Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In the Clouds

Last week I attended the Federal Cloud Camp in Chantilly VA. This event had over 150 people attending. It is an un-conference with people from the audience able to propose a topic for discussion. Over the five hour conference there were 5-6 five minute lightning presentations from the sponsors and then three time slots with four rooms being used = 12 presentations from the participants. Yours truly lead a session on "Failure to Launch - lessons learned from early experiences in Cloud Computing". I will post a seperate blog on that in a few days. In addition to running my session, I attended a session on Hadoop / map reduce and one on applications for the cloud.
I heard some discussion over exactly what Cloud Computing is, comparing and contrasting with SaaS, Utility computing, Grid computing, and Autonomic computing. I believe most agree that Cloud Computing has aspects of all these plus the characteristic of server transparency to the application and user.
The Hadoop session had some users who were experimenting with the technology. For example, one individual from DOD had taken 23 Playstation3 and was running map/reduce between the systems and also on each of the cell co-processors. 
During the Cloud applications session there was a lot of discussion about how to improve applications. One speaker thought having stateless applications improved portability wihile another thought that middleware could manage state transparently to the application.
My general observation is that Cloud Computing is still embryonic with a need for standards developed to allow application transparency accross Clouds provisioned by different vendors.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Pampered Pooch

Last night I joined a crowd of 18 at the Agile RTP group, which was not a bad turnout considering it was election night. We were there to participate in a "59 Minute SCRUM" facilitated by Bob Galen of RGalen Consulting Group. After a 20 minute levelset on what SCRUM is, we divided into three teams of six and elected a Product Owner and Scrum Master. The goal of the iteration release was to deliver a compelling brouchure of high quality for a Doggy Spa called the Pampered Pooch. We had a existing product backlog of approximately 20 user stories. The timeline of our iteration was as follows:
Iteration Planning - 10 Minutes
Sprint Day 1 - 10 Minutes
Daily SCRUM Meeting - 5 Minutes
Sprint Day 2 - 10 Minutes
Sprint Review - 14 Minutes
Debrief - 10 Minutes

Our team of six members had someone with a laptop and wireless access to the printer where we were meeting. While other teams were hand lettering, cutting, and pasting. We were able to produce a polished look feel. Unfortunately, the mechanics of going from several copies of rough draft to one editor caused us to log jam and not have all the content delivered on time.

So besides the fickle nature of modern technology what lessons did I learn about Agile?
1. Achieving the right tempo of working seperately and then coming together to coordinate is critical. On a real world 2-3 week sprint the daily standup may be the right tempo but I would not preclude adhoc meetings for bringing people together for a focused purpose.
2. Having a flexible Product Owner willing to change direction based on what is being discovered is very nice to have.
3. When the team gels and works well the feeling of accomplishment is terrific and exhausting.

All in all, an enjoyable evening at aRTP.