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Nina Buik, former Connect and Encompass president now Connect CMO, shares her musings because...well, because she is a muse!


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It Takes a Virtual Village - Crowdsourcing the Search for Flight MH370

Posted By Nina Buik, Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Unless you have been completely disconnected from technology and/or television, you’ve heard the tragic news about missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370).  While much of the world is holding their breath, many are theorizing on what happened to the plane while others are galvanizing in the cloud to solve the mystery.

One would think with all the technology available today, a satellite somewhere would have ‘seen’ the rogue airplane. Not the case. As of this writing, the investigative teams are nowhere closer to finding MH370 than they were over a week ago.

Big Data to the Rescue

Since 9/11 the world has become more vigilant when it comes to safety on the ground or in the air. But what happens when there are no eye witnesses? You rely on companies like Colorado-based DigitalGlobe, a satellite and aerial image company to sift through digital images. DigitalGlobe partners with Utah-based Adaptive Computing to analyze the massive amounts of data using their Big Workflow data center package, which purportedly unifies all data center resources, optimizes the analysis process and guarantees services.  The Big Workflow name comes from its ability to solve big data problems by streamlining workflows to deliver insights from massive quantities of data across multiple platforms, environments and locations.

The Virtual Village

DigitalGlobe and Adaptive Computing are currently operating a crowdsourcing-type search for Flight 370 using Tomnod, a product that DigitalGlobe acquired a couple of years ago. Anybody can join in the search by going to You will need to enter your email address to participate.

This is not Tomnod’s first disaster rodeo. Other cases included flooding in Bolivia, fires in Australia, and flooding in the United Kingdom. To date, Tomnod's best known project was an attempt to find a lost yacht in the Tasman Sea.

Big Hopes and Bigger Prayers

While all of this sounds incredibly cool. I sincerely hope that the mystery is solved soon.  I can’t help but think about the 239 souls on board that plane.  My heart hurts just thinking about what may have happened. And to their families, I pray that answers come soon.  There’s nothing worse than the unknown in these situations. People need to grieve or rejoice. Without answers, you can do neither.


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Life’s a Breach

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Life’s a Breach

Not too long ago, I wrote about ‘security’ having a seat at corporate executive tables around the world. Now, security has a seat at the dinner table as we are ALL affected when companies that we entrust with our money announce that our credit/bank accounts have been compromised.

The blame game begins

After the big December 2013 breach at a large retail department store, consumers are asking why and how this can happen in the age of technology. It’s quite complicated because there will always be a human element no matter how secure the technology is. Bottom line, hacking and hactivism is big business and there are lots of people who make a career out of stealing identities and causing economic disruption in spite of the best technology available.

Both industries have tremendous lobbying muscle and each flexed their might to US lawmakers recently:

The retailers' argument: Banks must upgrade the security technology for the credit and debit cards they issue.

The banks' counterargument: Newer electronic-chip technology wouldn't have prevented the Target breach. And retailers must tighten their own security systems for processing card payments.

If you are from the US and have been to Europe recently, you probably realized two things, your US credit card may not work everywhere; (and unrelated) most businesses outside of the hotel industry do not take American Express. The reason why they don’t work is that cards issued to US-based customers do not have the chip and pin technology. According to industry experts, chip and pin technology is substantially more secure and has reduced fraud in Europe by 80%.

Here’s how chip and pin works. Each card in the system contains an embedded chip, with a pin number encoded. When a customer makes a purchase, the terminal compares the pin number the customer enters with the pin encoded on the card.

As to why this has not been widely adopted in the US; it’s plain and simple…cost. The cost for retailers to replace a point of sale scanning terminal is about $1,000 each. With the economy slowly recovering from one of the worst downturns in decades, this expense could have a major ripple effect. But if this is not fixed, it could actually have an equal if not worse impact on business due to lack of trust.

Reason to be ‘chipper’?

It looks like the US will adopt chip and pin by 2015 (retailers and banks). This has been game changer in terms of liability outside of the US. The liability shift has gone from bank to consumer to protect their pins. However, in the US the Electronic Fund Transfer Act of 1978 precludes that shift of liability to the consumer. This should make US consumers ‘chipper’ over the changes!

No matter what the laws are, we must all take some responsibility over our personal information and credit protection and realize that no matter what we do, the banks do, lobbyists do, congress does, there will always be those out there who are one step ahead.


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The Facts of IT Life at Ballarat Grammar School

Posted By Administration, Monday, January 13, 2014

The Facts of IT Life at Ballarat Grammar School

Some of you may remember the 1980’s longest running situational comedy, The Facts of Life. It was set in a fictional all-female boarding school in upstate New York. I watched the Facts of Life and by today’s standards of education and communication, it seems quite primitive. No computers, no network, no smart phones – just books and complicated issues that probably still effect students today.

As part of Connect’s journey around the world to meet and chronicle how members of our community are using HP technology and why it really matters, I had the wonderful (underscore, underscore) opportunity to travel thousands of miles from Atlanta, Georgia to Wendouree, VIC, a charming city approximately 120km west of Melbourne. Although the flight was long, it was worth every repeat movie and freeze dried meal.

Ballarat Grammar School is a K-12 day and boarding school. Grammar has about 250 boarders from age 7 and up and combined with the day students they total approximately 1300 students. It is a beautiful campus that dates back to 1911 and even though it is an old school, there was nothing ‘old school’ about it! Grammar has chosen HP as its end-to-end technology provider and has an impressive IT infrastructure including HP servers (Gen8s), storage, desktops, laptops and a robust network that allows for seamless access across its very large campus. A totally wired campus combined with its holistic academic program that includes fine arts (uhhhhh fashion design, furniture design and creation, music – I saw works of art that were commercial quality!) gives Grammar its competitive edge and consistently ranks it one of the best Victorian schools.

Today’s campuses rely on technology and there is an expectation, especially among paying parents, that the institution they are sending their precious children and money to, is leading edge. No one knows this better than Greg Bell a former Ballarat Grammar student and Head of Technical Services along with Nathan Burgess, Director of Information Technology and Communication Services.

Surprising to parents, Nathan with the support of the Ballarat Grammar board, chose HP as its IT partner because “HP is the only company we looked at that could provide us with the end-to-end solution we were looking for.” And when it looked like HP was having leadership changes, the parents came knocking to find out if Ballarat had chosen the right partner. After explaining to them why, Nathan was able to put the parents at ease. Today, the senior students are being equipped with HP laptops as part of Grammar’s 1:1 initiative. Adding nearly 900 devices to Grammar’s wireless network required major network upgrades.

The Ballarat Grammar School campus is simply lovely but what struck me most was the passion and dedication of the people that work there and the joy of all the students I encountered. And the real fact of life is that this combination shows that Ballarat Grammar School has the right formula including the right leadership, the right partner in HP and the right technology for success.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as we enjoyed making it. I also hope you get a chance to meet Greg and Nathan at HP Discover this year.

Nina Buik

Ballarat Grammar School Shares
how HP Networking Gives Helps Them Earn an A+ in Seamless Campus Connectivity

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2013 – What a year!

Posted By George G. Sciouris, Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 – What a year!

The close of 2013 is an emotional one for me both personally and professionally. My youngest is finishing high school and in her first year of college (in Georgia you can do this at the same time!). So I’m preparing myself to send her away to college. And while some may think I should be doing the happy dance, I think of my precious little girl and the great energy and light she brings to our home.

I’m also emotional thinking about Connect and all that we have accomplished this year and the incredible moments that we shared. The sleepless nights, long days and working weekends have all been worth it. We held great events, shared big news, fought for change and traveled the world to meet our members and share their stories. (See member videos)

Just this week, I spent a few days with Home Depot and they do far more than help sell home building supplies, they build communities. Their core values struck me as those typically held by non-profits. I was moved beyond words and cannot wait to share this story and video with the community in 2014.

And to my colleagues and board of directors, you are my family and I’m so grateful to share all the opportunities and challenges our jobs bring us with you. You make what I do a mission, not a job.

And to all the members of Connect – thank you for your loyalty and volunteerism. You are the heart and soul of this organization and we look forward to serving you in 2014.

Cheers to all of you – may your holidays be bright and your near year filled with good health and prosperity!!


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Schoolhouse Rock for IT Professionals

Posted By Nina Buik, Friday, October 11, 2013

Schoolhouse Rock for IT Professionals

"Conjunction junction what’s your function?!?” Remember that song? I’m terribly sorry as it will probably be stuck in your head for a while :-) For those who don’t know, it’s one of many educational songs from Schoolhouse Rock, a TV animated series that ran from 1973 to 2009 designed to teach kids English grammar.

 Two years ago, I was invited to speak at an HP digital communications event.  Honored indeed; I was  asked to share Connects’ decades worth of success in communicating with HP-Compaq-Tandem-Digital customers which I can attest are as loyal to HP as Apple customers are to the forbidden fruit. During my presentation, I was asked the brilliant question, "How do you ‘speak’ to our customers?”

Fully prepared, I brought up my Schoolhouse Rock slide and shared that first; you need to know who your customer is and then use the words/language they understand.  And it’s really simple – CIO’s will respond to more adjectives or descriptive language and practitioners respond to verbs or action words that help them get the job done.

This year, HP’s narrative is around The New Style of IT.  In response to your inquiries, I thought I would help turn this descriptive language into verbs that you can use! 

The New Style of IT

Adjectives (Descriptive):

The New Style of IT, which we see as a transformational shift bridging the consumer and enterprise experience, has almost unprecedented reach and impact. Every generation has had an industry that changed the fabric of society, and over the last 40 years, IT has been that defining industry. It has changed not just business processes and personal productivity, but the very ways people communicate and collaborate.

For HP customers, this New Style of IT promises simplicity, greater agility, speed and lower costs. It is driven by the interrelated trends of Cloud, Security, Mobility and Big Data. And yet, with great opportunity comes great challenge. HP customers are looking for help from trusted advisors to understand how they navigate this brave new world. And they need comprehensive solutions that solve their toughest business problems, not just a set of disparate IT assets.

Verbs (Actionable):

Converge IT components into a single, optimized solution, which can include servers, storage, networking, and software for IT infrastructure management, automation and orchestration, which should include policy-driven centralized management of IT resources.

Access Information Anytime/Anywhere (Mobility, Cloud, Networking)Secure Applications, Systems, Network (Enterprise Security)

Analyze data both structured and unstructured (Big Data – HAVEn)

Store massive amounts of information using a single architecture to deliver primary storage platforms on optimized all-flash arrays (Enterprise Storage, 3Par, HP StorServ)

Deliver information to data consumers efficiently and on demand against demanding SLA’s. (Servers)

Bringing these verbs together into a holistic strategy IS the New Style of IT.

The big question for both CIO’s and key influencers of data center investments is, "When do I invest in converged solutions?” While there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer, the reality is, a stay and hold position is unsustainable and new investments must factor your capital depreciation strategy.

What I do like about HP’s message is that it’s staying true to its DNA while showing customers that you can now converge HP’s enterprise technology products/solutions together for optimal business outcomes. 

Who wants this? Everybody!

You’ve heard me refer to DNA integrity in several blog posts – once you stray, you lose your identity as an individual or as a company. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Schoolhouse Rock brought to you by the letters I and T (with a little ‘Sesame’ on top)! 




Tags:  3Par  Converged Systems  HAVEn  HP  New Style of IT  StoreServ 

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