Justin Pirie

Earlier this month, HP hosted its bi-annual customer conference – HP Discover – where nearly 11,000 HP customers and staff gathered together in Las Vegas. With 11,000 attendees to educate, inform and rally, there were more than 700 sessions, 285 technology demos, and over 500,000 square feet of space to amply accommodate everyone.

The general feeling going into the event was that HP was going to make some significant product announcements to strengthen its enterprise portfolio.

Meg Whitman's HP Discover Keynote Presentation

The theme for the event was “It’s time to build a better enterprise. Together.”

That might sound somewhat perplexing, because to many folks, Enterprise IT IS delivered by HP, so how was it proposing to make it better?

But surprisingly, just like its branding, HP is espousing a refreshing message in CEO Meg Whitman’s keynote:

"HP can help you manage in ways no other companies can. We've got a unique perspective because we created the old IT world, and we're part of creating the new one.... Believe me, Hewlett Packard is here to stay.”

She went on to say:

"No other company is making such strides in energy efficiency."

Which according to some- Power consumption is the number one cost in running datacenters so if HP can innovate significantly, there could be some serious room for capex vs. the generic servers that have become popular recently.

Whitman went on to talk about HP’s big four focus areas: Cloud, Mobility, Big Data and Security- positioning HP as the one company to take them all on.

Next up, why partner with HP?

"Technology is daunting," said Whitman. "We get what you are going through." She then went into a metaphor about how IT folks are just “normal” people, but when they get to work, they’re expected to be “superheroes”. Whitman thinks even superheroes need to work on a team- have backup and that’s what HP is for. Whitman continued in her keynote:

"If you remember nothing else, we are out to be the very best partner out there. We are here to build a better enterprise together with you. Challenge us."

Whitman also used this keynote to build trust and confidence in HP with the senior customer executives in the audience:

“We have strengthened our financial position and have stabilized our business."

I think we were all left wanting more detail - HP no doubt has the track record of being the Enterprise provider – and the details came out over the ensuing days.

As always the Mimecast stand on the show floor was buzzing from the open and it’s always great to speak to so many attendees about their cloud strategies and their plans for building a better enterprise. Together (with Mimecast!).

Thanks to HP for inviting me to cover HP Discover as a blogger - the hospitality was excellent and the conference informative. I'm already looking forward to seeing what the event holds later this year when it goes over to Spain!

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To mark the 20th anniversary of MIME we hosted a live interview on Twitter - a "Twinterview" - with one of MIME’s co-creators Dr Nathaniel Borenstein. At 3pm on Wednesday our eyes were glued to our screens as the #MIME20 tweets came in thick and fast!

Here are the highlights, as we learnt a great deal about MIME from Nathaniel's answers.

philcorfan ‏ @philcorfan

Right, here's my #MIME20 question for @drmime... Can you explain, in 140 characters(!), why MIME was so important?

Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime

#MIME20 MIME provides a standard & simple way to identify & share any kind of data across platforms.

Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime

#MIME20 Without MIME, we'd have, in effect, hundreds of separate Internets, mostly vendor-specific.

Steven Ambrose ‏ @ambio

@ambio@drmime Do you see any newer or more secure protocols?

Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime

#MIME20 Newer protocols, absolutely. But MIME as a data format is much easier for new protocols to adopt than replace

philcorfan ‏ @philcorfan

#MIME20 @drmime You say you made mistakes in developing MIME, with the benefit of hindsight, what would you have done differently?

Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime

#MIME20 @philcorfan We botched anticipation of future changes to MIME, but as no major changes were ever needed it's merely embarrassing.

Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime

#MIME20 @philcorfan We also didn't make Content-Disposition clear enough to keep vendors from screwing it up.

Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime

#MIME20 @philcorfan Those are my two biggest regrets, so I guess it could be a lot worse. However, the error anticipating future...

Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime

#MIME20 @philcorfan ...changes results in 19 wasted bytes in every MIME object. I estimate it wastes 7 petabytes/year in global bandwidth.

Justin Pirie ‏ @justinpirie

@drmime And do you think that backwards compatibility was one of the main reasons for MIME's success? #MIME20

Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime

#MIME20 @justinpirie That's why MIME chose backwards compatibility w/7bit SMTP over a lovely new protocol requiring global retrofit.

To our great disappointment there were no questions about Bellcore’s very own barbership quartet the Telephone Chords. But there were some enthralling questions about the meaning behind the name MIME:

Kirstin Beveridge ‏ @KeBeveridge @drmime #MIME20 Why did you choose the name MIME? Be honest, is it just because it's a cool acronym? :) Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime #MIME20 @KeBeveridge Basically yes -- a cool name promotes adoption, it's technical marketing. In fact, I believe that the best advice... Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime #MIME20 @KeBeveridge ...I ever got in my career was from Dave Crocker, author of the original email standards. He said: Find a catchy name. Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime #MIME20 @KeBeveridge Catchy name means people say "I want MIME" instead of "I want RFC 1341." Names are hooks on which we hang ideas.

The Twinterview came to a close at 4pm with this final question:

John Rivers ‏ @johnrivers #MIME20 @drmime did you face any sceptics when you invented MIME? Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime Oh yes. Why do we need pictures/attachments? Backward compatibility? Even "Why do we need non-English email"!!! #MIME20@johnrivers Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime Fortunately, we didn't need to convince everyone it was necessary, just that it wasn't harmful. That was easier. #MIME20 @johnrivers Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime Politically, MIME was achieved by coalition of people with different goals that were mutually compatible. #MIME20 @johnrivers Nathaniel Borenstein ‏ @drmime Essentially, they humored each other to gain critical mass. Technical politics is much like any other politics. #MIME20 @johnrivers
A big thank you to Nathaniel for being a great interviewee. And of course thank you to all who contributed in the Q&A, we hope you all enjoyed participating and unearthed some new knowledge about MIME and emails.

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Thanks to the development of the MIME standard, email has become quite possibly the most important business tool of our time - check out the infographic below for the full story. 

Can you imagine not being able to send attachments via email? Probably not, but there was a time, only 20 years ago when sending an attachment would have been unthinkable by most.

The invention of Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) was a critical moment in the history of email. It transformed email from the simple text-only messaging system first demonstrated in 1965, to the extra-ordinarily successful communication and collaboration tool that we all know and love today.

Also available on Flickr.

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Before MIME, you couldn’t attach or embed anything to an email- no pictures, word documents, files or anything.

Almost twenty years ago, Mimecast’s very own Chief Scientist Dr. Nathaniel Borenstein co-created the email format Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension protocol (MIME) and, in doing so, laid the foundations for email to become the world’s dominant personal and business communication tool.

MIME enabled people to send and receive attachments via email, and an estimated 1 trillion MIME attachments are still exchanged every day!

I didn’t know until this week that the very first attachment was an image and audio clip of Nathaniel with his fellow Telephone Chords barbershop quartet members singing a short jingle about MIME written to the tune of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”.

To mark the anniversary (and demonstrate his continued love of all popular communications channels!), Nathaniel is hosting a twitter interview – twinterview – to answer any burning questions you may have about MIME, innovation, the evolution and future of email, email’s position in an increasingly social world, how to turn an idea into a world standard… and even barbershop quartets!

Nathaniel will be taking part in the twinterview for a full hour from his own Twitter account @drmime, and is taking all queries so get thinking! All questions should feature the hashtag #MIME20 to ensure Nathaniel sees them. His responses will also include the tag so you can watch the whole interview unravel. Date: 7th March 2012 Time: 3pm GMT Hashtag: #MIME20

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