Blog Archives

Ed Sim on successful offshoring

Whereas it was a must until a year ago, offshoring developments to India has generated enough of its fair share of operational issues to make startup teams and VCs much more cautious. Beyond local issues – like the difficulty of hiring and keeping talent, and increasing wages – getting the coordination, leadership and motivation aspects are challenging.

Ed Sim’s post comes a propos as he relates to a successful offshoring operated by one of his companies. Some key points:

Offshore interesting and motivating projects Develop local leadership talent Hire, train and manage local staff with a long term view in mind

At the same time, SAP is going to be looking to alternatives to India because of rising costs.

Developing and managing Hotmail

This interview has already been picked up and commented upon (and /.’ed), but if you have not yet taken a look, I recommend reading this ACM piece on Hotmail, and what it means to manage one of the largest services of the web. Hotmail runs on 10,000 servers and involves several petabytes of storage (i.e millions of gigabytes) and serves, according to this Wikipedia article, 221M users who are operating billions of e-mail transactions daily. It is operated by 100 sysadmins, which is not that large a team.

Phil Smoot, the PM in charge of Hotmail product development out of the Microsoft Silicon Valley campus, shares a number of insights – from which I noted the following points regarding automation, versionning, capacity planning, impact analysis and QA:

QA is a challenge in the sense that mimicking Internet loads on our QA lab machines is a hard engineering problem. The production site consists of hundreds of services … Read more »

Colo facilities: don’t trust those generators, and backup your backup plans

OK, I should now be in bed. But as I was browsing my blogroll, I noticed Dave Sifry’s post relating his not-so-cool week-end spent fixing Technorati’s infrastructure due to a fire at his colo. Unusual ? Unique ? Hardly so…

This must be the tenth story I hear about a colo facility that had (supposedly) all the required redundancy to "insure" reliability, including the (infamous) Diesel generators that kick in to take over short term UPSs. The issue is that those generators never seem to kick in (I hope that hospitals use a different brand than buildings and datacenters).

One of my former portfolio companies, an ASP, that did not go public on the issue but wrote to its rather unhappy clients, faced exactly the same issue, and the note from the CEO contained very similar statements to David’s. Here is a brief excerpt, in which I only removed named references:

On Monday morning at 9.45am there was a … Read more »