process giving a consistent customer experience and an equal quality product (whether you like that fast food or not, you have to admit it’s consistent).  I mention “Idiocracy” above, because it shows the downward spiral of quality (and intelligence) and you see so many cases in American that mimic that movie, I simply point out the fact that process without some level of attachment brings a bad end result. Whether we refer to the Cosco greeter in “Idiocracy”, “Welcome to Cosco, I love you”. Good process? Acceptable script? No, the delivery agent  didn’t care and the script wasn’t, well, appropriate for the venue.

My simple point, learn your scripts as reference points, not as a script….scripts don’t sell and customers are happy when they think you actually care…


Storage in a Changing World

I have been very remiss is posting, very caught up in work, trips to wine country and changing personal technologies (new Mac, extending use of iPad, selling my MN house, etc).

I almost missed David Black’s “KISS Principle” posting:


David expounds on a view of storage architecture and management that balks in the face of present day storage, er, software, wait, no, storage companies architecture, a more “frameless” context of storage. Net-net, historically storage was just that, a place to store your bits, then came RAID (I remember an IT Manager who came to me in, 1989 I think, and said he needed to get that “RAID” thing, because his boss asked why he didn’t have it), after which vendors started building out arrays, aka, the “SAN” area begins. Now, all those “storage” vendors, are stating that they are no longer storage vendors, they are software vendors.

This frameless architecture removes those overloaded, bottlenecking, legacy controllers, streamlines the datapath, making storage integration easier and giving the applications control of the storage resources and returning storage to it’s rightful role, storing data (and, mind you, letting those storage vendors actually focus on doing that right, once again).

Storagewonk expounds greatly on this in his article over a year ago “Store, Move, Protect – The Fundamentals of Storage”:


The reality is that is an era when storage vendors are no longer storage vendors, and just using the same CRAP that every other “software” vendor is using, their differentiator is in software capabilities, capabilities that have, quite ironically, found their way into the hypervisors, OS’s and applications of the world.

Whether you want thin provisioning, replication, CDP; some of the many “features” that these software vendors have focused on and grown strong, those are finding their way into the core software of the world and in most cases with more consistency and data protection that the overblown “software” companies products provide.

The real question is where do you want the feature applied and how many times do you want to pay for them. The XIO answer, put the feature closest to the application, where it can do the most good and give the most bang for the buck, and let the storage vendors focus on doing what they “should” be doing, finding ways to deliver your bits the fastest they can and protecting that data the best it can.


Nerdfest 2011 – Variations

Day 3 of Xiotech Nerdfest 2011 and the festivities continue.

With the demos of features and futures, products and predictions, skeptics and optimists…the sharing of knowledge and bridging of gaps continues.

Above all, I was looking forward to seeing David Black, father of the “blackliszt” and technical partner at Oak Investments. For those who don’t know, David evaluates and advises Oak portfolio companies (and so much more) and took us all by surprise last year with his “baseball:symphany” (David is quiet and reserved, but, is demonstrative and flamboyant in this instance). David spoke many times this week, but, today’s session was similar, but much more pronounced than last year in that he expounded more on the historical context of physics, mathematics and music and how they draw back to the same DNA, historically.

The importance of musical “variation” is very readily compared to engineering and what we do in our day to day lives, from David running around frantically to a high paced classical tune, acting out our jobs and addressing customer concerns, work problems, etc., to him standing on his head in front of everyone in a yoga pose, “…more blood to the brain results in more clearly seeing reality”.

The general theme, of the moment, is the common understanding of team direction and goals. In this case, the team of Xiotech engineering, “Seeing the whole, while playing your part”.


Nerds on the move

Wow, it has been a LONG road since my last post, busy year!

I think it has been since Storage Texan was last posting, I sure feel like I have been busy, or maybe just lazy.

Sitting in the Steve Sicola Nerdfest 2011, in Colorado Springs, CO. Nerdfest is an annual gathering of the techno-nerds from within Xiotech, the intent of being an engineering gathering and sharing of technologies and roles within the organization, with the main goal of being a better product and hence better company.

I did a similar blog post during the 2010 Nerdfest and just wanted to blast out there some of the key points of what we are hearing.

Tony Asaro, Xiotech’s new Senior Marketing Executive, is spending a LONG afternoon with the brilliant engineering folks discussing his visions and directions, both with the present market and the directions as he views them for Xiotech.

Some of the key points to note, and we will hear LOTS more about?

Performance optimization – Focus on the optimization of storage into an applications ecosystem. A focus on maximizing what storage can do for APPLICATIONS, which truly need that performance. Applications like Databases, Business Intelligence, HPC, VDI and other virtualization initiatives. Net-net, enabling the applications to do what they should do best…deliver their data… Without hesitation, no matter how the workload changes over time !

Performance roadmap – Roadmap for performance and the growth and scale of that performance needs and capabilities

Key point here, whatever Xiotech does WILL improve the delivery of data for applications and integrate that functionality with applications. Awesome meeting thus far….aka, Autonomic Performance, make things simply PERFORM how they should and have not to this point.

More posts to come, but, great time with some brilliant people…


VDI in the Real World?

VDI in the real world?

 Virtual desktops have been a point of conversation for years, it has been touted that it has been the “year of VDI” for 4 years running now, and still, virtual desktops have not taken off in the skyrocketing form that everyone has been expecting.

I was blessed to be allowed to speak at a conference (Storage for Virtual Desktops) last week focused on virtualization and hosted by Brian Madden, a voice that is well known and echoed/blogged constantly in the virtualization space. This conference, a kick off for a series of events that will be held for the rest of the year, focuses on virtualization and what the end user really should know as they enter that world of virtualization.

Brian has hosted countless events in the past and, I am sure, will host many more in the future, with a common sense approach to adopting virtualization addressing the concerns that the end user really should know about.

These latest events are including an afternoon focus on storage, hence the inclusion of a storage vendor, and the major issues around sizing and provisioning storage “appropriately” for the virtualization efforts you are approaching. The most important thing to note, is the true cost of ownership for you, not perceived cost, projected cost or otherwise “made up” numbers. Xiotech has proven the lowest and most predictable cost per desktop so you can more easily roll out VDI in your environment, such as Patient’s First has done. Brian Reagan, CMO for Xiotech, talk with Wikibon about a number of things, to include Xiotech’s most recent announcements around Hybrid ISE and it’s impact on VDI costs.

Brian Madden tweeted a comment that I made about the impact a user can have and I wanted to clarify that the point here is that users don’t have an impact on IT and IT decisions, until they themselves are seriously impacted (such as the rollout of a VDI infrastructure that starts out good, but performance dwindles as it scales out and the user experience can only be qouted as “sucks”), and that is what typically stalls VDI rollouts that are not planned well.

I have to requote Brian on his post regarding storage in a VDI environment as I took a little artistic liberty in my presentation, when I quoted him. The point he is making is very valid and the follow on blogs regarding it are very intuitive. The most important and repeated point, make your infrastructure plans prior to rolling out VDI and choosing how you roll out storage in that infrasture is more key than ever when VDI is involved.


Unleash the power?

  After getting an IM last night, after a VERY busy day, from vTexan, my mind began to wonder on all that has transpired in my time at Xiotech, as cluttered minds tend to do. To Tommy’s point, this is a great ride at Xiotech and a LOT of changes has happened. The friends I have made here are great and some will truly last more than a lifetime (it seems like we have many lifetimes in technology, doesn’t it?). Tommy worked his heart out here and I have to give him props for all that he accomplished, both here and setting a foundation for something pretty darn good, if you ask me, great work Tommy; although you will be missed, your memories live on and it’s great to run into you, as always.

  All the memories of the changes at Xiotech and friends along the way and decisions (gulp) made by some that sometimes stagger the mind, we are (as stated by the sometimes infamous and always famous Steve Duplessie) back. I remember when I first met Steve, I was walking him through our Magnitude (Was that really 2002) and I remember Steve saying “I don’t want to touch it, just show me what you got..” (referring to the keyboard, as we always let others drive demos, afterall, it was always easy on a Mag..). Xiotech got lost along the way, from Magnitude 750 to CEMS (memories anyone?), Steve asserted that Xiotech got off track and as he so eloquently put it, it looks like we are back on track, thanks to the likes of Alan Atkinson, Jim McDonald, Steve Sicola, Brian Reagan, Richie Lary, and the long standing power houses from Xiotech, Roger Kelley, Rob PeglarTom Solomon, as well as the pit bull drive of Mark Glagow and I have to add the sales leadership of Dave Ornstein (Had to add Dave in as he drives me on daily).

What is the big change and hence the title of the blog? The latest result from the brain trust in Colorado Springs and all those so dedicated to making something cool, work better than anyone else is capable of doing (Thanks!, Steve, Richie, Gus, Butch, Jeff, Bill and all those I forgot to add here..) Finally, our chance to shine, once again, the follow-on to the “Storage Brick”, or ISE (Intelligent Storage Element), as marketing dubbed it (sorry Brian), is just around the corner and the first release will be ISE 14.4H (ok, Hybrid ISE). This is the best of all worlds, density, high performance, scalability (linear), resiliency and intelligence….

Take a gander at what others say, it is awesome:

IDC report – IDC explains it well, end to end

Network World – Great synopsis by Networkworld as well

The ride just got better, faster and more to come!

Thanks for the memories, Tommy!


Storage Anarchy?

I posted this a while back, but, caused some flack as to much leaked out at the time..so, pulled it 5 minutes later. Here it is again, bigger and better.

With all the advances in systems, applications, connectivity, you see a plethora of posts out there about how storage has not kept pace. In defense, storage has kept pace, but in a different fashion than applications, systems, or the connectivity. Storage has focused on getting more into a smaller space, while that is good at first blush, it does not address the fact that you need more and more performance out of what you just made more and more dense. After talking with many VMware & Citrix advocates, consultants and customers as of late, it is obvious that “Virtual Desktop” is one of those applications demanding more than most storage can deliver. I focus on that, simply out of personal motivation as VDI has been so in front of me for the past 6 months and it seems like the perfect storm for evolutionary, or revolutionary thinking. It was so refreshing to see what the legacy Storage Works group was working on and it’s awesome to be able to call them co-workers. Now, word is leaking out about the next addition to the ISE architecture (from the core team in Colorado Springs) that is in the works. I used to think the Suzuki Katana, a radical transformation of how you could imagine a motorcycle, was an awesome machine, but WAY before it’s time. Now we have the Katana from Xiotech, which is revolutionary and by no means “before” it’s time, but, just in time for the world that so desperately needs it. (ok, that is the engineering name and the marketing name in Hybrid ISE)


It’s great to be amongst these stars!!

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