Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

What Difference Does it Make?

By Eleanor Haas

What differences does it make?  That’s the first question for every entrepreneur and innovator.  

The country – and the world for that matter – is buzzing with new start ups.  Most of them will fail of course and it won't matter because most really don’t makd a difference for anyone.

How does your product differentiate itself?  That’s what the investor will ask – because being different from other products that serve similar purposes is fundamental to being marketable.

But isn’t it time for new companies and new products to make a difference as well as differentiate?  We live in a time when every product category is already saturated with options.  That’s why branding has become hot.  Creating a distinctive image in the minds of customers is the sine qua non of differentiation.  Now some entrepreneurs and innovators are adding an important new dimension to differentiating.  They are creating new ways to improve the quality of life.

Arshad Chowdhury did that to create Cleargears, a startup that promises to make a difference for employees of any company sufficiently enlightened to deploy it.  What it delivers is a system for real-time performance review by everyone of everyone.   Unlike the traditional process – and that hasn’t changed for years – where performance review occurs in huge chunks once a year from the narrow perspective of people at the top, Clearview delivers ongoing feedback in bite-sized chunks from the 360-degree perspective of everyone you work with – anonymously. The vision of Arshad and his early customers alike is that companies can perform better if they help everyone on the team perform better as well

Sandy Heck, MD, is making a difference with Reach Bionics, a start up that is developing technology to help paraplegics wirelessly control electronic devices by activating vestigial muscles around the ears.  

Michael Huerta and his partners at BrightPath Energy are making a difference by applying their skills in providing capital and deal infrastructure to the renewable energy sector.  One of their first projects is Power.ly, an angel-stage product company that solves cost and logistical problems for remote electricity – such as post-disaster, rural areas, the battlefield, or anywhere the grid is limited – with a truly portable generator that uses solar power. 

When I’m lucky enough to discover start ups like these, I hear Stevie Wonder’s lyrics echo in my head: “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”

The New News: Vox Populi

By Eleanor Haas

  • A new Greenpeace campaign targets Apple’s cloud computing products, as it looks to “clean the cloud around the world.
  • A smooth animation of a timelapse of planet Earth from ‘Electro-L’, a geostationary satellite orbiting 40,000 kilometres above the Earth.
  • A blind-folded guy entertainingly told at his bachelor party that he’s about to bungee-jump 50 feet – only it’s more like 5 feet into a pool of water!
  • Honda’s new ‘UNI-CUB’ personal mobility device.
  • A graphic undercover investigation, by the Humane Society of the United States, into the walking horse industry discovers cases of rampant cruelty.

These are Storyful Daily’s “Five of the best on YouTube” for today.  Not exactly “all the news that’s fit to print” or any other major daily’s take on world news, is it? 

To the five best on YouTube, Storyful adds its five best in sport, five best in weather and five general stories – Frankfurt protesters, fans mourning the death of disco queen Donna Summer, a PAC plan to attack Obama, the effect of a Twitter hashtag on a Spanish bank and a live-tweeted journey through a region facing a hunger crisis.

It’s the new news from Storyful, the brainchild of an Irish journalist.  Storyful’s professional journalists sift “actionable news” from the chaff of the real-time web for use by news organizations throughout the world, acting as a “social media ‘field producer'” and providing an online window into their findings for the general public.  For both its media clients and the general public, the result is access to authentic views on recent events or developments and early warnings of what could be big stories to come.  It adds a valuable social dimension to what we call “news.”

High-End Computing for General Purposes Becomes an Eco-Friendly Possibility

By Eleanor Haas

How quickly both information
technology and social values are advancing! Bringing supercomputing capabilities down to a general-purpose level where
they can serve consumers, not just advanced scientists – as a new IBM product
does – is a giant leap forward in our ability to access, analyze and manage massive
amounts of information efficiently and cost-effectively. But that alone is no longer sufficient. Today
our society requires that this be done in ways that minimize climate change
effects. Greentech is not just a
fad. It’s here to stay.

The new IBM iDataPlex
line of server products does both. It
seems to me to represent an historic break-through: It enables cloud computing that supports Web
2.0 applications as well as the high performance computing (HPC) requirements
of life science researchers, engineers, petroleum exploration, financial
services, and government and academic research. But perhaps the most important attribute of the new hardware design is
that it requires 40 percent less electrical power to run than alternatives with
comparable computing power and can eliminate air conditioning when outfitted
with a water-cooled wall.

As Web sites evolve, they
add features that impose new demands on the infrastructure and challenge
performance standards critical to the user experience. Web 2.0 applications empower users to do a
great deal more than just retrieve information. Now users can activate interactive features inherent in Web 1.0 at a
higher level and exercise new degrees of control over data, even add value to
applications as they use them. These new
capabilities drive enterprises to scale capacity in a secure, reliable and
cost-effective way in order to deliver a satisfactory user experience. Cloud computing is one of the most important
new concepts that is emerging to make this possible.

Cloud computing is
computing done at a remote location, which is to say, out in the clouds. It is computing on a massive scale in terms
of both computing power and the range of computing tasks.

Supercomputers were mainframes
invented to enable advanced scientists to handle enormously complex
calculations. Then Google and others
started locating the data storage and processing power of supercomputers on
vast banks of computer servers in remote data centers – Google called these
distant servers “the cloud” – instead
of on mainframe computers or a network of multiple processors on the Google
campus. And Amazon and others started providing
cloud computing services – remote
computing services, also called web services – delivered over the Internet. And so cloud computing was born.

Cloud computing is hugely important but still nascent. A recent report
by Forrester Research said in
its executive summary that: "Cloud computing is a new IT outsourcing model
that doesn’t yet meet the criteria of enterprise IT and isn’t supported by most
of the key corporate vendors.  It’s wildly popular with startups, exactly
fits the way small businesses like to buy things, and has the potential to
completely upend IT as we know it.”

Cloud computing represents a fundamental shift in how we
handle information, according to BusinessWeek, because it enables companies to
write their own programs to run on a cloud provider’s servers. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Chairman Emeritus,
IBM Academy of Technology and Visiting Professor of Engineering Systems, MIT,
sees two major factors that make cloud computing qualitatively different from
all IT concepts to date: One is massive
scalability. The other is the much
higher quality of experience it can provide for users. “As with the Web in the
mid-‘90s, every enterprise will have to develop its own cloud-like
capabilities, or work closely with partners that do.” he writes on his blog.

But cloud computing can be no more than a vision until
something is done about the data centers on which it relies. In general, today’s data centers can be
described as massive, sprawling and pushing the limits of power and space
available to them. Many have grown
through mergers and acquisitions, with different departments having their own
servers and a proliferation of small and mid-size servers. As a result, they are inefficient, expensive
to operate and have high energy requirements. Worse, they cannot be scaled effectively.

The new IBM iDataPlex system represents a solution, a basis
for the data center of the future. It
reduces the cost per server by approximately 20 percent to 25 per cent by using
off-the-shelf components and open source software, fits 138 percent more
servers in the same floor space and, best of all, as we said, requires 40 percent
less power to run. It is intended both
for enterprise cloud computing initiatives and clouds designed to host Web 2.0
applications.

Not a lot of iDataPlex systems will be sold. The target universe contains only 1,000
prospects, each valued at upwards of $20 million, and each system will be
custom-built. But it’s already clear that cloud computing builds on itself, as
large companies become suppliers for smaller ones. And IBM has the pieces in place to help
customers acquire new data centers conveniently. IBM Global Financing will
offer them lending and leasing opportunities, IBM Global Asset Recovery
Services can manage the disposal of equipment in accordance with environmental
regulations, and IBM will team with third party technology companies to drive a
product ecosystem around iDataPlex..

That’s smart of IBM
because iDataPlex has the markings of a hot product. According to Forrester, “Cloud computing . .
. has all the earmarks of a disruptive innovation: It is enterprise technology packaged to best
fit the needs of small businesses and start-ups – not the enterprise.”
 An eco-friendly cloud computing system.  What a thought!

What do you think about all this?  Where do you see it going?

Some Resources:

http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/23991.wss

http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/x/hardware/idataplex/index.html

             

               
             
 

   

 

 

   

   

   

 

 

   

 

      
               
               
             
 

   

 

 

   

   

PDF documents
Pund-IT Research Report: IBM System x iDataPlex – Enabling Web 2.0 with Internet-Scale Solutions (133 KB)
      
 
Cabot
Partners White Paper: IBM System x iDataPlex: The Newest Economical
Workhorse in the Computing Cloud for Next Generation HPC Data Centers
(1 MB)

Intel Positions Its New Chip as Eco-Responsible

By Eleanor Haas

“Eco-friendly” comes first in
Intel’s description of its new 45 nanometer processors – “eco-friendly, faster
and `cooler’” is the phrase. That’s good
news for environmentally conscious customers and good business for Intel.

On technical achievement alone,
the new processors are impressive enough for Intel Co-Founder Gordon Moore to
call this the biggest transistor advancements in 40 years. Breakthroughs in manufacturing and materials
boost performance, lower power consumption and open the door to future products
that are even smaller and more cost-effective.

What makes the new chips faster
is Intel’s new manufacturing process, which makes it easier to squeeze
increasing numbers of electronic brains on a chip by shrinking circuitry
dimensions to 45 manometers from 65 manometers – a nanometer is a billionth of
a meter. The new processors are said to
have nearly twice the transistor density of previous chips built on the
company’s 65 nm technology. This brings
the number of transistors up to 820 million for quad-core processors that use
the new formula.

What makes the new chips
`cooler’ and therefore more eco-friendly is Intel’s all-new transistor formula,
which reduces electricity leakage – something that has become an increasingly
serious issue as parts of tiny switches have become smaller and smaller.

Increasing energy efficiency has
become key to IT product design not only because of the environmental benefits
but because of cost savings for users. In addition, environmental friendliness has been mandated by regulatory
bodies around the world.

Whatever the motivation, it’s
good to see environmental considerations the No. 1 selling point.