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Rod Nash is a systems engineer with SUSE in Australia. But he would easily do as good a job as a media manager, given the effortless ease with which he introduces journalists to technical people.

It comes easy to him as he is obviously respected for his technical nous - and he also has the proverbial gift of the gab.

Nash is one of the few Australians at the first SUSECON, the conference for those who are associated with the SUSE Linux distribution. The conference is a first for the company, coming after it was relocated in Nuremberg, Germany, after its former parent Novell was purchased by Attachmate last year.

SUSE was covered in Novell's annual Brainshare conference; this year, it has its own show. About 450 people are attending the conference which is being held in Orlando, Florida. from today, US Eastern time.

Nash has been with SUSE since 2008; prior to that he was with IBM for 21 years. As a technical person, he now deals with customers who have decided to go with SUSE, in order to understand their cloud needs.

He does a fair bit of a travelling as he covers the Asia-Pacific region, and makes it to the US quite often too. As a result, he is used to the jet-lag that the 24-hour-plus journey exacts on the human frame.

As someone who understands the technology well, Nash is balanced in his approach to the cloud. He says it has its good points; for example, if a company had a sudden need for expanding hardware for a particular reason - say, for example when making a special online offer - then using the cloud made sense as it would be silly to think of buying hardware for a one-off use.

On the other hand, he says, that it is necessary for companies to take a hard look at their needs and how these can be served by using a cloud, in particular how to divide up use of the private and public cloud. Then, and only then, would it make sense for them to go in for using the cloud.

Asked about security, he smiles, and admits that this is the biggest bugbear. While no set-up, either hardware or software, is 100 per cent, if customers patch their software regularly, then they need not fear unduly, he says. But those who do not bother about patching, might as well stay out of the game.

To illustrate the problem, he tells of a case where a customer did not bother to check whether an application, which had been patched, was working with the version of the operating system on the remote servers. A back-up job that ran resulted in corrupted data; as the job was automated, it ran again after 24 hours after the problem on one server had been fixed.

Luckily the company concerned had international resources and was able to obtain back-ups for six of the seven servers on which the data was corrupted; the seventh had to be rebuilt manually.

The writer is attending SUSECON as a guest of SUSE

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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