All Articles Tagged "cloud computing"

Behind the Click: Ebony Frelix, Director of IT Business Operations

March 27th, 2012 - By Lauren DeLisa Coleman
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Current Occupation: Director, Technology Business Operations
Favorite Website: learnvest.com
Recent Read: Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni
2012’s ultimate goal: Finding ways to better integrate my work life and personal life
Quote that inspires you:: Just Do It – Nike, The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before. – Albert Einstein.

Ready for another installment of the largest building profile archive of African-American women in technology? I’m bringing it to you straight, with no chaser! This time, the focus is Ebony Frelix, who is a colleague of mine in the tech realm. More specifically, she is the the Director of IT Business Operations at Salesforce.com a company that provides solutions for businesses wishing to better utilize the power of cloud computing as well as CRM (customer relationship management). Ebony also gives back to the young, Black female demo in a very special way too. Read on to find out more….

LDC: Ebony, what was it like growing up in San Francisco and earning your computer degree there? In fact, what led to your initial interest in computers or is it almost obligatory living so close to Silicon Valley?

EF: I’ve always loved the rapid pace and constant speed of innovation in technology organizations. Prior to starting my career in technology, I found myself drawn to techie’s in my company – I wanted to understand what they were doing. So I worked with my manager to create a career path leading to tech. At the same time, I shifted my degree to CIS so I could have the credentials to back me up in my new endeavor.

LDC: How did you obtain the position you have now?

EF: Through my social network. I was at my previous company for 11 years and I wanted to take my career in a different direction. While still focusing on technology, I wanted to spend more time driving strategic initiatives and programs on a larger scale. When a friend forwarded the job description at salesforce.com, I knew the job was the perfect match for my skill set and career goals. Before I was called in for interviews, I used my social network to research the role, hiring manager, and company. I knew before my first interview that I wanted to work at salesforce.com.

LDC: So given that, describe exactly what you do and what a typical day is like for you?

EF: Typical day? There is no typical day. That’s what I love about my job at salesforce.com. My focus is on finding ways to increase the bandwidth and velocity of our leadership team, and creating a framework that enables the organization to evolve and mature. Every day is something new and exciting, giving me an opportunity to work with various internal and external partners for the success of the company. It’s a blast.

LDC: So you’re company focuses on cloud computing (a lot of people say they don’t understand what clouds are, but in fact, if they have ever used Gmail; they’ve accessed a cloud. It’s being able to pull massive data from an independent storage area, so to speak). Why you think cloud computing is so important and what its future impact will be on general consumers.

EF: Cloud computing is important because it’s mobile, it’s social, and because it changes with you. Cloud computing brings real-time collaboration to the enterprise using concepts we already know from services we use in our consumer lives. And as an IT executive or CIO, you don’t have to buy any hardware, software or infrastructure, so you’ll never need to budget for an upgrade or buy another server; it just makes sense.

I think we’re seeing the future of cloud computing happening now. We call this next phase the social enterprise, where companies are transforming how they engage with their customers and employees. We live in the cloud already, working there just feels natural.

LDC: So true! But talk to me a little about the philanthropic organization Year Up and why you feel that program is so important.

EF: I’ve worked with Year Up since the Bay Area site opened in 2008. To date, salesforce.com has hosted 47 interns. The program is important because it introduces youth and more diversity into our offices. There is a divide that exists in this country that prohibits talented young adults from accessing opportunities in technology – this is even more challenging for young African-American women. Year Up Bay Area is not a hand-out but a hand-up for young, talented adults to access the skills, education and networks so critical to be successful in today’s corporate environment. For many of these women, this is their path to college success and it’s possible only through the support Year Up Bay Area provides. I feel the work Year Up Bay Area is doing is crucial because it increases the opportunities available to African-American women, opening the doors to management roles, increasing annual earnings, and creating further opportunities for minorities in the future – ending cycles of poverty and dependence. The Year Up program provides the platform and opportunity for young women of all ethnicities to attain success for themselves.

LDC: Do you see Year Up also assisting with encouraging more African-American females to get involved in science & technology?

EF: Yes. Year Up clearly works hard to reach that specific demographic, enabling them to become self-sufficient. I’ve worked first-hand with quite a few talented young women from the program and am thrilled to see doors opening for them. The overall goal of Year Up is to connect skilled talent with corporations looking to hire talented workers, and that is not limited to any specific demographic. In fact, one of the Bay Area classes was the first in the program to have more female students than male!

LDC: Understanding what hurdles these girls might have to overcome, what hurdles have you had, if any, that you feel may have been a bit race/gender related and how did you move past them?

EF: Before salesforce.com, I recall a time early on in my tech career where a co-worker commented ‘Why are YOU here?’ I was a junior computer operator working the graveyard shift and had been on the job less than a month. Instead of letting him discourage me, that comment acted as a motivator. It became my goal to show him and others like him why I was qualified. Not in a sense to prove anything to them – instead, I was proving to myself that I had what it takes to go wherever I wanted to go. As a rule, I don’t let hurdles distract me; I use them as a launching point (turn a hurdle to a step) and move past it. In a few years, I went from junior computer operator to First Vice President.

LDC: Speaking of hurdles, race and all; What are your thoughts on this recent Infographic regarding diversity and Silicon Valley which is causing some controversy?

EF: I believe the gap is in education. If we want more minorities in technology, we need to focus on providing education and training programs that reach them. As a child, I was never discouraged from considering technology, management, or other high-level career tracks. So as both a woman and a minority, I don’t focus on barriers. I believe it has more to do with education and mindset than a deliberate attempt to exclude minorities from entering into technical professions.

LDC: What’s your greatest hope for your career and the tech industry for 2012?

EF: Personally, I will look for ways to continue to learn, grow, and drive change. As an industry, we must continue to look for opportunities to hire from a diverse candidate pool when applicable. It’s not about handouts, it’s about a hand up. I was certainly given opportunities in my career, and I look for ways to pay it forward.

Don’t miss the next profile. In the meantime, keep up with the intersection of tech and lifestyle via my site www.ldcoleman.com and follow me on Twitter @mediaempress.

Behind the Click: Silicon Valley Lawyer Cheree McAlpine

February 27th, 2012 - By Lauren DeLisa Coleman
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Current Occupation: Vice President and General Counsel, Wyse Technology Inc.
Favorite website: Economist.com
Favorite read: Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell
Recent read: Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
2012′s ultimate goal: Getting my 13 year old daughter into a good high school this fall
Quote Governing Your Mission or a Quote that Inspires You: Carpe Diem
Twitter handle: @chereemcalpine


Ready for another profile on women making moves in the tech space?  If so, you are in for a treat.  So far I’ve profiled entrepreneurs and VP’s, but I have yet to zero in on one of the most important areas of the game, until now.  With new terrain being carved out daily, those with legal expertise are key in moving the industry along.  I was fortunate enough to connect with Cheree McAlpine, a key attorney in Silicon Valley, who will give us a peek at what it’s like to be part of the inner legal circle of the tech world.  Get ready for some hot insights from the General Counsel at Wyse Technology, a leader in cloud client computing:

LDC: I’d love to know when did you first become interested in law?

CM: I’ve always loved advocacy, speaking , and debate  (my mother would say arguing), but  at some point law just became a natural and obvious choice if you want to do what you love.

LDC:  There are probably not too many Black female attorneys in your field. Do you find your gender/race a challenge in Silicon Valley?

CM: I have experienced a wonderful 17-year legal career in Silicon Valley where technological innovation is key and knowledge is a premium.   I am currently the General Counsel and head lawyer at a global company.   I understand and can appreciate the uniqueness of my situation as an African American woman in this position and I certainly can’t say that I haven’t experienced conscious or unconscious biases in my profession.  My focus professionally has always been on understanding my value as a lawyer and businesswoman in the Silicon Valley business community and having the confidence to pursue the positions that are suitable to me without personal regard to race and gender.

Is The Cloud Right for Your Company?

September 22nd, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(New York Times) — Most businesses, whether they realize it or not, already have at least a foot in the cloud. If they use Gmail, for example, they are going into the cloud to let Google’s computers handle e-mail.  In fact, most of us have been tying into Internet-based services for more than a decade. But now, more and more business-oriented tools are becoming available online, including many that can be critical to running a company. This guide looks at questions business owners ask and trade-offs they have to make.

WILL IT WORK? Jeff Becker, president of Kotis Design, a custom apparel company based in Seattle, primarily used custom applications to handle tasks like inventory management, order production, invoicing, accounts receivable and customer resource management. They were all tightly integrated, and Mr. Becker said he believed that nothing in the cloud could match his applications for zipping orders through his 45-person company. But for an accounting and financial management system, he decided cloud-based services were more sophisticated and flexible than anything he was likely to build, and he selected offerings from Intacct. Even after spending four months integrating Intacct into his system, he expressed confidence that he had saved time and money: “We’re definitely in favor of moving to the cloud as we go forward.”

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Why Sub-Saharan Africa is the Continent’s “Silicon Savanna”

July 19th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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Masai on cell phoneBy Alexis Garrett Stodghill

Most Western news about Africa focuses on the seeding of al-Qaeda terrorism in nations like Yemen, or revolutionary battles against dictators like Muammar Gaddafi. But there is another, quieter disruption taking place in countries like Kenya in which black coders and tech entrepreneurs are creating their own boom. In Alex Perry’s article for Time, the author outlines numerous stories of success that have had international implications emerging from the continent, chronicling Africa’s exponential growth in the sector. Mobile tech via cell phones in particular has seen a host of creative applications sparked by African inventiveness. About the impact of cell phones on Africa’s economies, Perry reports:

 According to studies by the London Business School, the World Bank and consultants at Deloitte, for every 10 additional mobiles per 100 Africans, GDP rises 0.6% to 1.2%. [...]

But this is not a story merely of how technology is changing Africa. Africans are changing technology right back. They now use text-message networks to send e mail, run social networks (South Africa’s MXit) and even verify from a bar code whether a drug is genuine or fake (mPedigree in Ghana and Sproxil in Nigeria). Africa’s influence on global technology is most marked in mobile banking: with its M Pesa service (M for mobile, pesa meaning money in Swahili), Kenyan operator Safaricom became the first-ever telecom company to create a mass mobile-banking service, setting industry standards now being copied from California to Kabul.

Africans, and Kenyans in particular, are making their presence felt online too. When Kenya erupted in violence in the aftermath of a disputed general election in late 2007, a handful of Nairobi code writers created Ushahidi (meaning testimony in Swahili), a data-mapping platform to collate and locate reports of unrest sent in by the public via text message, e mail and social media. The idea was simply to find out what was happening. Says Ushahidi co-founder Juliana Rotich: “The TV was playing The Sound of Music while we could see houses burning in our neighborhood.” But the desire to know what’s going on turned out to be universal, and Ushahidi quickly became the world’s default platform for mapping crises, disasters and political upheaval. According to Rotich, by May of this year, Ushahidi, which is free to download, had been used 14,000 times in 128 countries to map everything from last year’s earthquake in Haiti to this year’s Japanese tsunami and the Arab Spring.

We can only expect more African tech companies to blow up as plans to add Internet cables in the region are executed in the coming years. The cost of connectivity will go down and the speed of the average connection will go up as a result, leading to more involvement by the already active community. Growing investment from companies like Google, which has its regional headquarters in Kenya’s Nairobi, will lead to similar inventions like cloud computing, which came out of South Africa.

But unlike South Africa, the most developed African country, Kenya is the nation tech onlookers are observing with the greatest expectations. It has promoted the free and open use of telecom, unlike leaders that over-control or underdevelop state resources to the detriment of their useful application. Kenya invests in tech infrastructure so that both companies and citizens can enjoy the Internet as “a basic human right,” the nation’s information minister told Time.

Such is its affinity for technology that “Kenya’s love for IT has earned it the nickname Silicon Savanna,” Perry wrote. Playing on the name of America’s tech hub — Silicon Valley — this moniker shows just how important the region has become as a leader in international innovation.

Read more in detail about the leaders, movers and shakers of Silicon Savanna on Time.com. Does this movement shake up your vision of Africa as impoverished and underdeveloped? Is investing in its burgeoning tech sector something you would consider? Leave your comments below!

6 Ways the Cloud Can Help Your Budget

July 7th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Daily Finance) — Communication is increasingly moving off the grid and into the cloud. For cellphone users — especially ones with smartphones — there are a host of online tools and apps that can help reduce usage on carrier plans and save money. One way to shave down costs is to drop extra SMS packages and use the bare minimum of minutes for calls. The recent proliferation of free Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and instant-messaging applications makes it easier than ever to find low-cost communication alternatives.

Music Industry Moving Closer to Apple's Forbidden Fruit

May 28th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Businessweek) — Compared with buying e-books, building a digital music collection is a hassle. E-books zip directly to reading devices like the Kindle and Nook and are backed up “in the cloud”—on the servers of Amazon.com (AMZN) and Barnes & Noble (BKS). A digital song, on the other hand, is typically downloaded to a PC and must then be manually transferred to an iPod or mobile phone. If you lose your Kindle, you can always download an e-book again; if the PC crashes or the iPod falls into the bathtub, the song goes down with it.  Moving music to the cloud has been an elusive goal for big tech companies and their music industry counterparts, until now. In the past two months, Amazon and Google (GOOG) have unveiled cloud music services, albeit to mixed reviews and indifference from consumers. These new services let users upload their music collections into so-called digital lockers on the Internet and stream the songs they own to a variety of devices. Both are limited, because neither Google nor Amazon could reach an accommodation with music labels. Label executives say they are negotiating aggressively to make sure they profit from the shift to the cloud. It may be the last opportunity to stem rampant piracy and years of plummeting sales.

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Can Businesses Trust the Cloud?

May 13th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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(Black Enterprise) — A data center in northern Virginia housing Amazon’s Web Services Business failed between April 21-24, causing Internet outages for several popular Internet companies, including Reddit.com, Quora.com, and Foursquare.com, along with hundreds of lesser known companies and small businesses. These companies were renting space on Amazon’s massive Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) servers. When the problem occurred, business interruptions ranging from losing the comment function on some websites to losing access to sites altogether started a lot of people to question just how reliable cloud computing really is.

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