Archive for May, 2009

Primus Canada Announces “Virtual Managed Machine”

In the spirit of full disclosure I work for Primus Canada as Senior Manager of the the team that designed and deployed this service.  For all the info check out Primus Canada’s Website.

I’m very excited about this service, because of what it means to our customers; enterprise level features for the Small Medium Business.    Some of those features:

  • Web Portal – deploy Windows & Linux servers in minutes!
  • Nightly Server Snapshots offers rapid server recovery
  • High Availability – Clustered for fault tolerance
  • Firewall

Like  I said, I’m very excited about this new service, but we’re not done yet, more to come!


Review: Jacob’s Steakhouse

Steak, just the word can trigger a Pavlovian response.   While complicated recipes involving much thought and preparation are great, there is something to be said about the simplicity of a steak; however nothing says steak must be simple.  From the raising of the beef, to aging and cooking, sucess is measured in the details.  Angus, Kobe, USDA Prime, dry aging, grilling, broiling and sous-vide.  This brings us to a relatively new entrant in the Toronto steakhouses scene, Jacob’s & Co. Steakhouse.

There are a few things I look for in a restaurant but I put two above all else, Good Food and Service.  So we’ll call this my 2 point scale, 2 points, and you’ve got a perfect review.  It doesn’t leave much room for making a mistake.  The break down of my two point scale works like this:

Food Score:

0.25: I could eat the food, but just.

0.50: Food was good

0.75: Food was very good

1.0: Food was something special


0.25: Not very good at all.

0.50: Average

0.75: Very Good

1.0: Perfect

So yes, it’s really a 10 point scale if you take into account 0.

Dinner started with drinks in the basement bar, it was drinks, they were good and I had no complaints.  After finishing we were escorted upstairs and seated at our table, a nice large round table perfect for the larger group I was with.  Why more restaurants don’t have round tables for larger groups baffles me, round tables allow everyone to interact and prevent “conversation islands” but I digress.

In place of bread, Jacob’s served amazingly large and fantastic Yorkshire Pudding.  I’ve loved Yorkshire Pudding since I was a kid and my mom would make them as part of Sunday dinner, my mouth just waters thinking about it.  But we’re not here to talk about the bread, we’re talking about steak.  From first glance at the menu one can tell Jacob’s takes their meat seriously.  The menu puts the steaks top left, right where one’s eyes are instantly drawn.  The choices aren’t broken down into cut, but rather creatively by type (USDA, Canada Prime, Kobe Wagyu) and separated by farm, and time aged.  You have your typical USDA aged 41 or 54 days, your Canadian Angus, followed by Canadian, US and Australian Wagyu, oddly no Japanese Waguy on the menu seems a glaring omission.  All meat is aged in house.  Kudos on the menu layout, this is a carnivore’s delight.

I opted for the USDA 30oz (shared) bone in Rib Eye aged 41 days, I’m a sucker for Rib, and will get the bone in every time if it is on the menu.  Jacob’s cooks their steak in a broiler, as is typical at most high-end steakhouses at 1800 degrees to sear in the goodness.  My steak was perfect, a nice outer crust and a perfect medium rare on the inside.  The meat was well marbled, but not overly fatty, well trimmed.  The meat was very obviously dry aged, something I look for in all my beef.

Service on the other hand is where Jacob’s and Co. dropped the ball.  Service was slow, I don’t mean it took an extra 5 minutes here or there, but truly truly slow; over 1 hour before our order was taken.  The waiter seemed new, not just to Jacob’s but rather to being a waiter in an upscale restaurant at all.  He lacked the ability to interrupt conversation, something EVERY waiter must know how to do, it is a skill, and this waiter didn’t have it.  He would wait for conversations to actually end before asking anything from the table, this made the night VERY long.

So how would I rank Jacob’s?

Food: 0.75

Service: 0.25

Total: 1.00

Service killed it, and I’m only partially blaming Jacob’s & Co.  The real problem was our waiter, his lack of experience was evident, and that seriously impacted the experience.  Everything else from Food, to Wine choice and decor was very good.

Would I go again?  Certainly; however, if service is slow next time, Jacob’s & Co. and not the waiter are getting the blame.

If your a carnivore with a few extra bucks in your pocket, or an expense account, give it a try, and let me know what you think.

Categories: Food

Adding Resiliency to the Cloud for SMB Market

Another Google outage today highlights the issue that Cloud computing has ahead of it, that statement isn’t new, been reported and blogged about to death.  I’m a huge fan of Cloud computing, the capacity on demand, the ease of management (mostly), etc.  The benefits are clear and have been talked about to death.  I’ve been involved in some massive projects over the years, many before the advent and term “cloud computing” many would have benefited immensily by the cloud approach.  Popular websites like Facebook, Twitter, etc wouldn’t be around without cloud and cloud like technologies, Twitter uses S3 for storage for example.  I use Google Apps myself for my personal domain, but I accept the outages because for the most part my personal domain isn’t tied to my business.

Google and Amazon’s cloud have a place, they’re fantastic for large scale web application serving, particularly to industry that can leverage the infinite scalability capabilities these clouds offer.  But what about the SMB market?  The SBM market doesn’t really need “infinte scalability.”  SBMs need email, a web server or two for Internet and Intranet sites, order entry systems with a database, pretty simple stuff and not large scale.  By pushing an SBM’s “internal” systems to the “AmaGoog” sized cloud one now relies on the DSL, Cable, T1 or Lan extension far more than they did before.  But it goes beyond the DSL connection, it goes to the ISPs connections, their peering and transit providers and the overall resiliency of the cloud provider.  Google and Amazon have both proven that this isn’t easy.  Will it get better, sure,but by how much?  As today proved, one mistyped command on a router and it all goes away and your business is done until it is restored.

I don’t think the solution to these markets are large clouds from Amazon and Google, but rather smaller edge based clouds, clouds at the ISP level, what I call “Edge Clouds.”  A cloud at the ISP level isn’t relying on the stability of the Internet as a whole to deliver a solution to the SMB market. A pipe to the ISP, a connection an SMB already has is the only needed link in the chain.  Add to this value add services that the “AmaGoog” Cloud doesn’t offer, and you begin to develop a whole new tier of Cloud providers.  The benefit to SMB?  A product better tailored to their needs and one that can offer features most SMBs can only dream of.  The scalability on demand is still there, because ISPs work on a scale that is far beyond the size of the SMBs that uses their services.

But what between small “edge clouds” and larger “AmaGoog” sized clouds is the best approach?  That’s simple, interoperability and compatibility.  The Edge Clouds needs to work with the “AmaGoog” sized clouds and viseversa so that both scales can leverage one another.  Amazon and Google need the Edge so they can be closer to the end user, and the ISPs and Enterprise need the large clouds for the capacity on demand, the idea of the cloud certainly interests SBMs, but they don’t know where to start, it’s too complicated, and to “risky” for most SMBs.  That smaller “edge cloud” approach is needed, so the SBMs can leverage the benefits of the cloud but limit the negatives.

More to come on this topic.