Monday, December 14, 2009

Capstones were great!

Saturday I went to the GW EMIS Capstones. For those of you not in the know, EMIS is the Executive Masters [MSIST degree] in Information Systems program at the George Washington University's School of Business. The Capstones are like a Thesis Paper that a Master's student would deliver in order to satisfy the requirements of their degree program; the Capstone is a team project. The goal of the project is to deliver a working product with a business plan demonstrating a feasible ROI and expected profitability timelines!

Good work and best of luck to the (fall) class of 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You can call me Dr. Rhoads (one day)

What? Yeah I am going to pursue a PhD to forgo my student loans! All kidding aside, why do I want to pursue a PhD and on what subject?

I am going to do my dissertation on IT Right Staffing. Remember IT is about the people! (Check out the hyper link and read it) The dissertation will focus on designing a functional organizational chart, with the necessary education and skillets of the positions.

I am going to focus on everything from Helpdesks/Service desks to Project Management Offices and everything in between such as Engineering and Operations up through [Enterprise]Architecture. They [Engineering and Operations] are not the same as many non-technical managers seem to believe i.e. Engineers design and Operators operate and fix!

To give you a little idea on what I am doing research on (and writing about): For example, I am going to focus on what an Operator and an Engineer are. An Operator will have some college and certifications as well as a break/fix mindset (hence the cowboy). An Engineer’s mindset should be one of “how do I design this to never break”, they must have a B.S. Computer Science and (should have) a M.S. in Computer Science or Information Systems.

Computer Science degree = techi. Information Systems grads are not techies, they manage them! This is very important to remember when sizing your management and technical teams.

So this is a little taste of what I will be working on. Wish me luck!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Trusting the Almighty Cloud! No, this topic is not about religon, actually it may be --sort of a trip in faith!

Hey followers, I have been off the radar for a while. Happy to say I am back. I've been under a lot of deadlines at work --gotta love SOA applications! Well I won't be talking about SOA, I will be talking its brother, cloud computing. I was reading an article about a trip into the secret, online cloud.

A guy from San Jose, CA wanted to know what this magical cloud was. So he started asking some questions and eventually toured an IBM datacenter. He was amazed, yet came away with some valid questions and concerns. What happens to the data? What if IBM closed its doors? Is it secure? What if a datacenter goes offline? I guess good faith in a cloud provider is needed....

He brought up some interesting points. As I work in the Government, there has been talk of using the cloud. Actually we would have to build our own cloud and have government entities give up their data and applications in order to drop them into the cloud. Maybe build a GSA cloud and put things like HR, benefits, payroll, and etc into a GSA backed cloud. Now the other federal departments are going to ask the same questions: What happens to my data if contracts change and we go to another datacenter? How long do you keep historical data? Who has access to that data? Is the GSA cloud secure? What if lightning strikes the building? Lots of questions and the "trust me" answer may not get a lot of air play!

What I'd like to see besides a datacenter tour, is the business model. In addition, I'd like to see the service level agreements, security plans, security measures, uptime statics, data management, and etc.

Granted the blinking lights are cool, I just need to see the guy behind the curtain!

P.S. check out the article in the hyper link above.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

LPAR information

So I thought LPARS started back in the 1980's. Apparently they started back in the 1960's, who knew :)

Here is an email I recieved from a reader of my blog:

Jerry,

Here’s the response I got back from the mainframe folks at IBM. Pretty interesting history…virtualization/lpar’s can be traced back to 1960!

In early 1960, IBM used an internal tool call CP-67 to create virtual systems to test S/370, a predecessor of z/OS. The tool eventually became a commercial product in 1972, VM/370. After many iterations of VM/370, in the early 1980s, Poughkeepsie baked the assembler code of VM into "machine code" (we now call it microcode) such that it ran much closer to the hardware.

This was to reduce the already single digit overhead of VM and create LPARs at the machine level as opposed to create LPARs at the OS level. So the LPAR code in z and p today can trace their genealogy to CP-67. If I equate virtual machines to LPARs, then the use of "LPAR" really started in the 1960's when CP-67 was used internally in IBM as a test tool. Commercially, LPAR started in 1972 when VM/370 was announced and LPARs were created at the OS level. LPAR at the machine hardware level started in the late 1980s when Poughkeepsie shipped 3090 that had the ability to configure a physical box into multiple LPARs.

--Removed PII data as you never know who will read this!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Datacenters = Today's Mainframe?

I have often spoken of how I love the green screen! Nostalgia aside, a mainframe computer was (and still is) a scalable solution, if you needed to run more programs you cut out another logical partition also known as a LPAR. LPARs were first used on old systems like the IBM ESA/390 circa mid 1980’s. Eventually you had to add more processors, memory, and disk space to your mainframe –alas buy it by the drink!

I often hear this phase; buy it by the drink. I often wonder what it really means. In looking to the past, I know this task was accomplished with mainframes. Every CIO that I know of wants to employ the “buy the drink” idea. Question is how do their direct reports develop a solution and execute that solution? I think this is going to require some thinking out of the box. Cloud computing or grid computing is a solution for a "buy it by the drink" requirement.

The boundary of a system should be the datacenter, inside it is chuck full of storage, processors, and memory. Google takes one 62u cabinet full of Linux Servers and they operate as one logical system. Imagine rows and rows of these machines operating as one super computer, one system. Google has taken the datacenter and transformed it into one computing system. Furthermore Google has developed multiple datacenters that load balance and provide Disaster Recovery to their computing enterprise.

When you step back and look at this concept, it seems very simple. The challenge is that many CIO shops are stuck in a paradigm. The paradigm is as follows:
Outsource the datacenters
Dictate architectural standards i.e. no virtualization, separate systems etc.
Imagine going to Outback and demanding to see your food getting cooked or telling the cook what pot to cook it in! Bottom line, keep out of the kitchen and let the service provider serve up your apps.

In order for cloud computing to work, the vendor needs to deliver a service model. They need to deliver it like a menu, for instance the Outback Special costs X and an “add on” lobster tail will cost X more (I think I am hungry for Outback). From my point of view there is a ton of money to be made with cloud computing, Google is already doing it. When someone can figure out how to deliver this concept to the Federal Government, they (and their company) will become very rich.
Here is the paradigm that needs to be broken:
1. Who cares about the hardware (Servers, switches, storage)
2. Who cares about virtual versus physical hardware
3. Yes, the cloud can be secured to FISMA standards

Build it and they will come, or if you are in the government –bid it and they will come!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

MobyApp is gonna launch soon!


I am starting my new company, MobyApp LLC. Look for My Fitness Buddy and The Bar Hop from Captain Ahab --MobyApp. Here is a screen shot showing my dabble with the iPhone SDK!

Monday, July 20, 2009

iPhone cannabis application is pot-ty

Apple just approved an iPhone application which lets users find their nearest CANNABIS dealer has been approved by Apple.
Simply named CANNABIS, the $2.99 app lets users search by city for their nearest medical cannabis suppliers, doctors, clinics, lawyers and other relevant organisations.

Also while checking for CANNABIS, I came across the CALIFORNIA HERBAL CAREGIVERS (CHC) application. This app goes for $ .99 and boasts it " allows you to obtain your weed in a legal, medical, and convenient fashion". Plug in your zip code and/or search by city and you will be linked up with one of 700 Medical Dispensaries.

Wow, I could say something, but I will not! But I will say there are a lot of apps out there --I better get busy on mine.

"And that's the way it is" -Walter Cronkite 1916-2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Jerry's thought of the day is: "technology will not solve your people problems"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Funny and Scary, AFL-CIO Hard Hats made in China

AFL-CIO Hard Hats

The AFL-CIO is passing around these hard hats today to every office on Capitol Hill. Check out where they're made, China! Check out the a the story here AFL-CIO Hard Hats. I think this is pretty sad, a union telling people to buy American and yet they bought a product made in China. As I read the story, I paged down to read the associated blog. All I can say is wow! I have included some of the posts in order to make some comments.
Here is a comment from We Made a Mistake and he writes:

"What hypocrisy. 50 years ago the U.S. was the world leader in machine tools, electronics, steel, autos and aircraft. The unions destroyed all of them with their demands, demands, demands and never compromising demands. I am going to be amused at watching them along with President Narcissist destroy Chrysler and GM. My guess is, even after destroying them, they will blame Bush....anyone but themselves. Sounds just like a liberal's way of thinking."
Another posted by Yo How Is It Working writes:

"Ya - I guess Unions are to blame - not the fact that we have sold off all of America's manufacturing base and sold our souls in order to get the cheapest products from 3rd world countries paying $.50 per hr to workers just so we can save a buck. Look at our economy - how is it working out so far folks! But you keep blaming the few American middle class workers that get a fair wage and benefits - we should all work for Wal-Mart and Mickey D's and sell crap from China - There's a plan huh!"
Lastly I will paste in Sparks comments:

"You people are lost. Yes there are bad and good in unions but every American can thank the unions for living wages and health care. Have they gone to far? Yes in some cases but unions are for and by the employees. You blame the unions but the employees are the unions they vote the contracts not the union reps. Should a CEO make 100 mil a year while his employee makes min wage. I think not. Greed at the highest levels has caused this country's problems not the unions."

For those of you who read the full article, you have read the negative comments against Unions and against Corporate America. You know what? They are both right and they are both wrong. These days the Unions are headed by Corporate Executives (and Lawyers) who have a similar work ethic of those from AIG --greed. It is my opinion that difference between a Billionaire and a Millionaire are the bragging rights! Hence there is plenty of money to go around!
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I believe corporate executives should make millions, provided they made the millions for their company --i.e. bring something to the table. Anybody can perform layoffs, keep the lights on and overwork their workforce to turn a profit --it is not rocket science! I wouldn't pay that kind of person more than 100K.
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However, it is hard, very hard to change a company from bankruptcy to profitability without innovation and change. I think unions can be part of the profitability strategy to change a company's fortune. Unions can change and they can help bring the industry back to America.
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As you know, I always say, IT is about the people. This holds true for any industry! Some say Unions had their place i.e. workers rights, safety, fair wages and etc. Well times have changed and I don't see the sweat shops of the 19th century returning any time soon.
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Unions need to change with the times, upping the ante every time the union contract is up for vote --isn't working. Corporations will not tolerate it and they are moving overseas. Just as we need to pay executives their true worth, we need to pay labor its true worth. The point I am trying to make, is if you want to make $75 an hour in labor or millions in management --earn your keep and bring something to justify the dollars. Let's make unions competitive and hold the workers accountable.
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Unions need to stop protecting the problem children, fire them and move on! (Same holds for bad executives) Unions need to find a ways to meet labor shortages when the economy is booming. They should act almost like a contractor putting their best employees forward (not saying all contractors do). I think unions can be part of the solution, not the problem.
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Lastly, corporate boards need to limit executive compensation. Remember it is people who put a company's health at risk, and it is people from both sides of the bargaining table who can fix the company. Let's fix industry before we are all unemployed.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Job of CIO

The CIO roles have changed over the last 2 decades and the number of corporate CIO’s are increasing. The CIO's job roles and responsibilities have been shifting from the paradigm of technical business (data processing) to the role of “knowledge” management. CIOs are at the center of the reengineering that is taking place in global economy. The job of the CIO has been redefined from IT technical planning and implementation to corporate strategic planning. Today’s CIO incorporates a holistic approach to the IT function to ensure seamless delivery and support for the company’s business strategy. In addition to the traditional CIO job responsibilities, the CIO now manages business process streamlining and restructuring; negotiates smart outsourcing agreements, and finds innovative ways for IT to advance the business objectives of the company through technology. CIOs are building relationships with their senior management teams, and they are adding value to their organizations versus the day to day operations and the management financial systems.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I.T. is about the Management

Last month I graduated from GW and the celebration was on the mall. It was awesome, now what do I do with this piece of paper? True I learned some new skills and I've sharpened others. But now what?

Well let’s figure out how to use it. As I often say, IT is about the people --true the technology is cool. Yet the people will MAKE or BREAK the technology and in the end, the CIO will pay the price. The challenge in any field is managing your people. I've have come to find out there are 2 types of managers --micromanagers and hands off managers. Both of these can be successful, but often times they are not. Here is why.

Let's look at the "micromanager". The micromanager has his/her hands in everything. All decisions come from the top. If the micromanager heads a small department, this concept will work. Granted they will upset their employees and may find a revolving door in terms to staffing. I believe the cause of micromanagement is the fact that the manager does not know how to trust their staff. They believe that they know everything and they are the only one who can do the job. The micromanager finds himself/herself spread too thin. Projects fail and the CIO’s shop looks incompetent. Maybe the micromanager should be an employee, not a manager! A true manager can motivate and empower their people to get the job done!

Now here is the dilemma. Is this staff incompetent? If so how to get them competent? Is the manager competent, i.e. can he/she see the big picture and explain it and delegate it to their staff? I could go on all day about the cures. Bottom line is that the manager cannot be everywhere and must be more hands off. The manager needs to empower the employees to be his/her representative.

The hands off manager will empower their people. Empowerment will allow employees to own the process. I use empowerment to grow my employees. My focus is on being the best manager they can be. When they shine, I shine. Empowerment is awesome, and it has its draw backs.

The draw back is if the manager doesn’t understand his/her people and their required skill sets. Just a micromanagers getting too involved, hands off managers who do not understand the limitations and motivations of employees will cause projects to fail. Gather up enough failures and the manager will be unemployed or forced to become the dreaded Micromanager!

To avoid becoming the micromanager, interview your employees and most importantly, understand their career goals. If a person you manage wants to do your job, don’t be threatened – you have the opportunity mentor and train your replacement!

Micromanagement in any industry is bad! It stretches a manager too thin and it exposes weakness – i.e. projects fail. Empowerment without knowledge is worse than micromanagement –often it leads to micromanagement. When managers understand the wants and the needs of employees and then use empowerment to build employees --projects will succeed and organizations will flower!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

iPhone 3.0 UPDATE

Hi all,

Looks like there will be a new iPhone afterall. The new phone will be called the iPhone 3G S. It will be faster, come with a 3 mega pixel camera, and can take video. Just to think I just bought a 3G two months ago!

Monday, June 8, 2009

iPhone 3.0 is coming!

Hey All,

I know it has been a while since I blogged. I've been busy! Working on starting a new company to develop mobile applications. My first venture will be in the iPhone arena. Been busy learning ObjC, Cocoa, and X-code. Just wanted to drop you (all) a note. Should have a new iPhone application out by August, been slacking off for the summer!

Now on to my title, the iPhone 3.0 is coming! Apple has been quiet in regards to new hardware, thank the gods --just bought a new 3G. The old iPhone will be used developing my apps. I have to say the old iPhone is (in my opinion) more sturdy and easier to type on (the old iPhone was longer). Maybe I will get used to it as I used the old one for 2years. The new iPhone 3.0 software should have many new goodies, such as cut and paste, bluetooth and usb tethering (the code is there, idk if it will be turned on), and the camera takes clearer pictures.

Happy Summer!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I feel like blogging! Social Networks anyone?

Question is what to write about today? I've been checking out other CTO/CIO blogs such as CTOvision and Paul's NJVC Blog. Plenty of good articles on these blogs.

Today I feel like blogging on the values of Social Networking. I heard once (at work), what's next FaceBook for the boss? Well, Hell yeah!!! So I've been thinking what value would social networking bring to my job.

Well if I were in the big seat (the CIO), this would be a good way for me to be "in the know" about my organization. The CIO doesn't have the time to hang with the troops (even though I know he wants to). I feel that information gets distorted as it is passed up --I am not saying this is intentional, but it happens. Social Networking can help, blogs can help share the information in its raw and direct form versus getting information to the boss 3rd and 4th hand.

Corporate Social Networks will be the "go to" place to find the status of a project or what went wrong or right with a project. This information can be searched on via a tagged subject and the information will be provided to the boss. This will reduce email traffic and email resources! Big $$$$$ can be saved!

Furthermore Corporate Social Networking can be an information sharing tool between divisions within an organization. Imagine publishing an online new employee guide. In this guide you can provide information about your division such as org charts, lines of responsibilities etc. It can contain lists of projects and their dependents. How about a welcome to the company/employee guide with restaurants listings, dry cleaners, drug stores, day care, parking and etc. Imagine being able to provide information provided by Yelp or Zagat to describe these places?

Now why is a new employee guide important? Keeps morale up with new employees, new jobs can be stressful. Reduces OJT (on the job training) time and reduces paper –i.e. you don't need a new employee guidebook. Social Networking will create a common culture throughout the agency or corporation --this fact may improve productivity.

So for my final thought…… Social Networking can be a way to reduce paper (hopefully), reduce unnecessary email traffic/storage, create a common culture, breakdown barriers between divisions/workgroups, and facilitate correct information to the executive management team. The big question is who is going to use it? And will they use it? Imagine spending a million dollars on a party and no body came. So before going out buying a social network product, think about these two questions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

For our weekly chuckle - RAMAC Disk drive 1956


CAN YOU GUESS WHAT'S IN THE BOX BEING LOADED ON THE AIRCRAFT?

It's a hard disk drive (HDD) in 1956...with 5 MB storage.In September 1956 IBM launched the 305 RAMAC, the first computer with a hard disk drive.

The HDD weighed over a ton and stored 5 MB of data. Appreciate your 8 GB memory stick!



Thursday, January 29, 2009

IT is About the People!

On thing I have found in the world, is that people are necessary. People are the root cause in everything we do. They are why we go to work. They are why we come home from work. Heck, we encounter many of them on the way to work --some of them not so nice!

In the IT world, they are the doers. However it is important to understand the basic concepts in managing them. What is a technical person? Ask around and you will get answers ranging from, someone who can make their iPod work, works on the helpdesk, performs desktop support, defines IT rules and governance, IT Security personnel, System Administrators and System Engineers/Network Engineers. The list is tremendous.

So why am I talking about this? Well how many times has your email gone down or blackberry acted up? Was it the machine or its software that failed? In most cases it the problem can be traced back to a person. The person didn't design the system with your needs in mind, or something as simple as not checking the system's logs to identify a potential problem. Often this happens because the wrong person was put in the wrong job. "Oh he is technical, he can make his iPod download music from iTunes!" "Oh she knows computers she is on the helpdesk!" Here is where the problem lies --both with IT managers and non IT managers.

This problem is very complex, even when staffing your IT organization. Management needs to know the difference between the iPod guy, the Administrator, the Engineer, and the Architect --never mind what a senior level employee is [in their respected area].

The biggest focus should be on the Architect; an Architect needs to be business savvy and must know all facets of IT (Systems and Infrastructure). The Architect should have an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, or Management Information Systems and a Masters degree in IT Management or an MBA with a focus on technology. Architects work hand in hand with the CIO to define the Enterprise Architecture and align the various IT groups to it.

Next we have the Engineer, be it Systems or Network. This person should be a seasoned IT veteran. They should approach every requirement or problem with a "YES WE CAN" attitude. They have no fear of engaging vendors or other Engineers while researching a project. They are proactive versus reactive. They use MS Project versus a helpdesk ticketing system to manage tasks. This is the kind of person who takes the TV apart to see how it works. They need to know how their products work versus simply knowing how to operate them. They should have an undergrad degree in Management Information Systems or Computer Science. Additionally they should hold current certifications in their product(s) (MSCE, MCSD, CCIE, CISSP, and etc). Certs are not the end all, however they compliment a degree and the keep engineer's skills up todate.

Lastly we have the Administrator, they are like the power users --they keep the lights going. They should exist on the helpdesk and/or provide onsite support. They should not be confused with engineers. However they can become one; provided they set goals (education and experience related) and accomplish these goals. Generally they understand how a system should work in ideal conditions, they do not know what is under the hood. They should hold certifications in the systems they support (MCSA, CCNA, and etc). No degree is required, however encouraged for corporate growth.

Now that I have explained my views on the Administrator, Engineer, and the Architect, I will define how to identify them. In the IT world, we have Administrators selling themselves off as Sr. Engineers. Guess what --they get hired for the job. This becomes a problem when the CIO tries to encourage the Engineers into thinking outside the box –an Administrator can not do this. They can't because they don't understand what is in the box --they just know that a box is a square. That is why their answer to a problem is to reboot, an Engineer will reboot and then he or she will find the root cause. Furthermore when an Engineer designs a system, they ensure unplanned reboots/downtime will not occur. An Engineer's main focus should be on uptime, and how to make systems run as close to 100% as possible.

The above holds true when an Engineer tries out for Architect position. An Architect sees the big picture because they have played in many boxes --i.e. they wore many hats. An Engineer who only knows Systems (programmer/DBA) or Infrastructures (Servers, routers, cables) cannot fit the bill as an Architect. However, they can cross train and meet the educational requirements , set a goal ,or list of goals, to become an Architect.

The above is very important [to me] because in order to build a World Class IT organization, you have to build the foundation. That foundation is the people. Put the right people in the right job. [Then] Design the overall architecture and align it to your people and your business.

My two cents!

Friday, January 9, 2009

I feel like Blogging

Hmmmm...soooo much to say! Well now that I have all this time, what will I do? As you know I am a techie of sorts (nah really EMIS Techies?), and I love to use FaceBook and MySpace --well mostly FaceBook. I plan to make my millions off social networking and I have two ideas in the pot (not going to post them just yet). Besides have to work on the NDA's and other stuff with my attorney. That reminds me I need to call her so I can get out of the ticket that I got on the last day of class. Hey EMIS 18 remember my 79 in a 55 reckless driving ticket? So anyways back to whatever the hell I am talking about....Social Networking!

Social Networking is great, it is a Web 2.0 technology that you are using right now by reading my blog! WOW!! I like FaceBook because I can tie my blog and the other components of my [online] life into one place. FaceBook can even help with my "dating" activities. One app in particular, "Are You Interested" is pretty handy. However be warned, it is like singles night at the [insert bar name here] lots of different people out there. Being the social Juggernaut (Libra) I am, I love to meet people and don't expect anything from it. However when did we as human beings cease to be human beings? Why am I posting this on my techie blog?

Well here is the scoop. I was just defriended on FaceBook by an "online friend" (well she is not my friend anymore,LOL). I don't know why as she will not return my calls or text messages. Her loss, not mine --sorry if that sounds arrogant...actually I am not :(. However in the business world we do the same things in regards to behavior. When did email become the norm and the phone become nonexistent.

How did IM and email replace the water cooler chats? We have become just as siloed at work as we are at the malls. How can we use technology at work and still keep that human feeling? Working in a CIO's shop, I have found [that] we are very siloed i.e. we do not talk to each another! Who can blame others for not engaging us [for their IT needs], when we will not engage each other. Maybe we need to start picking up the phone or taking a walk into someones office. Maybe we could take a note from the smokers as they speak to each other while on break!

Who knows, technology is a good thing --however it is not the end all be all! If you have something to say, say it --don't hide behind a computer!