Nov 152011
 
Big Data Analytics Solutions

Today’s discussions of Big Data analytics almost invariably center on Hadoop, which includes a set of complementary solutions that aid in the development, management, and deployment of very large data sets. The projects include Pig, Hive, Cassandra, HBase, Avro, Chukwa, Mahout, and Zookeeper. Hadoop projects frequently use Hive and Pig, while the NoSQL databases HBase and Cassandra provide database platforms for many Hadoop projects. While Hadoop has gained recent attention, it’s neither the only solution nor the first. Problems involving Big Data have been around for a long time, particularly in scientific computing, and many solutions have been found for specific problem types within areas such as high-performance computing (HPC) and grid computing. As the …

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Over the past twelve months, many diverse organizations worldwide have benefited from Cutter Consortium’s considerable expertise in conducting technical debt assessments. According to our experts Israel Gat and Chris Sterling, many of the findings and recommendations made during these engagements are broadly applicable in concept. The new Executive Update “Delving into Technical Debt” explores the considerations that most organizations go through while devising a technical debt reduction strategy. (You can register and download a complimentary copy of this 11-page report using promotion code DELVING.) From typical opportunities that arise during a technical debt assessment to common areas that need improvement, and from creating a technical debt mitigation strategy to leveraging the open source software quality …

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Nov 012011
 
Half-Life Metrics

“Gaming the system” is the kind of phenomenon that makes pedantic software development managers end their careers in mental asylums. A metric is introduced in order to achieve a certain outcome. To enhance the prospects of achieving the desired outcome, individuals and/or teams are compensated on the measured value of the metric. Over time they learn how to “game it”; that is, skillfully improving the measured value irrespective of whether or not such improvements still are in good accord with the desired outcome. The means (i.e., the measured value of the metric) becomes the end. “Gaming it” manifests itself as failure over time of the measured performance to fully represent actual performance. For example, a …

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Oct 182011
 
Executive Education+

The annual Cutter Summit has been evolving over the last few years. It’s never been “conference-as-usual”. It’s always been focused on delivering great ideas from inspiring experts, with the expectation of provoking debate. Candor and sharing have been the hallmark of the Summit. It’s always been a two-way street. We just don’t do talking heads. And we don’t do the product stuff: no vendors giving keynotes or serving on panels, no product showcases or sponsored breaks. The Summit is just true experts and practitioners sharing both the strategies that are working best now and those they see will be important down the road. About 5 years ago we began incorporating a Harvard Business School case …

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Why We Need to Market IT Operations

IT organizations devote significant attention to delivering the technology and processes that ensure the achievement of business objectives. It’s what we do in IT. It’s the recognition that drives our actions. It’s our purpose for existing. Yet is it sufficient to simply deliver value without any executive recognition for that contribution? IT best practices require that we not only deliver on the promise of IT, but that we also take the necessary steps toward recognition of that value so that the business “buys IT.” This marketing-style approach allows IT to remain adequately funded, gain support for technology investments, obtain backing for critical IT initiatives, and ensure responsiveness to our dependencies. Marketing IT Is Not a …

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Steve Jobs: Greater than Scipio Africanus?

As expected and sudden was the inevitable and tragic end to Steve Jobs’s life, so too is it surprising yet necessary that an outpouring of praise and emotion would follow. We all loved his inventions. The Twitterverse was rightfully aflame with stories about Steve. As if drawn nearly as perfectly as the interfaces he and his team dedicated their lives to, the final measure of his arc marks a very clean and a nearly perfect transition into history. The last brilliant burst that characterized his second tenure at the helm of Apple was a perfect, if not — from today’s vantage point — a seemingly inevitable concluding crescendo. Beethoven would have been proud. Jobs will …

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All the focus on big data is missing the point. Yes, high performance computing architectures let us analyze very large data sets. And yes, that is interesting and helpful. But let’s go with a thought experiment here. Imagine the following: Real-time data feeds from all source systems; Incremental, multi-generational real-time data feeds and data storage so all prior versions of data are accessible; The end of batch processing, nightly loads, ETL or other boring stuff in order to prepare data; All queries you can dream of (well, maybe 98% of the queries) running in in less than a second; All the rest of the queries running in minutes, not hours and yes, even crazy Cartesian …

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Oct 072011
 
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Generations of music lovers have mourned the early death of Mozart, imagining the magnificent contributions he would have made had he lived into old age. Similarly, people today around the world, while celebrating the remarkable life of Steve Jobs, are simultaneously sorrowful as they contemplate the many ways he might have continued to delight us had his life not been curtailed. His ability to innovate and break new ground in so many diverse areas – from computing to animation, marketing to music – makes his loss all the more profound. Steve’s Stanford graduation address is being replayed repeatedly today, full of life lessons for us all. But it’s also intriguing in the context of the …

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The Runway of Software Products

In her October 4, 2011 HBS blog post Can HP Change its DNA?, Judith Hurwitz contrasts corporate DNA for hardware versus DNA for software, as follows: The DNA that has been in HP’s bones from the start is all about excellence in hardware engineering…. With hardware markets, money is spent upfront to develop a system. However, once that product is launched, revenue streams in quickly and evenly. .. By contrast, when software is delivered to the market, it may take a year or even several years before it becomes a well-accepted and profitable endeavor… This is what I’ve observed at HP. As it has tried to invest in software, again and again it has killed products off before …

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Strategic IT planning is central to establishing the IT vision and, more importantly, the vision of how IT will propel the business (or government agency) forward. It’s one of the seven basic competencies every CIO and IT organization should master to bring value to the business. However, mention “strategic” to IT professionals and the conversation will mostly turn to security, cloud, business intelligence, and various platform and network developments. Sure, IT’s roles in the business underlie the conversation, particularly in issues such as flexibility, enhanced user experience, competitiveness, and the like. The truth, though, is that most of this “strategic” conversation is about issues of IT “supply” — how the IT organization will effectively develop …

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