Trip to technology’s mañana expands possibilities

My first stop once we hit San Francisco — and before the round of appointments started — was a look at CompUSA — a deluge of delights and so cheap; we ran out of time and I escaped with the credit card intact.

Day 1 of the visit started with a trip to Silicon Valley (San Jose) for our first meeting with Cisco executive briefing centre (EBC) where they had an Aussie flag flying for us.

We met Sandhya Ashok, EBC specialist, and Dylan Morison (business development manager, storage networking) who took us on a tour of the EBC centre, which covered human advances in technology over the last century, from the humble paper clip and Henry Ford’s Model T to the birth of the Internet.

We discussed the convergence of data, voice and video and Cisco’s growing market share. Then it was a tour of Cisco’s Internet Home, which was a great opportunity to see some of the advances that Cisco has made with its current technologies. The Cisco I home incorporates the possible application of Cisco’s technologies within the home, the airport, hotels, coffee shops and even at school.

Who ever thought you could leverage your Cisco phone to bill time to a client, or to complete due diligence between two areas of a law firm that should be separated from contact with each other. And with what they can do with technology and school, I’m kinda glad I’ve finished all my tertiary studies.

Then we had a brief rundown on what Cisco and EMC are working on together, and the certification of the new Cisco MPS range against EMC storage products.

Day 2 and it’s Seattle to meet with EMC’s Gary Grant, director of Microsoft strategic alliance, and Bill Gauthier, Microsoft global alliance manager, and then with Thomas Kearney, global alliance manager for EMC. We moved on to the Microsoft partner briefing centre, which houses more than 22 labs, containing some 500-plus servers and 20TB of storage. Then it was on to the Microsoft Home of the Future: what a trip this was! Microsoft has redesigned this home from its initial conception of the Internet home. It has learnt many valuable lessons from this home and many of these ideas are either around today or are coming up.

We looked at everything from the common doorbell. No key in this place, just let it scan your retina and use your smartcard and it unlocks the door.

Upon entering the house you can set a profile such as opening the blinds or turning on the last piece of music you played. Then through to the lounge room, obviously the focus point for the room is the TV, with two remotes, one for the kids (cut down and coloured) and the one for us real techos. The telly’s OS was built on an XP platform, but with a change to the common interface.

Microsoft also talked about the use of smart tags; we placed some flour on the kitchen top and a mixing machine. The ‘house’ asked if we wanted help with this. If we said yes, up came some options as to what we could cook. Depending on what you selected it would then give you a recipe!

The final cool part was the lounge room; we looked at the integration of the TV, lighting and sound based upon what you were watching or what you may have been reading. And photos got the treatment too, beamed onto walls and tied into who was visiting at the time.

Day 3 in Seattle saw us at the Boeing factory, taking in the construction of a 747-400 for Qantas which was already into stage 5 of production.

Day 4: At the Dell complex we looked at the enhancements that are being made with the Dell Blade and Enterprise Technologies, and what EDS is doing in the US with Dell.

It was amazing to see the production that was completed on the floor and how the units were processed. Dell keeps a maximum of four days stock on site and only builds units as they are ordered. Each item is tracked using RFI tags to allow reporting on how far the order is through the production process.

At no stage is anyone required to lift a system, a series of air powered rolling balls allow for the system to be slid across the desk with little or no effort.

The system then moves along the line to the burn-in stage where the device is tested over a longer period with the time depending on the complexity of the machine. However, a basic PC system can be built, tested and shipped in a matter of hours. The final stage is the packaging and shipping of the box, which is a fairly quick process, the boxes are either stored on pallets for multiple ships or placed on the loading dock for Fed Ex or UPS for single shipments to individual customers.

Then it was back to the airport and on to flights for our Boston visit to EMC.

Our first port of call was with Ed Cosgrove, who is a senior storage consultant and, after some history stuff, we then went though the future directions and where EMC are heading in the next year and over the next five years. We talked a lot about their thinking and how they come up with some of their ideas. which made me think a little further and that I could actually take part in some of the work that they do for EMC by thinking what it is we want to be able to do with EMC’s technology in years to come.

At a demonstration of the Centera Product in EMC’s labs it was interesting to see the replication occur and how the restore of mail files could be completed quickly and with little or no effort.

We then went to the integration and interoperability labs where we met with Ira Schild, for a fabulous insight into the overall workings of the lab and how they move through each stage of testing and approval before an item gets added to the support matrix.

This matrix is critical in EDS delivery of EMC products going forward, as it enables engineers to view overall the levels of firmware software and hardware that will work with their products. It is amazing to see just about every piece of kit imaginable in these labs!

That was the end of the business then onto Indy. It was cool to be there and to see the race!!! Then it was a first-class trip back home.

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