Mainframes Still Necessary

October 31, 2010

The last time I was in a data center was 48 hours ago. It was a big one. The racks were filled with tiny little things. There was no easy way to count the blades in the lousy light. I knew after the tour that there was no mainframe in the data center. I do run across mainframes at big companies. Earlier this year I visited an insurance company, and it had a traditional data center. Most of the machines in that data center were Dells of one sort or another. Off in one corner was a room within a room. I asked, “What’s the mainframe doing here?” The answer was, “It does some stuff. That was before my time. Let me ask one of the old timers.”

I said, “Nah.” Legacy. Old timers. Got it.

For kicks I read “Mainframes Still Essential for Hybrid Data Centers.”

http://www.techeye.net/hardware

The article points out that when you have mainframe programs to run, you better have a mainframe. No argument here. The report, as Techeye points out, was created and distributed by a mainframe centric company. Nevertheless, the write up disclosed a juicy detail:

The most important priority for mainframe users in 2010 has been reducing costs, with 65 percent picking that answer. Disaster recovery came in second at 34 percent, while application management and business/IT alignment came in at 30 percent and 29 percent respectively.

No big surprise about costs. Most recent computer science grads close dance with mainframes briefly in their love affair with technology. The disaster recovery point is also understandable. When a Web 2.0 type mucks around with a mainframe or even an AS/400, it doesn’t take long to learn that the big honkers don’t work like a Macbook.

But the killer phrase is “application and business/IT alignment.” One third of the respondents want to get the mainframe to work like more tractable systems. The “alignment” hints at getting those honkers out of the work flow.

I admire the authors of the report and even IBM for spinning PR that pumps mainframes. These machines can be little gold mines today.

The “essential” is understandable, but let’s face it. The future is miniature gizmos and energy efficiency, ease of use, and Webby stuff. A hybrid data center has no choice. Then there are the costs.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2010

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SAP Admits Wrong Doing

October 31, 2010

I thought the admission of guilt was a feature of TV shows. Right before the end of the Perry Mason Show, the bad guy or gal would stand up and say, “I did it.” Life is different in SAP land. “SAP Admitting Infringement In Oracle Case”, if accurate, asserts that SAP is saying “I did it” before the trial begins. What a bummer for LA screenwriters. For me, this was the passage that stuck:

In a shocking last-minute move, SAP has admitted contributory liability in a court filing posted Thursday in the case Oracle has brought against it for copyright infringement involving its now-defunct TomorrowNow acquisition. Earlier this year, SAP admitted only vicarious liability, meaning it admitted wrongdoing on TomorrowNow’s part, but not its own, claiming TomorrowNow’s illegal practices didn’t occur with SAP’s knowledge or involvement, as Oracle had claimed and upon which it had based hefty damage request.

So what?

Larry Ellison was apparently right. The IBM-like SAP played fast and loose with Oracle’s intellectual diamonds. End of story. I am not sure the money is important, although money is usually a good thing to get via a legal matter. The money is not as good as being able to say, “SAP took our goodies.”

I think SAP is a company that provides an early warning indicator of how traditional software companies will cope with the present economic environment. For example, SAP faces some push back about the complexity, time, and cost of implementing some of its software. Search systems like TREX illustrate how easy it is to underestimate the challenges of finding information and the precarious nature of in house retrieval. SAP now provides some insight into how executives can make tactical decisions that backfire and help whittle away at the foundation of IBM type software methods. In short, the SAP story underscores some of the weaknesses in the basic approach of IBM type vendors.

Don’t get me wrong. IBM type vendors ruled the roost for decades. Now some of the tactical methods are no longer hidden behind the traditional procurement processes. The Web has made some actions easier to track and scope.

My question is, “Which IBM type vendor is next in the penalty box?” SAP is or was a paragon. What skeletons are ready to tumble from the closets of other IBM type software vendors? When the bones start piling up, how will authorities cope with the disorder? Will open source vendors surge in power like Twilight vampires after a guzzle?

Open source software in general and open source search in particular is not perfect. But the idea of depending on a community, not a single firm, offers an alternative to the IBM type of software vendor. But consultants will be consultants, of course. When the traditional IBM type of software buyers get cold feet, the IBM type of company has to generate revenues. Short cuts may become more common. Open source software could benefit because it is an alternative.

One concern I have is that Oracle may get a rush of adrenaline from the SAP legal maneuver. Can this SAP action spur Oracle to increase the heat on Google? Will Oracle find a way to keep Hewlett Packard in the spot light? When lawyers, not technologists, influence technology, real life can be more surprising than a fictional confection on television.

SAP? Worth monitoring.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2010

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ZoomInfo Offers Additional Paid Services

October 31, 2010

ZoomInfo, one of the leading providers or business and employee information will start offering paid services to its users through two platforms – ZoomInfo Community Edition (CE) and ZoomInfo Pro. “ZoomInfo Introduces new Database Search Tool” said:

The application offers more than 20 search fields for companies—by such delineators as name, industry, revenue, size and location—and people—by name, job title, industry and college attended, among other data. The product also includes alerting tools to track updates to profiles,

The Pro edition will enable the users to lookup in-depth business and executive profiles, whereas the CE edition will provide links to social media profiles. This will be achieved by allowing people listed on ZoomInfo to directly synchronize the information from their Outlook Express to the ZoomInfo’s database providing a timely and accurate data to its paid users.

Small businesses often die like mayflies. ZoomInfo has taken steps to keep its content more accurate. The business services provider now has overcome this particular problem by letting a listed user update his/her information directly.

ZoomInfo scrapes and harvests information about business professionals and populates the ZoomInfo database. The system challenges companies like Dun & Bradstreet and InfoUSA as well as LinkedIn, Jigsaw and Spoke. Sales professionals can tap ZoomInfo for prospects. The company offers a range of for fee plans. ZoomInfo is gaining traction but we try the free services before offering up our charge card.

Stephen E Arnold, October 31, 2010

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Snapshots of Five Big Data Softwares

October 30, 2010

I am not sure who published what in this write up. One link pointed to GigaOM and another to the New York Times. The article in question is “Beyond Hadoop: Next-Generation Big Data Architectures.”

http://www.gigaom.com

The author is Bill McColl, the founder of Cloudscale and a big gun in big data. The write up covers briefly these five systems:

I saved the write up. Useful info.

Stephen E Arnold, October 30, 2010

Oracle and Google Lock Step

October 30, 2010

Google makes a big announcement. Oracle responds. Google makes a bigger announcement. Oracle responds more vociferously. That’s the Oracle Google lock step, and I don’t see a change any time soon.

The problem is Java or Google’s alleged use of Java.

First, the bigger announcement: Google wants to do to mobile search what it did to Web search. “Place Search” is “a new kind of local search result that organizes the world’s information around places.” Who cares? Mobile users.

Why does Oracle care? Lots of reasons, but I think the main one may be a desire to slap a taxi meter on Googzilla’s run for the next generation local ad market. I assume that the information in “Oracle: Google ‘Directly Copied’ Our Java Code” is reasonably accurate. The message is darned clear: “Oracle has updated its lawsuit against Google to allege that parts of its Android mobile phone software “directly copied” Oracle’s Java code.”

I interpret intent and means in this statement. The intent was to get Java goodies. The means were Google professionals who either worked at Sun Microsystems or who absorbed info from some of the Sun-derful people who now labor in the Googleplex’s vine yards.

I expect the lock step actions to continue. The Silicon Valley legal activity is fascinating. Oracle is making life interesting for Hewlett Packard and Google. More to come.

Stephen E Arnold, October 30, 2010

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MySpace and Failure

October 30, 2010

I am not a social type of goose. I think I saw a couple of MySpace pages a year or two ago. My recollection was blinking and noise. I thought MySpace was a goner, smoked by Facebook. I was taken aback by “Opinion: 10 Reasons Why MySpace’s Redesign Won’t Save It.” Lazarus maybe?

I found the observations about MySpace interesting, but to me their value is a checklist for other online information services to consider. Let me comment on three of the points and urge you to visit the original for the other seven reasons.

First, MySpace is hemorrhaging money. This is a very big deal. Online services are expensive to create, market, operate and enhance. The wrecks on the information superhighway are there for many reasons. My probes suggest that money often was a contributing factor. News Corp.’s appetite for spending dough seems to be hearty. How can it continue unless the company strikes a money gusher? Raising prices? Cutting costs? Fancy dancing?

Second, ugly. I am not into user experience. The UX and iPad crowd don’t agree and in my opinion don’t have to. However, if one wants to lure the Project Runway crowd design is essential. MySpace and online vendors have to find a way to control the costs of meeting users’ expectations. Tough. Ugly is commonplace.

Third, buzz. There is a great deal of “buzz” about buzz. The problem is that building a following or fan base is not as quick, easy, or painless as some expect. An online service has to solve a problem and those folks are the ones who become repeat visitors or habitual users. MySpace, I suppose a social network, is not hitting SF Giant type home runs in social marketing. For some online services, social marketing is the primary form of marketing. Failure in this new competency is, therefore, not good.

I recommend the checklist of 10 items. Can you apply the learnings to other online businesses? Take out your blue book and write 500 words. Ooops. The goose is not a teacher.

Stephen E Arnold, October 30, 2010

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IBM Pushing Its Translation Technology

October 29, 2010

Years ago I remember hearing a talk by then-search guru Arthur Ciccolo, IBM Research. My recollection is fuzzy, but he was talking about IBM’s interest in shifting from key word search to concept searching. I lost track of the fellow until I read “IBM Licenses Arabic Translation Tool to Online Media Firm.” IBM’s search solution is to rely on open source technology and to turn some of its wizards loose in a hunt for – you guessed it – concept searching technology. IBM is an interesting and very large company, so unrequited dreams and marketing assertions don’t have to become reality.

Mr. Ciccolo has shifted to a field adjacent to search, voice recognition. Hard on the heels of licensing the IBM TALES Arabic to English system to Critical Mention, Mr. Ciccolo is alleged to have said:

“The ever-shifting nature of the market compels business professionals to quickly and easily monitor a wide range of foreign events and world media,” said Arthur Ciccolo of IBM Research. “The unique TALES technology, combined with Critical Mention’s advanced real time search and monitoring system, will benefit organizations from all industry segments.”

TALES is shorthand for Translingual Automation Language Exploitation System. I like “exploitation”. The write up continued:

TALES combines search, speech-to-text conversion and machine translation technologies. Spoken words are converted into written words, then translated into the target language. To provide the most accurate results, the system uses statistical machine translation that employs automatically extracted word-to-word and phrase-to-phrase translations.

I have noticed an uptick in interest in real time translation systems. We have been relying on Google’s plumbing, which—so far—is free. Oh, and IBM’s concept searching. Still in the pipeline I suppose.

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2010

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CNN Questions Microsoft and Consumer Brand Viability

October 29, 2010

When a newstainment outfit like CNN questions Microsoft, the funeral marchers are checking their schedules. “Microsoft Is a Dying Consumer Brand” makes a blunt assertion: “Consumers have turned their backs on Microsoft.” Anyone thinking about Microsoft as a super hot holiday gift will now associate Microsoft with a fish more than three days old. I would.

The article said:

Microsoft has been late to the game in crucial modern technologies like mobile, search, media, gaming and tablets. It has even fallen behind in Web browsing, a market it once ruled with an iron fist.

The author does not give Microsoft much credit for its investment in Facebook. Nope. Kick the Redmond giant when it is struggling with a sprained ankle or a tarsal fracture.

image

CNN is not sending Microsoft a get well card. Ouch. Image from Zazzle at http://www.zazzle.com/broken_foot_get_well_soon_funny_paper_card-137574681868607966.

For me, the key passage in the write up was:

And if Microsoft cedes consumer ground, it risks its enterprise stronghold. Businesses are becoming more willing to allow employees to use their personal devices for work purposes, and a growing number of those gizmos are Macs, iPads, iPhones and Android smartphones.

The problem is that big outfits take a long time to go away. My view is that Microsoft would generate more value for its stakeholders if it were chopped into three different entities.

What I find interesting, however, is not the plight of Microsoft. As I read the article, I thought about Microsoft’s trajectory over the last three decades. I see signs of Microsoftitis at Google. One could point to marketplace errors (Buzz), the brain drain of Googlers to Facebook, the mounting legal hassles, and a growing perception that Google’s ideas for coping with privacy are just plain Comedy Central material. But the 30 or 40 years it has taken Microsoft to run out of gas may be compressed for the Google.

CNN, however, is thinking Microsoft. I read the story and thought, “Google.”

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2010

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Short List of Image Search Tools

October 29, 2010

Short honk: One never knows when this type of list will be needed. “7 Image Search Tools That Will Change Your Life” provides descriptions, some screenshots, and links to seven image search tools. My life has not been changed, but a happy quack to Brain Pickings for the information. One example:

Retrievr at http://labs.systemone.at/retrievr/

Stephen E Arnold, October 29, 2010

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Endeca Extends Latitude

October 29, 2010

Imagine scaling Mt. Everest without having the training to do so. In workplaces, we can really achieve such a feat by acquiring greater agility in operations and decision-making, using the Endeca latitude BI tools with zero training. This positive news comes from the BusinessWire.com article “Endeca latitude Delivers First Hybrid Search-Analytical Database for Business Intelligence,” which informs how Endeca’s “hybrid search-analytical database enables IT organizations to deliver solutions with consumer ease-of-use on the diverse and changing information.”

Using innovative technology Endeca Latitude brings together all structured and unstructured information, and easily explores the data making on-the-fly information discovery. This helps the untrained user get answers to unanticipated questions, which ultimately lead to better outcomes. “A single discovery application built with Endeca Latitude can take the place of hundreds of traditional reports,” states the article. We remember such application had been on-the-cards years ago, and high time it gets the push now to help employees take better decisions, give their company the agility edge, and save money.

The question in Harrod’s Creek is, “Can a company with roots in ecommerce and search compete with established business intelligence products and services from old timers like Cognos and SAS and newcomers like Megaputer and Digital Reasoning?” We don’t have an answer, but the marketplace will.

Harleena Singh, October 29, 2010

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