I was an entrepreneur at a very early age. During my college career, I led a dual life of a student and an employee at a local start-up company that manufactured wearable computers and the software that enabled them. At this particular company, I worked for two great leaders, Dave and Jim Carroll. The two brothers were similar in many ways, but different in others. From Dave, I learned how to create a dream and turn it into a reality, a trait which I hold near and dear to my heart. From Jim, who tragically left me well before I could learn all of his life’s lessons, he taught me the value of learning.
To honor Jim’s memory, and pass along his life’s lesson, I want to share with you a particular event. It was a long time ago but Jim, who was President of the company, and I were having a bit of a “tiff” about a project and how we should get the work done. At the end of the conversation, Jim made the point that I always need to be open to learning new things and made the comment, “Rob, I’ve always been a student of life, and I’m committed to being one for the rest of my life.” That statement at the time seemed like a jab, but after working alongside Jim, I realized what it meant… we all have to be open to recognizing opportunities to learn and most importantly, we can never stop learning.
I’d like to take a pause on the core topic of this blog and honor the memory of Jim Carroll. Without him, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. To all of my loyal readers, I do want to encourage you to live in his memory and have a passion for learning especially for those around you that have much sage advice. Unfortunately, they won’t be with us forever.
Learning from Leaders
The tribute aside, if I apply Jim’s lesson to technology, there are a lot of great things we can learn from the leaders in cloud-enabled technology. Today’s application of this lesson I applied to strictly public cloud technologies like Google Apps, Salesforce.com, Netsuite, Amazon (EC2), and Microsoft. In each of the providers cases, they have demonstrated profound cloud discipline offering their users exceptional upgrades over time, focusing on security, focusing on availability, and reducing the cost and management overhead for the end-customers.
In each category, the systems have generated market-leading mechanisms to over-deliver their service and communicate their status to their customers. In no particular order, I want to honor the life-lessons these leaders have taught us. First off, I want to honor Salesforce for their open and honest security policy where they deliver for us today a clear glimpse into their security protocols by posting them online using their trust.salesforce.com site available at http://trust.salesforce.com/trust/security/. Their trust site openly discusses their practices for security and tells the story of their recommendations for how to secure their customers interfaces to the cloud. Salesforce.com has taught us to “Trust” them, by having an open policy and putting their security up as a selling point as to why people choose Salesforce.com versus the rationale for why people avoid using cloud technologies.
Secondly, I want to honor Google and their Google Apps product. We at Shavlik power our users via Google Apps and their collaboration tools are fantastic. With collaboration comes availability, and with availability comes awareness. In response to this need, Google has taken big steps to expose their application availability to consumers of their applications by creating their application dashboard. This site (http://www.google.com/appsstatus#hl=en) exposes their application status and any hiccups along the way. For those of you that use Google Apps, they have made it easy for us to manage our networks by connecting to their RSS feeds of this dashboard and as events happen, IT administrators around the world are notified of the issues ensuring we can communicate problems to our users almost as fast as Google can diagnose the issues that they are seeing. This awareness is key to mission critical clouds and key to users who depend on access. In the presence of a lack of connectivity, the actionable data Google provides is paramount to mission critical business operations.
Finally, to getting up and running, I have to give the kudos to Amazon’s EC2 infrastructure as a service (IaaS) platform. Their pricing model is easy for an IT administrator to understand and for those of you that haven’t used their service, their Dashboards are in a world of their own as it informs you of transfer rates and advises you how your service is consuming services in a clear and effective manner. They truly make it easy for you to get up and running in a fast and efficient way with little to no overhead.
So, we learn from leaders, we apply their results, and we receive advancement through doing this process. Well, as you might have guessed, stay tuned in February for some pretty big changes we have queued up for our SaaS services at Shavlik where we’re be debuting new pricing models, easier ways to get started and rolling out our security and availability policies taking those of you that are existing customers to a whole new level, and turning those of you that might be looking for an IT management end-to-end solution in the cloud into believers!