Inhabiting the Cloud – Talk-the-talk, walk-the-walk


By Alan Shanahan – Principal Technical Architect for Astadia Consulting

Alan ShanahanI’ve been a member of the Astadia team for just over 4 months and as an employee of the company I can confirm we not only talk-the-talk, we also walk-the-walk.

“What is the man on about?” I hear you chime.

Cloud technology, that’s what I’m on about.

At Astadia, we preach our cloud credentials, we make our daily Hovis on the back of the growth of cloud application usage, but this isn’t just procrastination for how you should do it, it’s also how we do it. We also “Live in the Cloud”.

Astadia prides itself as being of the top cloud implementation and integration consultancies worldwide. As the #1 partner for Salesforce.com, Eloqua, Right90, and many other top SaaS (Software as a Service) technologies, we improve customer lifecycle management in marketing, sales, and customer service – the functional areas that most companies move to the Cloud first.

As the IT Cloud Transformation (ITX) innovator, we deliver strategic analysis, operational design, technology deployment, and ongoing support for companies moving IT infrastructure or applications to the Cloud.

This isn’t just mindless marketing blurb however! To prove it let’s look a day in the life of me; Alan Shanahan. Let’s take a look at my typical day and the applications, and tools I use to get me through it. What I’m not going to do is give you reviews of each, this isn’t a sales pitch; suffice to say they’d all get high scores. What I am going to do is demonstrate just how much of Astadia’s in-house business actually runs in the cloud.

Salesforce.com – www.salesforce.com

It’s 8:30am on a Monday morning and I’ve logged into Salesforce.com, the application we use to manage our corporate leads, deals, accounts, contacts, referrals, in-house content management, in short, just about everything you need for Sales Force Automation.

At Astadia we call Salesforce ‘The App’. You want to know where a useful case study is; it will be in ‘The App’, you want to find contact details for someone’ it will be in ‘The App’. You want to have a chat with your peers; it will be in the ‘The App’, in the form of the new Chatter add-on – very nice I must say.

Astadia don’t only sell and implement Salesforce.com as part of a wider Sales Force Automation system, we also use it in-house for pretty much everything we do from a sales perspective. What’s nice is, I’m also able to access ‘The App’ via my Blackberry or iPhone, so I’m never really far from the info I need. Anyway, I’ve logged in, taken a look at some profile updates on Chatter, checked the technical spec document for the project I’m currently working on and I’m just looking up the contact details of the IT Manager I’m working with today.

OpenAir – www.openair.com

It’s now 7pm and after a pretty long and hectic day, I’m just logging into OpenAir on my Blackberry to log my timesheet for today. Astadia use OpenAir for all timesheet and expense tracking, as well as resource and project planning. Corporate-wide, it gives our management a 360 degree view of consultant utilisation, project status and a view for future planning.

Google Apps – www.google.com/apps

I’m going to presume this needs little explanation; but I’ll expound nonetheless. Email, calendars, content management, document management (Docs), project management (Sites), content management/delivery (Sites). Actually Google email has a superb spam filter and downtime is minimal.

Hootsuite – www.hootsuite.com

I use this to manage my corporate and personal Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. I’d be delighted if they added SFDC Chatter to the list of platforms they support. Then I really would have everything social media orientated in one place.

LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com

This is effectively my online CV; it’s also a lifeline for connections to former and present colleagues, and a great way to recruit. We’re constantly looking for qualified, experienced contractors so LinkedIn is a great way to look at who’s out there on the job market.

Evernote – www.evernote.com

This is my one-stop-shop for everything note-based. I composed this blog using Evernote, knowing it synced to the cloud, and is available on my work laptop (PC), my home-based Mac, my iPhone and Blackberry and even on the web. That’s a lot of backup security, and availability you couldn’t better.

Any time I get an idea, need to take a quick note or see a code snippet or tip that I need to file away, this is the place to keep it. It’s secure, you can use folders and tags for categorisation of notes, you can even email your own private, unique Evernote email address to add something to your note collection.

Roboform – www.Roboform.com

Today’s typical desk-bound worker has to manage several passwords – corporate network, email accounts, web logins, and God-only-knows how many others. Developers working on dozens of projects every year have to manage many more. This is an impossible burden without some kind of help. Roboform shoulders the burden for me, with no security fears, and it’s adaptable to many situations. If the worst case came to be, I just need to remember my master password – ONE password – and I can retrieve all my logins through the Roboform Online web site.

ReadyTalk – www.readytalk.com

A truly invaluable tool that I use to demonstrate project developments to customers, presentations, share my desktop and a great audio conference bridge. Don’t stay at home without it!

DropBox – www.dropbox.com

This is an online file storage that automatically syncs changes & handles versioning. This is a great way to have file availability across all your devices and a top class backup too.

LogMeIn – www.logmein.com

Not that I can’t do most of my work on any PC or laptop thanks to the cloud, but for those moments when you really need to access your home computer, this is a real lifesaver!

Xythos – http://www.xythos.com/xod.html

When I first joined the company everyone kept saying to me “it’s on the X Drive” and that exactly what Xythos is for Astadia. We all work remotely so just like the old server drive in the office that we all put our documents on in the old days, we’ve got the same but hosted via the Net – very nice.

What about development tools?

Of course I use other tools, desktop-bound, to carry out my day-to-day. I have to; in general, web-based equivalents of these tools don’t exist. The Eclipse IDE is a vital tool – I couldn’t write an Apex trigger without it. Similarly, the Apex Data Loader is a favourite, although rapid advances in cloud integration tools are starting to change the landscape here. MS Visio and MS Project are still in the picture, as are some other members of the Office suite from time to time (if I’m honest), but only when I need advanced functionality that doesn’t exist currently in Google Apps.

But let me ask you this – how much time do you think it would take me to recover from loss or failure of my work laptop? The real answer is that I would be productive within 1 hour of acquiring a replacement machine, and all of my data is recoverable. Why? Because a copy exists of everything I need and value IN THE CLOUD. It’s stored securely, behind an encrypted door.

Ask yourself this: How long would it take you to recover?

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5 Responses to “Inhabiting the Cloud – Talk-the-talk, walk-the-walk”


  1. 1 Manu July 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Another great post, Alan! I couldn’t have said it better myself! 🙂

  2. 2 Elena Savvides July 6, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Alan,

    I second Manu’s comments – nice post! Actually, when I first started for Astadia it took me a while to remember all the different apps we use in the cloud, but I have to say it is great being able to access my data anywhere and at anytime.

    Looking forward to your next post.

    Elena.

  3. 3 Joe Da Silva July 6, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Nice overview of working mostly in the cloud. I too long for the day I can move about from my linux, macs, phones and pcs with all the apps I need.

  4. 4 Christie Turner at Invisible Marketing July 6, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    It’s amazing how powerful these tools are. I’m a big fan of Google Apps and use them extensively in my business.

  5. 5 David Woodhead July 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Spot-on – the flexibility, ability to work anywhere, and security of this infrastructure is immense. It is what allows Astadia to do what it does efficiently and deliver great value for clients.


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