How are my friends helping you make the change?

[This blog post is a repost of ]

Are you a good manager?

That may be a difficult question to answer these days. Different managers manage different things and therefore need different skills.

Their skill set can be seen like a Swiss Army Knife, on which every item on the Army Knife represents a different skill.

Now, let us talk about your skills to manage change. You will easily find out you need not only knives but also scissors, pinchers and most likely other items on the Army knives as change is a complex thing to manage.

The Atos Scientific Community also studied the aspect of organizational change and came up with an additional toolset for you; Social Network Analysis.

The reason for looking into this was the overall feeling that social networks show the informal organizational structure of a company.

This is addressed in a whitepaper on the subject:

“Informal networks have always played a huge role in how works get done in organizations, as many strategically important networks don’t reside on the formal organization chart. Good managers have understood the role of these networks and people who know how to leverage them. “

I already knew that and you probably did so too. However, making sure you understand this informal network before you implement a change was always a very difficult thing to do.

You must recognize that, after the change, your employees, team members and others will be able to tell you why moving a particular person to another part of the organization was a bad idea; you yourself may even notice that some parts of your organization are not running smoothly anymore. So you change something again, and again, and again.

There is another way:

“(…) what is different today is that there are now tools & methods available to get insight in these informal networks. That is what Social Network Analysis (SNA) does. It helps you to find out the underlying, informal structure in organizations. It involves the mapping and measuring of these normally invisible relationships between people and provides the company with an organizational X-ray. Key in understanding and managing networks is to find the critical connectors or the unofficial organizational roles.”


“Would it not be great if you could reveal the real experts in your enterprise and who is accessing them. Target opportunities where increased knowledge flow will have the most impact and also detect information bottlenecks. Or detect opportunities for increased innovation, productivity and responsiveness. “

These insights in the way we can utilize social networks to implement successful changes in your organization is addressed by the authors.

There is even a bigger benefit. By using Social Network Analysis in a structured way, you may find a method to continuously change your organization to meet the changing business goals and still be as effective as possible.

Understanding your blind spots in your social connections may even be as important as understanding your portfolio and your competition:

“There are no “right” or “wrong” network structures; there are just networks that may be less effective in achieving their goals. If (…) organizations undertake social network analysis, it can help them to find the blind spots and manage the gaps which can lead to smarter organizations. “

Do you agree? Are you already using Social Network Analysis for organizational change? Do you see pitfalls, problems and obstacles? Let me know.

Big Data – Big Problems?

International Bibliography of Periodical Liter...

International Bibliography of Periodical Literature (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[This blog post is a repost of ]

When you run out of space in your cupboard, you go out and buy a new cupboard. You might even choose a similar model so it looks good in your bedroom or kitchen.

If you run out of floor-space in your house, the problem is a bit more complex from a financial point of view – but the solution is similar.

I think we had, for many years, the same expectation in IT. If we ran out of storage, we would buy additional storage. Well, it seems we need to wake up and face the problem, because the solution is not that simple anymore. In a published whitepaper from the Atos Scientific Community (“Open Source Solutions for Big Data Management”) I read:

“[…] several major changes in the IT world have dramatically increased [data storage and processing needs] rate of growth.

[…] Computer capabilities have not increased fast enough to meet these new requirements. When data is counted in terabytes or petabytes, traditional data and computing models can no longer cope.”

This problem forces us to have a different view on storage and database technologies.

Traditional databases that use a relational model cannot process the data quick enough and adding additional computing power and memory is not the solution.

The issue is luckily addressed by storage and database vendors – they coined the term “Big Data” and are developing new solutions to make sure we can cope with the rapid increase in the information we want to be available online.

Unfortunately the impact of these new technologies is big (no pun intended) and there is limited experience in the way the technology is applied successfully and sustainable.

Some vendors are looking towards changes in hardware and provide dedicated storage-boxes that are hardwired to handle large databases or large data-files. Others are looking to provide solutions using new database software.

Most of the software developers and vendors that are facing big data issues are reconsidering the ‘traditional’ relational database model and are bringing new ‘NoSQLdatabase models into view.

Based on the amount of marketing and buzz , this ‘NoSQL’ seems to be the next best thing to go with for these type of solutions.

So, do we really need all of this stuff? The Scientific Community whitepaper claims:

“In most situations, using NoSQL solutions instead of RDBMS (relational database management systems – paj) does not make sense in cases where the limits of the database have not been reached. Although, given the current exponential growth of data storage requirements, these limits are increasingly likely to be reached in the future. Unless RDBMS evolves quickly to include more advanced data distribution features, NoSQL solutions will become more and more important.”

The specialists have spoken – it is important. We need to care and we need to take action.

Additional problem is that the field is evolving quickly, good solutions are provided by small companies and will soon become part of large providers through acquisitions or other business activities.

I also expect some patent-conflicts (do we not love those?) and maybe some bad choices leading to loss of data.

My recommendation is you start looking for areas in your organization where this challenge will become a problem very soon. Ask your systems administrator about the time they need to do backups of databases and restore times. Ask your system developers if they foresee issues with your next generation document management or transaction processing system.

And while you are at it – ask your business analyst about the data they need to create meaningful business intelligence reports (and how much time it takes to create them). This will give you a good overview of your Big Data improvement areas.

Do not ask your vendor before having done an internal assessment. You do not want to be stuck with the wrong technology.

The Atos whitepaper can be downloaded here

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Data-centers may be too hot to handle

[This blog post is a repost of ]

Global warming is certainly a topic that the IT industry should care about, especially if you consider the way we contribute to the rising CO2 levels and power consumption. Good news, though; apparently we do already care about it.After his earlier report in 2008, on August 1st, 2011, a follow up report was presented by Jonathan Koomey, a consulting professor at Stanford University.

In his latest report , Koomey states:

“In summary, the rapid rates of growth in data-center electricity use that prevailed from 2000 to 2005 slowed significantly from 2005 to 2010, yielding total electricity use by data-centers in 2010 of about 1.3% of all electricity use for the world, and 2% of all electricity use for the US.”

Still, that is a lot of power and since we can expect a growth in the amount of data-center space, we need to spend considerable time thinking about further lowering the CO2 footprint of data-centers. A white-paper by the Atos Scientific Community, takes an interesting view to the subject. The authors claim that the two worlds of data-centers and of 'Control and Command' have lived up to now in relatively separate spaces, although:

“… the data-center can be seen as an industrial equipment with processes like electricity management, temperature control, humidity control, physical security, and finally the management of IT equipment themselves…”

After a short description of technology that is deployed in data-centers, it is concluded that:

“…computers kept in the room are not the dumb heaters that the physics rules would describe. They have their own operational rules and constraints, acting at a logical level rather than a physical one, and providing software solutions to manage that logical level. A communication channel between the computers or blades and the Control and Command could be mutually beneficial.”

This introduces a new way to look at datacenters, using end-to-end monitoring to manage the facility as a whole, not as a collection of separate components. The fact that all components interact and should be managed as such opens new ways to bring power consumption under control. A better future is possible, but a lot of work still needs to be done.

The Atos whitepaper can be downloaded here.

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Seamless Computing: It is here

Readers of this blog know that I am always looking for new ways how different computers (or computer clouds) can interact to executed a complex task. Nowadays we see people work and play with a variety of different devices and most of the time struggling when these devices need to share information.

It becomes even a bigger problem when the devices need to be working together. But it seems we are getting there, using existing technologies, the video below shows a glimpse of the type of task we can through such combinations of devices and different interfaces.

It is not a ‘wow-look-at-the-future’ video, showing us all kinds of things that still need to be invented. Instead it is using existing technology, combined in a smart way.

I bet that doing the task that is shown in the video, in a ‘normal’ way, would take several hours and a lot of conversions.

Seamless Computing Video
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