Where’s the promised agility?

The world of technology solutions integrators has changed dramatically in the last 10 years.

Customers are more educated than ever before through access to a world of information available on the Internet. It is estimated that 80% of customer decision-making is made online before they even reach out to us. This is not just true of our industry. The Internet is now woven into the fabric of society and clients now go to the veterinary clinic with the belief that they already identified their pet’s disease since “the Internet” provided them with a diagnosis!

agility380w_0What about the promises of industry giants? Simplified IT, reduced OPEX, increased budgets for projects instead of maintenance, etc.?

How can we explain that we don’t witness this in our conversations with customers? How is it that we still see today clients who have embraced those technologies also admit they are now faced with greater complexity than before? Perhaps the flaw comes exactly from the fact that 80% of decisions are made based on well designed and manufactured web marketing strategies…

Regardless of the technological evolution, the key it seems is still architecture design, thought with a business purpose and IT integration strategy tailored to your specific needs with the help of professionals. Just as a veterinarian is certainly a better source of information than the Internet to look after your pet…

For over 20 years, ESI designs solutions that are agile, scalable and customized to the specific needs of organisations. ESI works closely with customers to bridge the gap between business needs and technology, maximizing ROI and providing objective professional advice.

The greatest IT confusion ever?

Does it even beat Y2K? It’s been a year now since I rejoined the IT integration industry. When I left it in 2003 to focus on PKI technologies, it was still the good old days of client server IT infrastructure right after Y2K and the dot-com bubble burst. For a year now I have been trying to understand clients’ challenges to see how I can help. For a year now I have observed my clients trying themselves to understand the mutations that appear to be changing the IT industry and how it affects them not only on a business level but also on professional AND personal levels as well. I find them fearful and closed. Witnessing this, I told a colleague of mine “it seems our clients are capable of telling us what they don’t want but rarely have a clear vision of what they’re aiming for”!Trending concepts
Big data, the internet of things, stuff called cloud, anything anywhere anytime on any device, the software defined companies etc. – all these new terminologies are being bombarded to our clients and are supposed to showcase the many new trends in the industry. I have recently been to a seminar where the audience was separated in three categories: traditional IT folks who resist these changes and new trends because they reshape traditional IT infrastructure and thus may even jeopardize their job definition or security, new line of business managers who embrace change and are shopping for apps that get the job done and high management who talk the numbers’ language (growth percentage, market share and other measurable KPIs) with whom you need to be able to prove ROI (not TCO this is the IT folks’ concerns).
And there we have it: widespread confusion and fear. Y2K all over again? People forget, BI has been around for a while, so has the Internet, thin client environments, databases etc. It’s just happening on a different scale and the challenge remains to bridge the gap between corporate and business objectives as defined by high management, finding the right tools and processes to get the job done by line of business owners and IT that still has an important role in solution selection, integration and support be it on site or off site.
My challenge over the last year has been to overcome those fears so as to allow my clients to have open discussions on their business objectives and avoid the use of buzz words to refocus on “where do you want to be in three to five years as a company, what IT tools will be required to help you get there and what are the ones I can help you with”.

Charles Tremblay, ESI account manager

VMware VForum: beyond the virtual

It took an event sponsored by the leaders and forerunners of virtualization to get the chance to have a human, warm and real contact. It is with a renewed pleasure that I participated in the VForum Event in Montreal on May 20, mingling with the crowd at our ESI Technologies booth to finally meet in person and not through text messages, tweets, blog posts or emails, peers of the industry, colleagues, manufacturers and clients.

VForum - ESI presentationAs we all know, clients are extremely sollicited in this everchanging IT context with the advent of cloud computing made possible by virtualization. So I got the privilege of shaking hands with many of you, to talk, listen, understand and establish a real contact instead of a virtual one! We hope to have the pleasure to guide, help and advise you in this IT fast pace era where you are being courted from all sides to adopt the newest and latest technologies. For over 20 years, ESI is and remains a trusted partner to help you align technological choices with your real business needs and leverage them for your benefit! A team of people that put their efforts in the success of the most important people to them: you, our clients! Thank you for stopping by in such high number to meet with ESI’s team.

Charles Tremblay, ESI Account Manager

Don’t fall for marketing blurb

While watching a pickup truck commercial on TV lately, I couldn’t help but ask myself “How can all pickups have the best fuel efficiency in their category?” In a funny way, I hear the same in our industry with “most IOPS or terabytes per $”. It seems everyone’s the best at it. In one case, a client got the most IOPS per dollar he could get and he ended up having to change his whole data centre infrastructure because the IOPS he got were not of the right type!

IOPS

In the storage industry, it seems that IOPS is the equivalent buzzword to horsepower (HP) in the automotive industry. So you’re going to try to get the most horsepower per $ when you purchase a car. You can get 350HP out of a small sports car or a pickup truck. Just don’t try to race with a pickup truck or tow something with the sports car! There’s a reason why you won’t see a Ferrari with a hitch! Though they both have 350HP, one has torque, the other one doesn’t. One is built for performance and speed, the other for heavy workloads. The same goes for data centres. Manufacturers will give you the IOPS you asked for and they can usually prove it! But do you know what IOPS type you’re looking for (sequential, random, read or write)? Why are you requiring those IOPS? Performance or heavy workloads? If you’re not sure, it’s an integrator’s core business and value to help you make sense of all the marketing blurb thrown at you, to help you choose wisely and protect your investment.

Charles Tremblay, ESI Account Manager

If technology is not an issue, what is the value of an integrator?

It was during an exploratory meeting with a new customer where we discussed his issues, that was confirmed what most of us in the business know: bad technology is rare. And by “bad technology”, he was talking about a technology that simply doesn’t work and doesn’t do what it is supposed to do. In his experience, 95% of issues with technology are rather related to configuration problems. He was referring to a real case of “bad” technology” that he had to deal with in his environment, related to hardware or firmware. More specifically, problems with a firmware component that would fail after upgrades and updates, forcing him to roll back to a prior version of firmware, thus going back to the problematic state that the update or upgrade was supposed to fix in the first place since it wasn’t doing what the technology had promised to do. That’s bad technology!

I have come to agree with his view. Some technologies may be more robust, some more performant, some offer unique features that are desirable for your IT environment at many different prices, considering levels of performance, reliability and features available but overall, you usually get the expected value versus the purchase price but rarely a technology that’s “bad”. These simply don’t last very long in the market place.

So with 95% of the issues with technology resting on misconfigurations or sub-optimized configurations, where does this leave us? This is the role of integrators. My observations are that a typical network administrator will go through major tech refreshes once every three to five years whereas it is the bread and butter and yearlong reality of network integrators that do this day in and day out. It’s hard enough to keep up with so many manufacturers selling so many features and advantages at different price points and most of it good or honest technology, never mind making sure it’s well deployed and perfectly tweaked to your environment especially if you go through this process once every three to five years with new technology. Optimized configuration work also becomes more complex as you try to integrate new technologies from new manufacturers into your environment in coexistence with technology from other vendors you already have in place. Don’t get me wrong, choosing the right technology for your environment is important but more importantly is finding people with strong deployment experience that understand your business objectives. With 95% of issues being related to configuration, this is where integrators such as ESI Technologies bring value to the table.

Charles Tremblay, Account manager, ESI