Tag Archives | Commentary
Mark Hurd

HP’s dilemma: The high-tech CEO, the reality TV star and a potential PR nightmare

It’s not often that my professional world collides with some admittedly questionable personal interests, but last week when news broke that HP CEO Mark Hurd stepped down following a sexual harassment suit filed by a former contestant on a reality television show, I experienced a bit of whiplash.

Read Time’s take on the news — Corporate Scandals: Why HP Had to Oust Mark Hurd
View Time’s slideshow on Top 10 CEO Scandals

Because I keep up on gossip rags almost as much as high-tech mags, I realize no industry leader – or government official, athlete or actor – is safe from a sex scandal, but to learn that HP’s chief was leaving for potentially philandering with an employee and not something more related to questionable accounting practices did surprise me some. (Nothing specific to Hurd, but generally high-tech CEOs get caught and punished for being creative with accounting and not necessarily for schmoozing the assistants.)

Mark Hurd

But as the news unfolded more, inaccurate use of company funds (reportedly totaling around $20,000) was at the root of Hurd’s speedy exodus. Hurd admitted he didn’t act in line with corporate policy and will reportedly get millions to leave HP. The suit filed by Jodie Fisher, an actress who worked for HP as a marketing consultant and who is represented by the infamous Gloria Allred, was reportedly settled before the news hit and after Hurd offered to replenish the misappropriated cash.

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The ‘booth babe’ debate

The phenomenon of the ‘booth babe’ pleases most trade show attendees, but some observers object to the offensive and sexist nature of the practice of packing your booth with attractive, scantily-clad women who for the most part know very little about the company, technology or product they are helping to sell. But for many vendors the bevy of beauties brings at least some boys into their booth, hopefully willing to listen to a product pitch while they admire the, um, staff.

A recent post by Network World blogger Michael Morris caused a bit of discussion on that site as well as chatter across social media network Twitter. He held a contest immediately following Cisco Live to identify the hottest booth babe at the show. BlueCat won Morris’ contest this year, and I have to admit the vendor’s choice of theme and costume has landed on more than a few of my show “reporter’s notebooks” over the years. The company usually goes all out on equipping its show booth and apparently it pays off, if winning such contests is any measure of success. One Twitter commenter claimed that employing “booth babes” resulted in “1,000s of useless leads vs. legitimate prospects that can turn into purchases.”

For many, booth babes are seen as what they are: an obvious ploy to lure show attendees into a vendor’s booth. That certainly doesn’t mean the intelligent attendees at such shows don’t thoroughly enjoy the presence of booth babes or even mind that there is a product pitch waiting for them after they snap a picture. And for many others, employing attractive young ladies to stand around half-naked to be ogled by as one person put it “lusty geeks” is archaic and sexist.

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CA Is Not Mordor

“In Mordor where the shadows lie…” The Lord of the Rings We keep hearing and seeing it, including on Twitter a week ago: “CA is a place where good software goes to die a slow, painful and horrible death.” Really? Well, it’s been nearly six months since CA acquired NetQoS. No foul Orcs have threatened [...]

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Internet Everything

A study by L.E.K. consulting, a business strategy and marketing consulting firm, recently conducted a survey on media consumption habits; and what they foundturned out to be a bit of a shock.

According to the survey, 32% of users listen to an average of 5.8 hours of Internet radio a week.  That’s huge.

The reason it is huge is because unlike a lot of high-throughput downloads; streaming radio tends to be a constant drain on bandwidth.  Sure, a 5GB file is a lot to transfer, but it saturates the available bandwidth in the pipe for a limited amount of time.  On the other hand, 160mbps streaming audio improperly configured into a high QoS priority knocks out 160mbps of your total bandwidth.  Multiply that stream by the number of users streaming; and you can see why a new interest in streaming Internet radio is something to take note of.

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The Front Lines

Our friends over at GeeksAreSexy recently posted a review of the “10 steps to a better IT support process.” There’s probably not a lot of information there for people who already work in IT, but it does a good job of giving people outside of IT a picture of what the IT helpdesk has to go through.

“When users call for support, they usually feel helpless and may sound irritated over the phone. Always be polite towards them.”

And while there are always going to be technical support issues stemming from user error or hardware failure, these tips underscore a very important lesson. By the time the problem reaches the helpdesk, you’ve already got a ticked-off end-user.

And if that’s your first, last, and only method of finding performance problems, you’re leaving the important troubleshooting to the end user. The end user doesn’t have training in network performance problems, and even if he or she did, they wouldn’t have the information in the network’s performance because they don’t have either the tools or the access to see the network problem from the datacenter’s perspective.

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Symposium 2010 Registration Open

Registration for the ninth annual NetQoS Symposiumis now open.  If you’re familiar with Symposium, you know it’s where we have educational sessions, engaging speakers, hands-on product labs, and tons of networking opportunities.  Er, that is, people networking.

Symposium is great for broadening your understanding of how to use our products to monitor and manage your network performance.  While basic operation is simple, there are little subtle tricks of the trade that you might only pick up from our instructors or your peers.

Furthermore, you’re able to voice your ideas outto your peers and get critiques from the experts in the field.  We love this peer feedback too – a customer notices a problem that they have, another customer suggests a solution, and we have a feature that we might want to add to the roadmap.

And this year, you will also hear how the NetQoS products are being integrated with other CA products like eHealth and Wily.

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Strange Ex-Bedfellows

You’ve probably heard by now about how Google, in retaliation to unauthorized intrusion into Gmail accounts of Chinese dissidents by what they believe is the Chinese government, Google has decided to stop working with the Chinese government and stop filtering the Google search results for google.cn, which could lead to pulling out of China completely.

The last time anyone as big and influential as Google had to pull out of China due to pressure from the communist government, they formed Taiwan.

It’s becoming such a huge deal that the U.S. State Department is getting involved.  Hopefully this won’t escalate into full-out nuclear warfare between the two countries.  At least not till January 26th, when I arrive in nuclear-free New Zealand.  Although that’s not likely to happen, considering that the United States owes China so much money that China can’t afford to have us default on the loans…

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Barbie, ¿Que?

The Mattel Corporation, makers of Barbie, have produced an online poll asking people to vote on the next occupation of “teenage-fashion model doll” Barbie. Choices are “Environmentalist,” (although a doll made entirely out of plastic might be a poor spokesperson for this career), Surgeon, Architect, News Anchor, or, drumroll please: “Computer Engineer.”

Seriously.  Go vote for “Computer Engineer.” Whether you believe Barbie’s influence on young girls to be positive or negative, you cannot deny that there is an influence.  And Computer Engineer will go a long way towards correcting the “Math class is tough” version of Barbie.

But of course, Barbie wouldn’t be Barbie if she didn’t come with accessories.  In addition to the usual computer engineer accoutrements – laptop, pocket protector, jeans for crawling under desk, sneakers for getting around quickly, and a collection of slightly witty t-shirts (especially appropriate would be this one, for “self-rescuing princess”), may we humbly suggest the following:

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Data Centers understaffed, says Symantec poll

Network World reports on a survey by security software vendor Symantec which talks about data center staffing. Specifically, half of the respondents said that their data centers were either extremely or somewhat understaffed.

And of course, there’s always the usual suspect to trot out – the economy – forcing IT workers to do more with less, with cutbacks and layoffs hitting IT hard. But there’s also another factor – that it’s not just that the IT staffing budgets are decreasing but also that the job of the network engineer is becoming complex, thus increasing the overall workload.

This is especially true in mid-sized enterprises where new technologies which can save money but which are extremely complex, like virtualization, WAN optimization, and cloud computing are being implemented at a faster rate than either smaller enterprises or larger ones.

Well, if you don’t have enough manpower in your data center, there are three solutions I can think of off the top of my head. The first is to hire more people. This may not be feasible given current budgets.

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Invention is the easy part

I’d like to call your attention to this Network World article called “Stop inventing mobile phones.” To be brief, there’s a huge market for mobile phones – the physical devices that is – and the operating systems and applications for them. But in this rush to develop a better box, it often seems that the infrastructure to operate them – the network – hasn’t kept up with that innovation.

Does this sound familiar?

It often seems like we come up with the applications first, then try to develop the infrastructure to support it – not just in mobile technology but in all of technology. The car was built before the highway system, for example. RealPlayer tried to show video back in the day of the 56.6k modem.

But as Network World points out, there are so many competitors in the crowded mobile phone marketplace. This is great for innovation, but all of these mobile phones have been hamstrung by a lack of innovation in the mobile infrastructure.

Generally, it’s not a good idea to deploy apps until you verify your network can handle them.

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Take This Job And Love It

ComputerWorld is saying that “IT job statisfaction plummets to all time low” in an article by Patrick Thibodeau. Hagan said there is a lot of pent-up dissatisfaction in the IT workplace, as well as a backlog of people who normally would have moved to a different job in a stable economy. The recession has resulted [...]

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CES la vie

The Consumer Electronics Show is about to begin in Las Vegas; and it’s interesting to see some of the technologies that are coming out – and speculate on how they might impact the enterprise IT environment. First, there’s the Phone Wars, heating up with Google coming out with the Nexus One, which is an open [...]

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