Recent Blog Posts

Hybrid Cloud Offers More Flexibility for Innovation

According to Franklin Morris at PCWorld, almost 90 percent of businesses are using cloud computing in some form. The question in the last few years isn’t if the cloud should be implemented, but how to do so most effectively. With private, public, and hybrid options available, IT decision makers are faced with the tough decision of choosing the model that best fits the needs of their organization at any given moment.

 

The benefits of public cloud computing include cost-efficiency and scalable architecture. Organizations gravitate toward public cloud solutions for business support applications like email and CRM systems. The benefits of private cloud services include superior customization, security, and privacy.  This is attractive to businesses who want tighter control over core applications.

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According to Morris, “Businesses now have an expanded set of options for operating in the cloud. They can choose to manage their cloud infrastructure in-house, or opt for a managed cloud and have their cloud provider shoulder the burden of day-to-day management. In short, the cloud of the past was a one-size-fits-all offering. Today it is easy for businesses to design a custom solution around their precise needs.”

 

It’s clear in today’s business environment that the needs of an organization aren’t being met by choosing just one way of doing things; by combining the services of both public and private clouds, IT decision makers are increasingly looking toward a hybrid cloud solution to provide the best of both worlds.

 

In a recent Wired article by Jeff Borek, he states that “hybrid cloud models using both private, dedicated IT resources and public variable infrastructure are likely to be less expensive for clients than either private or public clouds alone. However, each organization must evaluate its own business requirements to determine which type of cloud is the best fit for them.”

 

The hybrid model offers the most flexible, agile, and scalable option for your business and your IT department. Hybrid allows businesses to keep costs down and adapt to changing environments without sacrificing the customizability needed for continuing innovation.

 

For more information on the different ways cloud can work for your business, watch this helpful video on the changing face of cloud computing.

 

And to join the conversation on Twitter, please follow us at @IntelITCenter or use #ITCenter.

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The Coding Illini Claim Victory in the Intel® 2014 Parallel Universe Computing Challenge

$26,000 awarded to National Center for Women and Information Technology charity

 

The Coding Illini, a team from NCSA and the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, was declared the winner of the 2014 Intel® Parallel Universe Computing Challenge (PUCC) after a final competition that had plenty of excitement as both the Coding Illini and the Brilliant Dummies met their match with a tough coding round.

 

The final challenge was more substantial than prior matches and was the only one this year that used Fortran. The larger code was the undoing of both teams, as each made more changes than they were able to debug in their short ten minutes. The Coding Illini added to the drama when their final submission contained an error in their coding which appears to have broken the convergence of a key algorithm in the application. Their modified application continued iterating until long after the victor was declared and the crowds had dispersed. Co-host of the event, James Reinders, suspected both teams were only a few minutes away from success based on their progress and if either team had tried to do a little less they could have won easily by posting a programming result. The Coding Illini were declared the winner of the match based on the strength of their performance in the trivia round. Based on the Illini’s choice for a charitable organization, Intel will award the National Center for Women and Information Technology a donation of $26,000.

 

The Coding Illini, who were runners-up in the 2013 competition, celebrate the charitable award Intel will make to the National Center for Women and Information Technology on their behalf. The team includes team captain Mike Showerman, Andriy Kot, Omar Padron, Ana Gianaru, Phil Miller, and Simon Garcia de Gonzalo.

 

 

James later revealed that all the coding rounds were based on code featured in the new book High Performance Parallelism Pearls (specifically based on code from Chapters 5, 9, 19, 28, 8, 24 and 4, in that order. The original programs, effectively the solutions, are available from http://lotsofcores.com.) The competition problems were created by minimally changing the programs through the deletion of some pragmas, directives, and keywords associated with the parallel execution of the applications.

 

Complete Recap

 

This year’s PUCC at SC14 in New Orleans started with broad global participation with three U.S. teams, two teams each from Asia and Europe, and a Latin American team. In recognition of SC’s 26th anniversary, the teams were playing for a $26,000 prize to be awarded to the winning team’s selected charity.

 

On the opening night of the SC14 exhibition hall, last year’s winners, the Gaussian Elimination Squad from Germany who were playing for World Vision, eliminated their first round opponent, the Invincible Buckeyes from the Ohio Supercomputer Center and the Ohio State University who were playing for CARE. The German team had a slight lead after the first round that included SC conference and HPC trivia. Then their masterful performance in the coding round even amazed James Reinders, Intel’s Software Evangelist and the designer of the parallel coding challenge.

 

In the second match, The Brilliant Dummies from Korea selected Asia Injury Prevention Foundation as their charity. They faced off against the Linear Scalers from Argonne National Lab who chose Asha for Education. After round one, the Brilliant Dummies were in the lead with their quick and accurate answers to the trivia questions. Then in round two, the Seoul National University students managed to get the best Intel® Xeon™ and Intel® Xeon Phi™ performance with their changes to parallelize the code in the challenge. This performance cemented their lead and sent them on to the next round.

 

With the first two matches complete, the participants for the initial semi-final round were now identified. The Gaussian Elimination Squad would face The Brilliant Dummies.

 

Match number three, another preliminary round match, pitted Super Computación y Calculo Cientifico (SC3) representing four Latin American countries against the Coding Illini. The Coding Illini had reached the finals in the 2013 PUCC, and were aiming to improve their performance this year.  This was the first year for SC3, who chose to play for Forum for African Women Educationalists. In a tightly fought match, the Coding Illini came out on top.

 

In the final preliminary round match, Team Taiji representing four of the top universities in China chose Children and Youth Science Center, China Association for Science and Technology for their charity. They faced the EXAMEN representing the EXA2CT project in Europe and were playing for Room to Read. The team from China employed a rarely used strategy by fielding four different contestants in the trivia and coding rounds of the match and held the lead after the first round. Up until the very last seconds of the match it looked as though Taiji might be victorious. However, the EXAMEN submitted a MAKE at the very last second which improved the code performance significantly. That last second edit proved to be the deciding factor in the victory for the team from Europe.

 

So the Coding Illini would face the EXAMEN in the other semifinal round.

 

When the first semifinal match between the Gaussian Elimination Squad and The Brilliant Dummies started, the Germans were pretty confident. After all, they were the defending champions and had performed extraordinarily well in their first match. They built up a slight lead after the trivia round. When the coding round commenced, both teams struggled with what was a fairly difficult coding challenge that Reinders had selected for this match. As he had often reminded the teams, if they were not constrained by the 10 minute time limit, these parallel coding experts could have optimized the code to perform at the same or even better level than the original code had before Reinders deconstructed it for the purposes of the competition. As time ran out, The Brilliant Dummies managed to eke out slightly better performance and thus defeated the defending champions. The Brilliant Dummies would move on to the final round to face the winner of the EXAMEN/Coding Illini semi-final match.

 

In the other semifinal match, the Coding Illini took on the EXAMEN. At the end of the trivia round, the Coding Illini were in the lead. But as the parallel coding portion of the challenge kicked in, the EXAMEN looked to be the winner…until the Coding Illini submitted multiple MAKE commands at the last second to pull out a victory by just a small margin. They had used the same strategy on the EXAMEN that the EXAMEN had used in their match against Taiji. Coding Illini had once again made it to the final round and set up the final match with The Brilliant Dummies.

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Building a Truly Collaborative Enterprise

The benefits of having a highly collaborative enterprise is a given.  It’s not just the positive impact on business results like reduced time to market of products, their quality and improved customer satisfaction; the benefits also translates to better knowledge and people retention, workforce motivation and cohesiveness of the overall organization.  On the other hand, the challenges to ingrain the culture of collaboration within the organization are equally large, if not more.

 

The fundamental level of collaboration does happen in all enterprise.  People share content, files, e-mails, ideas, apps and whatever else is necessary to get the work done.  I call this collaboration by necessity.  This includes demonstration of collaborative behavior when ‘collaboration’ is mandated by the senior management.  Collaboration by choice is when people will proactively start on any task with a collaborative mindset in absence of any mandate, necessity or to fulfill any obligation. 

 

When thinking of creating a collaborative organization start with people centric approach instead of tools and technology.  Don’t be afraid to review and revamp the holy cows of annual performance reviews, rewards & recognitions and career promotions.  Identify the key areas where you would like to see more collaboration and remove any hurdles – process, workflow, budget and tools – that would be a hindrance.  Define a balanced scorecard that would give you an indication of the progress and not just motion.Collaboration.jpg

 

Tools and Technology


Ask any IT manager or a technologist about how to improve collaboration within the organization, they will come up with a list of tools and technologies that should be deployed that will guarantee improved collaboration.  A fancy looking dashboard will show how many groups have been created, documents and other content shared, comments posted, adoption rate and other indicators that, collectively, are expected to show how much of collaboration is happening within the organization.

 

As someone once said, “Do not confuse motion with progress.  A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make much progress”. The indicators and dashboard have to be developed that reflect the impact on business results.  Have we accelerated the design, development or some other process?  Has the day-1 quality of our product improved?  In order to track return on investment the dashboard has to include hard data that shows a clear and direct impact to business results; e.g. number of support calls dropped by 50% with new product launch compared to previous product launch.

 

Processes and Workflow

In most cases, when an organization selects tools and technologies for enabling collaboration they compare feature and functions.  In fact, I would go on a limb and say that there never is any mapping done to see if the selected tools will adapt to the processes and workflow of the organization.  It is usually assumed that management mandate, training and change management will encourage users to adapt to the tools instead of the other way around.

 

This assumption works only if the management is also willing to do away with the processes that are a hurdle to frictionless collaboration.  If the processes and workflow are not in sync with the tools, the extra burden of adapting to these tools will erode productivity of the workforce. Yes, there will be some productivity loss during the ramp up phase but in steady state, the collaboration tools and the organization processes should be in sync to be frictionless.

 

People and Incentives

While tools, technologies and processes enable or facilitate collaboration it is the people who actually collaborate.  Unfortunately, this fact usually comes as an after-thought to most of the organizational leaders.  On more than one occasion I have read and heard about the typical management chutzpah where they announce restructuring, cutbacks and layoffs on one hand as they ‘encourage’ the organization to become more collaborative and share knowledge on the other!

The other irony I see is that in most of the knowledge based industry, where collaboration is of paramount importance and can clearly create a differentiator, the incentives are stacked against it.  Individual performance is rewarded more than the team performance.  Deep expertise is touted more than collaborative results. Teams are scattered around the globe without any globalization strategy in place that is conducive to collaboration. Travel budgets are cut assuming that video conferencing can replace face-to-face highly interactive discussions and team building.  In short, the human and humane aspect is ignored with a faulty assumption that technology can bridge the gap.

Increasing collaboration within the organization is about culture shift, management & leadership and people empowerment supplemented with tools and technologies.  The strategy should be thought out at the highest possible level of the organization instead of driving it bottoms up.

This shift in mindset and behavior of the organization is complex and requires focused attention from the management.  It cannot happen overnight and, if ignored, will revert back to non-collaborative behavior very rapidly.

It can be done and rewards are all worth the effort!

 

Opinions expressed herein are my own and do not reflect that of my employer, Intel Corporation. My other posts can be read here and more about me is available on my website.

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What Is Mobile Business Intelligence?

What Is Mobile Business Intelligence?You might have heard this statistic by now: more people own a cell phone than a toothbrush.

 

In a Forbes post, Maribel Lopez lists a number of recent statistics about mobility. “While we could debate the numbers, the trend is clear,” she writes. ”The pace of mobile adoption across devices and applications is accelerating.” Mobility is no longer a nice-to-have option. Instead, it’s become a must for many businesses. Many surveys support this view. According to the Accenture CIO Mobility Survey 2013, “79% of respondents cited mobility as a revenue-generator and 84% said mobility would significantly improve customer interactions.”

 

The evolution of mobile BI

 

With this paradigm shift comes the natural extension of business intelligence (BI) to mobile business intelligence (mobile BI) or mobile intelligence. This term may mean different things to different people, and it’s sometimes used interchangeably, but your perception of mobile BI will be influenced primarily by your understanding of BI.

 

In my post “What Is Business Intelligence?” I defined BI as the framework that enables organizations of all sizes to make faster, better-informed business decisions. Mobile BI extends this definition and puts the emphasis on the application of mobile devices such as smartphones or tablet computers.

 

Therefore, you can argue that the fundamentals remain unchanged—Mobile BI is the enabler that, if designed, implemented, and executed effectively, can help organizations drive growth and profitability.

 

However, the way organizations go about realizing the true value of mobile BI may depend on the state of their enterprise mobility (for example, whether or not a formal mobile enterprise strategy and a road map exist) and the level of their BI maturity.

 

Harnessing the power of mobile BI

 

Mobile BI is more prevalent and more relevant today because the gap between the experience of traditional BI content consumed on a desktop PC and that accessed on a mobile device is disappearing rapidly. We now talk about the gap between a smartphone and a tablet device. The tablet devices are getting smaller both in size and weight to compete with our smartphones.

 

Rapid growth in areas such as the cloud, in-memory technology, big data, and predictive analytics are fueling this innovation cycle. As a result, companies are looking for ways to harness the power of mobile BI through innovation and without disruption.

 

As businesses face more obstacles and are forced to deal with more complex challenges, they increasingly require greater mobile access to more processed data coming from both structured sources (such as sales data by markets and geography), and unstructured sources (like social media or email data that can’t be easily queried with traditional tools and technologies).

 

Companies at the leading edge seek to gain the edge to exploit mobile BI to support a workforce that’s becoming more and more mobile.

 

Mobile BI can become a key differentiator

 

According to IDC, the “world’s mobile worker population will reach 1.3 billion, representing 37.2% of the total workforce by 2015.” The share of the mobile workforce is even higher if we focus on the business roles such as sales, where mobility is a critical component for success. Business models that rely on insight thru outdated or limited capabilities can no longer compete in an ever-increasing global market, which simply dictates mobile execution.

 

Today, there’s no doubt that both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations must deliver more for their customers and stakeholders. In this context, mobile BI can become a key differentiator in helping organizations cope with both the complexity and the real-time challenges they face with the execution of their strategy.

 

It’s a transformative force that has the power to change how businesses deliver value today, because mobile BI further breaks down the walls of information silos, thus dramatically extending the ability to gain actionable insight thru data-driven analyses for all decision makers at all levels of an organization. Where do you see Mobile BI adding value to your organization?

 

Connect with me on Twitter (@KaanTurnali) and LinkedIn.

 

This story originally appeared on The Decision Factor.

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Part 4 – Transforming the Workplace: An Integrated Strategy for Change

This is part 4 of my blog series about transforming the workplace. Be sure to read part 1, part 2, and part 3 in the series.


“If you can’t help people change, technology changing all around them won’t make the slightest difference.”

– Dave Coplin, Business Reimagined

 

It’s a common misconception in the business world that new technology equals change. This blog series has been exploring how the workplace is changing and the inevitable challenges of innovation. And while we know that technology is key to achieving transformation in the workplace, it’s only part of the story. Here I want to discuss the final component: applying an inclusive, integrated strategy to facilitate change throughout the organization with the right partnerships and culture change.


The need for a triumvirate approach: Culture, IT, and facilities

After the technology foundation is established, the rubber meets the road. The next step is putting the vision of workplace transformation into practice. To enable true transformation across the business, Intel recommends a triumvirate approach to address company culture, IT, and facilities.

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Culture: Supporting change at every turn
A few companies are leading the pack when it comes to progressive culture. And why? It’s because they have embraced new styles of working from the top down. And in many cases, it involves playing games, supporting physical fitness, and so on. To facilitate change throughout your organization, it’s important to embrace the following key attributes:

  • Innovation
  • Velocity
  • Openness
  • Accountability

 

And a final note on the technology angle: One of the major challenges companies face is “tool fatigue.” If a new tool is brought in without an explanation of its value and an introduction, employees may forgo it as unnecessary and, ultimately, the project is seen as a failure. The missing link here is simply leadership and communication.

IT via the SMAC stack

There is consensus across the IT industry and analyst community that the social, mobile, analytics, cloud (SMAC) paradigm is the new platform for enabling the digital business. In the convergence of these four components, IT can change the way work gets done and ultimately drive transformation.

 

Social

Social computing provides a natural, intuitive way for people to communicate and collaborate by eliminating traditional communication hierarchies.

Mobile
Today, work is no longer a place that you go to; it’s what you do. Mobile computing is what makes this possible, with the ability to work anywhere, anytime, for greater business agility.

Analytics

Advanced analytics deliver insights at the point of decision to help speed decision making. Analytics can also enable a “Smart Advisor” to bring business-critical data to all employees.

Cloud

With shared IT systems in the cloud, employees can have access to the information they need anytime, on any device, from any location—including device and data synchronization.

 

Facilities innovation
Finally, to support new ways of working, you need the right work environment. It all boils down to achieving a level of harmony between the workplace and the work style so that there is alignment. This means that physical spaces should be places that employees actively want to engage in—versus feeling like they have to be there.

On one hand, facilities need to cater to the needs of the work group and collaborators, yet they must also serve those needing interruption-free environments for intensive tasks. Unfortunately, many offices today offer little to inspire people, poor collaboration facilities, and inefficient space utilization that ultimately impacts the bottom line.

It’s also interesting to consider how facilities and IT are set to come together. For example, a conference table in a meeting room today is just a table. Yet in the near future, it may be equipped with a touch-screen surface and Internet connectivity. Due to this inevitable crossover between facilities and IT, an ideal workplace transformation strategy requires those responsible for both facilities and IT to work together to realise the best environment.

 

Intel paves the way

In the next and final blog in this series, I’ll step through some examples of how Intel has implemented a triumvirate approach across its culture, IT, and facilities. And as previously mentioned, I’m currently working on a paper that will expand on Intel’s vision of workplace transformation that will be available soon.

How is your organization managing workplace transformation? Please join the conversation and share your thoughts. And be sure to click over to the Intel® IT Center to find resources on the latest IT topics.

 

Until the next time …

 

Jim Henrys, Principal Strategist

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Intel Adds New Dimension to SSDs

Imagine a fast and powerful 1 terabyte solid-state drive (SSD) that fits on your fingertip.

 

That’s enough storage capacity to hold more than 200,000 songs or more than 150 hours of high definition video! The day is coming when your tablet will have enough room to hold every song you can imagine, plus all your photos, videos and more. And it’s coming sooner than you think.

 

At Intel’s Investor Day yesterday, Rob Crooke, Intel vice president and general manager of the Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group (NSG), unveiled Intel’s plans to begin production of 3D NAND for use in consumer and data center SSDs starting in the second half of 2015.

 

3D NAND is a sensational technological advancement allowing SSDs to store more data in less space, increase overall drive capacity, reduce power consumption and improve system-level performance at a lower cost to users. Intel achieves this by packing more storage density onto the SSD. It’s like taking a plot of land and building a high-rise apartment building as opposed to a single-family home. To show off the new 3D NAND, Rob presented from a computer featuring a prototype SSD utilizing the new technology.

 

Intel capitalized on its decades-long history of microchip manufacturing innovation to overcome the challenge of drilling 4 billion holes in a silicon chip. This means Intel is able to deliver unprecedented density at 256 Gbits per die, meaning we can deliver higher capacities at a lower cost. This enables us to continue to deliver on the promise of Moore’s Law by doubling storage capacity and enabling our CPUs to really show off their unique capabilities and tremendous performance. The potential 3D NAND brings to Intel SSDs is truly inspiring.

 

In data center applications having more storage closer to the CPU enables fast transactions, quick access to real-time data and short wait times for content. Intel’s 3D NAND delivers stunning performance and is very cost effective. Just one 4-inch server rack of Intel SSDs can deliver 11 million IOPS (input/output operations per second). For comparison, you would need a rack of hard disk drives measuring 500 feet tall to churn out the same performance. Beyond the savings in the cost of the drives, imagine the immense savings in power and cooling!

 

For consumers it means more storage where you need it: tablets and notebooks for photos, music and games; home theaters for hours of HD content delivered with almost no lag; and in vehicle infotainment systems to store maps, music and more. These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg.

 

Intel will continue its fruitful and long-term relationship with Micron and jointly held IM Flash Technologies (IMFT) to produce the new multi-level cell (MLC) flash chips with products available in the second half of 2015. For more information on Intel SSDs and non-volatile memory, visit http://www.intel.com/ssd.

 

Frank Ober

Read more of Frank’s SSD related posts

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Tech on Turkey Day: Simplifying and Adding Flair to Your Holiday Celebration

While the holidays are filled with fun, excitement and favorite traditions, they are also a hectic and sometimes stressful time of the year. Amidst shopping, cooking and entertaining, we often feel as though we might benefit from an extra helper … Read more >

The post Tech on Turkey Day: Simplifying and Adding Flair to Your Holiday Celebration appeared first on Technology@Intel.

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Both the President and Congress Have a Role in Fixing America’s Immigration System

By Peter Muller, director of Immigration Policy for Intel Fundamental reforms are needed to our Nation’s immigration laws for Intel to be able to hire enough talented people to support our advanced manufacturing and R&D operations in the United States. Ultimately, … Read more >

The post Both the President and Congress Have a Role in Fixing America’s Immigration System appeared first on Policy@Intel.

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The Finer Points Of Evaluating Battery Life

Our increasingly mobile lifestyles force us to rely heavily on our device’s batteries. We’re constantly seeking to get a little extra juice out of our laptops, phones, and tablets. Tablets, in particular, have become a prominent platform for both the home and office, and we rely on them to feature better battery life than many of our other devices. While some tablets boast 12+ hours of battery life, it’s important to understand that these devices are much more than just a battery — the rest of the device’s hardware specifications may have even more to do with battery life than the actual battery does.

 

For example, it’s a common misconception that so-called “power-efficient” processors may drain batteries slower, therefore giving you a device that can put in a full day of work. In many cases the opposite is true. Full-powered processors that perform computations quickly and efficiently can actually have less impact on a device’s battery by completing tasks and returning the device to a resting state faster.

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Battery life is also dependent on many factors beyond processing speed. While primarily a concern for laptops and 2-in-1 devices, connected peripherals like external hard drives and speakers may leach battery life from your device, lowering the probability that you’ll make it through the day without a charge. Other factors that determine your device’s battery life include your operating system, number of running programs, and whether or not you’re running an animated wallpaper.

 

Operating System & Battery Life

 

Some operating systems are optimized to work in conjunction with your device’s processor to optimize battery life. Google and Microsoft coordinate with chip makers in order to ensure tablet processors are designed with a specific mobile operating system in mind. Additionally, your operating system may have power-saving features that allow you to control display brightness and other settings to decrease power consumption.

 

Wallpapers & Background Processes

 

Some of the biggest battery killers hide behind the scenes. While animated wallpapers can be a fun way to personalize your device, enabling them on your tablet can drain your battery faster than you want. The animations represent a persistent task that your processor has to run, which lowers power efficiency.

 

In addition to your wallpaper, the number of apps running in the background can significantly affect your battery life. To keep them in check, consider quitting any applications not in immediate use in order to give your processor and battery a rest.

 

These are only a few factors that determine your device’s battery life. To learn more, read the blog Breaking Down Battery Life. You can also get a  comprehensive look at how your device distributes power, by checking out this white paper on evaluating battery life.

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