Friday, July 30, 2004

RUG 2004 - It's Over

The hotel is empty and the conference rooms are all torn down. I'm writing this in the President's Sport's Bar at 8:10 PM; there are plenty of open tables, and only a few "rug2004" black polo shirts (with the bonus white & green ribbing on the sleeves).

This was only RUG #2 for me (the first was 1998), so I don't have a lot to compare it to. Others thought that his was one of the better ones, if not one of the top 2 or 3. Both San Francisco (1998) and Santa Clara (1999) were considered at the top. Ah, the Glory Days...

Attendance was high (around 1000 people, depending on who you believed), enthusiasm among both attendees and Remedy was very high, blatant marketing was kept in check, the party was offsite at the Washington, DC ESPNZone -- including a complete floor of video games, and most of the attendees seemed to have at least enough of a budget to, A) come here, and B) express optimism about the coming year.

Everyone I talked to seemed to have learned something, either technical, business, or personal. I know that I did.

See you next year!

RUG 2004 - BMC @ BMC

Today's speaker was Atwell Williams, Director of IT Services at BMC Software. His "BMC @ BMC" presentation described the trials & tribulations that BMC is encountering as they drink their own Kool-Aid(TM) and work to implement the complete Business Service Management (BSM) suite internally.

Because they get it for free, they already were monitoring each and every IT asset using BMC Patrol. Of course they had no real business priorities (a "critical" alert would send out pages, no matter what), and they certainly weren't tying individual assets to critical business processes.

When they tried to have the managers define what business processes were "critical", the answer was always (surprise): "Mine. Mine, mine, mine!". Trying a different course of action they asked CEO Bob Beauchamp what he thought were the most critical business processes. This time the answer turned out to be: "Anything that touches the customer." Good enough.

One of the cool ideas of BSM and using Remedy Asset Management at the core of the Change & Configuration DB (CCDB) is considering a business process as an asset. Remedy Asset Management allows the configuration of dependencies. This means business processes (like Customer Support) can have dependencies that include all of the hardware (servers, telecom, facilities, etc.), software (web, database, ARS, etc.). Additionally, these dependent items can have their own dependencies that includes things like memory, hard drives, CPU's, etc.

If any of the assets goes down, Patrol captures the event and the System Information Manager (SIM) can immediately map the dependent business process(es) and take action (including creating a help desk ticket and firing appropriate workflow). They learned a lot in this process and I suspect that this knowledge is finding it's way back to the BSM marketing team.

You can read more about his story here (pdf).

Thursday, July 29, 2004

RUG 2004 - Changes on the Way

The information below is for informational purposes only and should not be any indication of functionality Remedy may, or may not, deliver. If you were there and see that I screwed something, just let me know (

Super Goat
Probably ARS 6.3 due out sometime this fall -- certainly before the end of 2004. Major changes to the mid-tier including:

  • A complete rewrite of underlying code to maximize performance.
  • Remove dependence of Java on the client.
  • Improved look & feel (to look more like web pages).
  • Results list in a it's own pane (like the Windows User Tool).
  • Advanced search bar pane (like the WUT).

I had an engineer at the BMC/Remedy Solutions Showcase booth tell me that performance, "should be as good, if not better, than the Windows user tool". Officially, they announced that some things would be faster, some slower (it's a completely different environment, after all).

THOR - ARS 7.0(?)
The next "major" release that I'm reading to be 7.0 (but don't hold me to that!). Look for improvements in:

  • The ability to "group" fields on a form as a Panel Object.
  • Navigation Bars, both top & left (think web pages).
  • Tree Support (think Windows Explorer).
  • Better table fields that include better header bar(s).
  • Table personalization so your settings stay next time you open the form.
  • Modify All for the web.
  • Ability to Save your searches on the web.
  • Parameterized advanced search on the web.

At the engineering roundtable there was something else: don't be surprised if, few versions down the road, you see more "system administration" tasks removed from the Administrator Tool, and converted to ARS forms accessed via the WUT. I'll just let you use your imagination here...

RUG 2004 is in full swing now. The appreciation party is tonight at the ESPNZone. There is no more screwing around with "market-tecture" powerpoint slides or slick sales guys (well, they're always lurking around, aren't they?). Now it's time for excited geeks to talk code, and pester Doug Mueller.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

RUG 2004 - Does Nick Carr Matter?

The keynote speaker kicking-off RUG2004 was Nick Carr, Harvard Business Review writer, and author of the much-discussed Does IT Matter? article.

He pointed out that technology (both hard and soft) is, strickly speaking, a commodity; that the competitive advantages offered by information technology diminish over time like, say electricity (we've all got it). As technology becomes ubiquitious, Carr argues, it becomes less important because everyone has it.

He continues by saying commoditization is already happening in a number of areas once thought to be the bread & butter of IT: hardware (standardized chips, desktop PCs & even servers) and software (it's hard and expensive to make, so let someone else make it). He likes the phrase "overshouting" as coined by Clay Christensen in The Innovator's Dilemma, to describe how considering IT as a strategic resource is inherently flawed.

What to do then? Carr suggests that companies consider 4 key principles when thinking about the future of IT:

  • Spend Less
  • Follow, Don't Lead
  • Innovate Only When Risks are Low
  • Focus More on Vulnerabilities, than Opportunities

This to a room of over Remedy 1000 developers.

From general conversation during the breaks that followed, some themes seemed to keep coming up.

First, Carr gives no time frame for the transformation of technology from propriatary to infrastructural. His point is valid, but does this happen in 5 years? 10 years? 50 years? Does it happen first to desktop apps? Server apps? For the typical RUG 2004 attendee, this long-range, strategic thinking is an interesting mental exercise, but doesn't hit too close to home.

Next, by forcing the evolution of technology from propriatary to infrastructural (i.e.; by choosing servers based on lowest price only, or using offshore programmers), ignores that fact that IT remains a vital part of the organization and that it's not a commodity yet. If you try his suggestions, be prepared for problems with customer satisfaction ("The system can't do that..."), reduced ability to control your environment ("The developers are in India!"), and missed technological opportunies ("We don't have anybody doing that anymore.."). Just ask Dell Computer.

Finally, he glosses over the fact that there is a ton of work to be done in IT. Nearly every company that we collectively have experience with has years of strategic IT projects imparitive to business operations ahead of them.

It'll be great when technology becomes as transparent as electricity (like Star Trek), and it would be important to think about if we were starting a company (we would want to be like and leading the charge towards commonditization from the supply-side). But we've got some Remedy applications to build first.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

RUG2004 - Day 2: It's On!

Did you ever notice the conference "look"?

It goes like this: first you walk past a person in a crowded room and glance that person in the eye. If you don't recognize them, look down about 18" and scope the name on the tag. If you don't recognize the tag, look them in the eye again and see if you *really* don't recognize them.

Then there are the different sponsor companies. The "look" here goes like: first you check out the company name on the booth. If you recogize the name then you need to see if they offer anything for free (swag). If they have any swag, then persue -- if not, move along.

Today was the second of our two days of tutorials and was really quite fun. We were able to start at 9:30 AM and finish at 4:30 PM. This allowed plenty of time to relax and prepare for Wednesday. I did the Crystal Reports and Usability tutorials and was quite impressed for the most part.

So far the best, and most interesting, tutorial was the new ARS 6.x features. Scott Fisher did a great job and everyone was fired up. Tomorrow we start the conference for real.

Stay tuned...`


RUG2004 - Day 1: Here we go!

It looks like we made it through the first day. One down, and four to go. It always amazes me how little extra time there seems to be at these things. You really have to carve out blocks of time for yourself, otherwise you end up going from one "event" to another, until it's time to sleep. Then you repeat...

Registration was a bit frustrating. First we had the rumor that, since some Technical Seminars were beginning at 10:00 AM, registration would open early. It did, but only for those people attending the early semainars. When it did finally open, there was no signage and the different registration tables weren't coordinated about who was doing what, and what to do next.

Two pre-conference tutorials were then crammed into the afternoon. Although very informative, the second of the two ran until after 7:00 PM. People were definately getting edgy near the end.

Remedy Education hosted the night's party in the foyer of the meeting rooms. This was the first real chance to catch up with old friends and start making new ones. It's always fun putting faces to the names of the ARSList mailing list.


Monday, July 26, 2004

RUG2004 - Breafast & MoBlogging...

A couple of quick things to report. First, we had breakfast at a great, greasy cafe called the Waffle Shop. It's across the street from Ford's Theatre on 10th Ave and is a simple Chinese/Breakfast place. You don't get called crummy for nothing.

Next, I set up a mobile blog site at The idea here is to get as many people here as possible to post photos from their mobile phones, and see what we get. Kinda like the disposable cameras you always see at weddings -- only digital...

Gotta run and register now. My first technical session is about the new features in ARS 6.0 and starts this afternoon.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

RUG2004 - The Arrival

Welcome to my little experiment. My plan is to post a series of short, but informative, notes about the events here at RUG2004. If you find that these bother you in any way, let me know and I'll pull your email off the list. These posts are also available online at I hope you enjoy it!

If anyone asks, there is no such place as the Renaissance Hilton Washington DC Hotel. I know, because this was the name of the hotel printed on my "Attendee Confirmation" email, and this is where I asked the cab driver to take Warren & I. Thank you "" for this useless bit of information.

After our initial confusion, we arrived, checked in and made our way downstairs for the informal ARSList reception in the hotel bar. After a few hours of seeing old friends and making some new ones, a group of us had dinner in the hotel retruant. Food was okay, but the service was quite poor.

No one seems quite sure where the events of the week are supposed to be taking place. Some people think it'll be here, others are certain it's in the Washington Convention Center across the street. I'm pretty sure it's here, but we'll know for sure tomrorow.


Friday, July 23, 2004

RUG2004 - Welcome

Welcome to the RUG 2004 BlogSpot created & maintained by me, Joe Caropepe. My goal here is to, report from the 2004 Remedy User Group conference being held in Washington, D.C. from July 26th through July 30th.

I expect these reports to be more timely than eloquent, frequent than concise, and more entertaining than technical. It's a raw look at what is going on at RUG from someone on the scene.

I hope you enjoy it.