Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
Interview with Dustin Amrhein, technical evangelist for WebSphere emerging technologies
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  mydw cloud_computing cloudburst my_developerworks websphere cloud interview 2 Comments 4,467 Views
Cloud computing is only getting hotter, so I wanted to bring you an interview with Dustin Amrhein, a technical evangelist for WebSphere emerging technologies and an active member of My developerWorks contributing to the dialogue around Cloud computing.
Learn more about Dustin: Profile on My developerWorks - Blog on My developerWorks - Twitter -
Follow the latest news and join in group discussion about Cloud, at Cloud Computing Central
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I've been at IBM for nearly four years now. The first three years of my career I was a software engineer on the WebSphere Application Server product. Now I'm a technical evangelist for emerging technologies in WebSphere with a specific focus in our cloud computing technologies. My job is to make sure that our cloud computing technologies are well-known and from a technical standpoint are well-understood.
How do you see cloud computing changing the middleware landscape for developers and IT professionals?
When we talk to our customers it is truly eye opening how much time and resource they invest in configuring, deploying, and managing middleware infrastructure. The truth is that this infrastructure is just a means to the end of making their applications available for their users. Cloud computing can help to easily and efficiently manage the lifecycle of this middleware, thus allowing users to concentrate on the business value they provide in their applications.
What are some of the most common challenges that you're seeing involved with getting cloud technologies up and running in client environments?
There's always odds and ends from a technical sense that can present challenges to those implementing new solutions. However, our clients understand this and more importantly they understand that they can overcome these technical issues. The single biggest and most consistent challenge I have observed with respect to embracing cloud computing is the cultural change that is sometimes required in an organization. Cloud computing is a significantly different way at looking at the problems IT
organizations deal with, and many solutions require buy-in and participation from numerous technical factions within the enterprise. Sometimes this means teams that are not used to working together have to do just that, and sometimes it may mean redefining a group's job responsibilities. In my experience so far, these cultural challenges seem more difficult to embrace than any technical issues.
Specifically with WebSphere CloudBurst, are there any tips/hints you would offer users getting started with the appliance?
I would tell any new user of the appliance to make sure to involve the right teams very early on in the adoption process. First of all, WebSphere CloudBurst works on a "bring your own cloud" model. This allows users to leverage their existing investment in hardware, network, and storage infrastructure, but it also means that users need to define a pool of this infrastructure to the appliance. The process of defining this in the appliance is very simple, but users will probably need to work with their physical infrastructure team to determine which resources are eligible for use in the WebSphere CloudBurst cloud. Another thing to consider is that WebSphere CloudBurst gives you the opportunity to customize the operating system that will be used by the WebSphere application environments dispensed by the appliance. Users will want to involve the team responsible for operating systems to ensure that any environments dispensed by the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance adhere to all organizational policies and procedures.
[Learn more about customizing with WebSphere Cloudburst in this article series]
What has been your most memorable demo/project that you've worked on for CloudBurst?
Any time I get a chance to go and speak to our clients it is memorable because each and every time I learn quite a bit about their wants and needs and how our solutions can address some of them. That being said, there are two stories that really stick out in my mind.
The first is the story of how our own WebSphere Application Server test team has seen marked improvement in their operational environment as a result of using the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. This team adopted the appliance before it was even made public and has been using it for nearly a year now. WebSphere CloudBurst has given them many tangible benefits including decreased time spent managing operating systems, decreased deployment times, and increased hardware utilization rates. In addition, they were able to leverage existing hardware assets by simply installing VMware ESX hosts on top of existing machines, and existing software assets because when all is said and done their applications were still running in the same WebSphere Application Server container, that container just happened to be running in a virtual machine. It is also interesting to hear about how this team has been able to introduce the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance to their environment in a gradual manner. They did not rip and replace, but instead they have augmented their existing provisioning and management approach with WebSphere CloudBurst. This is a usage story that I think would be of interest to anyone thinking of adopting the appliance, and the good news is that you can hear more about it at IBM Impact 2010.
In addition to this story, there is the story of a very large insurance company that was really impressed with the maintenance capabilities of WebSphere CloudBurst. This company was not satisfied with their process for applying fixes to their WebSphere Application Server installations. The process was human-driven, had to occur in the middle of the night, and simply took too long. Using the appliance they were able to schedule and automate the application of fixes to their WebSphere Application Server environments, and they reduced the time to install these fixes from approximately 30 minutes down to about 4 minutes. Needless to say, they were very happy with the results.
You keep up many sources for WebSphere - blog, space, group, twitter, and youtube channel to name a few.... what's your secret in keeping so many many sources of information going?
Our team works hard at sharing as much information as we can about what's going on in WebSphere. I think the reason we have been able to keep our drumbeat going with so many sources is simple. We are all genuinely excited about the technical and business value that the WebSphere portfolio has to offer, and we are eager to share this information with as many people as possible. We all want to make users understand why to choose WebSphere offerings, and once they have chosen one of our offerings, we want to arm them with as much technical information as possible so the time-to-value is significantly accelerated.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
From a website perspective, besides the ones our team maintains, I follow some other IBM sites like the Cloud Computing space on developerWorks. I also follow The Server Side, InfoQ, and technology sections on Digg. I read lots of blogs, and I have found the easiest place to find a wide collection of blogs from many different authors is Ulitzer. I like just about all of the Twitter accounts I follow because I appreciate the wide variety of ideas and opinions that are ever present.
Are you a gadget person? Any gadget that you currently own that you can't live without?
Actually, I'm not too much of a gadget person. I will say though that I've slowly become addicted to my iPhone, and I would have a hard time getting by without it, especially when traveling!
How do you use developerWorks?
I use developerWorks to spread technical information about WebSphere's cloud offerings through both my blog and articles. Lately, I've been using the new community features of developerWorks to expand my community network and interact even more directly with our users.
- Thanks Dustin!