Welcome!

Machine Learning Authors: Elizabeth White, Jason Bloomberg, Dan Blacharski, Darren Anstee, Progress Blog

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, ColdFusion, Containers Expo Blog, Machine Learning , Apache

Microservices Expo: Article

Hunting Down the “Herbies” In Your House

Applying the Theory of Constraints to the Management of IT

Recently some colleagues and I were discussing applications of the Theory of Constraints to various process and financial management scenarios.  In our current  economic environment in which organizations are constantly being pushed to new expectations of efficiency, the effective use of all available resources is absolutely critical to the success of an organization.  As we were considering some of the themes from Eli Goldratt’s classic business novel “The Goal” (right around the first anniversary of the author’s passing, coincidentally), I began to see the applicability of Goldratt’s work to the management of enterprise information technology much more clearly.  Although the focus of Goldratt’s seminal novel is primarily targeted at manufacturing, the discussion got me thinking about how well IT professionals embrace similar concepts to focus on eliminating bottlenecks in heterogenous systems and monitoring the various functional components of an application, solution, or environment.

For those unfamiliar with the book, it is the tale of a manufacturing manager who is assigned the dubious honor of fixing persistent production problems at his factory.  In a style that was very unique at the time of publication (1984), Goldratt provides instruction on the Theory of Constraints and methods for dealing with process problems by telling a story rather than rote or more traditional step by step instruction.  One of the core lessons of “The Goal” is provided via a boy in the protagonist’s scout troop named Herbie.  While out on a wilderness hike with the troop, our hero is constantly frustrated by the fact that the scouts seem to have a total and complete inability to stay together.  As the chaperone in charge of ensuring that these young men all come out of the woods safe and sound, he is understandably annoyed.  He eventually notices that Herbie, whose physical condition is less than optimal compared to his peers, is the bottleneck.  Herbie is always bringing up the rear and slowing down the entire troop.  Our hero attempts various methods such as lightening Herbie’s pack, but ultimately discovers that the optimal way to keep the troop together is to let Herbie be the leader leader of the hike.  This ensures that no one will ever hike faster than Herbie and that the group will stay together.  And therein lies one of the core tenets - the slowest activity in any process is the biggest determinant of the overall process cycle time.  Or, the total length of time required to execute any multi step process is most impacted by the length of time required to execute the longest-running task.  This observation is the spark that inspires our hero to analyze the activities in his manufacturing process flows, identify the bottlenecks, and work to optimize and eliminate them with the help of those who actually perform the work.  As the operations at his factory improve, he also fixes his marriage and becomes a better father, but such are the elements of drama (hence the “business novel”) and the side benefits of enjoying one’s vocation.

So what do out of shape scouts and manufacturing process flows have to do with the implementation of enterprise class information technology solutions?  I recall back in the 90s as the middleware market was being developed that there was a great deal of focus on speeds and feeds when comparing message oriented middleware (MOM) software solutions.  The competitive focus was on which solution provider could move message payloads from point A to point B (across networks and operating system platforms) the fastest.  As this technology was the foundation for many business process automation solutions upon which hybrid applications could be built by serializing cross platform components of executable business logic, the point seemed to be that the technology that delivered message payloads fastest would also enable the overall process to execute the fastest.  By extension, this speed of execution would provide a competitive advantage for one’s business.  Those implementing these sorts of solutions quickly realized that if the applications that were processing the messages were inefficiently written or being hosted on inadequate computing platforms, the speed at which the information was delivered to the participant applications made no difference.  This is because the overall process execution time was always determined by the business software applications that were providing actual business function at the endpoints rather than the speed at which the information could be delivered to those endpoint applications.  This is true with humans as well of course, because one cannot process information faster by simply DVRing their favorite news channel and watching it at 2x the speed.


Fast forward to the 21st century and we still see similar issues and impressions that have to be addressed.  According to Jake Gibson, VP of Customer Operations at LightEdge Solutions, “We often see situations in which there are requests for networking speeds that far surpass the performance of the business applications.  This enables us to have additional conversations about true performance requirements in the context of customers’ businesses and provide more appropriate solutions.”

 

Like any business process or heterogenous system, IT solutions have their share of potential bottlenecks and optimization opportunities.  When we take into account the complexity of our networks, storage systems, and computing hardware and combine it with the configuration and tuning options available in the operating systems, database management systems, application servers, and integration middleware, we can truly develop an appreciation for the depth of infrastructure skills required of the modern IT professional.  Add to that the specialized processors, business applications (both custom written and those supported by vendors), and other specialized capabilities such as business process management and analytics that are hosted by the  computing infrastructure and the many challenges that can arise with performance issues start to become apparent.  And don’t forget the need to securely deliver a great deal of functionality to customers and employees via mobile devices that are not located within the corporation’s facilities...

 

IT professionals will find bottlenecks and performance issues such as these easier to address as the burgeoning market for workload optimized and expert integrated systems develops.  Pre-configured hardware and software solutions that have been tuned and optimized for specific business requirements, applications, and workload characteristics will eliminate much of the guesswork and troubleshooting required to squeeze additional performance out of solutions.  Some of these solutions are available today from leading enterprise-class solution providers and many more will be released in the near future.  Additionally, as more solution providers expand the capabilities that can be provided to enterprise customers via cloud computing technologies, some of the burden will be shifted to the providers themselves.

 

The vast majority of the time all of the components in today’s complex information systems function quite well together and the business gets value out of its investment in information technology.  But full optimization of the modern IT environment, or the “hunting of the Herbies” when performance issues do arise, requires coordinated and proactive monitoring of the environment and an in-depth understanding of the overall systems architecture.  And that requires investment in the IT professionals who bring it all together for the business.

More Stories By Douglas Allen

Douglas W. Allen is a husband and father from Des Moines, IA and the owner of the winningtechnicalsales.com blog, dedicated to the sales engineering profession. As a technical sales manager at IBM, his team is dedicated to helping customers design and deploy enterprise-class business technology solutions that enable those customers to make money, save money, or mitigate risk. He is currently on a campaign to convince the world that the past, present, and future of rock and roll recently came out of New Jersey in the form of The Gaslight Anthem. He can be reached at www.linkedin.com/in/douglaswallen.

@CloudExpo Stories
Nordstrom is transforming the way that they do business and the cloud is the key to enabling speed and hyper personalized customer experiences. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ken Schow, VP of Engineering at Nordstrom, discussed some of the key learnings and common pitfalls of large enterprises moving to the cloud. This includes strategies around choosing a cloud provider(s), architecture, and lessons learned. In addition, he covered some of the best practices for structured team migration an...
Most technology leaders, contemporary and from the hardware era, are reshaping their businesses to do software. They hope to capture value from emerging technologies such as IoT, SDN, and AI. Ultimately, irrespective of the vertical, it is about deriving value from independent software applications participating in an ecosystem as one comprehensive solution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kausik Sridhar, founder and CTO of Pulzze Systems, discussed how given the magnitude of today's application ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Raju Shreewastava, founder of Big Data Trunk, provided a fun and simple way to introduce Machine Leaning to anyone and everyone. He solved a machine learning problem and demonstrated an easy way to be able to do machine learning without even coding. Raju Shreewastava is the founder of Big Data Trunk (www.BigDataTrunk.com), a Big Data Training and consulting firm with offices in the United States. He previously led the data warehouse/business intelligence and B...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...
As you move to the cloud, your network should be efficient, secure, and easy to manage. An enterprise adopting a hybrid or public cloud needs systems and tools that provide: Agility: ability to deliver applications and services faster, even in complex hybrid environments Easier manageability: enable reliable connectivity with complete oversight as the data center network evolves Greater efficiency: eliminate wasted effort while reducing errors and optimize asset utilization Security: imple...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, examined the regulations and provided insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence arou...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
Digital transformation is about embracing digital technologies into a company's culture to better connect with its customers, automate processes, create better tools, enter new markets, etc. Such a transformation requires continuous orchestration across teams and an environment based on open collaboration and daily experiments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alex Casalboni, Technical (Cloud) Evangelist at Cloud Academy, explored and discussed the most urgent unsolved challenges to achieve f...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
The 22nd International Cloud Expo | 1st DXWorld Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo | DXWorld Expo, to be held June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY, brings together Cloud Computing, Digital Transformation, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone in...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, discussed the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, application p...
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, described how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launching ...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
Mobile device usage has increased exponentially during the past several years, as consumers rely on handhelds for everything from news and weather to banking and purchases. What can we expect in the next few years? The way in which we interact with our devices will fundamentally change, as businesses leverage Artificial Intelligence. We already see this taking shape as businesses leverage AI for cost savings and customer responsiveness. This trend will continue, as AI is used for more sophistica...