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Evolution towards the Data-Driven Enterprise

Data has always been important for many (if not all) companies. Today however it is becoming increasingly easier to collect data about customers, business transactions, devices etc…, . This data enables companies to (more dynamically) optimize their business models and processes and differentiate themelves from their competitors. Before embarking on a (Big) data strategy it is important to understand what is driving this evolution and what are basic Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 10.45.42architecture building blocks to take into account when transforming into a more data driven enterprise.

Several trends are fueling the evolution towards a more data-driven enterprise: Price/performance improvements in network, storage and computing and the rise of Cloud computing , make it more cost effective to deploy large IT infrastructures and capture data. New data management technologies and products such as Hadoop (MapReduce) and NoSQL/NewSQL provide scalable and more cost effective solutions than traditional SQL databases for various classes of problems.  The IT consumerization trend results in departments more actively pursuing analytics capabilities. Another important trend is the Internet of Things (IoT): The advent of cheaper sensors and improved connectivity are bridging the gap between the physical and digital world, enabling collecting data from more devices and environments. This sensorization is unlocking the potential to gather enormous amounts of data and details about almost everything.

These trends are creating new challenges and opportunities to harness and understand the data tsunamis, and leverage the analytics for decision making purposes, to better monitor, control, and understand complex systems from business dashboards to IoT eco-systems. Read More »

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A Day in the Life of the ecobee Smart Thermostat Part 1

In my last article I talked about my thermostat and the Internet of Everything [read here] I questioned the true value my smart meter was providing to my home and my wallet. I said what’s missing is a thermostat that helps me understand my energy consumption habits, allows me to stay within budget (and save money!) and eventually take advance of spot prices on energy. Wouldn’t that be cool?!

The good news is that there are products on the market today that are heading in the right direction. Nest, recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion [read here], offers a “learning thermostat” which Bill MacGowen wrote about earlier in his post: My home thermostat and the Internet of Everything” [read here].

The Nest acquisition is a big deal and there’s already discussions starting to surface on what Google plans to do with the data they will gather from Nest devices. Why is Google getting into the energy management and HVAC market? What will they do with the data? Will there be ads showing up on my Google thermostat? This led me to wonder who else was in this market space? Are there any alternatives to Nest? Of course there are but they’ve been overshadowed by Nest because of the origins of it’s founder (Apple) and Google’s recent purchase.

One of them is ecobee, a Canadian company. While they may not be a household name (yet) they’ve been around since 2007 plugging away and growing their business organically. I reached out to ecobee because I wanted to learn more about the company, it’s founder and his thoughts on where he sees the future heading for IoT/IoE. Below is part one of my email conversation with the founder and CEO of ecobee, Stuart Lombard.

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Stu_440x275 (1)1)Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company?

I started my career building control systems for large international electric utilities. Then I caught the ‘Internet’ bug and founded two successful companies – one of the first internet service providers in Canada, InfoRamp Inc., and one of the first virtual private networking companies, at the time called Isolation Systems Ltd. Read More »

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R&D Cloud solutions within the Corporate Environment

With “clouds” being the hot new term in IT, many high level executives are looking for ways to incorporate clouds into their enterprise environment. Sometimes, these decisions are rushed, and poorly designed solutions are thrown into place. These solutions almost always fail to gain traction within the corporation due to lackluster features, or they are just plain too hard to use. Cloud solutions in the corporate environment can be a very powerful tool that can extend to all parts of the company.  It just needs the proper design and implementation to be successful. Remember, just how every corporation is different, so needs to be the cloud solution. Read More »

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The Price of Being First

New technology is always exciting. There are always groups within the organization that have seen some product demo at a convention or user group and need that new functionality right now!

But sometimes the infrastructure is not there to support it. Or it’s the first time this type of technology has been introduced into your organization. Both of these pose their own distinct issues and challenges.

Some initial questions we ask ourselves are the following:

•    Does our current infrastructure support the requests?
•    Do we need to procure hardware or do code upgrades?
•    Will this pass a security sniff?
•    Will this support the entire organization or is this a one off that will sporadically be used?
•    Who is the first department willing to pilot this?

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The “Next Gen” Network Engineer

A subject very close to my heart at the moment is what skills I will need to have in order to support the Next Generation of Software Defined and Application Centric networks.

It is of no surprise that Networking like most other towers in IT has embraced abstraction as the way forward to provide levels of flexibility and agility never before seen in the Network.

What is perhaps a bit of a surprise, is the speed in which these new concepts are being developed and deployed. It seems like only last year terms like SDN were still viewed as “Way down the line” technologies. But here we are at the start of Q2 2014 and it seems like if you don’t already have an SDN plan you’re already behind.

So what skills will we need in order to design, support and deploy these new networks? Read More »

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