Getting Started with Amazon Web Services

Building under the Clouds of Munich

In the last few articles, I shared a few thoughts on how I think the world of IT is changing, which became the context for my good-bye to the world of physical IT altogether.

As of last week, I started working for Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a Solutions Architect, helping customers architect systems and solve technical problems using the latest cloud computing technologies. I'm very thankful to be able to work here, as it brings me back to the very center of IT innovation and gives me the opportunity to do lots of new and interesting things.

In the last weeks, I've been digging around AWS and its services, playing with stuff and meeting lots of inspiring people. So I thought I'd put together a few links for those interested in exploring the world of the AWS cloud computing platform for you to learn more about AWS:

Walking my Talk

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My Sun Badge

A while ago, I argued that the world of IT is changing, and that change is good. And that as a result of change, many people would need to change their jobs.

Well, I did it. Last Tuesday was my last working day at Oracle.

Get Ready to Change your Job

Street signs: Business as usual or the cloud?

The universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.
(Marcus Aurelius)

If you have a job in IT (and who among my readers hasn't?), then it is going to fundamentally change soon.

Why?

In my own job, I see the full spectrum from where IT innovation is created to the very last laggards who are still depending a lot on mainframes and other ancient technology. Some things in IT are new (like, every week there's a new startup/technology/trend that is shaking up the industry), and some things are just repetitions of stuff that has happened before, albeit in slightly different colors.

So now, the world of IT as we know it is changing (again) and this time, change will impact organizations, roles and jobs.

Let's dive a little bit into what's happening. Don't worry, change is good, but only if you prepare for it.

How to Avoid Your Next 12-Month Science Project

exalogic_ib_network.jpg

While most customers immediately understand how the magic of Oracle's Hybrid Columnar Compression, intelligent storage servers and flash memory make Exadata uniquely powerful against home-grown database systems, some people think that Exalogic is nothing more than a bunch of x86 servers, a storage appliance and an InfiniBand (IB) network, built into a single rack.

After all, isn't this exactly what the High Performance Computing (HPC) world has been doing for decades?

On the surface, this may be true. And some people tried exactly that: They tried to put together their own version of Exalogic, but then they discover there's a lot more to building a system than buying hardware and assembling it together. IT is not Ikea.

Why is that so? Could it be there's more going on behind the scenes than merely putting together a bunch of servers, a storage array and an InfiniBand network into a rack? Let's explore some of the special sauce that makes Exalogic unique and un-copyable, so you can save yourself from your next 6- to 12-month science project that distracts you from doing real work that adds value to your company.

The Business Value of Engineered Systems

Engineered Systems mean Business

If I had to formulate in one sentence what my job and that of my teammates is, I'd say something like:

"To show our customers the business value of Oracle's Engineered Systems"

Because at the end of the day, customers pay real money only if there's some real value they see in a solution.

And that is the problem most people in IT struggle with: How is what you do in IT related to your company's total value chain?

Most of the time, people, both those working in IT and those selling and supporting into IT departments are consumed with functions and features, tech specs, standards and other tech stuff. Worse yet: Some people look at Oracle's Engineered Systems like Exadata and Exalogic and they only see a bunch of servers in a rack, because all they know is components, servers, tech stuff.

This is dangerous terrain: Because if you can't show the business value of your IT to your company, you're going to be put on the list of cost centers to be squeezed, and budget cuts are never a good motivator for your job.

So what is the value of IT to the business? Or more specifically, what is the value of Engineered Systems for our customers' businesses?

Introducing Sparse Encrypted ZFS Pools

Sparse ZFS Pools

Ever since I've been using a Mac, I enjoy using Sparse Encrypted Disk Images for a variety of tasks, for instance securely storing data that can be backed up somewhere else, say on a hosting server.

In fact, most of my project/personal data on my Mac sits on sparse encrypted disk images that are regularly rsynced to an external storage service, Strato's in particular.

The beauty of this solution lies in it simplicity:

Sparse encrypted disk images show up just like any other hard drive. But on the back end, they translate into a bunch of flat files that store all the data in an encrypted manner. By rsyncing the backing store, sparse encrypted disk images can be easily backed up across the net, while ensuring privacy and convenience.

Here's how to do similar things with Solaris and ZFS, including some extra data integrity magic:

Three Enterprise Architecture Principles for Building Clouds

Bricks

After having gone through TOGAF training and certification, I've now caught the Enterprise Architecture bug, as you can probably tell by this article. It is a really neat way to add structure to the IT development process and to better understand what it really means to solve business problems with IT.

One of the first things TOGAF recommends architects do when establishing an Enterprise Architecture practice within a company is to formulate Architecture Principles that guide the development of solutions. During the last few workshops and during some discussions with other architects, three principles in particular struck me as being key to successfully developing a Cloud solution: