Friday, 22 October 2010

2010 - Some more travel observations

I'm not travelling as much as I used to - but still too often - and I thought it was time for an update on my thoughts as a business traveller :-

1) It's certainly clear that economy class on flights is gradually getting worse - with less seating space, less catering and lower standards of staff

2) The frequent flyer schemes are getting tighter and with less benefits -hey @British_Airways just how many economy class (delayed / often late) flights in Europe do I have to make in a year to get anything above 'blue' frequent flyer status???

3) The standards of business lounges - even within the same airline - vary so much it's ridiculous. Take for example @British_Airways business lounges at LHR T5, Chavwick & Tampa.
  • Heathrow T5 - full drinks selection, hot & cold meals, bacon butties, internet access, plenty of space
  • Tampa - there are drinks and sandwiches, and somewhere quiet to sit with power for laptops
  • Chavwick - there were cold snacks, cold drinks, an internet cafe and a dozen different alcoholic spirits (clearly a place where sadly alcohol is in more demand than bacon butties)
4) It's disappointing that a lot of long-haul Airlines have been so slow to add USB power points to seats - @Lufthansa_DE clearly have the lead here... Obviously it would also be good for the airline lounges to have similar power & USB charging points

5) Heathrow T5 has slowly improved with a lot of it's initial wrinkles now ironed out. But whilst the process & systems are getting a bit better there are still some material issues :-
  • IRIS reliability - appears to be broken more often than working, perhaps a 3rd machine would help?
  • Staff quality, engagement and care is still greatly missing
  • The other Heathrow terminals don't seem to have improved at all (other than counting destroying parts of them as a well needed improvement)
  • It continues to amaze me that BA staff buses operate at about 3 times the frequency of the buses for the business parking area
6) There are still some airlines that use a proprietary headphone connector - why? why? why? Oh and why put any type of headphone connector exactly where a person's leg goes - it's going to hurt their leg, break the connector or both...

7) Just how much easier flying was when only one bag was allowed on-board the plane, with no roll-on cases etc - really should make the rule one small item of hand-luggage and be done with it...

8) How very few hotels understand the need to provide :-
  • Mains power points near the bedside table - to charge phones that are also used as alarm clocks
  • Mains power points near to desk / table in the room - to charge laptops whilst they're used
  • A clock in the bathroom
  • A clock built into the TV (yes I'm always running late)
  • A free bottle of water - water should not be a profit source!
  • WiFi connectivity that's either free or reasonably priced (ie $2 a day)
  • If we're on a wish list, a few USB charge points would be good as well!
9) With regards to in-flight entertainment systems :-
  • It is rather surprising to see such small & poor selections of music given how little storage & bandwidth it consumes
  • Given such a controlled environment and simple IT setup & requirements, I'm staggered as to how often the system fails and/or needs to be rebooted
So what do I regard as travel essentials nowadays :-
But I can safely say that the most off-putting thing that can happen to a traveller is to have a member of an airline's staff greet you happily by name as you wander mooching around a foreign airport's shops waiting for check-in to open - this happened to me not so long ago one Friday evening 2hrs before check-in opened, and a) totally freaked me out, and b) made me realise I clearly travel too often...

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Churnalism - yet another evil in the field of benefits reporting

So @stevie_chambers decided to wind me up with this tweet yesterday morning :- 
Cisco Unified Computing System selected by Slumberland < saved $368k @ianhf :)
Now Steve is somebody that I regard as a friend and that I have immense respect for - despite us having differing views on the technology widget Steve's company sells I have more respect for Steve than the majority of his employers organisation put together.

So with that out of the way - I was simply staggered that he should choose to highlight such a terrible article & classic example of Churnalism to me - I can only put it down to 'new baby head', or perhaps a desire to see me off with ever increasing blood pressure? So let's just review the 'article' :) (note I'm not saying anything about the technology here at all - merely what & how 'benefits' are purported)

This is the kind of lazy, half arsed, factless, press release driven tripe that masquerading as 'reporting' that drives me (and I hope you) insane! So time for the usual list :-
  • How long did this take to achieve?
  • How exactly was it achieved, which how much effort & disruption?
  • Re "saved" - where did they start from re SLAs, technology, organisation & processes?
  • Compared to what & whom?
  • Where is the before & after comparison of TCO and TTM?
  • What was the investment required to achieve this?
  • What was the ROI & IRR?
  • What is the timeframe over which the benefit is calculated & reported?
  • How much more would be possible with other ways, priorities & measures?
  • What is the scale of the environment?
  • What is the scope of the environment?
I'm not arguing that Slumberland haven't benefited, and that they haven't improved things for themselves - but as with all case-studies, customer references or benefits reports it is absolutely imperative to have full & total contextual disclosure of the before & after situations, the objectives, the success metrics and priorities.

As I previously blogged about here it really is time for the IT industry to grow up and get some simple quality & disclosure standards about reporting and marketing... This current level of information just doesn't help anybody...

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Quick Thought/Rant - Storage Commodities

So just a rapid fire quick thought below :-

Now @chuckhollis make some good comments here about storage being a commodity - something of which I have some views on :)

Interestingly through the discussion Chuck still talks about the 'problem statement' from a storage technician perspective (with an introduction of diversity & complexity in the technology mix, which glosses over two major TCO cost elements - complexity & diversity of solution spaces) - until the closing section, which is where I agree with him.

You see, as far as I'm (and my CIO is) concerned storage is a commodity - however it's the physical storage that's currently a total commodity, the logical layer (software) still has a bit of a way to go to become a commodity. I think a lot of the sensible people have made the leap past caring about many of the internal storage service widgets & sprockets - and frankly, no longer care - 80% of storage products in data-centres are capable of supporting 80% of the requirements.

But I 100% agree that people around storage have to change - the processes, the eco-system, the value, the religion, the entrenched conservatism, the lack of transparency, the products, the "can't tell you in advance without a full PoC", the tools, the 'buy our magic beans' culture, the org structure, the "we're special, honest", the cost & value, the people, the sales model, the support model... All of this has to change in order to accept the fact that storage is now a commodity hygiene factor and no longer the king of the castle in the infrastructure space...

I just wish that more of the people involved would realise this!

(Oh and we'll leave the 'shiny new baubles' of mngt tool nirvana for an expensive (for anything re mngt tools is always 10x more expensive than you believe and always 0.3x the value you're told) rant another day...)

That's all for me for now - I'm still around building up a major backlog of rants, but current work (both volume and subject matter) prohibits me from posting much of it right now. Normal service should resume towards the end of the year.