It's Time for a New Category of IT Systems
Written by Jai Menon
At any given time, businesses can be confronted by a wide variety of issues and concerns. One that we in systems development try to focus on is inflexibility. That’s why we spend a great deal of time trying to create IT solutions that are flexible enough to meet the growing and changing needs of business, while being easy to deploy and manage.
Our businesses across industries and sectors have many different kinds of workloads to run. Transaction-based systems, for example, which serve thousands or millions of users at the same time, 24/7, or analytics systems that have fewer users but can require deep complex computation. The challenge is how do you satisfy all these different needs to run different kinds of tasks?
There are two different approaches in use today: businesses can standardize on one kind of computer system, and use that for all their different business tasks. Or, they can buy multiple types of computer systems, each optimized for one of the many different kinds of workloads they have to run.
For those that standardize on a single type of computer, the system can work well for specific tasks, but they tend to wind up being a poor fit for many other workloads. As a result, they inadequately meet all of the business needs.
For those that spend their resources on multiple types of systems, the challenge over time is management: software management, systems management, support management. All these additional management resources can be time-consuming and costly.
So the big challenge, on which we have been working, is to develop a category of systems that can be optimized for each of the different workloads, while still making IT easily consumable – a new category of expert integrated systems.
We have been deeply involved with partners in thousands of engagements and we know that what they value is shifting. Their IT leaders have been telling us: "Come up with new computers that take up less floor space and are faster to deploy. But please make sure I can reuse my existing assets, skills and software.” More and more, they are looking for systems with the flexibility of the cloud with the simplicity of an appliance. Just imagine if we could develop new systems that would meet all those needs while greatly improving the client's experience.
We have taken up this challenge. The new systems on which we are now working will be in a whole new category – a category that combines the flexibility of general purpose systems and the simplicity and workload optimization of an appliance. The systems will come integrated with ‘expertise,’ practical and technical business insight in such areas as deployment, IT management, automation, and optimization.
These new systems will provide integration by design, with pre-tuned solutions for optimal performance and efficiency. They will make every part of the IT life cycle easier with integrated management of the entire system. And they will be pre-configurable for specific business or industry solutions, taking just a few hours, not weeks, to set up and deploy.
These “expert integrated systems” will change the face of computing in the enterprise forever through automation and simplicity and usher in a new era of computing.
About the Author: Jai Menon, IBM Fellow, CTO and VP, Technical Strategy, has responsibility for strategy, emerging business opportunities, university and industry alliances, technical leadership, and technical vitality for IBM’s Systems & Technology Group. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of both IIT, Madras and of Ohio State University (from where he earned M.S. & Ph.D degrees in Computer Science).
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.