Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lost in the foggy cloud

I normally find analysis by The Economist incisive and accurate, but one post by the Babbage columnist seems to be missing the point: he's suffered multiple outages from his 'cloud computing' service provider, including power failures in the 'uninterruptable' power supply.
  • Is he choosing a cheap provider with inadequate infrastructure?
  • Does he need to split his service across multiple providers to limit points of failure?
  • What's the commercial balance between fail-safe provision and the direct and indirect costs of fixing the occasional failure? Each business application has to balance risk and reward.
The promise of cloud computing is that the big insurance risks are met by the hosting provider and shared over a large base of users to limit the risks, and costs, for any one application. But pressure on margins at service providers means that the buyer has to beware in this service area as in all others.

Do you trust your service provider? How will you know until a problem occurs? Is it then too late? Should you carry out a controlled test now?!

Friday, November 19, 2010


I often get asked what use is Twitter? There are many possible answers, and for some it's true that the jury is still out, despite the hype!

But in addition to the usual marketing- and sales-related answers, I find that Twitter helps me learn stuff I didn't know I wanted to know. More often than not the info comes in useful.

In a meeting yesterday I described Twitter as the electronic equivalent of a lot of people standing on a street corner shouting their thoughts out loud. For me, the trick is to filter out the noise and be selective about following those I think I'll learn from. Here's an example.

Alex Raymond
Plan to counterfeit money on a laser printer? Probably a bad idea.

Now the key here for me is that I know @AlexRaymond personally; and, for the life of me I couldn't think why he'd got an interest in counterfeit money! His wry comment, "Probably a bad idea" seemed too obvious ... So I clicked the link he provided and found there's some sneaky technology that apparently prints near-invisible dots on laser printer/copier pages so the device a document came from can be identified.

That's ingenious. It's interesting. I didn't know it. I'd never even considered using my laser printer to counterfeit stuff.

But I did find myself re-telling the info in a client meeting. We were exploring novel ways to deploy technology and my new additional knowledge enhanced my credibility and standing, helping me to justify the approach I was proposing.

Thanks, Alex!