March 25, 2015

Questions I’m Asking Myself About SD-WAN Solutions
If I was evaluating SD-WAN, I’d be asking these questions and more in the exploration phase. Then if I moved into a trial phase, I’d make a long list of specific business goals to meet and application behaviors to expect when implementing the solution. And then I’d get medieval, breaking it any way that I could think of to see how the system recovers, up to and including blasting the SD-WAN endpoints with both too much volume and too many unique flows. What happens when you try to kill the tunnel endpoints? All useful stuff to find out before you commit to a vendor providing you with technology you’ll likely come to rely on heavily once it’s in place and working.

Can Predictive Analytics Help Decrease Discrimination in the Workplace?
When you are part of a human system, it is very difficult not to make decisions based in your own experiences in life. On a basic level, people tend to hire those like themselves regardless of gender or race. Add in our instincts, relationships, work experiences, generational traits, and deeply ingrained cultural belief systems and what do you get? A lot of unconscious forces that can interfere with our ability to hire and promote in a truly unbiased way. Turning to a more data-driven approach will mitigate those factors, and potentially move the United States' workforce into one that reflects its rich cultural diversity, no longer leaving the talent of women and minorities untapped.

Microsoft: Office will be free for devices under 10 inches
Kirk Koenigsbauer, the corporate vice president for the Office 365 Client Apps and Services team, revealed in a blog post that Microsoft believes that 10.1 inches is the dividing line between a “personal” and “professional” experience. Pros need the reliability and security of paid apps, while “personal” users are more interested in free. “Currently, we are also using screen size to delineate between professional and personal use,” Koenigsbauer wrote. “Based on our research, we are classifying anything with a screen size of 10.1 inches or less as a true mobile device: You’re probably using it on the go, when it’s not practical to use a larger computing device such as a PC or a Mac. You probably aren’t using a mouse or a keyboard, instead navigating via touch interface. It’s probably not a “pro” category tablet that is used for design or presentations.”

Amazon Simplifies Global Business With Cross-Region Data Replication
It’s theoretically possible to run an application from a single data center, as every point on the network eventually connects to every other. Build something in Virginia, and customers in Washington and New York and Tokyo and Sydney and London can all get to it. For a surprisingly large number of use cases, any delays (latency) in the network connection will not cause anyone undue concern. And yet we persist in building ever-more data centers in ever-more places. Sometimes we put them in frankly stupid places, like London or Tokyo or New York. We stretch power grids to breaking point, and pay exorbitant prices for scarce land and power, to shave a millisecond or so off that latency.

Snowden Urges Cloud Providers to Take Action Against Mass Surveillance
Snowden said that the amount of encrypted traffic has more than doubled since 2013, and a lot of work on encryption is happening in academics and technology companies. The type of security actions a person or organization might take “ultimately depends on what security specialists call a threat model,” Snowden said. “You need to think what the likely vectors are for attack.” When Harrison mentioned that more journalists were clearing their browser histories, Snowden said that “as a basic practice, clearing your browser history is great…however that’s not really how surveillance works.”

How to scale online services for millions of users without losing vital data
Erlang's technical prowess at handling these kinds of tasks is why Facebook's WhatsApp uses Erlang to handle the tens of billions of messages sent by the service each day. "Erlang is a very small language with reliability and scalability built into it as a core foundation. "We've found we can run things much more in parallel, use more of the CPU in the box and, because the concurrency semantics are via message passing, it vastly simplifies the software we're writing." The compact, modular code enabled by Erlang has resulted in a "massive reduction" in the size of Erlang applications compared to Java, which in turn has allowed bet365 to "massively reduce testing".

Storage: The Next Generation
It's not a trivial manner to create an enterprise-grade storage system/file system, and they don't come around very often. Over the last two decades, I've seen very few show up; ZFS was introduced in 2004, the Isilon OneFS in 2003, Lustre in 2001 and WAFL in 1992. So when the new Qumulo storage system was released, I naturally jumped at the chance to work with it to see what benefits it could bring to the datacenter. Brett Goodwin, VP of Marketing at Qumulo, invited me up to Seattle to work with the company's new product. I wanted the full experience, so we agreed that I would first do an install and then work a bit with the product.

ITSM or ITIL? That Isn’t the Question
IT organizations that make use of ITIL decide for themselves which aspects to adopt. Many IT organizations choose to adopt only the operational processes, such as incident management and change management. On their own, these do provide some value, of course, but they are only a small part of the whole ITIL framework. However, you’ll get the best value from ITIL by taking a lifecycle approach to ITSM. This covers everything from your overall IT strategy through the design, transition, and operation of services; and it incorporates continual improvement into everything you do.

The Problem With Configurations
CM tools have no way to identify what parameters changed in your configuration file and whether a reload is sufficient to activate the changes. As a result, we are forced to always use the nuclear option – restart. ... Like most operational aspects of programs, configuration issues can and should be resolved by grassroots engineering work rather then after-the-fact makeshift solutions. A good example of an attempt to tackle this at the core is Netflix Archaius project and many others have followed suite. There are several simple design principles that can help make the configuration of your program much easier to work with. To some degree, you can even apply these principle to 3rd party programs using CM tools

Intro to .NET Unit & Integration Testing with SpecsFor
Hopefully the first question you’re asking is, “What exactly is SpecsFor?” It’s a testing framework designed to abstract away all the annoying testing concerns out of your way so that you can write clean tests quickly. It is both flexible and extensible.... At its core, SpecsFor sits on top of NUnit, meaning any test runner or build server that supports NUnit will also work just fine with SpecsFor, no need for separate plug-ins or setup. Next, SpecsFor provides Should, a library of extension methods for common test assertions. Instead of writing awkward to read assertions, like “Assert.AreEqual(x, 15),” you can write readable assertions like “x.ShouldEqual(15).” It’s a subtle change, but it makes a big impact!

Quote for the day:

"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it." -- Dwight D. Eisenhower

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