@dcancel Condensing and optimizing….. down to 12 slides from 30!
Archive for June, 2010
The Genius Behind Minority Report’s With Mind-blowing New Tech http://goo.gl/CVdI | Great inspiration for us Biggg Data Geeks
Sonian is hiring a Marketing Program Manager to run lead gen campaigns. Startup environment with awesome potential http://goo.gl/Ct5S
This article is inspired by Nat Friedman’s post “Everyone Dials-In.” It’s also going to be my kick-off for a series of posts on the “vTeam” theme – virtual team dynamics. I’m all about frictionless remote team collaboration, and I’ve been fine-tuning the concepts for over three years with the growing Sonian team.
First some background information. At Sonian most of my tech team is remote from our company HQ in Needham, MA. We have adopted leading-edge best practices with pair-programming using a blend of IM, text, voice and video collaboration for the entire team, and an agile work-flow. (Shout out: It’s amazing to see this team come together to create solutions for big data management using the cloud. +1 all around!)
One aspect of remote team dynamics I struggle with is how to best integrate the remote folks into weekly management meetings. These meetings have a different dynamic because half the attendees are in one conference room with a Polycom speakerphone. The remote meeting attendees participate by voice on a conference bridge (calling in on Skype, Vonage, mobile, – and if you are calling from the airport or a moving vehicle, the mute button is a must.) VoIP conference bridge (especially the free ones) call quality, mobile networks, and Skype all calling into a VoIP bridge is less than desirable. Often the latency feels like we should all go back to fifth grade walkie-talkie/CB Radio etiquette.
<Person 1:> talk talk talk, “over”,
<Person 2:> talk talk talk talk, “over”,
<Person 1: > talk talk, “over” etc.
Boring and difficult to sustain a quality audio full-duplex conversation. Without a conversation orchestra conductor, everyone is talking over each other and lots of pauses and… ”oh- sorry- you go ahead” chatter which is ultimately a waste of everyone’s time.
I tried an experiment working remotely from Needham for a month, to really get a sense of how 50% of our company feels to be included in “HQ”‘s activities via phone. It was a great learning experience to be on the “remote” end of a meeting. I felt disconnected, didn’t feel it was easy to participate in the group conversation without access to facial expressions, and knew I was missing at least half of the information exchange because of side-conversations the microphone could not hear.
We have been experimenting with multi-channel video, but it’s hard to setup, not conducive to ad-hoc meetings, and takes a lot of bandwidth. We have been good with one to one video courtesy of Skype, but one to many (broadcast) is a whole different challenge.
Next meeting I’m going to convince my colleagues at HQ to try Nat’s suggestion: “Everyone Dials In.” I’m expecting a few quizzical looks, and maybe even some push-back, but hopefully the outcome will highlight the desired positive result: Everyone feels included and the meeting is worth their time. And maybe we’ll spend less time too.
“roger that – over”
Oy… just checked my oft-neglected spam folder to find 5 important emails waiting my reply.
Sonian has been innovating in cloud compute environments for over 3 solid years. By Internet-speed time standards we’re considered “seasoned” veterans in bending the cloud to work our magic. We understood from the early days that Software as a Service powered by cloud computing is very different than SaaS powered by legacy data center designs.
It’s mentally and physically “freeing” not to have to worry about the underlying physical infrastructure that supports our software stack, yet there are other challenges in the cloud that need rapid innovation to ensure we are always making the most out of what the cloud is really good at: on-demand CPU. Our whole software stack design is built on the premise of elastic CPU: for scale, redundancy, and cost effectiveness.
In the cloud, where in theory all one needs to think about is software, system administration issues are much less about hardware, storage and networking and more about OS and automation. Which means the skill set required to be a great “cloud-enabled” sys admin is a blend of programming and OS skills, much different from managing hardware, storage systems and networking gear.
To be truly successful in the cloud requires a commitment to 100% automation. All aspects of system administration need bullet-proof automation. At Sonian we are investing heavily in automation at all levels of the software stack, which means no matter which function (web server, database server, index server, etc.) is able to launch from “bare metal cloud” and configure to the role automatically. All this is possible with the new skill set of “developer sys admin” (what we’re calling DevOps), and is emerging as a key requirement to successful cloud deployments.
A lesson we have learned is to pair-up a “DevOps” person with the traditional developer so that automation is happening all throughout the coding process, and not at the end of the development cycle. Don’t short-cut your automation work and incur technical debt that will need to be repaid.