The Eigencast 018: Bimodal Begone

The Eigencast

Justin talks to Meredith Whalen, Senior Vice President, U.S. Insights and Vertical Business Units, IDC about IDC’s alternative to Gartner’s bimodal approach.

They talk about why integration is a vital piece that is missing from Gartner’s bimodal approach, and why that’s going to cause problems for organisations that try to use it. Justin refers to Simon Wardley’s PST model as an alternative.

They discuss how digital transformation is really just another form of organisational change, so many of the existing tools and techniques will work. Putting digital in front of words doesn’t fundamentally change the universe.

Justin points out that IT departments have been forced to compete with cloud, and for many this is the first time they’ve ever had to operate like a real business. Meredith shares IDC research that indicates some IT departments are beginning to get it, and their businesses are noticing the improvement.


  • 00:00:00.000 Intro
  • 00:00:15.856 Episode Intro
  • 00:02:50.933 Interview
  • 00:04:14.666 Simon Wardley’s PST Model
  • 00:07:04.304 IT Transformation To Help Business Transformation
  • 00:07:58.407 What Even Is Digital Transformation?
  • 00:10:58.529 The Business Controls The Money
  • 00:13:08.929 Cloud Competition
  • 00:13:42.186 Are You Ready?
  • 00:15:04.301 Where Are The Marketers?
  • 00:20:25.638 Change Management
  • 00:22:25.759 IT Is Getting Better
  • 00:24:35.314 Closing Remarks
  • 00:25:38.952 Outtakes




This episode of The Eigencast was sponsored by PivotNine. Research, analysis, advice.


The Eigencast 017: Nutanix .NEXT with Sudheesh Nair

The Eigencast

Sudheesh Nair, President of Nutanix

Sudheesh Nair, President of Nutanix (Source: LinkedIn)

Justin talks to Sudheesh Nair, President of Nutanix, at the Nutanix .NEXT 2016 conference, held in Las Vegas, NV.

We discuss the delayed Nutanix IPO, and the Nutanix approach to financing. We talk about the market climate for startups generally in 2016, and how Nutanix may use the tight financing conditions as an opportunity to pick up complementary startups on the cheap. Nutanix PR make it clear these are all hypothetical situations.

Sudheesh explains the underlying principles driving the Nutanix product evolution, and the company culture. We discuss the new Xpress product line, and what going down-market to SMB implies for the company.

We also talk about what Enterprise Cloud actually means, and what companies are really trying to do with infrastructure.

Justin travelled to Nutanix .NEXT 2016 as a guest of Nutanix.


We’re experimenting with chapters in this episode.

  • 00:00:00.000 Intro
  • 00:00:15.856 Episode Intro
  • 00:03:33.803 Interview
  • 00:05:57.546 Explaining the IPO Strategy
  • 00:08:23.640 Jeff Bezos Investor Letter
  • 00:13:12.502 Coming to America
  • 00:16:40.373 Storage is Central
  • 00:22:21.631 The Xpress Experiment
  • 00:24:37.085 Enterprise Cloud
  • 00:28:58.530 Flattery will get you everywhere
  • 00:29:27.601 Closing Remarks
  • 00:30:47.462 Outtakes




This episode of The Eigencast was sponsored by PivotNine. Research, analysis, advice.



The Eigencast 016: Stratacloud

The Eigencast

Brian Cohen, CEO Stratacloud

Brian Cohen, CEO Stratacloud

Justin talks to Brian Cohen, CEO of Stratacloud, about the company’s vision to build a software-defined infrastructure platform.

Stratacloud has released its first product: SDI Install, designed to help VARs to deploy NetApp FlexPod.

They also discuss how customers are actually using cloud, and when they choose to deploy into the public cloud, when they use hyper-converged infrastructure, and when they want converged infrastructure, or something else. The actual buying process is quite different to what some analysts would have you believe.

Despite plenty of rhetoric to the contrary, there’s still a lot of money being spent on infrastructure that goes into datacentres.




This episode of The Eigencast was sponsored by PivotNine. Research, analysis, advice.



Moving To NGINX From Apache


I’ve been a longtime user of the Apache webserver. I think I first installed and configured a 1.x release somewhere in the late 90s, which is longer ago than I often realise.

The last time I looked at NGINX as an alternative to Apache was, similarly, quite a while ago. At the time, the feature parity wasn’t sufficient for it to replace what I needed my Apache install to do, which was a combination of outbound webserving and reverse-proxying of internal services.

A lot has changed. NGINX is now absolutely a viable alternative to Apache for basically everything I thought I needed Apache for.

It’s also just… easier.

The configuration syntax makes more sense to me. Name-based virtual servers just work. SSL setup is easy. I didn’t have to muck about to get reverse proxying working. Putting specific bits of configuration in a certain context (global HTTP server, virtual server, URI location) seems much more intuitive. The documentation is largely clear and to the point, and it’s easy enough to find what I need to look up.

To be fair, a lot of this was made easier because I was coming from Apache and already knew how a lot of this should work, even if I didn’t necessarily know what the syntax I needed was. It was just a matter of quickly Googling Apache to NGINX migration guides scattered around the place, and checking of some documentation.

Why Move?

Apache is pretty heavy. My main corporate site is hosted on a small virtual server to keep costs down, but the same VM also hosts a bunch of other services, like email. The VM only has 1GB of RAM, which should be a lot, but these days it unfortunately isn’t. Apache hogging a bunch of memory to serve up some pretty lightweight pages didn’t really make sense, but I hadn’t bothered to change because a) it worked, and b) why fix what isn’t broken?, and c) laziness.

Alas, the rise in spam meant spamassassin was chewing up a lot of memory learning new tokens (a topic for another day) and running out of RAM, or MySQL would run out and die when something got a bit too popular. It wasn’t worth building a multi-VM scale-out solution, because that would be massive overkill (which means I totally should do it as an exercise one of these days) but I don’t like operational headaches.

Recently I spoke to NGINX Head of Products, Owen Garrett about the open source NGINX webserver/proxy/cache/load-balancer, and the commercial offering NGINX Plus. Did you know there’s a commercial version? There is, and it’s about a lot more than just webserving. Oh, and the CEO, Gus Robertson, is a fellow Aussie.

So NGINX was top of mind, and I figured I may as well give it a go.

Easy Move

Installation is easy, because NGINX is part of Ubuntu, so just:

apt-get install nginx

Basic configuration was straightforward: add a site in /etc/nginx/sites-available, port the Apache configuration across, link to /etc/nginx/sites-enabled and then reload the server config. Here’s a decent place to start with how to port your config. It’s quite easy, really.

You can check syntax first, just like with Apache:

nginx -t
service nginx reload

I already had SSL keys organised (check out LetsEncrypt if you need some) so the main change was to concatenate existing server certificates and the CA chain certificate, because NGINX wants them to be in the one file (unlike Apache’s SSLCertificateChainFile syntax). More info on configuring SSL is here.

Setting up a reverse proxy is easy with the proxy_pass setup:

        location / {
                proxy_pass_header Server;

The servername and port are changed for this example, but that’s honestly all there is to it. I only need the proxy_pass_header Server; part because the application server this is in front of happens to need the requested hostname because reasons.

WordPress With FastCGI

This blog runs WordPress, and moving that to NGINX meant adding something to process the PHP, much like adding libapache_mod_php5 to Apache.

Again, this is easy:

apt-get install php5-fpm

And then configure your NGINX server to call php5-fpm as described in this article on the NGINX site. There are security implications for how you allow code to be executed on your webserver, which isn’t specifically related to NGINX, but basically don’t allow files that can be uploaded to the site to be executed as code.


For tips on the basics of migrating a config, check out this guide over at DigitalOcean. Also take a look at the Beginner’s Guide in the open-source documentation

The basics in the NGINX Admin Guide are easy to read as well, and you can refer to the detailed command references where you want to.

The basics of configuring NGINX for SSL is here.


  • There’s a difference between root and alias, which is important.
  • If you want to debug how your location matching is working, put your error logging at level notice, and enable rewrite logging, e.g.:
    rewrite_log on;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/mysite.errors.log notice;
  • debug level output is very verbose.
  • Move stuff you use in multiple places into a separate file and use include <commonfile>; so you don’t have to write the same thing over and over.


The Eigencast 015: Spare5 and the Human Machine Hybrid

The Eigencast

Justin talks to Matt Benke, CEO and Founder of Spare5, and Andy Ganse, Principal Data Scientist, about how they use humans to complement machine learning and data analysis techniques.

Andy Ganse, Principal Data Scientist, Spare5

Andy Ganse, Principal Data Scientist, Spare5


Matt Benke, CEO and co-founder, Spare5

Spare5 is so-named because people can take a spare five minutes out of their day to do a task allocated to them by Spare5’s system, a bit like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, but a task that they are good at and enjoy. And unlike playing a game or checking in to Facebook or Twitter for the twenty-third time this morning, you get paid for your time.

But unlike the exploitative nature of other platforms (*cough* sharing economy *cough*), Spare5 doesn’t see this as an alternative source of a primary income. It’s very much geared towards people spending an odd minute here and there to do something they actually like doing, not something they feel they have to do just to survive. It’s an alternative to playing Candy Crush, but you get paid instead of paying to be entertained.

There are some interesting implications to Spare5’s approach, for how machine learning and modelling is done, the role of humans in a machine/human hybrid future, and how we design systems to provide end companies with the benefits of human labour but in a way that values the humans at least as much as the machines.




This episode of The Eigencast was sponsored by PivotNine. Research, analysis, advice.