Nick MacKechnie
#8 wire kinda guy.....

Consumerisation of Corporates

Saturday, 27 June 2009 11:11 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

We’re living in an interesting time from a technology perspective - where staff are beginning to demand more and more the functionality they consume at home, whilst in the office. As the generation y population join the workforce after being exposed to technology for most of their lives, it creates an interesting intersection in how we can get the best out of our workers. It’s unusual for gen-y citizens not to be connected. They are either online via TXTing, social networking sites such as Facebook, Bebo, Twitter or at the end of a broadband connection. How can businesses take advantage of technology to increase productivity and profitability, while at the same time protect company assets/IP and allow consumer choice of devices, hardware, operating systems and connectivity options?

The answer isn’t clear cut, and there are trade-offs with these options. If a business has invested wisely in the backend infrastructure, then serving up applications can be delivered in a variety of ways: e.g.:

1. Virtual Desktops - Client-hosted desktop virtualization creates a separate OS environment on the desktop, allowing non-compatible legacy or line-of-business applications to operate within their native environment on top of a more current operating system, or enabling two IT environments (for example, personal and corporate) to run concurrently on the same physical device. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is a desktop delivery model, which allows client desktop workloads (operating system, application, user data) to be hosted and executed on servers in the data centre. Users can communicate with their virtual desktops through a client device that supports remote desktop protocols such as RDP.

Key benefits include:

  • Offers improved flexibility and desktop location independence, enhancing work scenarios such as work from home and hot-desking
  • Facilitates improved business continuity through data centralization
  • Provides integrated management of physical, virtual and session-based desktops, including non-Microsoft infrastructure

2. Virtual Applications - transforms applications into centrally-managed virtual services that are never installed and don’t conflict with other applications.

Key benefits include:

  • Streams applications on-demand over the internet or via the corporate network to desktops, Terminal servers and laptops
  • Automates and simplifies the application management lifecycle by significantly reducing regression and application interoperability testing
  • Accelerates OS and application deployments by reducing the image footprint
  • Reduces the end user impacts associated with application upgrades/patching and terminations. No reboots required; no waiting for applications to install; and no need to uninstall when retiring an application
  • Enables controlled application use when users are completely disconnected

3. Delivering applications via a web browser

Key benefits include:

  • Minimal software installation if any or via plug-ins/controls
  • Minimal client upgrades required as updates are typically applied to backend applications/servers & services
  • A wide selection of devices that have browsers - fat clients, thin clients, PDAs, mobile devices

Traditional IT delivers line of business applications on a company supplied piece of hardware, standardised OS and applications for a specific range of desktops, laptops and terminal services devices. With the introduction of netbooks and cheaper notebooks, as well as our evolving work /lifestyle patterns – there are some interesting dynamics to consider.

I travel a bit for work, and have my own set of favourite/useful applications, as well as a desire to have access to my own personal documents, files, web favourites and email whenever I need them. I’m not keen to carry more than one device, so my question is – should employers offer the choice of allowing staff to supply their own device which can be used for accessing the corporate network and resources via wired, wireless, VPN , Direct Access technologies?

There are clearly things to consider:

  • Cost
  • Industry Standards /Cross Platform
  • Potential financing options of acquisition of device – should the company offer something to help?
  • Security of personal and corporate data – how do you separate, keep it safe, ensure it’s accessible to others as well as backed up etc
  • Reliability, performance, manageability – ensuring the device you have allows you to perform the required tasks/duties your employer needs and expects
  • Support, Warranty costs – If your device fails, how do you deal with this, and whose responsibility is it?
  • Virtualised Desktop/Applications – is this infrastructure there, fault tolerant and available when it’s needed?

All of the above (plus the many that I’ve missed out) is addressable with the technologies we have available today – Should we be exploring this as a viable option for tech savvy employees? I’m not sold either way, however in my opinion this is definitely something I think IT departments will continue to receive feedback about for some time. The days of traditional IT being a NO shop, with answers like “this is the only approved corporate standard device available” will be short lived – We need to move with the times and enable the business, whilst at the same time empowering the individual with choices. We are living in the digital decade, the cultural change is happening right in front of us.


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IT Does Matter!

Thursday, 25 June 2009 02:29 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

Today started like most others, with my daily dose of humour and news watching Breakfast on TV One. Over the past few days, there have been a number of articles online in New Zealand suggesting that 1000 people join the unemployment benefit weekly with a projection of 60,000 people being restructured over the next 12 months. Alot of the initiatives that where floated at the February job summit seemed to have stalled, or appear to have had little impact at this stage.

The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) is having a major impact on the way we do business, the way we look at new opportunities and as well as the social implications on how we live our daily lives.

The requirement to be fiscally responsible can be interpreted as ‘stop spending all money, reduce staff, cut back anything that looks large or complex’, I question whether that is the right thing to do?

Information Technology is in a strong place to add real business value and be a real asset in driving costs out of the business to help cushion the impact of this global recession. Core infrastructure is often neglected and overlooked by organizations - it is the foundation that we build our business on and around. This can be either a strategic asset and enabler, or a noose around our neck in terms of our ability to move with the times, be supported, supportable, secure, reliable, as well as enhancing our ability to interoperate with other systems, applications and vendors. If you have leaky pipes, do you want to spend your time and money fixing leaks or laying new pipes that give your business increased profitability and a competitive advantage?

As times get tougher, businesses look at ways of driving costs out of the business, often it’s going through a P&L and looking for large items of expenditure and asking/confirming do we really need these and making the call. e.g.: Maintenance agreements / Support Agreements can be expensive, however they provide a level of insurance in the event of failure. This could be seen as a quick win in terms of immediate cost savings; however the longer term implications of terminating such things need to be taken into consideration. Like all discussions with vendors, it’s wise to evaluate the level of service you need and receive for the level of money you pay. If you aren’t receiving the level of value you believe you should be, then it’s time to have that conversation and keep parties honest. Finding large cost items to remove is generally given to the budget owner, but IT must understand that they are employed by the business to provide services – the platform for the business to make money. We need to bare this in mind when we look at cost savings and the flow on effect of these decisions for today and tomorrow.

IT departments have come a long way from a place where the ‘geeks’ are, where they have the latest and greatest toys, deploy new versions of software just because it’s a new version, however I’m not certain we are as business aligned as we can and should be. We need to get closer to the business, become part of their vital business functions and enable them to achieve the business outcomes they need. I come from a background in infrastructure and understand how it’s very easy to become siloed and focused on the task at hand, rather than taking a step back and understanding, listening and delivering to the businesses requirements.

With shrinking budgets, headcount, time and resources, we need to look at the ways we can make a difference to the organisation. There’s no rocket science here –

Business Alignment - Understanding what is important to the business, what they see as the money earners this financial year and beyond, understanding their challenges, what they deem as critical and must have services. We need to continue to build strong relationships with key stake holders so that we are included in and assist with decisions made for the business. By doing this, we can align IT projects and look for quick win opportunities and drive project consolidation. Focus on risks and how IT can mitigate against them by reducing the likelihood of things happening. Understand your competitors, their weaknesses and where you can focus to grow market share and increase your competitive advantage. In order for businesses to make well informed decisions, they need to have decent information. This clearly falls in the realms of IT, business analysts and finance departments.

Virtualization – Looking at opportunities to reduce cost in terms of power consumption, platform consolidation, floor footprint, retiring older/non-supported hardware and software, maximise hardware capability, automation, smarter disaster recovery options, lab, testing and development environments, fault tolerance - all to improve availability/reliability/maintainability/manageability and remove longer term costs.

Business Automation – Work with the business to understand opportunities to leverage technology to automate and drive costs out of the business through smart automation – align to the businesses 1, 3, 5 year strategic plan. IT will never be anything other than a cost centre unless we align to the desired business outcomes.

Realising the value of the software you own – Customers buy software in a variety of ways from vendors. Some of these options include maintenance which may entitle you to newer versions of the software once it becomes available. IT are in the best position to interpret the business requirements, understand how and what the organisation are licensed for, and therefore potentially save money through smart deployment. Alot of purchased software sits on the shelf un-installed, this can be due to the fire fighting nature of the organisation/IT, changed or different business priorities, or a disconnect between procurement and IT and the business. Newer versions of software typically offer more features and functionality and therefore value if deployed. It’s also an opportunity to understand and explore the alternative options for purchasing/deploying software. There are now a variety of purchasing options available that include software for on premise (traditional), off premise (in the cloud) and a hybrid via subscription as well as vendors also offering attractive financing options.

Consolidation of technologies and platforms – When I visit customers, it’s not uncommon for them to have multiple versions of operating systems and applications, some are within support and others clearly are not. It can be hard to turn off old machines as new systems are introduced due to lack of documentation, understanding of the flow on affect, hard coding in custom written applications etc, so we need to leverage technologies such as virtualization to overcome some of these hurdles. We need to look at the toolsets the organisation need and use and why different business units have different tools for the same/similar job.

Proactive Engagement – We need to have the right tools to understand how our environment is behaving, and why. History teaches those who listen, and monitoring your environment and having the right tools to take action is a must. We need businesses to understand that in order to have a healthy car, it needs to be regularly serviced (health checks) as well as maintained. Best practice at the point of deployment don’t mean its best practice long term – Technology, learning’s, and operational tasks should be reviewed regularly and amended as it makes sense.

Unified Communications – Telephony and collaboration costs can be significantly reduced by smarter delivery options. The ability to take your phone extension with you while you travel adds huge value, as well as being able to reduce toll calls by dialling out of local points of presence. UC is an enabler for driving costs out, as well as reducing the requirement to travel by using the right conferencing technologies.

The Team – We need to look after the people that oil the cogs, continue to develop and grow their capabilities, and provide opportunities as well as helping them to have a balanced work and home life.

By understanding business processes, and aligning IT to increase efficiencies, availability, reliability and performance, you can have a large impact on profitability as well as delivering greater value and more choices to your customers.

As I reflect on the past few months, and the number of phone calls I’ve had from people affected by restructures, it’s fantastic to see companies investing in people and doing the right thing as much as possible through employee assistance programs (assistance with preparing CV’s, helping understand alternative career options, counselling) and putting staff and their families affected in the forefront as they go through very tough times.

The point I’m trying to make is, that in order to move forward, become agile, increase profitability and retain skilled staff, we need to build tighter relationships with the business, understand what they want to achieve and when they need to achieve it. We need to advise them on what is technically possible; everything has a cost, even if you choose to do nothing. Through communication, technology and a bit of hard work, we can better use the assets we have today and deliver for the needs for tomorrow.


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Windows 7 RC and HP 2140 Notebook

Thursday, 18 June 2009 02:11 by Nick MacKechnie

Hi All,

For those of you who have installed Windows 7 RC on one these netbooks and couldn’t figure out what the two unknown devices are in device manager, then I have the solution for you.

Visit the HP website here and install the following downloads:




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