Rearview mirrors

In 1911, Ray Harroun entered a car in the inaugural Indianapolis 500 automobile race.MarmonWasp

Though primitive by today’s standards (the car averaged roughly 75 mph over the course of the 500 mile race), it was a massively controversial vehicle in its day.


Because it was the first car in history to be equipped with a rearview mirror.  This put Mr. Harroun at a considerable advantage, because his car was the only one that did not have a passenger mechanic on board.  Eliminating an onboard mechanic represented a significant weight savings, which Harroun used to his advantage, winning the race by just over half a mile.

Three years later, automobile manufacturers started putting review mirrors on cars available to the public.

Since then, racing has continued to improve the breed.  In 1961, Giotti Bizzarrini combined his engineering talent with Piero Drogo, a car body specialist.  Enbracing Kammback design, the result of their creation was a very unique looking Ferrari racing car.  The long tail section of the car minimized air resistance, allowing for higher speeds.


In 2011, Toyota introduced the first widely-available hybrid electric car, aimed at the mass market.  Look closely at the profile, and you will see echoes of the Kammback principle.  Instead of winning races, the slippery aerodynamics help the Prius compete against the wind in order to deliver more miles per gallon.


Today, there are many pieces of automotive technologies so mundane to us that we take them for granted.  Anti-lock brakes.  Disc brakes.  Rearview mirrors.  How many of us drive cars without rearview mirrors?

Step back and look at the infrastructure as a service landscape.  Private industry is our race team.  They are working constantly, pouring effort, energy, and capital into improving the breed.  We are the fortunate auto manufacturer on the receiving end of the trickle-down effect.  Technologies that we fantasized about twenty years ago are available at our fingertips.

Though cutting edge for higher education, adopting IaaS and DevOps has proven its mettle in the stiffest competition.  Let us step forward confidently and learn from our racing team, figuring out how to operationalize the use of these technologies in our environment.

And for those of you interested in learning more about technologies that we take for granted whose roots are in racing, please explore this interesting article.

AWS in Classroom

The ability to control provisioning of an entire development stack in AWS is not just a fantastic opportunity for the enterprise; it is also a great way to let students learn using infrastructure that might otherwise be prohibitively expensive and difficult to procure. Understanding this potential to facilitate learning and train a new generation of cloud-native developers, Amazon offers educational grants for use of AWS services. I started using program about a year ago for my Database Topics class in the Mendoza College of Business, and Chris Frederick is looking into it for his No-SQL/Big Data class.

It can give students complete hands on with servers/services without the issues of spinning up servers in house!

A snapshot of services are below.   The main services I have used in the RDBMS class are EC2 and RDS.   Each student was able to have their own Oracle DB instance and able to have DBA privileges to run their own DB and in that way set up users, privileges, roles which would be much more difficult to do on a shared environment.   They could then work on projects without fear of bringing down another student’s database.  One of the other projects I did in a class, with the help of Xiaojing Duan, was to set up a PHP server to show integration with Facebook.   As you can see from the list below,  there are a LOT more services available for classroom use!

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The First Step

Building on the energy of the #DevOpsND workshop, the first target of opportunity identified by the attendees on Day Two is enterprise backup.  Of all the cloud candidates discussed, transitioning from on-premises backup to Amazon Glacier represents the greatest financial opportunity with the least effort in the shortest period of time.

On Day One of the workshop, Shane Creech came up with the idea of piloting backing up our remote campus locations using the newest of Amazon’s backup offerings.  The latest addition to Amazon’s Storage Gateway product is the Virtual Tape Library.  Available as an iSCSI interface, the Virtual Tape Library is capable using S3 or Glacier as a destination.

Part of Day Two’s work saw John Pozivilko, Shane Creech, and Jaime Preciado-Beas work together to successfully pilot the Storage Gateway.  The next step is to work with Mike Anderson and the storage group to test with our existing enterprise backups software.


AWS Governance

Jason Williams and Jaime Preciado-Beas did a great job on the security assessment of our current deployment of in Amazon. As discussed in day 2 of the workshop, this document will serve as a great starting point to flesh out our governance structure with respect to AWS. Let’s use it as a guide as we deploy new projects. Governance is critical to our long term success in leveraging AWS, so we need to advance and refine it with each project. Let the projects begin!