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The People Behind User-Centred Design – and why they hold the keys to your future…

by on Jul.09, 2010, under Storage

The People Behind User-Centred Design ¡V and why they hold the keys to your future…

EMC logo

User-Centred Design was brought to my attention a few years ago when I was client-side in Ecommerce at Virgin Atlantic.  Our goals and strategies always focused on the business and IT efficiencies, so when the EMC User Experience team introduced me to the concept of a
user-centred approach it was a new way of thinking for me, but one that really made sense. 
I then had the chance to work on interaction design with Flow Interactive at and it made me start to look at digital design with a new perspective… starting with an understanding of users and their goals, and solving problems with them front of mind.

I wanted to hear what the industry experts are saying on the subject and had the opportunity to attend a talk on ¡¥The People Behind User-Centred Design ¡V and why they hold the keys to your future¡K¡¦ at Cass Business School in Moorgate on Tuesday evening. I anticipated a creative audience of Art Directors, Designers and User Experience experts, so was surprised to see a mainly business and IT audience in a fairly sober environment.

The talk was held in a lecture theatre with a panel of speakers moderated by the editor of WIRED magazine, David Rowan.  His panel included the Creative Research Fellow at
City University, CEO of Electronic Ink, the
Lead Partner in IT Enabled Business Transformation at KPMG, Chief Enterprise Architect at Reuters and Operations Director of Nomura (investment information).

They each gave a three minute synopsis on what User-Centred Design means to them and the importance of design-led development, citing the new digital work Reuters has done at Reuters Labs to feed ‘the eco system’ that companies like Apple have created. They spoke of McLaren Automotive Group in-car system designs where systems have been optimized for the engineers to allow pit stop changes to be made in seconds, to working cross-industry with companies like National Air Traffic Control to find opportunities from others who are demonstrating good practice in this field.

They highlighted the challenge of embedding the mind-set and practice of User-Centred Design into the organisation and changing traditional ways of thinking that tend to start with system solutions, rather than the customer solutions. Company culture is key to this and enabling the business to work closely with designers and the technology teams is crucial.   Roles like business-minded architects, engineers and psychologists were also seen as extremely valuable, more so than a single role of ¡¥Chief Design Officer¡¦ since it could be seen as authoritarian. They felt it would be better to weave the principles throughout the company and focus on training.

I did find it a little disappointing that the obvious choice of Apple was cited as the best example of User-Centred Design, and it made me think about companies I believe designs with the user in mind; people like where they design for external customers in online grocery ordering through to purely dotcom grocery warehouses with handheld devices designed for staff ease of use and efficiency.  Morgan Stanley are another good example where they are redesigning their trading systems with designers and User Experience Architects on the trading floor watching human behaviour and implementing efficiencies, with impressive financial results.

A question and answer session at the end raised points like, ¡¥what do you do when it goes wrong?¡¦ to which there was no clear response and a recruitment consultant was keen to know ¡¥how to find the right people?¡¦ and told us the challenges of recruiting the right people and getting these roles embedded within organizations.

It seems there¡¦s still a way to go for companies in making the shift to a fully
user-centred design mindset with a directive from the top, weaved throughout the organization and the business and technologists designing with customers in mind.

It did however, make me optimistic to see so many business and IT people attending an event at a business school in London and I feel encouraged that as more business-people and IT departments start to think in a user-centred way the potential is truly massive. It gives EMC the opportunity to help clients design technology solutions with customers at the centre.

Useful related reading:

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum by Alan Cooper

About Face 3: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann and David Cronin

Wrench in the System, Harold Hambrose


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VMworld 2009 – Day 2, keynote by Steve Herrod

by on Sep.02, 2009, under Storage

VMworld 2009 ¡V Day 2, keynote by Steve Herrod



Welcome to the liveblogging of the VMworld 2009 keynote, day 2.

Today’s keynote is expected to bring us a bit more technical content than yesterday. The main speaker is Dr. Stephen Herrod, VMware CTO and one of the original developers of SimOS while at Stanford. VMware engineers are expected to be joining Herrod on stage to demonstrate upcoming features and products.

Note: this is a rush transcript. Check back later for analysis.

Ready for the VMworld 2009 keynote by VMware CTO Stephen Herrod. Follow for the play-by-play.
The keynote is starting..
“Steve Herrod takes the stage. “”This is probably my favourite hour of the year.””
Focus today will be on the desktop, PCoIP, .. View is about enabling a new sort of desktop concept. User-centric rather then device centric.
+1M virtual desktops out there.
Lots of development in vSphere was geared towards hosting desktops. Tuned for Vista and Win 7 workloads.
Intel Nehalem / Xeon 5500 allows up to twice the amount of desktops per cores.
New evolutions on storage level as well. SSD disks allow much better user experiences.
The goal is to provide best user experience to all endpoints: thin, thick clients, over WAN, LAN, …
The best experience is still the local, rich, portable desktop. The same image that’s used on other endpoints can be checked in and out.
Offline replication of desktops so to speak.
PCoIP, purpose built for desktop virtualization. Development with Terradici. Coming later this year.
Vendors can create hardware accellerated clients for even better experience.
“New concept “”in this economy””: employee owned IT. Provide user with a certain budget, let them choose the hardware (Mac/PC/..) and host the”
corporate desktop through Fusion/Workstation/Player/…
For corporate-owned IT: bare-metal virtualization. Co-development with Intel. Laptop/deskop hypervisor.
Single hardware-agnostic desktop build can run on any type of x86 device.
“VMware View Demo on stage. “”A day in the life of a VMware View user.””
Windows 7 running on laptop. Showing device manager. The rich environment is running on a virtual SVGA gpu -> type 1 hypervisor.
Next demo: thin client with smooth graphics. Demo with Google Earth.
“Opening the same VM on his “”beige box”” desktop. Next: Demo with WYSE pocket client on iPhone to access the same VM.”
Next: VMware Mobile strategy. Not only use the phone as a thin client, but put a hypervisor on the phone as well.
Phones become mobile pc’s, bring along the traditional pc challenges. (security, access control, data leakage protection, ..)
Creating corporate mobile vm’s allows the same device freedom desktop virtualization allows.
Lots of app stores coming up, tied to specific types of devices, even though they’ve got the same base platform.
(As if Apple is ever going to approve a hypervisor app that can run arbitrary code…)
Peter Ciurea, Global Head of Product Development at Visa comes on stage.
Demo with development ARM-based phone. Hypervisor + Windows CE on top.
Visa app demo with alerts (every time a Visa card is swiped, the device alerts you), offers (mobile coupons, ..) and location based offers.
The Visa app was developed for Android. Android is running next to Windows CE. The OS has access to the gps functions, has smooth graphics.
Moving back to ‘big iron’. vSphere enables the software mainframe. Up to 32TB of RAM.
If you were born before ‘75 you’d call this a mainframe. If you were born after, you’d call it the Cloud. Let’s call it a giant computer.
VMotion is the foundation of this giant computer.
“This is about the 6th anniversary of the first VMotion demo. Music: “”I like to move it”” from Madagascar. You’ll never VMotion again without”
thinking about that song.
VMotion was around when Friends was still doing new episodes. The first VMworld was 10 months away. Loooong time ago.
Probably about 359 million VMotions to date. People use VMotion constantly. Saves time, money and marriages
VMotion breadth continues to grow. Storage VMotion, Network VMotion (distributed switch) and long distance VMotion.
Focus of vSphere: support all major applications (SAP, Oracle, SQL, …). Even HPC workloads are moving to virtualization.
vSphere allows better-than-physical scalability.
DRS allows higher peak capacity. Achieves 96% efficiency of ideally placed VMs. Extending DRS to include I/O.
“DPM: VMotion for global power optimization. (””Constantly defragging the datacenter””)”
Automating the datacenter through VMware AppSpeed allows better application performance guarantees.
Built into vSphere: vApp. Built on OVF. Create collections of self-wiring VMs and add SLA metadata.
Control security and compliance via VMsafe APIs. Virtualization lets you look into VMs and check every instruction.
Always-on security, users can not turn agents off.
Last thing: manage configuration integrity at scale. vCenter ConfigControl
First public demo on stage of ConfigControl. Dashboard to monitor and manage changes in IT environments.
Scenario: help desk ticket, Exchange server is down. ConfigControl sent alert that network policy was changed. Helps debug system problems.
ConfigControl interface is web-based.
ConfigControl will ship in 2010 H1.
A bit more detail of the VMworld datacenter. Running 37,248 VMs. From 25 Megawatts to 540 Kilowatts of power usage. 778 physical servers.
“For the geeks out there who didn’t know it: vSphere can host vSphere. The labs run nested ESX “”Virtual Virtual datacenters””.”
Next chapter: cloud cloud cloud.
Work being done around network connectivity between clouds, transparent storage migration, easy management and policy-enforcement.
Connectivity example: work started in Site Recovery Manager.
Policies are exchanged between multiple datacenters. IP address management is automated through vCenter.
Cisco enables long distance VMotion through Data Center Interconnect.
Datacenter extension up to 200km.
F5: BIG-IP Global Traffic manager enable slong distance VMotion.
Moving on to vCloud API to provide programmatic access to resources. Enables self-service portals, vCenter client plugins (manage VMs in
3rd party datacenters), and ISV integrations: 3rd party management, SaaS deployments, ..
vCloud API was submitted to DMTF for industry certification.
End goal: differentiated cloud offerings. (Demo cloud, High end SLA, green cloud, high performance, …)
Fourth pillar (next to View, vSphere, vCloud): vApps. Auto-pilot applications. Reason for SpringSource applications.
Automating the application development space will bring down maintenance and deployment costs.
Virtualizing hardware simplifies deployment. VMware wants to simplify development through application frameworks that work together with VMs
Virtualization-aware platform can create self-healing and self-scaling applications, that interact with hypervisor to manage hardware
building bocks.
Goal is to interface with not only Java frameworks, but also with RoR, Django, .net, PHP, …
Adrian Colyer, SpringSource CTO on stage.
Another try to explain what this all does to an audience of mainly server infrastructure folks.
And that finishes the keynote…
Thanks for following. Check back later for more news and analysis.

Follow us on Twitter. Backstage news: @lode – Breaking news/keynotes: @vmlive


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Intel Joins 1, 200 Women Bloggers, Showcases Latest Mobile Technology at BlogHer’09

by on Aug.06, 2009, under Storage

Intel Joins 1,200 Women Bloggers, Showcases Latest Mobile Technology at BlogHer’09

With three of my colleagues, I recently joined over 1,200 other women bloggers (and a few men!) in Chicago at the third annual BlogHer’09 conference. [BlogHer]( is a women’s blog network of 15,000 blogs covering a wide variety of topics that are important to women. Their annual conference brings women from their network together to build relationships and learn about the latest social media tools and how to apply them.

Intel shared and exchanged ideas with many smart women who love technology and showed some cool new mobile technology that can enable them to more quickly and easily perform tasks that are important to bloggers, like uploading and editing videos and photos, as well as multitasking at home and on the road.

Attendees had the chance to win a new[ Acer Aspire Timeline ]( – congratulations [Virginia DeBolt]( and Alyssa Francis of [Kingdom First Mom](

At the Intel booth in the “GeekLab” people could also learn more about the latest mobile tools, including:

– [The Intel Classmate PC ]( – The new [Acer Aspire Timeline Series laptop ]( powered by Intel [Centrino 2 technology ]( latest [Apple MacBook Air laptop ]( – The latest Mobile Internet devices powered by the [Intel Atom processor ]( from [UMid, BenQ and ViLiv ]( – Netbooks from [Lenovo]( and [Dell ](

You may be interested to know that women:

– Use Facebook more than men (64% of users are female) – Interact with social networks (65%) and text message (56%) more than traditional news sites (51%) – Tech/gadgets is the second most popular topic after politics/news that women seek info about on blogs and social networks

Many women are lovers and users of tech gadgets, but this fact has often been overlooked – until recently – [see Nielsen's report on "power moms."](

The [Wall Street Journal ]( and [c/net ]( – among others – have been talking about the rising power of female bloggers in influencing the opinions and purchase habits of their loyal women readers.

Intel Fellow, Genevieve Bell, see video [here](, recently spoke at the [Intel "Upgrade Your Life" women's blogger event ]( talked about the important – yet often forgotten – role that women have always played throughout history in creating and using technology.

Genevieve discussed how from country to country women continually tell her that they aren’t interested in fiddling with complicated computing devices. They want things simple, to work out of the box and provide high performance. You could say, in fact, that women are tougher purveyors of technology products than men.

So, as we come back from BlogHer ’09, we celebrate the role that Intel technology continues to play in making women’s lives better and easier, embrace the input we received from the women bloggers we met and look forward to applying what we learned from some of the industry’s smartest women bloggers.


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