When the going gets tough, the tough innovate.

(Stephen Parker, Senior Industry Evangelist, 1visionOT)

It’s only a few years since “Cloud”, Big Data” and “Mobile” seemed like the bright shiny things. Now they are just mainstream with most of the major vendors trumpeting their current leadership or planned dominance in one area or another. Customers are focusing their new IT spending in these areas, referred to by IDC as the 3rd Platform http://www.idc.com/prodserv/3rd-platform/.

This acceptance is great news as like any change it creates opportunity. However, with mass acceptance come the challenges of increasing competition and growing customer expectations.

For service providers there are 2 major risks:

  1. For those who were early adopters there is the risk of complacency. Michael McQueen would explain it by saying “they saw the tipping point early, but whilst they were basking in the glow of success, they missed the turning point and are at risk of going beyond the tanking point” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zR7reXnQsY
  2. For those not yet in and don’t think it affects them, they are at risk of a blind spot. Looking through the lenses of the old business model shows limited benefits and lots of risks. They believe the great relationships they have with their customers means they can determine the time to change. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blindspots_analysis

Irrespective of your current position, as a service provider you need to be thinking about your Innovation Strategy and how you are going to continue to be the Disruptor.

As Jack Welch (Chairman, GE, 1981-2001) said:

“Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.”

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The 20 Habits of Brilliant Presenters

(Stephen Parker, Senior Industry Evangelist)

Presenting can be exhilarating, but it can also be the stuff of nightmares. The pleasure of sharing ideas and seeing the light bulbs go off in the audience as the message lands can quickly be replaced by fear of failure and a desire to run.

Even actors and musicians that we admire for their amazing stage presence are not immune (Richard Burton, Stephen Fry, Robbie Williams to name but a few).

Sharing stories with an audience is a key part of my day to day job and I am always looking for ways to improve. So a big thanks to @Citrix for sponsoring the whitepaper by Maurice DeCastro (@MauriceDeCastro) titled “The 20 Habits of Truly Brilliant Presenters”. You can find a copy HERE.

A quick summary from the end of the white paper:

“Create a checklist for these 20 habits, and the next time you’re sitting in the audience being presented to, see how many of these good habits the presenter has and then get someone to do the same for you when you next present.”

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All about #Focus and @Microsoft – Citrix Summit 2016 Las Vegas

(Stephen Parker, Senior Industry Evangelist)

It’s been an interesting year for Citrix and it was with excitement and interest that I headed over to Las Vegas for the 2016 Citrix Summit. I had been invited by Citrix to present on the business model transformation required for partners as they shift to the cloud and to act as the compare/MC for a panel discussion about establishing industry vertical expertise in your business. (if you are interested you can find the content of these and other sessions on Citrix SalesIQ https://citrixpartner.gosavo.com/CustomPage/View.aspx?id=36891685 )

But I was also keen to see how Citrix’s own business transformation was taking shape and this is my take on the messaging from the summit.

The official line was that 2016 will see Citrix concentrate on the 3 themes of LAND, EXPAND and PARTNER.

However, for me the real message for the partners attending and the market as a whole was:

  • New Team at the top: From the day 1 keynote onwards the message was clear that there was a new team at the top. There was no criticism of the past, in fact there was an acknowledgment of the great heritage. But the position was clear that they were looking forward and there was no historical baggage holding them back.
  • FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS: The loud a clear message from this team was #FOCUS. The business has many great products however the business is going to FOCUS on the offerings where there is clear differentiation and those that are core to the customer proposition.
  • Microsoft is our number 1 partner: The message was unequivocal, whilst Citrix have many great relationships with other vendors, Microsoft is the number 1. Microsoft re-enforced this message with senior execs such as Brad Anderson openly acknowledging the strength of the relationship in the Day 2 keynote. There was none of the slightly awkward and guarded “we’re now best friends” moments that have occurred at other vendor summits!! This was full on.
  • Cloud is the future: Although only 10-15% of Citrix partners are enrolled in the Citrix Service Provider program (CSP) there was a dedicated track for CSPs. The ambiguity of allowing service providers to use both CSA and CSP has gone (as a Jan 1st 2016 if you are offering a service to 3rd parties then you must use the CSP program – much like Microsoft and their SPLA program). The internal compensation barriers are being addressed and partners were encouraged to look at the CSP program.


The detailed sessions get locked in far in advance for conferences, however the keynotes provide the near real time clarity on what is in and what is out. With that in mind we can assume that the business will be focusing on the 3 product areas of:

  • The Xen product stream
  • Sharefile
  • NetScaler

Microsoft – Better together

Brad Anderson, Corporate VP, Enterprise Client & Mobility was not the only Microsoft heavy weight in town. As part of the Service Provider track, Matt Haynes Director, WW Channel Strategy for Hosted Cloud Services presented in 2 sessions including how Citrix CSP and Microsoft CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) programs complement each other.

The strong “better together” message was demonstrated during the Day 2 keynote, when Bill Burley sealed (with the visual theatre of a handshake) the commitment to Brad Anderson that Citrix will be ready to ship compatible products on the day Windows Server 2016 launches.

The messaging was that the Microsoft relationship will be focused around:

  • Windows 10 roll out
  • Skype for Business
  • Azure (especially Xenapp and Netscaler).
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Accelerating cloud adoption

Land, Expand and Partner

To round out this summary a few interesting points used to support the Land, Expand and Partner strategy.

  • There is opportunity to LAND new business in all market segments. However, the areas with the biggest whitespace are the Mid-Market and SMB
  • However, the segment that gained the most #focus was the Mid-Market with both horizontal and vertical #focus areas highlighted
  • To EXPAND within the existing customer base, the key stat is that 78% have bought a single product. This create a “next logical purchase opportunity” with Sharefile and NetScaler
  • This was a PARTNER summit so a focus here is to be expected. However, Kimberly Martin made sure there was no way to miss the theme
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FIX: Protected View error opening Office documents from Outlook

Quick Fix:

  • Go to Outlook
  • Click File tab, then Options and finally Advanced
  • Now scroll down to “Display” and check the “Disable hardware graphics acceleration” option


According to a post by “David at DRA” this is due to a graphics driver bug that has been introduced during a Win 10 update. So hopefully this is a temporary issue that will be resolved.  (See half way down this page http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/office/forum/office_2016-outlook/outlook-2016-attachments-will-not-open-in/ce844af4-1013-4e47-bd1c-573ae7124667?page=2)

More Detail:

Not sure of exact timing, but somewhere in the process of upgrading to Windows 10, Office 2016 and/or installing updates the ability to open Office documents directly from Outlook stopped working.

The errors related to “Protected View”, with the following error message.


The vast majority of fixes suggesting having to save the file to disk and then right clicking properties and checking the “Unblock” field:


However thanks to a post by David at DRA I found the fix outlined at the top.  This is not ideal and Microsoft hopefully have this on their list of “bugs to fix”. Until then this has stopped the pain.


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IT world splitting apart–value creation or damage limitation?

Within days of each other two of the IT industry heavy weights have announced that they are splitting their business down the middle:

Value Creation and Damage Limitation

There are significant similarities with both of these announcements

Symantec: Creating two standalone businesses will allow each entity to maximize its respective growth opportunities and drive greater shareholder value.

HP: Provides Each New Company With the Focus, Financial Resources and Flexibility to Adapt Quickly to Market and Customer Dynamics While Generating Long-Term Value for Shareholders

But on the surface this seems to be about separating along the lines of potential for high growth/high share (future stars) vs potentially low growth/low share (future dogs).  In doing so it releases the future opportunity of value creation whilst limiting the damage derived from the constraints of the old.



Symantec: Creating two standalone businesses will allow each entity to maximize its respective growth opportunities and drive greater shareholder value.

HP: Provides Each New Company With the Focus, Financial Resources and Flexibility to Adapt Quickly to Market and Customer Dynamics While Generating Long-Term Value for Shareholders

At it’s simplest this can be seen as:

For Symantec

Security is a hot space, especially with the focus on “Cloud”.  However whilst they are dominant in the end point security space this is going nowhere and the transformation (business and technical) required for the future will be significant.

Information management however is ready to support the exploitation of the growing volumes of data that is being captured and stored.  This need will only grow as we add more data into the storage bucket.

For HP

They have known for some time that the Personal computing space is highly challenging (PCs and printers) and have come close to off loading this business line previously.  Despite the recent positive news from IDC about PC shipments growing in mature markets (http://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS24981914) there are still significant challenges ahead and others have already jumped into the space for new device form factors (Samsung and Apple).  It seems highly unlikely that this business will scale the heights of yesteryear.

Enterprise is always going to find value (vs price) in technology if correctly sold.  The use of complex technology for business gain is no longer limited to large businesses.  The cloud is democratising access and in turn expanding use to smaller organisations.  This extends the definition of “enterprise” and creates further growth and market share opportunities.

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Microsoft Windows Search Filter Host – High CPU on Windows 8 – FIXED (Look at your PDF iFilter)

If you don’t want to read any of this article and just want to fix the problem that I found:


Quick Background Summary:

  • Got myself a Surface Pro 3 (core i5, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD) while over in the US recently
  • VERY pleased with it (maybe another post about why another day)
  • BUT constant high CPU (30%+), heat and noise = poor battery life
  • Tracked the problem down to Microsoft Windows Search Filter Host via Task Manager
  • There are LOTS of articles about this (do a Google/Bing)
  • I tried everything that was suggested e.g. rebuild, remove XML from indexed data types etc etc etc etc
  • NOTHING solved to problem

Troubleshooting approach – how I found the culprit

Back to old fashioned troubleshooting.

  • I went to Control Panel and selected “All Control Panel Items” and then selected “Indexing Options”
  • Then selected Modifyimage
  • I then unselected all the locations and added them back in one at a time. Waiting until “Indexing Complete” showed before adding the next location.  All the time watching Task Manager and the Search Filter Host processimage
  • Long story short I kept going until after adding one of the locations the Search Filter Host process went to 30% ish and indexing progress appeared to hang.
  • So I removed the offending location from the “Indexed Locations” and ended the Search Filter Host process within Task Manager.  The process automatically restarts.  And we were back to “Indexing Complete”
  • I now started adding subdirectories of the offending location.  Again one at a time, waiting for Task Manager to blow out.
  • When I found a subdir that created problems I:
    • Removed it from Index Locations
    • Created a Temp directory
    • Added it to Index Locations
    • Copied each file from the offending subdir one at a time to the Temp dir and watched Task Manager

The Culprit

For me at least the culprit was PDF files.  Every time I added a PDF into the Temp directory, Task Manager would blow up.  (It may be that there are other file types that cause the problem, but this approach could be used to identify yours.)

To PROVE that PDFs were the problem I went into the “Advanced” part of Indexing Options and unchecked “PDF”.


I then added back in the offending location to the Index Locations and everything was good again and within a few minutes “Indexing Complete” with Task Manager showing the Search Filter Host using low resources when I was using the PC and grabbing more when PC was idle (just as I would expect.


Solving the Underlying Problem

CAVEAT – I have not double blind tested etc etc to prove this is correct. This may have nothing to do with Microsoft Reader – BUT this worked for me.  I may post a link to this Blog on some of the many other forums trying to solve this problem and let the wisdom of crowds do the next piece of the work.

Initial Clue:

I know from the past that some programs appear to have a hard coded need for Adobe Reader and not just any old reader.  Being a shiny new Surface Pro 3 I have just left Microsoft Reader software in place and didn’t install Adobe Reader.  As you can see from the screen grab above the icon next to “PDF” would suggest the Microsoft Reader is being used as the filter/handler for PDFs

Next Steps:

  • I un-installed Microsoft Reader
  • Then I installed the free Adobe Reader
  • I checked the “filter types to see if Adobe had now taken over the filtering duties.
  • AHHHHHH iFilter not found



  • After the reboot, Indexing seemed to have started up again and was showing as active but when I checked Task Manager resource usage was normal so I waited until indexing was complete
  • I now reselected PDF in the “Advanced Options/File Types” dialog


  • Then “Advanced Options/Rebuild


After a while with Task Manager using expected resources we arrived at “Indexing Complete”

Final Tidy Up

After all the messing around I wanted to make sure I put the index location, file types etc back to default.  Whilst “Rebuild Index” under “Index Options/Advanced will rebuild the index, it does not reset all the locations etc.  To do this I used one of the bits of guidance I had found during my initial research to solve the problem (http://www.registryrecycler.com/blog/2014/03/fix-windows-search-service-failed-to-start-in-windows-8-1/ Method 4):

  • Start Regedit (all usual caveats and warnings associated with doing this given!!!)
  • Find the entry “SetupCompletedSuccessfully” in the root
  • Change the value from 1 to ZERO
  • Reboot – this will reset everything and rebuild your index
  • NB if you go straight in a look at the Index Locations then it may appear to be missing some e.g. Outlook, IE favourites), but as soon as these apps are started then they add themselves to the list of Index Locations
Posted in Head Space, Microsoft | Tagged | 42 Comments

ARN ICT Industry Awards–lots of clouds but still plenty of on-premise

Hot on the heals of the announcement for the Microsoft Australian Partner Awards (MAPA) comes the ARN ICT Industry Awards:



It is obviously exciting to see lots of finalists who have positioned themselves for success with a focus on the cloud.  However there is still plenty of life in the on-premise world and many great companies delivering world class services to their customers.

Good luck to all the finalists.

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Disruption in IT – is it really as disruptive as we think?

I have spent my IT career doing the odd stuff, working on projects that were considered strange and not mainstream and working for companies that have been working in “new” areas.  It has been fun and I have enjoyed being part of “innovation teams” and helping to develop “disruptive” business ideas.  And mostly this “strange” stuff has been successful and delivered value to customers, employees and investors.

Part of this means that I have accepted as given books by people like Michael Porter (1985, “Competitive Advantage”) and Clayton Christensen (1997, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”).  They fit into my world view and so why would I question the quality of their underlying research or the logic in their analysis?

competitive-advantage-michael-e-porter-parcial-1-728     Innovators Dilemma

So it was with interest that I read an article on the BBC web site (http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27999589) that discussed two companies who are at the forefront of a) financing this disruptive world (Indiegogo) and b) delivering disruptive services (Uber).

It was only on second reading that I clicked on a link http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/06/23/the-disruption-machine near the top of the article in the paragraph:


The whole theory behind disruptive innovation – cheaper, sometimes lower-quality technologies which come along and destroy the business models of established industries – is a subject of ferocious academic debate at the moment, after an article in the New Yorker questioned the concept.

I am still sold on the basic notion of disruptive change and fall back on my comfort blanket of the works of Thomas Kuhn from the early 1960’s on Paradigm Shifts (1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions).

HOWEVER reading this article has made me question whether the path of disruption is as predictable as Mr Christensen would have us believe.   Once disrupted by the new comers is the fate of the incumbents set.  Without doubt IBM were “disrupted” by Microsoft in the 1980’s and yet IBM are still in business.  Today Microsoft are themselves being disrupted by Salesforce, Amazon and many others.  Have Microsoft been able to learn from history?  Have they been quick enough to react to the changes, but not so quick that they bet the business on something un-proven?  The next few years will be very interesting and as I noted in a previous article the shift from being positioned as a 90% market defender to a 14% market challenger may be just what is needed. 

(I am sure that Karl Popper would argue that “The Innovators Dilemma” is not good science as it would fail his empirical falsification test i.e. too easy to find examples of the “theory” breaking down and failing.)

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Oh Cortana, how you surprise me in positive ways


Quick background

So I’m a geek and I enrolled in the Windows Phone dev preview program so I could get Windows Phone 8.1 onto my Lumia 925 asap. I have been really pleased with many of the updates e.g. action centre, shape writing and photo as tile background. But one thing missing was Cortana. I briefly changed my settings to make my phone “US” but too many little hassles so I changed back to Australia. Overall though happy days.

Then this week along came Windows 8.1 update 1 and things improved again (Telstra are still “testing” 8.1 before rollout to existing phones down in Australia!!!!). Loving the new “folders” capability, significant improvement over the previous Nokia App folder capability. AND Cortana appeared in Alpha form even with my Australian locale.

The point of this post – how did Cortana surprise me?

I have not had time to play with Cortana and see what it can do so I was surprised and pretty impressed when….

  • I have a 3pm meeting today with the default 15 min alarm set
  • I am away from the office and to be honest had forgotten about the meeting. The 15 min alarm would have been too late to get me there in time (how many times have I been sitting in my seat on the plane when my phone alarm tells me my flight to XYZ leaves in 15 mins)
  • At 1pm my phone alerts me to a message and I open it
  • And there is Cortana reminding me that I have a meeting, but not with the default 15min warning. I am being told that with the current traffic conditions it will take 1hr 15mins to get to the meeting. I am supplied with a map showing directions from my current location to the meeting

I mean seriously how cool is that. A genuine digital assistant that I had not programmed to do something it just happened. I am actually excited (sad, I know) to see what other reminders are given and what other surprises Cortana will provide Smile

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How will the 14% Challenger mindset shape Microsoft’s FY15?

Obviously this is what Satya Nadella and his executive team at Microsoft are paid the big $s for.  But here are my thoughts and observations:

  • In the good old days IBM sold you the hardware and gave you the software. Microsoft challenged this with the “use any hardware, but pay for our software”.  Now Microsoft seem to be moving to a world of “use any hardware, ideally use Windows (which may be free), but most importantly pay for our services which will be available on all platforms”
  • In this context the focus on productivity makes sense.  This is arguably an area where Microsoft have a clear market lead with Office and the complimentary cloud assets such as Office 365. By getting the previous “waring” product silos to work together they have the ability to really deliver on the previous Microsoft slogan “better together”
  • Satya Nadella made it clear that Microsoft will continue to invest in a “dual use” (work and personal) model.  However we have seen in the recent redundancy announcements that there will be a streamlining of these efforts to support the challenger focus.
  • Microsoft also have an asset that is the envy of all of their major competitors – the Microsoft partner network.  From small business specialists to service providers using SPLA to host services on a global scale.  These partners will enjoy the focus on the core Microsoft they know.  Microsoft would do well to focus on and heavily market the partner ecosystem asset.
  • The challenger mindset means that defending the traditional PC market will no longer be focused exclusively on the 14% itself.  Rather by “challenging” the other 86% Microsoft can extend the overall ecosystem and create the end to end experience.
  • Part of the public “challenger” comments is almost certainly directed at the various “monopoly” commissions around the world – essentially they are saying “back off, the world is different, we are no longer the big bad boys, we are now fighting for our future, so get off our backs”
  • We have seen a major play in this direction with the $0 Windows licensing cost for devices of 9” or less.  It is not too difficult to imagine a very low cost, full blown Windows tablet, being connected to a keyboard, mouse and monitor to replace many ageing desktops.
  • The “Cloud Solution Provider” program was announced at WPC with little hard facts behind the announcement.  BUT WATCH THIS SPACE.  This is Microsoft’s play to pull their huge ecosystem towards the cloud.
  • I also expect to see a major streamlining of Microsoft marketing that more accurately reflects the “One Microsoft” approach with a strong “better together” type message.
  • Microsoft’s true differentiator from their competition is HYBRID.  Nobody else spans on-premise, service provider hosted and full blown public in the way that Microsoft and their partner community do.  Despite the high profile focus on their first party cloud assets (Office 365, Azure, CRM Online etc) I also expect to see a growing push for their wider Hybrid story (however it is a more complicated story to tell so…)
  • Over the past 10 years Microsoft have become increasingly conservative, driven by the need to defend a near monopoly.  However by publically putting on the challenger boxing gloves I am expecting to see some interesting and unexpected behaviour as we progress through FY15.
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