It's been an exceptionally busy year -- for the industry, for our customers and partners, and for EMC. I, for one, will be looking forward to a bit of quiet time to refresh and regroup before diving into 2012.
In this blog, I do what I can to share the continual stream of thoughts and observations that arise as part of my day-to-day duties here at EMC.
If you're a regular reader, you realize that can result in a lot of long and often lengthy blog posts.
I thought it might be worthwhile to step back and highlight the big themes -- and the big posts -- of 2011. My selections are strictly driven by observable impact: the handful of posts that generated the most views, discussion and interest from my readers.
Cloud, Schmoud: Enterprise IT Now Needs To Compete
I think the biggest story in 2011 was the clear and rapid morphing of the oh-so-familiar cloud discussion: away from technology debates, and firmly positioned as a key enabler in IT's new role in the enterprise.
At a fundamental level, more business users realize that they have options when it comes to IT services; not everything has to come from the internal team.
As a result, many IT leaders realize that they need to reposition their organization to compete for the business. Many of my posts in 2011 were around this core theme.
In "An Organizational Health Check For IT", I tried to offer up a simple and fun diagnostic as to whether or not you should be concerned about this industry shift, and -- more importantly -- how well positioned you were to make the jump.
The best core material can now be found in a sequence of five posts. In "Leading An IT Transformation", I recap Sanjay Mirchandani's perspective of how he did this for EMC's internal IT function. Right behind that, a key post with a brilliant set of discussions from Jon Peirce on "Organizing For Success" -- digging into the central issue of people: who are they, what skills do they have, how they're organized, how they're measured, etc.
Rounding out the discussion are posts on "Achieving Financial Transparency", "Why IT Organizations Will Invest In Marketing" and "Price Signals And Why They Matter" as well as an update on the new skill certifications from EMC that are proving so popular.
If you're interested in the back story, one of the most popular posts on this subject was "From Silos To Services" where I made the case that the fundamental organizing principle for IT groups had to change, and -- in fact -- was changing for many of our customers. The same ideas are perhaps expressed even better in my review of one of Jon Peirce's posts in "Making A Case For Cloud: Perspectives From An IT Practitioner"
I also stirred up a fair amount of controversy with "The Dark Side Of Clouds" with my unabashed criticism of cloud projects gone awry.
These Aren't The Same Users We're Used To ...
So often, the IT group seems to be looking at old sepia-toned photographs vs. a sharp forward-looking visualization of what their users will look like in just a few short years.
You can insert a broad range of popular IT discussions into this frame: mobility, new forms of collaboration, social productivity, self-service IT consumption, app stores, BYOD, analytically-enabled business processes, et. al.
The individual topics themselves are interesting in their own right: how they come together in a bigger picture can be downright compelling.
In "Behold The New User", I try and take a stab at this, but I don't think I've done this topic justice yet. In "Applications Are Like Fish, Data Is Like Wine", I try and come at this from a different angle in trying to highlight how IT perspectives and user perspectives around two particular topics. And, finally, if you go through my "Ten IT Predictions For 2012", you'll find plenty of commentary along these lines.
Yes, Storage Is Still A Big Topic
I often felt that we in the storage industry tend to make too much of the latest shiny thing, and don't often step back enough and share the big trends that are inexorably shaping the future of storage.
One of my most popular storage-related posts was "The Shape Of The New Storage Market". Feedburner tells me it's now been read tens of thousands of times -- I wonder how many of those readers are vendors vs. customers? A close second in popularity was "Shifts Happen", a historical perpsective about what happens when a new technology comes into the storage space.
The real action in storage is how it's used to deliver value back to the organization. In "Storage As A Service", I do what I can to share the inherent perspective change that every storage team will need to go through -- if they haven't already.
I am also continually amazed by how many large storage users really haven't sat down and put together their storage strategy game plan. I offer up a few thoughts in "When Was The Last Time You Updated Your Storage Strategy?" as an encouragement.
Big Data Analytics Is Hot
So often in IT, we look for things that can really move the needle for the businesses we serve. Personally, I think that's part of the current appeal with big data analytics: it's a potential game changer, and IT gets to play a big role.
The real discussion now centers around enablement: how do traditional businesses go about developing a proficiency in this new arena? I did my best to draw an analogy with a previous wave that many business leaders might be familiar in "Big Data Analytics: The New Corporate Six Sigma?".
The key actor in this drama is the new data scientist, and the platforms that support them. In "Understanding The New Rock Star", I presented key insights from a groundbreaking EMC survey. And in "Enabling Your Data Science Team", I wrote about how our Greenplum group is all about making these people more productive.
And, finally, this perspective on how IT leaders are reacting to all of this :)
Seismic Shifts In Security
The big news this year was APTs -- advanced persistent threats. Suffice it to say we learned a lot about the topic this year :) The resulting mindset is relatively new: assume you're compromised. This, in turn, has begun to restructure how information security organizations go about their business, and the analytical techniques they are beginning to adopt, in some sense yet another application of big data.
The other focal point in the discussion are people -- "the new perimeter" as Art Coviello puts it. I did what I could to share examples of how we've tackled this problem in the past in "Worker Safety In The Information Age".
This story has just begun -- we'll undoubtedly see more evolution in 2012.
When I see someone doing something cool, I want to write about it. Sometimes that involves our customers (here and here), sometimes it's our partners (here and here), or sometimes it's EMC itself (here, here and here).
I wish I had more time to spend on writing up all the cool things I see people doing. Perhaps that's something I can try to do better at in 2012.
There's More ...
... but this is supposed to be a highlights post, and not an overview of everything I've written about.
The frustrating part -- for me, anyway -- is that I could sit here at this keyboard every day and write about all the cool things going on around us in this industry. I barely get to scratch the surface. There is absolutely no shortage of relevant topics and material.
What I have is a shortage of time :)