Thursday, October 5, 2017

'Back in the day' we didn't scale and WE LIKED IT.

 I've been in web hosting since '95.  Back in the day I was the Tech Lead for (1998-2000). We had BIG IRON (hand me down HP K Class servers) from another failed IRS project.  They were big, literally 1 server per rack, and we had to build to support all traffic on Tax Day (April 15th). No cloud, few MSPs, Akamai was in it's infancy.  We had Cisco Local Director load balancers and grew to geographic load balancers (Alteons).  I personally had to forecast peak traffic and we built for peak load. 

Tax Day was always like that scene in Das Boot (1981) where the the U boat is sinking and the hull is being crushed by the pressure. That stress peaked on the 15th. For reference:  

Months of work and worry all come down to a single day.  No way to add more capacity, no way to slow the onslaught of late taxpayers.  To make it even more fun, numerous firms (Red Alert, Intuit, etc.) were tracking and reporting our response times throughout the day. There was no escape.  Just prayer that you made it through without crashing and burning.

Now we scale automatically, by default.  Yes, it's better, but not nearly as exciting.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

AWS re:Invent 2017 - Guide of Guides - Updated

 I'm headed to AWS re:Invent this year.  Hooray!!

This is my first time and I've been reading everything I can to get a feel for the event.  I've been to some large conferences before (RSA, HIMSS, Atlassian Summit, etc.) but re:Invent looks to be a very different event.

Below are the the things I am reading to get prepped.  I'll update as I find more.

Leave a comment if you find it helpful. 
Let me know if you have others to add.

AWS re:Invent 2017 - Guide of Guides

Guide Source Date
A guide to AWS re:Invent 2017 Vault Solutions 12/19/16
AWS re:Invent review: Las Vegas 2016 and what to expect in 2017 Raygun 12/22/16
AWS re:Invent 2017 Guide – An Alternative Look GorillaStack 06/29/17
AWS re:Invent 2017 insider tips for getting the most out of your week in Las Vegas A Cloud Guru  07/11/17
Start planning now for AWS re:Invent 2017 A Cloud Guru 07/23/17
Get Ready for AWS re:Invent 2017 AWS Blog 08/08/17
How to get the most out of your time at AWS re:Invent Cloud Assessments 9/20/17
* The ultimate guide to your first AWS re:Invent conference A Cloud Guru 10/02/17
From Previous Years Source Date
AWS re:Invent 2016 Survival Guide VividCortex 11/28/16
A Survival Guide for AWS reInvent 2016 -  -  Sumo Logic 11/15/16
The Top 5 Things to Avoid at AWS re:Invent 2016 -  -  2nd Watch 11/9/17


  • 10/02/17, A Cloud Guru Blog

Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Lucky Heart Attack

As the week draws to a close I am assessing all the ways that I am lucky. I had a heart attack on Monday. Yay me!  Not quite, but I am so lucky it happened the way it did. 

It could have happened when we were hiking to find Geocaches (on Saturday) or while searching for fossilized shark teeth in Calvert County, MD (on Sunday). It could have happened any day over the last few months that I have driven solo to work or up to Baltimore for stressful security assessment meetings. It could have, but it didn't. 

I had my heart attack at home, planting bushes in the front yard, while my sister-in-law, the doctor, was visiting. She had just come the evening before. By the time Rebecca got off the phone with 911 there was an ambulance at the door and I was on my way to the best Cardiac Care unit in the area. 

The simple truth is this: I should have been taking better care of myself. I should have been more in tune with my heredity and my risks. If you have the family history (my Dad died of a heart attack at 43), or high cholesterol, or more than a few extra pounds, etc., do yourself a favor. Make sure you see your regular doctor, get one if you don't have one, get a cholesterol test and find out what your risk is. I hope you are lucky like me, but...

I am home now and on my way to feeling and being much better. I have mixed feelings about the events of the week, but I have no questions about how lucky I am. That said, being lucky isn't a plan you can count on.

Friday, February 7, 2014


 An amazing man was laid to rest today at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. I was lucky to work for Joe for the last 8 years. Joe made a huge impact on my career and personal life. He will be missed by many.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

This is old, but there's still some good stuff.

Safeguarding Health Information: Building Assurance through HIPAA Security

Briefing: "ONC Mobile Device Project"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Thank you all. A note from @sheffus, the @USCERT_gov account manager

 Fellow IT and Security folks,
This is the first and only tweet I, @sheffus, will make on this account. On August 2nd, 2013 I am officially transferring control of the @USCERT_gov twitter account to US-CERT/DHS.  I have been responsible for the account since I created it in late 2008.  I originally created the account (and numerous others) when I started exploring twitter and how it could/should be used by Federal Agencies.

I just want to say "Thank You" for following along and allowing me to provide this service.  I hope you have found some value in the feed.  This community has been incredibly encouraging and helpful.  Followers have even alerted me directly when there were problems with the feed.  For that I am truly thankful.

The back story, in case you are interested

How and why I became responsible for the @USCERT_gov feed

In late 2008 I started to explore twitter.  At that time I set up a number of twitter accounts sending out federal agency content. Many agencies had not yet jumped in to twitter and I was interested in getting their content broadcasted.  I set up accounts for DLA, EPA, the US Archives, USAID, DHS and a number of others. I also set up a few aggregation accounts for government news including USGovNews, UKGovNews and CanadaGovNews. Most of the individual Agency accounts were eventually removed by twitter and the Agencies that were getting their Social Media activities started.  The account I had created was in the way and, to be fair, I had no authority to set up the accounts in the first place. Most Agencies had set up official accounts, managed by dedicated professionals and were on their way to building communities of engaged and informed users. I was simply providing a placeholder service while they got their Social Media initiatives together. Also, I wasn't providing any interaction at all. I didn't want to 'speak' for any Agency.  I was simply pushing content from their RSS feeds to the twitter account.  I use (@twfeed), which is a wonderful, free service, to connect the Agency RSS feed(s) to twitter. I am glad that the Agencies finally got involved and started using twitter to engage with citizens. Twitter has offered citizens a unique and often very personal way to communicate. 

For whatever reason the US-CERT had not set up their own twitter account. Over time the account gained more and more followers and content was often retweeted.  Which makes sense, since the US-CERT content is always helpful and appreciated.


Handing @USCERT_gov over to US-CERT

On July 17th a follower contacted me via my personal account, @sheffus.  That user was @AnAHAmoment.  I searched LinkedIn and discovered that the user was a "Social Media, Web Presence and Innovation Strategist" working at the US-CERT.  Long story short: @AnAHAmoment and I discussed the @USCERT_gov account and the tools I have used to broadcast their content.  We also discussed the growth of the account (which was 100% organic) and the future of the account.  I offered to hand over control of the account which I think was unexpected. It has always been my hope that someone at US-CERT would officially take over this account. It is time for the professionals to start providing real interaction with the users.

I have high hopes that this is what is coming next.

Thank you all for your support. I hope to see you around twitter and elsewhere.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

How Leaders Hold Themselves Accountable

 Some of the weakest leaders I've seen use organizational silos as a defense for not fixing a problem. "Gee, I'd love to help but that problem is in so and so's organization." Nice job of stepping up pal. I'd much rather work with and for the person who instead says "That looks like a big issue over there. How can I help solve it even though it's not in my area?" You get the picture.This mindset pertains to all problems big and small. Whether it's a discarded soda can on the front walkway at your company headquarters or a large profit shortfall in a major business unit, you owe it to yourself and your team to help in any way you're able (even if that only consists of pointing the problem out to the true "owners" and asking how you can help. By the way, simply pick up the soda can and put it in the recycling bin. And if along the way, you find your company doesn't have a recycling program, well… you know what to do).