Last summer I spent an enormous amount of money when I purchased the Torque game engine, so that my oldest son could try his hand at game development. In order to maximize my son’s success and seeing that there were many in-depth books available to learn how to use Torque, I offered to buy him a book as well.  But my son assured me that it was unnecessary, since he already knew how to program in Torque. That seemed odd to me, given that he had never had the software before, but turns out, he learned how to program in Torque by reading websites and watching videos on line. Increasingly, that’s how the latest generation learns. And thanks to a growing library of videos stored at sites such as YouTube, and contributors such as Khan Academy, you can learn how to do almost anything, including most of the math you will need to graduate high school and pass the first year of college.

Videos are also becoming an important medium for companies to get the word out, to explain, and clarify. So as an example, after a 2-day planning meeting with one of my clients, StorMagic, where I serve as a member of the board, I asked my son to record five short videos of StorMagic’s CEO, Hans O’Sullivan, answering simple, direct questions. Each video is less than a minute long and answers one or two questions on topics such as the background of the management team, the strategic focus of the company, the impact of recent announcements, and the company’s relationship with one of its partners.

Videos seem to be all the rage.  I don’t know what will come after videos, but it seems to me that for the next few years, at least, video will be of strategic importance in getting the word out about your company.

Hope you enjoy these.

StorMagic’s CEO Discusses Multi-Site Installations of SvSAN for VMware

StorMagic CEO Discusses the StorMagic Team and Recent Growth

More videos regarding StorMagic can be found on YouTube by searching StorMagic. You can even learn how to install and manage an SvSAN just by watching a video.

I recently attended the TEDxBoston conference. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to go.  This year’s conference was overflowing with both people and ideas.  For me, it’s a vacation from the day-to-day, an opportunity to find new inspiration, and a place to cross-pollinate ideas.  I never go to find more business, but rather to get better at what I do.

One presentation that I found particularly valuable was by Michelle Borkin, who explained her interdisciplinary approach to data visualization.  She brought together professionals from astronomy, who were working on how to get better 3-dimensional  pictures of objects in outer space, with radiologists, who were trying to get better 3-dimensional pictures of organs in the human body.  The results were both beautiful and amazing.

It would be easy to say “Outer space is very different from the human body, so it has no relevance to what I’m doing,” but she took the opposite approach and asked, “What are they doing that is similar to what I’m trying to do, and what can I apply from what they have already learned?” With all of the discussion around data generated on the internet, I kept wondering, during her presentation, what data visualization techniques can be taken from astronomy and radiology and applied to understanding consumers and influence.

From time to time as a favor to friends, I will contribute as guest blogger.  So let me direct your attention to this Guest Blog on Countdown.2.Storage ExpoRose Ross, who also attended the BDEvent, asked me to provide a write up on the one session that she missed, which was the one that I co-chaired with Mike Miracle.  For reference and completeness, here’s Rose’s very-excellent post on the rest of the event.

Rose has been a friend for many years, so, of course, I said, yes.  For those of you who don’t know her, Rose is an accomplished PR professional, who carries many titles, including:

It seems I’m not the only one who is a Rose fan.  I see on her bio that she is the 2005 winner of the Toigo Award for Best Storage PR Professional.  For those that are looking for PR support in Europe, take a look at Omarketing, and for those looking to expand a European channel, take a look at Launchpad Europe.

And under the  FTC’s Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which focus on “Testimonial Advertisements, Bloggers, and Celebrity Endorsements,” let me assure you that I am not paid by, nor do I receive commissions or referral fees from Launchpad Europe or Omarketing.

Oh, yes, the next BDEvent will be held at the Sheraton in Palo Alto, CA, on January 25 – 27, 2011.

After we got past our initial reactions to the “Man up and buy them,” comment from George Crump, at theBDevent last week, we  got down to some practical discussions about how to make OEM agreements work for both parties.  One of the big items that comes up in negotiations is the Source Code Escrow Agreement.  The party that wants to make use of some element of software, the OEM-In, wants to ensure access to the source code from the supplier, the OEM-Out, under a variety of scenarios, including defaults by the OEM-Out.

Of course, since the source code represents the crown jewels of the OEM-Out, they will typically do whatever possible to limit the conditions under which the OEM-In gets access to the source code.  The OEM-In, on the other hand, wants the broadest possible range of triggers for access to the source code.   (more…)

The most provocative statement I heard at  The BD Event in Boston last week came from George Crump, when he said, “OEM agreements don’t work.  If a company wants the technology, they should man up and buy it.”  Mike Miracle and I chaired the Business Development Roundtable discussion where George made his comment, and I have to say, it sparked a lively debate.

Although I make my living largely by helping companies establish strategic partnerships, including OEM agreements, I thought it would be helpful to list some reasons why potential partners would say “No” to an OEM agreement. (more…)

Many startups are using free, online survey tools. Today I helped StorageVirtualAppliance develop a survey targeted at users of VMware and other virtual-server solutions. The survey was developed using FreeOnlineSurveys, similar to Survey Monkey, with which I was more familiar.

As I was working with StorageVirtualAppliance, I was reminded of some rules in survey design.

1) Know the purpose of the survey: Lead Generation, Evangelization and Market Awareness, Actionable Information for Product Marketing, Actionable Information for Product Management

2) Think about how you will categorize and summarize the data. Open-ended questions may provide great color commentary or quotable statements, but in large volume are difficult to categorize and summarize.

3) Have an incentive for those that take the time to complete the survey. The incentive could be as simple and inexpensive as a summary of the results, it could be an opportunity to be entered into a prize drawing, or it could be a small cash award.

In addition to helping with the survey, I also offered to help get the survey out to a broader set of participants. So, if you know any IT professionals, please send them to this blog and have them click on this survey link.

Thanks in advance. Participants could win a copy of Eco-Tech Warrior, Greg Schultz’, new book, The Green and Virtual Data Center.

One of the sessions I attended at the New England Area VMware User Group meeting in Newport, Rhode Island last week included a discussion on how to take the internal storage of a VMware ESX host and turn it into a virtualized iSCSI storage appliance.  I happen to believe that the approach has great merit for many smaller IT shops and for remote office environments.  The internal storage of an ESX server, if totally useable and accessible to the ESX host and other ESX servers on the network, is probably the cheapest storage you will ever buy.  What I found particularly interesting about this session, however, was the fact that the presenter downplayed the approach as good enough to experiment with the storage virtualization software, but not good enough to run production applications.  In order to encourage companies to try the software, the developer offers a free 30-day trial, the expiration of which then renders the server unuseable, unless you purchase a permanent license.  While I believe the company has good software, I don’t understand the approach to the market. (more…)

I attended the New England Area VMware User Group meeting in Newport, Rhode Island last week.  It was a great opportunity to see what challenges IT managers are facing, what solutions they are adopting, and what problems remain to be solved.  It was also a good opportunity for me to revisit what I learned many years ago in studying the research of  Clayton Christensen and his concept of Disruptive Innovation.  Two of my clients have what I consider disruptive technologies.  I’ll write about Tek-Tools in this post, and then cover  StorMagic in a subsequent post. 

Tek-Tools offers the Profiler Suite of monitoring, reporting, and forecasting tools for servers, storage, applications, files, and, yes, VMware.  Why is it disruptive? Tek-Tools’ Profiler is easy to install, easy to afford, and easy to use, and it’s “good enough” for the bulk of today’s customers.  It does not overshoot current market requirements.  It gives quick answers to important questions like: How much storage do I have installed? How fast is it growing?  How much is allocated? How much is used? When will I need more storage? Where is my performance bottleneck? How old is my data? Who is violating data retention policies? Which virtual machines are using which storage? Which virtual machines are no longer in use? Which physical machines could I consolidate onto a  VMware ESX host, without encountering performance issues? Where is my orphaned storage? (That’s a technical term that means I deleted the virtual machine, but forgot to return the allocated storage to the storage pool.)  

(more…)

One of the things we used to discuss, when I was running the storage research practice at IDC, was “When will a market disappear and just become a feature of some larger market?”  Examples are numerous.  Remember when there was a market for browser software? And, while NetApp is going strong, both Microsoft and Sun Microsystems are trying to make NAS a feature of the operating system.

One of the reasons I joined the board of StorMagic was that I saw the potential for the company to be a market disruptor.  Today, StorMagic announced SvSAN software, which, when installed on a VMware ESX server, converts the internal storage of the ESX server into an iSCSI SAN.  VMware leverages the fact that most single applications don’t need all the computing power of today’s servers.  SvSAN leverages that same fact to provide the storage management function within the ESX server, and also takes advantage of the fact that the internal storage capacity of an ESX server, perhaps the least expensive storage you will ever purchase, is more than enough capacity for a large number of VMware ESX server-hosted applications.  (more…)

Most people I work with now know that I am a relatively active user of social media and business networking tools, including Facebook, Twitter, DeliciousLinkedIn and Plaxo.  In fact, over the past six months, my blogging dropped off significantly, but my use of social media and business networking tools accelerated.

One of my clients was asking about the size of the installed base of Geographically Dispersed Parallel Sysplex (GDPS), wondering if it was a market large enough to justify the investment needed to integrate with  their own solution.  They also wondered about the penetration rate for GDPS within the installed base of z/OS licenses.  That’s rather esoteric stuff, unless you cut your teeth on IBM mainframes, as I did. (more…)

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