Archive for March, 2012

What’s Next for the Cloud and CloudNOW

March 29, 2012

Catherine Edwards is an executive marketer and senior communications consultant within the cloud computing, SaaS, security, Internet technology and healthcare sectors, currently serving as Marketing Director at Zafesoft Inc., VP of Communications at CloudNOW. Previously Catherine held Director of Communications positions with CloudPassage, ResponseLogix and Altor Networks.

Although Catherine’s education  was not technical, she parlayed her background as a journalist coupled with her MBA from Boston University into the ability to successfully  launch companies, bring new products to market, create branding, and enter new market segments.

Catherine spent the first half of her career in corporate roles with Fortune 50 companies including DEC, Sun, Lotus, and Compaq. As she moved from corporate roles to start-ups, from start-ups to nonprofit to consulting, she describes the progression of her career, and the proactive choices she made to find and create that work-life balance, while choosing a fulfilling career working with people, companies and technologies she cares about.

She spoke eloquently about the evolution of the technology industry, remarking on the heightened expenditures and activities around Y2K, which also coincided with the dot com bubble. Catherine provided an interesting perspective about the dot-com bust, and how it was related to companies anticipating continued IT expenditures to remain at the same or higher level pre-Y2K.

But with the advancement of IT technologies, the increase (finally) in investments, the resurrected IPO market, Cloud computing will be the next mandatory IT wave. Catherine encourages us to see the opportunities around the convergence of cloud solutions – public, private, community and hybrid, along with mobile solutions with the plethora of devices now available and a user-base demanding that their devices get integrated into corporate environments, and big data in general.

The convergence in trends drives the need for security.  Catherine is also Marketing Director at Zafesoft, the leading content security provider that provides persistent, track-able, and transparent security that enables secure information collaboration anywhere in the world, inside or outside the firewall.

In terms of work-life balance, Catherine had the following advice:

  • You don’t have to choose between having a full life with kids and having a successful career.
  • The technology trends of cloud computing and mobile devices provide the flexibility need to balance work and family.
  • The more successful you are, the better role model you will be for your sons and daughters.  They will see you excelling in your career while raising your family.

To conclude our conversation, Catherine, in her role as VP of Communications, invites us to attend CloudNow events, volunteer to support the community, receive their newsletters, and connect with other women in technology who are invested in driving the future of the cloud. For more information, visit CloudNow at, visit Zafesoft at, or visit Catherine’s website at


Opportunities in the Cloud

March 20, 2012

CloudNOW award winner Ellen Rubin is VP, Cloud Products at Terremark, a Verizon Company and co-founder of CloudSwitch, recently bought by Verizon and brought into their Terremark group. Ellen started her career as a management consultant, which was a great opportunity to try many things early in her career, gaining experience in a number of different industries and countries. She developed a passion for technology and throughout her career has gained experience in cloud computing, business intelligence, analytics, CRM, data warehousing and data centers, working with engineers and other technical professionals. Her advice to other non-technical people is to take the time and energy to listen closely, do the research and training so that you truly understand the technology, and then translate the business and market/customer data you might have into quantifiable, logical terms that technologists would understand. She also encourages people to ask the dumb questions, and to explain things from the perspective of the customer, without over-managing *how* something is implemented.
Ellen is passionate about the opportunities in the cloud, and sees it as an exploding market with many opportunities ahead. One of the benefits of it being a new industry is that there aren’t a lot of legacy applications or old and established leaders in the market. Another benefit of joining is that it is inevitable that companies large and small will be adopting the cloud – the question is how and/or when or which solutions first. So those who are willing to leverage their skills, do the work, have relevant, transferable skills and background, and willing to get their hands dirty doing many different things will be the people succeeding in growing cloud solutions and supporting the cloud potential overall.
Specific hot areas within the cloud opportunity include hybrid clouds, security and monitoring solutions, as well as solutions that help enterprises and organizations remain in compliance with regulations, providing security and performance requirements while serving a wide range of users. In the end, it will be the companies that make the cloud solutions an extension of what they are already doing in-house, a seamless integration between what’s outsourced externally and done internally, and easily scalable to meet anticipated needs.
For more information, visit Ellen’s company, or find out more about CloudNOW at

Enterprise Solutions for the Cloud

March 16, 2012

CloudNOW award winner Seema Jethani started out with a degree in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai in India, moved on to receive a Masters in Computer Science from North Carolina State University and then a MBA, Strategy from Duke University – The Fuqua School of Business before working for IBM as a computer engineer and then a competitive strategist for the cloud computing group at IBM. She is currently Director of Product Management at EnStratus where she manages customer requirements and relationships and develops product strategy, pricing, messaging and sales tactics.

With this type of background, Seema is uniquely qualified to share her perspectives about the challenges around cloud computing and the opportunities ahead. She describes how rapidly IT is changing, moving from a time when engineers requested and received many systems they manage on their own, to a time when servers work with clients within big companies, and now to a time when big companies are moving into the cloud.

This rapid change is met by resistance by many, inside and outside the IT department. But the wave is turning as companies are recognizing the strategic advantage of embracing the cloud to improve performance, maintain governance and security requirements, while also creating a scalable, flexible, sustainable solution for the internal staff and for working with partners and customers. In short, embracing the cloud means that a company can focus on their core competencies. Therefore, the cloud is exploding and companies big and small must choose the cloud option to remain competitive, so resistance is futile.

In some ways, it is easier to adopt cloud solutions in a small company, which is less process-driven, less weighed down by legacy solutions and by serving a large user base. However, the downside is that sometimes there is not enough infrastructure or process in place to get things done. So if you’re in that situation, create a solution to address the problem at hand.

In some ways, it is easier to work in a larger company, with more people and infrastructure and resources to support you and your team. But sometimes the number of people and processes and groups and legacy applications can be a hurdle to getting things done. So if you’re in that situation, find an executive sponsor and a project you feel passionate about and drive results from there.

We concluded the discussion talking about women in the cloud and technology overall. Seema pointed out that there are only 20-30% of people in classes and at work who are in technology, and encouraged women to feel confident about pursuing careers in math and science, to leverage their strengths and passions, and to overcome any stereotypes about what people think about having women in technology. Seema is doing her part as an active member of the CloudNOW (Cloud Network of Women) community, serving on their research team and putting together events on topics ranging from security to performance.

For more information, visit Seema’s company, or find out more about CloudNOW at

Agility: The Key to Building a Successful Career

March 13, 2012

FountainBlue’s March 9 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Agility – The Key to Building a Successful Career, featuring:
Facilitator Caroline Margozzi, Director, Business Development, Tangence
Panelist Hillary Barnhart, Senior Director, Business Operations, Applied Materials
Panelist Karyn Corbett, Senior Director, Operations, Advanced Development Group, Cisco
Panelist Kim Fox, Chief of Staff to the President, Sr. Director Operations, Information Intelligence Group, EMC
Panelist Brigitte Ricou-Bellan, Senior Director and GM, International, eBay
Panelist Mona Sabet, Corporate VP, Business Development, Cadence
Please join us in thanking our speakers for taking the time to share their advice and thoughts and to our gracious hosts at EMC. Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have such a wide range of perspectives on the panel. Our panelists were women who represented different companies, roles and levels, supporting a range of product and service offerings, but also women who had so much in common:
• They are persistent enough to perform in the roles they find themselves in, but also constantly sought change and forged change, never electing complacency over opportunity. This does not mean that they were always successful, but it does mean that they keep moving forward, even if moving forward means moving laterally in the short term, learning from the experience, and leveraging the truths of that experience to keep that forward progress going.
• They are incredibly self-aware, and very thoughtful and proactive about their career path and what’s next for them. The planning and focus and implementation helps them ensure that they remain agile with their careers, something ever more important in today’s market.
• Although they have the education and training to get in-depth in some area, whether it was engineering or legal or something else, they each decided to rise above going deep within that area, and chose instead to go broad – understanding the implications and impact of those who go deep, to help plan and strategize the direction for the people, teams, products and companies they serve.
o This is not necessarily a trait for career agility, but does help position each of our panelists and perhaps others for climbing the corporate ladder. However, we must add that if you do choose to ‘go deep’, select an area well, one that is versatile and important enough to be relevant 5, 10, 15 years from now, based on technology innovations and changing business models.
Below is some advice our panelists shared with us:
• Be heard. Communicate and speak with a strong voice, knowing that you did your homework, feeling confident that you are relevant, never whining, never a victim.
o Select work which makes you visible. Do a good job and make sure people know what you’ve done for whom.
o Communicate your successes through metrics, and position yourself for being noticed enough for that next uncomfortable role or project, whether your or someone else you know plans for it.
o Showcase your team and their successes in a quantifiable manner, while also communicating their overall impact.
• Don’t try to be a man. Men and women are different. Don’t try to do it a man’s way, even if it works for the men you work with, even if you are surrounded by men, as most of us in tech are!
o Sometimes women make life/family choices over work, something that men don’t do as often. If this is you, find someone who has successfully made their cake and ate it too – choosing both career and family (not necessarily at the same time).
• Know your strengths. Expect that change will happen and leverage your strength, your network, your passion, your brand and track record to stay in front of, respond to or even anticipate that change.
• Be strategic. It’s always about understanding the needs of the stakeholders, so find a win-for-most path which makes sense, and communicating it in a way which would inspire, empower, connect and motivate people, teams and organizations to be part of the solution.
• Create a network of supporters that you grow and nurture and give back to. Our panelists practiced this tenet in appearing on this panel.
• Embrace the uncomfortable.
o Volunteer for stuff that nobody wants to do and do a great job with it so that you solve a problem, collect skills and get noticed. The wider the range of activities you succeed at, the wider the net of people who will notice!
o Nobody says that it would be easy! Change is often uncomfortable. If you analyze the pros and cons of something uncomfortable, you may never embrace that change, that opportunity. It takes a leap of faith, so believe in yourself, and try not to fear the potential downside.
o How you got here is not necessarily what will get you to the next level. As such, change your strategy as your career evolves. And take those learnings in-your-face to heart. What are they telling you? How has that same message been sent to you in the past and what will you do about it this time?
o Whether you planned for a change or not, you will find yourself in uncomfortable situations. Focus more on how to succeed when you don’t feel comfortable than on complaining about who might have moved your cheese!
o Select a company and team that would help you embrace change and succeed while learning from that experience. Recruit sponsors, mentors, peers and supporters who can help you make it happen, and support them in return.
• Advice for Negotiating, as you manage your career.
o Do your homework – know your impact and your value and what you’re making, what your title is, and where you want to go. Ask for something equivalent to the value you provide, and speak to your strengths and past results rather than thinking about the experience and results you have not *yet* created.
o Making more money, having a bigger title is more about working smarter than working harder. But it’s not about working harder all the time. Be realistic about what you can do with your skills, with your current life/work obligations, and aim for something you can succeed. You can have it *all* *all* the time, and if you aim to do that and get discouraged, reset your expectations, don’t give up!
o You don’t get what you don’t ask for. Look at all the factors under negotiating; it’s not just about money and title, everything’s negotiable. And don’t leave anything on the table.
o Sometimes you look more attractive when you leave a company and come back, when you are considering another offer.

A core theme of the conversation around agility is about relevance. One chooses career agility to remain relevant in the workplace, to keep up with all the local, global, technology changes in a world which is constantly changing, and even accelerating into the future.

Embracing the Cloud with Vanessa Alvarez

March 9, 2012

Our March 8 interview was with CloudNOW’s Women-In-The-Cloud award-winner Vanessa Alvarez, Analyst, Infrastructure and Operations at Forrester Research, on the topic of Embracing the Cloud. Vanessa spoke eloquently not just about the evolution of cloud technology and how it’s transforming IT, but also about how it is evolving to also better meet business objectives, converting IT from a cost center and a bottleneck to an integral part of the business, providing an operational model for bringing together the technology, people and processes necessary to keep businesses competitive, whether they are in the tech industry or not.
Inspired by technology icons such as John Chambers, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs, Vanessa sees that technology is not about being a nerd and a geek, but is evolving to be a tool for solving problems, an enabler to facilitate communication and efficient operations, an integral part of any company’s infrastructure *and* value-added offerings for customers. As the IT revolution evolves, the opportunities in the cloud, currently a new frontier, will be the foundation of every successful business, bringing together technology, people and processes.
In fact, technology is *not* the hurdle, for solutions are readily available for companies with the leaders, both men and women, with the strategic, holistic view to embrace it, and the fortitude, resiliency and focus to integrate cloud solutions so that they best serve all stakeholders.
It is actually the cultural, organizational, and strategic hurdles which are a greater barrier to adoption. This is a skill not necessarily favoring more engineering-focused, current male leaders, but perhaps slightly favoring tech-savvy women who also see things more from the eyes of the customer, and who might see how technology impacts our day-to-day lives and solves problems-in-your-face, rather than creating technologies just because.
But encouraging these types of girls and women to rise to the occasion is not an easy task, given the local of access to support, the cultural view of math and science as a study for boys, the challenges of a male-dominated technology industry, etc., But if we could educate, connect and empower our girls to be part of the solution, and ride the cloud wave, it would help them and their family and community, but also the industry overall. Key strategic enterprise opportunities in the cloud might include orchestration and management solutions as well as cloud insurance solutions, to help mitigate risk and ensure compliance.
Nobody said that it would be easy, as it is a daunting task to change the way we look at the role of IT within a company, and the way we embrace and accept it as a strategic and necessary partner for delivering what customers want more efficiently, more collaboratively. The next 5-7 years will be telling about which leaders and companies will do this, and will do this well. Those who don’t will be left out of the stratosphere.

Negotiating When You’re the Only Woman Around the Table

March 8, 2012

The February 16 Women Leaders in Conversation interview was with Vijaya Kaza on the topic of Negotiating When You’re the Only Woman Around the Table, and showcased her grounded experience, humility and wisdom, and her focus on generating collaborative, win-win results.

To her, negotiating is about being clear on your intentions and expectations, doing the necessary homework beforehand, and understand your passions and goals and that of the people you’re working with, and communicating in the kind of convincing, fact-based, persistent, manner which builds consensus. It’s about building relationships, earning credibility, finding a win-win, and building on successes. It’s about speaking and acting with confidence, being fully informed and fully transparent with others.

And negotiation is always about the give-and-take. Know what you’re not willing to compromise on, and the areas where you are willing to give in. Be flexible in your negotiations.

Taking the initiative is another secret to negotiating successfully. Don’t just wait for an opportunity to present itself. Make your case for what’s best for you, your team, your company, and position yourself to succeed in negotiating that outcome. Then deliver results when you get there, increasing the likelihood of another opportunity for success!

Whether you are negotiating for yourself, for your team members, at home or at work, here are some top ten tips for negotiating, whether or not you’re the only woman around the table:
1.Know your signature strengths, passions and abilities.
2.Build your credibility with your educational background, your proven, measurable results.
3.Do your homework and understand the opportunities, the stakeholders, their motivations, etc. Then come up with a plan to negotiate a win-win.
4.Negotiation is always about the give-and-take, so collaborate, compromise and create alignments with other people, teams and organizations to achieve common goals.
5.Negotiate before and following meetings, offline, face-to-face, one-on-one, speaking person to person, focused on shared objectives.
6.Be clear in all your communications, both verbal and non-verbal, written and spoken, and persistent and passionate and convincing when you’re negotiating your position.
7.Always point to your results, rather than trying to play political games.
8.Invite influential and strategic others to your cause through convincing, data-based, passionate communications.
9.As an acid test, always make sure that you can stand on your own outside your current company, that your work will have value elsewhere, and that it’s not necessarily the relationships or politics alone facilitating your successes.
10.Never make a rash decision. Make sure that you consult those that you trust and give yourself time to ensure that you’re agreeing to do the right thing for you and your team and company.

The bottom line is that negotiating effectively is about knowing yourself, your objectives and working collaboratively with other parties to serve a common, mutually-beneficial purpose.

CloudNow: Connecting People In the Cloud

March 2, 2012

The interview with Jocelyn DeGance Graham, Founder, Cloud Network of Women, CloudNOW was on the topic of CloudNow: Connecting People In the Cloud and showcased her passion for entrepreneurship, and communications, leveraging technology and serving customers. Jocelyn has been involved in technology for many years, witnessing the evolution of cloud from virtualization and SaaS alone to more platform and infrastructure as a service solutions which serve companies large and small.
The cloud has gone from a nice-to-have to a necessary part of any successful company. Larger enterprises might feel challenged with integrating various versions of legacy applications into the cloud, or choosing more functionality and efficiencies against security and performance challenges when serving so many volumes of users. But it’s not an option to maintain the status quo – the cloud *will* be the standard, and universally adopted, and larger enterprises must find solutions that de-aggregate the risk, providing menus of options to their corporate users. So Jocelyn’s advice to CIOs in charge of this transition-to-the-cloud is to break it up into digestible pieces, focusing on less-mission-critical, non-customer-facing apps and solutions first.
The cloud has made it easier for smaller and medium sized companies who are small and nimble to deliver services faster and better than their more established competitors. A case-in-point is Netflix and their amazingly rapid adoption of cloud solutions, which have literally put much larger and more established, less cloud-centric providers like Blockbuster out of the market. With smaller, more entrepreneurial companies, you have the up-sides of cloud offerings, including a network of technology offerings offered locally and globally with full functionality at nominal costs, coupled with freedom from challenges of larger companies, including the integration of older, legacy apps and the need to serve a large, diverse user base.
It is impressive what Jocelyn has done for the companies she works for, and for the network she has built. She is doing more than her fair share to foster an industry ready to bloom, and serving women (and men) and customers along the way. For her, the bottom line is that the ‘Cloud Got Real’ in 2011, and cloud is out-of-the-hype and into the must-have, so follow the technology revolution, from PCs to internet and into the cloud. For more information, visit