5 hot IT topics: 5 must-read books

Keeping up with the latest on virtualization, green IT, SOA and other important IT subjects can be a challenge. These books will help.

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Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide by David S. Linthicum
(Addison-Wesley Professional, $45, Sept. 2009)

Nothing in IT happens in a vacuum. Everything, from servers to network switches to applications to data to everything in between, is all connected in one way or another. That's how this book approaches the intersection of cloud computing and service-oriented architecture (SOA) in IT systems.

The author guides the reader in his hypothesis that SOA and cloud computing are important to each other because the cloud allows organizations to extend their internal SOA infrastructure outside their firewalls, giving them a deeper reach to satisfy their IT requirements.

Cloud Computing and SOA Convergence in Your Enterprise: A Step-by-Step Guide book cover

This book is a great primer on the very wide and complex subject, diving into the many facets of cloud computing offerings, from storage-as-a-service to databases-as-a-service to applications-as-a-service, as well as addressing related issues such as governance, business process management (BPM) and handling systems and data in the cloud environment.

This isn't a "here's how" guide, but you do get a "what to think about" road map which clearly and simply defines the components that you need to consider. When jumping into the cloud and SOA, this easy-to-read book is a helpful and insightful place to start.

The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation
by Jono Bacon
(O'Reilly Books, $40, Aug. 2009)

Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation book cover

At first glance, you might think that a book on online communities might not have a place in a round-up of books on hot IT topics. But you'd be very wrong, and here's why: So much of what companies and their workers do all day is done online, whether communicating with customers, planning strategies or sharing information. While one-to-one communications like e-mail are still very much in play, online communities are playing an ever-larger role in just about every aspect of corporate life.

And that means that the potential for the loss of actual live human contact is very real. You know how e-mail often doesn't seem to have any context and sometimes you're not sure if the person who just wrote to you is being serious or joking? The same problem occurs in communities online, writes Bacon, and it takes real effort to make things work so that everyone can truly connect out there in the electronic ether.

That's where this unusual book comes in, to help you realize how important it is to create, foster and grow such communities and give you concrete ways to make it happen. Bacon learned his skills well as a community manager for the open-source Ubuntu Linux project, where bringing disparate people together was a key part of his job. In many online communities, infighting often occurs as people forget they are dealing with other humans -- a sad result of the lack of face-to-face contact online.

Come to think of it, the diverse lessons in this book -- from how to handle conflicts, to "aspiring to inspire," to learning to be a community leader by listening to others and working with them instead of being a dictator -- are also great lessons in our offline, real world. This is a fun read with fascinating observations on the human condition.

More great reads:

Formerly a Computerworld staff reporter, Todd R. Weiss is an award-winning technology journalist and freelance writer. He spends his spare time working on a book about an unheralded member of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves and watching classic Humphrey Bogart movies. Follow him on Twitter @TechManTalking.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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