MeriTalk - Where America Talks Government
Steve O'Keeffe


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Posted: 8/27/2010 - 4 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

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As "Mc-Intel" offers a side of security with every order, seems fusion food is today's IT nouveau cuisine. With the master chefs at Gartner predicting salad days ahead for enterprise tech budgets, you can almost hear the IT giants' stomachs rumbling. If it's consolidation cannibalism ahead, then what hybrids are on the menu?

Databases that do the dishes? Telephones that take out the trash? Computers that cut calories? Probably not, but tie down your gums for spicy new IT vendor value propositions as they swallow one another to serve the street's insatiable appetite for top-line growth. The first wave of IT consolidation - dog eat dog, buying like vendors to grow in-category share of wallet - is almost over. There are no more Compaqs and Digitals on the platter - although as Dell pushes out Michael, it may become too tasty for HP to resist. The second wave is upon us - dog eat cat - see HP/EDS and Intel/McAfee. We can all predict the survivors in each category - excepting what happens to SAP. Fat and happy, the big guys are mostly tired of eating from their own tables and are now eyeing their neighbors' plates. And, with depressed earnings - and many IT vendors holding significant cash reserves - it seems almost every bite is within fork's reach.

So let's get down to brass tacks - what does this mean for the market and Uncle Sam? First, we'll see continued escalation in acquisition PE ratios - as the feeding frenzy drives up purchase prices. The proof of the pudding? HP vs. Dell fight over 3Par. Bloomberg reports that global M&A is up 23 percent over last year - so it's not just an IT eating disorder. Buyer beware. Acquisition integration is not easy - and dog-cat is harder than dog-dog. At some point, somebody always pays too much.

Second, the buys should get us out of those hideous open standards meetings - at least for now. We'll see complex platform integration recipes turn into instant noodles - as vendors are financially incented to blend newly acquired ingredients into their existing recipes. The up and the downside here is that integration issues among cookbooks will likely become more pronounced.

Finally, negotiating enterprise license agreements and volume discounts will require more chewing. As vendors get bigger, the who-needs-whom tipping point between customer and supplier is moving away from Uncle Sam. The question for Feds as enterprise IT consumers and food safety police for good competitive hygiene is how to define reasonable business practices versus crowding the table. If the consolidation binge drives bad investments that hurt margin, we'll see a cramping in R&D investment and a slowdown in innovation. That's not good for anybody.

The worst case scenario, a draw down in the number of IT vendors raises the specter of collusive practices - frequently a product of consolidation. An IT OPEC would be tough for Uncle Sam to stomach.

Cloud - plop, plop, fizz, fizz?

Posted: 8/17/2010 - 12 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

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Please and thank you, ladies first, give up your seat for the elderly, honesty is the best policy. Are we now so sophisticated that manners don't matter? Web 2.0's impact seems to have pushed our society into a civility coma - there's a positive paucity of polite. So, where do I sign up for the lobotomy that separates my virtual persona from the real me?

Here's how the etiquette epidemic presents. We talk face to face, good eye contact. We seem to agree. But your Facebook page betrays what you really think. Do you think that I can't see your Facebook page? Is there an unwritten escalation code with Twitter - 5,000 followers - no reason to source your micro rants, 10,000+ followers - you can insult anybody's mother scot-free? As Mel Gibson learned twice of late, popularity does not give anybody a free pass.

You see, the root cause is that many of today's Webizens fear conflict. "I'll tell you what you want to hear, but I'll say what I think in my personal space." That's nothing new - see Shakespeare's soliloquies. But you're not Hamlet - and Facebook and Twitter are not your personal space. Let me go out on a limb here, I would put it to you that conflict is not a bad thing. It forces us to focus, prioritize, and negotiate - to get what we really need. Too many people think that Web 2.0 is a way to slip the conflict - to maintain mutually-exclusive realities. It's not.

And, breaking, really scary news - seems the digital decorum disease is bleeding over into the real world. At a recent industry dinner, I sat one seat over from a woman who was relating apocryphal stories about my exploits - talk about being hard up for dinner conversation. Anyhow, I had to repeatedly ask her to desist. First the stories were not true, and second - well, "I'm sitting right here for goodness sake. At least wait until I'm out of ear shot." It wouldn't be polite to name names...so I won't.

I'd like to be clear. I have nothing against Facebook - can't say the same about Twitter. I don't agree with everybody. I don't enjoy conflict. But, I do take pride in the fact that people know where I stand - and that they hear it from me directly. If all the world's a stage, let's remind ourselves that each player only gets to play one role - unless of course it's Shakespeare.

Andy Rooney out...

Posted: 8/3/2010 - 16 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

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I’d like to get my mitts on that bloody Osama bloody Bin bloody Laden. Have you suffered business travel lately? It’s over priced, over sold, and over rated. Anybody remember the good ol’ days – jumbo jets, ambling through airports, the upgrade utopia? Today, it’s sardine seating, bye-bye bags, and connection chaos. And yes, we’re literally shoeless...

A tip for govies – don’t buy changeable tickets. Buy the regular tickets and throw them away if you change your plans. The difference between the changeable and regular roundtrip ticket from D.C. to Ft. Hood Texas is $1,418 vs. $216. Daylight robbery.
Yes, I understand that I don’t have a seat assignment and that’s why I’m getting a center seat, again – but how did everybody else on the flight get a seat assignment? If you sent my bag to Killeen, Texas from Dulles, how is it that I don’t have a confirmed seat on the flight from Dallas to Killeen? How ever did you manage to lose my bag when I had to check it at the gate? I heard that John Foster Dulles’ family is actively petitioning Congress to have its family name chemically removed from the airport. I beg your pardon? No please, please don’t threaten to route me through O’Hare – I’ll work on my attitude.
And, it’s not just the airlines. No I don’t want a car that I have to pedal. Hertz, how do you justify charging $8.95 per gallon if I don’t have time to fill up the car? That’s extortion. I’ve half a mind to take the full insurance and crash the thing into a wall to get my money’s worth.
What’s this got to do with IT you ask? You takin’ up travel writing? This cup’s an open plea to the videoconferencing guys – Cisco, Polycom, HP, Apple, not to mention the telcos. Make it work, make it easy, and make it cheap. Get us off the road. This flight is long overdue.
Oh, and when we catch Mr. Bin Laden, might I suggest a flying fatwa – a life sentence served in center seats.