Tech Smorgasbord #4

An on-going reference series for interesting technology or projects which deserve further investigation, or for technical documentation (of one media format or another) that looks to be especially good reference material.

Duarte Diagrammer

Nancy Duarte and her firm Duarte, Inc. specialize in helping people communicate better through more effective presentations. She’s probably best known for the book Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations which is frequently recommended to both novice and more seasoned public speakers.

Duarte Diagrammer is “a visualization system” that provides ~4,000 customizable diagrams to illustrate relationships, hierarchy, and process, with all of these diagrams being available to download as Microsoft PowerPoint files. The site has a very easy and simple interface for browsing the diagrams through categories such as Flow, Join, Network, Segment, and Stack, and then specifying further by style and number of nodes.

The only downside is that each diagram is a separate file to download, and there doesn’t appear to be any consolidated or collected files for groups of related diagrams.  This minor quibble aside, this is a fantastic resource for anyone creating or delivering presentations.

CloudBolt Command and Control (C2)

CloudBolt are billing their product as a “next-generation Cloud Manager” capable of managing and automating the entire breadth of an enterprise infrastructure including virtual environments, physical components, and multiple/hybrid cloud options. CloudBolt are trying to appeal directly to the business, and not (just) to the techies, by highlighting an IT self-service catalog and portal, chargeback and showback cost accounting, software license management, a Cloud Supply Chain Validator, and a rapid time-to-value (20 minute installs and an interface so simple and intuitive that advanced skills and professional services are unnecessary).

The marketing claims that CloudBolt C2 supports and integrates with

  • multiple hypervisors: VMware vSphere, KVM, XenServer (but not Hyper-V, interestingly)
  • multiple cloud platforms: Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure,Verizon Terremark, Google Compute Engine, OpenStack, and Nebula
  • multiple configuration management tools: Puppet, Chef, Infoblox, ServiceNow, etc.
  • multiple provisioning technologies: HP server automation, Cobbler, IPMI
  • multiple orchestration products: VMware vCloud Orchestration (sic), HP Operations Orchestrations

Like several other products I’ve come across lately, the CloudBolt website is very light on technical details or content, and while their benefits white paper says “we have made C2 Virtualization Edition freely downloadable, and included a no-cost license to manage up to 100 VMs,” this edition does require request approval before download access is actually granted. (I’ve just submitted a request and am now waiting for approval.)

On the plus side, Gartner has apparently included them in its “2014 Cool Vendor in Cloud Management” report, and educational software powerhouse Blackboard is providing a public reference for CloudBolt (though only a Proof of Concept is specifically mentioned).

Jonathan Frappier has already started documenting his experiences with CloudBolt C2 with two articles available now, and hopefully even more on the way.

How I Taught Myself to Code in 8 Weeks

I’m quite far from being a software developer, but the need for even the staunchest of infrastructure admins and engineers to learn skills typically associated with development is quickly gaining steam. We see it in the growing DevOps movement, the expanding usage and sophistication of automation and orchestration tools, and in the emphasis on programmability and related familiarity with scripting languages included in the marketing tsunami that is Software-Defined Everything.

In this article David Sinsky does a good job laying out a plan to go from near-zero software development experience to producing a working application prototype in eight weekends. Clearly, you won’t become a professional software engineer in this amount of time, but you can rapidly increase yourskillset to the point of usefulness within that span, as David tries to show. Chock full of useful links, this is both a good collection of resources to bookmark and a good plan for learning programing – or at least a good plan for learning Python and Django.



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