Home, sweet home office

For a Friday, from a reader, responding to an earlier blog of mine, regarding the tumbling down of traditional office walls and the advent of a new work-at-home era. My comments are ALL CAPS

“What it means to me is that there is no longer a need for office headquarters for businesses. Internet access is all over, VPN connections, storage capabilities, blah blah blah etc…..”

YES, THE INTERNET HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…..

“In other words, employees now can work from anywhere. As long as the work gets done, who cares?

BUT DO CHECK IN EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE….

“Need a head to head meeting from time to time? Rent a place just for that. No matter the cost of renting as the cost savings not to have a building or a floor are big.”

WHY EVEN RENT? THAT’S WHAT STARBUCKS IS FOR.

“Also, driving to work in large cities has become a nightmare for many. Wake up at 4-5 AM, one hour…two hour drive… Of course check your emails with your Blackberry and endanger lives…. Suppose you made it to work, then at the end of the day, face the same scenario.

LIFE IN TORONTO, TO A TEE….

People need to have a life outside work…”

AND FOR SOME OF US, A CHANCE TO WORK OUTSIDE

“Less offices and employees working from where ever they live would likely boost productivity…. A happier employee works better and harder. However, in some cases, employees prefer the office environment.”

YES. I, FOR ONE, RATHER GOOF OFF AT THE OFFICE THAN AT HOME.

“That was my 2 cents worth…”

Maurice Thériault

(Working from home today as I do every Wednesdays….)

WORTH A LOT MORE THAN THAT…

Martin Slofstra

(Already dreading the drive home….)

– Posted by Martin Slofstra, 2/9/07, 5:43 PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

My kingdom for a national CIO conference

CIOs in Canada often seem to have trouble connecting at a national level so I’m wondering if this is a sign of things to come.

Next Thursday, Feb. 15, the first-ever CIO Conference in Southwestern Ontario will be held at the Holiday Inn in Kitchener.

Under the auspices of Communitech: Waterloo Region Technology Association, CIOs from health care, manufacturing, education, insurance and financial services will be hooking up for one day to compare notes and share best practices.

In this space, we have lamented the lack of a true national CIO-focused event in Canada. There are lots of these types of events in the U.S., but apparently none left in Canada.

For many years, the CIO Summit in Toronto had been it, but it last occurred in November 2005.

Other attempts to have CIO events in Canada by foreign-based independent event producers seem never to catch on, despite what is always thought to be a good opportunity. Regardless, there seems to be nobody who is willing to step up or sponsor such a venture.

The formation of CIO group in Southwestern Ontario is extremely welcome.

There is also the CIO Association of Canada’s conference in Vancouver on April 19, but it being a one-day event, will likely mostly pull in mostly from a Western Canadian audience. The time may be right to form similar regionally foucussed groups of CIOs in different parts of Canada, CIOs meeting regularly on a regional level will go a long way to filling the void. Maybe a CIO event with a more national focus can come later.

Posted by Martin Slofstra, 2/8/07, 4:45PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

Three N’s: Nortel, Novell, No good

I see Nortel has announced a net reduction of 2,900 positions in the guise of its business transformation to a broadly-based network supplier.

Also today, Novell, took the wraps off its Desktop-to-Data-Center Management, the next step in its commitment to offering cross-platform solutions.

Both announcements came earlier today, in wording, I fear, that raises many more questions than offers answers.

The paradox being, both companies are expanding their technological focus, at the same time they are reducing their work force size.

Notice something? Novell did a lot better when it was known as a LAN network operating system. Nortel’s heyday came when it was essentially a PBX/Central office company.

Obviously, neither of those products could sustain growth into today’s converged market, but something seems to have been lost from either companies earlier greatness, and I would suggest that may be the ability to focus, or maybe even, to communicate that focus.

Too many companies in this industry are gravitating towards this overarching enterprise management focus, and I think that if anything, it muddies the water for them when the primary group they sell to, enterprise IT, expects from each vendor a clear and concise focus.

IBM got it a lot trouble in the ’70 and ’80s when they over-relied on a strategy called Systems Network Architecture. The IT departments of the time quickly realized that such frameworks were more based more on marketing hype than a real capability to deliver, the word architecture is in fact a euphemism for “some products are missing.”

Yes, it’s important to have a road map or framework or architecture; these can be useful tools for CIOs to plan out the future. What vendors need to do however, is make it crystal clear which products they are able to deliver.

Posted by Martin Slofstra, 2/7/07, 4:45PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

Standard issue standards issues

You start to get intrigued by the promises of convergence and along comes a reality check in the form of an interview with AT&T researcher Gerald Karam.

Canadian-born and educated Karam received his PhD from Carleton University in Ottawa before heading down to New Jersey about 12 years ago where he is working on the next generation of Voice-over-IP for enterprise networks. I spoke to him last Thursday.

His current expertise is in the area of standards, having worked on SIFF applications, the signaling technology used by AT&T to converge voice and wireless voice networks.

Much of the next focus on convergence, I thought, would be around building applications that take advantage of convergence, whether its enriching the Web experience, clicking on a Web site so you can get a live voice, unified messaging, or even video conference to the desktop.

But it’s not. It seems the research is more centred around developing the standards, that when put in place, will begin to enable the applications that take advantage of that convergence that you think is just around the corner.

I think there is a lot to be said for putting voice-over-IP, whether it’s to reduce long distance charges or to simplify the construction and management of networks. Why not put your voice and data on the same backbone.

Convergence, in terms of applications, however, is a lot further off then any of us might think.

Posted by Martin Slofstra, 2/6/07, 4:45PM, mslofstra@itbusiness.ca

Take your pick of three paradoxes

Paradox Number One: Moore’s Law in Reverse
Announcements of significant expansions of Q9 Networks data centre facilities including its new Toronto data centre opened on Jan. 31, 2007.

A second data centre in Calgary and expansion of the existing Brampton data centre makes an interesting juxtaposition to almost every other announcement we get around here.

So, just when servers are supposed to be getting compacted into blades, or virtualized, or whatever, the data centre just keeps getting bigger. How do we explain this paradox? Does this mean computers may be getting smaller but everything else we need to connect and support them just keeps getting bigger? Do let us know if you have a theory.

Paradox Number Two: The Threat Without
Symantec’s latest IT Risk Management Report contains some interesting findings, or at minimum, some curious wording. It reveals that a majority of respondents expect to be impacted by some type of security or compliance incident in the next one to five years. Specifically, 66 per cent of respondents expect a major regulatory incident at least once every five years while 58 per cent of respondents expect a major data loss caused by events such as data center outage, corruption of data, or breach of security systems. at least once every five years.

What is a compliance incident? And why is it being lumped in with threats that can we say are of a more malicious nature? In other words, the threat to your systems posed by those who regulate you is greater than those who want to steal from you. Do also let us know if you have a theory.

Paradox Three: The World’s Largest Office
Corporate naming consultant Naseem Javed quite often e-mails us with ideas for articles, and this morning, I got this: “As the free-floating, nonrestrictive nature of streamlined internet access and efficiency continue to grow, the internet community will slowly render the traditional functionality of the office obsolete. Bye-bye cubicles and bye-bye water
coolers.”

He continues: “Old mainframes first shrunk into micros, then to laptops and now to cigarette- sized USB drives to enable high data portability with several gigabytes in storage capacity. These tools, combined with the external accessibility of Google and dozens of other runners in this space, witness a major office revolution, the portability of the business is on the
move and the days of stationary offices are numbered.”

So which is it: Are the walls being broken down, or are they actually being rebuilt but this time bigger and stronger? Do let us know if you have a theory.
Posted by Martin Slofstra 2/5/2007, 5:10 PM

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