Tag Archives: Nice

Enterprise Cloud: Why Size Matters

One of the biggest issues in speaking of technology trends is the natural impulse to apply a “one size fits all” approach.

People talk about technology the way they talk about the weather–it’s something that affects everyone the same way. Raining? That’s too bad about the ball game. Nice for your flower garden though.

Unfortunately, when it comes to technology, it doesn’t affect everyone the same way. At the risk of losing 90% of my readers in one go, I’m going to dust off one of the great evil words in the technology industry–Enterprise. As I’ve said before, the word “Enterprise” in the phrase “Enterprise Software” has come to mean software that sucks. In fact, if you Google “Enterprise Software” (with the quotes) the number two link is “Why Enterprise Software Sucks“.

So why dust off this word? I suppose I enjoy collecting antiques.

It’s after all a perfectly good word, and can be repurposed as a pot holder or maybe a tea cozy. What I’d like to have is a word that signifies the following:

An organization that has grown in size to the point where the old tricks don’t work anymore.

Funny Pictures

* Its organization has shattered into factions
* It’s technology has separated into silos
* Its market has fragmented into niches

The big challenge is how does one maintain the advantages of size and scale but still retain agility?

I think it’s possible:
Bull headstand

So how does fragmentation affect the use of cloud?

Well in terms of complex demand, cloud principles are very exciting.

swiss army

If your market is fragmented, you will be happy to offer a platform of reusable services that can be customized by channel partners or even by end users into thousands of possible use cases. Think iPhone App Store. So for complex demand, the cloud is a good thing.

The challenge for the Enterprise and cloud is the concept of “Complex Supply”. Since both the technology in the Enterprise is already siloed, adding cloud just adds another silo. Legacy Mainframe apps, Web Application Servers, Enterprise Applications, you name it, Cloud just adds yet another technology silo to maintain, integrate, secure and govern. Since large organizations are fragmented into smaller organizations, this problem is compounded when one organization creates a dependency on cloud services without a systematic enabling architecture.

Size matters. People try to apply architectural patterns and software solutions as if they were one-size-fits all.

ass is too small

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What I learned from Woz

Miko and Woz

So I had the great benefit of having breakfast with Steve Wozniak, keynote speaker at our Innovation World conference in Miami Florida, then of course listening to him speak.

This was a great occasion as I have long been a fan of Apple Computer (and an occasional fan of Apple Inc., but that’s a different story). Although I learned computing on the Atari 400 computer (yes with the cheezy keyboard), this 6502 processor based wonder owed a lot to the origins of the home computer and yes to Steve Wozniak, designer of this and many other computers.

Woz talked about how he designed the first “One player version of Pong” using 44 chips (or some variant of that, my memory fails me) which was of course the original and venerable “breakout” game, based on a contract negotiated by none other that Steve Jobs, the other Apple Computer cofounder and also Silicon Valley legend.

The thing that fascinated me about what Steve Wozniak kept emphasizing is how innovation comes out of “lean” environments–how trying to design systems with the fewest number of chips makes them mass production ready and how changing the world relies on making really lean systems design. This is really innovation for the age of recession 101.

It’s interesting because people talk about lowercase “i” innovation and capital “I” innovation. Now lowercase “i” innovation includes such ideas as Kaizen, or Continuous Process Improvement. This is the idea that small incremental improvements can lead to serious transformation. The company that is often heralded for this approach is Toyota. The thing that is fascinating about this is how Toyota came up with the Prius, which actually disrupted the market in a manner that most people expect to see from Capital “I” innovators–or the kind of market disruption that you typically get from silicon valley startup companies like Tesla Motors, Better Place, and other such companies.

If you look at nature, it’s almost infinitely inventive–and it uses energy (pretty much solar energy other than those wierd geothermal vent worms) and converts it into structures of many many types. Nice job evolution.

But if you really look at what’s happening in evolution, yes there are quantum leaps such as the first organism to fly (which they say might have been archaeopteryx) or the first animal to crawl up onto land and breathe air… but the interesting thing about them is that the environment was not being kind to these animals as they underwent their transformations. The environment was being cruel to them, squeezing them. They innovated because they had to. Neccesity is the mother of invention. Using fewer chips means you can manufacture at volume. Breathing air means you can get out of the shrinking pond. Flying means you wont be eaten by the savage predators.

Sounds like a bit of a grim view of it, but when people talk about “evolutionary steps” they really are missing a point, they think evolutionary is incremental to the point where you dont even ever get a great leap forward–but you do! There is a point at which lowercase innovation becomes capital letter innovation! This would explain how something as simple as Continuous Process Innovation at Toyota would end up generating a completely disruptive product such as the Toyota Prius (I drive a prius and love it, thank you very much).

So I learned a lot from talking to and listening to Steve Wozniak, and owe a debt of gratitude to him for such deep insights. Hopefully i’m not doing anything bad by sharing his picture with you here on my blog, I’m just happy to have done so…

My 2 cents,

PS, the person taking the picture is my boss, Dr. Peter Kuerpick who runs R&D at Software AG, and the person off to Steve Wozniak’s right is Karl-Heinz Streibich, the CEO of Software AG. Pictured in the background of the picture is Ivo Totev Chief Marketing Office who was nice enough to invite me to this breakfast…

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