Page 1

IT leadership & innovation

is big data really that BIG?

DEC/JAN 2012-13 VO L .1 NO. 2 $9.95


Telstra CIO on culture change

Saving lives with videoconferencing

Multivendor UC and the cloud

Are Windows 8 tablets the answer?

We are surrounded by data. It’s everywhere and some

d e c / j a n

it. The rapid growth has lead to the new buzzword of ‘big data’, but depending on whom you ask, it’s either just plain old data or something new to contend with. The reality is that it’s an evolution. As businesses look for the next market advantage, they are digging into the data they already have - what Gartner calls ‘dark data’ - or looking for new sources through increased logging of web and customer activity and social media. The one thing that is certain is that while technology and methods are evolving, the one thing that isn’t keeping up is our people. There aren’t enough well-trained people that understand the issues. In the next few years, only 25% of that demand for qualified staff is going to be met.

2 0 1 2 - 1 3


businesses are drowning in

10 | Tech Toys 12 | Are Windows 8 tablets the answer? 14 | Saving lives with videoconferencing 16 | Lessons from Petraeus 18 | Kiwi technology sets sights on America’s Cup 20 | Visualising communications with UC 28 | Peer2Peer: Patrick Eltridge, Telstra 34 | Asia Cloud Forum 42 | The 20-hour work week

When you read through our two features on big data, think about whether your people are going to be ready and what risk that might bring to your business. If you’re at the start of your big data journey, make sure you’ve booked a ticket for your people or you might not reach your destination. Anthony Caruana, Editor

F E A T U R E S 04 | Does your big data strategy deliver?

24 | Beyond the big data hype curve

Is big data going to keep CIOs up

Anthony Caruana asks four experts

at night or is it just hype? We look

some tough questions about

inside the big data phenomenon and

delivering big data success.

cover image: © Labombarbe

try to answer this question.

32 | ECM, case management & the customer service holy grail

38 | Multivendor UC & the cloud challenge

Document management has evolved

Virtualisation has permeated

into enterprise content management.

every element of the corporate

How can your ECM impact

infrastructure. Does virtualisation

customer service delivery?

deliver when it comes to unified communications?


w w w . t e c h n o l o g y d e c i s i o n s . c o m . a u


Anthony Caruana

Three years ago, concepts like BYOD, big data and the cloud were barely on the CIO’s roadmap. Today, they dominate discussions whenever technology is mentioned in the C-suite. Of those, big data is the one that can potentially have the most impact on your company’s bottom line. 4

In our view, big data is really about

ent outcomes. However, they do share

three technical elements. It’s about

a common goal.

large volumes of data - many millions or even billions of records. It’s about

Think about when you’re driving your

unstructured data - not your relatively

car and want to make a turn at an

easy to manage databases but documents,

intersection. In order to make the turn

social media, video and other non-

safely your brain processes hundreds

database data. And it’s about multiple

of bits of data in a few microseconds

data sources - the data isn’t sitting in

and comes up with a plan - not just a

one place but is spread across multiple

single decision but a series of related


outcomes - for how to make the turn safely and within the confines of the

Without all three of these all you’re re-

traffic laws. This is really a big data

ally dealing with is data. However, it’s

problem. We take lots of data and use

our view that the term ‘big data’ is just

it to make decisions. The challenge of

a transient one that will disappear in a

big data is to create systems that are





year or two. All we’ll be talking about

able to make human-like decisions in

then is plain, old data.

human-like time frames.

For many businesses, their ongoing suc-

The systems we put in place to manage

cess will be measured by their capacity

operational data need to be fast enough

to effectively use big data. According

to allow us to make decisions that

to Gartner’s Senior Vice-President for

support the business without causing

Research Peter Sondergaard, “Leading

surprises. These are more rule-driven

businesses of the future will be judged

and are designed to detect and arrest

by the strength of their predictive algo-

unwanted business outcomes.

rithms.” Think about that - your capacity to see what is both within and outside

The Australian electricity grid is designed

around your business, analyse that in-

to operate at a frequency of 50 Hz. Over

here’s an old Chinese curse that

formation and then use it to make better

50,000 data points are collected every few

says “May you live in interest-

decisions will be a key determinant of

seconds in order to monitor this. If the

ing times”. If you’re the person

your business’s longevity.

frequency either increases of decreases

responsible for developing and

outside a defined tolerance level, systems are automatically activated to arrest the

egy, you probably feel that doing this is like

Strategic data vs operational data

trying to fly a kite in a hurricane - you

Decision-making processes fall into two

and bring it back into the acceptable

know you have the right equipment but

groups - operational and strategic. The

range in minutes.

the environment has changed so radically

systems you put in place for each of

that most of your assumptions about how

these requires different data, different

With long-term planning for the power

it will all work have been shattered.

analysis tools and deliver very differ-

system, a different approach is used.

delivering your business’s technology strat-

frequency change within a few seconds


© Prole, Georgi Byandov

Data from numerous sources is collated,

this is really an evolution of existing skills

Big data tools

processed and analysed to deliver a 20-

rather than something completely new.

Every major software vendor developing database and analytic tools is a player in

year view of the power system. While the velocity of incoming data is less of a fac-

In a recent report on technology trends

the big data business. But like so many

tor, there are dozens of data sources, high

for 2012, Deloitte said, as did almost

other enterprise tools, it’s the cloud that

volumes of data and the structure varies

every other analyst organisation, that a

is grabbing attention.

significantly with the sources. Although the

shortage of people with the right skills to

requirements and outcomes are different,

turn big data into a valuable business tool

Perhaps the most significant cloud tool

this is no less a big data issue than the

was imminent. However, Harvey Lewis of

impacting big data is Apache Hadoop.

operational data.

Deloitte says, “The skills needed are not

Named after a toy elephant that belonged

just statistics and mathematics, but in being

to the original developer’s son, Hadoop

able to align the data with the business.”

delivers a scalable system for data storage


and applications that runs on relatively

Every analyst and expert we spoke to gave the same answer when we asked them

So, we are back to the same challenge

inexpensive hardware. The platform has

what the biggest obstacle to successfully

IT has faced for the last three decades

been adopted by Microsoft as part of its

implementing a big data strategy was.

- the problem is not a technical one. It

cloud-based Azure platform.

While the volume of data continues to

remains the classic issue of business and

grow, the requisite skills for managing and

IT alignment.

Although any mention of a choice between SQLServer, Oracle, MySQL or

analysing that data are in greater demand. According to Gartner analyst Peter Son-

The best way, in our view, to address this

some other database platform is likely

dergaard, “By 2015, 4.4 million IT jobs

upcoming skills deficit is to manage it

to launch a technical religious war, the

globally will be created to support big

from within the business. In our experi-

reality is that every major database

data.” That demand is being met by the

ence and through observation of many

platform has been improving flexibility

market. Of those jobs, about 1 million will

different organisations, it’s clear that if

and performance for the last decade.

be in the Asia-Pacific region, according to

you understand the data you understand

We think the real changes have been

Gartner’s research.

the business. By creating cross-functional

coming from improvements in the way

teams with technical skills from the IT

storage is designed.

But what are those skills? Is it simply a

department and skills from business units,

case of finding more DBAs and business

you can build the skills for a successful

Traditional spinning drives still dominate

analysts? Or do we need so something new?

big data strategy.

the storage market. Interfaces are faster and spin speeds have increased but the


The role many analysts point to is that of

The technical skills are needed to sup-

fundamental technology is no longer

the ‘data scientist’. What’s interesting is that

port the infrastructure and to operate the

keeping up with the rapid growth in

this is often considered a new discipline

systems will come from IT, but the ability

volume - a nine-fold increase according

that requires specific qualifications and

to look into the data and ask the right

to recent research from IDC - and our

experience. However, our view is that

questions will come from the business.

desire to carry out real-time analysis. >

The hardware we depend on for storage

on information that can be used to drive

and data access is evolving and is, we


believe, at a transition. Flash memorybased systems are starting to become

In order to get the business engaged in

more prevalent but the cost is still too

a ‘big data project’, the focus can’t be on

high for most businesses to consider as

the technology. It must be on the business

a full replacement for spinning drives.

outcomes. In our view, the first step along that path starts with an analysis of how

What we’re now seeing is hybrid storage

the business uses the data it has.

appliances, either deployed locally or at cloud-based service providers, that com-

What reports are being produced? Which

bine flash storage with spinning drives.

of those are being read? What data is

Every major vendor is now delivering

being accessed the most. How is it being

hardware that balances the low cost of

used? Are there lots of satellite systems in

spinning drives with the performance

the business? For example, is a lot of the

of flash memory. Smart caching moves

reporting to management and the board

data from the spinning media to flash

being done via spreadsheets? If that’s the

media based on the demand that the

case, are they all carrying out calculations

data is subject to. This goes even further

and manipulations of the data in the same

with faster systems doing everything in

way or are different business units using

RAM. When data is no longer in heavy

the same pool of data in different ways?

use, it moves to hard drives or other, slower media.

In order to deliver a successful big data project, you need to start with the business.

The challenge here is that these new ways

And don’t name it The Big Data Project

of managing storage are quite different. The

- there’s no surer way to ensure that the

technology is less mature than traditional

business won’t be interested.

© ODonnell

storage and may require a new approach to the rest of your infrastructure and

Before getting stuck into the technical

operations. Processing and data transfer

solution, it is critical to come up with a

bottlenecks are going to move. Again,

business case. While it may sound like a

it’s critical to develop new skills in your

good idea to start collecting and storing

system architects.

social media data and then looking for how negative and positive brand senti-

Management engagement

ment correlates with sales, there’s no point

We’re going to make a bet with you. Other

making that leap unless the business can

than the CIO, we don’t think anyone

use the information.

in the C-suite or boardroom is talking about big data. Were certain that they

Final word

are talking about performance and KPIs,

Big data is likely to appear on every card

strategic planning and tracking against

in a game of Buzzword Bingo. Along with

the plan, and going beyond gut feel and

BYOD, it’s probably the most hyped tech-

looking for real data about how business

nology of the last year or so. However, we

units are tracking. But they won’t care

think the hype bubble will burst. That doesn’t

about big data.

mean big data is going away. It’s simply that we’ll all stop talking about big data as if


We’re not even sure that the business cares

it’s something special and simply get back

about data specifically. Their attention is

to calling it what it really is - data.


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TA B L E T S T H E A N S W E R ?

f you think Windows 8 tablets are the

Some organisations have attempted to

answer to the mobile device manage-

eliminate DropBox file-sharing by offering

ment problem, maybe you need to

‘virtual desktop’ connections to file stores.

change your thinking. Windows 8

From a desktop manager’s point of view,

tablets are available but consumers are not

this makes absolute sense. From a user’s

standing in the rain to get them. But desktop

perspective, the security gets in the way and

managers are excited. Our phone has been

the user experience is substandard.

ringing off the hook with CIOs asking us, “Is it true what my desktop teams are telling

This experience impacts device selection as

me … Windows 8 will be the solution to

users have personal preferences for devices

my organisation’s mobility woes?”

based on the work they do and emotional perceptions. The only real way to solve the

The short answer to this question is, “No.”

‘consumerisation problem’ is to embrace a

The longer answer is that the question is

solution that is as good as, or better than,

based on a flawed assumption: that mobility

publicly available microsolutions.

is best addressed by providing a secure, reliable, consistent and economically managed

While Windows 8 tablets can be managed like

device that mimics the Windows desktop

a desktop they will not stop staff from hav-

management approach we have honed over

ing their own devices and working around

the past couple of decades.

what they see as substandard enterprise solutions. This ship has sailed: IT has lost

This assumption is flawed. If you look at the

control of the endpoint and consumers will

workload for desktops and notebooks, there

increasingly dictate the endpoint.

is a great deal of uniformity in both how the hardware is used and what it us used for.

A Windows mobile device is unlikely to

This workload is almost exclusively dictated

take a large enough share of the consumer

by, and for the benefit of, the organisation.

market to enable IT to go back to an SOE strategy. If a company was to mandate

However, our experience with development

that all mobile applications were deployed

of mobility strategies suggests that the mobile

on Windows 8 devices, many users would

environment is different. Both the locations

see it as a substandard experience and find

and work functions are more varied and


tightly connected to a specific point in the business workflow.

Rather than looking at solutions based on desktop thinking, organisations need


Mobility is being driven by changing user

an Enterprise Mobility Strategy which is

expectations. If enterprise mobility does

grounded in providing staff the applications

not at least match the user experience of a

and data they need to get work done more

publicly accessible, cloud-based solution, it

effectively, at the time and place where the

simply won’t be used.

work is being done.

Joseph Sweeney is an IBRS advisor specialising in the areas of unified communications, collaboration, mobility and Microsoft products. Joseph is also engaged in research focusing on technology’s role in the education sector. Joseph is an accomplished business strategist and technology-marketing expert.



ower Murray Medicare Local (LMML), a healthcare provider

installed a 50″ plasma TV, a new PC and a camera at a local

in the Mildura area, has constructed a videoconferencing

hospital, providing a place for local residents to teleconference

room in a local hospital, drastically reducing the time

with their remote specialists.

patients must wait in order to see specialist doctors,

and potentially saving lives.

Since installing the system, residents in the area have much greater access to specialists, with waiting lists cut by two thirds.

The organisation is one of many federally funded Medicare

One endocrinologist visits the area three times a year, and with

Locals and has a remit to identify healthcare service gaps and

hundreds of type-one diabetics in the area, patients waited more

improve health outcomes in its domain. As a rural area, Mildura

than a year to see him.

has very few medical specialists.

On top of these physical visits,

Residents with significant health

he now runs eight video clinics a

concerns must go to Adelaide

year, where patients take it in turns

or Melbourne. This problem is

to sit in front of the plasma TV

exacerbated by a lack of public

in the hospital. “Instead of waiting

transport to major cities.

12 months if you’re lucky to see

This places a burden on the

him, now you wait two months,”

elderly, who may find the trek

Bailey said. LMML can also take

to a major city too physically

computers out to individuals that

demanding, and the poor, who

can’t make it into the hospital for

may not be able to afford to book

a teleconference, further extending

hotels to stay overnight in the major

the reach of specialists.

cities. Some specialists visit the

General practitioners often sit in

community several times a year,

the room with the patient, speaking

but with a massive backlog, some

to the remote specialist. “Suddenly

people have to wait more than a

you’ve got a neurosurgeon on your

year before even getting an initial

computer screen. That neurosurgeon

visit with a specialist. Even then,

is upskilling the GP,” Bailey said.

only the worst patients are seen.

“The GPs are saying ‘we never get

As a result of these problems,

to talk to these specialists’. After

many individuals simply don’t

you graduate, you’re sent out into

get any treatment at all.

the world and you never see [these

Troy Bailey, IT Manager at

specialists] again. But now they’re

LMML, said several of these

The system has also improved

videoconferencing as a means of

access to services that “never

providing telehealth. Bailey researched various systems, eventually

existed”, Bailey said. LMML was recently approached by a major

settling on a Vidyo VidyoPortal server from an Australian reseller,

Melbourne hospital that wanted to start a remote stroke clinic in

which is now housed in an ISP’s local data centre.

Mildura, via LMML’s videoconferencing system, and the two are

The system provides web-based teleconferencing - participants



visiting specialists recommended

working together to make this a reality. LMML is also looking at

can log into a conference using an HTTPS-enabled web browser.

starting up a similar remote psychogeriatrition service.

LMML created what Bailey calls a “video consulting suite” - he

By Andrew Collins

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FLIP SIDE Andrew Collins



he Petraeus scandal - the story of

Some reports say the emails contained

The official and media investigations that

the resignation of the Director

warnings to Kelley to stay away from Pe-

followed the initial revelations from the

of the CIA following an inves-

traeus, while others suggest they contained

FBI have brought other sordid stories to

tigation into harassing emails

more vague criticisms of her behaviour.

light. The scandal will likely have wide-

sent by his mistress - provides not just

ranging and long-lasting effects on the

an insight into the lives of top spies, but

The FBI used various information -

entirety of the US government. But it’s

also serves as a reminder that no one is

including IP addresses associated with

also interesting in terms of what it reveals

exempt from digital privacy intrusions.

the emails - to identify Broadwell as

about our online privacy - or lack thereof.

kelleypatrol. Further investigation of The details of the scandal have been

Broadwell’s email accounts revealed the

What’s truly remarkable about the story

widely reported by now, with more com-

affair with Petraeus.

is that Petraeus was the head of one of

ing to light on a daily basis. But before we get into the broader meaning of the story, here’s a brief refresher of the broad


strokes of the story.

P O W E R F U L I N T E L L I G E N C E O R G A N I S AT I O N S , B U T W A S

In late 2011, David Petraeus, a one-time


four-star general in the US Army and newly crowned Director of the CIA, began an affair with Paula Broadwell, a writer

In early November 2012, authorities

the world’s most powerful intelligence

who co-authored Petraeus’s biography.

confronted Broadwell about the affair.

organisations, but was undone by his

The two had reportedly become close

Various intelligence bosses were informed,

own sloppy digital footprints. Even he,

while she chronicled his life. Both had

who eventually passed it on to the White

with his experience in international

spouses of their own.

House. On the 9th of November, Petraeus

espionage, found his personal digital

formally resigned as Director of the CIA.

privacy breached - and by his own government, nonetheless.

Petraeus and Broadwell used webmail


accounts under fake names to exchange

There are all sorts of conspiracy theo-

unencrypted messages. One would log

ries going around about why an affair

The scandal highlights how easy it is for

in, write an email and save it in drafts,

would demand the resignation of the

authorities, at least in the US (where

after which the other would log in, read

CIA Director. Conspiracies aside, it’s

many webmail and cloud storage services

the draft and delete it.

pretty simple. Knowledge of a clan-

are hosted), to gain access to informa-

destine affair would give anyone with

tion stored online, potentially without

In May 2012, a friend of the Petraeus

malicious intent pretty hefty leverage

users’ knowledge.

family, Jill Kelley, filed a report with the

against anyone involved - Petraeus or

FBI after receiving disturbing emails from

Kelley could have been blackmailed into

US authorities’ access to private emails

a user calling themselves ‘kelleypatrol’.

doing something nefarious.

stored on remote servers is governed by the

US’s Electronic Communications Privacy

cause - if the messages in question are

remote servers for long periods of time

Act 1986. To access messages that are six

less than six months old.

like they are today. 10 GB email accounts

months old or older, federal authorities

that could store tens or hundreds of

only need a subpoena from a prosecutor

If this time-based distinction seems

thousands of emails until the end of

to access them, according to the Act.

ridiculous, it’s because the Act was de-

time (or at least until the end of Google,

signed for the digital world that existed

which may end up being the same thing)

Authorities only need a judge’s permis-

in 1986, not the one that might exist in

were unfathomable.

sion - significantly harder to get and

2012 (or beyond). Back in those days,

requiring demonstration of probable

electronic messages were not stored on

In 1986, US lawmakers figured that if messages were still on a remote server after six months, no one really wanted them anyway, so authorities could look at them without having to ask a judge first. As is often the case, the law lags behind the technology. Lobby groups are petitioning the US government to update the laws, but you can bet that authorities will resist any change that makes it harder for them to make an arrest or bring charges against a suspect. Of course, any case that crosses international boundaries is inherently more complex than one that is purely domestic. But the point remains that it’s pretty damn easy for investigators to get into the private data of a person - even if that person is the head of one of the largest spy organisations in the world. There are a lot of insights to be gleaned from the Petraeus scandal, including the unintended consequences of illicit affairs, the strange ways that the many arms of a monolithic bureaucracy like the US government interact and that even top spies can make pretty ridiculous blunders.


But from a data security perspective, the lesson is very simple, and very similar to the advice given to teenagers who post naughty pictures of themselves on Facebook: never store anything online, unencrypted, that you wouldn’t want the world to see.


K I W I T E C H N O L O G Y S E T S S I G H T S O N A M E R I C A’ S C U P The technology industry is growing rapidly - in third place just behind dairy and tourism for GDP - and there are products and services bearing Made in New Zealand being used all over the world. However, as technological innovation gets more advanced, so too does the competitive landscape.


t’s not always the best idea that gets

New Zealand’s technology capabilities

the golden ticket, it’s a combination

and give Kiwi companies exposure to

of ideas, strategy, team, funding and

export opportunities.

the old cliché of who you know, or

perhaps, who knows you?

The group explored investment opportunities at Silicon Valley Bank, Shasta

New Zealand has both the blessing and

Ventures and Menlo Ventures - all po-

curse of geographic isolation. Being

tential sources of finance - and took

tucked away from the distractions of large

part in educational visits and discussions

markets is an excellent breeding ground

with Palantir Technologies, Oracle and

for innovation; however, exporting to

Amazon Web Services.

the larger markets can be a daunting experience for many smaller Kiwi firms.

The mission was a tremendous success, putting building blocks in place

With that in mind, we at NZICT led a

that will have flow-on effects for the

mission of 20 New Zealand companies

companies involved. The momentum

to San Francisco, kicking off a year-long

generated from the trip is a first step

program to use the America’s Cup as a

for export-oriented growth initiatives by

backdrop to showcase Kiwi technology

NZICT, and ultimately a boost for New

in the USA.

Zealand’s economy as we evangelise the export message.

We adopted a high-intensity group schedule, which made it easier for the

We also generated interest from US

new entrant and in-market companies

companies keen on investing in New

participating on the mission to un-

Zealand businesses and possibly setting

derstand the realities of the business

up research and development facilities

culture in the region and to spread their

in Auckland.

learnings with other Kiwi start-ups and growing SMEs.

Following on from the mission, we are putting together the next phase of the

Candace Kinser, CEO NZICT Group

They achieved much more as a mission

program to include a showcase linked to

group than if they had tried to learn and

the America’s Cup 2013 to expose and

discover the market as individual com-

familiarise high-growth software and

panies, flipping the cliché into what is

technology companies with opportuni-

gained on tour is enthusiastically shared

ties in San Francisco.

with anyone who will listen. More than 70 technology companies are



The San Francisco region is renowned

interested in participating in hosting

for its business, investor and education

and entertaining activities around the

opportunities in technology, and the

regattas, and another trade mission to

mission was a way to attract interest in

Silicon Valley is planned for August 2013.



he City of Charles Sturt has implemented a unified communications solution across several of its locations,

In addition, the council operates a further four library branches and five small community centres.

improving staff efficiency and customer service delivery.

All locations are connected via a private IP wide area network.

The city is a local government area situated to

The primary MCD is located in the Civic Centre, with a second in

the west of the central business district of Adelaide, South

the Beverley Centre. The entire solution is configured to provide

Australia. The council services a population of approximately

a service across all locations, with the ability for automatic

105,000 residents.

failover in the event of a fault or communications disruption.

Janelle Sollitto, Acting Manager Information Services for

Mitel 5360 IP Phones were deployed for each desk, incorporating

City of Charles Sturt, said: “In 2010, we decided it was time to

colour touch screens and support for gigabit speed networking.

improve our ability to communicate between our various offices

Each phone offers access to communications features, custom

and streamline customer service delivery.”

web content and interactive applications.

After undertaking a tender process evaluating solutions from

“The Civic Centre is the key contact point for many of our

multiple vendors, the city selected a unified communications solution

interactions with residents, with some of our team members serving people across both the front desk and via phone enquiries. These staff members can now see on their computer screens how many customers are waiting to be served, and which colleagues are available to help, which makes it much easier for them to balance their workload,” said Sollitto. The system “has allowed us to improve the flexibility

Image courtesy of the City of Charles Sturt

of our contact centre, making it possible for us to easily tailor announcements, automatically redirect calls, and present customers with interactive options”, she continued. An organisation-wide single employee directory for phone communications has been implemented, which simplifies administration of employee moves and changes. The IT help desk team can make routine changes to configurations and call handling settings, and have integrated the solution with the Microsoft application environment used by council. The solution from Mitel. The solution comprises Mitel’s Communications

also allows automatically scheduled web-based reports to be

Director (MCD), Contact Center Enterprise, Intelligent Queue

produced, providing further visibility into customer service delivery.

and Live Business Gateway.


“We have integrated Microsoft Office Communications

Council services are delivered by a team of 450 employees,

Server, which allows staff to see presence information for their

with the majority of employees located at large facilities at the

colleagues, enabling them to quickly direct calls to available

Civic and Beverley Centres. The central library and most customer

colleagues, without dialling multiple extensions,” Sollitto said.

services are based at the Civic Centre. Field service employees

The system “has helped us to improve the efficiency and

handling maintenance of property, parks, roads and sporting

customer service delivery of our front desk and contact centre

facilities are based at the Beverley Centre.

teams, without increasing our budgeted costs”, she said.






Big data is here and IT leaders are wondering how to successfully pull together the technical and business elements to deliver a coherent strategy that delivers value. Anthony Caruana spoke with a panel of experts to find out how to deliver big data success.


How do you know if your company needs to have a big data strategy?

One of the challenges that many businesses

Adrian agreed when asked about obstacles.

face is understanding what big data is.

“Skills, by far. Most people simply don’t

Adrian says, “What’s different about this

have the skills today for what we describe

is volume that exceeds system capacity,

as big data. Either because it’s data we

variety that requires new tools and new

have left alone for good reason - we didn’t

approaches, velocity that is highly variable

know how to work with it.”

In Gartlan’s view, “Companies of all sizes

and isn’t easily accommodated and typi-

should consider implementing a big data

cally complexity because of the differences.”

strategy if they want to stay competi-

Foster added, “In a recent survey conducted by SAS in Australia and New Zealand,

tive in today’s fast-paced environment.

In Foster’s view, it also comes down to

executives indicated that the top two chal-

IDC forecasts that this year alone we’ll

the use of the data and ability to use it to

lenges to successfully implementing a big

be generating 2.7 zetabytes of data, as

make decisions. “It is important to note

data strategy were the lack of appropriate

the adoption of social mediums and

that ‘big’ is not an absolute measure - if

skills and access to quality data.”

cloud-based tools continue to grow at

you have potential access to data that you

a fast pace.”

are not leveraging to make better busi-

Once the skills and tools issues are con-

ness decisions, then you need a strategy

sidered, it’s interesting to note Adrian’s

for big data.”

observations about data that’s already in

Adrian suggests that if you have problems with your data handling today that you

businesses but not used. “You need to

What is the biggest obstacle to successfully implementing a big data strategy?

may have a big data problem. He says, “If you’ve got data-related problems that aren’t being adequately handled with the existing technology stack that need something more than more, more than just different, more than more of the same, you may have a big data problem.”

begin with an information audit. Most organisations begin with a lot of ‘dark data’. It is sitting in systems because auditors tell us to keep it, the government tells us to keep it, or just because we always have.” From that point, engagement is key - es-

“The biggest obstacle is not technical

pecially when it comes to getting the right

Interestingly, Gartlan added that everyone

- there are big data tools out there for

people engaged. “We have found that the

will have a big data problem. “Given the

any job. This is part of the challenge -

big data implementations that deliver the

explosion of data over the last couple of

organisations need to understand the

most value are aimed at decision makers

years, both inside the company - every-

problem they are trying to solve and the

and data consumers, rather than just a

thing is now being monitored, tracked

business benefits prior to jumping on a

few data scientists. People extract value

and measured - and outside the company,

particular technology bandwagon,” ac-

from data, so ensuring mass distribution

all companies have a big data problem.

cording to Rabie.

of your data will make your big data asset

But do all companies choose to address

more valuable. Find a way to make big While tools are important, people are

data available and useful for everyone,”

data strategy?”

perhaps even more critical. Both Foster and

said Rabie. ©

it with a big data or even an overall


James Foster, Chief Technology Strategist, SAS ANZ

Chris Gartlan, Managing Director, GoodData Asia Pacific

Glen Rabie, CEO, Yellowfin

Merv Adrian, Research VP, Gartner


Are there technical limitations to creating a big data infrastructure?

that a return on what can be a significant investment can be realised. The deployment options vary. “The most frequently deployed option is node-by-node scale-out. This has been the way many inhouse solutions have been developed. As the

Every member of our panel agreed that

need arose, more servers were purchased.

existing approaches to managing data need

Except for those do it in the cloud. Ama-

to be revisited in the big data era.

zon started two million clusters last year. Even if those we just ‘Hello World’, there’s

“Generally, new infrastructure is required

still a lot of work being done and there

to implement a big data infrastructure

wasn’t any capex - people didn’t have to

and companies need to ask themselves,

buy computers or software,” added Adrian.

Will this investment generate the results required by the business in the required

Foster’s view was that perhaps the future

time frame? Or can I leverage additional

would include three different approaches

cloud-based infrastructure to assist my

that work with what he calls ‘high-perfor-

business?” said Foster.

mance analytics’.

When we delved into this question a lit-

He advocates an approach that combines a

tle further, it was clear that there was no

number of different capabilities to help get

one-size-fits-all solution. Rabie explained,

past traditional limitations. These include

to Adrian, it might be happening in

“Your typical organisation’s big data issues

grid computing that leverages commodity

isolation to the IT department.

are not the same as a large telco, which in

infrastructure in a horizontally scalable

turn doesn’t compare to internet giants

architecture to support growing ranks of

“Big data projects often begin in isola-

like Facebook or Google. Every big data

analytical users and data within an or-

tion. Many of the biggest ones start and

tool has its own limitations, but if you are

ganisation. In-database processing pushes

have nothing to do with IT. The people

using the right tool for the job, your only

more advanced analytical processes down

who built them would run as fast as the

limitations are financial.”

to the database engine, which means less

can in the other direction if they saw

data movement, increased data governance

an IT person coming. And this is even

According to Adrian, “People walk in the

and better performance. These are married

some who have been successful enough

door and say ‘we need the software stack

with in-memory analytics for running ana-

to speak at conferences. It are often con-

and hardware platform. And, by the way,

lytical algorithms completely in-memory,

sidered blockers rather than enablers.”

it’s probably going to be different to the

scaling across commodity infrastructure,

hardware platforms I’m running today’.”

resulting in significant performance gains

Gartlan suggested that you should

and the ability to analyse much larger

“leverage the current infrastructure you

data volumes.

already have in place, including existing

Gartlan said, “Generally, new infrastructure is required to implement a big data infrastructure and companies need to ask themselves, Will this investment generate the results required by the business in the required time frame? Or can I leverage additional cloud-based infrastructure to assist my business?”

enterprise applications - continue to get

What do I need to do to the rest of my IT infrastructure ready for big data?

more out of those investments - and look to cloud-based business intelligence solutions which can assist in integrating additional data sources. Businesses need to focus on mining the data already within the organisation and look for the optimal way to combine it with both


So, as is always the case, a business case needs

So, what’s it take to get your business

cloud-application data and unstructured

to be established and followed through so

ready for a big data project. According

data such as social media and web logs.”

big data solutions available. There are

forms, but left analytical capabilities at

tools that specialise in storage, search,

the departmental or individual user level.

documents, images, video, social media,

By centralising the infrastructure to sup-

machine data, analytics and many others.

port analytical activities, performance

Short-list the tools that best address your

can be improved, costs can be lowered

issues and do a thorough evaluation. In

and opportunities for collaboration

the big data world, choosing the right

within the business increased.

tools for the job usually means planning for a mixed architecture.”

“Leverage your existing assets and platforms. If an enterprise data warehouse

Once the architecture and people issues

exists, implement in-database analytics

are resolved, it’s critical to not set unre-

to better utilise that capability.”

alistic expectations in the business. “That said, companies do need to be cautious of

In contrast, Rabie took a more definitive

not underestimating the effort, resource

approach, utilising the popular Hadoop

and operational challenges of standing

platform, although he cautions against

up and maintaining an infrastructure to

expecting Hadoop to deal with all your

support a Big Data project,” said Gartland.

data needs. “For business intelligence environments on big data, the optimal

Is there an optimal IT infrastructure model that will best support a big data project?

Contrasting those views, it’s clear that a significant challenge is balancing what you expect from a big data project with not knowing exactly what you’re going to

model is to have your BI tool querying a fast analytical database. The analytical database pulls data from your operational data sources or data warehouse and ensures production is not affected by too many complex or concurrent queries. We are also starting to see more companies moving to tools such as Hadoop, which

find. As Adrian puts it, “Typically, either the data source is an entirely new one or

Most of our panellists answered us

is an extremely scalable and flexible data

it is data that is fundamentally not be-

similarly, best summarised by Adrian.

store. Scalability, or volume, is a differ-

ing used today and it’s only downstream

“Frankly you could take the ‘big’ out

ent big data issue to velocity, or speed,

from it that we combine the results of

and ask the same question. The answer

and there is a common misperception

the big data project with some other

is ‘it depends’.”

that Hadoop is also very good at ad hoc queries. In our experience, it is slow

existing data.” Gartland suggested, “The optimal IT in-

compared to analytical databases, and

Foster took a more traditional approach

frastructure varies from one company to

most analytical databases today have

suggesting that you must “consider the

the next; however, cloud-based business

Hadoop connectors.”

entire life cycle of big data in the context

intelligence can provide a cost-effective

of infrastructure requirements”.

and scalable solution which delivers

Adrian supported this view. “There

faster results compared with building

are different optimal structures for

your big data infrastructure internally.”

streaming data that needs to processed

His suggested approach recommended

in real time than there are for massive

that you work through acquiring, storing, cleansing and transformation, managing

Foster provided guidance based on his

amounts of historical data that need

the information and then leveraging the

experience on what he considers some

to be mined periodically for trend


best practice approaches.

analysis. You’re going to configure those systems very differently to one

Rabie reiterated the importance of having

“Create a centralised, enterprise analyti-

another. You’ll architect them differ-

the right skills and knowledge. “Make sure

cal platform. Many organisations have

ently, use different tools and deploy

your team is familiar with the different

historically centralised their data plat-

on different platforms.”



PEER PEER While IT delivery is typically seen as a technical discipline, Telstra’s CIO sees that it’s more about culture and attitude. Agile is more than a technical buzzword - it’s being woven into the fabric of Telstra’s IT operations.




am going to make a very bold state-

Telstra IT must deliver a source of competi-

ment ... “Telstra will be one of the

tive advantage. This is all in a world where

most successful stories of enterprise

the answers are not obvious, where the

Agile at scale in the world, and that

solutions needed are not straightforward

will be more due to its culture than its

and 10% year-on-year efficiency gains will

Agile methods.”

not get you there.

I want to focus on this point - if you do

The use of the internet from desktop

not change culture, then it doesn’t matter

computers is rapidly becoming marginal

what method you employ, because ulti-

compared to mobile use. Global mobile data

mately people are going to do the same

traffic is predicted to grow by 26 times over

thing they have always done.

the next five years.

Agile is a way of working. It’s a set of so-

For Telstra, this means we need to provide

cial, technical and management practices,

continued network capacity to satisfy an

principles and behaviours that drive a more

ever-growing demand for new applications

productive and enjoyable experience. I have

and e-commerce business models.

found over the last 10 years that most people who have experienced an agile way

To meet these challenges we need to do

of working never go back.

things differently. Not just through adopting new methods, but also by adopting a culture

An agile culture is underpinned by the

that’s adaptive, ready to challenge existing

values of courage, accountability and trust.

constraints and ready to seize emerging

Done properly, the benefits are many. They


include ensuring business value is delivered, improving customer satisfaction, better

But what is ‘culture’ …

risk identification and management, and

Culture can be hard to define due to its

higher quality.

many components that are not readily visible - rules, perceptions, values and beliefs. If ‘the

All of which will see increased revenue

way we do things around here’ is a culture,

and profitable growth. The inevitable

then I’d argue that Agile is also a culture.

savings in time and cost are happy byproducts of that.

In many organisations, we still see widespread symptoms of the industrial age way


Patrick Eltridge is Telstra’s CIO. He has wide experience in the banking sector including managing significant system changes, performing in a global architectural role and operating in a customer facing business unit. He joined Telstra in November 2010.

Why ‘go Agile’ now?

of working. Corporate planners value cost

To have any hope of thriving in the 21st

control over innovation and organisations

century, Telstra must be more adaptable

are structured into functional silos rather

and respond faster than our competitors to

than for multifunctional end-to-end flow.

meet new demands, with the level of quality

Mistakes hidden or forgotten rather than

and service expected by our customers.

aired and discussed and delivering the plan

© Stolt

wins over learning and adaptation. We are

surprise them with what they can achieve.

You need to move your partners and

now in the knowledge era - a global world

Their experiences and reactions becomes

vendors with you. This can be helped by

linked more than ever and enabled through

a force-multiplier for the culture change.

co-locating teams and changing your terms

technology. Change is constant and relent-

of engagement - remove contractual terms

less, and quickening. We need new ways of

Walk the walk: If your organisation toler-

that drive undesirable behaviours. You are

working, learning, collaborating and living.

ates mediocre behaviour from its leaders,

the one changing - help others to follow!

it is not going to achieve an agile culture.

So how do you change culture?

True leaders help their people to change

Invest in continuous funding to support

the way they think and adapt to new ways

iterative developments - make it known that

Choose a clear, safe path: People need to

of working - while managing their own

it’s okay to not get it right the first time, but

see a clear and safe path towards change.

anxiety about change.

fail fast and recover quickly. Update your

You need to explain why change is needed,

traditional measures and metrics and keep

what success looks like and how we get there.

Build up a trust culture: Integral to the

training your people in Agile fundamentals.

Most organisations fail to change culture

building of trust is the exchange of feedback.

This is a journey and it will take time.

because they expect people to arrive at a

This means hearing truths about yourself as

destination without having experienced

well as delivering them. Upward feedback

the journey. We must remember that the

develops a mutual accountability and trans-

The culture change is starting to bite

existing culture is ‘trusted’, even if it is not

parency between managers and the team

Agile organisations get the balance between

always ‘liked’.

for the sort of leadership behaviours you

the hard and the soft elements right. The

need in a performance culture.

governance, processes and organisational

Tell stories: Stories of your prior successes,

structure are not incongruent with the

and more importantly, your failures, serve

Listen to the ideas that are coming from the

core aspects of an agile culture - they are

to show that change can be simple, well-

people on the ground. They have relation-

necessary and fit for purpose. Above all,

intentioned and directed to build trust for

ships with stakeholders, see processes and

they drive visibility and transparency, of

its own sake. Stories are powerful in driving

know the strengths and weaknesses around

performance, risks and value delivered.

belief in change.

them. Emerging patterns from feedback tell you much about the wider culture - where

The beauty of agile technical practices

Learning and failure: People need educa-

it’s risk averse, weak and where there are

and processes is that they build and rein-

tion and experience, in order to internalise

strengths. Encouraging shared goals makes

force the behaviours that sustain an agile

the learning and adopt an agile mindset.

the team a measure of success, not the

culture: stand-ups, retrospectives, pairing,

This can’t be forced and occurs at a dif-

individual - and this can go a long way to

time boxing, iterative delivery, showcases,

ferent pace for each person. Creating a

developing trust and collaboration.

retrospectives and sustainable pace.

ways is encouraged and failure is openly

Making it happen ...

The paradox for organisations changing

acknowledged, is a step to learning.

Changing an organisational culture to an

culture is that it takes time - and the

agile mindset is a complex undertaking.

environment is ruthless, relentless and

Breed a performance culture: Visibly

All sorts of organisational blockers need

needs change now. The exciting truth at

support and trust people, invest in their

to be addressed, but can only be addressed

Telstra is that as the results from cultural

development and show you want them to

by those who have already embraced some

change start to flow, they significantly

be successful. Then stretch, challenge and

of the change.

exceed expectations.

learning environment, where trying new



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Tass Melissinos, Manager, Enterprise Content Management Solutions, IBM Australia and New Zealand


Do our enterprise content management systems and our business use work together or get in each other’s way? Great benefits can be derived by integrating content capture and distribution coherently rather than relying on brute force to make ECM deliver the best possible customer service.


nterprise content management’s

of ECM, businesses can not only tailor

primary task is supporting busi-

their products and services to a cus-

ness functions, by ensuring all

tomer’s unique needs and history, but

information assets get to users in

also derive more nuanced insights into

the right context, at the right time. Case

the trends and processes which underpin

management tools integrate capabilities

their customer life cycles more broadly.

across different aspects of the business,

This approach requires highly integrated

allowing organisations to deliver more

platforms that capture, store and analyse

efficient and beneficial outcomes for

content, backed by infrastructure which

each customer’s ongoing ‘case’. By using

can handle each case as a discrete yet

case management tools as a function

interlinked data entity.

tions more effectively. This is particularly

For many organisations, such as retailers or

relevant for customer-centric industries

finance service providers, these customised

such as healthcare, finance and professional

responses can be automated to a large

services, where comprehensive access to

degree. A strong case management system

content provides the foundations for more

will not only link content within the ECM

appropriate responses and targeted lead

framework to a specific case, but identify

generation. When combined with predic-

the responses it believes will generate the

tive analytics systems, case management

most impact or positive sentiment in each

can move from ad hoc frameworks and

area of business. In the case of retail, a

allow organisations to pre-empt the needs

customer’s purchasing history may result

of individual customers.

in them being sent promotional offers for their preferred brands, suggestions for

Case management processes allow businesses

other choices or invitations to relevant

to extract more value from information,

events, all without human intervention.

while ECM helps determine which informa-

However, such processes must still in-

tion is most relevant for cases. In industries

corporate a level of human intuition and

where cases often travel throughout differ-

intelligence to make the most of available

ent branches of an organisation (such as

content analysis.


healthcare), treating ECM and case man-

A case-by-case basis

agement as complementary systems results

Case management and ECM systems should

in both superior outcomes for individuals

offer clear and real-time access to customer

and improved efficiencies for staff (through

insights across the business. Each operator

reduction of repeat processes or decisions

or decision-maker should be able to quickly

based on incomplete data). It can also boost

access all relevant records or changes to a

the ability to audit current cases to drive

given customer’s history; a strong analytics

improvements to future ones.

platform will deliver insights specific to each business unit based on the full range of available content in the system. Ideally,

are assigned to individuals or groups, and

A complementary approach to ECM and case management

tracked throughout all its interactions with

Case management approaches benefit from

sources (including new materials being

your organisation until a successful outcome

rigorous ECM systems and policies. Ideally,

simultaneously generated by other parts of

can be reached. Medical patient histories

the case management tools in use should be

the organisation), giving all staff the most

(and their records), insurance claims and

compatible with the database and archival

up-to-date advice on the customer’s situation

customer complaints are all examples of

processes of your ECM system; that way,

at any point of service.

cases. Case management tools aim to provide

automated and manual case management

overviews on each case which span all of

processes alike can draw on a far greater

A change in mindset

the organisation’s processes and divisions,

volume of content, with far faster response

All this can only be realised if organisations

so that insights from one process area can

time, than if they were to operate in isola-

overcome traditional siloed boundaries

be taken into account and acted on by

tion from ECM.

between their composite units. To improve

A case, in its most basic form, is a collection of information and documents, which

others (sometimes in different areas of the organisation) in a cohesive manner.

such insights can adapt as new content arrives from both internal and external

ECM-based collaboration, decision-makers Ensuring continuity and consistency of

should focus on sharing the benefits specific

service becomes possible when case manage-

to each business unit of using case manage-

As such, every case ties a specific user

ment tools distribute ECM-stored content

ment software to leverage the content stored

entity to a continuously growing set of

throughout the organisation, so that a

by ECM systems. While building on resilient

data; integrating case management tools as

customer’s preferences and history result

and scalable software and analytics platforms

part of an overall ECM strategy can help

in the most appropriate form of response

is important, ECM also involves significant

businesses manage their customer interac-

at every point of interaction.

cultural flexibility to achieve success.


Cloud transforming BCM: where the buck stops Natural disasters such as the floods that hit Thailand and the earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan last year underlined how companies, businesses and the economy are increasingly  dependent on their infocomm systems to operate smoothly and reliably. “Therefore, it is imperative to ensure that these systems continue to function, or recover rapidly, especially at times of disaster,” said Khoong Hock Yun, assistant chief executive of the Infrastructure & Services Development Group at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore in his keynote address at the recent Singapore Computer Society (SCS) seminar on ‘Innovative Practices in Business Continuity Management (BCM) & Cloud’. “Avoiding or alleviating losses from [both natural and humaninduced disasters] can be achieved with proper planning, surveillance and appropriate mitigation measures, including training of manpower,” Khoong added. “Hence, it is crucial for companies and businesses to have plans, policies, measures


and practices for disaster recovery and business continuity.” However, those natural disasters also highlight the fact that

A recent Forrester report states that 36% of Australian organisa-

not all business continuity issues are caused by IT. “It is the

tions are currently leveraging cloud-based services, an increase

CIO, and the IT department, that seems to be getting the most

from 22% in 2010 and 14% in 2009.

attention - and therefore the most responsibility, for potential disasters that the organisation may face,” said Chak Kong Soon,

“Australian companies increasingly need to consider and adopt

president of the Singapore Computer Society (SCS).

cloud services in an effort to move at least part of their IT into a data centre,” said the Minister for Broadband, Communica-

Read full article at:

tions and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, who officially opened the facility with Equinix Australia’s managing director, Tony Simonsen. “On an international scale, companies

Demand surge hastens Equinix expansion in Sydney, Jakarta

wanting to do business in Australia can experience latency issues so we are seeing many of those making the decision to deploy at onshore data centres in Australia.”

Customer demand as a result of increased data usage and a rise in the number of companies transitioning to cloud has driven Equinix Inc to open phase two of its Sydney SY3 In-

Read full article at:

ternational Business Exchange (IBX) data centre (SY3-II) six months ahead of schedule. SY3-II is located south of Sydney and provides approximately


Cloud economics: can cloud really save IT costs?

1000 cabinets across 22,927 square feet. Once the third and

Is cloud computing necessarily a cheaper way to run business

final phase of SY3 is completed, the IBX will provide 72,850

workloads than traditional compute? At the CIO Executive

square feet and capacity for 3000 cabinets.

Summit 2012 held in Hong Kong last month, a Fujitsu executive

W W W. A S I A C L O U D F O R U M . C O M


The Asia Cloud Forum, an online media portal, has been created to represent the interests of enterprise users, governments, telcos, vendors, policy makers and others with a stake in the development of cloud computing in Asia.

suggested that “a unit of cloud is no less expensive than a unit

to enhance its portfolio of cloud services with the launch of its

of traditional compute power”.

own cloud infrastructure.

This can be a puzzling statement. Don’t cloud vendors, and

PLDT’s infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offers computing

occasionally, some CIOs, speak about the dramatic cost savings

resources such as virtual data centres and machines in a cloud

that the cloud brings due to the economies of scale?

network that can simply be accessed and managed from any web browser. This solution allows for rapid deployment as well

In separate interviews with Asia Cloud Forum, four senior ex-

as immediate scaling when the number of users increases, pay-

ecutives at Fujitsu, Savvis, Rackspace Hosting and IBM shared

ing only for actual usage while still enjoying control of these

their thoughts on the topic of cloud economics. The vendor

computing resources.

representatives are: Cameron McNaught, senior vice president, cloud and strategic solutions, global business group, Fujitsu;

NEC Philippines will provide and maintain the cloud computing

Mark Smith, managing director, Asia, Savvis; Mark Randall,

infrastructure for PLDT’s IaaS offering. This implementation

interim managing director for Rackspace Hosting Asia Pacific;

at PLDT is the first cloud project for NEC in the Philippines.

and Matt Wang, vice president, China development Laboratories,

PLDT’s public cloud service is envisioned to help accelerate the

IBM China.

adoption of cloud computing technology locally.

Read full article at:

For the first 9 months of 2012, PLDT’s total broadband sub-

PLDT partners NEC Philippines for cloud solutions Philippine telco PLDT has partnered with NEC Philippines, Inc

W W W. A S I A C L O U D F O R U M . C O M

scribers hit 3.2 million with aggregate revenue contribution from broadband and internet services of 17.6 billion pesos (US$427 million), 30% higher than for the same period last year. Read full article at:



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Nice Systems’ mobile workforce optimisation suite enables staff to access operational and personal data using their mobile phone or tablet. The suite enables managers to oversee and maintain control of operational metrics and activities. Using their mobile device, they can monitor employee performance across KPIs and provide coaching where necessary to drive improvements. They can

once and deploy at any scale on Hadoop, traditional extract, transform and load (ETL) grid infrastructure, or even through data federation applications. Developers create a single set of graphical mappings and run them on a variety of data platforms and deployment models. Users can access a variety of types and sources of data using a rich library of pre-built ETL transforms for both transaction and interaction data that run on Hadoop or traditional grid infrastructure.

also perform scheduling changes, respond to time-off requests and approve or contest commissions and rewards. The suite also gives employees control over their scheduling requests and access to their development plans, performance


NETWORK PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT Cascade 10.0 offers network performance management (NPM) for virtualised desktop infrastructure (VDI), server virtualisation and fully virtualised data

statistics and variable pay.

centres using VXLAN software-defined networks (SDNs).

The Manager On-the-Go application al-

The Cascade product family is now offered as a virtual portfolio

lows contact centre managers to monitor

ready for deployment.

service calls, view the status of their agents,

The product provides detailed monitoring into the performance of

understand what is being discussed, observe

virtualised environments, including VDI protocols, and is an NPM

customer sentiment and identify interactions

solution to provide visibility for VMware View (PCoIP protocol) for

that warrant their intervention. Managers

actions such as screen refresh, print and type. It also supports moni-

can also intervene through conferencing

toring of the Common Internet File System (CIFS) protocol to ensure

or chat in order to help employees satisfy

the performance of file sharing and collaboration applications such

customers and shape interactions.

as Microsoft SharePoint.


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M U LT I V E N D O R U C & T H E C LO U D C H A L L E N G E Sue Bradshaw, Senior Technical Writer, Integrated Research

V 38

While unified communications has been around for a while, how can it work in multivendor environments where cloud services are still new? How do we move from bare metal systems to cloud and what does that mean for the user experience?

irtualisation has already trans-

But will this model work for unified com-

formed the way business ap-

munications? Introducing virtualisation

plications are deployed in data

raises the bar on performance and accen-

centres and unified communi-

tuates the challenges of delivering quality

cations managers are no different in want-

VoIP and UC services because of the need

ing to transform the way they deploy and

for real-time host and guest performance.

deliver UC. Burdened with the challenge

Until quite recently, real-time applications

of supporting a medley of servers, oper-

in virtualised production environments

ating systems and applications acquired

weren’t an ideal combination, but with

during numerous purchasing cycles, many

maturing technologies and major vendor

organisations are looking to simplify and

support, virtualised UC is now a reality.

optimise their IT operations. One of the ways they can achieve this is through

As UC moves into the cloud where clients

server virtualisation.

pay for services only as needed, customers

multitechnology. A rich collection of UC and virtualisation management metrics for the host, guests and UC applications will give you a high-level view as well as the granular detail you need to monitor and troubleshoot individual components.

The host A low-level virtual machine manager, known as a hypervisor, enables the server hardware - the metal - to function as a host. Once the hypervisor is installed, its only task is to run guest operating systems, and accept and arbitrate resource requests for guest VMs. To view the impact of applications and guests on host performance, you need to


monitor key host performance metrics like CPU utilisation, memory consumption, and disk and network usage. Problem identification, analysis and resolution can be highly complex so comparing host metrics side by side is invaluable in being able to identify and address any resource contention. will benefit from having access to a set of

and more will be asked of them. The right

In this way you’ll be able to easily recognise

remote resources and can avoid purchas-

decisions need to be made quickly because

if a particular VM is taking too many of the

ing, installing and maintaining hardware

more people or processes are affected.

host’s resources and affecting other VMs’

that depreciates and is often significantly

If mean times to identify, convince and

performance. You’ll be able to rapidly isolate


repair are not rapid, the overall quality of

the component at fault, and avoid finger

the user experience will suffer and service

pointing between different support teams.

A truly integrated management solution

levels can be breached.

providing high-level and deep drill-down

As well as troubleshooting, monitoring us-

metrics into the performance, availability,

When hardware is virtualised, with multiple

age in real time helps deliver the economic

capacity and quality of the host, guests

guests acting as individual servers it’s critical

benefits of reduced purchasing, installation

and applications will enable service delivery

to know that it’s up to the job. When a guest

and maintenance of frequently underused

insight for private and public clouds alike.

running a continuity-critical application

hardware. Capacity planning reporting allows

makes a request in real time it is without

The metal

administrators to consolidate and optimise

regard for other host activity. Hence, both

existing servers and increase virtualisation

Hardware implies permanence and inflex-

guests and hosts can come under perfor-

density, while ensuring there is room for

ibility. Metal a little more malleability.

mance pressure.

growth. Private and public cloud providers

Software has the ability to transform both.

alike can better predict monthly operating

You can put an entirely new program in the

With this type of environment problems

expenses rather than purchasing and deploy-

hardware and create an entirely new experi-

can exist in any one of the layers. It can be

ing additional capital assets.

ence for the user. This is the way it is with

within the physical hardware or the virtual

virtualisation. But with this transformation,

machines as well as the applications them-

However, these benefits must be carefully

the physical elements increase in critical-

selves. Because of this, problem detection

managed to ensure that cost rationalisation

ity because they’re carrying a greater load

needs to be multilayer, multivendor and

does not impact the real-time requirements


of VoIP and UC. As such, it’s vital to have

of each other. In direct contrast, the VMs

The cloud

access to flexible visualisations that reflect

they run in must not. Fortunately, the

As a customer you’ll expect to benefit from

the business impact of the applications

deliberate convergence of communica-

cloud computing by having access to a set

should they experience latency or fail.

tions technologies can coexist with the

of remote resources and avoid purchasing,

equally deliberate separation of virtual

installing and maintaining hardware that de-

The guest

machines. That is not to say that the ap-

preciates and is often significantly underused.

The consolidation of multiple applications

plications themselves need not be aware

It also eliminates the need to hire, train and

onto fewer servers may lower hardware

of the other servers, but there must be no

manage a skilled 24/7 IT staff. Changes that

provisioning, configuration and mainte-

blurring or overlap between the virtual

took days or weeks with physical servers can

nance costs, but it can also increase the

servers themselves.

be done in minutes. In this way you can predict monthly operating expenses rather

risk of hardware failure. Sharing hardware resources between applications running in

Therefore, UC applications’ performance

than depleting and underutilising valuable

guest machines creates a need to monitor

management requires a blend of insight to

capital resources.

resource contention between guests and

both physical and virtual environments.

across CPUs, memory and disk interfaces.

It should be able to leverage traditional

You can store large amounts of data from anywhere without worrying about maintenance. Cloud computing service level


agreements should also ensure there is no change in performance during peak times and allows your business to have on-demand servers available in minutes, with dynamic scaling, ensuring that you only pay for what you use.

You’ll want to see the top guests by CPU,

collection methods as well as state-of-the-

disk use and memory consumption as well

art web services and SIP events to provide

If you choose to implement your own vir-

as the amount of time each guest waited

voice quality, device, performance and

tualised UC ecosystem, you’ll need to man-

for physical CPU cycles. Clicking on a flat

availability statistics.

age a complex environment with multiple

line or spike to identify a particular guest

vendors, technologies and quite possibly

will mean you can select it rapidly without

It should also enable you to correlate VoIP

versions selected over many purchasing cy-

scrolling through a list of hundreds or

quality with network and virtualisation

cles. It’s likely to include a variety of servers,

thousands of guests. Once you’ve selected

performance. This helps you identify

operating systems and applications running

the guest, drill-down capabilities will help

bottlenecks and control communication

in virtual machines. Because of this you’ll

identify resource contention that can cause

costs by meeting and optimising UC

benefit from much the same management

performance bottlenecks and affect the

requirements as well as reducing server

approach as a service provider.

value of UC to your users.

costs through virtualisation.

Finally, it’s a distinct benefit if you have

An important aspect to remember when

is a more expensive solution but provides

a choice of combining vCenter Server

managing applications is the difference

more security and privacy, and you’ll have

metrics with more granular information

between quality of service (QoS) and

complete control of your data.

collected directly from each guest. You’ll

the user’s quality of experience (QoE).

then be able to accurately monitor the host’s

From a technical standpoint you need to

A single pane of glass monitoring for VoIP,

performance and view deep drill-down

manage the underlying infrastructure and

email infrastructure, UC, cross-platform

process and application-level information

service delivery.

and virtual servers in real time will

When compared to the public cloud this

on a guest-by-guest and host-by-host basis.


help you meet and manage service level What matters to the user, however, is that

agreements. You’ll be proactively alerted

The applications

they can enhance their productivity, save

to status changes in UC infrastructure

The applications that can be found in a

time and be more efficient through using

performance, so you can plan and execute

UC solution often need to be highly aware

unified communications.

timely remedial action.

resource library White Papers/Resources

Application fluency for a high-quality user experience

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Bring your own device (BYOD): managing the chaos

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FORWARD THINKER THE 20-HOUR WORK WEEK Elizabeth Rudd Director, FutureNous

point. The point at which technology

be helpful in placing technology decisions

sounds perfect. But will the road

has advanced enough that most roles

and their impacts in context. The scenarios

to this utopian dream bring us

performed by humans can be replaced.

are narratives, including qualitative details

to nirvana or some darker place?

The fewer remaining roles would require

about life, work and broader cultural

well-educated, highly skilled people to

aspects allowing one to imagine living in

There are two very different visions for

program the machines or perform complex

this future. Backcasting can be used with

how we arrive at the 20-hour work week,

roles machines can’t do.

each scenario to determine what decisions or milestones could happen to lead to this

both heavily dependent on technology. Globally, the numbers of unemployed

particular future; either a desired future

The first one, probably the one most

people are rising and demand for unskilled

or one to be avoided.

people imagine is the utopian version,

labour is decreasing. Social unrest is evi-

with machines replacing the jobs of most

dent in areas with high unemployment

Using scenarios to evaluate strategic de-

humans leaving plenty of time to pursue

as people are unable to find work and

cisions within the wider context of the

more ‘noble’ pursuits including those that

earn income. Long-term unemployment

organisation, industry, markets and even

interest us and benefit society overall.

is trending upwards. Are these indicators

more broadly to include the long-term

something other than an economic reces-

impacts can highlight the associated risks

sion might be happening?

and opportunities and result in better, more

The second, more dystopian view, also

robust decision making. It challenges your

has machines replacing the jobs of most humans but this leads to economic and

Technological solutions usually arrive

current thinking and forces the imagining

social collapse. Our current economic

before legal, social and economic systems

of alternatives to business as usual.

systems are based on the notion of em-

are ready to address the consequences.

ployment and income that in turn drives

Due to the often far reaching impact of

If it seems far-fetched there may be a link

consumer demand. Much of social identity

strategic decisions involving technology,

between current workforce reductions,

is based around professions and employ-

undertaking some strategic thinking to

automation and a future 20-hour work

ment. If vast percentages of people are no

consider both the longer term and broader

week, then perhaps you need to explore

longer employed, these existing systems

impacts of any decision can be useful.

how you do envision the future and engage in some strategic thinking. Although it

break down.


Two methods to generate strategic thinking

is not a certainty, it is a possibility, and

In the past, as jobs were eliminated by ma-

are strategic scenarios and backcasting.

understanding what is possible will prepare

chines, new roles and industries replaced

Creating strategic scenarios imagining pos-

you for the future, whatever it may bring,

them. Yet we may be reaching a tipping

sible alternative futures in some detail can

including a 20-hour work week.

© Rich


he idea of a 20-hour work week

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Technology Decisions Dec 2012/Jan 2013  
Technology Decisions Dec 2012/Jan 2013  

Published bi-monthly, Technology Decisions keeps senior IT professionals abreast of the latest trends, technology advances and application s...