Archive for January, 2009

Cult-ish events…

If someone asked you the question “How did you spend your weekend”, and you answered “by sitting in a room with 150 strangers with no air conditioning for 7 hours/day, they would probably think that you had run off to join a secretive cult!

To be honest, the weekend seminars that The Coaching Academy put on throughout the country can be sometimes perceived as cult-ish! Like a cult, they are secretive. Like a cult, people attend them for inspiration. And like a cult, people usually leave inspired! However, and most importantly, the seminars differ from a cult in that they do not force you to join anything that you don’t want too.

Personally, whenever I go on a free seminar I am always skeptical, as the expense of these events needs to be justified by orders or subscriptions. Therefore, there usually is quite a noticeable ‘sales pitch’ throughout them, be it throughout the seminar, or at the end of the seminar. However, The Coaching Academy differs markedly from the norm, by their insistence in making you completely comfortable with the concepts of coaching, the techniques used, the ways by which one can become a coach and the lifestyle of a coach. They do give you the tools to become a coach by using their literature. However, they do it in an informative manner, as opposed to ramming their thoughts down your throat.

I must admit that I am not an amateur to coaching, as I have been to one of their free weekends once before. However, this time I really was bowled over by the enthusiasm of the audience, who were extremely friendly and always receptive to understanding new ideas put forward by the learned senior coaches. Furthermore it was a good way to refresh my thoughts on achieving my personal goals set for the new year.

As expressed throughout this blog, I have more than a passing interest in coaching and have endeavoured to understand more about a sector that is now thriving both in the UK and more so in the US. The Coaching Academy’s free tuition weekend enables people who have no experience of coaching or self development to understand a lot more about coaching and self development, within a relaxed and comfortable environment. As although the point of the weekend is to persuade you that coaching via The Coaching Academy would be beneficial, there is absolutely no pressure on one to sign up. This is not a fancy sales pitch, whereby you are constantly sold the benefits of The Coaching Academy for the duration of the weekend like others who employ this tactic. This is a relaxed meeting where you can understand the possible benefits of coaching for others and for yourself, and then can make a decision in your own time on whether this could be a viable career option for you.

I would advise anyone who is looking at other revenue streams, or just looking for some inspiration, to have a look at personal coaching, either through the Coaching Academy, or other coaching establishments in the UK. And there are many. If this post has come across as being very ‘in favour’ of The Coaching Academy, it is because I am. I am in no way affiliated with them, and will not stand to profit in any way shape or form should someone join them after reading this article. I just believe that the for people who have open minds, coaching can be an interesting option when it comes to alternative revenue streams and self development.

A quick update on Cloud Computing…

UBS logo
Image via Wikipedia

Came across this article in Reuters stating that in a survery conducted with leading CIO‘s in both Europe and the US by UBS, they expect to spend 2% less on their IT systems. However, in contradiction to my article yesterday, it goes on to state that based on their findings, there will be a slowdown in the sales of virtualisation software by roughly 6%, down from a 10% growth in 2008.

I found this quite surprising. The survey by UBS concluded that “This may suggest that while virtualisation is a trend that is no doubt here to stay, it still does not have the collective mindshare as many might think.”

There can be many reasons why leading CIO’s may not see virtualisation as a prominent sector in 2009. However, if we look at the report in a bit more detail, there are clues as to why these opinions exist. The report did not ‘expose’ the CIO’s who took part in the survey. However, revenues of companies involved in the survey “ranged from $2 billion to more than $10 billion annually and they represented industries ranging from communications to healthcare to utilities”.

Personally, I agree with GigaOm, who also suggest that virtualisation will be something that will be extremely popular among SME‘s’ and smaller corporate entities, as they will see more benefit in moving to a more centralised method of computing. As sighted yesterday, there are still many privacy and security issues to be tackled for virtualsiation to be seen as a defacto method of choice among large conglomerates, and it may be due to this that they are still timid about getting on board.

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The advent of Cloud Computing…

Partial map of the Internet based on the Janua...
Image via Wikipedia

Working for an Internet Service Provider, it is imperative we understand the requirements of our clients. Why do they need low contention? How is resilience going to benefit them? Why are they trying to reduce their Capex? These are all issues that are prevalent in this day and age, as IT Managers/Directors try and increase the efficiency of their WAN solutions without exploding their budget. One method of doing just that, which I feel will be a big market for ISP’s in 2009 is the general shift to Cloud Computing.

First of, what is Cloud Computing? Well there are various definitions of it, however, generally it is the means by which an individual or company moves their IT portfolio into the cloud. Why cloud? Well if you’re an old-school comms person, then the ‘cloud’ was the symbol which denotes the Internet. Another term for Cloud Computing is virtualisation, as you are moving into a virtual environment. Now the term itself is extremely general, as already there are many different ‘versions’ of cloud computing. The Register recently ran a workshop, where they broke down cloud computing into more specific areas; software as a service, utility computing and onlin

e platform provision. All offering different services to the end user within the cloud.

Lets not kid ourselves. Virtualisation has been around for years in various guises. However, its popularity is suddenly beginning to rise as internet users require more bandwidth, security and processing power. However, how does this effect ISP’s?

As more and more companies move to hosted environments, it becomes more and more imperative that they have robust stable connectivity to be able to access their business critical applications 24/7. This can be shown in the rise in attractiveness of virtual network operators and the use in data centres. One method of connectivity that is becoming more attractive to end users is Leased lines via fibre, which is markedly cheaper than it was a few years ago. However, still there are lengthy time delays, spiralling hidden costs and complicated installs associated with true leased lines. So what is the solution?

Step forward ADSL2+. Although BT has been traditionally late to the party with their deployment, many incumbents such as O2/Be, Tiscali and Cable and Wireless have been offering ADSL2+ products for the best part of 3 years. And although BT are finally getting their act together with the roll out of their 21CN, many operators have already got such a head start with the diversity of their product portfolios that it will be hard for BT to catch up. I don’t usually praise the government, but if there is one thing that we should give them credit for, it is the deregulation of the telecomms industry. As without doubt, the number of innovative solutions now available is testament to that policy change.

Without blowing our own trumpet too much, Fluidata is a prime example. Not only have we been offering ADSL2+ for the best part of 2 years, but we also standardise on the AnnexM variant, meaning more bandwidth on the upstream. Perfect for applications such as video conferencing and VOIP. With national coverage of 1200 exchanges and growing, this already out-does BT’s own 21CN, and by their own admittance, they will not have this number of exchanges ready until at the earliest least 2010. Because of the knowledge and experience we have of using AnnexM, we’ve been able to manipulate it to provide a synchronous solution, comparative to SDSL, but more robust and at a cheaper cost to end users.

However, the area in which we’ve been particularly unique in has been deploying a true bonded solution, comprising carrier resilience, true aggregation at the IP level and low contention. Different from bonded solutions, we’re unique in being able to offer high amounts of bandwidth with 1IP address/range and one termination unit, unlike others who provide up to 4 routers and then a bonding ‘device’. This has proved to be ideal for people who need the functionality of a leased line without the costs involved. Also ideal for FD’s who need to reduce their Capex. And more importantly, it has proved to be very attractive for those looking to move into the cloud.

There are still a number of issues that fully need to be addressed with Cloud Computing. Will my data be secure? How will I be invoiced for it? How much control will I have over the underlying infrastructure? What happens if the DC goes bust? As yet, no one has definite answers for the above, and it may be some time until someone does. However, what can firmly be said is that finally there are a number of cost effective robust solutions, enabling one to connect to a hosted server. And while that underlying structure remains, I am sure that the uptake in virtualisation and Cloud Computing will continue.

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