A Case of Amnesia
A man walks into a casino in Las Vegas and sits down at a blackjack table. He shares a look with the dealer, a silent acknowledgment of one another. The dealer starts to shuffle and then hands the cards to the player to cut the deck. Inconspicuously, the player gives the dealer another specially shuffled deck and hides the cards he was given.
This scam could cost a casino thousands of dollars within minutes, said Jeff Jonas, distinguished engineer and chief scientist of entity analytic solutions at IBM. Now, what if the player, who is in the casinos Loyalty Club, has the same address and phone number that the dealer has in the payroll system? Having that piece of information could have allowed the casino to prevent the person from playing blackjack or from gambling altogether.
“When an organization misses that, I call that enterprise amnesia,” Jonas said during the IBM Information On Demand conference in Las Vegas.
To Jonas, enterprise amnesia is about companies forgetting either what they know or what should have been known.
After listening to Jonas, I thought about all the other examples of corporate amnesia out there. Then I thought back to a study on data security released earlier this year by the Ponemon Institute. The institute polled 649 IT executives from businesses and governmental organizations in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Of those polled, 16 percent admitted they did not know how many databases their organizations had.
A similar survey of 1,400 IT executives by Datamonitor reported that in addition to the fact that 60 percent of those polled said they experienced a data leak last year, only 6 percent of those who said they didnt could state with certainty they hadnt had a data leak in the past two years. Taken together, these statistics underscore the importance of companies knowing what data rests within the enterprise, where it is, what is being done with it in a given moment and how to leverage it to bring value to the business. IBM officials hope their Information On Demand initiative will shine a light on this issue—and does so before the amnesia sets in too deeply.
Style and Substance
I came to London for the Symbian Smartphone Show in search of the most innovative applications being built for smart phones.
You might say I was looking for both style and substance from developers. When I arrived at the event, put on by Symbian, maker of the Symbian OS for cell phones and devices, there wasnt much going on. But, as is often the case, there were preshow events, and I figured Id go over to the massive Excel London exhibition center to register early and get the lay of the land.
Instead, I walked into a much different exhibition of “style” in the form of the Salon International show. It was a showcase of hair in all shapes, sizes, cuts and colors.
Touted as “one inspirational event,” the show also was billed as “three days of live hairdressing” and “the biggest hairdressing event ever to take place in the U.K.”
The billing wasnt far off the mark. The parking lot outside was full of tour buses that had brought droves of people to the event. Inside, there were buzz cuts, shags, poodle-dos and dye jobs galore. One lad even had his hair cut and dyed to resemble a soccer ball. I was agog at some of the sights, but there was definitely a style about the place.
The next day, when the smart-phone show opened, Nokia—which holds a dominant stake in Symbian and uses Symbian OS on its phones—displayed a bit of style of its own.
Nokia announced that its S60 platform will allow developers to build applications that support touch capabilities, sensor technologies and a complete Web video experience.
The company demonstrated upcoming capabilities for touch-enabled and sensor-driven applications and video, including showing how users can simply tap their phone to silence an alarm. In addition, Nokia and other Symbian licensees announced new devices with plenty of style and substance.
It was a good thing none of my phones worked in London. I have an old candy bar phone (luckily, a Nokia), a flip phone and an old BlackBerry (which did work). To pull any of them out in front of the sleek, powerful new phones used by most people at the show would have been akin to driving an old Chevy Nova into a parking lot full of Bentleys.
Meanwhile, another event at Excel London focused on sustenance for the mobile individual. The Food on the Move show, put on by EasyFairs, catered to purveyors of food for folks in the fast-paced high-tech and services sectors.
“Over the past 20 years, the U.K. fast food market has become increasingly sophisticated and diverse,” read a description of the event on the shows Web site. “People are spending more of their waking hours away from home, whether at work, leisure or commuting, so they eat many of their meals on the move. To help you stay ahead—whether food-to-go is all you do or just a growing part of your offering—we have created the new Food on the Move show.”
I was pretty hungry after a day of nonstop meetings and sessions, but I walked on by the Food on the Move show with booths displaying coolers full of quick, take-away foods and drinks. Instead, I opted for an old-fashioned steak dinner.
—Darryl K. Taft
Page 2: Upfront
ESPN: A Powerful Company
Lots of companies are talking about green IT these days. But some companies are flat-out major power consumers that have to use as much energy as possible to serve their customers. Take ESPN, for example.
The companys sports broadcasts reach 93 million homes from ESPNs headquarters in Bristol, Conn., where about 4,000 people are employed on a campus the size of a small university.
Chuck Pagano, executive vice president and chief technology officer at ESPN, oversees the technology that caters to sports enthusiasts all over the world. Myriad digital media servers are spread out in several equipment rooms at ESPN, crunching feeds from the outside world and sending them off to production rooms before they are packaged as the content we see on television.
Pagano said ESPNs concern is not having enough power because the network requires 100 percent uptime 24/7, 365 days a year. To that end, he has few worries, with ESPN being on a UPS covered by two power grids surrounding Bristol.
John Zehr, senior vice president of ESPN Digital Media Production, is responsible for doing the digital diligence on ESPN.com, which gets about 18 million unique visitors a month and is powered by a data center in Seattle.
“Thats one of the things we actually deal with quite a bit,” Zehr told me. “Power becomes a big issue as you build out these data centers, so were actively looking at ways to shrink our power consumption. In Seattle, were up against a large power and HVAC footprint. It is a real issue, and were trying to get a lot better at it.”
Storage in the Lone Star State
Normally, the fall version of the semi_annual Storage Networking World conference is held in Orlando, Fla. The location was switched to Dallas after last years series of horrendous hurricanes scared the hosts—including the Storage Networking Industry Association—into thinking one of the storms might wreak havoc during the show.
Nonetheless, SNW—the largest storage-only conference, with about 3,000 paying attendees—still was affected by the weather. Lots of storage types flying into and out of Big D the week of Oct. 15 were delayed by thunderstorms, high winds and generally unsettling weather. The sky during the show was so threatening that few visitors took a jog along the beautiful countryside or went for a boat ride on nearby Lake Grapevine.
And, unlike a few weeks earlier at Data Center World, there was no Lyle Lovett to play some good ol country music.
That said, the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center was a pleasant and memorable location for the conference. The place is pure Las Vegas dropped smack-dab onto the shore of Lake Grapevine.
The conference center and the hotel itself are designed around a huge, glass-topped atrium with a lone gold star adorning its center dome. The atrium resembles Disneylands Frontierland, with meandering paths that feature faux saloons, stuffed horses and Indian relics amid the rocky, cactus-filled landscape. I expected Davy Crockett to show me his coonskin hat at any time. The conference itself was only mildly newsy, with Microsoft, Fujitsu and EMC among the few large companies making new product announcements. But the show appeared to be a gold mine for networking, sales deals and journalists plowing the field for future stories.
There were some really nice moments. One of my favorite user stories came from Dr. Fred Vernacchia, medical director at the San Luis Diagnostic Center, in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Vernacchia told me how Agami Systems, a storage vendor in Sunnyvale, Calif., is saving him $107,000 a year on film costs and about $600 a month on his water bill. He is using two Agami boxes to handle all his digital X-rays.
“If I hadnt gotten Agami when I did, I figure Id need a 3,000-square-foot storage room for all the physical X-rays Id have to store,” Vernacchia said. “Im not even factoring in the costs of that space, plus the human resource costs of handling, tagging and filing all the X-rays.”
The water savings come from not having to develop all that analog film. The diagnostic center can forget about dealing with all the photo-development chemicals, too.
“When you have so much film development going on, you just keep the water running and running,” Vernacchia said. “So were really helping save resources, too, with the Agami system.”
So, thanks to the good doctor and Agami, there was a bit of a silver lining under those gray Dallas clouds.
I just completed my civic duty (for the next three years, anyway)—serving as a juror during a medical malpractice trial.
Ive never served as a juror on a trial before. Ive been summoned for jury duty only one other time—almost 20 years ago, when I was in college—and I basically just sat around for hours in a cramped, hot room before I was finally dismissed.
I did a lot of sitting around this time, too, but I noted many differences.
First of all, I was sitting in a brand-new, state-of-the-art courthouse. I had confirmed my ability to serve online, and registration was done in the jury-pool room via networked computers and scanners. (As I remember it, 20 years ago I handed my summons to a man sitting at a high wooden podium with an inkpad and stamp.)
But perhaps the biggest sign of the times was a juror who got in trouble for texting when he wasnt supposed to. The problem, I think, was that the terms “not supposed to” and “texting” just didnt go together for the twentysomething juror.
I dont want to stereotype anyone (and I also dont want to sound like an old fogy—because Im not one), but how many times have you seen a younger person texting through a movie or during a conversation with another person or (worst of all) while driving?
Im not sure where the generational line is drawn. I do know that my 14-year-old daughter texts me from her phone often, and it takes me an inordinately long time to respond to her because Im fumbling with the keys. Nine times out of 10, I respond by calling her, which exasperates her to no end (almost as much as when I insist on using correct spelling, punctuation and grammar in my IMs).
Wait a minute. Maybe I am an old fogy.
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