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The Chase Is On

by Todd Swensen

Introducing a Bold New Voice in Cloud Computing

There's no way around it. Because it's sponsored and produced by Novell, CloudChasers technically qualifies as a “corporate podcast,” which is both an oxymoron and a red flag in the eyes of many podcasting enthusiasts. But if you actually take a moment to listen to CloudChasers, it doesn't take long to realize that this is not another vehicle for marketing fluff and corporate spin. Maybe it's the fact that the show's host, Matthew T. Grant, loves to surprise his unsuspecting guests with off-kilter questions like, “Is Google about to drink Microsoft's milkshake?” Or maybe it's a willingness to seek out guests who tend to say things like, “Every time you think [in terms of] compliance or security, God kills a kitten” into a live microphone. Regardless, it's clear that CloudChasers works overtime to renounce, reject and move beyond the familiar dry, safe, warmed-over webinar approach to corporate podcasts. So if it doesn't fit the typical mold, exactly what is CloudChasers all about? And more important, what does it add to the cloud computing discussion?

“We wear seatbelts because we are afraid of $30 fines, not because we are afraid of dying. That's also the case with regulations.”
--Dr. Anton Chuvakin, on the May 20, 2010 episode of CloudChasers

Chasing Clouds for Fun and Profit (or just fun)

The answers to these questions start with the brains behind CloudChasers, Novell director of new and social media Frank Days and the show's host, Matthew T. Grant. “From the moment we started talking about doing a Novell sponsored cloud computing podcast, we knew we would be facing some fairly unflattering corporate podcast stereotypes,” said Days. “To counteract those pre-conceptions, we knew we had to go out of our way to find guests who represented a lot of different cloud computing perspectives, turn them loose to speak their minds and find ways to have some fun in the process. It took us a few weeks to nail down a format that worked, but now I think we've really hit our stride.”

The show's guests have certainly helped. So far, CloudChasers has featured prominent, no-nonsense cloud bloggers and podcasters like Geva Perry and David Linthicum, cloud experts from the likes of IBM and VMware and a range of experienced cloud computing practitioners. “Since we launched the podcast in April, we've made it a point to feature guests with a lot of different experience and perspectives,” said Grant. “Then, it's my job to get past their filters and get them to say things that are unexpected and maybe even a bit controversial. That's the great thing about the podcasting format. It's a totally spontaneous, unscripted conversation where my guests have no idea what I'm going to ask them about. That certainly makes things a lot more fun and interesting.”

Anyone familiar with cloud computing knows there is certainly no shortage of hot (and even contentious) topics to work with. “In a lot of ways, cloud computing is still in its infancy,” said Grant. “That means there's an almost overwhelming number of interesting things to discuss. We've been doing a show every week since late April, and I feel like we haven't even scratched the surface.”

Over Cloud Chaser's first three months, the show has mainly featured cloud computing pundits, bloggers and experts. “To start out, we wanted to get most of the big cloud issues and challenges out on the table, so we brought on a lot of fairly prominent experts,” said Days. “Now that we've set the stage, we plan to start featuring more practitioners—people who are in the trenches doing interesting and innovative things with private and public clouds in their own companies. Of course, we're always willing to sit down with anyone who has interesting, relevant things to say about the cloud—as long as they're willing to speak their mind and tackle the tough questions.”

“Cloud computing is going to force new relationships in the IT organization. So get ready for it.”
Dustin Amrhein, technology evangelist for IBM, on the April 15, 2010 episode of CloudChasers

Top 3 CloudChaser Episodes

Of course, the best way to get a feel for CloudChasers is to simply start listening. With 15 weekly episodes already in the can, there are plenty of great episodes and highlights to choose from. If you're not sure where to start, here are three especially interesting and entertaining episodes to get you started:

  1. Cloud Security and Compliance: It's all about the Logs—Some might consider it ironic that one of the most entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny episodes of CloudChasers revolves around the topic of log management. But when you combine an opinionated, outspoken guest like Dr. Anton Chuvakin, inappropriate references to the untimely demise of kittens and a tortured Star Trek metaphor, you end up with an especially quotable cloud computing discussion.
  2. Battle of the Public Clouds: Who Is Winning?—Everyone loves a big, no-holds-barred industry turf war, and the fight over cloud computing dominance among vendors like Google, Amazon and Microsoft is a doozie. In this lively episode, leading cloud computing blogger Geva Perry and Novell Canada president Russ Chivaliet break down the battle and give their opinions on where businesses should place their bets.
  3. Going Rogue: Embracing the Cloud without IT's Permission—What does it mean when end users start adopting cloud applications without approval from their IT department? And does this trend fundamentally change the relationship between IT organizations and the organizations they serve? CloudChasers tackles these tough questions with outspoken Infoworld cloud computing blogger David Linthicum.
“The adoption of cloud is happening at an extremely rapid pace. There's no doubt in my mind, this is the future of IT. [Enterprises and small businesses] need to know [which] players to bet on, which technologies to bet on and which standards to bet on.”
Geva Perry, author of the Thinking Out Cloud blog, on the April 22, 2010 episode of CloudChasers

Join the Chase

Like any new podcast, CloudChasers is working hard to build an audience. “The best podcasts are almost always part of larger social media experience, and CloudChasers is no exception,” said Grant. “We want to create a social, interactive community around CloudChasers where conversations with our listeners take place before, during and after every episode.” To make that happen, Frank Days is taking advantage of all the podcast distribution and social media tools at his disposal. Cloud computing enthusiasts can listen live or subscribe to CloudChasers on iTunes or download pre-recorded episodes through Novell's own mp3 feed. Listeners can also comment on the show and interact with guests through a CloudChasers LinkedIn group and blog.

Of course, all those tools are worthless if people don't like the show. “In the podcasting world, it's all about content,” said Days. “Every podcaster, including CloudChasers, starts at ground zero. If the show is interesting, relevant and entertaining, word will get around, people will get involved, and CloudChasers will build an audience and become a strong voice in the cloud computing community.” Obviously, Frank Days and Matt Grant are strong believers. “We've worked very hard to put something interesting and worthwhile together,” said Grant, “and we're proud of the results. Of course, it only takes a few minute for listeners to form their own opinions. We just hope everyone who is interested in cloud computing will check out CloudChasers and decide for themselves.” So far, this approach appears to be working. CloudChasers' audience has grown steadily since its debut last April, and the show is getting ready to boost its listenership even more by joining a major syndicated online radio network. So look for a new episode of CloudChasers coming to a PC or mp3 player near you. And find out just how interesting and entertaining cloud computing can be.

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