Category Archives: Commentary

The Cloud Manifesto

The Catalyst for Cloud

I  just spent two great days in Banff at the Cloud Matters conference representing IT World Canada.  The conference had over 175 people and a star-studded list of speakers.  At the end of the conference, I was part of a panel where each member was asked to give three minutes on what we could do to provide a Catalyst for Cloud Computing in Canada.

Our panel consisted of:

  • Jim Love, CIO IT World Canada
  • Timothy Grayson, Director epost Product Development Canada Post
  • Chris C. Kemp, CEO Nebula and Co-Founder Open Stack
  • Peter Coffee, VP/CTO and Head of Platform Research Salesforce.com
  • William Dupley, Chief Solutions Officer HP Canada
  • Harpreet Dhillon, Cloud and Open Source Program Manager City of Calgary
  • Robert Hart, Founder and CEO Canadian Cloud Council
  • Wayne Walls, Chief Cloud Strategist Rackspace
  • Ian Rae, CEO CloudOps

My contribution took the form of a “rant” which I dubbed The Cloud Manifesto – A Catalyst for Cloud.  It was partly original opinion, partly ideas inspired by the speakers over the two days of the conference.    Here it is…

The Cloud Manifesto – A Catalyst for Cloud

Ten points which will provide a catalyst for the movement to Cloud computing: Continue reading

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Fear, Lies and Purpose

Today, I will not live in fear.

For all too many years, I did. I lived with fear.  Even as I write this I can replay the feeling.  The tightening muscles.  The cold rush of adrenaline.  It stops you dead in your tracks.

I won’t say anything trite like “fear has been my friend”.  It hasn’t been my friend.  It’s been my companion, but never my friend.

What did I fear?  The list is endless.  I’ll spare you the personal side of fear and for the sake of this piece I’ll focus on the fear that accompanied me in my career.

Would I be passed over for a promotion?  Would I make a mistake?  Not even real mistakes — I could work myself into a lather just thinking I could make a mistake.  I spent time wondering what could go wrong.  It wasn’t even fear of big consequences — even the shame, the blow to my ego of a mistake happening on my “watch”.   I even feared being wrong.

It wasn’t just the fear of mistakes.  There was another type of fear.  Fear of loss.   I feared losing my status — what if I wasn’t recognized for my accomplishments?  I even feared of losing things I didn’t even have — fear of not getting that promotion or that raise, that job I deserved. I could go on…and on…

I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out that I wasn’t alone.  If you didn’t feel this way at one time or another, you are in the remarkable few.  I applaud you.  The rest of us are as described by Thoreau, the poet and keen observer of the human conditions who once said, “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”.

One day, for me, that changed…

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They killed Neo – the Matrix resumes

Hackers for right, we are one down.(from a tweet by Tim Berners-Lee father of the World Wide Web)

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His eyes haunt me.  From those pictures that adorn the articles that pay tribute to this astonishing young man, he stares out at you.   Depending on the shot, he is alternately mysterious, thoughtful, intense and occasionally mischievous.

His accomplishments daunt me.  At 14 he was co-creator of RSS, the syndication process is at the core of internet publishing.   He co-founded Reddit the social news web-site which, love it or hate it, is one of the most active forums of real discussion on the internet.

His passion for freedom inspires me.  He was a co-founder of Demand Progress, a group which fights for Internet freedom.

His death diminishes us all.   Continue reading

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Did Zuckerberg do it on purpose?

A post has been making the rounds on the internet titled, “It’s Becoming Clear That No One Actually Read Facebook’s IPO Prospectus Or Mark Zuckerberg’s Letter To Shareholders.

I had to admit that I was on the people who hadn’t read it.  Of course, why would I?  I wasn’t going to be buying any Facebook shares.

I didn’t need the  prospectus to know that the hype was not justified.  No matter how I looked at it, I couldn’t find a rationale that supported the price.

Where do I start?

If you understand what is going on in the world of on-line advertising — if you did the slightest bit of homework — it would be obvious that it would have taken a small miracle for Facebook to deliver earnings that would justify the sale price.   The only people who were going to make money on this deal were the original shareholders and  those same people who gave you the mortgage backed securities debacle that nearly torpedoed the US economy.

Or even without understanding the industry, if you looked at the fundamentals alone — earnings versus share price — there was no possible support for the share price.

The only explanation I could find for the price?  P. T. Barnum once said,  “There’s one born every minute.”  I wasn’t going to be part of it.  So I paid no attention.

And frankly, I wrote off Zuckerberg.

That, as it turns out, was a mistake. Continue reading

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Digital Deniers

Do it if you want to — just don’t be proud of it.

I phoned my cousin Mike yesterday to make arrangements for dinner.  We were about to compare calendars and I was stalling while Outlook came up on my machine.  Mike laughed.  He was ready.  All he needed was a date book and a pen.   He laughed and said — “I’m 51 and I still use a date book.”

Of course, as always happens whenever there’s a challenge like this — Outlook took it’s sweet time loading.  Actually, it hung for a minute, as if to prove the triumph of high over low tech.  Mike took the moment to gloat.  So he should.  And it’s okay.  In this circumstance, keeping track of a few social engagements — an electronic calendar is overkill.

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AntiSocial – Undercurrents of Anger

I had coffee with a friend this morning.  The topic turned to customer experience —  as if often does.  Not only do I do a lot of work in CRM, but I’m planning a new series of podcasts on the topic and I take the opportunity to discuss this every chance I get.

As inevitably happens – he brought out a recent experience where the customer service was appalling.  I’ve heard many of these over the years.  It doesn’t take much prodding and we can all come up with one.  And I want to stress that I’m not talking about simply bad service.  That happens all too frequently to count.  This was appalling service — you’d almost have to try to make it that bad.    In his case, what was promised to be a 24 hour turnaround from a major bank, conveniently done on-line turned into many weeks of trips far out of his way to the only physical location where this business could be done, many phone calls and even with all of this – never a really satisfying conclusion, let alone an apology.

Yet he told it to me, matter of factly, as only one in a history of disappointments.   It was appalling, but nothing special.

Conversations like this have been going on for years in coffee shops all around the world.  But I think something has changed.  I can see it.  We all can see it Continue reading

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Uncommon Sense

“It don’t make no sense that common sense don’t make no sense no more.”   John Prine, one of my favourite song-writers used this as a line in one of his songs.  It’s a classic for Prine.

I love Prine’s work.  Why?  Because, especially as I get older,  at least part of me becomes more an more like his characters.  I look back nostalgically at a past where things were simpler,  more understandable.  I think to some extent, most of us do.

That idea of a time when things made “common sense” is one those archetypal memories.  You find it throughout history – a yearning for that simpler time.

So it has a seductive appeal.

So why isn’t it more prevalent?  Why isn’t common sense more …. well, common?  Continue reading

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