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New Blog Updated: Selaenergy.com

September 1st, 2010 Comments off

Its been a busy summer here at Silicon Spark, and the blog has been sorely neglected! We did some work for a cool solar energy company, Sela Energy. The main website already existed, but the blog on the site needed some help. The main site is HTML, but the blog is WordPress.

First we needed to upgrade wordpress to the latest version, 3.0.1.

Next we styled the website, added widgets including a new photo gallery widget called Cincopa Gallery Widget. Sela Energy had been putting together blog posts with lots of pictures and the formatting was pretty difficult. This new widget makes it easy to upload, create a custom screenshot gallery feel and embed into the post. For a client that isn’t too HTML savvy, its an ideal solution – and even for those who are, its a great timesaver!

We also added TwiBadge, one of my favorites to embed twitter into your blog. (Its even on this site!) Since Twitter and Facebook are something the CEO wants to focus on to build community, we also embeded TweetMeme and Facebook Share into the blog post itself. In order to make it easier on the eye, however, we wanted to make it stacked. This seems to be quite a challenge. There is one forum trail that put us on the right path here: http://wordpress.org/support/topic/aligning-tweetmeme-and-facebook-share-button. Reality is though it only took us part of the way. Ultimately the styling in the respective widgets that worked for us was:

Tweetmeme: float: left; margin-right: 10px;
Facebook Share: clear: left; bottom:-70px; float: left; margin-bottom:150px; margin-top:10px; margin-right: -52px; margin-left:10px; position: relative;

Finally, the navigation on the main site was done in Flash. In order to better embed the site navigation, we edited the flash file to have the blog on the main navigation, created a custom blog theme and embedded flash for navigation in both the main site as well as the blog. Overall, the blog, which the CEO had previously described as a “sore spot” in his business was transformed into “something he is proud of.” Check it out:

Categories: Software, Website Design Tags:

New website: TomcatExpert.com

March 16th, 2010 Comments off

Once again, we have had the opportunity to be involved in a really cool (and open source!) project. SpringSource approached me a few months ago to help build out a new community on behalf of the Apache Tomcat community.

The Enterprise Tomcat Community

The Enterprise Tomcat Community

The site launched this morning, along with a press release by SpringSource. This was an interesting project for many reasons.

First of all, sheer impact on the size of the potential community.  Apache Tomcat is the world’s most widely used Java application server, powering at least 75% of all java-based websites. With more than two-thirds of large enterprises relying on java applications to power their business, including more than 400 out of the Fortune 500, there is constant pressure to provide infrastructure that is cost-effective, and easily supportable. Certainly with such immense popularity for Tomcat in any enterprise, there is domain expertise in the market.  However there lacks any single source to consolidate that information specifically for enterprise users.

This brings me to the second point, of how to build a community that isn’t duplicated and isn’t technically “owned” by the project itself. The tomcat.apache.org site offers a wealth of documentation and open mailing lists, and is currently the best source for general information on Apache Tomcat. Our goal is to create a complimentary community for the enterprise class users, who rely on Apache Tomcat to power their business, with information, advice and discussions from experts who are experienced at deploying applications at scale with minimal downtime.

In order to effectively build out a complimentary community, it was critical to keep the community neutral as well as not duplicate any content that currently exists on the official site from the ASF. Although sponsored by SpringSource, content on the TomcatExpert.com site is managed by a team of Apache Tomcat committers and recognized java development experts from several companies which helps to keep it neutral. Known on the site as Tomcat Expert Contributors, these experts act as a quality control board to ensure only the best information is reaching the Tomcat Expert community. Essentially, they ensure that all answers on the site are “sanitized” for the enterprise user. Additionally, the only people actually from SpringSource who are Contributors are also Committers on the Apache project, which helps to keep content very balanced between TomcatExpert.com and the ASF.

The site format for TomcatExpert.com breaks content into three sections:

  • Blog. Best practices, insights and news on the latest innovations and deployments using Apache Tomcat directly from our team of Contributors. Initial topics will include high concurrency connection pooling, a detailed series on cost justification, assessing candidates and moving applications from a commercial JEE app server to Tomcat, analysis of management and operations tools, as well as publicizing the features and thought behind Tomcat 7.
  • Knowledge Base. Published history of over 10 years of common enterprise customer support cases.from the SpringSource archive. This resource initially has about 35 articles and presentations loaded, and will continue to expand over time.
  • Ask the Expert. Forum where enterprise users submit questions to be answered directly by the Tomcat Expert Contributors. This is different from the Apache mailing lists in that the question queue is not open for anyone to answer. Only contributors, our validated Tomcat Experts, will provide the answer, so answers you get will come from a qualified expert. Comments are open for the community to weigh in, of course.

Finally, another reason to be excited by this project is that it is backed by SpringSource, which should excite users because they have both the history and reputation of making huge contributions to the Apache Tomcat project successful. SpringSource has built a business all around deploying web applications at scale and leveraging open source. A couple years ago, Spring acquired Covalent, a company that was built to be a professional support organization for Tomcat. They have over 10 years of domain expertise of deploying and supporting Apache Tomcat in enterprises of all sizes. Much of that company expertise is being poured into a public site for the first time. Additionally, SpringSource has a long history of being a principal contributor to the Apache Tomcat project, with SpringSource employees having been responsible for 95 percent of the bug fixes to Apache Tomcat in the past two years and are also currently leading the community project for Tomcat 7.0, due out this spring.

We are going to continue to build out more content and functionality to the site over the next few weeks. So stay tuned! For now however, I want to offer a huge round of congratulations to the entire team that helped bring this vision to fruition: Shannon, Linda, Joanna, Charlie, the Matts, Giorgio, Andy, Filip and Mark. It has been a great group effort. Thank you!

SpringSource + Hyperic = Better Together

May 4th, 2009 Comments off

Hi all,

This is the post I accidentally posted prematurely a couple weeks ago. Since its now relevant – I decided to repost it. Congrats to the team once again!

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SpringSource + HypericRumors have been circulating for a while now, and today it is official. I’d like to congratulate all my friends at Hyperic on this new marriage. I’d also like to offer some outsider-former-insider perspective on why I think this is a great thing for both companies.

First, a short reminder on its history. Hyperic was born from a previous company called Covalent. Covalent (v1 as we like to refer to it), simply put was formed to commoditize the Apache project. It built tools and contributed modules to Apache that helped users deploy it faster, improve reliability, and ease management of the performance of the applications running on it. This last bit was what would become Hyperic. Hyperic grew the project as a separate entity to leverage its modular architecture to cover even more technologies. More than 75 in fact, including JBoss, BEA WebLogic, MySQL, Red Hat, Microsoft technologies, VMware, Citrix XenServer and more. A few years ago, while Interface 21–the previous moniker for SpringSource–was expanding their capabilities to make Java Application development faster, more reliable and more scalable, they looked at Hyperic to embed as their management project. Working at Hyperic at the time, the Spring engineers quickly earned the respect and admiration of the Hyperic engineers. They did nothing short of an awesome job extending and improving the embedded Hyperic application for Spring. Last year, SpringSource aquired Covalent Technologies (also sometimes called v2 internally) to add its products to their portfolio – adding commercial support for Apache and Tomcat in the process. An aquisition that has been met with resounding success from Spring’s customers and the Apache and Tomcat projects as well.

With this in mind, here are the top 5 reasons why I think this new arrangement for Hyperic and Spring is good for all.

  1. Java. At its core, Hyperic is a java application. I haven’t seen a code audit recently, but would guess its 95% java. A lot of the projects such as Hibernate, ehCache and others that Hyperic uses, Spring has tremendous depth in and will help the Hyperic application grow. While Hyperic supports lots of technologies well, including .NET, I would guess that 80% of Hyperic’s install base uses it to manage Java. They may manage more than Java as well, but 80% of them have Java applications under management with Hyperic. Spring, while definitely a Java company has also been having big success in .NET and other environments. I think this will ensure that the Java interoperability in the overall data center will be more secure, stable and faster to develop and deploy and that Hyperic’s coverage and capabilities will only expand.
  2. People. Between working with the Spring engineers on the OEM project, and the Covalent folks on the original Hyperic project, there really isn’t a better marriage out there for Hyperic to hit the ground running and develop really cool products fast. At Siebel, I went through several aquisitions. They were long and painful, mostly because whole new groups of people were inserted into a product development team that didn’t understand the core technologies. Not so here at all. Also, worth noting, all of Hyperic will stay intact in engineering, sales and support. Javier included, and in fact – he’s going to get back to working on product, and that dude has a lot of pent up creativity he is about to unleash. This will be good.
  3. Open Source. Building on the previous statement, a lot of the core dependencies for the project are based in open source. These components, like MySQL, Tomcat, Hibernate and others have a wide pool of talent in the marketplace already. Sure, the specific applications may be slightly different, but there is a lot of shared knowledge here, so it usually isn’t too hard to get anyone not familiar with the project familiar quickly. I assume its the same for the other Spring products as well.
  4. Groovy and Grails. Hyperic added some new functionality about a year ago to do live scripting and integration using Groovy. Our engineers loved it. So did Hyperic users. In fact, they’re regularly asking when Hyperic is going to provide native management for Groovy. Groovy is growing amazing popularity in the cloud, and Hyperic has been focused on this area for a while now. Spring bought the Groovy company a year and a half ago. While likely not the intent to just marry Groovy and Hyperic, I think that it makes the likelihood that Hyperic plays even better with Groovy soon.
  5. Money. Two years ago, I cringed while watching Javier be interviewed at JavaOne by Cote. I cringed at the part where Javier was saying that Hyperic is the cash register of open source. I shouldn’t have cringed. It was true. Open Source companies are making money for the most part by selling either two things – better manageability and predictability of their software, or better intelligence analytics. So they looked to OEM either a management platform like Hyperic, or a reporting/analytics platform like JasperSoft. Hyperic OEMed JasperSoft with its Operations IQ product. Spring now has full reign for both of these very lucrative offerings to their customers.

All in all, I am feeling pretty proud today of my fellow Hypericans: Javier, Morgan, Sachs, Doug, Charles, Trav, Marty, Chip and all the rest of the A-list team back there at 609 Mission Street. I may be far away, and no longer an employee, but I am feeling pumped about this new development and am excited to see how it unfolds. Who would’ve thought that the whole old gang of Covalent v1 would be back together again today?

Note: While I am a former employee of Hyperic, and they are a client, this note is entirely my own thoughts and not that of Hyperic. I, of course, was not part of the conversations of putting this deal together – nor do I know if I fully represented the opportunities here.

4.5% of CMO’s satisfied with operational reporting

February 24th, 2009 Comments off

AlterianAlterian published some data today from the CMO Council, where reportedly over 100 smart, savvy marketers convened to discuss the modern challenges of marketing in today’s envioronment. I’d love to get my hands on more of the topics – or the $299 report, but for now I am content with the free-market copies and write-ups.

One of the shocking things I saw was the two points that MarketingShift pointed out:

  • 60 percent of respondents believe that marketing operational transformation is an essential area of focus.
  • Only 4.5 percent are very satisfied with their current level of marketing operational visibility, accountability and output.

I think this relates to something I am seeing more and more often, and something I faced at my time at Hyperic. In a world driven by technology, where you can see link throughput in minutes, how do you calibrate your marketing operational measurements to ensure you stay apace? Aparently only 4.5% of these folks have figured it out. I had a pretty decent report going – but it was only weekly, and it was mostly driven through spreadsheets because of the nature of the data. We had data from externally hosted downloads & CDNs; multiple websites & technologies for Forums, wiki, tickets etc; adwords; and of course the CRM. That is a lot of data to fuse – and not all of it is in your control for formatting since its externally hosted or a package.

The logical thing to think about is placing it all in the CRM. But that misses oodles of traffic as it only captures actual leads. What about all the traffic you didn’t end up capturing? That’s where a marketing automation tool comes in handy. That is where a marketing automation tool comes in handy. There are several out there – from Eloqua, Marketo and of course, my favorite, LoopFuse. Plugging these systems in so its easy to capture this information, integrate it to your CRM and report on it is what marketers need. There are still some things lacking in this regard from all the packages. From ease of use to reporting customizations, there are many things to be done to smooth the path forward for most marketers. My bet though is the 4.5% of those marketers who are satisfied, have looked in the direction of marketing automation for these answers.

LoopFuse OneView 3.16 Releasing Tomorrow

February 20th, 2009 Comments off
http://www.loopfuse.com

http://www.loopfuse.com

Just got wind that after “weeks of prodding and poking in our Quality Assurance Lab by our team of trained fruitflies, LoopFuse OneView 3.16 was finally given the green light for release.” We expect to see the new release out tomorrow, and I plan to be adding to the fruitflies efforts by poking around myself next week.

According to the fruitflies themselves, new features and enhancements include:

CSV List Import: Less steps and cleaner interface, enhance existing functionality.
Email Link Tracking: Intelligent tracking for links embedded in email campaigns, i.e. You may now link directly to SurveyMonkey survey forms.
Email Link Anchor Support: Links within email campaigns that contain anchor tags are now supported.
Sales Registration Alerts: New email templates added for lead capture alerts, add company and visitor analytics information.

Looking forward to poking around it next week and trying out the SurveyMonkey integration as well as the new alerts for sales reps. Alerts are already like crack for sales reps – with analytics there may be no stopping them!

Categories: Software Tags: