Spark for Dummies is now available

January 1, 2017 Comments Off on Spark for Dummies is now available

A few years ago, I wrote Hadoop for Dummies, which presented an executive-level overview of Hadoop, its capabilities, and its amazing potential. Since then, the Big Data world has continued its relentless march forward, with Apache Spark serving as one of the most exciting and well-adopted new technologies. I’m happy to announce that I’ve just written a companion book dedicated to Spark. Here are the major topics that I cover in this book:

  • Spark’s history
  • How it works
  • Why it’s such an important Big Data breakthrough
  • Real world use cases
  • How Spark, MapReduce, and Hadoop can work together
  • How you can deploy it in your enterprise
  • Best practices

 

 

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You can download a copy here.

 

This book – which was sponsored by IBM – is a great example of the kinds of high quality technical marketing content developed at Think88.  These include white papers, case studies, evaluation guides, technical presentations, and market research.

Seven attractive career paths for sales engineers

December 20, 2016 Comments Off on Seven attractive career paths for sales engineers

Whether you label it sales engineering, sales consulting, or simply pre-sales, supplying technical guidance during the sales process for highly complex goods and services can be a lucrative, intellectually stimulating career. 

Many people happily spend decades working as sales engineers: I’ve met plenty of contented – and very well compensated – sales engineers (SEs) in their sixties who first took on this role in their twenties! On the other, lots of SEs view the job as a stepping stone on the path to other responsibilities – in their own organization or in other companies.

As I’ve depicted elsewhere, the most successful SEs are masters of blending technical and selling skills, which makes them highly desirable candidates for all sorts of different jobs. In this series of posts, I’ll be describing the advantages and drawbacks for some of the most attractive career paths available to sales engineers. Here’s a brief list of those alternatives:

  1. Post sales technical consulting
  2. Marketing
  3. Product development
  4. Technical support
  5. Sales
  6. Client-side jobs

And since there are plenty of opportunities for SEs to advance within the sales engineering organization itself, I’ll write about that too.

If you’re interested in being notified of future editions, subscribe to the blog or follow me on Twitter: @RD_Schneider. You can read other sales engineering-related posts here.

Helpful article on journalist protection is relevant for us all

November 10, 2016 Comments Off on Helpful article on journalist protection is relevant for us all

In the aftermath of this week’s US election, it’s worthwhile to – once again – revisit techniques to protect private information from those that have no business seeing it. Here’s a link to a very useful article from The Atlantic that might give you some ideas about how to safeguard your data. If you’re curious about other security and privacy topics that I’ve written about, here’s a shortcut to them.

Why the recent Internet of Things (IoT) attack is just the beginning

October 30, 2016 Comments Off on Why the recent Internet of Things (IoT) attack is just the beginning

A few days ago we witnessed a new type of distributed denial of service (DDoS) incident. Unlike previous botnet attacks that enlisted compromised computers, this one corralled assorted unprotected devices like Internet-ready webcams, DVRs, and baby monitors to flood Domain Name System (DNS) servers, and thereby seriously degrade the Internet for hours. I’ll leave the explanation of the mechanics of this incident to more qualified commentators, but I do want to weigh in on why I think these types of events are very hard to combat and why I’m very skeptical about the hype around the Internet of Things (IoT).

We all (well, many of us) know how important it is to keep our computers and software patched and up-to-date; most people also get why firewalls are essential. But consider these facts about IoT devices:

  • They’re being created for just about every industry. This diversity means that it’s much harder for the entire universe of vendors to agree on common security standards: defining safeguards for a heart pump is a little different than for a Web-ready washing machine. I’ve served on my share of standards committees: to say that they move slowly is an understatement!
  • They have really short development cycles. IoT is shaping up to be a brutally competitive landscape. The winners will be those vendors that deliver solutions to market quickly. Designing and building strong security safeguards takes time, and time is money. The end result is that device protection takes a back seat to market pressures.
  • There’s limited space for security software. Margins are very thin on hardware devices: security-focused onboard storage space adds costs that aren’t directly related to functionality.
  • They frequently rely on APIs for communication. I’ve blogged about API security in the past. Suffice it to say that it’s a rare API that’s locked down properly.
  • New models are always coming on the market. Here’s the really scary part: even if vendors do start getting their security act together, it will be years before today’s highly insecure devices get retired. Meanwhile, they’ll be standing by for their next set of DDoS orders.

Nice article about serverless architectures

September 30, 2016 Comments Off on Nice article about serverless architectures

As cloud computing – and the infrastructure that underpins it – continues to advance, we’re seeing some very interesting new software development design patterns gaining traction. I’ve been working with Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) for years, and it’s been fascinating to watch it evolving into new approaches such as microservices and now serverless architectures. Unsurprisingly, leading cloud computing vendors like Amazon Web Services (AWS) are getting on board the train, with AWS Lambda an example of where things are heading.

If you’re curious about what serverless architecture is all about, Mike Roberts has written a comprehensive article on Martin Fowler’s website. I encourage you to check it out, because you’ll be hearing more about serverless architectures in the very near future.

serverless

Free Agile API development eBook available

August 6, 2016 Comments Off on Free Agile API development eBook available

The process of designing, developing, testing, and deploying software – including mission-critical APIs – is very different today than it was even just a few years ago. This transformation has been driven by advances in DevOps, Agile methodologies, and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery.

Simply making sense of all these new techniques can be a bit intimidating, so I’m glad that my colleague Chris Riley has authored a very useful guide that explains how all of these moving parts fit together. You can download a copy for yourself here.

agileguide

 

Overcoming a Technical Sales Ambush Best Practice #2: Request a List of Questions in Advance

August 3, 2016 Comments Off on Overcoming a Technical Sales Ambush Best Practice #2: Request a List of Questions in Advance

Continuing this series on technical sales and sales engineering, a technical sales ambush is a situation where prospect calls a technically-oriented meeting with the hidden (and bad-faith) purpose of introducing impossible or unreasonable requirements that end up monkey wrenching the entire sale. Naturally, legitimate technical questions are part of every sales cycle, but an ambush is deliberately meant to derail the sale while making it look like it’s the vendor’s fault. Any new product or service can be disruptive and threatening, so you should be on the lookout for it.

While ambushes can’t be totally avoided, they can be managed through proper preparation. For example, you should avoid open-ended “discovery” meetings at all costs. Instead, all interactions should be structured: by simply requesting a list of questions – well in advance of the meeting – you have an excellent chance of thwarting surprises. In fact, scheduling the meeting should be gated on receiving the list of questions, and you should also keep the decision makers in the loop.

Once you have the list, prepare to put your answers in writing,  and distribute them to all prospect constituencies (including line-of-business leaders) in advance of the meeting. During the session, you can discuss the answers, provide demonstrations, and so on. This is much more effective than an open-ended “fishing expedition”.  And if unplanned questions arise, you can either address them on the spot (and append the written list),  or use the time-tested “I’ll get back to you on this” response, and simply come back with your answers once you’ve done your research.

Either way, this strategy gives you much more control over the interaction with the prospect, and can help you win the opportunity.

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