Stepping Up

A lot of uncertainty, lots of medical supply shortages and a lot of folks who cannot care for themselves.

Thanks to all .. Companies and individuals who do. An incredibly short list, because there are so many out there:

Don’t forget the kids:

Not the least: our brave healthcare workers .. present, retired and volunteer, who are putting themselves and their families at risk by helping the rest of us.

Stay home for this lot so they can stay at work for us.

Be safe.

Need the Facts

When facts are numbers, we need the numbers.

Caveat: “I’m not a Doctor ..“. I am a Technical Sales Strategist .. I’ll detail this at one point or another. Read on, please.

prospects-funnelsOur agents manage customer engagements, performing outreach to identify sales opportunities for our clients and move these opportunities along to close. This is typically represented as a funnel .. just like the one in your kitchen. Unlike the one in your kitchen, which gives you a wide opening to move something into a smaller opening, the Sales Funnel demonstrates how a large number of potential customers make their way to a closed sale. As you can surmise, not everyone who expresses an initial interest will actually make a purchase:

Thanks to Upwork for the image.


This does not relate 1:1 to the Coronavirus, but here’s a short analogy:

  • Total population: count
  • Total infected: count / percentage
  • Resolve on their own: count / percentage
  • Total hospitalized: count / percentage
  • Resolved in hospital: count / percentage
  • Don’t resolve in the hospital

As you may surmise, that is oversimplified .. and you might also guess, there are temporal (time) and severity aspects to these steps, i.e.:

  • Duration for self-resolution
  • Length of hospital stay (impacts bed, supplies and services utilization)
  • The severity for a hospital stay (impacts regular beds, ICU beds, equipment, supplies and services)
  • Ventilator required (much-needed devices, noting there is a finite count)
  • Length of time on ventilators (impacts available ventilators for the next patient)
  • Age of the patient

.. and lots more .. Intermediate things like turning beds, turning rooms, turning ventilators, and so on.

Last, each country has its own set of cases, differing start dates, climates, etc.

While trying to calculate the funnel, I stumbled across Worldometers: Coronavirus which broke out the top-line numbers nicely for me .. from there the percentages are easy to calculate .. but the denominators are unknown:

  • How many tests?
  • How many positive / negative?
  • How many resolved?

Facts matter. The numbers matter.

Please stay at home and protect everyone while you do your research.

So .. It’s Math

Shout out to Andrew Yang. He loves math (Make Americans Think Harder).

Good on ya .. I’m with you.

: “I’m not a Doctor ..“. Read on, please.

20200323_180436I snapped this at 1804 today (3/23/2020), right before the Coronavirus task force briefing.

Simple division shows:

  • Global: 16,400 deaths divided by 374,000 cases is a staggering 4.385% mortality rate.
  • US: 520 deaths divided by 42,200 cases is a horrifying 1.232% mortality rate.

In both cases, the denominators (the number of tests conducted that show positive COVID-19 results) are likely inaccurate. Lots of folks who may have (and are shedding) the virus are not being tested, as they’re not showing symptoms, and due to the shortage of tests and PPE, they’re not being treated because of this.

Unhappily, it’s likely that all the deaths are being tested (to ensure they’re not occurring for other reasons), contributing to the higher death count, and therefore, the percentage increase.

None of this is easy. There is a disproportionate number of deaths in Italy, but the average age is ~80. Then, there are way too many (well-attended) beaches open in The States with folks who can shed the virus (see above) .. who are contributing to the spread.

We’re social distancing here, and we’re making it work. We need to continue to make it work. I’m blessed with a job where WFH is possible for me .. I don’t have to endanger myself or others. Too many others aren’t so lucky .. WFH is not an option. Local support through take-out and services provide little comfort to this lot, which means the government needs to help make up the shortfall.

Last, I started this post at 2044 (three hours after I shot the first snap). I took another snap at 2107 with the Cuomo(s) (Chris of CNN and Andrew, Governor of New York):


In that short time, the US number has climbed to 541 deaths against 42,663 cases .. a more-horrifying 1.268% mortality rate. Each one of those represents a person. A loved one. Brother. Sister. Father. Mother. Friend.

Stay home, please. The spread is happening. Help us slow it.

Apply the Lessons of History ..

.. to avoid repeating it. We will best avoid panic  with a few simple rules:

  • Hear (and tell) the Truth: Accurate (and more) information helps us know what to do. Don’t share or forward dodgy information .. use your head.
  • Social distance: it’s real, apply these lessons. Give way to each other when walking or moving about in public spaces.
  • Keep clean: I shared a link in “I’m not a Doctor ..” with a reference to why handwashing (with ordinary soap!) is very effective.
  • Science matters: listen to it.

We stopped Ebola with proactive changes to our behavior. This is the time to do the same.

Many thanks to healthcare workers around the country. They are on the front lines and are the most at risk. This is one of hundreds of memes: “We stay at work for you, please stay at home for us“.

Stay home.

We will get through this .. as individuals, families and a country. Stay strong.

Behave like you have it ..

.. Please.

I referenced ‘asymptomatic’ in “I’m not a Doctor ..“. This is where you don’t know you have it, but can still ‘shed’ (i.e., spread) it to others.

CNN reported on March 14th of a high level of cases spread by people who don’t have symptoms .. the numbers even suggest a majority. From China, they’re citing 4 out of 5. More concerning, CDC reports a surge in initial hospitalized cases in the 20-54 age group. This is the group that was previously thought to be resistant to catching (although, they may be shedding .. still a concern) the virus, so many haven’t heeded the warnings.

Last, a now-terrifying video of a Clearwater Beach, Florida Spring Break .. packed to the gills.

Please: Behave like you have it. It’s critical to all of us.

Distancing .. Physical, not Social (please)

We’ve all heard the term ‘Social Distancing‘ (link to the CDC). An excerpt:

While it may be disappointing to hear that so many sports events, cruises, festivals and other gatherings are being cancelled, there is a public health reason for these measures.

These cancellations help stop or slow down the spread of disease allowing the health care system to more readily care for patients over time.

They do. Think of crowded bars, cozy restaurants, queues at checkout lines .. if space is not managed properly we will continue to spread this damn thing at a terrifying pace. Right now, management falls to us, as individuals and families, and we must rise to this occasion.

Happily, today’s hyper-connected world enables to distance ourselves physically .. but not socially. Twitter, Facebook, NextDoor, WhatsApp, Skype, Tumblr, Instagram and others ensure we can stay connected. We must make use of these tools to interact: working, catching up, checking on loved ones.

As time goes by, we will find ourselves looking for those tasty dish snaps as we get more creative when cooking at home.

Even the phone plays a big part .. call someone.

In many ways, and with lots of evidence of  Singing in Italy, Cook-a-Longs in Spain and evolving stories in The States: the mandated distance will bring us closer together .. online and from afar.

Let’s make that happen.

I’m not a Doctor ..

.. I don’t even play one on TV.

I am a newsie though .. I have been paying a great deal of attention to stories about the ‘new normal’ with COVID-19.

We all know:

  • It is a highly-contagious virus.
  • Older adults are more at risk. I’ve heard over 50 and over 60 (I’m both), but I think the data is still pretty sparse.
  • Adults (young and old) are more at risk if they have secondary conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
  • You can catch it and not know for days.
  • It can be contagious when asymptomatic .. that is, you can ‘shed’ virus even if you don’t have symptoms.

We’ve mostly taken some or all of these steps:

  • Washing our hands (it turns out Coronavirus just hates plain old soap .. nothing fancy).
  • Work from home (for those who can telework).
  • Schools are closed.
  • Necessary trips only (supermarket, doctor, etc.)
  • Reduced the number of gatherings (clubs and church).
  • Flown less.
  • Fewer events (note that many sports are canceled and movie theatres just closed today).
  • ‘Social Distancing’ .. enforcing a six-foot distance between people.

Even with this, some are estimating, that without enforced ‘social distancing’, we are a week behind where Italy is (as of today Italy has 2,503 against 31,506 .. that’s a horrifying 7.9%!) .. we’re not even close, but must take the proper steps. We must ‘flatten the curve‘ through safe tactics so 1) fewer of us will get ill, and 2) it will spread out (in time) the folks who get ill so we don’t overwhelm the healthcare system.

Steps The States have taken:

  • Closing restaurants and bars, save for take-out / delivery (even with wine / beer) .. NYC was the first, Washington State right behind them.
  • Shelter in Place‘ (an emergency tactic to find a safe place indoors) just took place in San Francisco and may take place in NYC.
  • Canceling political rallies, and even elections (Ohio and Georgia have both postponed their primaries).
  • Ramping state-based facilities to process the tests.

I feel like as of today (March 17), the US Federal Government has seriously gotten into the game, after weeks of, well, not to a greater degree. This is encouraging, especially as they’re taking into consideration cash flow for hourly workers and small businesses (rather than a foolish and useless payroll tax cut). The airline and hospitality bail-out will be expensive to be sure .. may need to raise taxes.

Happy about the Federal engagement .. although it needed to be early enough (it’s a bit late), quickly enough (ramping effective programs rapidly) and completely enough (addressing enough of the citizenry and business). I am hopeful.

Tests? We need those too, and the means to get them back in short order (see The States, above .. Bravo!).

Okay .. I’m caught up. Please stay tuned.

IBM Cloud Private – Agile Infrastructure

IBM Cloud Private enables Cloud Services and an Agile Infrastructure behind a company firewall. While Cloud Private can be deployed in the Amazon and IBM Clouds in a supported deployment case, there exists a sweet spot for companies realize the value of deploying IBM Cloud Private to expose workloads as Services, rather than Servers within their on-premises environment.

Agility and Utility
Let’s use an example of something near and dear to all of us: our mobile. We all have one (or more):

CPMobile We’ve made this device ours by customizing to within an inch of its life to suit our needs. You likely have:

  • A workout application
  • Any number of credit card and / or banking applications
  • Shopping applications

Note that your phone is agile .. You can add / remove applications as you need. A brief use case .. You want to attend a concert:

  • You download the application
  • Enter your information
  • Purchase tickets
  • Show the e-ticket image when you arrive at the venue
  • Snap photos, snippets, uploading like mad during the concert

When all this is done .. You can delete the application to make room for other applications.

Mobile Games? Yes: you might upgrade your mobile game from that jewel thing to that bird thing .. deleting the unwanted game when you’ve won.

This is also quite similar to a familiar Utility Army Knife .. we’ve all seen this one:

CPUtilityKnife 322x294 You use:

  • The scissors for thread
  • The blade for preparing food
  • The saw for cutting wood
  • The bottle opener for wine
  • The file to get yourself out of prison

You snap out the tool you need, use it and then snap it back when you’re finished, moving round to the next task at hand.

You need not carry an entire toolbox with you .. this is something that would weigh you down. This device assures you can finish the work you need at the moment, and then move on to your next bit.

This is IBM Cloud Private: Cloud Services and Agile Infrastructure behind your firewall.

IBM Cloud Private – Innovative and Open
IBM are on to something with Cloud Private. IBM has leveraged assets from the world of Open Standards, building an execution platform that includes policy-based oversight, Role-Based Access Control (RBAC) and a variety of alerting and monitoring functions .. all of which are supplied OOB. Add to this the capability to deploy Services rather than Servers .. Services that include the bulk of the IBM Middleware portfolio, offerings from other vendors and applications from the Open Source Community.

This is not a ‘Rip and Replace’ effort .. This is ‘Augment and Enhance’, ‘Consolidate and Optimize’. This is Agile Infrastructure, within your on-premises and cloud environments.

IBM Cloud Private – What Does it Do?
Some high-level pillars. IBM Cloud Private:

  • Provisions Cloud Services behind your firewall .. IBM offers fully-supported IaaS solutions for Cloud Private as well.
  • Enables an Agile Infrastructure, where you run Services, rather than CapEx Servers, many in a PayGo pricing model.
  • Has made available 100s of Services from the Catalog (think of it as an application store for your infrastructure) .. with that said, any Application packaged into a Helm Chart (by a vendor or by your company) can be deployed into a Cloud Private cluster.

Key bits: Services rather than Servers and an optimized execution model.

IBM Cloud Private – Architectural Discussion
IBM Cloud Private deploys atop commodity hardware, running on the Linux Operating System. To deconstruct:CP Architecture

  • IBM Cloud Private exposes nodes to manage operations and enable Services.
  • Applications run as Services atop the Cloud Private nodes, providing access to Open Source applications, built-in monitoring / management capabilities and the IBM Middleware catalog.
  • Cloud Private has a number of Onboard services for Applications, Monitoring, Management, Alerting, Scheduling, and so on, integrating with the applications you use today.

This discussion is hyper-simplified for brevity. Please see IBM Cloud Private 3.1.0 Architecture for a deeper look, or ring me up.

The Customer Environment
By most accounts, your environment looks a bit like this:CPInfrastructure

  • You’ll see several hardware, virtualization and deployment layers within.
  • While you may have some automation in place, it is likely not standardized across deployment paradigms and capabilities, and it probably doesn’t give us an all-up view of how to best manage all the infrastructure assets within your organization.
  • Each of the blue boxes potentially represents:
    • A licensing requirement
    • A management requirement
    • A hardware requirement ..

.. all well before we get to actually servicing the users, devices and systems that are most important to our audiences. To this, I mean:

  • Recognizing CapEx licenses that require renewal
  • Maintaining patch levels across all the operating systems above
  • Infrastructure (hosts for VMs and / or physical servers) .. taking into account hardware refresh requirements

.. and the list goes on.

Some Notes on Workloads
When thinking about your workloads, you’ll likely realize:

  • Most are running 100% of the time (atop single-purpose virtual or physical hardware)
  • You’re paying for a software license 100% of the time
  • These workloads are not running at capacity 100% of the time

You pay for the hardware and the licenses 100% of the time .. given the bits above, let’s think about another way to deploy these workloads. In a perfect world, how should these workloads run?

  • Transient: specific-use workloads that you deploy, run and remove as your needs dictate. This is similar to the mobile device concert analogy, above. Note that these are the de facto standard for proof of concept, testing or introducing new workloads into an environment .. once you deploy Cloud Private, you can evaluate these workloads as Services, rather than deploying Servers.
  • On-Demand: pre-built, pre-configured and deployed on a moment’s notice .. note that these services can be spun up and available in seconds, versus VM / Physical Server start times.
  • Long-Running: Ongoing workloads for management, monitoring and alerting functions. These services are always available, at minimal PayGo cost. When they need to be scaled (dayparts, data volumes, activity), they can be, via defined policy.
  • Scalable: workloads with defined criteria that can expand to available capacity; the scalability typically triggered by capacity demands and under policy. These can be Transient, On-Demand or Long-Running workloads .. Again, under policy.
  • Burst: workloads scheduled during times the system is idle to increase optimization, and are scaled back to continue processing until the next burst opportunity, again, all under policy.

Ask Yourself: How many of the workloads you are running 100% of the time, consuming 100% CapEx licensing / hardware requirements might otherwise fit into one of the above paradigms?

Determine Applicability
You should have a look at IBM Cloud Private if a number of the following conditions exist in your environment:

  • CapEx licenses that require renewal .. Especially where these licenses can be implemented as PayGo Services
  • You’re running a lot of VMs with single or minimal workloads .. Especially where these VMs have CapEx licenses, as above
  • You’re running a lot of VMs that are consuming too much of your infrastructure capacity, requiring more management than you’d like to dedicated
  • You deployment includes multiple clouds (Public, Private or Hybrid)

Lots of questions above, likely requiring input from others in your organization .. Consider all the folks who have their hands on the keyboards, managing your infrastructure and deployments.

What you need:
An Agile Infrastructure session. In this session, we’ll unpack:

  • Your Use Cases / Execution
  • Your Deployments: Physical / Virtual
  • Your Licensing: CapEx / Subscription
  • Your Workload Management
  • Your Cross-Workload Integration
  • Your SaaS Integration Opportunities

.. and more. I can put you in touch.

Sprint and One Million Devices

A kudos to Sprint for helping to address the digital divide in Fortune: “Here’s how Sprint Plans to Help 1 Million Disadvantaged Kids Get Online” ..

.. I’m hoping they’re not the Samsung Galaxy 7.

Cheap shot, I know.

:: ducks ::


When did you realize you were mortal?

For me, and up until this point, well never.

Had a humbling experience with the Arizona Desert yesterday; a walkabout (of which I’ve written of several) resulted in too much heat and too little hydration for me after only three miles.

Granted, I had a big bottle of water and it was a short hike .. but temperatures over 100 and just the right combination of hills .. well, I deserved what I got.

The riot (and the blessing): it hit me after I returned to the hotel (rule of thumb with me: when half the water is gone, replenish or turn back). I climbed four flights of stairs and everything went white.

A few minutes rest, then I walked to the ice machine to fill my hat. Twenty minutes and the rest of my water, I found my way poolside for water and more rest.

So: despite the bike rides and hikes .. I need to keep an eye on myself.

Great lesson learned .. and the opportunity to make better plans going forward.


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