Unleash your inner cloud with Cloudshare.com

An interesting play on IaaS for training, demonstrations and development,  Cloudshare.com provides you an environment of up to 6 servers on their cloud for free. The key word here is free. You can choose from multiple OS and enterprise software, including Oracle on Windows, CentOs , Xubunto, and MS SQL 2008. Setup is blazing fast, I built a test bed of 3 CentOs servers and a Windows workstation in under 20 minutes.  Environments can also be shared with peers and customers through email.  They have a paid enterprise offering also for those that need more features. Enjoy!

IPad App for the Sick (Lazy) Parent

A few weeks ago I wasn’t feeling too well, tied with a scratchy throat. It was bedtime story time for my boys and my little one picks out Dr Seuss’ book “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish”. I looked upon him in despair. For those who have read the book, you know it is 63 pages long, not quite what I had in mind for a bed time story. What to do?

In comes one of the best apps I have found to date for the IPad, the Dr Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat” interactive book. Not only are the graphics and transitions beautifully simple (imagine Ken Burns effects on scans of the the original book pages) , the book reads to your children! Yes I said READS to your children. The kids can also press on the images and the e-book says the names. Press on Sally and the e-book says “Sally!”, press on the fish and the e-book says “fish”. Triple press the fish and the e-book say “fish fish fish”. Its very responsive and amusing.

Long are the days of stressing my voice. Now, I just click on the “Read to Me” button and sit back, one kid on each side, and enjoy that cough drop.

AMI Data Center Infrastructure Delivery

Recently started thinking about my experiences in the past year related to the delivery of IT infrastructure for Automated Meter Infrastructure (AMI )projects. A few major themes come to mind:

  • Importance of time to market as the industry is still in flux
  • Extremely dynamic requirements
  • “We don’t know what we don’t know“

This is one area in IT where the traditional deployment schedule of 10-18 months does not work. Design, procure and deploy must be done in a few months. Additionally, experimentation and rapid innovation are critical as   new apps/functionality are being developed/deployed weekly.

The constraints above will flex data center infrastructure processes. Every process from provisioning to life cycle will have to be accelerated. Add to this the projected scale of data generated by AMI initiatives and you got what I call a “game changer”.  So how do you handle the agility and scale constraints when deploying AMI data center infrastructure? Focus on quick delivery followed by a strong, formal optimization stage. It’s what I have termed the “AMI infrastructure Quick Delivery Methodology” and it looks like this:

  1. Design and Procure
    – Typically 3-5 months
    – Largely based on estimates & “fuzzy” benchmarks
  2. Deploy / Pilot
  3. Gather Metrics / Assess Performance
    – Do we have gaps?
    – Did we meet our design requirements?
  4. Optimize / Plan
    – Mitigate issues
    – Add Capacity , resize
    – Determine 1 year capacity plan

This methodology is more balanced towards agility and delivery rather than short run cost optimization. However, the benefits from shorter time to market of new business functionality will trump the extra cost.

The challenge in IT infrastructure will be to manage the scale, complexity and cost and still be flexible and agile. How do you manage applications with 100 TB of primary storage and 5 TB of daily change, and still deploy effective backup solutions?  How do I share information or give access to other systems at this scale? How do I manage cost/value perception (I can get 500GB at CompUSA for $50!)? Ultimately, the answers lies in new technologies, new procurement processes, and new organizational structures. A short list of action items to come…

Silver Lining in the Cloud Computing Mayhem

Found an amazing source for information, applications and trends for you cloud computing junkies like me. And you can listen to it while driving those long commutes! It is the ” This Week is Cloud Computing ” podcast,Wednesdays at 3:30pm PT. Find it on ITunes or at http://thisweekin.com/thisweekin-cloud-computing/

The hosts, Amanda Coolong and Mark Jeffrey, run one of  the best podcasts I have heard and have the funniest jingles around.