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Leaving Zaizi

After nearly a year I’ve decided to leave Zaizi and move onto other things. I’ve had a really interesting time working there and heading up the Alfresco practice. There have been some fun projects and also some great technical challenges. I’m going to be moving away from Alfresco and focusing on some other technologies.

I’d like to thank Ainga and the team for all the fun times we’ve had and also wish Zaizi all the best going forward.

From the beginning of June I’ll be doing a multitude of things. I’m currently involved in a couple of early stage startups that I’ll no doubt talk about in more detail over the coming months. My other plan is to do consulting and contracting — I need something to pay the bills. Drop me a line if you would like to discuss any opportunities.

Rob Hudson Moving On

Moving On

Cloud Computing Credit Crunch

At the recent London Cloud Camp I started thinking about the less obvious downsides to Cloud Computing and a move to a more centralised computing platform. The benefits to this approach are obvious: economies of scale, reduced capital outlay and lower barrier to entry.

What about the downsides? One of the arguments from IT departments is the explicit risk measurement that can be achieved through the outsourcing of infrastructure to the cloud. Instead of the systems team having to write risk management plans and defining how likely downtime is and how much it would cost the cloud provider offers an explicit guarantee in the form of an SLA. The management of that risk is now in the hands of the cloud provider and the company just needs to pay them their fee. Surely this is a good thing? Well, yes, to a certain extent: relying on someone else to manage your risk isn’t always the best approach. Consider the current economic crisis caused by badly managed risk. Banks were caught out because they thought there was less risk involved in lending than the reality.

The other thing that exacerbated the credit crunch was the network effect. Banks in different countries had become so intertwined, everyone had lent and borrowed money from everyone else. When banks asked for their money back it caused a chain reaction of more banks asking for their money back from each other. A cloud computing world is more interconnected and reliant on one or two providers (theoretically, these providers should be more resilient because of multiple data centres) so if something goes wrong then the damage caused is more likely to be greater than a single company’s infrastructure being compromised.

These two effects (the network effect and the bundling up of risk) are important for the future of cloud computing. Cloud providers must offer transparency and detailed SLAs that mitigate the effect of unforseen events. Companies must also realise that going on the Cloud is by no means a Silver Bullet and must take into account all the risks involved (and realise that extreme and unforseen events are more likely to cause problems than when using their own infrastructure).

Cloud Computing and Amazon Mechanical Turk

I attended the third London Cloud Camp last night at the QE II conference centre. I had a really good time and met some interesting people. One of the conversation topics was around Cloud Computing definitions: you can probably imagine the discussions over what is just the internet and what is the “cloud”. Someone mentioned Amazon Mechanical Turk the service which lets one outsource menial jobs via a Web Service API.

The history of Wolfgang von Kempelen’s Mechanical Turk

The history of Wolfgang von Kempelen’s Mechanical Turk

This got me thinking, if you look at someone like George Reese’s definition of a Cloud Service Mechanical Turk meets all the criteria. I’d add scalable as another criteria that a service has to meet do be defined as in/on the cloud and Mechanical Turk does this.

Why does this matter? What people seem to miss when trying  to define Cloud Computing is that it doesn’t matter how the service is implemented! And that is the whole point of the paradigm. For all we know Amazon EC2 could be run by a team of monkeys typing on keyboards or using abacuses. The beauty of Cloud Services is we don’t need to know how they are implemented, just how we interact with them.

When you’re trying to explain Cloud Computing just remember Amazon Mechanical Turk!

Hip Operation

On Friday I had my operation. It went went well, although I was in surgery for two hours and caused a bit of a kerfuffle in the recovery room (more on that later). So what exactly was up with my hip? As suspected, confirmed and (hopefully) fixed by my surgeon I had Femoralacetabular Impingement or FAI. This is caused by a deformity in the femoral head (ball) of the hip joint called a Cam impingement. This deformity caused a tear in the hip cartilage (it turns out the tear was quite large) which had been giving me problems for over two years.

The Treatment

I won’t dwell on this too much but it is quite interesting. The treatment is known as a hip arthroscopy, which means going inside the hip joint with a camera. To achieve this the hip joint has to be semi-dislocated, which is done using traction. Three incisions are then made to allow a camera and instruments to be inserted. I’m not sure exactly how they fixed the tear in the cartilage but I can imagine how they removed the Cam deformity!


Wounds - one still covered up

The Aftermath

I woke up in the recovery room after the operation in quite a lot of pain. I was dreaming and it was all a bit of a blur. I remember trying to turn on my left side to try to stop the pain which caused a few problems because I was attached by several wires (blood pressure and heart monitoring). This caused a bit of a kerfuffle and I felt quite embarrassed when I became finally with it. The nurse gave me some pain killers but they didn’t seem to have any effect so I had quite a lot of morphine. This did help, although I didn’t receive the wave of relief you see in the movies (just a dulling of the pain). They also have to inject other stuff into you to stop you being sick. At some point the surgeon came in and said that the operation had been a success. I realised I’d been in surgery for two hours which is longer than I expected. The nurse I was with was quite chatty and went to get me some water. I think she meant for me to only have a sip but I drank it all straight away (I was quite dehydrated as you cannot drink or eat for 6 hours before the operation). Thankfully I wasn’t sick! After about an hour in recovery I was well enough to leave and got wheeled back to the ward. The hospital bed wasn’t big enough and the porter still had a bit to learn — several times my right leg almost hit things on the way and then he smacked the bed into something whilst parking me. I spent a couple more hours on the ward sleeping and then was able to go home.

Hopefully my hip will now have free movement and I can start playing sport again. For the moment I’m doing physio exercises to try and get it moving again (currently I’m unable to get one of my socks on and off again, which is annoying). I’m managing to walk without crutches but getting in and out of bed and that sort of things is a little bit troublesome. It’s quite a weird feeling — effectively teaching my leg to do things again.

I’ll post more on what I’ve been up to since the op and also some of the things that I think the NHS could improve.

Tom’s Blog and other things

Another of my friends has joined the world of blogging. Tom has decided to start posting about his current business ideas (checkout the photos of his new workshop, too cool for school). I’ve decided I’ll start doing this along with continuing to twitter about them.

A few other things I need to cover. I’m having an operation on my hip next week which I’m going to try to blog about in more detail. I promise not to post any photos! I’ll be laid up at my parents in Sunny Berkshire for a week or so; if anyone’s about then feel free to drop me a line.

Before the operation I plan to redo my wordpress theme and start putting some photos in my posts to make them a little bit more exciting. I’ve got a couple of hectic days coming up Thursday I’m going to OpenSoho and potentially some other things. Friday I’m off to Minibar and then meeting up with a couple of guys I used to work with. Look forward to seeing you if you’re at either event.