Thursday, 3 November 2011

Movember 2011 - week 1

2011 marks my sixth year participating in Movember at Rackspace, and I’m proud once again to be growing my Mo for charity. But what is Movember, and just what is a Mo?!

Movember is the month formerly known as November, where gentlemen across the world unite and grow a moustache, or “Mo”, for charity. Known as “Mo Bros”, these fearless men attempt to grow the most ridiculous Mo they can, and ask their friends and family to sponsor their Mo. Movember originated in Australia, and supports national Prostate Cancer charities – in the UK, it’s the Prostate Cancer Charity that benefits from all these funds that are raised.

Prostate cancer is a disease that over 100 men are diagnosed with each day in the UK, and will affect most of us in one way or another throughout our lives. Each year I proudly wear my Mo, I find more and more people who have been affected by this terrible disease. The Prostate Cancer Charity supports and informs men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer, and also fund vital research into the causes, treatment and prevention of prostate cancer.
To be honest, Movember has to be the easiest way I’ve ever helped a charity – in the past, I've run marathons, climbed mountains and cycled from London to Brighton. With Movember, all I need to do is stop shaving my upper lip for a month. All everyone else needs to do is enjoy the spectacle, have a laugh and sponsor my Mo.

In my six years of Movember, I’ve found that the Movember message has spread further and further afield – each year I meet more people who are joining in. Just yesterday I was in a meeting with one of my suppliers and noticed that his upper lip was looking stubblier than usual – it turned out that he too was growing a Mo. Many sports personalities and teams are now getting involved, and helping spread the word. If we can raise the profile of prostate cancer and other men’s health issues, and help make people aware of how to recognise the early symptoms, then we can help to prevent many needless deaths.

Back to the now though – it’s day three, and already I’m noticing that this years’ growth has more white patches than previous years. Thank goodness for “Just for Men” moustache dye – without it, my ginger and white moustache would be quite shocking to behold! My wife and children haven’t complained yet about the stubble, but when I told my eight year old son I was growing a Mo again, he was horrified! I’m certain that they will all be much more horrified towards the end of the month as my Mo blossoms!

I have been able to recruit 30 other male Rackers this year to unite with me in hairy upper lipness, which includes a large number of colleagues in our Amsterdam office. We also have a number of Rackers in our San Antonio and Austin offices who are joining in, making this a truly global Rackspace effort! Each year in the London office, we have a Mo-Off at the end of the month, where all of our Mo Bros strut their stuff on a catwalk (or Mo Walk, if you will?!) and award one Mo Bro the title of “Rackspace Man of Movember”.
Over the past six years at Rackspace, we have raised almost £20,000 for the Prostate Cancer Charity, just through Movember. I am proud to participate each year, and look forward to continuing to raise more funds with Movember in the years to come.

If you’d like to donate to the Rackspace Movember team, please click here – all donations go straight to the Prostate Cancer Charity.

Monday, 14 February 2011

2011 – The Year Of The Entrepreneur?

Speaking with some entrepreneurs recently, I was struck by how much easier it is to start a company now than when I worked for a start-up 10 years ago. While I’m sure that investors are just as cautious with their funds now as they were then, the rapid rise of on-demand computing and The Cloud over recent years, along with advances in technology has made it easier, cheaper and faster than ever to set up an IT infrastructure.

Even though so many entrepreneurs are using Cloud products now than ever before, many are still uncertain about just what The Cloud is, and what benefits it offers them.

From a very high level, Cloud Computing usually has three main characteristics:
1) It is built on a shared infrastructure (to deliver economies of scale)
2) It is delivered over the Internet (as opposed to installed onto your PC/server)
3) It is billed on a utility basis (i.e. pay as you go computing)

There are many different types of Cloud products available that share these characteristics, with their ranks swelling practically each week as new innovations are released and as existing offerings are rebadged as Cloud. The most well known and widely used type of Cloud product is shared applications, or Software as a Service (SaaS). These applications can be anything from email solutions that are purchased on a per mailbox, per month basis, to CRM packages such as SalesForce. Start-ups can easily register a domain name online and purchase email accounts from a SaaS provider and have a working corporate email system up and running in hours, as opposed to weeks or months with dedicated systems.

Need a website hosted? Simple – upload your code to a shared web hosting platform like Rackspace Cloud Sites and your site can be up and running in minutes. Or if you need something more complex, why not sign up for a Cloud Server? These virtual servers are available in most operating system flavours that you can think of, and are paid for on an hourly basis.

Looking for a suite of productivity or Office applications? Instead of purchasing expensive licenses, sign up online for a virtual desktop product that comes with all the applications you need, or with Microsoft’s Office 365 or Google Docs. A few clicks of the mouse, enter your details and credit card and your IT system is up and running before you know it.

The benefits of Cloud are many – no more expensive capex payouts for servers and software licenses, the flexibility to grow quickly and pay only for what you use, and the lack of fixed term contracts all make Cloud an attractive proposition.

With the rise of the Cloud, it really does look as though 2011 will be the Year of the Entrepreneur as opposed to the Year of the Rabbit!