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Returning to the living

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I've been off the past few months recovering from illness and just generally relaxing. Blogging to recommence.

Yeah, I've been kind of silent lately. Hopefully that will change now that I'm out of my cave.

I'm no longer involved full-time with Elastra; I do remain a part time advisor. One day the story will be told. Until then, I highly recommend reading Steve Blank's blog & books for an apropos understanding of how startups often struggle and remain stubborn in the face of said struggle. On the bright side, the current team has their head screwed on straight and is still doing great work.

What am I up to? Consulting, for now at least! Jetstream Cirrus is my company, and yes, there are intentionally many ways of reading into that name. I'm offering independent advice & implementation on integration architecture, REST, agile operations, scalable systems, and cloud computing consulting in the U.S. and Canada.

There are at least six views on Cloud Computing out there, and why they're important. Some people are pretty adamant that their definition is the one true definition, others tend to admit the overlap. Optimists would call this state of affairs "synergy", pessimists would call "vagueness", cynics would call it "sophistry".

I'd like to distill, briefly, how I see things.

1. Theme: Scale without skill, Availablility without avarice

Why Cloud? "Don't worry about Scale or Availability, SuperCloudPlatform Will Take Care of It"
Do: Adopt a Cloud Platform, like Google App Engine, Azure, or
Don't: Worry about Infrastructure as a service, that's so .... 2006.
Laugh Nervously About: The Magic Architecture & Buzzword Bingo required to make this work. Also, all those PaaS APIs seem rather proprietary....

2. Gimme an A! A! S!

Why Cloud? "Consuming IT as an On-Demand Service instead of as a capital intensive product"
Do: Build out your cloud architecture, with its various layers, and invest in software & services at each layer.
Don't: Get locked into anyone's narrow concept of a cloud. PaaS, IaaS, some SaaS, etc., are all contenders.
Laugh Nervously About: That, as with SOA, everything is a cloud; that you can't buy a cloud, yet everyone seems to be trying to sell you one.

3. Efficiency through Outsourcing

Why Cloud? 1. "Owning your computers is as passe as owning your own energy generator" 2. "Do more with less"
Do: Find one or more strategic cloud partners and begin piilot outsourcing
Don't: Buy more hardware or software to use the cloud. It's snake oil.
Laugh Nervously About: The observation that outsourcing has been a panacea for IT's woes for over 15 years, and last we saw, it seemed like a shell game.

4. Efficiency through Consolidation

Why Cloud? "Your DC's Power, Thermal Hardware utilization are awful; you really could improve that. Virtualization was the start, this is the next step"
Do: Buy Cloud Management & Data Center Automation software, use a Cloud Services partner/SI, keep maturing your use of virtualization.
Don't: Really jump into Cloud Definition #3 until your own house is in order.
Laugh Nervously About: The extra software you're expected to buy, and that it seems to require extra hardware too. "Won't Get Fooled Again" by The Who seems like an apt theme song, particularly the final verse.

5. Process Networks

Why Cloud? 1. "The next-generation of the Internet that will tie together process specialization, information integration, social networking, and contextual data" 2. this is sort of where the "Web Services" vision, circa 2002, left off, after which time they made some poor investments in personal hygiene protocols and associated chicanery.
Do: Meditate on the Zen nature of this future evolution of the Internet. Sign on to Twitter. Attend lots of conferences with "2.0" in the title. Maybe buy a BPM tool, or invest in some Strategic Cloud Consulting Services. Clouds #1, #2, #3, and #4 may be useful on the path to nirvana.
Don't: Worry too much about technical details, it's all about your business anyway.
Laugh Nervously About: 1. That no one knows what the fuck these people are talking about, even though there's probably something interesting happening here. 2. That the paint is still wet on BPM vendors renaming themselves Cloud companies.

6. The Rise of Lean IT

Why Cloud? "Reduced lead times to enabling change in your IT environment, thus driving greater business value"
Do: Start redesigning your IT processes. ITIL v3 ain't bad, if you take it with a grain of salt. Pick up some IT automation and management software while you're at it.
Don't: Think that technology alone will solve your problems, this is mostly about organization & culture, baby.
Laugh Nervously About: 1. That the primary industries that have embraced Lean concepts are Automotive and Telecommunications, and the telcos have been talking about it for 10+ years with little sign they're really serious about it. 2. Agile/Lean proponents tend to be backed by a posse of folks that like to write manifestos.

Heads down

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I'm still here, silently plugging away at Elastra's product & working with our design partners. Busy times.

I'll be attending GlueCon in Denver next week, and Interop Las Vegas for a couple of days the week after, if you're around, give me a shout.

The Steve Jobs Diet

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If the fitness, diet & nutrition industries were to diagnose Steve Jobs' weight problems, they'd likely say he wasn't eating enough, or was exercising too much.

I have no idea what Steve's hormone imbalance is, but I'd surmise it has something to do with insulin.

We've been accustomed to believe that weight management isn't a hormone problem, it's due to gluttony and sloth. The evidence is starting to mount that it's more complicated than that.

From the Telegraph article...

'The job of determining how fuels will be used - whether we will store them as fat or burn them for energy - is carried out by the hormone insulin with LPL,' says Taubes. 'Because insulin determines fat accumulation, it's quite possible that we get fat not because we eat too much or exercise too little, but because we secrete too much insulin.

Regardless of the underlying reason, here's hoping Steve recovers.


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Congratulations, President-Elect Obama.

Via Giza

Elastra on CNBC

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Elastra was briefly featured on the first episode of Collaboration Now, a new five-part CNBC mini-series. This appears just before the Paul Otellini (Intel CEO) interview.

You can see a snapshot of our old offices, some of our engineers (along with yours truly) doing some work on the B-roll, and our CEO, Kirill Sheynkman, giving a sound bite about cloud computing.

In all, 90 seconds of Cable TV fame, not too bad for a 1 year old cloud computing startup.

Elastra's new offices

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We've outgrown our old office and have moved to a (much larger) new one several blocks North in San Francisco...

Elastra new office

Photo quality ain't great, sorry.
Check out the stream...

On twitter

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For those that use it, I've recently started posting more often to Twitter as "svrc" (my initials)... I also joined but I don't really use it that often yet.

For those in the SF Bay Area next week, I will be speaking on a panel at the SDForum's Cloud Computing and Beyond: The Web Grows Up 1-Day conference in Santa Clara.

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