One of the benefits of working at EMC is that we have this great news clipping service.
Every morning, I get a smattering of relevant (and sometimes not-so-relevant) news pieces from across the landscape. Including some things I would never look at otherwise.
This morning, I was kind of impressed on how most of the stories underpin some of the key thoughts I've been trying to share here.
So, I thought I'd replay today's news through a different lens.
An informationist lens.
My first re-hash is "Stop Email Madness" in the online version of the Wall Street Journal.
I'm sure many of us could relate to the topic. The author approaches the challenge of uncontrolled email from a different perspective -- teach people to use the damn tool better.
While I admire the thought, the prospects are dim -- at least in the short term.
Going a bit further, it made me think that any IT strategy based on corralling human behavior will be problematic at best.
I know that when I get a stern memo from IT on "corporate policy", I immediately stop what I'm doing and make every effort to comply.
I'm sure you do the same.
The best IT solutions are ones where technology adapts to human behavior, and not the other way around. Sounds like common sense, but ...
Next up is "Microsoft Adjusts To Add Support For Thin Client Computing", which can be found in Computerworld.
The author talks about Microsoft's support for streaming applications for use with thin clients.
Underneath this, I think, is a serious trend that some people may have missed.
Our old friend the "thin client" (aka "diskless PC") is getting a big resurgence in the discussion.
First, the stakes are higher this time: the drive towards cost savings is increasing, there's the energy savings angle, and -- well -- there's this problem with information security and laptops getting lost.
Networks (wired and otherwise) are getting faster and are becoming more ubiquitous. More applications are comfortable with a web presentation. And there are more options for presenting an application session on a remote device (think Citrix and VMware).
All valuable, but the end of the day, I think it's going to be an information security concern that tips people over in this direction.
Next up, "Database Archiving Heats Up" from our friends at Byte and Switch.
The author describes how more and more smaller players that do database archiving are either entering the market, or getting snapped up by larger players.
Now, for those of you who don't know, EMC took a serious run at this a while back. We OEMed a product (dbaseXtender) from Outerbay, who later was acquired by HP.
We learned a few things along the way, though.
First, usage models vary. There are databases where significant amounts of data are never looked at, and there are databases that are hammered continuously, and there are hybrids where most of the data is idle, except at maybe the end of the quarter or the end of the year. Most of the customers we talked to used their databases in such a way that didn't lend itself to a database archiving project, at least, in the traditional sense.
Second, costs may have outweighed benefits. By the time you buy the archiving product, run the project, and so on, you may have ended up spending more money than you hoped to save. So we found that running the numbers ahead of time was useful.
And, sometimes, the best thing to do is throw hardware at a problem (I can't believe I said that!)
But, that being said, we found a couple of sweet spots where it made sense. The first was SAP environments, especially ones that had been in production for five or more years. Of course, the SAP information store would grow and grow and grow. SAP has its own archiving tools which work pretty well at identifying stale data and moving it out, so that's not really an opportunity for other vendors.
And EMC found an opportunity to offer tools that made this archived data usable -- either from within SAP, or from other environments, like Documentum.
Bottom line -- I think the application vendors (SAP, Oracle Apps, et. al.) will have a leg up on the database archiving market. And I think that the value won't just be in cost savings by making production smaller, it'll be in liberating the information for other purposes within the business.
Next up: "Data Domain Files For IPO, Cuts Deal With Quantum" from eWeek.
Good for them. We need more technology IPOs. And they seem like good guys. Heck, I even think they're an EMC Velocity resell partner (CLARiiON CX behind their backup engine).
And there's no arguing that data dedupe for backup is a wickedly hot topic.
But, I'm convinced that data dedupe at the target side will ultimately have limited strategic appeal.
Sure, there will be a market segment that wants this, but I think that the better play lies in two areas: first, client-side data deduplication (faster, more efficient, etc.) and secondly presenting the backed up data in native format for repurposing (instead of tape blobs on disk).
Data Domain does neither (so far). EMC Avamar does both.
Let the market decide.
Moving on to EMC-specific news, there's a great interview piece with Art Coviello "RSA on EMC: New Beginnings" from Computer Business Review.
Art does a great job of outlining the rationale for the EMC/RSA acquisition from RSA's perspective, and talks a great deal (maybe too much?) about all the stuff we're doing.
I think that EMC got a bad rap from the investment community when we announced the acquisition.
Kudos to Joe Tucci and the rest of the management team for doing what's right, rather than what's popular. Fun reading.
And, in the "I'm having a bad day in IT" department, there's "Poor E-Mail Archiving Haunts Subpoenaed Firms" from the San Jose Mercury News.
If you're a regular reader of this blog, it's inevitable that this article was written. And we'll see many, many more on this topic in the near future.
I would argue that risk avoidance is just one benefit (albeit an important one) when considering information management projects. And this won't just be about email, folks -- so stay tuned.
On a related note ("who owns my information?"), there's this cautionary tale "Who's Guarding Your Data In The Cybervault?" from USA Today.
Not only does it speak to a couple of relevant issues, e.g. corporate responsibility in information management, and that creepy feeling we all get when we realize that our personal information is no longer ours -- but consider the source: USA Today.
Information issues are finding their way out of IT journals and into everyday media. Look for more of this in the future.
Won't be too long before it becomes a political issue, I think.
I shudder when I think of a world where government sets IT policy.
And finally, there's this esoteric piece "Insurers Can Use Metadata Standards For Internal Data", found in Insurance Networking News.
Although cast as an vertical industry discussion (e.g. insurance), I found it very representative of the entire information management discussion -- the need for businesses of all types to categorize and label their information: to save money, to avoid risk and to create new value.
Although the author holds out hope for a standard (and I'm sure there will be *many*), I don't think too many companies will be able to hold out for an end-to-end standard to address the problem.
One Day In The News ...
So, I found it interesting that -- in one day -- we found several articles that support some of the underlying themes I've been espousing, and that EMC is working towards.
Fun reading, to be sure. And we'll see a lot more in the future.
Are you an informationist?