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HP’s Strategy Tagcloud Buzzword Bingo Vortex of Doom

Buzzword Bingo
Hyper Tag Cloud of Computer Generated Twaiku

Theory #1: HP Strategy was written by Charlie Sheen on Twitter

It is possible that HP’s strategy was written by the Internet’s favorite High Priest Vatican assassin warlock? HP is bayonets, baby–HP is an F18 fighter jet, ready to blow you out of the sky or deploy  ordinance to the ground. Having both Windows and WebOS on a single PC is not bipolar, it’s bi-winning, you win here, and you win there. HP is on a drug called WebOS. If you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”#WINNING #TIGERBLOOD The Scoreboard does not lie.

Theory #2: HP Strategy was a haiku love poem written by IBM’s  “Watson”

One possibility that this was written by IBM’s Jeopardy playing computer, Watson, as a way to completely subvert and demolish its largest foe, HP. However, this doesn’t adequately explain how this got onto Leo Apotheker’s slides. Unfortunately, the thing that blows up that theory is that you would expect the phrasing to be more consistent. For example “What is Optimizing Traditional Environments Alex”. That would be good for a “Daily Double”. Still, the phrase “Random Number Generator” seems to drift unbidden from the sub-basement when reading the kind of strategy you might expect to find in the left nostril of a wildebeest infected by cryptosporidium.

Theory #3: Leo Apotheker is a freestyle rap artist

A freestyle rap artist can explode the fringes of grammar to discombobulate their opponents. I got so many ways to dis you that I’m playful wit you. By disgorging a rap fiesta of hyperlucid bricolage, they  shock and awe their opponents into complete aphasia. This theory is supported by the satire implicit in recombining every buzzword from every software company into a single set of powerpoint bullets. Another supporting point is the tendency for West Coast gangstas to smoke trees. It’s clear from the diction and lexicon that whoever wrote these words smoked many, many trees.

Theory #4: HP’s strategy was written by Miss Teen South Carolina


Apologies to Miss Teen South Carolina.

Theory #5: HP is airing their political dirty laundry in public

This kind of glossolalia is not in fact, computer generated haiku. It is a form of political interplay, where the company uses an external communication platform to address internal political issues. This is also known as “airing your dirty laundry in public”. I think by actually saying something, you might be favoring one division of HP over another.

For example, take “Optimize Traditional Environments“. Hello? Perhaps this is a reference to legacy systems or mainframes. But no, we wouldn’t want to bias the company strategy on any specific product line or business unit, so instead we have to come up with a tagline that would be more suitable for an interior decorator than a 90 billion dollar tech company.

The same explanation applies to “Build and manage cloud architectures“. I mean to be honest, how does one build, let alone manage an “architecture”? The problem solved by this incoherent backwash of polysyllabic combinatorics is that if HP decided to actually build and manage a product or service, the CEO would be again, showing favoritism.

The Winner: Dirty Laundry

Perhaps one of the best recent examples of complex public laundry airing was Carol Bartz explaining “What is Yahoo!” to Michael Arrington. An exceedingly complex answer and one where we can see (the exceedingly politically astute) Ms Bartz stepping carefully through a very complex question in the midst of a company reorganization.

An astute use of external communication can be seen by Nokia CEO Steven Elop and his famous “Burning Platform” memo. Instead of being incoherently political, this statement is focused, brutal and represents a very simple unified perspective. It’s rare when the stars align in such a way, but it’s clear that he’s speaking on behalf of a board-approved strategy.

But back to HP’s strategy statement… Enable Transformation to Hybrid Models is a joyful, bizzare and yet meaningless buzzword bingo that evokes Darryl Hannah’s Pris character in Bladerunner–a sort of transgender fashion runway android.

The whole thing ends with a whimper rather than a bang with Define and deliver the connected world from the consumer to the enterprise. In this context “Define” almost shouts “we dont know what we are doing!” to the world. I mean get real, you obviously have to define something before you can deliver it. But we haven’t defined it yet, so lets get to that first. The whole thing is comically self referential, since the previous sentences are so grammatically and semantically unmoored.

Please don’t take this the wrong way. I mean I’ve had a lot of fun writing this, and certainly at HP CEO Leo Apotheker’s expense. I’m sympathetic to the fact that companies are exceedingly political and complex, and that when those politics are given a voice, the results can be bizzare.

In this case the results read like a machine generated tag cloud sucking from the IT section of Wikipedia. It reads like a high school machine language experiment or the last phases of Dilbert struck by a tragic neurodegenerative disease.

Nuff said, thanks for a laugh.


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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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Entropic heat death of IT

I originally wrote this piece in November of 2007. I wanted to revisit it today because of the strong emphasis in the downturn on two major themes:

* Consolidation and
* Modernization

Both of these are ways of dealing with the past–consolidation is a way of rationalizing and reducing the ongoing burden of the past, while modernization is a way of bringing the past into the present.

In any event, these thoughts, penned a few years ago seem to still have resonance for me in thinking about customer problems in large scale software projects.

In reflecting on this post, I think measuring entropy solely in terms of “people” needs to be revised, and virtualization is a good way to ensure that utilization of systems is maximized, therefore maintaining a high level of energy available for work. I think this might be a valid way of looking at the overall IT budget.

Increasingly I’ve been referring to SOA using a folk definition that includes “a way to maximize the business value of the existing and ongoing IT investment”. Keeping that in mind, Entropy is a key variable to watch.

As a final note which I hint at in this piece, the natural conclusion is that if there is no way to reverse entropy, the entire system achieves “heat death”. Another source of inspiration is the evolution of biological systems, where local entropy is reversed through the addition of solar energy. The thing is, we get more and more IT funding and budgets each year (not that the budgets get bigger mind you, I’m just pointing out that there is such a thing as ongoing funding) so what remains is how we apply that funding to the system as a whole.

Now on to the original post:

How is time measured in IT?

The key unit of time in IT is the “project”. Projects are funded, each of which seeks a specific ROI and each project succeeds or fails on it’s own.

How is time measured in Physics?

In Physics, the concept of the “arrow of time” is modeled using Entropy. It’s how we know time is passing, which is the increase in the Entropy of systems. You put a drop of ink in water and it spreads out.

So what can we learn from physics through applying the analogy of Entropy to IT systems?

First of all we must understand what is axiomatic about Entropy:

* Definition: Entropy is the measurement of the energy in a system that is unavailable for work.
* Tendency: A closed system tends towards maximum entropy.

If Entropy is defined as the energy in a system that is unavailable for work, it means that some quantity of your IT systems are unavailable for work. I would suggest that you could roughly measure this by the number of IT persons dedicated to supporting, maintaining, troubleshooting and otherwise babysitting unmaintainable messes left by previous generations of IT projects.

Now you could blame the business projects for causing Entropy in IT systems, but you’d only be partially correct. The mechanism for reversing local entropy is adding energy. You could consider the influx of capital (project funding) to be a way of locally reversing entropy and putting more of your IT systems to work.

The problem is that without a structure in place, the energy is just converted into heat, not into more structure.

Therefore business projects have the potential to reverse entropy locally in IT systems… but it has to be applied correctly.

What I tend to see are Business Projects which are funded and executed without any respect for the implications to IT and I see additional unmaintainable complexity being shoved down into IT in order to meet short term business goals. Some of this complexity is shoved down into offshore teams. This is an attempt to reverse entropy locally within a subgroup. For example, the business team can push entropy to the development team and they can push it to the offshore team. Unfortunately, unless you optimize the whole system towards local decrease in entropy, you will eventually degrade the ability of the entire system to produce work.

This is a perhaps the most important principle in SOA–that unless you’ve aligned your business and IT organizations you will continue to increase entropy in your IT system. The implication is that less and less of your IT system will be available to do work.

This means that eventually IT will grind to a halt.

The organization that is unable to reverse this process will not be competitive.

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Entertaining and heartfelt post about REST

I like the passion, style, and urgency of this post and concur that IT is going through a pretty major upheaval right now.

Let me start by saying that IT is dying. No, Nick Carr did not kill it. No, it is not dying because “It does not matter”. It is dying because IT can’t do its job. IT can’t do it’s job because ever since we left the mainframe era IT has been served sub-optimal technologies, developed in a hurry by people largely incompetent (on the business side), sometimes simply greedy, that didn’t give a damn about what they were chartered to do. 90% of the people I met on the vendor side match this description.

Good stuff. =)

While applauding the tone, major themes and style of this post, I wanted to comment that it’s hard to imagine a different outcome for IT… Enterprise IT is an evolved information system (as is the brain), and we see layers and silos in the brain also–and we see non-adaptive behaviors (madness, mayhem, murder, suicide, etc)

Recall that an evolved system is subject to the constraints of
* Conservation
* Variation
* Fitness
Essentially meaning that we never throw away anything that performs a function (even if it performs it in a messed up way). We tend to try out a lot of very different things to see what works best, and we tend to compete for resources using all kinds of different strategies.

I realize that mutation and natural selection is somewhat “random” and we could hope that Enterprise IT would “evolve” in a way that was a bit more rational. But lets be realistic–most Enterprise IT systems have a long life span that stretches across many different people’s employment. People come and go, messed up legacy IT stuff sticks around.

So an honest look at Enterprise IT certainly shows that it appears to be deeply messed up from the core all the way out. You could say the same thing about the deeper parts of the human brain responsible for tribalism, me-first-screw-you survivalism, aggression and violence, inappropriate sexual behavior and other primitive impulses. But given that we are where we are, what’s the best solution to evolving our way out?

My 2 cents,

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