Must-Read IT Blogger Q&A: Steve Jin
When it comes to virtualization and cloud computing technology, there are three features that attracted VMware software architect Steve Jin most: its flexibility, extensibility and transferability.
Since diving into virtualization and cloud computing, Jin has become an expert and a proponent of a particular flavor of cloud computing, the double cloud, also known as a hybrid cloud. It is from this concept of a public-private cloud environment that Jin draws the name of his blog, DoubleCloud, which was selected as a BizTech Must-Read IT Blog.
We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Jin and ask him a few questions about blogging, cloud computing and technology.
BIZTECH: What are your daily must-visit tech stops online?
JIN: Given my interest in virtualization management, I read many blogs that are covered by the Planet VMware virtualization aggregator for developer-related topics. To help the VI Java API community, I also closely monitor the VI Java forum so that I can answer questions there.
As a software architect, I also read IBM developerWorks and InfoQ.com for generic software development trends. To stay updated with the tech industry and for fun, I also read Slashdot, MIT’s Technology Review and Harvard Business Review.
BIZTECH: What emerging technology do you think will most change the enterprise landscape in 2012?
JIN: I think private clouds will continue to be a driving force in transforming how enterprise IT operates. For the best result, enterprises will also leverage public clouds from external service providers. The use of a public and private cloud is called a double cloud, or a hybrid cloud. That concept served as the inspiration for the name of my blog: doublecloud.org.
The cloud is not only a collection of technologies, but also a philosophy on how enterprise IT should be run. But we should not expect to adopt all cloud technologies overnight, or even in a year. It’s a journey that gradually changes how we run and think about IT.
BIZTECH: What existing technology do you think businesses have most underutilized?
JIN: IT automation, which is really an umbrella term for technologies that help streamline the technology infrastructure and business processes.
IT automation is not easy to achieve. Technically, it involves IT infrastructure, architecture, business processes, policy definition, programming, etc. Politically, it involves various teams, like infrastructure teams, support teams and functional teams. Successfully integrating various technologies and diverse teams is a challenging task.
BIZTECH: What's the most innovative, creative or unusual way an organization has capitalized on technology that you've come across?
JIN: I actually created a technology that many organizations have successfully capitalized on. I found that the VMware vSphere APIs were hard to use and the Apache AXIS-based Java binding didn’t perform well. So I created high-level object-oriented APIs to increase the ease of use and a new web service engine that outperforms AXIS by 10 times. The APIs were released to the public domain under a BSD license.
Since then, I’ve seen many organizations adopt my technology. In one case, a company attempted to do a similar abstraction three times. Once they found this API, they adopted it immediately and never looked back.
BIZTECH: Why is the hybrid cloud the best of both worlds?
JIN: The hybrid cloud means choice and flexibility for customers. When you have choices, you can better address your business needs. For example, you can use external clouds for your non-mission-critical workloads while keeping the mission-critical ones inside your private cloud for reasons like security compliance.
With a hybrid cloud, it’s also easier to scale your business. When you are not sure about traffic volume, you can start with the public cloud. When the business grows large enough, you can then shift more to private cloud. That is what Zynga has done with its hybrid cloud.
Having said that, leveraging both public and private clouds as one does come with a price, which is the increased effort required to manage them. Companies have to decide how to best balance the benefits and costs. Each case is different, and there is no universal fit.
BIZTECH: Why do you blog?
JIN: After finishing my book VMware VI and vSphere SDK in 2009, I suddenly had more spare time than before. Half a year later, I began to blog and found myself really getting into it. For me, it’s like writing a never-ending book; an even better, interactive way of engaging with the community.
My motivation for blogging boils down to three reasons. First, I want to continuously push myself to learn new things. I have to research quite a bit to write a quality article, which helps educate me on a regular basis.
Second, I have a desire to share my knowledge and experience with the community, especially the developers within the VMware community. I think VMware has done a great job in helping system administrators, but not enough for developers. I’ve tried hard to fill the gap with my book, blog and the open-source VI Java API I created.
Last, I blog to increase my influence in the tech industry, particularly in virtualization management circles. I think my blog will help my career growth eventually.
BIZTECH: Why do you think virtualization has been such a transformative technology?
JIN: Virtualization started as a development and testing tool, and then it was picked up in the production environment due to its flexibility and the increasingly powerful x86 servers. It makes possible things we had never thought feasible in the traditional physical world. Take vMotion, for example, which moves a running virtual machine to another host without disruption.
The technology itself is cool, but it’s the business benefits that have made virtualization a transformative technology for enterprise IT. The server consolidation benefits, for example, have resulted in significantly fewer physical servers and reduced energy consumption, which have led to significant savings in data center operation. The easy and fast provisioning of virtual machines has also helped eliminate the IT frictions.
The impact of virtualization is not only that it consolidates your data centers. The biggest impact is that it enables other technologies; for example, infrastructure as a service (IaaS). We will see more interesting applications of virtualization in the future.
BIZTECH: What has been the hardest lesson for you to learn in your years of experience in the tech industry?
JIN: Tech industry is all about innovation — creating new technology and products. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we have to deliver them as real products or solutions in the end.
I’ve seen many cases in which great technologies lead to unsuccessful product deliverables, so the lesson is to be realistic when it comes to execution. I don’t mean you should not innovate while developing a product, just that the innovation is better poised for success when aligned with the proper product context.