Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hollow wheels go nowhere!

Winter in Boulder is an adventure. Even when you have weathered the worst of it, you can never take anything for granted and surprises can be waiting for you around every corner. Returning home a few weeks ago, I misjudged the entry to our community, hit the brakes on a patch of ice, and gracefully slid into the gutter surrounding the entrance divider. The speed was minimal, but with it turned at 45 degrees, the impact “de-spoked” the wheel, and the picture at the top of this post shows what I was left with as I stepped out of the SUV. It still looks pretty good on the outside, but everything inside is gone!

I am not sure whether a flaw in the wheels manufacture, or simply its age and its exposure to the elements of winter contributed in any way, but safe to say I became a little concerned about the integrity of the other wheels, so on went a new set of wheels and tires. As much as I dislike the looks of modern SUVs and prefer something a lot sleeker, there’s no denying that with ice and snow accumulating on the roads around our house, after ten years of living where I do today, SUVs provide a degree of comfort and assurance that I can still run errands no matter what!

This post represents the first blog post for the year. And many thanks to those who asked me about the absence of a posting last week, and whether I was going to continue to blog. As in previous years, I decided to take a two week break, but this time the break was pushed back by a week or so. My new career in marketing is beginning to develop “legs” and the time I have for social networking has quickly become an after hours activity but I am committed to providing further commentary and opinions in 2010.

With this post, however, has come another milestone as this post is my 150th posting to the Real Time View blog. Following a flurry of small posts in August and September of 2007, and many questions about what I planned to cover, how regularly I was going to blog, as well as a couple of requests to give readers time to read the postings, I have found the best way to interact with the NonStop community is with a posting every seven to ten days. And I have to admit, with the comments that are posted and the emails that arrive, there’s no shortage of topics to be addressed!

It was shortly after I began blogging that I posted a blog that I simply titled “What did you have in mind, eh?” In this posting, of September 24, 2007 I made the remark “for those of you who have stayed close to this blog and have been reading my postings, you will see that I have thrown together a mix of topics for a very broad audience. Right now, it’s a bit of a dilemma for me, and it could go either way. Whether I engage in a dialogue at the bits and bytes level, or approach from a business perspective still has to be worked out.”

A little deeper into the posing I further remarked “The thought behind the production of this blog is that across today’s community there are different generations of users. Some of us are more comfortable reading a trade publication while we are on a plane, some of us prefer to email our friends, while others like to get information from a number of online sources, including blogs.” The choice I faced was whether to stay objective and perhaps, tackle topics that might be a little dry, or to pursue a subjective style that left no uncertainties about the blogger’s point of view!

More than two years later, it’s become pretty clear that I have ignored the bits and bytes, leaving discussions about the internals of systems and their components to others, and have been providing subjective material that I have usually wrapped within a story of one sort or another, and often at odds with what would develop as the theme. In so doing, I have joined the growing world of social networking, providing the NonStop community with another outlet.

Social networking, and in particular, what is referred to as the “blogosphere,” has proved to be a tool that many of us turn to for information that is both valuable as well as being anchored in real-world experience. Less concerned about the theory of technology, the content provided by bloggers often ties directly to experiences that may be only days, if not hours, old! It is this immediacy that strikes a chord for many within the NonStop community and continues to draw them back to the more active sites.

In the posting of September 24th, 2007 I went on to note how “the creation of this blog is not in competition to any other exchanges that exists within the ITUG community, it is being undertaken to complement other programs … some of us are more comfortable reading a trade publication while we are on a plane, some of us prefer to email our friends, while others like to get information from a number of online sources, including blogs.”

Social networking, as we see it today, has turned many of us into strong advocates for technologies we strongly support. And we are not shy about expressing our opinions or about challenging other’s points of view. A regular reader, who often asks me whether I can develop shorter posts, emailed me a promotional “flyer” for a new book “Social Media Marketing.” The phrase that caught my attention was “the power of the collective!” Another point made in the flyer was that “unlike traditional marketing, promoting your products and services online via social media does not involve interrupting – or irritating an audience.”

Social networking isn’t solely about blogs. There are now many business-oriented social networks operating, with perhaps LinkedIn the best known and most widely supported, and these are proving to be just as important for social networks as blogs. Several months ago I elected to start a group on LinkedIn focused on topics I thought may be of interest to the NonStop community, Real Time View. More recently, I started another LinkedIn group focused on what interested me as I went about building my own business, Pyalla Technologies. And today, the “membership” in both of these groups has astounded me – just check out the discussion on Cloud Computing now under way on Real Time View!

When I started this discussion in Real Time View I simply asked “Is there any role for NonStop in Cloud Computing - running a data base? providing access as a ‘gateway?"’ or even as an Application Server? or could NonStop be considered for all of the above?” I then added “have we progressed to where we depict the network now as a line and the cloud is a reference to the data center itself - and for much the same reason? No one in IT cares any longer about the components needed to make an application work - is this a fair assessment?” In the span of a few short week, some 70 comments have been posted by a community anxious to see NonStop play a role in the world of enterprise cloud computing.

A discussion I started in the LinkedIn group, Pyalla Technologies, returned to the theme of social networking when I asked “Social Networking – do we really need the business network as well?” In raising this topic, I provoked considerable discussion on whether networking will follow other industry trends, where open supersedes proprietary, and whether future interaction with our customers will be front-ended by any one of the many business social networks that already exists. Take a look, as very few readers warmed to this option although they were all prepared to consider the possibility.

As you read the comments, the passion of the community comes through – yes, the power of the collective is apparent as HP employees join in the exchange. When I first started to become active in the social networking world I had to assure many within HP that I wasn’t going to provide a free-for-all site to dump all over HP. I also had to understand that HP wasn’t going to comment on every opinion I expressed. There wasn’t even any assurance that HP would be checking the posts on a regular basis. But as I write the 150th post, so much has changed and the value of social networking has become more widely understood – yes, there’s a lot of value to be gained from allowing “buzz about the platform” coming from as many sources as possible.

In a recent exchange with Randy Meyer, who heads Product Management within HP’s NonStop Enterprise Division ,“NED”, he remarked how that "it's been great to see the huge interest in NonStop discussion in the blogosphere and social networking environments. As the platform has modernized, so too have the ways the community interacts!"

And for me, this is what it has all has been about. While the inside of my wheel was demolished, as good as it looked on the outside, it was useless. And no matter how well we present NonStop, without an active social community these days that provides a lot of substance, all the posturing in the world will appear hollow, with nothing inside.

An active community openly interacting in as public a forum as is today’s social networks speaks volumes about the future of NonStop and, for me, will continue to encourage me to develop another 150 posts!

1 comment:

Iain said...

As you interact with the NonStop community the passion is still there. People love the technology and they still want to see improvements, based upon positive critisism, and they have tremendous pride in what they have achieved within their businesses.

Social Networking can be a way to share experiences, opinions and pride in such achievements, within the bounds of business confidentiality, that get subsumed and ignored in the hum drum of every day life and work.

Sometimes this then promotes confidence to discuss and debate issues more freeely within the organisation and workplace.

This is no bad thing, if there is one issue that seems to pervade in the community it's that they can't make a difference and that nobody listens and apreciates what they have and what the NonStop folk are delivering to their businesses.

However, it's self perpetuating! If you do not shout, debate and argue your points based upon rational arguaments and real data then sure as eggs are eggs nobody will hear the message.

Let's hope social networking arms more people with the confidence to engage in the discussion.