Silver Linings Playbook: Hard Earned Lessons from the Cloud

Session Title:  Silver Linings Playbook:  Hard Earned Lessons from the Cloud


  • Bob Carozzoni, Cornell University
  • Erik Lundberg, University of Washington
  • Bill Wrobleski, University of Michigan

The presenters agreed that they are all slightly insane, which is a good sign, IMO 🙂

Presentation Survey:


Session Goals:

  1. Challenge you to rethink the implications of cloud computing
  2. Provoke you to think beyond the status quo
  3. Inform you of what we’re seeing as we move forward
  4. Learn from you by asking questions


SLIDE:  It’s a BYOA (Bring Your Own App) kind of world:

  1. Consumers are more in contorl
  2. IT decisions are increasingly being made by non-IT pros
  3. Big, long software selction processes are a thing of the past

We generally don’t have the time to talk through the tech that touch the consumer.


SLIDE:  If no one follows, are we leading?

With SaaS, vendors go straight to the consumer (business).  Consumers are driving the bus.


SLIDE:  IT can lead in a new way, by:

  • Partnering
  • Inspiring
  • Coaching
  • Brokering
  • Enabling


SLIDE:  Slow Central IT means no central IT (be on the train or be under it)

Reality is that IT is never fast enough, even if you’re operating at peak efficiency and in the best possible way.

  • Concept to delivery must be faster than ever in a cloud world
  • You need to learn to move at the speed of cloud
  • A great but slow implementation is an unsuccessful implementation


SLIDE:  If you can’t take risks, end users will do it for you

  • Users take risks, often without even realizing it
  • No longer is risk managed through a single central decision /contract
  • We don’t have to be reckless, but we have to rethink how we look at and manage risk

Thinking about risk needs to be shifted.


SLIDE:  On-premise systems are too risky

  • Cloud providers survival depends on a rock solid security posture
  • They’re bigger targets, but they also make bigger security investments
  • Your IT security officer may soon be leading the charge to the cloud!  (there’s a big difference between security and compliance)

FISMA compliance may drive some ISO’s to push for the cloud


SLIDE:  big vendors rock (and suck)

  • Big vendors offer stability.  Also deep pockets for innovation, though not always in the direction we need
  • Small vendors are nimble, and will actually listen to higher education
  • Mastery of vendor management will become a critical IT skill

Independently we can’t influence big vendors, but they are responsive to consortia like Internet2, EDUCAUSE, etc.  While universities were cauldrons of innovation in the past, today we’re just small fish.


SLIDE:  Candlestick makers usually don’t invent lightbulbs

  • Transformative changes rarely come from someone immersed in operations
  • It’s hard to see over the horizon when you’re in the weeds
  • Liberate your change leaders so they can focus on change

Be careful in selection of your change agents and leaders!  People with positional authority are often NOT the people who can actually move the logjam forward.  You have to be intentional about giving people the free time and space to innovate.


SLIDE:  You need to be more fliexible than your cloud vendor

  • Customization creates lock-in, “version freeze,” and raises the cost of updates
  • Alter you business processes not the SaaS app
  • The days of customization are coming to an end

Using SaaS gives you economies of scale; you may need to stop thinking about app customization and start thinking about changing your business processes.  Expectations of your customers are different when using services provided by say, Google.


SLIDE:  Watch your Wake!

  • Cloud adoption, like any change, disrupts lives of real people
  • Find ways to support those affected by your transformation efforts
  • Help people work outside their comfort zones, but keep it outside their fear zone

The intellectual challenge is different now..instead of integration it’s a new intellection challenge.


SLIDE:  Experience can be a boat anchor

  • Deconstruct habitual thinking that’s based on old paradigms
  • Old  “What problem are we trying to solve?”
  • New: “What new opportunity does this present?”
  • Most of what we have learned about procurement, rsik management, project management, financial models and staffing is changing

Consumers don’t shop based on requirements, we shop based on what we want (right color, size, cost, etc.).  How we staff will change.


SLIDE:  Don’t Fight Redundancy

  • Cloud makes duplication more affordable
  • Feature overlap from our perspective is micro-specialization from the end-user perspective
  • Sometimes duplication is  bad, but it isn’t bad as a principle

We don’t worry about duplication in consumer products like ovens, toaster ovens, toasters, bagel toasters 🙂  Thinking about the middleware and integration points is probably a more useful exercise.


SLIDE:  Welcome to the Hotel California (check-in but never leave)

  • Make an exit strategy part of the selection and on-boardiing process
  • Getting your data isn’t hard, getting your meta data is
  • Architect to control key integration points, to minimize lock-in

Does your exit strategy work?  Have you ever tested it?  Automobiles are very dangerous, but have we stopped driving them?  No!  They’re far too useful.  We insure them!

Our focus is changing.


SLIDE:  Reviewed Summary of Survey



Biggest risk is the network…how do you address that?  Students have multiple ways to get to a network, whether it’s 3G, wifi, etc.  Even identity is a risk if it’s housed on campus.  Even the network itself is a security consideration.


Have you found a good way to deal with risk incurred by click-through agreements?  We work with procurement to review P-card stuff to see what people are buying here and there.  Click-throughs have never been tested in court…yet.


Can we take advantage of the work done by other campuses?  YES!  Aggregation of vendor negotiations is a good thing for everyone, sort of like a “buying club.”


What if the negotiated contract ISN’T good enough for your counsel?  The university needs to make that decision for itself.


What strategies have you used to get traditional procurement folks to get over their concerns with risk?  We’ve dealt with it from a relationship perspective.  You need to become best friends with your procurement folks.  We developed a default addendum that covers every single issue that might “light up” our procurement folks.  Our addendum supersedes your contract.  This shows that we’ve heard their concerns


Cloud “stuff” is very much like a cafeteria where consumers pick and choose the services they want…what services do you see IT continuing to value and maintain?





Accessibility Technology

The CSUN 2013 Web Track Mega Post

Greetings, fellow web accessibilistas!  (not to be confused with accessiballistas, the little-known and even less-documented accessible siege engine of yore).

As you may have gathered if you followed my live blog posts a couple weeks ago, my interest in attending the CSUN 2013 conference was almost exclusively web-related.  Now that it’s been a couple weeks and I’ve had some time to reflect, I figured it would be a good idea if I consolidated everything into one mega-list.  This year, there were several times when I wish I could have been in two places at once.  Hopefully this gives you a pretty representative sampling of what was on offer web-wise this year.  Follow me @paulschantz for more web-related topics, including accessibility, project management, web development and design philosophy, thoughts on working in higher education, bad clients, off-color humor, and other ephemera.  Enough self-promotion…on with the list!

Pre-Conference Seminar:  Google Accessibility

Day One:  February 27, 2013

Day Two:  February 28, 2013

Day Three:  March 1, 2013

Accessibility Technology

OpenAjax Accessibility Evaluation Library 2.0


Jon Gunderson – University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

More info here


Jon talked about the OpenAjax Evaluation Library.  He opted for slides with LOTS of bullet points on each page 🙂  I generally don’t enjoy sitting through tool walk-throughs, but this particular one interested me due to my awareness of Jon’s publishing of a list of “most accessible university web sites.”  From what I could see, this is a pretty powerful and flexible browser-based evaluation tool.  I must confess that I have little knowledge of the breadth of what these tools offer.



  • Open Source so rules can be customized to individual or organization priorities and needs
  • JavaScript library can be used in both browser and server based tools
  • Help devs understand the benefits to people with disabilities
  • Help devs understand accessibility by telling them what needs to change rather than what was violated or failed
  • Make it easy to filter rules and evaluation results
  • Provide summaries of evaluation results
  • provide support for manual checks
  • provide links to resources that can help devs underand and implement accessibility

Support Standards

  • WCAG2
  • ARIA landmark tech
  • ARIA widget tech
  • HTML 4 and HTML5 markup for accessibility



  • Understanding of rules being used to evaluate accessibility
  • Understanding of rules leads to understanding of coding practices for accessibility
  • Understanding coding practices leads to better understanding of WCAG 2.0, 508, etc.



  • Dynamic Content
  • Web Widgets
  • Dynamic Styling
  • ARIA
  • Keyboard support



  • Live DOM info (analyzing HTML code is not enough anymore; content, elements and attributes added or deleted through scripting)
  • Computed CSS (color contrast analysis, determining visibility  of content to AT and visual rendering)
  • UI event handlers  (mouse, keyboard, click, drag events)



  • Evaluation Library -caches accessibility info of the DOM:  elements, attributes, event handlers, runtime CSS properties.  Executes the rules of a ruleset on a DOM, creates evaluation results:  WCAG2.0, Rule categories, element types…, Support internationalization.
  • Ruleset Features – required rules, recommended rules, basic rules
  • Rule Features – messaging about what to “change” rather than what “failed.” Rule category (form control, images, landmarks, headings, links, widgets), WCAG 2.0 success criteria, How does the feature help people with disabilities, techniques for satisfying the rules, manual check procedures, links to other information.


Jon demonstrated the tool with Firefox on

  • Sidebar shows a summary of the rule results
  • Beneath that are the elements themselves arranged in a grid
  • You can create your own ruleset if you want to
  • Showed the view menu, which is a list of rulesets you can select
  • Showed the preferences panel


Jon demonstrated AInspector menu in Firebug toolbar

  • QUOTABLE QUOTE:  “I’m making this tool for developers who want to do the right thing and move accessibility forward”
Jon showed a slide that mapped out the conceptual model behind the OpenAjax Alliance Accessibility Evaluation Library
  • Evaluation library 95% of the infrastrucut for eval and filtering resulte in place
  • Rulesets
  • Rules :  currently about 70 rules, want at least one rule for every WCAG
  • Tools using Library (OAA Accessibility Extension for firefox, AInspector for firebug, java-based servier utility based on HTMLUnit technology



  • Functional accessibility evaluator (FAE) 2.0
  • Develop Coding practices resources
  • Build or support other people in building toolbars for other browsers
  • Ruleset 3.0 Features
  • Looking for volunteers and collaborators


QUESTIONS (some good ones were asked)

  • Where do we get the extension?  Links will be provided later in the presentation.  However…it’s called the “OAA (Open Accessibility Alliance) accessibility extension” and is available via Google Code, but will be available via Firefox plug-in store in a few weeks.
  • What if I don’t agree with your rulesets?  Can I modify them?  Yes, it can be done…I’ll show you how to do that.  That’s why we have this as an open source project.  We want to see more developers join in and contribute.  If you think you can develop the greatest ruleset ever, then this project can allow for this.
  • Where do you edit the rulesets?  It’s in the source code right now (JSON objects).
  • How useful is this tool for QA?  UI central IT people have been using it for a while now.  Comment from a user:  “Of all the tools we’ve used, this is the one that got it right.”
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