Considering a big data problem…
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When you consider a big data or more properly the ingestion and analysis of data then transferred to a mobile device or application on a pc/laptop there are a number of considerations to take into account for optimizing your overall cloud solution to fit the data you need to consume.

I like personally, the definition of big data/analytics that builds on the concept of overwhelming your existing hardware. This can be fixed by deploying specialized solutions (Hadoop or Mapr) that reduce the surface of the data. These solutions allow you to expand to the full potential of cloud computing in building an analytics solution.

The question I have now however is a broader concept. In designing a solution that will in effect survive only if it is able to consume a large amount of data would you design your system differently?

Google solved a big data problem in their search engine in part by creating the mapr and hadoop solutions but also in separating the two conceptual areas of the solution (indexing and search) if we consider most big data solutions in the end that would make logical sense, to separate the two components (ingest and analysis) as they would both be I/O and disk bound.

Of course if you are building a disk bound analysis system you have to worry about two additional things (disk failure and in the end how much data are you going to store). Its easy to retrieve the data from a spinning disk but if your system requires High Availability you can’t have disks fial.

So now, in addition to separating the ingest from the analysis you have to consider a couple of other issues.

  • MTBF
  • Amount of data you are ingesting

The first in that it tells you the number of copies you will need of the data in reality (let’s call that the backup model). The second may render the first into the biggest issue (when you start talking about a lot of inbound data to be ingested).


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Round trips are out
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An architectural consideration for cloud computing design. Fun opening line today, its one of those write themselves blog days. There are a number of things to consider in the reality of moving to the cloud. How and what your application does in relation to your organization and how you make or deliver your mission or profits is a critical consideration.

Cloud offers you the ability to create in essence a world separate from your existing IT infrastructure. In the cloud concept design for failure there is a set of assumptions:

  1. Consider the box
  2. Expand the box
  3. Throw the box away

I believe the last one may in fact be the most critical of the 3.

If the box is the existing infrastructure solution that is deployed within your organization considering it gives us the option to consider will reversing the network (inbound becomes outbound while inbound and outbound remain the same) will impact our solution.

Let’s consider this…

The organization has x amount of internet traffic today. That traffic doesn’t change with our new solution

Y amount of traffic now adds and an additional inbound and outbound Internet connection. Where connections for the network represent static and therefore “permanent” network bandwidth use.

That means that the X we already have plus the Y we now add reduces the total available bandwidth. Where bandwidth equal the total capacity of the inbound and outbound Internet connection of the organization or A.

A-(x+y)=true available bandwidth.

If we consider this math for every single application we shift in the end we will run out of bandwidth quickly.

So option 2 comes up – expand the box. Buy more bandwidth, after all IT spend comes out of company profit and its only money. So we quickly consider option 2, and in some cases we may have a strong enough business case that option 2 is vialable.

The variables for this are simple, how much more revenue are we going to generate in moving to these cloud solutions and how much less over time will they cost. Where additional revenue equals y, and reduced cost = x, where original cost equal a, and new true cost is our result.

Y – (a-x) = >0

The equation only works if we have a remainder when we are done. There are limitations however as bandwidth increases in cost exponentially above a certain level and we can’t always guarantee Y.

So we throw away the boxes. Drop the equations and figure out a new cloud paradigm. Round trips are out.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Institutional Failure…
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Recently I’ve been talking to a number of cloud vendors and have come to love the concept of design for operational failure. I like the concept of design for failure. It fits with what I think tomorrow brings in the computing space.

But what about institutional failure? One of the huge limiting factors in cloud computing is the inability to move solutions as is to the cloud, currently. People say you should run some applications in the cloud, that isn’t true. In fact you should run some code in the cloud. But in reality you should run some code in the cloud. It’s the code that shouldn’t be run in the cloud.

Applications that don’t preform on premise will in the end fail to preform in the cloud. Applications that don’t understand concepts on-premise will struggle with the same concepts in the cloud.

So what can we do?

I blogged a couple of days ago about what I thought the future would be. Its an interesting question in the end. First off I believe many applications will be written to the newer mobility standard of bite sized or smaller footprint applications. The new iPad application Parallels Access let’s you solve the Windows 8 vs. Siri commercial issue (running multiple applications on your iPad). You can use that solution to connect to your pc or Macintosh from your iPad and run the native apps in the application on your iPad. Beyond the broader gotomypc but still small and easy to use.

The abstraction or continuation of the broader screen as a service model will be de rigor in my opinion. The screen as a service you use as needed.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

What lies beyond the horizon?
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What lies beyond cloud computing? The resource allocation and automation that cloud computing solutions have brought to IT are game changers. Game changers in the sense that many mundane and repetitive IT tasks can now be automated. Mobility which has burst out of cloud computing as an entity is continuing to grow. The concept of data and data analytics is intriguing but frankly lies right on the horizon now. So what is next?

In 1996 I wrote a paper saying I didn’t think the Internet would explode until there was better than dialup home Internet connections. In the end that prediction proved to be true.

I also predicted that mobility wouldn’t take off without a killer application, that killer application ended up being 100’s of small bite sized applications that in the end comprised a killer productivity solution.

Cloud has exploded because of the overall business value it provides for many companies. Particularly when you consider the reality of data center consolidation and green computing. My dear friend Lewis Curtis predicted Green Computing would be significant back in 2006 as always he was right.

First I go back to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs for two parts of what is next. Simple with Style represents the next big thing, I believe. Simplicity in that it needs to be easier for people to use and access the technology around them. Style in that things just need to work and work the first time. With Windows 95 and 98 the concept of device recognition was created. The problem? Most of us supporting computers called it “plug and pray” rather than the tag line from the advertising “plug and play.” Something by the way that Apple got really good at doing with iOS and Macintosh devices. They seldom have the plug and pray issues. Android devices still have that issue a bit, but that is as much do to OS fragmentation as anything. Windows 7 got pretty good at it, but like Android Microsoft has a huge OS fragmentation issue.

Second I reach beyond the concept of the screen as a service and extend that to all screens as a service. From smart watches to flexible screens we need that screen as a service. It is tomorrow right now, but it is coming. Screens that simply advertise their space as available. You could even consider screen utility pricing – need a big screen for an hour a day? Why buy one, rent it instead. Or rent the use of a screen.

More to come!


3 questions…
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About 20 years ago I wandered onto a movie, Creator. In that movie there are three great questions.

  • Where does love end?
  • How far is to far for technology and science to go?
  • What is the right answer when it comes to extending human life?

In the movie there is a professor attempting to clone is now long dead wife. That is a central and reoccurring theme of where and when does live end.

“The world used to follow us around like a puppy” the professor says to his wife’s image. In the end he is able to clone Lucy, but Lucy lets him go. She decides that he must live on in the present and note return to the past. The answer to the first question is love never ends.

For the second question the movie dives deeply into the two sides of medicine and technology. The first is the concept of cloning his dead wife. The second is when his young protégé’s love has a stoke. When do you give up? In the end the young man is the only one who believes the girl, Barbara is still alive. He fights for love without quitting. The professor sees that, feels that from his own fight for love and joins the protégé in the battle. How far, to the ends of the earth and back.

Which in the end leaves us the last question. How far should extend human life. No further than the happiness and comfort of the person. An individual choice.

It’s a great movie, one I will always watch when it comes on.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Living the dream in the real world…
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I used to teach 2nd graders math by using model rockets. We determined the angle of the launch, amount of thrust the rocket could produce and then hopefully how far the rocket would go. We were often close to being right. The drift produced by the wind once the parachute came out is what usually made us wrong.

We also did acid rain experiments (showing the different impact of more and less acidic water on corn and soy beans.) There are times as I move through my business career that I miss those days in the classroom.

When I look at all the technology you could use now to teach not only science but math and critical thinking I miss education. What a teacher could do with an iPad. In fact, an iPad and the Red Pataya open source instruments should come as a part of every education degree. (you can find the Red Pataya on Kickstarter).

Wait, add in Clevermind, a Vernier device (allows for multiple sensors) and the Vernier Biology and Physics packs. Then add in a Wimotes pack and life is good. You could simply using one device change a child’s perception of the universe.

This leads me to my call today. When I started in IT the US Federal Government drove the majority of IT innovation. That moved from the Government to the private sector over the course of the 1990’s (remember the Internet doesn’t exist with Arpanet and CERN). In the 2000’s it shifted to consumer based and driven IT solutions. I would love to see it shift once more and become classroom driven.

Imagine a world where everyone got an even and fair start. Where all children were equal and judged not, as Dr. King said “on the color of their skins, but on the content of their minds.”

It could happen…


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Screen as a service (again)
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I’ve talked in the past about the concept of a screen as a service. Where the screen can be multi-purposed to present information that is both relevant to the user but also information they can tailor and control.

Screen as a window would be the easiest way to explain it. You own the window of information. There are a number of products available today (Pebble and Metawatch) that get you close to that. There are a couple more coming (Kyros and Hot Watch) that will get you even closer. The concept is to use the screen on your wrist as a point in time or JIT display for specific tailored information.

I use my pebble watch in two specific ways. When I am walking I have Runkeeper broadcast to the watch face. I get the relevant information that I need at the same time keeping my phone in my pocket and not having to check my phone all the time for data while walking. The second critical use is as a caller id checker. I have accidentally answered a number of calls over the years from sales orgs etc. With caller id on my wrist I can always check the call. When it is home calling I can duck out and answer the call.

The next thing which I can do partially now is using my iPad as a display screen. It recognizes gestures better than the Windows 8 tablet, still. Turning the iPad into an extended notebook for taking notes isn’t optimal. There are better tools for that, but for quickly drawing a displaying a concept it remains top of the mark.

Your screen as a service would be the next thing. Being able to on the fly display your smart phone on your iPad (you can do that for the wonderful apple video chat tool, it would be really nice to be able to share the screen more efficiently with all applications).

The times they are a changing!


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

Flying and technology…
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I was sitting on the airplane yesterday and realized something had changed in my situation. I had two entertainment devices with me and that was all I needed. I had my kindle and my iPad. I didn’t take anything else because the Kindle has all my books (Audio and Text) and the iPad has the games I enjoy playing. What a change from as recently as 3 years ago. I used to carry the following:

  • GPS
  • Reading device (kindle)
  • extra batteries (for Windows phone)
  • Sony PSP (and games)

I could cut down to one device only (iPad) but I like the feel of the Kindle Fire. It also gives me more than 128 meg of media (iPad as 128 and the Kindle adds 64 more).

What a difference time makes.

Someday it will probably only be the iPad type device as a larger screen for my phone. Of course, you will be able to have your cellular device on during the flight. Someday.

Interesting new technology note yesterday. United now sells Direct TV during flight packages. That is a very interesting development. Not relevant to anything, just interesting.

P.S. What are the two most depressing messages the gate PA announcer can make?

  1. First class has checked in full while you are still on the waiting list.
  2. We will be boarding this plane a few minutes late due to weather.


Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

My IT Story

My IT career began in August 1991. I started out as a computer sales person first for a small Cincinnati Ohio company and then for a slightly larger company out of Louisville Kentucky. For my first sales job I was an outside representative and for the second I was the inside sales rep. I met a lot of interesting people in those first two sales jobs.

I became a helpdesk person in my next job for an even slightly larger company in Cincinnati Ohio. I spent two years as one of the first people hired for the helpdesk building processes and procedures for taking calls and helping people with their computer problems. It taught me a lot about being a team player. When you are on a helpdesk you rely on the other people with you. They are your backup and your safety valve. A great helpdesk is a great team.

From helpdesk I moved directly into IT. While on the helpdesk I started with another engineer building out an MSMail system connecting the WAN connected servers with mail as well as a large bank of modems to connect the other locations that didn’t have WAN connections at that time. My company had a Softwitch box installed (my project). That box connected our mail system to the Lotus Notes system that we had installed for ½ the company and the ccMail system used by our new owners.

After 3 years running the mail system I became a consultant. 15 long years of traveling but I learned a lot while being a consultant. Being a consultant is an interest reality. You don’t really see the world you are traveling unless you take some of your personal time. Its hard to see Shanghai when you work 12 hours a day. You end up having to cram week’s worth of sight seeing into the last day.

This is stuck in my mind because I had to talk about my beginnings yesterday to 4 different groups. It made me think about this process. I shared my personal story with the people listening, my full professional story is longer than this. So consider this my IT History.

Scott Andersen

The lab was a mess
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The lab, which was little more than a room crammed full of every printer they made and two laptops to connect to them was rarely used. Most of the techs let calls slide away from them not solving the hard problems, simply having the person reinstall. Which for most calls was what you needed to do. People had so little patience for trouble shooting problems. Longer calls were a risk of getting a low rating from the customer.

Of course nothing was connected in the lab. The last person giving up on a call leaving the lab in a mess. He hopped back on the phone for one second.

“I am in the lab, just setting up the same printer, I will be right back.”

“Ok” the caller asked. Obviously jamming to the hold music and not really minding being on hold. Or a really nice person who was frustrated and wanting to solve the problem she had.

He found the printer, turned it on and connected the laptop and then logged back onto the call.

“Ok, all set.” He noticed right away that the printer was on, but was not connected to his laptop. “Hummm, I seem to have the exact same problem you do with the lab printer.” He checked all the connections to the printer and stared at it for a moment.

“You do?” The caller asked. Unsure if the admission of a problem was a setup or an actual issue.

That was when he noticed that the power button seemed to not be flush with the printer body. He slid his finger over the button and the installing new hardware button appeared on his computer.

“I do, can you run your finger over the power button on the printer?” he asked.

“Ok,” the caller sounded nervous as if the request was out of the normal but something she would do anyway. “wait a second, its printing.”

“Yes, it appears the power button is not flush on these printers and if you turn it off and on often, the button sticks in a power to the display but not power to the USB mode.” He said.

“Thank you so much. I am printing now.” The caller replied.

“Would you like me to leave the call open for a day just in case?” He asked.

“Can you?” the caller asked.

“Yes no problem. You have a great day.”

“thank you so much” the caller said and hung up.

Leaving a call open was a risk, if his daily close rate was to low he would spend the next morning in his bosses office reviewing how he could close the calls faster, be more efficient.

Of course closing the call could always result in a bad survey later so it was a balancing act. Customer service was never easy.

He logged back into the phone system “Thank you for calling Giant Printer tech support, how can I help you?”



Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow