Podcast: Kuan Hon – Cloud & The Law

Please be under no illusions. This latest podcast is a big deal. It’s also a bit of a coup. Tackling difficult topics in Cloud from a vendor neutral perspective is always hard. This podcast takes one of the most difficult topics that can sometimes cause Cloud ambition to stumble, and addresses it as best we can in the short format I bring you weekly.

Nobody likes wondering whats in your average sausage never mind talking about it, well in much the same vein nobody really likes talking about Cloud and the law, no matter where you are globally this affects you directly and is another reason why you should be listening in to my shows, if you aren’t already.

So joining us today is Kuan Hon from Queen Mary University in London. Getting her on a podcast was a dream come true, I’ve read her papers and her analysis and views on Cloud and law for so long now and she’s a heavyweight who knows her topics inside and out. A qualified attorney in the US and solicitor in the UK shes taken time out to go and do her PhD and also write a great blog, speak at events (including Defcon) and to carve out a reputation as the eminent goto person on everything Cloud and law.

Do take time out to visit her blog and also vist the QMUL Cloud portal to read some of her published papers that just further add credence to her ability and reputation – and also demonstrate why I worked hard to get her on a podcast to talk to you. From the House of Commons to Microsoft, from Forbes to the European Union, Kuan is taken very seriously as a voice of legal common sense and authority. Her papers both in her own right and as a co-contributor continue to shape and influence the ability of law to pervade Cloud sensibly and with clarity. You can read selected papers shes written on every aspect of Cloud law and contract law within Cloud by visiting this link.

It has taken walking over broken glass to get it out the door, recorded in the offices of Red Hat in London a month ago this podcast has been through legal review and internal review at Red Hat to get it out the door. My public thanks go to Michael Cunningham Chief Legal Counsel at Red Hat and to his team and to David Perry especially for taking time out of his diary to work with me to get this to release.

Remember: This podcast is two geeks talking, it does not constitute in any way any legal advice. You should always consult your attorney or company legal counsel before taking any action that potentially impacts you or your data, your company data or assets at risk by way of contract or exposure. However, at least with this podcast you know where to go to ask the right questions.

Enjoy the podcast – come back next week for more great content. For now I’m taking a few days off to celebrate with my wife and family the second birthday of our eldest son Christopher so I’m going to leave you with this podcast and disappear into the ether.

Download the podcast here in MP3 format only

Podcast: John Mark Walker – Mr Gluster

jmw_rmThis is a totally kickass podcast. If you don’t download and listen you’re missing a trick.

John Mark and I sat down and talked Gluster 3.4, Cloud, virtualisation, Samba, storage, community – putting the world to rights with a microphone.

Now heres why you should NOT miss this podcast, this is two old men of Open Source who have been doing this for about as long as the term Open Source has been coined. Every podcast we do gets thousands of downloads and always gets favourable re-tweets. We have a LOT of fun whenever we record together and I am sure this comes across with the intensity of the discussions that we then lay down for broadcast.

John Mark and I are the two original “Grumpy Old Men” of the Linux community who are both equally passionate about the cause and the entire success of the Open Source movement. This is a slightly longer podcast than we’d usually release however it’s also one of the most important I’ve broadcast.

Remember if you listen via iTunes or Stitcher – SUBSCRIBE – if you like the podcast – tell people, tweet it, spread the word. I record this stuff for you and I know judging by the feedback and the download figures that the message IS getting out.

Download and listen now. Hope the enjoyment we had recording this comes across and is both informative as well putting a smile on the face of even the most earnest techie / geek.

Download the podcast here in MP3 format only

Value Added Services – Build out to Cloud

Last week I described how in the mid 90’s I’d first started out in Channel sales and how I’d used that later experience to build a multi million pound revenue stream of my own through “emulating” the success story at Sage Software who had built a billion pound success story out of hard work and sensible business planning.

The computer industry at the reseller tier and especially the small to medium reseller level has changed beyond comprehension since the mid 1990s. Talk to any reseller who in the mid 1990s dealt direct with the end user SME or entry level enterprise making their first steps in providing services and network technologies. The emergence of Microsoft Small Business Server, Microsoft BackOffice and the crucial evolution of Netware 3.x to 4.0 and the realisation that IPX was replaced by the ubiquitous IP routing protocol.

Customers became more savvy, Dell and HP then became core gamechangers in their own right, HP with the acquisition of Compaq who had hoovered up DEC and Dell with their blossoming empire now emerging to take in servers, desktops, laptops and even printer technologies and all the consumables but with one major difference to ever before. Both allowed customers to buy direct, cutting out the reseller channel. Customers were able to order hardware themselves direct, no longer would customers rely on the reseller for end to end service management for their granular needs, they could go direct and get the hardware and start racking stacking, deploying and patching their own environments. This removed a major revenue stream from the reseller community whose traditional revenue stream had relied on the ability to deal with the Ingram Micro’s, the MicroPeripherals, the Northambers of the IT channel to buy hardware and associated software licences such as Netware, SCO and originally the Microsoft licences that were needed to provide the file and print operating system that bore the brunt of the workloads in the time before technologies initially such as PPTP and then IPSec allowed us to tie offices together over first dedicated connectivity and then the internet in its infancy inheriting the role as carrier of choice.

But there was another game changer, Linux.

Linux gave the ability to start deploying not just server technology but also embedded technologies based on Linux. Look at Barracuda, look at Fortinet, SmoothWall, Riverbed, all specialist niche vendors of hardware and software whose UTM devices take the power of Linux and use it often as a network boundary device, firewall, spam and mail filtering, and security enforcing functionality all developed around Red Hat based technologies.

Linux did something more important. It empowered individuals and talented resellers to start realising there was a new revenue opportunity to kickstart their business generation as Linux became a defacto standard for web workloads, and this continues where resellers are now able to be centres of excellence working with customers and the upstream channel to provide real world solutions that are engineered on a bespoke basis to deliver massive functionality.

Never more so is that more true in Cloud and virtualisation. Customers are capable, Linux and Open Source allows them to skill up, be more aware than ever that they can do a huge amount more now they can get under the bonnet to modify and reprovision but there is always room for the value added reseller with ambition.

From security and identity access management through to specialist audit and security advice around Cloud, application lifecycle management, JBoss development and certification, big data / unstructured data and GlusterFS, RHEL and RHEV. In a climate of change, economists talk about the emergence of green shoots of recovery, basic baseline growth and recovery in the IT sector. It’s fundamental that people start to realise that many of the resellers who have been working with Red Hat over the last four challenging years have seen consistent business growth, supported and promoted by a partner who cares passionately about their ability to succeed and innovate.

Cloud gives a reseller a new challenge, if they don’t grab it what will happen is that they in the long term will suffer more erosion both on margins and ability to compete and grow. The alternative is to talk with passion and authority about Cloud and to be supported by a market leader with a proven stack.

There has never been a better time to start thinking about business change, innovation is alive and well and wearing a red fedora. If you want to know more reach out to me directly or speak to your local Red Hat staff and we can continue the conversation.

It’s time to start thinking out the box more than ever before. The next five years of your business evolution relies on being able to innovate, to develop and promote services and solutions that offer flexibility to your staff and your customers. Inertia is the key, having a story to tell helps, we’re here to back you to the hilt. For another reason to take us seriously read what Marco Bill Peters has had to say about our innovation piece. Might be the most important link you read today.

Let’s talk business.

Influencing the growth of Channel in Cloud

Since the late 1990s I’ve been working intently on trying to buck a trend. A trend that saw a lot of the larger IT vendors going direct or hiding behind large distributors who didn’t themselves offer a huge value add to the lifeblood of computing – the reseller channel.

Many of you who read this blog, or get it emailed to you every day know me of old.  A percentage of you took a gamble or a hunch and bet on me in 1999/2000 onwards and became SmoothWall resellers, joining the three tier platform I invented on the back of a fag packet based entirely on hard done research in the channel. I remember when I suggested a three tiered reseller platform to my fellow directors with a minimum buy in level from resellers they thought I was mad but I needed to add value and perceived ranking and I needed a global partner network I could rely on for growth in areas where representation was low or non existent. It also gave me the ability to grow my company, conceived and started in my back bedroom, as a global player with world reach.

However that is exactly where my own ability to take praise stops. Everything I’ve ever learnt or understood about the channel and reseller partner growth and evolution I owe to one man I’ve never spoken to or met in person, but who I studied intently and who I worked for/with indirectly as one of his partners. He’s never really understood or given the credibility in the market he deserves yet he did more for British IT than many will ever realise and he changed my life and my ability to push and promote the goods and services I was creating. I’ve never stopped learning from his capabilities and vision and sharing some of his story with you today will take you to the next level of where I want to see the IT SME servicing reseller and partner channel start to re-invent themselves.

Graham Wylie is the chap I’m talking about. He was one of the founders of Sage Software in my part of the world, the North East of England. So there was an added reason for me listening to him straight off the bat there. Graham, like my mother, went to Newcastle University and wrote what would become Sage Line 50 originally launched for CP/M on the Amstrad and later on PC. I was a huge 4GL nut and after leaving Uni used to write and develop stuff for Sage Line50 and Line100 selling to accountants all over the UK but predominantly in North London. From 1981 to 2003 Graham and his fellow directors grew the company taking it public in 1989 and exceeding revenues of over £1bn before he retired in 2003 with a shareholding of £146m banked. An astute cookie. Graham is now chairman and founder of TSG sitting alongside someone else I look up to (as a Sunderland supporter) David Stonehouse, all still based in Tyne and Wear.

Graham’s brainchild was to realise that Sage were good at one core thing. Writing software. Selling direct wasn’t really sensible and had higher cost of sales so he came up with the Accountants Club to grow the company organically, before acquisitions and mergers became the norm. Accountants Club had the basis of a channel in IT parlance of small to medium sized IT service organisations  and accountants who signed up to a tiered approach to selling and themselves having the ability to modify the then underlying 4GL (pre Windows) basis for the Sage Line 50 and Sovereign (pre Line100) products and the approach worked. The organic reach of the Accountants Club meant that the relationships between the companies and accounts products to companies and bookkeepers alike for everything from bill of materials to sales order processing and invoicing meant Sage became the de-facto go to standard and revenues rolled in.

Graham Wylie with aplomb and flair and a canny sense of capability had created a posterchild example of how you grow organically, profitably whilst looking after with a duty of care the needs of the people in his employ but also in the first national then international company he had created in the form of that valuable and intrinsic reseller community. So in 2000 when I was looking at a way of combatting Lawrence and our lack of experience at running a sales organisation to cope with the massive demand we had I did what I knew. I sat down and worked out how Graham did it, something I’d seen first hand in the mid 1990s. Creating on the back of it the drive and focus that became the initial and original SmoothWall reseller community globally – a programme that still generates multi million dollar revenues today and has a massive reseller focus worldwide.

I’ve never stopped learning from Graham Wylie – and I take the same approach he did now to Cloud working with resellers to arm them with the ability to get the understanding and core extensibility and value added capabilities to begin assisting companies get the best out of their opportunity in Cloud and virtualisation.

Over the next two weeks I’m going to be writing about what I think the IT reseller community and service provider community could and should be doing better, how I am intent on changing things to empower them with the power of Red Hat and our reseller and partner channel and to try and inspire new resellers looking for revenue opportunities to give them the correct approach to working with us to build organically strong successful partnerships.

Podcast – CaptainKVM himself – Jon Benedict

I recorded a podcast last week with the ultracool talent that is Mr Jon Benedict, CaptainKVM himself.

This was another of my practical theory tests on how to record a podcast with someone on the other side of The Atlantic. The problem of course being not making it sound like a Skype call (which it isn’t) and trying also to master it to make sure they sound as local as possible so I can then release it for you guys to listen to.

Jon works for NetApp. NetApp work very closely with Red Hat around KVM and around RHEV, their cool project Flexclone really is something else, read Carlos Alverez’s cool paper here for more info.

As well as being NetApps guy in North Carolina on everything virtualisation, Jon also is a board director of oVirt which Red Hat commits so much to. He’s also an ex Red Hatter.

In the podcast we talk tech about FlexClone, about oVirt, RHEV and the community and board of oVirt and how much goodness it brings to the whole virtualisation arena.

If you’re interested in virtualisation management, provisioning, live staging and all the niceties that you take for granted then this is the podcast for you.

Thanks to Jon for being another guinea pig in the whole Podcast experiment – so far so good, approaching 5250 downloads as I type this story so thats got to be a positive before I even set up an RSS feed or launch on iTunes.

  Download this podcast here in MP3 format or OGG format