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Archive for March, 2010

New face of Online Technology Evangelism March 26th, 2010

Vinod Kumar

This post is in continuation to the series of articles I am writing around my view’s on Technology Evangelism. Your feedbacks are driving me to write more on this very topic and in this article let me move into more recent aspects of Technology Evangelism which is an unexplored territories for many companies. The Part I and Part II which I did post were fundamentally around traditional Technology Evangelism. Evolutions do happen and Technology Evangelism is no exception. We will *try* to get into some of these from an Evangelists point of view. I do believe these innovations make more sense after the recent recessions the industry went through.

Transformations Inevitable

Traditional concepts of Evangelisms were mostly around the public speaking arena. Though this is vital and still the most influential mode (in my opinion) of engagement with the audience, this mode is surely changing because of various reasons. The cost effectiveness from the corporate point of view makes them search for other modes of reaching their audience and mostly the easier Online avatar routes.

The traits of moving online are a completely different competency compared to a great speaker in front of audience. The responsibilities are more for a person who lives online as each of his actions are like proof for later reference. This is a special skill when one starts living on the web, your words spread like forest fire via bookmarks, links and references. So there needs to be “clarity of thoughts” and this is one of the fundamental traits of an efficient Evangelist.

Moving Online is not a single dimension but there are multiple options in hand. I don’t quite support one-over-other as each of these options are as powerful as a swizz knife if used properly. We are looking at blogging, owning website, podcasts, webcasts, using facebook or twitter, writing for third-party magazines, sending monthly newsletter to audiences etc. All of these involve commitment of time with tons and tons of homework to be done. And that is also something we called out an Evangelist has in his blood – exploration.

Traits of moving Online

Going online is easy and doesn’t take more than 10 minutes for any internet user to create a blog or FB / twitter account etc. But sustaining momentum and being alive and relevant to the audience is the toughest job. Let me talk about how Evangelism and these online mediums are getting related. Though we see Evangelism in the online channels as marketing, there are some differences. Some of the traits an typical Evangelist will show via these mediums are -

  • Personal Style– This is an critical aspect of any Evangelist. There is a strong association of the individual to a certain technology competency. Just like Guy for Evangelism, Mark for Windows Internals or any other example. There is a personal style and mapping that one needs to bring with his personal brand when they get online. They need to be synonymous to each other.
    • Building such a personal brand and image takes time and establishing credibility is vital for new followers.
    • Explain why you are the best person to write (use “about me” section). This includes writing credits, contest wins, awards and any pertinent expertise. This is the first step, but more important is the content that goes live from time to time.
    • I don’t want to repeat the traits of personal branding which Jani talks in his post.
  • Active and beating always- Be regular in updating your content. Else you are likely to loose your followers soon.
    • State the facts and be current on your writing. This involves a lot of “Homework” before you jump into conclusions. You can use any RSS reader or use Del.icio.us or DL / forums etc. But being current is important – you get it.
    • A typical Evangelist is not going to sugar-coat their posts but are brutally true to what they know. Your headings hold the key. Here are some guidelines for your titles -
      • Web headlines become links and bookmarks and need to make sense without the rest of the text. So be think twice before giving a Title.
      • Use the words people use to search in your content – This may sound simple, but too often we create a title or link without asking ourselves “How would I search to find this content?”
      • No more than 10 words & less than 65 characters - Otherwise you’ll get cutoff & it is not as readable on search engines.
      • The more words in the title, the less weight each word gets – Delete unnecessary adjectives and common words such as “the,” “and,” “of,” and “is.”
    • Give references from all dimensions of how your interest area’s or your product of expertise is better or superior to the competition. Don’t jump into feature discussions but think more holistically of the products and services as a whole.
  • Enthusiasm – Typically an Evangelist are enthusiastic about what they do for a living. Enthusiastic about what other people are doing at other companies. The same enthusiasm rubs in their online writing styles too.
    • Understand that technology evangelists help put a human face on companies that are better known for their brands than the people who work there. People trust people more than companies and even on the online avatars, these are so true !!!
  • Keeping it simple – An typical Evangelist is going to make any complex concept easily digestible for their audience both in written form or via their presentations. If you wish to reach to masses this is an important trait. I know fellow SQL MVP – Pinal Dave being really successful with his blog by making all his posts very simple yet powerful.
  • Keep connecting in new ways – Though we discussed some of the options an Evangelist has to get online, being successful in all the forms is what makes properties of Evangelist interesting. A typical example is my friend Janakiram who uses his blog, podcasts, writing his first book – all the mediums in an effective manner.

Moving Social

Moving social is inevitable in this current era of Online social circles. Finding friends and keeping in touch is one of the core principles of these social sites Facebook or Twitter but organizations are feeling the heat of using these powerful mediums for marketing and at extreme cases even drive revenue to their businesses.

Though I personally feel getting to an established level of driving targeted marketing is going to be a process all by itself and it cannot be equated to Evangelism. People like Guy Kawasaki have made their personal brand and use it effectively to promote their brand. But for me this is also an ingredient in building a personal brand. Don’t try to dilute your brand by not  being relevant to the same audience who are likely to follow you whereever you live.

When it comes to sharing, there is no single medium you can rely on. As an Evangelist, I feel we need to use the power of web. Let me tell you some of the powerful mediums -

  • Flickr is a photo sharing web site that allows you to store photos and screenshots.
  • Del.icio.us is a social bookmarking site – adding tags, notes and sharing becomes easy
  • Facebook I am sure I don’t have to explain this …
  • SlideShare allow you to store presentations and share. I am sure Evangelists must use this service
  • LinkedIn is a professional network where you can find other evangelists and key people in companies you want to reach.

Using web to store, distribute and cross-promoting your content is a lot of fun. I do it all the time when I blog – the same gets promoted via Twitter, FB all the time. The point of promotion is to give hint, tease and preview articles via cross-posting. Driving traffic is important.

Pitfalls

  • Big dreams, small steps– I always feel the toughest part was sustenance and if that is the problem – Start with developing a writing schedule and then give yourself a pat on the back when it becomes habit.
    • A lot of writers have superstitions and rituals, but when you have such strong followers for you, thinking this way never takes you distances. Today is always good and no better time than now :) … Go change the world folks – write now !!!
    • I wish I had time to write – I hear that statement quite a lot from people who stop blogging. Everyone wishes they had more time to go after their dream. It’s hard to carve out an hour here or there in your already busy schedule. I’m a firm believer if you challenge yourself to write 100 words a day for 100 days, you’ll come up with more than 10,000 words and even finish writing a book. It boils down to that commitment which we talked before.
  • Finding Critics– I admire the way every Evangelist loves to get constructive feedbacks and if substantiated with facts, they are all ears. But never look out for only negative feedbacks. A lot of people take a back-seat as soon as such comments flow. Create positive energy and take each feedbacks on its own merit and based on the person it comes from. Internet is flooded with folks who always have a word-or-two to say against or for you.
    • You want encouragement, direction and help. I won’t get into the horror stories I’ve witnessed, but you need to find someone you can trust and whose opinion you value. Don’t get discouraged …
  • Cross linking – Cross linking to posts are good, but your posts need to bring a unique perspective of yours and how you used a feature to bring unique capabilities. Don’t make your posts always a bookmark location.
  • Impact tracking – Measuring impact is a good thing to know what your followers are interested. But that is a pulse and not used from make your writings stereotyped. Your explorations must reflect all your online properties.

Conclusion

The steps to successful online Evangelism is simple. Just follow -

  • Develop your own personal brand
  • Creating your mission statement (your purpose). This is what you live and advocate.
  • Identifying your audience and find ways to connect to them
  • Find your mentor – everyone needs some motivation :)
  • Strategizing your brand’s success – Brand packaging, refining brand’s presentation at every options you get.
  • Finally, Make a Name for Yourself will help you develop a brand that is true to yourself.

These are my personal thoughts and I am sure these are something you might agree and might get a chance to use couple of tips. Feel free to drop me a line. If you are wondering what else, there is more to what I do as Technology Evangelism – Just keep tuned into. Thanks for reading this far :) …

Related Posts:

Technology Evangelism – Part I

Technology Evangelism – Demystified: Part II

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Facebook accelerator meets the Cloud! March 22nd, 2010

Vinod Kumar

The Facebook Azure toolkit provides the ability to rapidly develop Facebook applications that leverage Windows Azure to profit from all the benefits of the cloud with a solid framework based on best practices. Facebook applications hosted in Azure provide a flexible and scalable cloud computing platform for the smallest and largest of Facebook applications. Whether you have millions of users or just a few thousand, the Facebook Azure Toolkit helps you to build your app correctly so that if your app is virally successful, you won’t have to architect it again. You will just need to increase the number of instances you are using, and then you are done scaling. :). Jim Zimmerman demonstrated these capabilities in his session at the Mix10 conference, where he showed live Facebook applications, such as the Outback Facebook application and CloudPoll. Both are based on the Facebook Azure Toolkit. Furthermore CloudPoll will be made available for free to all Facebook users to create, manage, and evaluate polls for their pages, all using blob storage, SQL Azure, and compute hosted in Windows Azure. Try it for yourself, download the Facebook Azure Toolkit from codeplex and create you polls in Facebook with CloudPool, powered by Azure.

Download the Facebook Azure Toolkit from CodePlex.

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Windows Server AppFabric Beta 2 Released March 11th, 2010

Vinod Kumar

With first announced at PDC 2009, Windows Server AppFabric is a set of application services focused on improving the speed, scale, and management of Web, Composite, and Enterprise applications.  

Developers and IT Pros can expect the following benefits from Windows Server AppFabric:

Faster Web Apps Made Easy

Windows Server AppFabric helps developers improve the speed and availability of web applications through distributed in-memory caching and replication technology that works with current ASP.NET applications.

Simplified Composite Apps

Developers can simplify the development of composite applications with the pre-built application services in Windows Server AppFabric, used in conjunction with Visual Studio tools and .NET Framework capabilities (ASP.NET, WCF and WF). IT Pros can also simplify the deployment, monitoring, and management of composite applications with configuration and monitoring capabilities that are integrated with familiar tools (PowerShell, IIS Manager, and System Center).

Enterprise Performance and Availability

An enterprise’s most important and demanding applications can achieve elastic scale, performance, availability, and reliability (benefits often associated with the cloud) with the help of Windows Server AppFabric. These and countless other benefits from an unparalleled partner ecosystem utilize familiar skills from the .NET Framework and Windows Server.

Additional Resources:

Gartner Research Report: Microsoft AppFabric: A Platform for the Cloud Era is Under Construction

http://www.gartner.com/technology/media-products/reprints/microsoft/vol13/article6/article6.html

Microsoft News Center feature story on Windows Server & Windows Azure platform AppFabric:

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/features/2009/nov09/11-17pdcappfabric.mspx

Beta2 Blog Post on Windows Server Blog:

http://blogs.technet.com/windowsserver/

Additional information on Windows Server AppFabric:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/app-main.aspx

Information (including download link) for Windows Azure AppFabric:

http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/appfabric/

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P&P – A Guide to Claims-Based Identity and Access Control March 8th, 2010

Vinod Kumar

clip_image002Imagine a world where you don’t have to worry about authentication. Imagine instead that all requests to your application already include the information you need to make access control decisions and to personalize the application for the user.

In this world, your applications can trust another system component to securely provide user information, such as the user’s name or e-mail address, a manager’s e-mail address, or even a purchasing authorization limit. The user’s information always arrives in the same simple format, regardless of the authentication mechanism, whether it’s Microsoft® Windows® integrated authentication, forms-based authentication in a Web browser, an X.509 client certificate, or something more exotic. Even if someone in charge of your company’s security policy changes how users authenticate, you still get the information, and it’s always in the same format. This is the utopia of claims-based identity that A Guide to Claims-Based Identity and Access Control describes. As you’ll see, claims provide an innovative approach for building applications that authenticate and authorize users.

What’s in “A Guide to Claims-Based Identity”?

“An Introduction to Claims” explains what a claim is and gives general rules on what makes a good claim and how to incorporate them in your application. It’s probably a good idea that you read this chapter before you go on to the scenarios.

“Claims-Based Architectures” shows you how to use claims with browser-based applications and smart client–based applications. In particular, the chapter focuses on how to implement single sign-on for your users, whether they are on an intranet or an extranet. This chapter is optional. You don’t need to read it before you go on to the scenarios.

“Claims-Based Single Sign-On for the Web” shows you how to implement single-sign on within a corporate intranet. Although this may be something that you can also implement with Windows integrated authentication, it is the first stop on the way to implementing more complex scenarios. It includes a section for Windows Azure™ that shows you how to move the claims-based application to the cloud.

“Federated Identity for Web Applications” shows you how you can give your business partners access to your applications while maintaining the integrity of your corporate directory and theirs. In other words, your partners’ employees can use their corporate credentials to gain access to your applications.

“Federated Identity for Web Services” shows you how to use the claims-based approach with Web services, where a partner uses a smart client rather than a browser.

“Federated Identity with Multiple Partners” is a variation of the previous scenario that shows you how to federate with partners who have no issuer of their own as well as those who do. It demonstrates how to use the ASP.NET MVC framework to create a claims-aware application.

Click here to download this release.

On Channe9 Video’s

p&p Claims Identity and Access Control Guide is now available

p&p Claims Identity and Access Control Guide – A look into the Single Sign On scenario

For more information visit: http://msdn.microsoft.com/practices

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Forefront Identity Manager 2010 – Resources March 3rd, 2010

Vinod Kumar

Here are some great Edge links for reference for FIM.

1. FIM 2010: Microsoft new product and new thinking for Identity and Access management http://bit.ly/FFIAM1

2. Make Identity and Access Management more efficient with FIM 2010 http://bit.ly/FFIAM1

3. Keep control of your Identity and Access management with FIM 2010 http://bit.ly/FFIAM1

4. Need enhanced identity & access management to protect your data center + prevent unauthorized connections? http://bit.ly/FFIAM1

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