Diary of an Asian Swing: Day 5

Second day of Singapore meetings. APJ market conversations with IT vendors, watching the emergence of big data here. Seeing activity in the field is always a fascinating counterpoint to the briefings and conferences back home. But the big data phenomenon is surprisingly rapid. Certainly the user conversations have been similar in some ways to those I have in North America, but the players and the details have not made their way here. Yet, we met with a government-funded think tank, building IP for an aggressive thrust into new business opportunities. Different from Silicon Valley think tanks, but no less intriguing – or aggressive.

Capper to the day was dinner with two colleagues in a neighborhood crab restaurant. I have enough opportunities for fine cuisine, but this was a chance to let our hair down, eat like normal people and talk about the day. And Singapore cuisine is unique and marvelous. A wonderful evening and back to the hotel. Next day: Kuala Lumpur.

Diary of an Asian Swing: Day 4

Halfway across the world you go to breakfast and see a neighbor is in your hotel too. How often does it happen? Today I saw an SAP colleague I worked with two decades ago at Sybase – and his colleague, with whom I’ll meet while in Singapore. Great start to the day.

This day was all business. Met several Gartner clients to talk Big Data (since that was my billing.) Interest is high, and like North American firms, one of the key questions, as always, is Value. “What are people doing? What is proving useful from a business perspective?”

Gartner’s local office is beautiful – two floors in a thriving business neighborhood in one of the world’s most vibrant cities. I was told per capita income here is the second highest in the world, and the way the city is kept continues to impress: clean, efficient, beautifully designed and planted with fabulous flora everywhere. Our people here are professional, motivated, friendly and prepared for all our meetings, making sure I know who we’re meeting with and why.

It was a busy, stimulating day capped with dinner with my colleague Arun Chandrasekaran in the Pan Pacific Hotel’s restaurant. Multiple serving stations with different cuisines: Indian, Cantonese, Japanese…. that marvelous Singaporean polyglot cuisine I love. And if the food was good, the conversation was even better. Arun and I talked about how his infrastructure research and my software focus converged in big data and what our next collaboration should be after the Hadoop pilots piece we’re nearing completion on now.

Closing the day with a little BBC World in my room, I watched the pre-election coverage, amused by the overloading of the “battleground states” metaphor when I switched to CNN. They even referred to reporters “embedded” there. Please. Thank goodness this overpriced, overheated exercise will soon be complete. And after all the sound and fury, I don’t expect much will have changed.

Diary of an Asian Swing: Day 3

This was a day of transition. No meetings in Hong Kong, so after a leisurely breakfast and a look at the news, I settled down for a rare session of uninterrupted writing. It was still Sunday back home, so the email was relatively caught up and I could focus. Finished first drafts of some Gartner Magic Quadrant DW DBMS content and sent them off to colleagues for review and assembly into our eventual document.

This MQ is my second, and I’m really enjoying the process this time now that I’m not trying to figure out what happens next. I’m especially pleased with the process of combining interview data from customer interviews and analysis of our inquiry traffic – hundreds for each of the four authors – with surveys we conducted specifically for the report.

Mark Beyer built a fantastic link for feeding survey criteria measured by numeric scores from customers directly into relevant cells on our underlying spreadsheet. We had already done some collective scoring of our own in those cells, and the new exercise showed us how customers read the same issues. And it moved some of the scores significantly, with some vendors doing better than we expected in some areas, and others getting hammered. When a sizable number of survey respondents highlight an issue like support as a serious weakness, one has to take notice.

Several hours of uninterrupted time, a luxury that made the work move quickly, gave way to a decision about what to do with a free afternoon. I decided to use it for more work, so instead of an excursion I headed to the airport hours ahead of schedule to work in the attractive Cathay Pacific lounge. But I was surprised by a helpful check-in agent who told me there was an earlier flight I could get onto. As a result, I arrived in spectacular Singapore late in the evening instead of well into the night, and was in my hotel for a good night’s rest before early morning meetings the next day.

And of course, working on the place – even without wi-fi – was just as good as working in the lounge. So I had the chance to complete a new draft of a forthcoming Hadoop Pilot Best Practices piece and send it off to a collaborator. A good day indeed.

Diary of an Asian Swing: Day 1

I’ve never been a diarist. But as an exercise, I’m going to document this trip: two weeks on the road to Asia and Australia. Almost all work, though there is one day of weekend and recovery time built in.

Friday, Nov 2. Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. Business class. Comfortable, well-appointed cabin. Friendly, courteous staff.

Learned system, table, storage, seat. NO WIFI! OMG. 14 unconnected hours – that’s what stimulated the idea to blog. Otherwise I would have been tweeting a lot. Which is fun, but this will be a change. Let’s start with some entertainment and settle in….

Video presentation of Sir Paul McCartney’s Kisses on the Bottom. Diana Krall. John Pizzarelli. Joe Walsh! It’s delightful – commentary, moments of studio play, tenderness. No real edge, but that’s not what it’s about. Luscious melody, beautiful jazz harmonies. Diana is a sideman here and a brilliant one. McCartney is who he is – always a touch too smooth and a touch too sweet, but it works so well here. Wonderful selection of songs and I love his own Valentine one.

Next up is a video piece about the Who’s Quadrophenia. Clearly part of Townshend’s current campaign to remind the world of his brilliant work – and well done. A good narrative sprinkled with revelatory bits about Moon, and Daltrey, and the terrible chaos they endured. Live performance footage and some nice stuff at the control board with Pete and the engineers highlighting dimensions of the music.

Now, it’s time to get to work – pick some music for background, get the computer out. Found Xuefei Yang – guitarist, playing Bach. Lovely tone, tempos, clarity. Don’t know her. Will fix that. And now to work – Magic Quadrant writing.

Wait. First a survey by Cathay Pacific. Why not?

A few Magic Quadrant hours reviewing interviews, surveys, briefing content, and our own scoring and it’s on to writing up a draft for one of the vendors and sending it off for my colleagues to comment and collaborate on the content.

Now, a break. I’ve earned one. Stretch the legs, a few exercises…

Treated to a reboot of the airplane’s computer system. Red Hat, it turns out. A parade of system level messages marched across the screen, unfathomable to anyone unfamiliar with Linux. The darkness, and eventually, a blessed progress bar, followed by the return of the flight map. We’ve passed over Siberia and the Gulf of Shelekhova; now we’re over the Sea of Okhotsk, only 6 and a half hours to go.

A moment to update this diary and a little reading – music choice Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton. Really? Didn’t know about this one. Would love to look it up on the net, but NO WIFI. Oh well, a little Time magazine, and then some Hadoop Operations by Eric Sammer.

Eric’s book is highly recommended – lucid, well written and doesn’t demand extraordinary technical depth to understand. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Hadoop-Operations-Eric-Sammer/dp/1449327052/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1351944059&sr=1-1&keywords=hadoop+operations 

Arrived on time. Hong Kong continues to impress: efficient, clean, modern as I remembered. Nice hotel. Good wifi. Sent off MQ writeups to colleagues and synchronized all the email I did while offline. Time to crash. Day One is done.

Guest Post: Leading the Logical Data Warehouse Charge Has its Challenges

From my colleague Mark Beyer, who speculates about how leadership in moving toward the logical data warehouse (LDW) will be received: 

The logical data warehouse is already creating a stir in the traditional data warehouse market space. Less than 5% of clients with implemented warehouses that we speak with are pursuing three or more of the six aspects of a logical warehouse: 

  • repositories
  • data virtualization
  • distributed processes
  • active auditing and optimization
  • service level negotiation
  • ontological and taxonomic metadata

That means we are in a very early stage regarding the adoption trend, and vendors who are aggressively moving toward it are ahead of their customers.

..more…

Apache Hadoop 1.0 Doesn’t Clear Up Trunks and Branches Questions. Do Distributions?

In early January 2012, the world of big data was treated to an interesting series of product releases, press announcements, and blog posts about Hadoop versions.  To begin with, we had the announcement of Apache version 1.0 at long last, in a press release. Although there were grumblings here and there in the twittersphere that changes to release numbers are meaningless, my discussions with Gartner’s enterprise customers indicate otherwise. Products with release numbers like 0.20.2 make the hair on Procurement’s neck stand on end, and as Hadoop begins to get mainstream attention (Gartner’s clients, see Hype Cycle for Data Management 2011), IT architects and executives find such optics quite important. Hadoop is moving beyond pioneers like Amazon, Yahoo! and LinkedIn into shops like JP Morgan Chase, and they pay attention to such things.

…more…

Going to Gartner

This is a personal note about a professional decision. You might not be interested. If you are, read on. I’ll try to be brief.

I’ve had a very fulfilling two years as an independent analyst, succeeding beyond my expectations. I established (or continued) a respected brand, gathered several thousand twitter followers, drew 80,000 blog views in 18 months, wrote a number of well-regarded papers, keynoted events, conducted webinars and interviews, and was consulted by the largest companies in our industry as well as emerging, exciting smaller ones. I collaborated with other independents and made new friends everywhere. Financially, I had the two best years of my career. Valley View Ventures, my business agent, has made it smooth and painless on every side, and Fred Abbott is a great friend, mentor and business partner.

Whew. All that said, it surprises a lot of my friends and colleagues that I have decided to accept a position as a Vice President in Research for Gartner effective January 3, 2011. So: Why? Read more of this post

Partial Plans Perplex Press at SAP – Sybase Event, But Promise is Everywhere

SAP co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe and Sybase CEO John Chen keynoted a two-continent event on August 19 to demonstrate their solidarity and provide an early look at strategic plans. Many analysts greeted the initial announcement with positive reviews – mine is here, and Noel Yuhanna of Forrester weighed in here. Progress since the $5.8 billion transaction formally closed (just a few weeks ago) has been modest, but certainly better than the message, which was not yet crisp. The press release (several pages in length) was long on marketing phrases and short on specifics, and those in attendance generally found the content scattered and difficult to parse. Highlights emerged, however, in the subsequent discussions as press, analysts and bloggers dug in for details:

  • A mobile application software development kit (SDK) will combine the Sybase Unwired Platform (SUP) with SAP NetWeaver Mobile and Business Objects Mobile software within 9 months.
  • Sybase CEO John Chen, on the SAP board, will operate Sybase as a “separate, independent unit,” and reaffirmed the commitment to maintaining the product roadmap he made when I interviewed him at TechWave
  • SAP will “port, certify and optimize” SAP Business Suite, NetWeaver Business Warehouse, Business Objects Data Services and Business Objects BI solutions to Sybase ASE. No dates were specified.
  • Business Objects, already certified for Sybase ASE and IQ, will be “combined with (unspecified) Sybase data management servers” to deliver “discovery, storage, and consumption.” No dates were specified; it’s not clear what’s new here other than packaging.
  • The companies will incorporate SAP’s in-memory computing technology across SAP and Sybase data management offerings.

Read more of this post

Living in the Present is SO Yesterday

It’s an occupational hazard of living in the future that analysts can begin to ignore the present – unless we make it a practice to seek it out. Here in the Valley, that can be difficult, when being a week behind the latest version of something the rest of the world hasn’t heard of yet equates to being a luddite. That can lead to AADD (analyst attention deficit disorder.) Read more of this post

HP To Add 6000 Jobs in Sales and Service

“…with funding to come from 9000 positions that will be eliminated as a result of HP’s successful data center and automation efforts.” My headline from today’s news. Funny how emphasis and choice of lead matters. HP attempted to drive the message on this story by headlining its press release “HP to Invest $1 Billion to Launch New Era of Enterprise Services.” That didn’t work; those are costs associated with the separation of employees, and the pundits pounced on burying them at the bottom. But the predictable anti-business, determinedly contrarian response has missed the mark as well.

Read more of this post

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