Thursday, February 17, 2011

Q&A with Alex Sutherland, a cloud computing architect and entrepreneur

Alex on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aesutherland
Alex on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/apexsutherland

Us: What prompted you to join?
Alex: I joined as an early member for two reasons - the first was the freedom to choose projects that were outside the scope of my “everyday” assignments as a consultant. Secondarily I was enticed by the chance to win real, valuable prizes for producing the best solutions. For the first time in my career I had the freedom to explore new technologies without the constraints of client project demands AND still have the opportunity to earn some financial/tangible reward! Why wouldn’t you sign up for that!?!

Us: How is CloudSpokes different from other communities?
Alex: All the other developer communities that I have interacted with are either focused primarily on troubleshooting and issue resolution, or they’re stuck in glorified “hello world” example mode because no one has an incentive to share real-world solutions. The few communities that do run occasional developer contests with decent prizes are either so open-ended that their contest submissions are rarely useful in the real world, or the requirements are so complicated that the investment of time and/or money to compete is just too great for most individual developers.

Besides the tangible rewards that developers can earn, CloudSpokes has done an excellent job of implementing “gamification” in every facet of the community. In my current role at Hoopla Software, we’re focused on building applications that enable game mechanics and public competition in any business process. We’re big fans of bringing game elements and competitive incentives to professional environments. The way the CloudSpokes community is oriented around Challenges and Member “stats” is exactly the kind of innovative approach to enhancing user achievement that we’re working to provide in the enterprise. Giving cloud computing developers public recognition of their achievements and enabling them to continually enhance their public profile should drive exponential growth and user engagement in the CloudSpokes community.

Us: Why is crowdsourcing the way to go with cloud development?
Alex: There is no way that any organization (of any size) can keep up with the frenetic pace of innovation in the information technology world today. The aggregate effect of the open source movement, extreme abundance of multi-media communication channels & tools, and the torrent of start-up companies generating technology innovation means that it is impossible for an organization to hire enough contract or full-time technology professionals to cover all of the disciplines and specialties necessary to stay competitive in the modern marketplace. Crowdsourcing is the only way to obtain the talent and energy required to capitalize on the opportunities in cloud computing, mobile computing, social web applications, rich media content, and a host of other exploding trends in technology.

Us: What motivates you to participate?
Alex: The support of Appirio is one of my primary motivations to participate in the CloudSpokes community, because I have first-hand knowledge of their commitment to cloud computing and technology innovation in the enterprise. The opportunity to interact and compete with some of the brightest minds in the cloud computing developer community is an equally strong motivation to participate.

Us: Why do you think others should join?
Alex: If you are a technology professional and you want to hone your skills for maximum potential in your career, this is the place to be! CloudSpokes makes it both fun and rewarding to develop innovative solutions with cloud computing technology. Competing in Challenges or just observing and interacting with the community members will expand your horizons and help you to stay relevant in our ever-evolving industry.

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