Latest Publications

Key business metrics for using Cloud based services

On April 16th last, I had the opportunity to present at the National Conference on Cloud Computing and Commerce in DCU. The event was organised by Techspectations  and the Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce.

I have included a copy of my slides in this post along with an overview of the main points from my presentation. (more…)

Design for Failure is an iterative process in the Cloud

I have written this post as follow-up to an earlier post that I wrote on the Design for Failure approach when developing Cloud services. In that post; in the context of an AWS service outage in their North Virginian data centre, I discussed how Netflix and Smugmug’s approach had ensured that their services were not disrupted by this service outage. Then there was a more recent service outage in same data centre over 24th & 25th December 2012 and the Netflix service to customers was impacted. So what lessons can be drawn from this in relation to Design for Failure. I believe one of the lessons is that a good Design for Failure policy is never complete and Netflix’s response to the Christmas outage exemplifies this approach. (more…)

My takeaways from London lean kanban day

I attended the Lean Kanban day in London last Saturday (16th March) organised by the Jose Casal and the British Computer Society Agile group. The event was well organised and the range of speakers provided very interesting perspectives on the use of kanban and other lean methodologies. I am a relative novice to kanban as I have recently started to use a personal kanban board as well as implementing kanban boards in some recent projects.

My overall impression, as I tweeted, the discussions – formal and informal – throughout the day proved that kanban is not only about managing flow and throughout; but it is about so much more, when used effectively. London Lean Kanban day discussing the different uses of kanban methodology

Here are a selection of the interesting points that I took away from the event; (more…)

User stories are not just about features

Recently I attended an interesting seminar organised by Softtest Ireland and delivered by Susan Windsor on the topic of “Using Business stories to build better software”. Listening to Susan deliver her talk, I realised that, like a lot of my (cooking) recipes, I was missing some ingredients when I used user stories in my agile project work.

Firstly, lets familiarise ourselves with a common definition of user stories; where each story, written in user specific language,  describes a specific feature required in a system by describing the user role, the activity that the user is doing and the objective in doing that activity. For example, “As a Finance Manager, I wish to run a monthly aged debtor report to identify any debts that are more than 30 days old“.

At least that was my understanding. (more…)

Design for Failure is important for Cloud services

In the ongoing debate on the merits of Cloud Computing, a lot of air-time is focused on the resiliency of Cloud services and inherent performance risks. Incidents have occurred over the last few years with different Cloud Service Providers, I would like to focus on one such incident from April 2011 in Amazon’s Virginia data centre to illustrate the benefits of a ‘Design for Failure’ approach when designing applications – Cloud based or not. During this incident, a lot of service providers that were using Amazon’s Cloud services were severely impacted; but two companies were not – SmugMug and Netflix - what lessons can be learned from their design strategy. (more…)

CCIO – a catalyst for innovation in healthcare

Recently, I have participated in a regular twitter discussions hosted by EHICCIOCampaign and Handihealth on the role of the CCIO in medical  organisations. These online discussions have attracted people from both medical and technology backgrounds and provided interesting commentary. In this blog, I would like to summarise my thoughts on the role.  With the growth in the development and interest in health informatics, the CCIO role (also known as CMIO in North America) has grown in importance and I believe that it can play an important role in encouraging innovation in a medical organisation for the following reasons. (more…)

From Gingerbread to Ice-cream in one mobile step

Over the weekend, I upgraded my Galaxy S smartphone to Ice cream sandwich (or Android 4.0.3 by its official name). So my Galaxy started out as an Eclair and is now an official (ice cream) sandwich, after being a Gingerbread for a few months.

Now ‘in one step’ is a little mis-leading in that I made a few attempts using an Android 4.0 ROM and some guidance from different blogs but with little initial success. The main reason for my failed attempts was an ‘e-signature verification error‘ that prevented the full upgrade to happen.

Help was at hand in the form of a blog and an online video  from the – where detailed directions on the appropriate firmware upgrade as part of an Android 4.0 step-by-step upgrade procedure were provided.

Now I realise I’m still behind, as Jelly bean is now available with some significant accessibility features and of course the helpful videos are already online.

For the moment, I’m enjoying the ice cream.

My views on Open Data

Recently, I attended the first meetup (face-to-face) on the Open Data Ireland group, generously hosted by Eamon Leonard at Engine Yard’s Dublin office. I have been following the discussion on the Google group, but it was good to catch up with friends as well as hear the latest thinking in the area of open data.

Opendata Ireland

The meeting was very well covered in a blog post by Dominic Byrne from Fingal County Council with all of the speakers’ content and discussion points. An overview of OpenData Ireland can be found at the website – (more…)

Cloud Services are maturing – thanks to Healthcare and US Government

In my experience of working with Cloud Service Providers and rolling out successful Cloud based solutions to different business sectors, I have always regarded Cloud services as an evolution, rather than revolution.

Like good red wine, Cloud services are maturing and taking definitive steps in gaining greater acceptability. Recent coverage of the use of Cloud services in two sectors – the Government and Medical sectors; are an strong indicator in this regard. (more…)

Importance of code reviews

Irrespective of how a project is managed, when an application is released and rolled-out, there can be a nagging question as to whether the application is performing efficiently. In any project, time pressures can force corners to be cut and short-cuts to be taken. At the end of day, if the features are operational and available, things must be ok – mustn’t they ?

In projects based on agile principles, code refactoring can be included, whereby the underlying code and not the features of an application’s functionality is reviewed and updated where necessary to make improvements to how an application operates. A proper and regular code review process helps to ensure that technical debt doesn’t build up in an application.