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Spring Journal

Volume 28, Issue 2

Full Contents Now Available!

I. Bill Gates is an optimist.

Ask him, and he'll tell you himself. "I'm very optimistic," he says. See?

And why shouldn't Bill Gates be an optimist? He's one of the richest men in the world. He basically invented the form of personal computing that dominated for decades. He runs a foundation immersed in the world's worst problems — child mortality, malaria, polio — but he can see them getting better. Hell, he can measure them getting better. Child mortality has fallen by half since 1990. To him, optimism is simply realism.

But lately, Gates has been obsessing over a dark question: what's likeliest to kill more than 10 million human beings in the next 20 years? He ticks off the disaster movie stuff — "big volcanic explosion, gigantic earthquake, asteroid" — but says the more he learns about them, the more he realizes the probability is "very low."



Wednesday, 27 May 2015 00:00

Reinventing the Data Center Stack

Now that the cloud is becoming a common fixture in the enterprise, the IT industry is starting to look at how a cloud-facing, mobile-driven environment will affect that full data stack.

Naturally, this is mostly conjecture at this point because many leading experts still do not know how the technology, user requirements, business models and even entire industries will be affected by this transformation. From an historical perspective, the current decade is very similar to about 100 years ago as utility-based electrical grids were first powering up: People are in awe of an amazing new technology, even though its full ramifications cannot be discerned.

Still, there are those who are willing to give it a try, particularly when it comes to the all-software IT deployment capabilities that abstract architectures represent. MapR Technologies’ Jack Norris recently explored the potentialities of “re-platforming” the enterprise toward a more data-centric footing.  This will naturally require a new view of physical infrastructure, such as the current separation of compute and storage, but it also has implications higher up the stack, as in the need to maintain separate production and analytics architectures. This new stack will also require global resource management, linear scalability and real-time processing and systems configuration.



It’s been about eight months since IT services giant and top-ranked MSPmentor 501 2015 company Dimension Data announced it would deploy globally standardized managed services for data centers.

The service, built on the organization’s managed services automation platform, manages server, storage and networks for on-premise, cloud and hybrid data centers, the company said in a statement in September. Those services can be in the client’s data centers, colocation facilities, in the public cloud, in a private cloud, or in Dimension Data’s cloud.



Wednesday, 27 May 2015 00:00

Another Strand of the Resilience Web

One of the problems that is related to our ability to understand how resilient we can possibly be in the future is that we expect the future to be based on our normalities.  We expect (and would probably like) a degree of stability based upon what we know and understand to be our current terms of reference. Unfortunately, things change; and alongside the political and international tectonic shifts that appear to be accelerating at the moment, we should also consider those structures and capabilities upon which we have long relied and the fact that we may be losing control of them.

The structures of our societies, the underpinning elements of the way that we live can also have a profound influence on our ability to live in the same way in the future. An interesting combination of debt and demographic is influencing the potential longevity of our economic structures according to the European chief executive of Goldman Sachs Asset Management.



We have become not only acculturated to interruptions, but addicted to them. We have the mistaken belief that interruptions are a perfectly normal way of life, despite knowing deep down that “time is a precious commodity that we cannot afford to waste.”

Therein lies the essential message of Edward Brown, founder and president of Cohen Brown Management Group, a culture change and time management consulting and training firm in Los Angeles. But at least he’s trying to do something about it. He’s the author of The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had,” and he feels strongly enough about the issue to take time out for an in-depth email interview on the topic.

I learned a lot from that interview about the extent to which we allow ourselves to be interrupted, and the price we pay as a result. To set the stage for the discussion, Brown pointed out that there are two key types of interruptions that we tolerate: those coming from other people, and those coming from our devices. He said other people are inveterate time bandits, and the fact that their intent is innocent doesn’t matter:



(TNS) — After a major accident or disaster, rescue operations have always focused on the nuts and bolts — saving the survivors, searching for those who didn’t make it, securing the evidence.

Now an added dimension — the consumer perspective — has expanded how disaster planners think. Philadelphia emergency management officials say it guided their response to the Amtrak derailment that killed eight people and injured more than 200 on May 12.

Passengers are going through “the most traumatic time of their lives,” said Everett A. Gillison, Mayor Michael Nutter’s chief of staff and deputy mayor for public safety. “Seeing the world through their eyes really kind of forces us to always question: ‘Are we providing what we really need to provide to them?’ “

That includes understanding what frantic families are going through. “If you haven’t heard from somebody, you kind of have to assume the worst,” he said.



(TNS) — Climate change may be triggering an evolution in hurricanes, with some researchers predicting the violent storms could move farther north, out of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, where they have threatened coastlines for centuries.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean began Monday, and forecasters are predicting a relatively quiet season. They say three hurricanes are expected over the next six months, and only one will turn into a major hurricane.

Florida hasn’t been hit by a hurricane in a decade, and researchers are increasingly pointing to climate change as a potential factor.



(TNS) --On a day that brought a new round of fierce thunderstorms and torrential rains, authorities continued a grim search Monday for 12 people still missing after being swept from riverfront homes, and property owners returned to dramatic scenes of destruction.

San Marcos and Hays County officials revised upward the property damage wrought by the historic flood, saying 72 homes had been washed away. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who toured the scene, said the storms brought a punch that "you cannot candy coat" and declared a disaster area in 24 counties, including Bastrop and Hays.

Abbott said the flood in the Wimberley valley is "the highest flood we've ever recorded in the history of the state of Texas."

"It's a powerful message to anyone in harm's way of the relentless, tsunami-type power this wave of water can pose to people," he said.



Wednesday, 27 May 2015 00:00

The Importance of Risk Culture

When objective parties, armed with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, can easily see warning signs that something was either wrong or wasn’t working and that executive management either missed or chose to ignore these same warning signs, it is fair to assert that management was encumbered with a blind spot. A culture that is conducive to effective risk management encourages open and upward communication, sharing of knowledge and best practices, continuous process improvement and a strong commitment to ethical and responsible business behavior.

Effective risk management doesn’t function in a vacuum and rarely survives a leadership failure. The risk management function can review, inform, advise, monitor, measure and even resign. It cannot control, decide or abort; that’s management’s job. Without an effective internal environment in place to ensure that adequate attention is given to protecting enterprise value, entrepreneurial behavior can run amok, completely unbridled and without boundaries or constraints. By “internal environment,” we mean the total package – the control environment, management’s operating style, the incentive compensation structure, a commitment to ethical and responsible business behavior, open and transparent reporting, clear accountability for results and other aspects of the organization’s culture.

Our premise is that ensuring an effective risk culture is an important task for executive management and the Board. Unfortunately, despite its importance, risk culture is often either given lip service or simply ignored.