The mandatory trainings will continue until you accept The True DevOps
Some notes on attending conferences, notes on enterprise open source comercio-community, asides and waste book…lots of links.
Suggested epigraph and theme are on vacation this week.
FOMO and Family at Conferences
FOMO is OK, but it is also not OK. All the things you’re missing out on are extra work that drive only marginal profit (for you). Better to enjoy your free time. Also, those FOMO’s might be worthless, or introduce risk.
Talk with your family once a day, especially when in the same time zones. You’re not away from them, you’re just at the office.
Always ask people how they do something, to describe what they’re asking more, what makes them excited.
I was at VMware’s big conference in Europe this past week, VMware Explore. Not too much content since last time, then.
What’s is Backstage? How are people using backstage to improve developer productivity - Coté talks with Charles Lowell and Taras Mankovski about the Backstage work they’ve been doing with clients. First, they talk about what Backstage is in the first place. Obviously, it’s an internal developer portal…thing…but what does that mean beyond, like, a wiki? Check out The Frontside, and also, Taras’ talk at BackstageCon. Also, the original video recording.
I’ve been to VMware Media Training, Software Defined Talk #386 - This week we recap VMware Explore Europe and discuss the Battery Ventures 2022 State of the OpenCloud report. Plus, some thoughts on cologne…
7 Years of Platform Engineering
Here is an unlisted link that only you have access to, the recording of the talk we gave at VMware Explore this week. It goes over lessons learned about running a platform for application developers - platform as a product, platform engineering, whatever. It’s based on the experience at Mercedes and a large bank:
If you’d like to share or link to it, please use the official VMware Explore listing, you know?
The “Be Nice” product and marketing strategy for open source enterprise stuff
Early on in the life of a new open source project, some vendors will tell you it’s too complex and unreliable, and wrap their fixes on top of it, often hiding the project.
They’re not wrong (early in, most OSS projects are literally not even 1.0 projects yet!), but it’s rhetorically risky strategy. With the early adopters, you have to show how you make it better and are evolving the project without hiding it. At this stage, you celebrate the complexity as capability, establish your role in the community, and build up skills in the project.
Don’t think about competing against yourself
Mid-cycle, you genuinely work with the community to make the overall ecosystem better, making sure to keep decoupled from any existing incumbent technology (that is, rival) as much as possible. This gets complex. You want to have about zero coupling to your rival technology laterally, can sort of freely couple downwards, and maybe do it upwards. Also, the key community marketing you’re doing here is to avoid being accused of skullduggery and taking part in conspiracies to take control of the community.
The arrival of the enterprise buyers
At some point, all of your big customers will be asking about the technology. Your sales people will start to ask for comparison slides, you’ll find yourself asking talking about how it’s actually mor expensive to use the open source technology because of all the people you’ll need to hire, how long it will take to implement it, etc. ROI cases based on people productivity are often then true and good, but they can also be used for redirection. This stage is when your early work in the open source community, helping it instead of fixing it will pay off.
You’ll have a good reputation, experience, and some reference installs (paid or not!) which will put you on good footing. You do the same thing here: you are making your customer’s use of the project better, not competing with it or telling them that they’re wrong, and should use your better rival.
The thing you do slightly differently with enterprise customers is that you talk about usability, cost controls, security, compliance…basically all the goals of ITIL. You also talk to people who do not actually install, maintain, or use the product. You want to build trust with them - “executives” - that you’re offering is safe and will make it so that the people using it don’t screw or up.
And you have to explain how you fit into every obscure compliance and security scheme, work with older enterprise services, and how you help or hinder various methodologies.The last can be maddening: we do DevOps, how does satisfy those requirements? Does this work with SAFe?
Also, you’ll need to work on-premises and off the Internet (air gapped).
In general, you are never saying that the open source project you’re working on/around is bad, nor that you are fixing it. Instead, you are helping the project grow and become better at accomplish the hopes and dreams of the community. You don’t point out deficiencies, you help make it better. You don’t tell people to use your rival technology, you help remove roadblocks to the customer using the open source project.
All of this doesn’t always apply, but I’ve seen it many, many times. I think kubernetes was the most recently big example (one could say I was on the wrong side of that, so I have some, er, fun insight), and I think Backstage is becoming a smaller example.
The Shovel Challenger Sales Model
What I hear about Backstage is that people are interested in it, not only problems it solves. This nuance is something only a product marketer will understand: you’re not supposed to sell the tool, you’re supposed to sell the solution. Shovels versus holes, and all that. The hole always has better EBITA.
The shovels/holes metaphor breaks down because people in this case actually do want a shovel. It’s like saying I don’t want a steak, I want to not be hungry. So, I should accept a compressed block of mechanically separated chicken parts instead, because that will solve my problem, dig my hole.
The shovel/hole problem is that it’s a misdirection. Mysteriously, the only people who tell you you don’t actually want a shovel are people who are not selling shovels.
This is similar in to the last three or four years of kubernetes conversations I saw (including all those “not a vendor pitch that is totally a vendor pitch” meetings and conference talks). If you didn’t have kubernetes to sell, you challenged your customer’s/audience’s idea that they wanted kubernetes. You didn’t tell them how you could help, you told them why they were wrong, even foolish.
There’s a lot of cleaning up, here, to do for survivor bias. There were many rivals to kubernetes that people wanted to use as well. And…if you had kuberntes to sell, you certainly went around telling people that, for example, Cloud Foundry or Swarm was equally the wrong choice.
The missing part to all this thinking is putting in place a model for identifying the winning open source project and ideas early enough to be a good citizen in that community.
I don’t really know how to do that reliably. I think the answer is: do all the things and go tie out which ones are working this time, and which ones are giving your bad results this time. For example, “pay attention to what the smart people are saying” can be just as good as bad.
Something like the RedMonk programming language tracker is interesting. You could track what customers are asking for.
I suspect that as with most methodologies, models, and strategy advice the answer is annoying: you just need to do the obvious thing, but actually do it and consider it.
“The mandatory trainings will continue until you accept The True DevOps”
This “be nice” thinking goes the other direction too: the new technology is rarely served by putting down the old one. Agile development did a pretty good job of positioning itself as helping people in waterfall processes. As always, there were some iconoclasts who couldn’t help themselves. But overall, that community was nice.
In contrast, the early DevOps community was pretty rude to the ITIL and ticket people. This just slowed things down and reached a bizarre apex in a multi-year spat over “bi-modal IT.”
When you piss backwards, what you don’t realize is that you’re pissing over all the people who are following that “old” methodology or use that old tool. You’re pissing on your future customers!
Some will be glad for it - they are so desperate to escape that they’ll take it, hoping your sass will wake-up to their peers and bosses who don’t want to change. But, everyone is else will just thinking “that asshole just pissed all over me!”
So, the new technology shouldn’t declare the old one dead. That rarely works well when it comes to converting…helping the mainstream.
(Obviously, in aggregate, DevOps has long gotten over this pissing backwards and is more inclusive…indeed, it is now the one getting wet from time to time.)
If the billions evaporate overnight, perhaps they never existed in the first place.
Maybe when big enterprises tell me how the do software is so difficult because if regulations what they’re indicating is that their business model depends on the moats those regulations dug for them. And, thus, they sure as shit don’t want to fix the regulations.
“A lot of the strong will in my family is directed at telling me it’s time for telling me what to do.” A podcast.
If the Buddha had had children I think he would have had hired Heraclitus to handle the morning, get the kids to school routine. Otherwise, there’d be no mental-space to invent the whole religion.
“I don’t blame anyone for anything.” -Neko Case
If the curve is smooth, I call bullshit.
Old men walking old fat dogs.
You end up where you are.
I think we’re in the “shit happens” phase of tech industry charts. It’s a reverse Halo Effect: everything look terrible, so you assume all the businesses were terrible all along. When, really, it’s just like, “macro headwinds” or some shit.
Significant, but boring.
“A huge crush of people. For most of the evening I only made it to the edge of the throng. Then suddenly the room had cleared. Americans are like that—not the English, we hang on long past the time we’re welcome picking at the food and looking for wine in empty bottles.” From the Alan Rickman diaries.
And - “What to say? I do not know what was going on but it was happening with great style and wit.”
And: “he tells a joke about Degas and the telephone that I still don’t quite get.”
Have you considered talking to the developers and asking them what they need?
But what if the goats don’t even show up?
The gazpacho soup had little chunks of anchovies in it. A ball or goat cheese, and some ice chunks. It was super liquid too - not chunky. The ice with chunks would be weird, but with it this thin it’s nice.
“Sitting out in the cold with coffee and just dreaming.” Cold.
Each time I read about a new ops abstraction layer/platform that solves the “bunch of bash script” abomination, I’m just waiting to finally see that line in the pile of XML, ruby, or yaml that finally calls a .sh that actually does something.
“Both of us typing really fast. It’d be fun.”
It’s easy to confuse “you were stupidly letting people just goof off and work on weird project instead of business’ing more harder” with “your core business changed and now you need to come up with something new.”
This outfit looks like a European AV tech coming back from a smoke break.
I have experienced the culture several times already. Now I would just like to eat.
“NASDAQ Performance (proxy for Cloud SW Revenue)” is going to be my first face tattoo.
Always ask the AV people where to eat.
Relevant to your interests
The meaning of snafu, clusterfuck, and shitshow: There’s a difference - For connoisseurs of the English language.
A Guide to Discovery and Framing - Figuring out what to do in software.
YouTube Music and Premium gained 30 million subscribers in just one year - “YouTube’s Music and Premium services added 30 million paid global subscribers over the course of about one year, bringing its total to 80 million. This marks a major jump from the 50 million subscribers YouTube reported last September as more users look to gain access to the perks that come with either service.”
12 Ways to Prepare your Monolith Before Transitioning to Microservices - Small and little ways.
Security on Twitter - Too paranoid? Probably, but also a good list of security hygiene at consumer websites.
Inside the Twitter meltdown - It’s a good list of digital transformation anti-patterns. Also, poor integration tactics post-M&A.
“It’s not a data lake, it’s a peat bog” - Big data isn’t that big of a deal to a big amount of businesses.
Software is only as valuable as how it’s used - This is a fine point to ponder, especially with community software: building a maintaining the people who use it, the way they use it (“norms,” if you like) is valuable. This is sort of what DevOps has become in it’s third (forth stage of life): how all those systems management tools are used and integrated into how the business operates (via it’s IT).
Author’s note - “I don’t think I’ve ever written about my theory of short stories, even though I talk about it a lot. It’s very simple: I think all good short stories are, in one way or another, about death. That’s not true of novels; good novels can be about lots of things. But a good short story is always basically a memento mori.”
The Seven Levels of Busy - Level 8: now that everything is burning down to red hot coals: who wants s’mores?!
Newsletters of note - Some fun, you know, web-rustic newsletters from the twenty-teens UK digital aesthetic.
Tech economics – A Whole Lotta Nothing - “See the teeny tiny flattening of the steep curve on the end of the graph? That’s why everyone is cutting back. What a cruel world.”
learned helplessness and necessary help - On getting of a rut; needing someone else to walk you through the motions of being happy, several times, for it to work.
Room To Dream - “Lynch’s career fascinates me. He’ll try anything, without fear. Film, tv, painting, music, sculpture, whatever moves him in the moment. He also seems incredibly selfish, and every in his world is bent towards making the space for his art. He is, of course, a huge advocate of Transcendental Meditation, which is a kind of pay-as-you-go Zazen, but, hell, it seems to work for him. I doubt it’s the superpower that people attribute to him, but I can see how deep meditation twice a day for decades could lend him that fearless resilience. The use of meditation is that it is, essentially, a procedure for disconnecting from the jabbering superprocessor in the front of your brain and turning your head into a river.”
What to blog - Ben is doing a good series on blogging. Here, it is as the title says, but most valuable is the list of recommended blogs. They are true blogs and I wish I had hours to browse their back catalogs.
Big pictures - Presentations before PowerPoint, really glitzy ones. Also, the whole aesthetic to be extracted from these would be amazing.
<a href="https://hantasi.bandcamp.com/album/liminal-spaces">Liminal Spaces by Hantasi</a>