Posts Tagged ‘marc watley’

Last night a datacenter saved my life, er… , app!

by Marc Watley on August 15, 2011

Alright, so you’ve toiled and slaved and spent countless sleepless nights (and probably countless ducats as well) to launch your shiny new mobile-local-social app that’s turned into the next big thing. Congrats and all. No really..no small feat, this; good work! Though before you pop open that magnum of La Grande Dame, allow me to ask: happy with your disaster recovery plan?

You. Do. Have. A. Disaster. Recovery. Plan. Right??

No? Step into my office. A Disaster Recovery plan is not the sort of thing you consider briefly, only to shove in the corner for a rainy day. All that’s needed is a cut of some errant fiber line, or some natural disaster to come along and your über-popular app could be down. As for you: that’d be time to dust off the ole resume once again. (I’m hearing the faintest sound of a teeny tiny violin playing.)

Let’s avoid this sad-sack scenario then, shall we? The good news is that although DR planning is a serious undertaking which should be performed by – ahem! – professionals, there are a few easy steps you can take right now to help appropriately prepare you for the unthinkable:

  • Ask yourself: What’s the worst that could happen? No, seriously. If that volcano erupts and hot liquid magma melts the datacenter where your servers live, it’s trouble. (Volcanoes do erupt, you know.) You’ll first need to determine how many hours or days your app can be down before your business is irreversibly affected. This is known as Maximum Tolerable Downtime, or MTD.
  • Research, research, research. Now that you know how quickly you’ll need to be up and running post-blackout, time to start looking into backup options. If your app is running on, say, Rackspace Cloud, you might want to start by learning about their load balancers-as-a-service, and reach out to your account manager for additional detail and customization. Similarly, if you’re running Amazon AWS, their Elastic Load Balancing offering is where I’d start. (With Amazon, you’ll almost certainly want to work with a company who has experience with tailoring  failover using AWS) Spend your time wisely and dig (and Digg) appropriately. Be super conservative as well – underestimate your MTD by perhaps 30% and ensure the solution you’ve picked can meet this. In writing.
  • Go time. Once you’ve selected your backup and recovery solution, time to implement and test. A weekend maintenance window is a good time to test and ensure that your DR system works. Make any adjustments and test again right away. Repeat this processed until perfect.

Keep in mind that his is the quick-and-dirty version of DR planning, but hopefully will give you a rough idea and perhaps serve as a primer regarding how you might approach this very important part of your infrastructure.

So if you’re still asking yourself, should I…?

The answer is simple: you bet your sweet little app!

The state of the global economy notwithstanding, companies everywhere seem to be experiencing the some of the best growth seen in recent years. As the saying goes, however, mo’ money, mo’ problems. This couldn’t be truer when it comes to finding the best possible people to join your organization during the hockey-stick rise to prosperity.  In the past, this meant running an ad on an online job board, chatting to a few interesting candidates by phone, conducting a handful of interviews, and you were generally in good shape. Today, it means online job postings on multiple sites (often in multiple geographies) and potentially hundreds of resumes. Oh, and thanks to the recent belt-tightening, you’re now likely wearing more of those proverbial ‘hats’ in your organization – which means a lot less available time for sifting through resumes/CVs. Here are a few tools that can help you navigate that shiny hiring canoe of yours through glassier waters:

Write Great Job Postings

Like everyone else, I check out job postings now and again to see who’s hiring – jobs tend to be a pretty good barometer of what’s happening in the marketplace, and the ever-fluid tech sector in particular. I’m sure you likewise receive emails or calls from headhunters with the latest and greatest gig they think you’d be perfect for. I’ve got to say that in general, these guys are pretty good at what they do, and on the whole their descriptions of whatever job they’re plugging are fairly detailed and written well enough to capture my attention – at least for a moment or two anyway.

Now, contrasting this against the average job posting online (those you might find on sites like Indeed, CrunchBoard, or LinkedIn), I’m continually amazed at the lack of detail – and, quite frankly, good writing – in the average job posting. Little about the company and whether it’d be a fun, inspiring place to work, or a draconian bore-fest. Sparse details of the actual job duties. Run-of-the mill skills and experience lists. I mean, what caliber of candidates do companies expect to attract with such a mess of a posting? My point is this: when preparing your job posting, take your time. Put yourself in the shoes of that ideal person whom you want for the open positions. What schools should they have attended? Where should they have worked prior? If an engineer, should they actively contribute to coding forums or blog on their accomplishments? Should s/he have patents? If a business development or management position, whom should s/he know well/be close to? Are you looking for a thought leader or just a fantastic cold-caller? What competencies should they have that might indicate a top performer?

Also important is to be personal: Try to write the posting in a conversational style and be sure to include how great it is to be part of your company. People like working for fun companies. Spend an extra few minutes thinking about your posting and you’d be surprised at the high quality of responses you’ll receive as a result.

Use An Applicant Tracking System

Another surprising thing I find is the number of companies out there who apparently have only email as a means of receiving responses to job postings. Really? I get that loads of startups fit into this category, but what happens if you’re the next Zynga: your hot new product is taking off like a rocket and you’ve secured enough funding to scale. Now you need to hire – very quickly – perhaps 20 or so positions. Your postings are scattered about online and before you know it, you’ve got more than 500 resumes and cover letters to weed through, amidst your other 488 emails. Exactly: headache city.

The good news here is that there are several alternatives to email alone, whatever your organization size or budget. Applicant Tracking System/Talent Management Systems are readily available from The Resumator, Newton, Force.com apps (if using Salesforce), Taleo, Peopleclick Authoria, Kenexa…and as you can imagine, the list goes on. Most of these services are available – yes I’ll mention the dreaded word again this once – in the cloud, so no software or server to install. So spend a bit of time and investigate your options, but for goodness sake, move away from email-only. I repeat: Step away from the email. The great thing about just about any of these solutions is you can keep a database of job posting templates, publish/distribute to multiple job boards, screen incoming candidates, retain resumes for future consideration, and move candidates down the funnel to interview, offer letter, background check, and onboarding – all from a single environment. Look into it. You’ll thank me later.

Screening: Go Beyond The Resume

According to a 2010 survey of businesses across the US, UK, and EU by Cross-Tab, a market research provider, 85% of hiring managers feel that a positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions, and more than 70% of companies have a policy to screen all job candidates using – yep, you guessed it, social media. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other sites offer a treasure trove of data about whom the candidate is beyond his/her credentials and pedigree. If you aren’t screening candidates this way, you should be. That said, there is a bit of risk involved in screening this way, namely in the form of what the EEOC deems ‘protected class’ data (age, race, sexual orientation, political affiliation, etc.), which if you didn’t know is illegal to use when making a hiring decision in the US. (The UK and EU have similar privacy laws, by the by.) Three or four years ago, this wouldn’t have been too much of an issue with regard to screening, as the average resume/CV typically hasn’t changed much and typically doesn’t contain this kind of information. Visit a candidate’s LinkedIn or Facebook page, however, and you’ll invariably come across more than you should likely be seeing. Serious stuff, people. I’m not an attorney by any means, but I do know that lawsuits have been filed (and won) by didn’t-hire candidates over this sort of thing. Bottom line here is to move wisely; and most of all don’t be creepy – ‘friending’ candidates on Facebook so you can have a deeper view into his/her persona, etcetera.

Here too, though, comes our good friend technology to the rescue. A growing number of social media-driven resources are available to help get beyond the resume: LinkedIn offers some pretty good search tools. Klout, who analyze data to determine an individual’s level of influence (and whose scores apparently come up during candidate interviews here and again), and Reppify, who provide a web-based analysis of candidates’ online presence through their social networks according to your hiring criteria. (Disclosure: I currently hold a senior management position at Reppify.) Services such as these can help you to narrow that candidate funnel, identify the best candidate selections for your team, and mitigate discrimination liability risks.

Whatever your business, and however fast you may be growing, employing these three key strategies today should significantly help you to identify the candidates who best fit your organization, as well as save you loads of time and money (and probably a few grey hairs as well). Happy hiring!

Photo Credit: Woodleywonderworks

The Amazon Outage: 3 ways to avoid disaster

by Marc Watley on May 9, 2011

Even if your business doesn’t run on Amazon’s infamous on-demand IT services, you’ve no doubt heard about the recent failure in their Virginia datacenter. As I originally began writing this post – 48 hours after the outage occurred – scores of widely-used social media services like Foursquare and Quora were still down in addition to many other businesses. Exactly. No fun. (My music-tinged brain immediately conjured up images of red-faced, smoking-headed CIOs, syncopated to Adam Freeland’s “We Want Your Soul“, “…No simcard. No disco. No photo. Not here.”) Imagine being responsible for IT at one of these companies during the outage? Yeesh. Hats off to you guys for getting back online so quickly.

Now then, nearly two weeks post ze outage, the question remains on many a CIOs mind: what to do to prevent being affected by future outages? Are Amazon’s and other on-demand services going away? Of course not – their services are simply too valuable for today’s business. Spare-room-based startups and established shops alike use (and will continue to use) these services. The Economist reported in a recent article: “…the global market for cloud services could grow from $41 billion last year to $241 billion by 2020.” That said, options do exist to prevent exploding noggins and grey hairs during an outage. Perhaps not necessarily drag-and-drop simple, but not insurmountable either.  A few suggestions to ponder:

Amazon. Now with fewer calories.

One option to consider would be to migrate your core web services from Amazon EBS (their storage service around which the outage occurred) and diversify to other Amazon services – or to alternative services providers, perhaps keeping some services active at Amazon. Michael Krigsman wrote an excellent article for ZDNet about the outage, offering insight from a CIO perspective and sharing how some Amazon customers escaped calamity by employing diversification strategies.

Move. If you wanna.

You may love the low prices, but I’m sure it wasn’t just me who was reminded of the tried-and-true adage “you get what you pay for” when the outage occurred. (Though in fairness to Amazon, and as has been noted in numerous articles regarding the outage, these types of incidents are actually quite rare.) A rather obvious option would be to consider making a move away from Amazon altogether. This may be something you’ve been thinking about anyhow, and if so, be sure to spend the time and investigate your options. (BTW, if your concerns are specifically around storage strategy and exploring alternatives to Amazon EBS, I’d invite you to chat with my good mates over at P1 Technologies.)

Disaster Recovery

Needless to say, this is the option folks know but don’t really want to hear (and I know you knew I’d be going here). Why? Disaster recovery (DR) is neither a quick or simple initiative, as you likely know. It takes many many hours of planning and asking tough questions – principal among which is, naturally, how long can I afford to be down? The answer to this question – understanding your Maximum Tolerable Downtime or MTD – is an important one: if you’re running, say, a social media, gaming, or music service and using on-demand datacenter services, uptime is more than critical – it’s everything. Even a brief outage would mean disaster…hours of downtime might mean irreversible business failure. No users. No ads. No traffic. Not here. If you haven’t yet gone down the DR road, now would be a fantastic time to begin. And by now I mean right now.

The moral of the story here is that datacenter outages – while very infrequent with trusted players like Amazon, Verizon’s Terremark, Rackspace, and others – do and will occur. The key is to be prepared well in advance so that the effect on your business is minimal to none; have a sound strategy and diversify your core datacenter services. Spend time investigating options. Plan, plan, and plan some more, and be sure to have DR initiatives in place. And as I always say, don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially from professionals who can walk you down the road to smart recovery.

What..still here? Daylight’s a-burnin’ my friends!

Week In Review: Mar 13 – Mar 19, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on March 20, 2011

Why the iPad2 and a good datacenter might be all you’ll need!

by Marc Watley, Mar 14, 2011

The time of the tablet has clearly arrived as evidenced by Marc’s informal survey of his flight form New York to San Francisco. You can be as productive with an iPad (and soon iPad2), if not more. Lugging a heavy laptop from meeting to meeting is not necessary anymore. But before you run off to buy a tablet, you need to understand some caveats. more…

Project Reality Check #13: Embracing the Project Fog

by Gary Monti, Mar 15, 2011

No project plan is perfect. It’s usually what the team thinks will work based on certain assumptions and drawn from a large universe of possible solutions. As the project starts, “things happen” and the fog begins to roll in. You can dispel the fog by embracing it. The solution is the fog’s equal in terms of appearance and a countermanding positive performance. It is the team’s wisdom focused into a new or modified deliverable and/or process commonly called the workaroundmore…

Social Media and Tribes #31: Social Media comes through during Japan crisis

by Deepika Bajaj, Mar 16, 2011

In the recent Japan quake, most infrastructure was knocked out, but interestingly Internet availability remains relatively unaffected. And what is most compelling is that Japan turned to social media for connecting with their loved ones. Less than an hour after the quake, the number of tweets from Tokyo topped 1,200 per minute. Facebook again helped in not only connecting friends and family but also became a broadcast channel for people to share their updates and checkin with their friends. Youtube and blogs became instrumental in giving people eyes into the disaster ridden areas with the help of citizen journalism. more…

Flexible Focus #45: My Cup Runneth Over

by William Reed, Mar 17, 2011

In our pursuit of prosperity, we tend to take for granted the blessings that we already have in abundance. The Mandala Chart looks at wealth as part of a larger mosaic, and abundance as the experience of blessings in 8 areas of life: health, business, finances, home, society, character, learning, and leisure. The real appreciation of what we already have begins with gratitude. And gratitude grows into giving, and is a principle seen everywhere in nature. The quality of abundance is not something to experience in solitude. It starts with the appreciation that your cup runneth over even now, and that it gets even better when you share your blessings with others. more…

Leader driven Harmony #16: Rely on the most reliable person – YOU!

by Mack McKinney, Mar 18, 2011

With the horror of the Japanese tsunami catastrophe still unfolding, ask yourself this.  If there was a 9.0 scale earthquake in the city whereyou live and you managed to survive it, what would you do then? Well, it is time for you to go back to the basics and learn some fundamental survival skills. You don’t need to move into a cabin in the wild and become a fully self-contained homesteader.  But adding a few basic skills will improve your self-confidence and your sense of self-reliance.. more…

Not that one would be able to tell the difference, but I’m writing this article while flying back to San Francisco from a great week of meetings in New York, and I’m absolutely convinced of two things:

  1. Lugging a laptop around from meeting to meeting is overrated; and
  2. The iPad makes it ridiculously easy to be just as productive on the road. (Oh and 3, as if it weren’t blatantly obvious to anyone who’s flown them: Virgin America = love.) By the time this article publishes, the iPad2 will be shipping, which will present a faster, lighter, longer-lasting experience.

Informal survey time: This flight is just about full, and looks like half of my fellow passengers are using some type of mobile device: iSomethings, Androids, and iPads. (Sorry Motorola, love the Xoom but none spotted around this nightclub-in-the-sky.) I counted maybe four or five laptops, and about 8 iPads.

The time of the tablet has clearly arrived.

Now anyone who has or does carry a laptop with them, you are with me on this, right? Seriously, it’s 2011 and the average laptop is still heavy (6lbs!). The exception might be the MacBook Air 1.86Mhz – a slick machine for sure, but make a move in that direction and $1,600 will need to make a move from your wallet. For less than half this cost you can have a fairly nicely-loaded iPad2 3G.

Now before you drop this post like a hot skillet and rush off to the Apple Store, you need to know a few things. The iPad is indeed quite cool, but a full-fledged laptop it isn’t, so some sacrifice is definitely necessary. Making the iPad your primary road machine requires having some proverbial ducks lined up first:

  1. Email.  The good news here is that the native Mail app works nicely for just about all email needs. The only drawback is that if you’re a Salesforce user, you’re out of luck for a mail-to-Salesforce sync with the iPad.
  2. Documents & spreadsheets. There is currently no MS Office for iPad. Sad, I know. However there are workarounds for working with documents and sheets: Google Docs works pretty well with iPad, and Safari’s use of HTML5 caches your work in case of a connection interruption. Also, apps like Citrix Receiver (for Xen users) and LogMeIn Ignition will connect you to your laptop or other machine back at the office.  I understand that Apple’s own iWork for iPad app is pretty good, though apparently has limitations if you need to convert to MS Office formats.
  3. Presentations. Keynote for iPad allows you to create all the decks you need, or better yet edit existing PowerPoint files. Since most meetings tend to be between two or three people, presenting from the iPad itself is a great, intimate way to talk someone through your deck. For formal presentations, just use the A/V dongle and you’re all set. Need to drop some Photoshopped goodness into your deck? There’s an app for that.
  4. Backoffice apps. Of course while on the road you’ll need to stay connected; your business juice running back in your datacenter.  Salesforce and most other CRM apps are web-based, so you’re already covered here. Connecting to your company’s systems is possible using the native Cisco and other supported VPN protocols. Datacenter providers are themselves releasing server management apps for the iPad. Rackspace, for example, just released an updated version of their feature-packed admin app for iPad, and I’d expect Terremark and the other major players to follow suit.
  5. File management. Storage space is key here, and since there (still) is no support for SD cards with the iPad2, I’d recommend getting the 64GB version. Given almost ubiquitous WiFi or 3G, both Dropbox and Google Docs are two smart ways to manage and backup files from the iPad.

If you happen not to be an Apple or iPad fan, I’d still recommend considering a tablet versus a laptop as your ‘road dog’. (Motorola Xoom is the best of this bunch at the moment, IMHO.) The light weight, size, decent-sized screen, and connectivity to your datacenter and business applications presents a compelling case for replacing that heavy old laptop. Your shoulders will thank you, too!

Week In Review – Jan 30 – Feb 5, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on February 6, 2011

Pop-up retail, meet pop-up office

by Marc Watley, Jan 31, 2011

Pop-up retail stores is a recent concept that’s enjoyed immense success. This is applicable to B2B focused organizations too. For example, consider a SaaS company in Dallas needing exposure in Silicon Valley in order for the new product to succeed. They should consider setting up a pop-up office in University Avenue in Palo Alto or Castro Street in Mountain View, for example, which are both hotbeds of Valley activity – with everyone from Googlers to Facebookers to VCs constantly rushing along these thoroughfares to coffee/lunch/dinner meetings. Despite the recent corner-turning of the economy, most cities’ central business districts like these still have plenty of empty storefronts and ground-level offices. Right now is a particularly good time to consider a pop-up office. more…

Project Reality Check #7: Cage Wrestling – Project vs. Operations Management

by Gary Monti, Feb 1, 2011

Inherent conflict between projects and operations might be called white-collar cage wrestling. Participants are focused, strong, and may carry the belief – winning means dominance of their approach. Who’s right? They both are. What is at stake is delivery of a product that performs well and is sustainable. more…

Social Media and Tribes #28: Social Media on the GO!

by Deepika Bajaj, Feb 2, 2011

In today’s world, we are no more rooted to our computer for staying connected. This is largely because of the advent of smart phone and mobile apps. If you have an iPhone and a friend of yours complains about your delay in responding to his/her email…you better NOT say, “I was away from my computer”. Similarly, if you are a smart phone user and you say to someone “I don’t have time to Tweet or FB”; most likely they are wondering if you are using any smarts of the smart phone! more…

Flexible Focus #39: The Principle of Gratitude

by William Reed, Feb 3, 2011

One of the hardest lessons of flexibility is letting go of the ego’s attachments. Pride prevents you from achieving flexibility, because it insists on being right, being first, or being better than others. It’s companions are alike, inflexible, stubborn, righteous, and condescending. The ancient Greeks called it hubris (hybris), excessive ambition or pride leading to a fall, or to total ruin. There is away to flexibility, based on a Mandala Principle from Buddhism, the Principle of Gratitude (慈悲喜捨 Jihi Kisha). You can download the Mandala of Gratitude, and start using it in your daily life. more…

Leader driven Harmony #10: Don’t Be a Baby Bird (Part II)

by Mack McKinney, Feb 4, 2011

You can spend an (enjoyable) lifetime in anything, if you get all the way IN IT. Business, retail, real estate, banking, dentistry, chiropractic, farming, nursing, appliance repair, EVERY FIELD can provide you with a lifetime of thought and involvement if you will just dive in and commit to being the best at it. Do you have a “fire in the belly” to stop being a baby bird? more…

Week In Review : Dec 5 – Dec 11, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on December 12, 2010

Data Backup: Ignore at your own Peril

by Marc Watley, Dec 6, 2010

You can lose your precious data in a flash just like Marc when he was robbed at gun point. Corporations though seem to live at gun point all the time. Whether personal or corporate data, you better back it up or suffer the consequences. Thankfully there are a variety of solutions for individuals and businesses that offer a wide variety of features. Marc has some recommendations. more…

Chaos and Complexity #13: Earned Value versus Sunk Cost

by Gary Monti, Dec 7, 2010

Chaos and complexity play a huge role when working with schedules. In this article, Gary has a list of measurement scales and the more your project lies to the left of these scales, the better are the odds of creating a credible schedule. That’s when traditional project management tools can be applied and hence earned value can be calculated. What ever it takes, avoid entering the world of sunk cost! more…

Social Media and Tribes #23: Customer service tribe hits a home run!

by Deepika Bajaj, Dec 8, 2010

There is no better PR than a compelling customer service story and that too FREE of charge! That’s the home run that United Airlines scored when Deepika was afforded an wonderful in flight experience. This is an example of how customers are sharing their experiences.  more…

Flexible Focus #31: Mobile Mandala

by William Reed, Dec 9, 2010

One of the best ways to benefit from the Mandala Chart is to put it to use, engage in it physically. There are four primary ways of doing this and the best way is to combine one or more of these for full engagement. Now, doing that may be at your finger tips with the introduction of MandalaChart iPad application. more…

Leader driven harmony #2: Communication by Handshake (Part II)

by Mack McKinney, Dec 10, 2010

Who would have thought there are so many nuances in a handshake? Well, first impressions leave a lasting impression and most assessments of a person is made in the first few crucial seconds of meeting them. So, read this article and practice a good handshake. more…

Data Backup: Ignore at your own Peril

by Marc Watley on December 6, 2010

About a year ago, I was the unfortunate victim of a robbery.  At gunpoint.  Right…no fun at all.  Anyhow, in addition to my wallet, the idiot-with-gun also got my laptop. In an instant, I’d acutely learned the importance of backing up one’s data.

Now truth be told, it could have been much worse insofar as losing laptop data. I’ve used a BlackBerry for years, and so what I’d argue was the most important data on my laptop – contacts, notes (to this day I take all meeting notes via BlackBerry), email, and calendar – was still intact locally on my BlackBerry (which I thankfully kept) and also remotely on my corporate Exchange server.  What was lost however, were scores of other notes, business plans, presentation decks, whitepaper drafts, spreadsheet exercises, some music (sigh) – gone forever in the flash of a second.  I will say that I have benefited from the misfortune – I’ve since used an online backup service – Dropbox – to ensure safe, recoverable storage of everything on my laptop. (This has been a life saver and a service which I can’t recommend enough.)  Also, it was a good excuse to finally make the switch from PC to Mac.  Happiness.

Anyhow, two Captain Obvious lessons learned from this experience:

  1. Backup is CRITICAL
  2. Anything can happen at any time

These axioms ring even truer for businesses – of all types and sizes – who are increasingly more connected to their customers and suppliers through a plethora of systems and applications. Whether your shop is a five-location dentist practice or a multibillion-dollar technology firm, efficient backup (along with a well-planned recovery strategy) is absolutely key to staying in business.  If you’re reading this thinking, ‘yeah but nothing will happen to me/my business’, I gently refer you to my opening paragraph and also to #2 above.  Several options exist – for personal use, Small/Medium Businesses, and enterprise alike.

A few suggestions:

  • Dropbox.  Services such as Dropbox are highly recommended for personal files (good if you need to occasionally share files with others as well).  Simple to use (auto-synchronizes your files between local and online) and runs $9.99 per month (or $99 per year) for 50GB of storage space.  Learn more at http://www.dropbox.com/features.
  • Servosity. Servosity provides an agentless, on-demand backup solution suited particularly well for SMB and mid-market enterprise shops. Tape libraries are still in widespread use within datacenters today, and Servosity  provides an efficient alternative to this.  Data is compressed and encrypted before being mirrored to Servosity’s Data Vault.  Backups can be managed by OS or application, scheduled, and restored (downloaded) via secure web browser.  (Disclosure: The company I work for, Datacenter Trust, currently includes Servosity in their services portfolio.)  Learn more at http://www.servosity.com.
  • nScaled.  For enterprise shops, nScaled provides a unique approach to backup and recovery: continuous on-premise data protection, offsite backup, and remote failover. Data is continually stored both within your datacenter as well as at a remote highly-available facility.  Using a secure web interface, data can be recovered and restored either on-premise or from the remote location within 15 minutes or less.  Supported server platforms include Windows, Linux, and IBM AIX.  (Disclosure: The company I work for, Datacenter Trust, currently includes nScaled in their services portfolio.)  Learn more at http://www.nscaled.com.

Other solutions to check out include Carbonite, CommVault’s Simpana, and the recently-launched Whitewater appliance by Riverbed Technology. Whether your need is personal or business, there are many options available for synchronizing, retaining, and restoring your data. This is a must-do, as continuous access to personal and work data becomes increasingly important.  As Foghorn Leghorn would say, pay attention when I’m talkin’ to ya!  Don’t let some nutball with a gun or, say, mother nature with an earthquake, teach you a lesson the hard way about keeping ALL of your data continuously backed up and quickly recoverable!

Week In Review: Oct 24 – Oct 30, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on October 31, 2010

3 Ways to Save money and Increase Productivity

by Matthew Carmen, Oct 25, 2010

Save money and increase productivity need not be an oxymoron, especially in the IT department. But if that strategy starts with cutting the labor force, it will be detrimental to the company. Matthew suggests several ways to achieve these seemingly conflicting goals and some of them may be applicable to your situation. more…

Chaos and Complexity #7: Black swans, Randomness and your Career

by Gary Monti, Oct 26, 2010

If you believe in sustained stable outcome in complex situations, you will be doomed. Chaotic systems (like our life and career) have deterministic, interrelated rules producing nonlinear, unpredictable results. In order to be successful in your career, you need to practice a form of cognitive dissonance and learn to carry two streams of thought simultaneously : What is the best outcome and what is the worst outcome. more…

Social Media and Tribes #18: Better than Google

by Deepika Bajaj, Oct 27, 2010

Every tool has its purpose and each tool has its strengths and weaknesses. Once you get accustomed to using a tool, the tendency could be to to use it for purposes it is not effective for. Google is great when you need information, but it may not relate to your situation. That’s where your friends can come to your aid on Facebook! more…

Flexible Focus #25: Assessing your situation with a Mandala SWOT analysis

by William Reed, Oct 28, 2010

The SWOT Analysis model is originally attributed to Albert Humphrey from his work at Stanford University in the 1960s and 1970s. This gives you more clarity, but risks leading to 2-dimensional or checklist thinking. A better way to go beyond is to use a Mandala Chart. You can start by using the downloadable A-frame Mandala SWOT Chart. more…

Cloud: A truly nebulous term

by Marc Watley, Oct 29, 2010

The term “cloud” is one of the most over-used technology terms in recent times. We have been using the so called “cloud” for a long time. Think about Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. So what exactly is the meaning we are trying to convey when we use “cloud”? The answer is simply “on-demand”. more…

Cloud: A truly nebulous term

by Marc Watley on October 29, 2010

Yes, yes I know…ol’ Marc has subjected you to yet another bad pun. You’ve got to admit though that it fits the bill here. The term “cloud” is, in my book, one of the most over-used technology terms in recent memory, and it’s high time for change.

(Ridiculous sidebar: Anyone else watch Science Bob conjure that “cloud” on Jimmy Kimmel Live the other night? Hilarious!)

The thing is, almost all of what we use on the web today exists ‘in the cloud’ at some level or another. Think about it – your mail isn’t fed from a server sitting in your basement is it? No, it’s typically one of a cluster of mail servers in the “cloud” – perhaps located within your company’s datacenter or provided by Yahoo!, Hotmail, Gmail, or the like.  What about shopping? Our profiles, containing our shipping addresses, purchase preferences, and credit card numbers, likewise exist in the “cloud”.  The social utilities we’ve come to depend on for business and fun – LinkedIn, Facebook, Salesforce, Twitter, Foursquare, etcetera, are also services used almost entirely in the “cloud”.  The technology that powers the various “cloud” solutions continues to advance rapidly.  This, along with increased availability and reduced costs worldwide for high-speed Internet access, has allowed the service offerings to evolve as well.

The fact that both individuals and growing businesses can tailor solutions from the breadth of available “cloud” services is fantastic.  The issue at hand is the term “cloud” itself: an umbrella term most often used to describe and present ‘hosted’ or remote services – services which have expanded rapidly during the last two years. The term “cloud” has simply reached a point of causing confusion.  For example, though commonly referred to as “cloud computing”, it’s not always actually computing, is it?  We can now select from solutions allowing us to compute, store/archive/recover data, manage content, send/receive mail, place calls, conference, and network with colleagues, friends, and prospects – all with a moniker of “cloud” attached. “Cloud” is descriptive in this sense, sure, but only mildly so. My $0.02 is that the term “on demand infrastructure” – or simply “on-demand”- is more reflective of available solutions and less confusing than the term “cloud”.  Adopting the “on demand” term virtually eliminates the need for wonder, fretting, or quarrel over the best flavor of the solution – public/multi-tenant (Amazon EC2), private (your own VMware or Terremark Enterprise Cloud instance), Platform (Salesforce), or hybrid form. Whatever the end solution, simply think of it as on-demand infrastructure; the level of access, control, and security needed upon deployment are completely up to – and configurable by – the user.

I’ve noticed in the past several months that several technology companies including Oracle, F5, Servosity, and Rackspace have begun to use “on demand” (seemingly in place of “cloud”) to describe their services, features, and benefits. I think it’s a smart move, but who knows where this will end up; the term “on demand” might work best for everyone. Might not.

Anyhow, Cloud: you’ve served us pretty well…thanks. Now it’s time to bid adieu and bon voyage.  Oh, and when you reach wherever it is that you Internet buzzwords fade away to, please do say hello to our old friend “Web 2.0”, will you?