Posts Tagged

virtual

5 tips for running a successful virtual meeting

Running a virtual meeting requires a different approach than in-person meetings. You need to figure out how to moderate the discussion, make sure everyone has a voice and feels heard and ensure all your employees are properly equipped to participate. But virtual meetings don’t have to be stressful — in fact, taking your meetings virtually can even help take work off your plate if you leverage the tools effectively.

Here are five tips on how to run a successful virtual meeting, whether it’s your company’s town hall or an after-work virtual happy hour.

Head into meetings with a plan

Virtual meetings can quickly run off the rails if they aren’t organized ahead of time, so try to send out an agenda and sign on five minutes early to make sure everything is running smoothly, says Tim Ihlefeld, CEO of remote interviewing platform Harqen. Even if you have everyone set up on the same platform, technical glitches can arise, as you can’t control individual meeting members’ Wi-Fi connectivity and any software bugs or hardware failures on their devices. Having a plan and establishing best practices ahead of time can save you from an IT headache during the meeting.  

Establish who will be responsible for fielding questions, troubleshooting connectivity issues and taking or distributing meeting notes. You should also decide whether you will need to mute participants, who will moderate the meeting, which participants will need screenshare and how listeners can ask questions. For smaller meetings, these issues may be less pressing and stressful, but for larger meetings it’s a good idea to set guidelines so everyone knows their role and what is expected of them.



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WWDC 2020: Why Apple must go virtual for this year’s show

No matter how important this year’s WWDC 2020 might be, I don’t see Apple, which strives to be a good corporate citizen, holding its big show in June amid the gathering Coronavirus threat

This is global warning

We’re in the containment phase at the moment, as governments worldwide seek to slow the spread of the infection in the hope they can find some kind of solution. It’s in everybody’s interest to hold that line for as long as possible.

The problem is that the virus has a long gestation period, a high infection rate, and a far higher fatality rate than the flu. That means it can easily proliferate at public events.

Apple’s giant WWDC is the most important event in the company’s calendar. It’s a fascinating place where business is done, connections made, and Apple opens up a little, sharing its ideas, new operating systems and gently guides partners into what it plans for the months and years ahead. I love to attend when I can.

The show attracts at least 6,000 people from all around the world, which, unfortunately, is a problem in the context of the coronavirus.

Not only can it spread quite rapidly in a crowded room (I’m not certain of its infection rate via air conditioning systems), but all those people at WWDC stay somewhere and interact with local services, hotels, restaurants.

If just a few people are infected at the start of the event, you can rest assured many more will be once it ends. It might be a couple of weeks before they know they’ve been hit, by which time they will have returned home, unknowingly infecting others along the way.

That’s how this particular infection works.

[Also read: Enterprise resilience: iOS, Mac tools for remote collaboration]

This is also why Mobile World Congress, Adobe Summit, Facebook F8, Games Developers Conference, Nvidia GTC, the Geneva Motor Show, and a range of sporting events (including England’s Six Nation’s rugby game) have been cancelled or delayed.

The economic consequences of this activity are being felt across almost every industry – airlines, the hospitality industry, even a relatively digital firm like Google is taking a hit as ad sales in some sectors (tourism, for example) slump.

While the economic consequences are important, the human consequences are profound.

Apple puts humans first

Apple is a user-centric company.

Its user interfaces are built around its acclaimed Human Interface Guidelines. The success of its hardware is based on that human-focused usability; this is also why it has taken a huge chunk of market share in enterprise IT across the last few years.

This stuff doesn’t come easy. Creating great solutions is precisely what those 6,000 people the company invites to its developer’s conference do. Hardware and software designers, developers, engineers – these people are essential.

Apple will not want to put any of these people at any additional risk.

It is clear we are battling a pandemic and while there is some hope the virus will be easier to fight (and the effects less critical), if we can make it into summer, most governments accept that containment has failed.

WWDC 2020: The virtual show

Apple listens to advice and this is why I’m convinced it has already decided to delay the live event part of WWDC. I imagine it may consider streaming some form of event keynote, perhaps something like a State of the Union address and selected developer sessions, while also delivering access to more closed sessions online under extraordinarily strict non-disclosure agreements.

It already does most of those things at WWDC.

The approach does lack the human connection with engineers that means so much, but Apple will absolutely want to protect its key staff. And if the virus does recede in summer, I imagine Apple may be thinking about other options.

It could consider running a larger event in September around the iPhone launch, or simply running WWDC 2020 in late July, or early August. Some expect the virus to peak in June, so running a later show may make sense – though there are no guarantees.

Perhaps there will be a breakthrough

Two weeks ago, I warned that Apple has a limited window to decide on what to do about WWDC this year. Apple still has some time in which to see whether some kind of breakthrough takes place. But it doesn’t have long.

Think about the challenges of assembling the infrastructure for an event of this scope. Doing so takes a great deal of planning, not to mention ensuring resources to support show-goers are locally available. When does it usually order its WWDC jackets, for example?

These logistical considerations mean it will likely take the final decision on the matter in the next couple of weeks, at most. While cancelling or delaying WWDC poses big business and continuity problems for Apple (and everyone else), it feels like it might be for the best. The protection of Apple’s employees, key partners, and local and national communities must come first.

Meanwhile, think global, act local, and work from home.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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WWDC 2020: Why Apple must go virtual for this show

No matter how important WWDC 2020 might be, I can’t see the good corporate citizen Apple strives to be holding the show in June on strength of the Coronavirus threat. 

This is global warning

We’re in the containment phase as governments worldwide seek to slow the proliferation of the infection in hope that they can find some kind of solution.

It’s in everybody’s interest to hold that line for as long as possible.

The problem is that the virus has a long gestation period, a high infection rate, and a far higher fatality rate than the flu we are used to. That means it can easily proliferate itself at public events.

Apple’s giant WWDC is the most important event in its calendar.

It’s a fascinating place where business is done, connections made, and Apple opens up a little, sharing its ideas, new operating systems and gently guiding partners into what it plans for the months and years ahead. I love to attend when I can.

The show attracts at least 6,000 people from all around the world.

Which, unfortunately, is a problem in context of the corona virus.

Not only can it transmit quite rapidly in a crowded room (I’m not certain of its infection rate via air conditioning systems), but all those people at WWDC stay somewhere, interact with local services, hotels, restaurants.

If just a few people are infected at the start of the event you can rest assured many more will be once it ends. It might be a couple of weeks before they know they’ve been hit, by which time they will have returned home, unknowingly infecting others along the way.

That’s how this particular infection works.

[Also read: Enterprise resilience: iOS, Mac tools for remote collaboration]

This is also why Mobile World Congress, Adobe Summit, Facebook F8, Games Developers Conference, Nvidia GTC, the Geneva Motor Show, and a range of sporting events (including England’s Six Nation’s rugby game) have been cancelled or delayed.

The economic consequences of this activity are being felt across almost every industry – airlines, hospitality, even a relatively digital firm like Google’s taking a hit as ad sales in some sectors (tourism, for example) slump, but while the economic consequences are important, the human consequences are profound.

Apple puts humans first

Apple is a user-centric company.

Its user interfaces are built around its acclaimed Human Interface Guidelines. The success of its hardware is based on that human-focused usability, and this is also why it has taken a huge chunk of market share in enterprise IT across the last few years.

This stuff doesn’t come easy.

Creating great solutions is precisely what those 6,000 people the company invites to its developer’s conference do. Hardware and software designers, developers, engineers. These people are essential.

Apple will not want to put any of these people at any additional risk.

It is clear we are battling a pandemic and while there is some hope the virus will be easier to battle (and the effects less critical) if we can make it into summer, most governments accept that containment has failed.

WWDC 2020: The virtual show

Apple listens to advice and this is why I’m convinced it has already decided to delay the live event part of WWDC.

I imagine it may consider streaming some form of event keynote, perhaps some form of State of the Union address and selected developer sessions, while also delivering access to more closed sessions online under extraordinarily strict non-disclosure agreements.

It already does most of those things at WWDC.

The approach does lack the human connection with engineers that means so much, but Apple will absolutely want to protect its key staff.

If the virus does recede in summer, I imagine Apple may be thinking about other options.

It may consider running a larger event in September around the iPhone launch, or simply running WWDC 2020 in late July, or early August. Some expect the virus to peak in June, so running a later show may make sense — though there are no guarantees.

Perhaps there will be a breakthrough

Two weeks ago, I warned Apple has only a limited window of opportunity to decide on what to do about WWDC this year.

Apple still has some limited time in which to wait and see if some kind of breakthrough takes place, but it doesn’t have long.

Think about the challenges of assembling the infrastructure for an event of this scope. Doing so takes a great deal of planning, not to mention ensuring resources to support show goers are locally available. When does it usually order its WWDC jackets, for example?

These logistical considerations mean I think it will take the final decision on the matter in the next couple of weeks, at most.

While cancelling or delaying WWDC poses big business and continuity problems for Apple (and everyone else), it feels like it might be for the best. The protection of Apple’s employees, key partners, and local and national communities must come first.

Meanwhile, think global, act local, and work from home.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Anticipating IBM’s coming virtual desktop pivot

(Disclosure:  Most of the vendors listed are clients of the author.)

One of the biggest mistakes IBM ever made was abandoning the desktop market, a decision it partially reversed when it partnered with Apple a few years back.  But with the realization that IBM, and not Google, is the number three Cloud provider in the US – and that Microsoft is soon going to be driving its Azure Virtual Desktop to market – it seems likely that IBM may bring forth its own offering. 

Now that IBM is being led by Arvind Krishner (its version of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who is clearly behind Microsoft’s desktop cloud pivot), it is likely IBM will come to a similar conclusion. And IBM has some interesting advantages, not the least of which is that the company’s mainframe platform and partnership with NVIDIA could make it very competitive. 

Let’s explore IBM’s potential return to the desktop. 

What IBM lost

When IBM stepped back from the PC market, the reasoning was sound financially but flawed from an image perspective.  Before that, enterprise accounts were often saturated by IBM desktop products; you’d see their brand on monitors and PCs in most major companies. Once IBM left, Lenovo generally stepped into the void, turning that company from being  nearly unknown in the US to becoming a true IT powerhouse. 

Yes, IBM got rid of a troubled business (at the time), but the collateral damage to the corporate brand was near catastrophic.  

There was a reason that Louis Gerstner, the strongest marketing-oriented CEO IBM has ever had, built the strongest marketing organization in tech at the time while retaining the troubled PC business: because every PC was an IBM billboard.  He understood that the cost to IBM’s image for divesting its PC  business would be catastrophic.  

IT sales are often connected to visible advocacy, and with the IBM brand disappearing from offices, IBM lost that visibility.

Why IBM teamed up with Apple

Now, IBM did partner with Apple to help offset lost revenues. But the Apple tie-up had three inherent problems:

Apple partners incredibly badly. It’s overly aggressive about preserving margin and often drives its partners out of business as a result. 

Apple can’t spell “IT,” and the company seems to have a cultural belief that IT people are mentally challenged, making it very hard for the firm to interact with IT decision-makers. 

Apple’s products carry the Apple brnad, not IBM’s, and they are generally not designed to meet enterprise requirements. Just compare IBM’s, now Lenovo’s, ThinkPad brand to the Mac, iPad, or iPhone. 

Two other things strike me as problematic with this partnership.  One is that IBM lives security in-depth and works with the industry to reduce global threats.  Apple uses security by obscurity, isn’t transparent, and doesn’t work with the industry to reduce global threats.

While the two firms started very similar, with little transparency and a lock-in strategy, IBM tday is one of the most open companies in the world – and because lock-in almost took it out, the company is all about assuring market competition now.  

The cloud desktop uses a mainframe framework

IBM’s market-dominant technology is the mainframe, which has advantages in security, I/O, scaling and reliability.  Mainframes were originally designed to work with terminals, which remain the thinnest of the thin-client type products. The benefits are almost identical between terminals and cloud clients, and IBM is arguably the leading remaining terminal expert. 

Much as Microsoft determined it needed the Surface (granted, that was then-CEO Steve Ballmer, not Satya Nedella) to compete with Apple’s iPad, I think IBM will determine it needs a Virtual Desktop solution to compete with Dell and Microsoft (and maybe Amazon who, I expect, will also eventually enter the Virtual Desktop segment).  

Initially, I’d expect IBM to try to use the Apple iPad Pro for this. But Apple’s poor partnering skills and IBM’s lack of brand visibility will drive it to come up with a more IBM-centric alternative so it can fully embrace the Virtual Desktop opportunity and showcase its massive technical and experience advantage.  

Wrapping up

Microsoft is about to pivot to the Azure Virtual Desktop, and that move, like all major pivots, will be very disruptive.  The tech vendor with the best chance to counter is IBM, because it has a deeper background on the hardware needed for this level of loading at what is massive scale. 

Neither Microsoft nor IBM has all the parts in place, in fact, except for their competing Cloud services. But the two firms dovetail almost as nicely as they did when they partnered to create the PC in the first place. 

With IBM putting in place a cloud specialist as CEO – one who is similar to Microsoft’s – it should come to similar conclusions. And those conclusions should eventually put IBM back on the corporate desktop, at first with Apple hardware, eventually with a solution that will better match the current and emerging IT needs for a desktop appliance. 

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Rethinking the PC: Why virtual machines should replace operating systems

Discloser: Most of the vendors mentioned are clients of the author.

Technology generally develops linearly even something comes along that should change its progression.  Take PC operating systems, which arrived in the 1980s. One of the big problems they brought with them was the need to keep the OS and applications from breaking every time Intel made a change to its chipset or the firmware. The fix, eventually, was to create Virtual Machines – a virtual hardware layer that would remain constant, regardless of what happened to the underlying hardware. 

Much of the problems we’ve had with deployments over the last couple of decades have revolved around the need for IT to keep the PC image static while the hardware changed. If we instead preloaded a Virtual Machine from either VMware or Microsoft – and then placed the image on that – you could assure a level of compatibility you generally don’t get today. 

Let’s explore rethinking PCs, virtual vachines, and operating systems this week. 

Rethinking PCs

When PCs were first created, the folks that built the OS and the folks that built the hardware were the same. Apple built both, and IBM bought the rights to Windows so it could effectively do the same thing as well. But on the Windows side, the operating system quickly became decoupled. It allowed for a far more competitive market, but also one that was unusually plagued by incompatibilities and breakage because the two halves of the PC weren’t developed together.  

For a time in the early parts of this century – when Intel and Microsoft weren’t even talking to each other very well – we got disasters like Windows Vista and Windows 8, platforms that even Microsoft would like to forget. Things eventually evened out, and most of those problems are history. But in some ways, this problem has worsened  because AMD has risen to be a power and Qualcomm is now providing PC solutions.  This hardware variety is forcing Intel to speed its own development efforts – raising the possibility that maintaining OS reliability will get harder to do.  

One way Microsoft is addressing this with its Surface line; the company is starting to specify processors for the Surface X and the upcoming Surface Neo twin-screen laptop: from Qualcomm and Intel, respectively.  Custom processors are an interesting idea, but were Dell, HP, and Lenovo to go down this path, the resulting hardware complexity – and the chance for OS breakage – would increase dramatically. 

In this new world, there is a need to allow the OS side of the solution from Apple, Google, and Microsoft to advance as fast as those firms can move and for the hardware platforms from AMD, Intel, and Qualcomm to do the same without any resulting breakage.

Enter the Virtual Machine

A Virtual Machine running on hardware generally has a Hypervisor, so you can run multiple virtual machine instances – each isolated from the other because the technology is generally used on servers where you have multiple users on the same hardware. 

On a PC, you could have distinct VM instances for work, school, and personal use with differing levels of user freedom. The company VM would be locked down so that the firm is better protected from the other usage models.  Viruses often come into companies carried by employees who aren’t careful with their personal use of their firm’s PC. You mostly see this kind of behavior with developers who need to keep their dev projects separate from their enterprise image.  

Even with a three-image installation (work, school, personal), you’d be able to optimize on all three support organizations.  Work IT handles the work image, school IT handles the school image, and the OEM helps with the personal image (which they could charge for). You’d get a higher level of security because the two or three usage models would be isolated from each other – and you’d free up the OS vendor and the platform vendor to advance their platforms faster because they could specify a set Virtual Machine configuration.

The VM company, be it VMware or Microsoft, could then work with the hardware vendor to optimize flexibility as a performance factor and hardware development PCs would evolve to become better multi-host clients. Other options could include  creating a VM for your kids on the family PC that could be automatically purged and rebuilt regularly or tuned OSs for things like eSports. You might be able to create games that run native on a VM while suspending other VMs when you compete.  And, of course, IT would get a very stable virtual hardware image that would remain stable across hardware vendors and hardware versions.  

Wrapping up

I think it is time to begin rethinking the relationship between operating systems, hypervisors, and virtual machines to better secure our PCs. (Rootkits would generally become a thing of the past, thanks to the VM.) The result could be more flexible, more reliable, more secure, and better able to deal with our changing future than the way we build the platforms today. 

I think the world is ready for a change; now, it’s time for an OEM who’s willing to take the risk and try something new.   

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.



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