These are slides and speaking notes from a presentation I made recently to a corporate training group.
I passionately believe…
1) That any information architecture (iA)needs to span more than one insular organization or it, in and of itself, just becomes one more stand-alone methodology…
2) That structure paradoxically engenders freedom by eliminating useless redundancy of content and effort…
- "Developing Researcher Skills in Research Data Management: Training for the Future - A DataPool Project Report" (digital-scholarship.org)
- Getting Your Web Site's Structure Right (tc.eserver.org)
- No matter how big it gets, data still demands management and quality checks (blogs.techworld.com)
- Easy Enterprise Architecture (xpdianea.wordpress.com)
In spite of any issues and controversy surrounding cloud computing, the fact remains that adoption rates continue to grow. Every day, more and more IT departments around the world are deploying applications on the cloud, or using cloud services to improve their day-to-day operations. The major lure of cloud computing for most companies is the possibility to reduce costs: if I move to the cloud, I’ll only pay for the servers I use, and I won’t need so many IT people in my company, so I’ll be able to save money. I’ve talked about why this is a myth previously, and this is a most unfortunate myth, because by focusing on it, companies lose sight of one of the most important benefits that the cloud can bring: enabling increased innovation.
Speed and agility
In our context, speed means delivery time: the time it takes to develop, test, and deploy applications, systems, or services; and agility means reaction time: how long it takes to make (once again develop, test and deploy) changes to existing applications, systems or services. They are obviously necessary for innovation: speed of delivery because innovation is as much about the delivery of the finished product as it is about the originality or inventiveness of it; and agility because innovation is an iterative process, that requires many tries and failures in order to get right.
These are two points where the cloud shines. In terms of speed, the cloud enables developers to test their code in copies of the existing production environment, which makes the tests more efficient and effective. It also enables the construction of complex testing environments (hundreds of clients connecting to a server performing requests, for instance), which was much harder to do under traditional circumstances. The cloud also enables much faster deployment: any IT department can leverage the power of virtual machines and dynamic addressing to “promote” machine images from testing to production much more easily than having to go through installation or update routines, not to mention purchasing new servers.
The same points that apply to speed also apply to agility. The ability to quickly replicate an existing environment makes it much easier for IT teams to try multiple solutions to solve any problem that might come up, regardless of it being on the development or infrastructure end. By the same measure, updates can be quickly deployed by using virtual addressing: instead of applying rolling updates – the usual method in large-scale deployments – simply create a replica production environment with the applied updates and flip the address to it.
Computing resources are often the defining constraint of any IT project. With enough computing resources, almost anything becomes possible. Unfortunately, these resources usually cost a lot of money, and, worst of all, end up being underused. Any IT project that relies on internal infrastructure must define the resource requirements based on peak loads, but in most cases, peak loads are rarely reached. This means we end up with a lot of waste, or with a system that doesn’t perform properly under stress.
Adding capacity to an existing system can be just as stressful. New servers need to be purchased and installed, all software needs to be installed and configured, and there are many places where things can simply go wrong. These points conspire to make IT departments look bad in the eyes of users, but they are both points where the cloud can help.
Let’s say a user wants to run a complex, spur-of-the-moment batch information processing job. It’s not something recurrent, but it is urgent. With a traditional, internal infrastructure, the IT department would need to check if there was an available server to run the job, configure it, install any required application packages, which may take a couple of days in the best of cases. On the cloud, IT can simply spin up a server (ideally from a machine image that already had the required packages installed), run the job, and shut the server down once it’s done.
The dynamic elasticity of cloud computing allows IT to stop worrying so much about the peak loads and resource constraints, and to focus instead on what should always be the main priority: what the business needs. While it is not a panacea, the cloud can enable small and medium companies to execute IT projects that, up to a few years ago, only large multinationals could think about. While any IT department should be looking at cloud computing because of its many benefits, for small and medium companies it can be the leverage they need to achieve true innovation.
- Cairo Innovation Clouds (stevetodd.typepad.com)
- Why Private Cloud? (cloud.dzone.com)
- Canada to Pioneer Always On Cloud Computing (prweb.com)
- Jason Bloomberg Releases The Agile Architecture Revolution (prweb.com)
- Removing the Barriers to Cloud Adoption (cloudability.com)
- To Cloud or Not to Cloud? (cloudcomputing.sys-con.com)
- Why velocity, not speed, is the key to cloud maturity (zdnet.com)
In the early 1980s, women accounted for just over 37% of all US college students earning bachelor’s degrees in computer science. By 2010, that percentage had fallen to a little more than 17%, according to latest available data from the National Science Foundation.
Sheryl Sandberg is calling on women to be more assertive, or to “lean in,” as she writes in her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The book comes out at a time when women are significantly under-represented in US data centers.
Last year, women held only 26% of the jobs in computer-related occupations, up from 25% from 2011. That slight uptick notwithstanding, the overall number of female IT professionals has declined steadily since 2000, when women’s share of the computer-related jobs pool hit a peak of nearly 30%, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
Sandberg’s book has been criticised for its focus on “changing the women rather than changing the system,” said Jenny Slade, communications director at NCWIT. “But frankly, if she’d written a polemic on institutional bias in the workplace, she’d have been criticised for painting women as victims.”
Kim Stevenson, vice president and CIO at Intel, one of 24 female CIOs in Fortune 100 companies, said her company’s success in increasing the number of female employees in mid- to senior-level technical jobs since 2004 isn’t a fluke. Stevenson noted that Intel offers mentoring programs and opportunities for network-building for women – activities that Sandberg champions. The Women at Intel Network has 22 chapters.
Stevenson doesn’t share Sandberg’s view that progress for women has stalled, though she agrees that more can be done.
Karie Willyerd, vice president of learning and social adoption at SAP, said that unflattering stereotypes, like the depictions of engineers in the popular comic strip Dilbert, may have discouraged young girls from thinking about IT careers. But recent moves by building block maker Lego and other companies to create products aimed at exposing young girls to engineering could begin to change the cultural message, she added.
- Sandberg’s book prompts discussion on dearth of women in IT (techcentral.ie)
- Sheryl Sandberg: Women can lead and nurture (bizjournals.com)
- Sheryl Sandberg: Women have not made progress in corporate America in a decade (newsday.com)
- Sheryl Sandberg Leans In on Work-Life Balance for Women (fora.tv)
Aspirations in Computing is a talent development initiative of the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).
The program increases women’s participation in technology careers by providing encouragement, visibility, community, leadership opportunities, scholarships, and internships to aspiring technically inclined young women.
Since 2007, NCWIT has inducted more than 2300 young women into this unique community.
See more details
- NCWIT Award (caterina.net)
- Michigan Tech Picked For Women In IT Pacesetters Program (detroit.cbslocal.com)
- Sandberg’s book prompts discussion on dearth of women in IT (techcentral.ie)