Monthly Archives: February 2012

Cutting Class

The SaaS Engineering class officially began on Monday. The first weeks assignment 10 video lectures, averaging 10 minutes and 2 Chapters from the textbook. Thankfully NO assignments or quizzes – YET – those start next week. First impressions: the book seems solid but I have not yet become an e-reader fan. The video lectures have suffered and only one has not required at least 2 restarts to get through. It is not surprising with 60,000 people or so accessing the site.

The review of Agile development vs. legacy or Waterfall development helped. I have only a few months experience with Agile processes. One of the points made was that using Ruby, the rich tool development tool set and Agile methods, SaaS providers can deliver changes every 2 weeks. My immediate reaction was BS. My long experience with SAP and corporate IT says that changes at that frequency will not be accepted. Given a day to reflect, I’m less definite. I can see room for minor tweaks and bug fixes being quite possible when most of the code resides in the cloud. Changes to core processes and calculations for running the business still will require a more deliberate schedule with business testing and sign off required.

I experienced another “Homer Simpson” d’oh moment. In the lecture introducing the concept of cloud services the example of Farmville resonated. Four days after Farmville was introduced there were 1 million users. In 9 months there were 75 million. If Zynga was using in-house computers, the delivery trucks would have been a non-ending line to keep up with demand. Instead the Amazon EC2 cloud scaled easily with demand.

And a final thought for this post. The book contained a profile of John McCarthy, inventor of Lisp. The profile included this quote:

If computers of the kind I have advocated become the computers of the future, then computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility …The computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry. John McCarthy, at MIT centennial celebration in 1961

Patterson, David; Fox, Armando (2012-01-12). Engineering Long-Lasting Software: An Agile Approach Using SaaS and Cloud Computing, Alpha Edition (Kindle Locations 590-592). Strawberry Canyon LLC. Kindle Edition.

That my friends is a visionary statement.

If you know where I can grab a Cliff Notes version for this class, it would be awesome!

PS Also cool, when you cut and paste from the Kindle page, the reference information comes with it — keeps it legal, I like that.


School Supplies

(The first post documenting my experience with the online class Software Engineering for Software as a Service)

This was not like a trip to Wal-mart for pencils, binders, and pens. The first step was to create an Amazon Web Server account for the virtual machine. That part of the process was too easy. Basically with your existing Amazon account you can create the AWS account and be logged into a running instance within minutes. There is an additional security phone call to input a PIN to verify the account creation.

The next thing was to download a PuTTY and configure a session using the private key I created and downloaded from AWS. My preferred Telnet/SSH client is Poderosa, but I had issues getting the key file together with login, so I went with the well-documented instructions on PuTTY usage that I found on the Web.

To clarify this free course is the same as UC Berkeley course CS 169. This will only cover the first 5 chapters of the course text. There are only 60,000+ enrolled in the class. Imagine a lecture hall the size of a football stadium.

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