Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Continuing to Innovate in 09!

It’s Christmas Eve and at our house Christmas always begins with this evening. It will be the time to open presents and to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner – and a turkey will be involved, of course. The picture above is of me, in the kitchen, as preparations continued indoors this year, of course, as the weather outside remains bitterly cold.

Last Sunday, I went to the garage to check out the motorcycles. This time of year is when I become concerned about not “winterizing” the bikes as it’s always a gamble. For the past ten years, there’s always been at least one break in the weather that has allowed me to go for a ride. But this December it’s just been so cold that there has been little opportunity to ride – and I was starting to come down with cabin-fever.

As I looked at the bikes and even though it was only 20 Fahrenheit, I decided to throw on a couple more woolen sweaters, pull on the leather chaps, and get out the winter gloves - but I was unprepared for the sheer physical shock that comes with exposure to temperatures this low. The cold pierced right through the winter gloves – wind chill at 20 below, riding at 70 mph, had to produce something equivalent to -90 Fahrenheit! And the tips of my fingers lost all feeling.

I curtailed the adventure and headed home and through nothing but good luck, made it back up the driveway and into the garage. Four days later, the tips of my fingers are still not right, but I had to go out and experience it for myself. I didn’t want to have bikes, come spring, that require serious attention so I continued to argue the importance of maintaining the traditional winter ride!

And in the spirit of maintaining traditions, I looked back at the December 29, ’07 posting “Grading HP? Need to do much better ...” that I wrote at the end of last year and what caught my attention were the four topics I elected to address. HP investments in NonStop, the first customer deployments of Neoview, the announcement of the partnership between IBM and ACI as they forged a global strategic alliance, and the anticipated user group convergence were covered. And looking at the analytics Google provides, whenever I broached these topics readership spiked-upwards noticeably.

The culmination of many years of development saw NonStop supported by HP’s bladed architecture and in June, during the week of HPTF&E, the HP Integrity NonStop NB50000c BladeSystem was announced and on display at the HP booth. I had been anticipating this announcement for many months and had included speculative slides on the system in presentations I had been making to the community since late ’07 – taking NonStop to blades is a very positive sign on the future of NonStop within HP’s product roadmaps.

But in all the excitement, perhaps the best lines I saw written on the announcement were those in the June 16, ’08 issue of The Register where it opened with “when HP talks about ‘blade everything’, it means freaking everything. The hardware maker has pumped out a blade server running its NonStop operating system and software of all things.” Stories published that same week included a quote from Ken Cayton, IDC's research manager for enterprise platforms, where he said "HP's fault tolerant systems are frequently used in mainframe environments …the new blade systems will have the same capabilities in a new form factor that should be more cost-effective and modular than previous systems while also being more energy efficient."

Yes, I remain excited by the availability of NonStop on Blades and see this as the beginning of a new era for NonStop, with much of the hardware premium, often associated with NonStop, eroding in time as industry-standard packaging is used. And given today’s economy, driving out costs has become so important.

As for Neoview, I am still watching it closely. Only a few weeks ago, major reorganizations of the Neoview team were undertaken and I am hoping to see a lot more progress – and some early indications are that there’s a new recognition of the need for urgency surrounding Neoview. HP’s server consolidation project, under the guidance of HP’s CIO Randy Mott, has Neoview at the very heart of the transformation and by all indications it’s doing the job.

But the pressure is really on to not only keep-up with the competition, but to look for ways to leapfrog it, and ’09 will be challenging for the Neoview team. I am very hopeful for the success of Neoview and know of a number of significant users in the retail market, but relying solely on organic growth as has been done to date, may not prove viable over the longer term. Something more may need to be done to ensure longer term success.

The IBM and ACI global alliance announcement came as the surprise of ‘08. Even though ACI has made it very difficult for its own sales force to continue selling payment engine solutions on NonStop, the acceptance of BASE24 on NonStop by financial institutions remains strong. In EMEA where the financial community is a lot more conservative and risk-averse, the acceptance of the alliance has been lukewarm. Banks in Europe are using the IBM option as another card to play in negotiating the price of additional NonStop hardware – not exactly what IBM and ACI had been expecting, but welcome news to the NonStop team nonetheless.

While some groups within HP have been encouraging competitors so as to fill a potential solutions void, I am getting the sense that this could all blow-over in ’09 and I could easily see NonStop technology once more being addressed by solutions from ACI.

The different user groups did finally come together and Connect was launched in June, ’08. The community held its first user group event in Mannheim, Germany and while there were some early suggestions that it would fail, in the end a typical regional user event ran its course. There’s more I would like to say on this topic but I will leave for a separate post early in ’09. This is a highly complex and emotive issue and it will take time for all the pieces to mesh properly.

But with ’08 came a major new announcement from HP’s executives. In a blog entry I posted on May 12, ’08, “The Clouds in Spain” I referenced Martin Fink’s presentation at the Technology@Work event held in Barcelona a few weeks earlier. Under the banner of Monolithic to Polymorphic computing Martin introduced the community to his views on Cloud Computing, and since that event Martin has continued to heavily promote the concept and the innovative products that will thrive as cloud computing takes hold.

And I see the evolution of cloud computing as proving a highly fertile environment for NonStop at the front-end connecting, from within the cloud, to the network as well as potentially the back-end and still within the cloud, supporting the enterprise database warehouses. I can see the potential for many solutions being developed for NonStop that add tremendous value to cloud computing.

As I continue to write this blog, I still have very little feeling in the tips of my fingers. I have had to go back and correct many typo’s. But maintaining traditions is important, and I have always enjoyed my winter rides, although now I will be a lot more aware of just how cold it is and will probably argue a lot less about needing to ride.

But as for what ’09 holds for the future of NonStop I can only hope that in a chilling business climate, CIOs will welcome the innovation possible from the technology and solutions that are a lot more visible today.

Wishing you all Happy Holidays and a great New Year!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Still the need for something special!

I drove this past weekend from the West Coast back to my Boulder, Colorado home. For me, driving is not a chore and on a recent company conference call, I talked of my preference for driving, much to the amusement of my colleagues. Time permitting, if I need to attend a meeting and it’s less than 1,500 miles away, I would rather drive. Even with yesterday’s gas prices, staying away from airline travel had its upside and I am happy to report that it cost me a third of what it did a month ago to fill the SUVs tank. It was still nearly twice as expensive as if I had taken my daily-drive for this ride!

However, I can’t always count on the weather – and this time, it hit with a vengeance and the picture above is of the SUV the morning after I arrived home. I started the homeward leg early Saturday morning, in San Jose, with the hope that it would be an uneventful trip and that the weather would hold off for a few days. I also hoped that taking time out to visit friends just past Sacramento wouldn’t hurt.And then the adventure really began!

As I drove west on Interstate 80 (I80), there were signs warning of deteriorating road conditions and to be prepared for winter driving in the Sierras. Chains would be required except on All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) vehicles fitted with snow tires on all four wheels. I dialed in the local radio station for further updates, and it looked like it was going to get nasty. So I made sure I left my friends place before lunch – I had planned on driving all the way to Elko, Nevada.

Readers of this blog will know that my favorite cars are those with two seats, a big V8 up front, and power delivered through the rear wheels only! But for this adventure, I was glad I had an SUV with good winter tires on all four wheels. The drive over the Sierra’s presented no immediate problems but the temperature plummeted and by the time I checked into the hotel in Elko, air temperatures were already hovering around zero Fahrenheit.

But Saturday was just an introduction and did little to prepare me for Sunday’s drive!

Only an hour or so out of Elko, on Sunday morning, and warning signs were flashing alongside I80. Tuning into a weather channel, I found the road was closed the other side of Salt Lake City, just as it crossed into Wyoming. Temperatures were now -10 Fahrenheit. I have never “bonded” with the SUV – more or less putting up with it as I lived in Colorado - but I was beginning to welcome its capabilities as I turned off I80 and headed south on I15.

By late Sunday it was looking bleak. The drive home was deteriorating rapidly as now, having turned East onto I70, and heading into the heart of the Rockies, I encountered snow covered highways with temperatures steadily dropping. At one point, I saw -35 Fahrenheit as I crested one of the summits. The roads were slick and traffic had slowed to a crawl. Big-rigs were off the road, and those attempting to make it through the passes were heavily chained. It was a time for specialized AWD vehicles and no place for the regular daily-drive family car.

Finally, after 14 hours behind the wheel and with 850 miles covered that day, I turned into my driveway.

Rising early Monday morning, I was catching up on email and checking the latest postings on a number of community sites, when I came across an exchange that reminded me of the weekend’s drive home. Posted on the Connect Community web site was the question “NonStop: Do you think, that new object oriented, modern systems can run on HP-NonStop by using java?” that generated a number of exchanges between a couple of very active members from the NonStop Java SIG.

And buried within the exchanges were three observations that brought driving the SUV into focus.

The first item was “often new projects start on other hardware systems and not on HP-NonStop. And this is the problem of HP-NonStop. We have to tell them, that the new HP-NonStop is modern, too. With the new NonStop hardware, you can start to modernize your old systems. This means, not only the client dialogs. The server side can also be object oriented.”

A little later I read “if I see the German TV spots of IBM, they tell all people how good and modern they are in a funny way. Only very rare and seldom you see, if you have luck, a HP-NonStop advertising in some special IT magazines. We need more and better marketing to get the interest of young people and CEOs to get new customers and java projects.”

Finally, I saw this short piece “what do you think about the HP-NonStop marketing concept? How can we reach the young people? When I finished my diploma at university, I never heard from Tandem (now NonStop). Until now, I believe that this situation doesn't change. Our German students never heard from NonStop, but they know many of the other unix systems and works with them at university. There comes a time, when these young people will be decision maker and they will decide to use their known hardware.”

Evangelizing? Advertizing? Educating?

We need to be careful when evangelizing NonStop, as it’s not always the most appropriate option. While SUVs are viewed as excessive and wasteful, there are situations where they prove to be valuable, and they can work well in getting you home safely. But as regular daily-drives? Not a smart choice! And isn’t this the same with NonStop? Should we even be considering NonStop as a regular general-purpose computer? Isn’t it better suited for solutions that need the NonStop advantages?

And its “popularity” has nothing to do with HP’s marketing efforts or lack of educational support at our universities. Consider IBM’s System z where there continues to be a lot of advertising supporting the platform, and a major push into universities, but when it comes to deploying “modern applications” it’s rarely considered, other than in combination with zLinux. It’s not at all clear to me whether the efforts exerted to date have produced any results at all!

There’s no dissention on my part when it comes to evangelizing NonStop. Just as I have no issues with including NonStop in advertising and education programs. There should be no elements within the broader IT community unaware of how “modern” the NonStop platform has become, and how easy it is to deploy modern solutions on NonStop. But where in today’s IT architecture does NonStop truly fit – and shouldn’t we only advocate when we do see a fit?

This is a really important issue for me, as it cuts to the very core of why NonStop! I contend that it’s premier role remains deeply rooted in transaction processing, and in all my years in IT, I have never encountered a platform better suited to transaction processing. The ease with which online transaction processing solutions can be implemented is still unmatched by any other platform – and this should not be ignored as we architect solutions for the next decade. And I am pleased to see Pathway making a comeback in the 21st century – even if just to underpin other key subsystems like Java containers and SOAP. With so many discussions being centered on cloud computing, and treating all the resources within the cloud transparently, surely the NonStop platform’s attributes position it as an ideal front-end. Once again!

Let me not be misunderstood here – and I have been accused of holding my punches on some occasions – transaction volumes will only continue to go up, and with increasing reliance on the web as the connection fabric there really can be no limits set for how many transactions any application will face. Nothing is as available as NonStop. Nothing scales like NonStop. And there’s no place more suited for this than front-ending today’s business logic and data.

NonStop is not a general purpose computer and never will be – the current hardware packaging still comes with a premium. Will “blades” change the economics? Potentially – but only if the major operating systems targeting blades agree on a single piece of real estate, including the choice of interconnect technology. ServerNet needs to be replaced with something more universally accepted by the industry. The price will only reach parity when the basic blade hardware is completely standard for all of NonStop, HP–UX, and Linux. However, I do see this all happening in the not too-distant future.

As I drove over the snow-swept Rockies and battled through the poor visibility I encountered, it was good to be in a car built for the conditions. However, I never did loose sight of its drawbacks and was happy to know I had another car as my daily-drive. And this is the message of NonStop – no matter how evangelic we become, or how big our education and marketing budgets grow, we need to pick our fights carefully and approach new opportunities for NonStop with caution.

After all, there are many circumstances where ignoring the general purpose, and going for something more specialized that you can count on, certainly brings with it piece of mind!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Legacy, left behind ...

I had the pleasure of spending my lunchtime at another software company this week – and was asked to be a judge in a “gingerbread house building” game that pitted developers against QA, support, sales, and management. The gingerbread houses were pretty impressive, and the photo I have included here is of me digging into a gift bag I was given after the results were announced.

And it wasn’t long before we began reminiscing about the old days, and about the applications we wrote many decades ago. Remember PL/1, I was asked? Remember teletype protocols and paper tape? Remember memory drums? While I have spent the last two years working remotely, and have enjoyed the flexibility it provides, I sure do miss times spent around the water cooler!

I wrote earlier this week an article for the upcoming December issue of the electronic newsletter, TandemWorld. In it I referred to an advertisement by IBM in the November 28, ’08 issue of the Fortune magazine. IBM, under a large-type headline “Decrease costs. Increase growth” opened with “Legacy apps. Faulty data. Redundant silos. In banks all around the world, millions of dollars are tied up in outdated, patchworked systems.” Without revisiting the topic and covering the same material, it is the reference to “legacy apps” in the above context that I find amusing, particularly coming from IBM.

Last year, in a posting I wrote while in Singapore What do you mean, legacy?” (November 27, ’07) I recalled how “I once heard an analyst with Gartner tell their audience to remember that, any application that is put into production, should be considered legacy immediately!” The Gartner analyst may have been over-dramatizing, but in a recent email exchange with Jim Johnson, Chairman of the Standish Group, he followed with a similar line, remarking how “there was the old joke that a legacy system is one that is working!”

And then Jim took it a little further, suggesting “the term’s roots were used in a more derogatory fashion and it meant that the legacy applications were running on outdated hardware and software, most meaning IBM mainframes. People promoting the use of open systems mostly used it.” Legacy applications, it would seem, have as much to do with which platform was chosen to deploy them, and the infrastructure supporting them, as anything else and typically, this means dependence on much older proprietary Operating Systems (OS) and utilities. Jim then added “a truer definition might be a legacy system is a system handed down from a predecessor.”

In other words, the reference to legacy when talking about platforms started with the arrival of Unix and open systems as they gained momentum in the late ‘80s. I suspect that it was Sun, and most likely someone like Bill Joy, who first threw down the gauntlet to the more traditional vendors admonishing their user communities over maintaining legacy applications and holding onto their legacy equipment and infrastructure.

HP was certainly among the front-runners in adopting Unix and the HP-UX that appeared in the early ‘80s had it’s roots deep in the early releases of Unix – System III and later System V – and some three years before IBM released AIX/6000. I recall attending early presentations given by HP in ’84 where it was clear that they were making Unix their main operating system, and that it heralded a break from other vendors going down the IBM Plug Compatible Manufacturer (PCM) path that was in full swing at the time. The legacy net, cast as it was over the IBM and IBM PCM community, caught a lot of vendors!

But the legacy label is still a hard label to shake off. For companies that have been successful for many years, and with product roots going back to the ‘70s or even earlier, it is particularly hard to distance the modern architecture they have today with what preceded it. Nowhere is this more recognizable than with the enterprise class of systems now being shipped by IBM and HP.

While it’s hard to consider an IBM System z running mainframe Linux or HP’s NonStop running on industry-standard blades packages and supporting an open-source infrastructure stack as legacy, many CIOs continue to overlook the contributions these platforms can make. Because these vendors have striven hard to make sure that everything developed in the past can continue running (and further entrenching the thought of legacy) – should this then penalize their current product lines in any way? And the emergence of a service-oriented architecture in support of users scattered across the globe really does beg for servers as available as NonStop.

As I talk to the vendors, it has been my observation that as we move from distributed computing to grid computing, and onto cloud computing, having systems such as these protecting our data bases, for instance, wouldn’t be all that bad an option. Moreover, when the time comes for rationalization or consolidation following inorganic business growth, after an acquisition for instance, which is happening a lot these days, anchoring key business data on a system of this type becomes a serious consideration.

The December 1st, ’08 issue of InformationWeek features an in-depth article on HPs CIO Randy Mott, and the transformation of HP’s IT that he has overseen. While the author was impressed with the accomplishments of Mott, he asked him how concerned he had been about this far-flung network of legacy applications? According to the author “Mott points, as an example, to HP’s networking and telecom costs, which were driven by having to connect those 85 data centers around the world and hundreds of data marts to share information. ‘A miracle had to occur every day’, (Mott) says of the complexity. ‘The bad news was that a miracle never occurred.’”

I wrote about Mott’s transformation project a year ago, and in the posting of November 11th, ’07 “We all just wanna be big rock stars!” I included a quote from the Financial Times of November 7th, ’07. Under the headline “Techie rock star’ sets a cracking pace”, the author reported “Randy Mott’s trail-blazing project to overhaul HP’s technology could set the standard that other companies need to follow …” I then added “just as successful rock stars have changed the course of music and carved out highly lucrative careers, so do some CIO’s as they press ahead with innovative ideas.

Having the data base at the very heart of Mott’s new architecture running on NonStop certainly doesn’t appear to be a backward step for HP and certainly doesn’t appear to suggest that the platform was considered legacy. According to the author of the InformationWeek article, “Mott insists he wasn't forced to use Neoview, but let's assume the corporate pressure was at least implicit. He says the technology team was told to evaluate whether HP had a marketable, scalable product, and it worked with the development team to fix any bugs. The result is a product built around the Tandem NonStop OS and database. Mott says HP's will be one of the largest data warehouses in terms of size and number of users, and one that will ‘not go down.’”

In a recent email exchange with a senior NonStop development manager, who agreed with the sentiment behind the earlier definitions of legacy, explained to me how “we have worked very hard over the years to provide forward compatibility, including completely re-implementing the preexisting Guardian callable procedures so they would continue to function correctly within existing limits when we did the Exceed version of the operating system 15+ years ago. (There’s) a vague recollection that we made an incompatible change (for at least some programs) to the object file format somewhere back in the early 1980s, but other than that I don’t know of any reason why an ancient object file wouldn’t run on an Integrity BladeSystem.”

It was a lot of fun joining a software development company this week – and in talking revisiting our exploits from the past. There’s still no substitute for experience and just being able to talk about the history of technology with passion was enjoyable. And it gave me time to appreciate the distance we have come with NonStop and to realize that if it continues to leverage modern hardware packaging and support current development environments, it’s as valuable today as it’s ever been.

If you ever thought about what legacy your grandparents left behind … you probably did not think about it in derogatory terms, eh? Perhaps Jim Johnson in is final email exchange with me has it right after all “in today’s complex and service oriented environment the word “Legacy” is more of a legacy than a current term with any real meaning!”

Friday, December 5, 2008

Think? I don’t think so!

I have just returned from spending the Thanksgiving weekend in London. For those returning to this blog on a regular basis, you may recall that I was in Singapore for last year’s Thanksgiving and posted a blog entry at that time (“What do you mean, legacy?” November 27th, ’07). This is not the first time that I have been out of the country for the holiday, and it has given me a little down time from blogging. The picture I have included here is of me settling in for the long flight across the Atlantic.

One of the benefits that come with regular air travel is that the airlines still look after their frequent flyers – and upgrades are often made available. And as much as I enjoy the additional space that the upgrades provides, it is the ability to “fast-track” security, and even immigration services, that I have come to appreciate. Anytime I can get out of the airport without breaking stride makes the trip a little more bearable. Even if it does mean passing long lines of bedraggled passengers slowly snaking their way to the thinly-staffed counters poorly set up to handle the crowds that stream from today’s jumbo jets.

The availability of fast-track services, whether in support of pre-boarding security screening or post-arrival flight arrival, recognizes that extending services to higher-value customers is not just limited to their time on the plane. And it is greatly appreciated by those with jobs that mandate frequent travel – the “road warriors” on whose support the airline industry depends so much for simple survival in these hard times.

While I am among the first to appreciate the investments airlines have made in simplifying web access and navigation that help me book flights, and in making it easy to print boarding passes from my hotel anywhere in the world, being directed to the front of the line is a service that continues to be appreciated as much as anything else the airline provides! And airlines that maintain a close dialogue with their customers ensure a lengthy partnership develops that is beneficial for both of them. Communicating with their customers is so often downplayed or even overlooked entirely – watching the antics of the leaders of America’s automobile industry is a clear example of the failures than can occur when communication ceases – but it remains the most important aspect in business today.

I was reminded of this as I read the International Herald Tribune (December 2nd, ’08) on the flight back. There was a full page advertisement by Thomson Reuters that led with the statement “The end of think. The beginning of know.” Reading this advertisement made me wonder – have we really progressed beyond the need to think and can we just now know what’s required of us? Has our considerable experience gained over many years of open dialogues with our customers truly brought us closer to knowing what we need to do in every customer situation?

We are increasingly being driven to a service orientation as we develop more services, and these services are often the only differentiations that matters in the end. Customers often remember the service provided long after the product involved has been forgotten, or even when associated with different products entirely. Part of the attraction of embracing a service-orientation is the ability to easily plug and play with the products beneath the covers of services.

The picture I have added here is of me on the London Eye looking down on the British Houses of Parliament alongside the Thames River. British Airways (BA) has been running the London Eye since 2006 – the biggest Ferris-wheel in Europe, and still the worlds’ tallest cantilevered observation wheel, according to BA. And now trips on the wheel are being called “flights” and individual capsules can be reserved for private functions with first class service. What BA provides for its airline passengers is now being offered to the casual, sight-seeing, public. Well-established services are being reused in new and attractive ways.

In a posting I made earlier this year (“Wake up call!” January 18th, ‘08) I made the observation “in the NonStop space we are beginning to see very serious deployments of Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) … we may not all enjoy the same degree of comfort undertaking application integration and not take to it as easily as we did integrating hardware, but there will be integration architects and managers within our companies aggressively pursuing integration.”

And last year, I wrote a blog posting (“Don’t change my toys!” October 6th, ’07) where I saw how “There is much anticipation that with web services and increased support of Services-Oriented Architecture (SOA) the interface into any application, even those running on NonStop, will be greatly simplified. The ease with which we navigate the web, and retrieve data today, should be replicated across all business environments and in so doing, help dummies like me get to what I need to see.”

In their exuberance to present the tremendous power and flexibility that can come with SOA, some vendors have overwhelmed their prospects. When viewed from a very high level, not every component defined within SOA is needed first up – it’s an architecture that really does lend itself to an incremental, baby-steps, approach. Often times, it’s just a case of settling on which library contains the Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) “contract” information that a client developer may need. But externalizing applications as services, and pursuing integration through the interconnection of these services, gives businesses their first insight into knowing what they can do!

And vendors should be clearly pointing them in the right direction and lighten-up with the complex rhetoric! After all, vendors that develop a close relationship with businesses and maintain an open dialogue, are more likely to be responsive to the opportunities their business customers identify. And these vendors will better communicate their products’ benefits as a result, and be less likely to overwhelm them when they need help the most.

Reservations, ticket purchases, and seat assignments are exactly the same processes you would find for any other BA flight – the London Eye has become an integral part of BA’s operations and is a clear example of how a service can be extended to embrace non-traditional products. Could we see the airline business embrace the theater business with the same services? possibly restaurants as well? With what they support today, airlines know what they can do from the services already being provided, so why not? Perhaps we are getting to the end of think and into the era of knowing after all.

I have been taking my car out on to the race track this year, and one of the first things you learn in any High Performance Driving Education (HPDE) program is how to communicate. You need to know what all the flags used by the trackside flag-marshals mean, and whether it’s a F1, a NASCAR, or just a local club race, their meaning is consistent worldwide. You also need to know how to communicate with your fellow drivers –particularly in passing situations – and communication develops camaraderie between the drivers. Who will stay left and who goes right – every action on the track has to be weighed against risk and communicating your intent is extremely important.

Over the years, the courteous driver in front always signals a point-by to the faster driver behind – extending a hand out of the car and signaling which side the faster driver should pass on. And the picture above, taken earlier this year, shows our Corvette being given a point by from the driver in front - nothing ambiguous or confusing, the faster driver being given a clear directive as to where to pass. As comradeship develops among the drivers, the level of communications increases even more, and the skill levels of all drivers improves significantly.

Coming to terms with passing is only one aspect of communication. Developing a working knowledge of any track, and coming to terms with it depends a lot on a free and open dialogue with your peers. Sharing information learnt, while laying down laps, is the best way to know what to expect around each corner – what to be aware of and what to take advantage of. There’s nothing better than picking up tips from those who have more experience with the track and there’s nothing worse than being left to think it all through on your own.

Communications – whether between businesses and their customers, vendors and their business customers, or even among your peers, has never been more important than it is today. No more so than when the topic is services and the integrations of processes to be offered as services – customer engagement is crucial at every turn. Many watching the performance of the leaders of America’s automobile industry can’t escape wondering what were these men thinking?

And as we move to computing models and architectures heavily services focused, we would err appreciatively if we didn’t enjoy open communication with out customers and peers. Maybe, as Thomson Reuters advertised, we are at the beginning of know!