Monthly Archives: July 2011

Virtualization: A Manager’s Guide By Dan Kusnetzky

I picked up a copy of “Virtualization: A Manager’s Guide” as a part of the O’Reilly blogger review program. It was little questionable as while I’m technically a manager, I am also still very technical, so am on the border of the books audience.

At Ephox we make heavy use of virtualization in our development environments. We are running VMWare images for testing servers and clients, using these images to replicate client issues that are often can only be reproduced on specific platforms. I’ve also experimented with amazon ec2 and s3, running an internally built wiki on that architecture. With this in mind I had a decent understanding of virtualization before starting to read the book, but wanted to fill out my understanding and ensure that I had thought through the management level issues.

I picked up the book hoping for a well written book, instead finding a very light read that was a bit too formulaic. Each chapter followed a very set pattern and style, which basically conveyed some information, without gripping the reader. I’m not sure that it would hit the mark for someone that has no experience with virtualization, and it’s one of the few O’Reilly books I’d be reluctant to recommend? That said I’d still just rate it at 3 out of 5, as it’s contents are factual, and there might be some managers entering into virtualization that it might be useful for.

[This book was reviewed as a part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program]

Test-Driven Infrastructure with Chef By Stephen Nelson-Smith

Test-Driven Infrastructure with Chef is a good little book. I grabbed a copy, having heard much about Chef, and Puppet, tools for automating machine and systems integration. The book did a good idea of introducing many of the foundational ideas and concepts behind devops, automating infrastructure deployment, chef, TDD, BDD, and test driving infrastructure. The key foundational information provides a good grounding for the book, and is one of the big reasons to read it. These foundations fill in any gaps in understanding, and provide a great basis for doing the test driven infrastructure development talked about in the book.

The sections in the book showing actual test driven infrastructure ended up being quite short. If you’ve already up to speed with Chef but just want to skill up on TDI, then this might not be the book for you. If however, you’re like me, and just starting the journey on OpsCode and chef, this book makes for great little read, and I’d recommend it to you.

[This book was reviewed as a part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program]

Getting to Meaningful Use and Beyond By Fred Trotter, David Uhlman

Getting to Meaningful Use and Beyond Is a book about the meaningful use standards for electronic health records in the united states. I grabbed a preview copy of this book having implemented a simple database for a patient record reporting for a small therapy group many moons ago. I was expecting a dry boring book, but was pleasantly surprised to find it engaging and well written.

Health IT systems provide great promise for improving the efficiency and quality of health services, with the cautious guard that IT implementations for large organizations carry huge risk of failure. Queensland Health have been an example of what can go wrong, particularly with their spectacular payroll system failures after a recent upgrade.

Getting to Meaningful Use and Beyond presents many of the opportunities with health IT, informing of some of the great successes, while informing of the risks and challenges.

A quote in the book says “When you’ve seen one medical practice, you’ve seen one medical practice.” which forms a basis for one of the key challenges in Health IT systems. The book continues the point out some of the differences, and considerations to include. It highlights the requirements and value for helping to follow the processes for health it systems, but also the need for flexibility and customization. It cries out for techniques like those used by FlexaData(http://flexadata.com/) for modeling and working with data.

I was reviewing an early access version of the book, which was well worth reading on it’s own right, even with some typos and a couple of chapters missing. It will be interesting to see how the book evolves with a changing landscape. In particular I look forward to seeing the authors comments on the pending demise of Google Health (google health was referenced in the book, but the comments predate knowledge of it’s pending close in 2012).

I’d definitely recommend the book to anyone considering HealthIT, or an IT professional interested in health. There is also some great pointers and ideas useful for computer literate people who are dealing with health issues.

[This book was reviewed as a part of the O'Reilly Blogger Review Program]