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Amazon Web Services for Dummies

The best-selling cloud computing book ever.

Jeff Barr had this to say about AWS for Dummies: “This is a great resource for anyone considering the jump into cloud computing. Golden manages to address both business requirements and technical content in a way that will appeal to almost any audience.”

I wrote AWS for Dummies because of my conviction cloud computing represents a transformational innovation platform and AWS offers enormous power to users — but knowing how to use it correctly is critical to get the greatest benefit from AWS usage. Otherwise it’s just hosting with an API wrapped around it.

AWS for Dummies covers

  • Overall design of AWS (typically neglected in most AWS discussions and critical to really understanding how it operates)
  • Core services (EC2, S3, etc.)
  • Extended services (Elastic Transcoder, Elastic Map Reduce, etc.)
  • How to ensure your AWS application is scalable, resilient, and cost-effective
  • And much more

AWS for Dummies continues to sell well four years after being published, perhaps because as one Amazon reviewer said:

“It’s honestly a really good book – at first I wasn’t really sold on it – it felt like it was missing details….but then about 1/3 of the way through the book – I realized that was getting a really great education on the material.”

Other Amazon reviewers said:

“The author introduce this wide subject in a very efficient way. Even with an important domain background, this book is a pleasure to read.”

“Definitely one of the best books I have ever read about Cloud Computing. Each chapter gave me the information I needed ranging from security to the pros and cons of each AWS service. I honestly recommend it.”

Published 2013

Cloud Computing: Assessing the Risks

Security has always been the number one user concern about cloud computing. Unfortunately, most cloud books address security by parroting vendor FUD or discussing the technical details of a particular provider’s security functionality. The industry needed a impartial guide to cloud computing security, but none was available — so we set out to write one! My co-authors and I collaborated to address all aspects of cloud security: functionality, compliance, risk, and governance.

Cloud Computing: Assessing the Risks covers all of these topics and provides concrete security recommendations to readers so they can leverage cloud computing safely.

My chapters of the book cover these areas:

  • Why cloud security is a shared provider/user responsibility
  • The concept of a provider/user trust boundary and how to locate it and assign security responsibility
  • The security roles of provider, user, auditor, and certification
  • How to conduct a cloud security audit

Cloud security continues to be a major user concern and our book is a great resource to address it thoroughly and efficiently.

Published 2011

Creating the Infrastructure for Cloud Computing

I was invited to participate as the only non-Intel employee to co-author this Intel Press book on cloud computing.

The book focuses on the infrastructure that a cloud environment requires. It’s easy to assume on-demand services, shared resources, scale, and elasticity, but quite another thing to actually deliver them. Creating the Infrastructure for Cloud Computing addresses how to implement an agile computing environment that provides real cloud characteristics.

My contribution to the book addresses:

  • Application design requirements
  • Application management and operation in a dynamic, shared infrastructure environment
  • Cloud application case studies and best practice recommendations
  • Cloud application economics

Essentially, I present what users of a cloud infrastructure expect and the subtle implications of those expectations. This continues to be an issue in the industry as many operations groups fail to distinguish between off-premises and cloud application-capable infrastructure.

Published 2010

Virtualization for Dummies

This is the book that started me on my cloud computing journey. I had been doing some writing on open source, including the Xen hypervisor, when Dummies Press contacted me to see if I would be interested in writing Virtualization for Dummies. They had committed to putting out a virtualization book, placed it on their editorial calendar, and then launched a search for an author. They told me that I was the clearest writer on the topic out of the 100 (!) writers they had reviewed. I thought virtualization was an important topic and that a good introductory guide was called for, and we agreed to collaborate on the book.

One of the chapters of Virtualization for Dummies is on “The Future of Virtualization.” While researching that chapter, I attended an enterprise architecture meetup at the Cubberly Community Center in Palo Alto. That evening an Amazon employee talked about something they called “infrastructure as a service.” It struck me like a bolt of lightning — it was immediately obvious to me that IaaS (the term cloud computing hadn’t even been coined at that point) would transform the practice of IT and disrupt the vendor side of the industry. I immediately shifted all my attention and efforts toward cloud computing and the rest, as they say, is history.

Amazingly enough, for a ten year-old technical book, it still sells. This is an Amazon review posted by a reader on April 16, 2017:

“Got here quickly and I’ve learned a lot from it!”

Published 2007

Succeeding with Open Source

I have worked in software my entire career with several stops at packaged software companies. So when I first encountered the concept of open source, it’s fair to say I was skeptical. I had concerns regarding quality, support, security, and so on.

OTOH, I had recently worked at a company where we selected a packaged software component to be included as part of our product.

What a nightmare that was! We had to talk to sales reps before we could access their company’s product. Before allowing us to test the component, the reps wanted to know how many development licenses we would buy and how big a commitment we would make for production needs. And, btw, when we actually tested the components, they didn’t work all that well and the support was terrible.

Then I started working with open source. Immediate access to the software. It worked quite well. Lots of online documentation. But the support is what blew me away. When I had questions on component usage, I would post to the mailing list, and 20 minutes later I had responses from all over the world.

It was obvious that the benefits of open source would drive adoption over time. But I knew mainstream IT organizations would have the same kind of concerns I had expressed, and questions about how to choose, adopt, and support open source software within their organization.

So I decided to write a book on open source software that addressed its “ilities,” i.e., reliability, manageability, supportability, and so on — the sine qua non of enterprise software use. I created the Open Source Maturity Model to help people evaluate open source software components. Thirteen years later, Succeeding with Open Source is still used in university programs to introduce students to the concepts and use of open source software.

Published 2004