Meet Dick – Contest Winner

We’re 2015, time to meet Dick – contest winner of bad technology choices.Way too many purchasing decisions still seem to be made solely on check box ticking. That and a Gartner Magic Quadrant that is. Despite truckloads of management, strategy consultants, coaches, management self improvement books for clueless managers & a ton of professional coaches for whatever function you can think in the corporate world of over the past decades. It did not help. What do you expect from that crowd.


Never mind that in most SME’s the choice of technology is best made looking at their specific needs and for a period or 3 to 7 years ( the interval depends on how that business operates). That means current technology with an eye on vNext. Do that to the best of your ability and you’ll have served your business or customers very well.

But the ever lasting check box ticking game during the sales process is still strong. This is the easiest and laziest way of making decisions. When you don’t care about the outcome, why not. After all the harder you work the less you get paid I guess. Add to that the benefit of great CYA. This means we won’t see an end to this practice soon. After all:

  • All check boxes were green, it was the best possible decision.
  • The industry press stated (by regurgitating the original article or report) that the solution we bought is poised to success in this segment over the next 10 years.
  • Other buy it so it must be good

Dick, listen to me. We focus on the success of our own company in the next decade. If some tech company X goes down or doesn’t make it to the fortune 500 its tech just gets replaced and we’re done with it. Heck if they don’t deliver we’ll sew them (or cheaper, they just don’t’ get paid) and replace the solution sooner. That long green check box list will than be evidence in court to prove the deliberate ill intended of your “guidance”. Stupidity is rarely an excuse.

So, seeing this happen, on whatever side of the table, doesn’t to anything to reduce my generally poor impression of the intellectual prowess of the human species. Let’s face it, this practice has the intellectual maturity and relevance of a bunch of a dick-measuring contest. So every now and then when discussions tend to turn that way I’m tempted to suggest everyone whips them out and throws them on the table to be measured with a yard stick.


We can then declare who’s won the Mr. Dick contest and be done with it. Anything to get  the discussion back to what really matters like what suits the real needs the best. You’ll have enough money draining drama around technology projects to avoid anyway, don’t add to it. Check Box ticking solution selection is nothing but sad, lazy stupidity. The only thing that is measured and weighed is the professionalism of the ones engaging in it. Guess what, it has been found lacking. Measuring is important, but knowing what to measure is key.

Don’t tell me “It depends”! But it does!

Ah yes, the consultant’s answer. If you’ve been in working long enough you will have had it happen to you that opening an answer with “It depends” gets you an angry look, eyes being rolled in frustration and a short tempered “don’t give me that consultant crap” sneer. The injustice. First of all I’m not to blame for people hiring lousy “consultants” that hide their lack of skills behind that phrase. Sure you might have been conditioned into thinking it’s code for “I have no clue but I’ll bill you by the hour anyway” but that’s not my problem. Secondly I’m most probably not consulting for those people. There’s no point being a consigliere if they don’t want to listen, let alone if they won’t spend the time needed to explain their needs so I can listen. Most probably they can’t distinguish between valuable advice and expensive advice anyway. People who can’t see the difference are not observing very well as the distinction is crystal clear.

I’m always a bit disappointed when it happens. You’ll have to grow up an live with the fact that a lot of things are a bit more complex. If you don’t have the time to explain yourself or the intention to listen to someone you have asked to provide the best possible answer you have two options:

1. Do whatever you want to do (you have already decided)

2. Ask me to decide for you. In the absence of a clear cut answer I’ll just flip a coin for you and call it. As least that’s cheap and efficient.

When I tell you “it depends” I will gather as much information from you as I can.  I will also explain my answers and go into (great) detail as to the why, where, what and when of this. This can take some time and it can/will require effort due to complexities. It’s not code for “I don’t know” of “go away”. In my experience people who hate the “It depends” answer are the ones who don’t really want it. They quit at that opening sentence. Do engage and you might get the best possible advise from it in regards to your particular situation. With that in hand you can investigate further and work to the best possible solution for your needs in your environment.

Got it? Good.

Predictions for 2015? You asked, we deliver but only if you have sense of humor!

I got quite a few requests to share some mind musing on trends and deliver some predictions for 2015.  You’d think Warren Buffet would make more sense as the person to ask but what do I know.


Luckily Andreas offered me his second hand palantir for sale …


So now, together with my splendid sense of humor we have what we need for a blog post so here we go:

The big 4 resources & cloud


Ever more (and bit faster) at a steady but slow pace but with latency dips as a bummer. As long as the other resources don’t push it forward this will continue. And this is starting to happen. They need to kick into action with more capacity and way higher speeds, lower latencies and less power consumption or they’ll become the bottle neck in a few years time. So that’s a an easy roadmap for the industry, so make it happen and don’t bother me with those pesky technical details (sorry, management training kicked in).


TCP/IP & Ethernet … the old breed … well they’re going strong and brave. 10Gbps, 40Gbps, 100Gbps … Look, generally speaking, if you renew you data center networking today (as you think public cloud can’t handle it all yet) and 10Gbps is not a major or even the default player I don’t know what to tell you anymore. Love what Mellanox has done so far. Some issues with the quality of other vendors worry me some times.

FC … it will be around. Just a even less dominant. FCoE? I see very little of it in the wild. iSCSI yes, even lossless iSCSI (DCB). NFS is doing well, SMB3 keeps growing (and people will make some mistakes learning the technology). Infiniband? Well the low cost is a major benefit still and if they could have 300 or 500Gbps in place before Ethernet get’s there … it will be around in the future.

Oh and iWarp wise Chelsio needs competitors that rock and drive down prices or I’ll keep doing RoCE where ever I can, even if it’s harder (DCB configs remain a learning curve).

IPv6 will keep growing  … but not as fast at it should unless something really weird happens in enterprises.


Intel will remain dominant for some years but the landscape is changing.  Bar some innovative attempts under way the fight for the PC/Server CPU is not raging anymore. Intent is nice for the prosecution or defense at a trial, not for success in the market place. 2015 is not going to be major shift in compute but it’s an interesting space to watch.


Prices will drop more and more and that will mean the SAN in combination with flash will fight on a bit longer. Some hyper converged solutions need better and easier manageability to prove them selves worthy. Also I’d love to see flash only storage, for IOPS/latency but also for power/cooling. Give me 6TB SSD for archival & backups, & fast 1TB disks for that can handle huge amounts of read/write for speed. When they get to a price point where this becomes feasible I’ll be the first in line. Basically breaking the price barrier is key here and it matters a whole more to me that the SAN/Web Scale/Hyper Converged discussion. If the new players can start addressing their weakness (i.e. stop bashing SANs for their weaknesses but learn from their strengths) they’ll move faster to a better market position. Data protection, replication, centralized ease of management etc. It took the classical SAN storage world 15 years to get to good general solutions (not great ones) and I think the web scale (I don’t like that name), hyper converged  will need some time to get their act together in those areas. They tend to focus a lot on their strengths but they have some very annoying operational weak spots in my humble opinion. I hate data silos. I want data to be able to move & flow to where I want it. Mobility is key. Either storage delivers this or the hypervisor will.

The good news is storage vendors are under pressure to deliver ever more value / $ and that’s a good thing for us customers.

Software Defined Anything

Work in progress. It’s a journey. Most software defined pundits will have to deal with the fact that reliable and predictable hardware is not to be taken for granted when you dive into layering offloads on top or with each other and into ever more layers of abstraction and functionality. Humble pie: hardware vendors delivering quality seem to do more that just wield a soldering iron Smile


  • Public Cloud => for the win!
  • Hybrid cloud => depends on you definitions & business but it’s strong and can be very useful when done well for the right reasons.
  • Private Cloud => think very carefully if you have the scale, need and if it makes sense and really delivers value.

The Vendors

IBM will slowly but surely dump all hardware(bar some golden chicken varieties) and focus on expensive services, business consulting, overpriced refurbished job site pick up “consultant” pimping & the newer markets of the IoT. I get that, no use in trying to win the previous war.

HP will cost cut itself into oblivion a bit more in 2015. Only interesting piece of kit they have right now is moonshot and, forgive me, I don’t think it will be that hard for anyone to make a similar solution that’s better. Look at what CISCO UCS did to the server business. I do wonder in what manner the split my give us a surprise or will it be a non event?

Dell needs more visibility. I hope that while they are off many people’s radar screens they’re hard at work to surprise us in the next years. If they can remain profitable they might just become the gold standard of OEM hardware as the others have left or failed & the low end is picked up by the budget players. They do need to watch those.

Oracle? Oracle has been dead to me a decade ago. Unless you have their RDBMS & 3rd party solutions on top that are over priced & underwhelm (SAP,  …) in place and your stuck throwing money at them. You should have learned a lesson from IBM mainframe customers but you didn’t.

Google. Profitable as can be I guess. I love their search mojo but I do not trust any of their offerings. I only use it for low value and throw away use cases. They’re not trustworthy enough for me.

Apple. Overpriced, under delivering hardware. A tax on stupid people with a magnificent glossy wrapper. But they have a truckload of cash and they might wake up and pull the IoT thingy with IBM off in the enterprise.

Amazon. Top notch cloud shop and that’s the problem. Can they sustain the war of attrition with Microsoft or Google? I’m afraid they won’t be able to.

On the whole 2015 will be another step in ever less vendors taking ever more pieces of the cake. Bad for competition, innovation & the customer in the end. The IT world is looking more and more like the energy market. Nobody but the money men like ‘m, but we can’t live without them. Just like telcos.

“They barely make a profit” you say? If so they’re either incompetent or they are so in love with hoarding ever more money that they confuse that with their main business, supplying a commodity service. So let’s hope the cloud doesn’t end up there, but I’m not betting on it.

Just like with telcos the barrier to entry is too big for meaning full competition, bar some superb initiatives like

B4RN Logo Logo

Even a large telco cannot compete in cloud offerings on a serious level. Look at this gem to proof this.


Microsoft. Well there in an ever lasting fight for survival today and for their future as all companies are. Nadella is wicked smart and seems to have a positive effect and a clue. Let’s hope that continues. With some smarter licensing and some honey they could grab more of the competitors market and make up for it in volumes, but if they don’t have to they won’t, after all they’re in business to make money.

Businesses & Organizations

What will most organizations do in 2015? Some will thrive, a lot will be stagnant and try to maintain status quo or at least keep up appearances. Some will dig deeper and deeper down the hole they’re already in.

The good

Switched on companies figured out long ago it not of matter of what to use. It’s where and why. You can use everything available on the marketed form commodity to custom designed as long as you use it where it makes a difference. Use what you need for the job at hand. Not all jobs and situations require the same tools or methods. That’s why the arsenal of known (commodity) and secret (innovative) tools is so diverse & big. The “secret” sauce is having a clue. Those are the business where you can work, have fun, learn and grow.

The bad

A lot don’t have a clue. So lacking the secret sauce they buy what’s on the shelf labeled “great & proven track record”. Meaning they’ll cut costs more than anything else. This one is very popular. It’s easy and measurable. Especially if you don’t look at the holistic result and are very careful to only measure what constitutes savings and smooth talk runaway costs as a more mature, complete & professional solution where under deliverance is a “growing pain’.

The ugly

We’ll see people copy game books from the last wars & hope to build for the future while destroying it. Inertia will do it’s corrosive work, destroying capital, time & motivation driving them into a downward spiral of ever more costs for ever less return as the usual suspects blame culture & disengaged employees.

Some will even manage to show up with a dreadnought in a modern conflict  because literature states that outgunning the opponents battle ships is key in winning battles. Never mind it’s an air battle, as long as it ITIL compliant, there’s a service catalog & CMDB. It all reminds me of children playing “war”. Whilst I realize that keeping you inner child alive is important, this is not what they mean by that.

Final note

I think this blog post just graduated me as a IT journalist of some kid Winking smile

Dilbert Life Series: Mediocrity Kills aka Show Me Your Strategy Or Be Doomed

Disclaimer: The Dilbert® Life series is a string of post on corporate culture from hell and dysfunctional organizations running wild. This can be quite shocking and sobering. A sense of humor will help when reading this. If you need to live in a sugar coated world were all is well and bliss and think all you do is close to godliness, stop reading right now and forget about the blog entries. It’s going to be dark. Pitch black at times actually, with a twist of humor, if you can laugh at yourself.

“Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity trust upon them.”
― Joseph Heller, Catch-22

I don’t do mediocre. There, I said it. I only do good to great. Well sort of Smile.  The point is that no matter how good you are, you still mess up. While perfection is not of this world it doesn’t look too great on my résumé when I have to write “As a real team player I collaborated enthusiastically to achieve mediocrity”. Sure I might cover it up with fluff like “I integrated the lateral dynamics of horizontally deployed technologies across a vertically integrated stack to realize an optimal use of resources exposing their inherent value to the business while leveraging the synergies of the cloud”, but I won’t. image

As no one likes to be mediocre we sometimes see creative attempts to make sure we all pass the bar but we won’t discuss that here. Whilst every organization will have its share of mediocre processes, way too many are mediocre as an entire organization.

Indicators of mediocrity

Claiming to be innovative

Avoiding mediocrity is not about being original or “innovative” all of the time. Quite the opposite! Sometimes not being mediocre means using plain good commodity solutions that are great for the issue at hand. The good old 80/20 rule, “good enough is good enough” & commoditization delivers the best value for money here. Don’t spend vast amounts of money and time on custom or “boutique” solutions when a commodity will do. This has secondary benefits as well. That time and money can be used for some custom or creative design & work on the things that do matter a lot and make a big difference.

Groups providing false security

For some reasons mediocrity tends to flourish more often in groups and committees. I see this way too much. This danger of sliding into mediocrity exists as an individual but it seems to become more prevalent in a group or organization. Some of my peers call the “this the race to the bottom”:

”Mediocre people working for mediocre organizations delivering mediocre results”

Nobody wants to be that way, it just turns out like that. It has many reasons. The Peter Principle, The Dilbert Principle, B People hiring B people, human behavior in an environment where it’s wiser to conform & play politics than to get results etc. Don’t underestimate the group pressure to conform, avoid mistakes, be a team player or a “can do” person. And then there is the desire to avoid responsibility. Which also happens to be easier in group. The bigger the group in a meeting the bigger the risk of this, a group enforces indecisiveness & caters to fears.

Some organizations tolerate and even reward mediocrity. Management lead by example, whether they like it or not. The effects of this can be partially hidden and mitigated by real leadership in the group (competent employees, highly skilled external help), but it cannot be stopped. If management doesn’t care, they can’t expect others to care. If managers talks about team work & going the extra miles but don’t do so themselves, things break. If the need for safety, fear for failure or not looking good is what drives them you won’t progress & see success. Success cannot be bought and you can’t lead from behind.

Mediocre groups can be manipulated quite easily. “Politicians” like this. It’s like water following the path of least resistance. By leveraging the group you make them accomplices and they can’t complain about decisions made over their heads. Some (most) probably know all to well that they are being manipulated, but why struggle if there is no benefit in it? It safer to conform a when risk aversion sets in, great ideas die. Here’s a beautiful summary (thanks to Kathy Sierra):


Avoiding reality is game we all play to some extent. The abuse of best practices, methodologies and such by clinging to time like a life craft or actually thinking that following the bullet points will magically result in stellar results. This leads to needing ever more resources for ever diminishing returns on investment. The organization becomes an overly complex entity where avoiding responsibility is a top priority and perception is everything. ITIL done wrong will achieve exactly that. It drains the all the fun out of work, and grinds progress to a halt. But no one is to blame as all rules where adhered to. Risk Avoidance As a Service (RAAS™).

Personal note: The power of a group lies in the excellence of the individuals and their ideas. Harvesting those to create the best possible solution is far from conformity to different points of view. It’s about leveraging the discussions, the different or opposite points of view to come to better solutions. In this respect I find the view that “people should learn to do what they’re told” misguided, dangerous & counter productive.

Who’s managing and who’s leading, if anyone?

It doesn’t take very long to walk into a group and observe who the real leaders are. Often these are not the people with the rank, title, mandate. In a lot of cases they are very different persons. This might sound great as a fail safe, but there’s only so many wrongs bottom up approaches can prevent or mitigate, let alone solve. “Bottom up” can only do so much.

This isn’t surprising as middle management is used a dumping ground for people they can do without in critical functions and are willing to sell their souls for the illusion of advancement. They often become a burden to employees & progress.

Now employees do notice this and it ruins trust. Sure you can blame the culture and bad attitude but hey when the team or the organization fails it is their fault and their responsibility. No this is not to harsh. They are all to eager to claim higher wages & ownership of success. Well that knife has two edges and you can’t blame it on the culture. You get the culture you cultivate Smile. Those that can’t handle that responsibility are the ones to fail as managers & most certainly as leaders. You cannot complain to your subordinates as a managers. Shit flows down, gripes flow up. Go it?

Read The Dilbert Life Series – A Bad Manager’s Priorities. Your personnel already has enough crap to deal with, just like you. Don’t add to it. Not that employees can’t be total fools and pains in the proverbial behind but hey, I have posts on that to.

Strategies, Tactics & Execution

Mediocrity is seen where real strategies, tactics & execution are missing. They just do or buy stuff, often without any understanding of the ecosystems they operate in and the relations between them. Their situational awareness is zero and that’s deadly. So we have “managers”, “architects”, “analysts”, both in house and consultants, that cannot even explain what a strategy is. They might claim or believe to have one, but they don’t. It’s opportunistic actions towards the flavor of the day. Such an organization is doomed for mediocrity and survival is by chance, not skill.

Who’s to blame?

Most people just try to survive or perhaps get ahead to a nicer job and/or a better paid one. But no one will admit to it on a performance review, so we have institutionalized lying. At best you’ll get justifications when you ask, but no real explanations. It’s not just as simple as managers being stupid or lazy. When it comes to strategy many are playing a game they don’t understand, let alone master. They are out of their depth and as such they are bound to lose. They’re being used.

However it’s very in vogue to blame the lack of Business – IT alignment for the woes in these volatile IT times. The problem is not IT or the business. It is the entire organization that allows for mediocrity. Sure you read that “IT is an old school ivory tower” all over the internet and it has to prove it’s value.  It’s pure management failure who don’t seem to know who does what and why in their organization. The division is purely artificial. It’s man made and kept alive as it serves political, personal & careerist agenda’s. Book authors, coaches & business consultant smile as they collect their fees discussing this at length. Welcome to mediocrity and failure. You have exactly what you have built.


Nobody has any incentive to fix it either. There is good money to be made and job security to be had by prolonging the problem on both sides. Are these people to blame if some one keeps paying them for that? These woes are true both in the private and in the public sector. Bar some minor detail differences in buzz words they all get handled by the same players. These are the ones that deliver the lobbyists and advisers that turn out ever less services for ever higher costs. They sell “solutions”. One size fits all if possible. Gartner makes a killing from this situation and they do have a clear strategy for that.

No IT strategy? No map? You’re doomed, indecisiveness will kill you.


If you don’t map out your game on the field you play on you can have no strategy. Without that you just do stuff. At best it’s functional (which is an achievement by the way) but often not. Planning, methods, tools … al of these fall victim to indecisiveness. So execution becomes impossible.

Here the result of decisiveness & purpose of action. You create green waves. When all the lights are green, you can ride the green wave. No starting, stopping, but a fluid highly effective way of moving ahead towards your target.



You’re not always in that situation and the light will turn orange & red along the way. That’s live and it’s not too bad unless you get caught in deadlock traffic jams during rush hour.

That situation requires a solution as it’s stressing, frustrating and detrimental to achieving your goals. In extreme case the time between the colors becomes shorter and shorter and eventually drops to zero …

There is another form of deadlock. Doing everything for everyone at the same time to avoid making choices. All the lights are on, on all sides, at all times. You do not get a clear signal or guidance.


Indecisive action kills or grinds you to a halt. Whatever the case you’re losing time and fail to reach your goals. Either by doing everything for everyone at the same time or by being stuck being in a mess. Game over.