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Canada & Its BlackBerry Crisis

By Judy Mottl   |    April 29, 2008

What is it about the air in Canada that makes people so attached to their BlackBerrys?

Is it the cold? The hundreds of thousands of trees and densely untouched rugged terrain?

Do the lights go out at 6pm up there?

What the heck is going on?

First the Canadian government ministry issued an 'advisory' to its employees to lay off the smartphone devices on nights, weekends and holidays. The effort by Citizenship and Immigration Canada was focused on getting a good balance between work and life demands.

It actually specified turning off BlackBerrys between 7pm and 7am and says doing so will spur productivity and even attract employees. It also asked employees not to use them during meetings or during lunch times.

Now another Canadian enterprise, DDB Canada, a marketing company, has taken the "quell BlackBerry use" movement even further.

Calling the overuse of devices a "personal digital assistant pandemic" CEO Frank Palmer has issued a company wide policy that "creatively" discourages PDA and Black Berry use at certain times in the workday.

In published reports (several attempts to talk with Palmer or get email questions answered were unfruitful -- maybe he's having issues with his BlackBerry?) the company leader stated:

"Over the past year, I've become increasingly aware of and annoyed by staff who use their BlackBerries during meetings. Whether it's done openly or covertly under the table, using a PDA during a meeting is completely unacceptable, disrespectful and hinders the progress of the meeting. While these devices are considered time-savers, they���re also extremely intrusive."

The policy is sort of a take-off of soccer rules.

Employees caught using a PDA in a meeting are issued a yellow warning card (by a fellow staff member at the same meeting)

A second yellow offense will result in the issuing of a red penalty card.

A red penalty card means the employee must pay for their PDA invoice for that month.

"While most staff are attentive and courteous during meetings, there are a few that continue to use their PDAs when they shouldn't. This could turn out to be an expensive, yet worthwhile etiquette lesson for those who continue to use their BlackBerry in the boardroom," stated the CEO.

I see two direct results from the BlackBerry crackdown: fewer CrackBerry thumb injuries and very likely a huge baby boom in Canada come next year.

The Power of the BlackBerry

By Judy Mottl   |    April 22, 2008

Research in Motion couldn't have asked for a better product endorsement than a research effort coming out of the Australian School of Business and Sydney University which claims that its popular email device, the BlackBerry, can increasingly "make or break a business."

Research authors Judi MacCormick and Kristine Dery spent time exploring how the smartphone device can help businesses achieve what a press release claims is the "newest Holy Grail" -- organizational ambidexterity, or OA for short.

The researchers define OA a company's ability to balance often conflicting internal and external demands at the same time as balancing the need for flexibility and control.

MacCormick reports businesses that successfully juggle multiple "climates," which includes involvement, adaptability, consistency and mission perform better.

In simple terms, multitasking pays off and can pay off big.

At least that's my interpretation, though given I have no formal business degree, I could be wrong.

But I don't think I am.

It seems that the way a BlackBerry is used can have a significant impact on boosting a company's weak areas such as market or employee focus.

Yet too much BlackBerry can be a bad thing. {This part of the research, I'm guessing, would not be welcome news to RIM}.

The researchers say connectivity can go sour -- especially when bosses expect employees to be as on-call 24x7.

"Positive climates of involvement and adaptability can quickly turn into over-involvement, addiction, and diffusion ��� where your sense of control becomes watered-down because you are in constant contact," states MacCormick in a press release.

But that doesn't mean IT or corporate leaders should ban BlackBerry use, warns MacCormick.

I'm definitely sure RIM would agree with that research consensus.

There Once Was A Man From Nantucket....

By Judy Mottl   |    April 15, 2008

Who says storage gurus aren't a creative bunch?

I certainly never did, and Wikibon.org's Dave Vellante certainly proved they are last week at Storage Networking World in Orlando.

While enjoying a cocktail, Vellante was sharing his own special limerick about green storage with a colleague when I overheard him. I politely interrupted his conversation to ask for a copy to share:

The guys in IT don't have the will

Cause it's the facilities people who pay the bill

But that's gonna change sooner than you think

We're out of power and on the brink

The CEO said 'spend 1/3 less; I want you to fix it. Clean up this mess!'

So we had a big meeting -- boy it was tough

We said: 'There's only one way���

'GET RID OF STUFF!'

Vellante, cofounder and principal contributor of wikibon.org, a worldwide community dedicated to improving the adoption of technology and business systems through an open source sharing of free advisory knowledge, also offered up some interesting tech tidbits:

Only 5% of CIOs pay the power budget for IT equipment (so no one seems to care unless they're out of power!)

The per sq. ft. annual costs of a data center are at least 50X more expensive than those of a typical office building (this from Gartner, PG&E and some Wikibon users)

The IT industry produces nearly 40 million metric tons of CO2 emissions from data centers (again from PG&E).

The electric bill now nearly exceeds server acquisition costs over the 3-4 year life of a box.

The worst place in the country to use outside air to cool a data center? Tampa, Florida (5% potential savings). The best place? Fairbanks, Alaska (67% potential savings).

Water chills 3 orders of magnitude faster than air.

The primary design point for data centers is most typically 125 Watts/sq. ft.

It's time to turn stuff off!!!!!

*Thanks for sharing Dave :) See you at the next SNW!*

Live From SNW: The SSD Has Arrived

By Judy Mottl   |    April 10, 2008

There's no dispute that solid state disks have arrived and arrived big time at Storage Networking World.

An early morning presentation on solid state storage for the enterprise drew a packed room.

If it had been held earlier in the week presenter Woody Hutsell, VP at Texas Memory Systems, predicts the line for a seat would have been out the door.

"Last year I was the only one talking on SSD, this year there were three presentations," Hutsell told InternetNews.com. "And given this is the last day of the conference the attendance was amazing."

Hutsell shared his presentation duties with Brian McKean, a storage architect for LSI.

Asked if maybe SSD deserved its ownpanel work session at the next show, Hutsell shook his head.

"I want it all to myself," Hutsell said with a smile.

Live From SNW: It's All In A Name, Or Is It?

By Judy Mottl   |    April 10, 2008

Back on the Expo floor I met up with LSI.

I had been seeing their name and brand all over the conference hotel as their savvy marketing people got the company logo on room key cards for attendees and they also sponsored the Internet caf��.

As one attendee told me, the company even had a better approach at a past show. They sponsored the conference badges, displaying their logo on the underside of nametags. As the tags typically swing around all you could see throughout the conference was "LSI" on everyone you passed.

At the booth the company was raffling off a GPS unit. Describing themselves as "silicon and system storage," no one seemed too sure if "LSI" stood for anything in particular. Maybe large scale integration?

At the Data Domain booth the give-away was Amazon gift certificates. Attendees, all who received a "key" in their promotional packets, could come by and try to see if their key fit the 'treasure chest' at the booth. One attendee, Glen, actually one while InternetNews.com was talking to booth staff.

The HIFN boys explained their company name was a take-off of 'hyphenated,' meaning compressed data..compressed name. As I declined one of the company's token pens, someone pointed out I was already using a HIFN pen for note taking.

Riverbed, named for the company owners' love of fly fishing, was founded in 2002. There was a iPhone raffle and of course pens. The company booth staff says the company is all about 'thinking fast' and 'WAN like LAN.'

Four-year-old SanBlaze wasn't giving away anything.

Wasabi, obviously named for the hot ginger spice though a connection to spice and storage isn't too clear, was raffling off an Xbox 360 Rock Band package, as well as memory sticks and t-shirts.

Two-year-old Stormagic is "simple, smart storage' and Agami Systems, whose name means "that which is to come" both had a Wii promotion going.

Live From SNW: The Allure of Mutton Chops

By Judy Mottl   |    April 09, 2008

jered-1573-med.jpg

Permabit CTO Jerod Floyd has been getting a little bit more attention than most tech leaders at this week's Storage Networking World in Orlando. And he has his barber to thank for it. Or his own steady hand.

Floyd has an impressive set of mutton chops -- a set that's caught the attention of more than a few people at the show.

This feedback isn't tied to any sort of informal survey I did. It came up in more than a few conversations I had and, ye, well, overhead.

"It's pretty courageous to wear those," one attendee told me, noting mutton chops were in fullforce long before Floyd, a 29-year-old, was likely even a twinkle in his mother's or father's eye.

Another attendee, male I might add, told me he's guessing Floyd doesn't have any children. "Otherwise he wouldn't have the time to keep them so sharp looking or so aligned."

I have to admit I agreed with that. I don't even get in my own bathroom before 8 am these days with one daughter in high school, another in middle school.

Floyd, the founder of Permabit, didn't just grow the facial hair for the fun of it. Or even the attention gained. He believes it helps get him a bit more respect as he tends to look quite a bit younger without them.

To prove his point, he pulled up a shot of himself on his smartphone. A photo of him at 21. Yes he surely did look young, but to be honest, the mohawk he wore at the time drew my attention away from his face.

Live From SNW: Magic and Madness

By Judy Mottl   |    April 09, 2008

I spent a few hours at Storage Networking World's Expo today, chatting up vendors, checking out freebies, asking companies to describe themselves in three words or less.

Pretty much enjoying myself like the rest of the few hundred attendees, though most seem to have come for the buffet lunch, which wasn't bad.

Copan, named after the Honduran ruins in which perfectly preserved "persistent" relics were discovered in the 1880s, offered visitors green squeegee balls.

F5, whose name stands for the 'force 5' hurricane power level, had red balls and t shirts.

Symantec doled out one of the neatest goodies -- a network ethernet cable in a hard protective case.

Thecus -- which is latin for storage -- was the only vendor to have a little bendable doll named "T Girl" depicting a curvy nurse carrying a tiny replica of the vendor's NAS box in one hand and a screwdriver in another.

You'd think the powerhouses would have the best toys and trinkets, but that doesn't seem to be the case. AMD gave away luggage tags, Fujitsu had little flashlights though it was raffling off a $100 Visa gift certificate.

Compellent had a compelling raffle -- a $250 Best Buy certificate, while 7-year-old InMage just had pens. Three-year-old DiscoveryBox had chocolates (macadamia) and colorful leis..not bad for its first time at the show.

Gresham, named for its parent company in England, had an iPod raffle going, while Xsigo (named for what, I have no clue, and neither did people near the booth) had a Wii raffle going, and decent looking mints. They did have some of the friendliest representatives at the show so they do get points for that.

NetApp had nothing, zip, nada, while IBM gave a little bit of "storage" in the form of a canvas bag to attendees.

QLogic, which describes itself as simple storage infrastructure, was raffling off a Mac Air laptop. Couldn't find out how it got the company got its name however.

As the Dell boys pointed out their company is 'green' given its green canvas totes on hand.

EMC2 was raffling off an iPod. I did finally find out why there's a '2' in the name -- it's a take off of Einstein's brilliant theory. Did you know the EMC referred to the first letter of the three original founder's last names? I didn't, and the booth people couldn't seem to name the founders.

Quantum, which means unit of measurement, had an iPhone raffle and fun foam missile guns and darts which booth people admitted shooting over at DataDomain staffers.

Tomorrow I'll have a few more to add to the list.

And while nothing quirky or wild was happening , though several people did mention Xiotech's "booth buddies" -- curvey, leggy, blond helpers..many seemed to enjoy the magician the vendor brought in to entertain.

The big question of the day though was why NEC didn't have anything about Hydra at the Expo.

A call into their marketing connection went unreturned.

SNW Live: The Many Flavors of Deduplication

By Judy Mottl   |    April 07, 2008

Put four high profile vendors of deduplication technologies side by side in front of a crowded audience and one can only hope for some debate, and hopefully even a few laughs.

That's exactly what attendees at a panel discussion late at SNW in Orlando yesterday were treated to when Taneja Group founder, analyst Arun Taneja, played moderator to a lively discussion about the many ways deduplication technologies can work.

Jered Floyd, CTO and founder of Permabit sat next to Jeff Tofano, CTO at Quantum who sat next to Mikios Sandorfi, CTO of SEPATON, who sat next to Neville Yates, CTO, of Diligent Technologies.

Sandorfi was the perfect person to put between Tofano and Yates it turned out as Yates put forth some heated and pointed words about Quantum's deduplication solution approach and drew a few laughs throughout most of the 45-minute session.

Given the back and forth between the CTOs of Quantum and Diligent one would have been led to believe the two had a long running feud.

But actually the two had only met briefly earlier in the day, and, in their initial short conversation they realized they shared a very close friend.

As Tofano explained after the panel, he was even perplexed about Neville's pointed words on Quantum's product focus and strategy.

"There's no rivalry. We hadn't even met before," Tofano told InternetNews.com after the panel.

P.S. As we all love to know company name origins, try guessing what SEPATON's company name is all about. You'll find out the answer here tomorrow.

Moto Caves -- Icahn's Meister Gets On Board

By Judy Mottl   |    April 07, 2008

Carl Icahn must be dancing the two-step and kicking up his heels.

William R. Hambrecht, founder, chairman and
chief executive officer of WR Hambrecht + Co. and co-founder of Hambrecht &
Quist, and Keith Meister, a managing director of the Icahn investment funds
and principal executive officer of Icahn Enterprises, will be nominated for
election to Motorola's Board of Directors at the 2008 Annual Meeting of
Shareholders

In fact Meister has been appointed to serve on the Board, effective immediately.

Here's the official statement:

In connection with the nomination of Messrs. Hambrecht and Meister, the
Icahn Group, which beneficially owns, in the aggregate 144,562,000 shares of
Motorola common stock, representing approximately 6.4% of Motorola's
outstanding shares, has agreed not to solicit proxies in connection with the
2008 Annual Meeting and to vote its shares in support of all of the Board's
director nominees.
As part of the settlement agreement, all pending litigation between
Motorola and Carl Icahn will be dismissed. In addition, Motorola has agreed
to seek input from Mr. Icahn in connection with significant matters regarding
the intended separation of the Mobile Devices business, including the search
for a new CEO to head the Mobile Devices business. In addition Messrs.
Hambrecht and Meister may communicate with Mr. Icahn, subject to certain
confidentiality restrictions, regarding Board activities of Motorola,
including with respect to the intended separation of the company into two
independent businesses.
"We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Carl Icahn," said Greg
Brown, president and chief executive officer. "We look forward to continuing
the process we announced on March 26 to create two independent publicly-traded
companies and we are pleased to avoid a costly and distracting proxy contest."
"This is a very positive step for Motorola in that shareholder
representatives will have strong input into board decisions affecting the
future of our company," said Carl Icahn. Mr. Icahn further noted, "In
addition, the Motorola Board has also taken an important step forward for
corporate governance in that the separated company which includes Mobile
Devices will be essentially free from poison pills and staggered boards, both
of which, in my opinion, serve to make democracy a travesty in corporate
America."
William R. Hambrecht, 72, has been Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive
Officer of WR Hambrecht + Co, a financial services firm, since December 1997.
Mr. Hambrecht co-founded Hambrecht & Quist in 1968, from which he resigned in
December 1997 to form WR Hambrecht + Co. Mr. Hambrecht currently serves on
the Board of Trustees for The American University of Beirut and is on the
Advisory Investment Committee to the Board of Regents of the University of
California. He also serves on the Advisory Council to The J. David Gladstone
Institutes. In October 2006, Mr. Hambrecht was inducted to the American
Academy of Arts and Sciences. Mr. Hambrecht graduated from Princeton
University.
Keith Meister, 34, since August 2003, has served as Vice Chairman of the
Board of Icahn Enterprises G.P. Inc., the general partner of Icahn Enterprises
L.P. (NYSE: IEP), a diversified holding company engaged in a variety of
businesses, including investment management, metals, real estate and home
fashion. From August 2003 through March 2006, Mr. Meister also served as
Chief Executive Officer of Icahn Enterprises G.P. Inc., and since March 2006,
Mr. Meister has served as Principal Executive Officer of Icahn Enterprises G.P.
Inc. Since November 2004, Mr. Meister has been a Managing Director of Icahn
Capital LP, the entity through which Carl C. Icahn manages third party private
investment funds. Since June 2002, Mr. Meister has served as senior investment
analyst of High River Limited Partnership, an entity primarily engaged in the
business of holding and investing in securities. Mr. Meister also serves on
the boards of directors of the following companies: XO Holdings, Inc., WCI
Communities, Inc., and Federal-Mogul Corporation. With respect to each company
mentioned above, Mr. Icahn, directly or indirectly, either (i) controls such
company or (ii) has an interest in such company through the ownership of
securities. Mr. Meister received an A.B. in government, cum laude, from
Harvard College in 1995.

Live From Orlando: It's SNW

By Judy Mottl   |    April 07, 2008

Torrential rain met attendees Sunday as they began arriving at Rosen Shingle Creek resort for the Storage Networking World show.

The four-day conference features 160 speakers and 140 educational sessions across seven tracks, encompassing regulatory issues, high-performance computing, several tutorial programs and the Storage Networking Industry Association (SNIA) certification program.

Top issues this year are clearly the "green" data center and the value of storage virtualization.

Check back on *InternetNews.com* later today to read what NetApp's Tim Russell, VP and GM of the Storage Security Business Unit, has to say about staying one step ahead of new regs and compliance issues.

Pretty much everyone who's anyone seems to be here from the big boys to lots of newcomers pitching new technologies and 'break throughs.'

One disappointment is the cancellation of Ray Kurzweil's anticipated key note on Tuesday due to a last minute emergency. His topic, The Accelerating Future of Information Technology, surely would have drawn a huge crowd.

Standing in for Kurzweil is Mark Showers, CIO of Monsanto Company, who's speaking on "Responding to the Growing Demands for Actionable Information from Around the Globe."

But Tuesday still bodes exciting as Xiotech is expected to make a big splash that could end up being the big news of the show.

The vendor even took out the back page of the conference booklet to invite attendees to a celebration event featuring its "revolutionary new product" that will provide a "new foundation of data storage."

The event will surely draw a huge crowd -- two hours of free drinks and food usually does.

Moto's Unique Employee Retention Strategy

By Judy Mottl   |    April 03, 2008

Some people get addicted to email, to music downloads, to instant messaging.

I'm addicted to SEC filing alerts.

It's a new malady and I completely blame Motorola.

Why? Well in the quest to track, report and unearth what's going on with the company I signed up for their SEC alert service and now, no matter what I'm in the middle of, I'm compelled to stop and click through to check out the latest filing document.

It's pathetic I know. But it reaps rewards now and then. Yes, sometimes I have no clue what a stock move made by a board officer means on face value.

But I sure know what this report statement means:

Item 2.05 Costs Associated with Exit or Disposal Activities

**During the first quarter of 2008, Motorola, Inc. (the ���Company���) has taken specific actions relating to workforce reductions that will result in severance costs relating to approximately 2,600 employees. The result will be a net pre-tax charge in the first quarter of 2008 totaling approximately $104 million, comprised of $113 million in charges for severance costs, partially offset by $9 million of reversals for accruals from prior periods that are no longer needed. All of the above estimated charges are expected to result in future cash expenditures during 2008. All three of the Company���s business segments, as well as various corporate functions, are impacted by these plans.**

From the way I read it, Moto let go 2,600 people in the first quarter of this year.

Now Moto is a huge company, I know that. But still. What I'm trying to find out is whether this is part of the planned stated layoffs last spring of 4,000 or a whole new round.

Ironic that CEO Greg Brown told investment bankers during the recent call about the company split-off that employee retention was a big challenge.

It is, indeed, hard to keep good people when you're laying off left and right.

BlackBerry Isn't Just For Work Anymore

By Judy Mottl   |    April 01, 2008

Research in Motion's been working hard to push its popular enterprise productivity tool, the BlackBerry, into the consumer space.

It hasn't been an easy task thanks to Apple's wunder device, the iPhone.

But RIM has obviously made some progress. Or have they?

After all Facebook downloads on the BlackBerry just surpassed the million mark.

And it's just been five months since the BlackBerry Facebook software was launched.

I mean, heck, it has to be consumers and non-business people using it right? Sharing photos, Web tid bits, inviting friends to check out your updated Facebook profile -- that's social entertainment, not business work.

Or is it that professionals have discovered the allure of Facebook away from prying eyes in the workplace and at home?

Just how many business people have Facebook profiles? Just how many use it for business purposes?

A very unofficial survey of colleagues snapped me into reality.

I could be the only one I know without a Facebook profile.

I did get myself on Linked In and another social networking snazzy site, created by brilliant minds who all used to work together. But I've never even considered Facebook.

Maybe the reason I can't wrap my mind around the download statistic is that when I think BlackBerry, I think stodgy professionals racing from one meeting to another, one coastline to another, checking email during flight layovers.

I don't envision 13-year-old CrackBerry addicts, sharing gossip about their middle school science teacher, pulling a BlackBerry out of a packback to post on their social networking page.

No matter who's doing the downloading, Facebook should send over some sort of thank-you gift to RIM, don't you think?