The announcement by Apple of the radically redesigned Mac Pro on June 10, 2013 was met with some mixed reviews. Most negative comments have tended to focus on perceived limitations of the new design relative to expandability. A recurring thread (if you allow me to extrapolate from only 24 hours worth of threads) is specifically the lack of “internal” expandability. The reason I am writing this entry, is that even though technical capabilities of integrating components with technologies such as Thunderbolt have removed performance barriers of using external devices, the perception of “everything having to be within one cabinet to maximize poformance” will need to be broken. To me, the new Mac Pro is taking on a component stereo approach, where each individual will be able to tailor their solution to their needs with the core “amplifier” at the heart of the configuation being the Mac Pro. The ability to move data at faster and faster speeds (20 GBs bidirectional in the case of Thunderbolt 2) through a cable frees the need to be physically limited by a cabinet with 4 expansion bays and allows an almost limitless ability to mix and match components as the user sees fit and as requirements demand. The danger here is to be stuck in a past paradigm – unless it is in one cabinet, something will be bottlenecked. Yes, capacity will still have a limit, but the limit will no longer have any perceived impact on productivity since the limit will provided near instantaneous response. Yes, Thunderbolt is an emerging standard and to be used with a Mac Pro, that’s one of the standards that someone will have to embrace, but that is no different than the standard of SCSI or PCI that would be inherent within the cabinet. We need to discard the boundaries and limitations of thinkinjg which marry us to the past and think outside the box – or in this case the cylinder.
In the world of technology strategy swings, the cloud and cloud computing offer the next opportunities for going overboard. The same way outsourcing created an extraordinary rush to outsource, sometimes regardless of business value, cloud computing provides the same risks and potential downsides if not approached appropriately and carefully. The use of cloud computing capabilities needs to be added as yet another capability to a full inventory of approaches and evaluated as an option, not as a foregone conclusion.
The challenges of buzz words which permeate first technology, then business and finally general news outlets leads to expectations of the good things associated with the next new thing. With cloud computing hitting the airwaves extensively, the push to embrace the approach becomes the foregone conclusion, rather than another logical option to consider. Technical architecture and its underlying capabilities have long been critical to the strategic delivery of information tools and capabilities in the IT world. Evaluating and incorporating cloud computing capabilities as an appropriate component of an overall architecture makes tremendous sense. Piloting and adding mechanisms by which your team can become knowledgeable about the capabilities makes sense as well. Finally, creating the appropriate financial modeling to assess tradeoffs between internal and cloud investments makes good business sense.
Lastly, don’t miss a critical component of the overall decision life cycle while evaluating cloud options. Always know what potential investments may be needed from a product life cycle perspective and insure that evaluations into options get out in front from a timing perspective.
The debate concerning BYOD or Bring Your Own Device has reached a fever pitch in IT and Corporate arenas. The topic is being brought to a head, not specifically through the personal computer channel as much as through the smart phone channel. Having said that though, the BYOD concept is relevant for the entire population of devices which make an individual productive throughout an entire 24 hour day. What’s at risk as an IT department moves from a tightly controlled, engineered environment where all the pieces are guaranteed to work together to one where multiple components can be interchanged based on the user’s desire? Let’s look at one market dynamic which might be said to be at the heart of the transition.
An interesting observation – it is the seamless, “it always works” aura surrounding Apple products such as the iPhone and MacBook which created the groundswell support for introduction of these into a corporate framework – especially the iPhone. Without engineering these into the IT architecture, the concept of BYOD was introduced because users were unwilling to let go of technology that served them well in their personal lives just because the work day started. Why should I use my iPhone up until 8AM and then switch to a Blackberry since that was my “company issued” device? Especially when my iPhone works so well? The Apple devices tend to work flawlessly because they are engineering in their entirety (engineered hardware, software, manufacturing, distribution, fulfillment AND service) to eliminate any variables which may compromise the customer experience. The concept of introducing these fully closed-loop engineering devices into an environment being asked to “open” the environment leads to some very interesting compromises indeed.
Compromises? Aren’t compromises, or evaluating costs versus benefits within a specific business context a normal course of business dealings? Yes, compromises are a normal part of the business day, they are more than likely dealt with as balancing an ideal course of action against organizational and economic realities. So is BYOD good or bad?
BYOD is good. It gives IT a chance to engage the business to discuss costs, service levels and security. It gives the business the chance to spend less as it allows users more control over devices brought to a corporate environment. It creates an urgency to create a more dynamic governance model – not one where policies and service agreements are set in stone for 5 years, but one where needs and capabilities are discussed on a more frequent basis, with smaller but almost continual adaptations to policy instead of only large changes implemented very infrequently.
Leadership and managing conflicting priorities? Perhaps true leadership anticipates priority conflicts at the time of strategy formulation. When strategic imperatives are at odds, this should be apparent to leadership at the time the strategies are articulated. How about a rule of the roads that establishes a true precedence order in case things aren’t clear cut when the strategy formulators aren’t around. Ok, ok, so things will never be this clean in real life. Effective prioritization is then dependent on extensive communication of strategies and the broadest knowledge of priorities by all constituencies so that at every fork in the road i.e. decision point, the most appropriate decision can be made.