Friday, 31 October 2008

Who is the cloud for?

Cloud computing is being hyped out of it's socks at the moment. Microsoft being the latest to enter the fray with the launch, or at least preview of, Azure Services Platform. On the face of it the case is compelling, but I'm left wondering if many companies are actually going to make the jump.

Tech startups are an obvious customer for this. My own experience with a simple Rails app I developed (to better manage our employee absence records) and wanted hosting bears this out.

I know next to nothing about linux and setting up and environment to host Rails. I signed up for an account with and my application was running and hosted with the hour. All for $1 a day.

A startup has zero legacy and puts a premium on time saving over anything else so it can focus on delivering it's new product/service to market. I look at Esendex and think that we've probably past the point where it's beneficial.

We, like many companies, have already invested in the infrastructure and personnel to support our IT requirements. Moving to a new infrastructure with less control and lower SLAs (Amazon offer 99.95%) than we're used to doesn't seem to make business sense.

Take a larger organisation than Esendex and the case seems less compelling.

Maybe it's the control freak in me, but I couldn't imagine twiddling our thumbs waiting for our service to come while Amazon resolved an outage.

I suspect there may be elements of cloud computing that we may find use for, archive storage strikes me as one possibility, but a wholesale migration is certainly not on the cards.

So if only startups and new projects are going to use the cloud, is there enough business to go round?

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Apple seem a little unfair

Just received notification that my MacBook Pro has shipped. In a weeks time I should take delivery of my new beauty.

Just after that I received notification that the 3 year AppleCare cover for the laptop had started, when it shipped!. I lose a week of cover.

That seems a little unfair to me.

And another thing. Take a look at this order status page. Given today's date is the 22nd October, they seem to be able to see into the future as well.

Maybe I'm just crotchety because I'm waiting.

Friday, 17 October 2008

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Outputting a calendar without a gem

Had some fun yesterday with an application I've been working on to track employee absences. One of the requirements we identified was to publish a calendar that could be viewed in Outlook, iCal, etc, showing who was off and when.

As I was using Ruby and Rails, my first thought was to use a gem. I found this one iCalendar — Internet calendaring, Ruby style and was soon publishing the calendar. Marvelous, well not quite.

After giving up trying to setup an internal Linux server to host this application I've been trying As this was a test project I didn't want to take resources away from the our Ops team, big mistake.

Morph seems really easy to use, I love the batched release process with capistrano, however there was a problem. They don't have the iCalendar gem.

Again this is as much a test project as anything so it seemed over the top to try and get them to host it. It occurred to me that I could use an ActionView template to achieve the same thing.

Here it is:

<% @absences.each do |absence| %>BEGIN:VEVENT
DTSTART:<%= absence.starts_at.to_datetime.strftime '%Y%m%dT%H%M%S' %>
DTEND:<%= absence.ends_at.to_datetime.strftime '%Y%m%dT%H%M%S' %>
SUMMARY:<%= + ' - ' + absence.absence_type %>

The code to render the view is dead simple:

@absences = Absence.find(:all)
headers["Content-Type"] = "text/calendar"

And being Ruby on Rails, I have a nice functional test that confirms the output.

Only tinge to the cloud is that I'm having a bit of a problem getting the timezone to appear in a format that Outlook recognises, any thoughts welcome.

Friday, 10 October 2008

US Carriers finally realising how to stop SMS spam?

This cropped up in one of my feeds today. Verizon are increasing wholesale SMS charges by 3cts to around 5.5cts.

No doubt there will be uproar from the US mobile community but I say, bring it.

Charging spammers is the single most effective way of stopping them. Stop them and you'll drive acceptance and usage of useful and desirable messaging. The kind that has a real value to the recipient.