Neil Lewis

Never volunteer for anything!

Blog Post created by Neil Lewis Employee on Mar 14, 2017


An old saying goes that when joining the army there are two golden rules which you should always stick to (I should say at this stage I have never been in the forces - but I won’t let that stop me). So in every situation you find yourself in, these rules, if applied, should keep you out of unnecessary trouble - I think with a view of staying alive and trying to steal any sense of enjoyment possible in the field.


Rule 1 : Never Volunteer for Anything – things are rarely as good as they are portrayed,

Rule 2 : Never go back – anywhere you have been will never be as good the second time.


I recently experienced the consequences of failing to adhere to rule #1 first hand back in January this year and I thought I’d share my experience with you (doing my bit in sharing these golden rules for the good of mankind).


The volunteering…..

Before Christmas and in the hectic run up to the end of the year where we were all busy with closing out Q3 and Christmas parties etc I received an email asking if I could help out with a “quick Cloud presentation to a few people in London - usual stuff”. This was to be done at some point in early January. I thought, “Well… easy enough, usual Hitachi Enterprise Cloud sales story using our most recent slide desk which can be altered a bit to suit the audience”. Plus January seemed so far away. So I accepted - volunteered almost, then thought no more about it.


Some weeks passed, then I started getting e-mails from the event organisers asking for a title and description for the “January event” as well as a bio, photographs and marketing material. At first I thought they were perhaps just a bit keen so I responded with the standard sales material titles and descriptions with some additional marketing material to match their enthusiasm.


The realisation…..

Almost immediately, the organisers came back to me with an alternative title and some guidance as to what they are expecting. This will be a 2-3 hour event for the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) on the Embankment in London where my Lecture (?) on the subject “A Cloud Enabled World: Growth opportunities for businesses and individuals” will be the sole event attended by 100+ professional members of the Institute for the purpose of general interest and towards a professional qualification. The lecture can’t be a sales presentation as this will breach their professional standards therefore needs to be impartial and informative.


So it looked like I had fallen into giving a lecture at an esteemed professional technical institute on the future opportunities that Cloud computing offers to support peoples learning and achievement of some professional accreditation.


Naturally at this stage and only 2 weeks out I was in too deep and  there was no backing out now.  I had to make the best of it. So another trick came to mind. Attract further volunteers to spread the load. On the day of the lecture I was scheduled to be at a client with my colleague Sylvain Gaugry. Him, being a French romantic, he was bound to fall for a well told story.  This cunning plan worked out well as he agreed to come along and co-present this lecture sales presentation!!


The Preparation….

Now, although we have a great story in Hitachi Enterprise Cloud, it was obvious that we needed some material as clearly the standard Hitachi sales only story wouldn’t have worked as any sales material was against the rules. On researching the IET, this was formed as the Institution of Electrical Engineers therefore was more engineering/electrical focussed than computing or technology (at least from history). Given the event was intended to be informative, almost educational (if I was capable of delivering such a feat), I thought I would try and draw parallels between Cloud computing and the world of mass produced electricity as essentiality the  utilisation of IT is what Cloud and the Hitachi Enterprise Cloud offering is actually all about.


A little digging online led me to discover that the building next door,  from  where we were going to be presenting, was the first public building in the world to be lit by electric light (Savoy Theatre). As it happens, I lived just abut 20 miles from the first house in the world to be lit by electric light (Cragside). I had our story…..


The mainstay is essentially that Cloud in IT is the same revolution as we have seen in the 20th century with Electricity production. Early days of electricity generation was dedicated to the property or business with limited capacity, scalability and high costs of operation. This is the same as Enterprise IT where capacity and capability is often tied to the owned equipment in the businesses datacentre;


IET A Cloud Enabled World - Growth opportunities for businesses and individuals FINAL.jpg Slide06.jpg


These limitations were overcome with a revolution in Electricity delivery, production and sales, moving from dedicated small scale to commoditised mass produced, supported by a national delivery network. This is exactly the same as Cloud in IT – powered by the low cost delivery network – the Internet;



So the parallels are simple that the 20tht century electricity revolution is the same we are seeing today in the world of IT, with IT services being moved from the datacentre into the Cloud enabled by large scale Public Cloud services underpinned by the Internet as a reliable remote delivery mechanism comparable to the National Grid in Electricity speak. The driving force behind this in the IT world is the growth of data and the expectation for real time analytics and just in time decision support. This requires data sources to be centralised (or at least linked) and very powerful processing resources made available to support this data growth. Hitachi has some great credibility in this space, namely in the world of IoT and real time analytics capability underpinned by Pentaho so it wasn’t too far a departure from what we are known for.


The second part of my story was essentially about the Cloud offering smaller business/enterprises the same quality of IT which was once reserved for multinationals. This offers unique opportunities for start-ups to threaten the bread and butter of the major players in various verticals. We use the example of Kodak showing  that businesses are not immune from the threats to their markets. Organisations need to embrace these new technologies if they are to survive the tidal wave of change approaching them;


Slide09.jpg Slide12.jpg


So, it felt like we had a plan……. look out for part 2 to find out if the preparation paid off!!!