For the past year I’ve been having a blast helping a friend of mine with a restart – a 50 year old company that should be data intensive by its very nature, but has been constrained by an increasingly antiquated app foundation.
So we decided to put the company “up on blocks”, build a fantastic new application foundation – think entirely shiny new, modern, APIs everywhere, web-centric, big data … and all cloud-enabled, of course!
We put together a small team and have been moving fast. The results are beginning to bear fruit, and I’ll be posting some more as all this goodness is unveiled.
Been learning a bit along the way, and have been greatly encouraged to see this cloud-centricity that all of us have been advocating, building, toiling and sweating over for so long works so very well in practice. No surprises in the fact that it all works, of course, but definitely a little surprise at just how compelling the economics are in practice.
It’s one thing to help others build their apps and change their companies, and another to do so in a more personal way.
Been grateful for the opportunity, and looking forward to reflecting on the lessons learned even as we press the advantage.
I’m really excited to be kicking off a four-part webinar series generally themed around Executive’s Guide to Cloud Computing.
Today’s webinar starts at 2 pm EDT / 11 am PDT, and we’ll be posting a recording soon after the completion.
There has been a significant amount of exciting news brewing in our world, and I can’t wait to share some of it in the days, weeks, and months to come. So as a bit of an initial down payment, we’re going to go have some fun on this first webinar in the new series.
We’d be honored to have you join us!
In fact, not only am I back and tearing into things, I’m more excited about this industry in general and our company in particular than just about anytime.
Not only that, but am having an enormous amount of fun … getting into the flow of all of the myriad of conversations, customer implementations, arguments, and more that have developed in the past few months, and beyond that am developing a nearly insatiable appetite for moving forward.
That may be all well and good, but a fair question would be to wonder just what am I coming back from?
Just before the middle of last year a set of discussions bore fruit, and I sat down to co-author the Executive’s Guide to Cloud Computing with Eric Marks (CEO of Agile Path). Everything lined up nicely – we had a publisher (Wiley), a clear need in the market, and something which we hoped would contribute to the development of our industry.
Through the course of the summer we made fine progress, with everything moving forward to a late fall / mid-winter publication date. My focus admittedly narrowed quite a bit (as anyone who has had the privilege to contribute to a book will readily attest) … but the end result was definitely worth the effort.
(I’ll talk more about this writing project at another time, but for now let me just say that I loved writing and hope to be doing quite a bit more in the future)
A Peculiar Turn of Events
Then something really odd happened. Without going through all the details (and some of them are strange indeed), I found myself literally lost.
<feel free to insert joke here – we certainly have!>
One moment I’m driving home from the airport, looking forward to seeing the family, catching up a bit on email etc., then working on the book some more … the next moment I’m driving down the road with no idea where I am, what I’m doing, how I got there, or perhaps most disconcerting of all, how to get home.
Then things got really strange.
Over the course of the next couple of weeks I was diagnosed with a macro pituitary adenoma – basically a good-sized non-malignant tumor right smack in the middle of my head, causing all sorts of havoc with vision, cognition, conversation, and much more.
At the advice of one of our daughter-in-laws (Rachel, a three time cancer survivor with an astonishing story of her own) we named the tumor, had a mini-celebration noting it’s arrival, and began coming up with some really bad jokes. One sample:
Man we’re really glad that all of these symptoms weren’t just in my mind … oh wait a minute, they are!
Right after that we figured out a course of treatment, made all sorts of obvious arrangements, and ran like mad to finish the book.
A New Start
Very early on Monday morning, November 23, Carol (my wife) and I headed down to Barnes-Jewish Medical Center for whatever would come next. By 7:30 I’d met more than a dozen of my newest best friends (believe me, when you meet someone whose job is to play around inside your head you’re pre-disposed towards being friendly), by 7:45 said goodbye to my family, and soon thereafter to consciousness.
The procedure itself was a real geek-fest (or so I’m told – I have only fleeting memories of the OR itself) – real-time location and targeting systems (able to track a wide variety of instruments within my head with astonishing accuracy) displaying everything on six 50″ plasma displays surrounding the operating table, a robotic inter-operative MRI that emerged from a garage part way through the procedure to see if any tumor remained to extract, and much, much more.
By 4:30 I’d come to, by 10 pm I realized that “I could see, think, & talk” (that left me so excited that I didn’t really sleep for a couple of days), and by Thursday morning (Thanksgiving in the US) I went home – tired, but deeply grateful.
Spinning Back Up
December was mostly about getting some rest, generally letting my body catch up with how good my mind felt, and enjoying all the family and friends that were coming in for the Christmas and New Year holidays. As a bonus I was unexpectedly able to travel to see one of our sons graduate from Marine Corp bootcamp (though by train rather than plane – another bonus in and of itself).
One funny and definitely unexpected “upside effect”: I felt so astonishingly great so quickly that I had a momentary flash of panic, wondering just what I’d written in the months preceding. Fortunately my fears were put to rest by re-reading the manuscript, which turned out to be in pretty good shape (needing only the usual late-stage edits).
With the new year – and a re-gifted ability to think clearly – comes much new opportunity, and I am definitely looking forward to helping our customers truly take advantage of all that this transition to cloud computing has to offer, re-joining industry-wide discussions in all forms, and (of course) helping Appistry continue to deliver the most complete, useful cloud application platform extant (yes I know I’m biased, but I’ll happily argue that is so with good reason … preferably over a couple of fine craft brews).
The timing with the book is pretty good – Wiley is planning on releasing it (both physically and electronically) on April 12 – and much of my upcoming work will include stuff related to Exec’s Guide.
So please forgive me if I’ve either been very obtuse, perhaps a bit contrary, or simply slow to respond … in many ways this is truly a new start, and both personally and professionally it would be hard to be more excited.
Here’s to a fantastic 2010 and beyond!
There is much more to this story. In particular faith is very important to us. As one of the uber-intellects in human history (St. Thomas Aquinas) was fond of saying “grace builds on nature”. In other words, everything was all of one piece – the great doctors at the top of their game, a fine medical institution providing them the context in which to work, and the prayerful support of family and friends. I’ll post more on this stuff (someday, someday) at my personal blog http://www.hopeitis.com.
Now that the bulk of the writing is winding down on the cloud book, I’m really happy to turn some attention to this blog (among many other things, most – like this – neglected far too much for far too long).
For all sorts of reasons we (Appistry) decided to move individual blogs away from the company umbrella. Sam Charrington will explain things fairly soon (though not yet), and I’ll point to that once posted.
But I guess the whole self-organizational roots run very deep in our collective culture, so most of us have already gotten started.
As you may have surmised this is my new blogging home, and more or less like moving into a new home there’s a lot of excitement, most of my stuff is in the new place, but with one practical problem …
… it’s mostly all still in boxes.
Oh well, enough is unpacked to get started
In the weeks and months to come I intend to be far more active in this space, covering a wide range of topics – from the latest in cloud computing technologies, competition, and most importantly to all of us in the business, real use cases, to speculation on what’s possible and perhaps what’s slowing progress.
Right now I think I’ll pay particular attention to the profound business implications of this whole transformation. Of course, along those lines I’ll also explore certain topics covered in the cloud book in more detail, perhaps examining topics from angles not yet considered, or considering developments in light of the principles laid down in the book.
I think I’ll go ahead and host the microsite for the book in this domain as well, but that’s still a month or so out.
One Last Thing
If you like what you see and it’s worth your time, please pass it along. If you think I’m “on crack” and would be better off doing … well just about anything else, as long as it doesn’t involve computers … then let’s buy a beer and begin arguing.
But no matter where you come down on my particular point of view, one thing is really beyond debate – cloud computing is real, it is probably the most significant technological shift in at least a decade, and it is beginning to happen fairly broadly right now, even as we sit here and cogitate.
So to paraphrase one of my all-time favorite ad tag-lines, let’s stop talking and just do it.
Photo of the first day of moving into the new house courtesy of Maria Neels, © 2008. “Just Do It” a registered trademark of Nike.