|By Tad Anderson||
|September 6, 2012 05:45 AM EDT||
I have been doing Software Architecture for 16 years and Enterprise Architecture for the past few. Along with architecture I usually find as part of each gig, if not the main focus of each gig, process implementation or at least process improvement is required.
It is not easy keeping up the latest technologies, processes, architectural techniques, and enterprise architecture framework improvements. I am a firm believer that to be an architect, you must also be an experienced developer. I do not believe in the hands off architect role and wish the Ivory Tower Architects would stop claiming to be Architects. They are theorist not architects. Modeling, Governance, and documenting are part of the architect's job, but in order to produce valuable artifacts you need to be getting your hands dirty.
I also run into a ton of Googler-Developers. Meaning they have no idea why they are using the code they are using, they just know someone else posted it so it must work. Google has been one of the biggest assets and one of the biggest downfalls for the development community. Proof of concepts are one of the most important parts of the architecture process, and Google has made it easy for developers and architects to shortcut the learning and thinking part of the process.
Back in 1994 when I started my own business I decided I would at a minimum invest 10% of my income back into my education. Over the years that has gone into tons of books, MSDN licenses, other software, and of course equipment.
Now more than ever an architect needs a lot of assets to keep up. I currently carry 5-6 books I am reading with me and 2 laptops to work every day. A shot of my home office is below.
Click for larger view
On the next page are the tools I am currently using to stay current. My hope is that it helps others heading into software development or software architecture understand what it takes to stay current.
Equipment and Environments
|I have four laptops, a windows home server, and a desktop I use at home. The MacBook Pro has 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD hard drive. The Alienware has 32GB of RAM and a 750GB 7200RPM hard drive. The Toshiba has a 64GB SSD and a 500GB hard drive.
On the MacBook I program in Xcode and I am running Windows 8 (which by the way is the best place to run it) in Parallels Desktop 8 for Mac. I use Visual Studio 2012 and SQL Server 2012 on Windows 8 instance.
On the Alienware I use Visual Studio 2010 and 2012 with SQL Server 2012. I also have several virtuals built in both Windows Server 2003 and 2008 R2. I do not have any in Windows Server 2012 yet because the RTM kept bombing in VMware. I tried installing it 3 times with no luck. I also have an instance of Windows 8 set up in VMware, but rarely use it.
I have an instances of SharePoint 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2013 I use to proof of concept. I am just finishing up a big 2007 to 2010 migration and without these environments it would not be happening. The Alienware allows me to run two virtuals at the same time with plenty of power left over.
MacBook Pro with Retina Display
Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q890
|My mice are big time productivity savers. Besides the two shown here, I also own the Apple Magic Mouse. It is the best mouse made for the Mac and is by far the best mouse for Windows 8 on the Mac.
The two shown here are awesome for programming, which is all I use them for. When people see my equipment they always ask which games I play. The last game I played was Link (The Legend of Zelda) in the late 1980s.
I have both of these programmed to work with Visual Studio and they work great for building and running, stepping through code, and injecting snippets.
Logitech G600 MMO
|I use coolers on all my machines when I am running them heavy. I started using them because my main laptop that I had 4 years ago would overheat to the point of shutting down.
I use the NotePal U2 for my MacBook. What I like about it is it has 2 fans that can be repositioned and completely removed. I also use this cooler to provide additional protection for my MacBook Pro in my backpack. I put my MacBook Pro in a Thule MacBook Sleeve and then slide the Thule Sleeve into the NotePal U2. Together they provide excellent protection.
I use the ZM-NC2000 for my Alienware and Toshiba. I doubt the Alienware needs it because when its fan system kicks into to high gear it is like a jet engine starting up, but I use it anyway. Most of the time I do not need to use the fans on these. Just getting the laptops off the desk provides the cooling they need.
The External Storage
|I own several external hard drives. I use them for storage but I also use them to run virtuals off of them. I have a Western Digital WD Elements 1 TB USB 2.0 and a U32Shadow (on the right). It is a 1 TB USB 3.0. Virtuals run fine from the externals and the externals allow me to keep tons of them. I have virtuals with Windows 2000 and VB 6.0 development environments and every environment in-between up to Windows 8 and Visual Studio 2012 available.||
Developer Programs and Software
This is the first year since 2002 that I am not a MSDN subscriber. I still have one through my current job, but decided to give my personal one up. For years as a consultant I found value in having access to all the Microsoft tools and servers, but Microsoft has changed my opinion over the past two years. My attitude now is if a company wants me to develop in Visual Studio, they can provide the license from now on.
Microsoft may change my mind in the future if when they get their act together, but right now they are nothing but aggravating to me. The way I look at it is Microsoft has to be doing enough to keep me making enough to afford a license, if they aren't, then I am just throwing my money away. I felt I had been burning $5000 a year for nothing over the past 2 years and the future they are offering I have no interested in. I will learn Microsoft technologies and use it to get a check, but the techie in me has lost all passion for Microsoft.
All that being said, if you are a consultant in the world of Microsoft and you love what they are doing, your current firm should provide an MSDN as part of your contract. If they don't, I would say raise your rate so you can cover it yourself. If I ever get passionate about Microsoft technologies again and the place I am at does not give me an Ultimate license, I will purchase my own. That however won't be anytime soon.
I use the MSDN subscription to set up environments to do proof of concepts and make use of the software that comes with it. I use Expression Studio 4 Ultimate, Team Foundation Server 2012, Visual Studio 2012 Ultimate, Office 2013, and Microsoft SQL Server 2012.
You can check out your MSDN Subscription options here.
iOS Developer Program
Apple offers two real developer programs and a free Safari developer program. The Mac Developer Program allows developers to distribute their Mac apps on the Mac App Store, the iOS Developer Program allows developers to distribute their apps on the App Store and reach millions of iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch users, and the Safari Developer Program includes all the tools and resources for creating extensions that enhance and customize Safari.
I currently only belong to the iOS Developer Program. I like being able to push my apps to my devices for testing and the iOS Developer Program allows me to provision devices to do so. Since Xcode 4 is free to download, that is the only advantage I get right now. If I want to push my applications out for approval and to the store I can also do that with the license.
You can check out the developer programs at the links below.
iOS Developer Program
The Mac Developer Program
The Safari Developer Program
Software Beyond the Subscriptions
Below is some of the key software I use beyond what Apple and Microsoft provide.
SPARX System's Enterprise Architect- Enterprise Architect 9.3 is a high performance modeling, visualization and design platform based on the UML 2.4.1 standard.
Eclipse Process Framework (EPF) - The Eclipse Process Framework (EPF) aims at producing a customizable software process enginering framework, with exemplary process content and tools, supporting a broad variety of project types and development styles.
Android Development Tools (ADT) is a plugin for the Eclipse IDE- Designed to give you a powerful, integrated environment in which to build Android applications.
LINQPad- LINQPad is also a great way to learn LINQ: it comes loaded with 500 examples from the book, C# 4.0 in a Nutshell. There's no better way to experience the coolness of LINQ and functional programming.
Paint.NET- Paint.NET is free image and photo editing software for computers that run Windows.
Notepad++- Notepad++ is a free (as in "free speech" and also as in "free beer") source code editor and Notepad replacement that supports several languages.
Auslogics Disk Defrag- Compact and fast defragmenter with over 11,000,000 fans worldwide. It will improve your PC's performance by defragmenting and re-arranging files on your disk.
Parallels Desktop for Mac- Parallels Desktop for Mac is the most tested, trusted and talked-about solution for running Windows applications on your Mac.
VMware Player- VMware Player is the easiest way to run multiple operating systems at the same time on your PC.
Apple Developer Library
Although I have heard plenty of complaints about the iOS Developer Library I have only found certain information in the library. All iOS books, and I have read plenty, fall short on service communication and security. They either only mention it, or they use a third party library. I don't mind books including third party libraries, but I would prefer they include how to use the framework also. The Developer Library was the only source of any good information on service communication and security using the actual framework.
Webinars and Videos
I am not going to list all the videos I have found on the web. I am just including a few that were really beneficial.
iPad and iPhone Application Development (HD) by Paul Hegarty
Apple Developer Videos
Pluralsight Starter Subscription for MSDN
Latest Books I've Read and some Classic Must Reads
If you are new to Python, you might be confused about the different versions that are available. Although Python 3 is the latest generation of the language, many programmers still use Python 2.7, the final update to Python 2, which was released in 2010. There is currently no clear-cut answer to the question of which version of Python you should use; the decision depends on what you want to achieve. While Python 3 is clearly the future of the language, some programmers choose to remain with Py...
Oct. 6, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 135
Opinions on how best to package and deliver applications are legion and, like many other aspects of the software world, are subject to recurring trend cycles. On the server-side, the current favorite is container delivery: a “full stack” approach in which your application and everything it needs to run are specified in a container definition. That definition is then “compiled” down to a container image and deployed by retrieving the image and passing it to a container runtime to create a running...
Oct. 6, 2015 11:30 AM EDT Reads: 111
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
Oct. 6, 2015 11:15 AM EDT Reads: 270
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ab...
Oct. 6, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 843
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, ...
Oct. 6, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 439
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
Oct. 6, 2015 10:34 AM EDT
Despite all the talk about public cloud services and DevOps, you would think the move to cloud for enterprises is clear and simple. But in a survey of almost 1,600 IT decision makers across the USA and Europe, the state of the cloud in enterprise today is still fraught with considerable frustration. The business case for apps in the real world cloud is hybrid, bimodal, multi-platform, and difficult. Download this report commissioned by NTT Communications to see the insightful findings – registra...
Oct. 6, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 207
Application availability is not just the measure of “being up”. Many apps can claim that status. Technically they are running and responding to requests, but at a rate which users would certainly interpret as being down. That’s because excessive load times can (and will be) interpreted as “not available.” That’s why it’s important to view ensuring application availability as requiring attention to all its composite parts: scalability, performance, and security.
Oct. 6, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 345
SYS-CON Events announced today that HPM Networks will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For 20 years, HPM Networks has been integrating technology solutions that solve complex business challenges. HPM Networks has designed solutions for both SMB and enterprise customers throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.
Oct. 6, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 566
There once was a time when testers operated on their own, in isolation. They’d huddle as a group around the harsh glow of dozens of CRT monitors, clicking through GUIs and recording results. Anxiously, they’d wait for the developers in the other room to fix the bugs they found, yet they’d frequently leave the office disappointed as issues were filed away as non-critical. These teams would rarely interact, save for those scarce moments when a coder would wander in needing to reproduce a particula...
Oct. 6, 2015 08:45 AM EDT Reads: 258
What Is Emergent About Emergent Architecture? By @TheEbizWizard | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps #BigData #API
All we need to do is have our teams self-organize, and behold! Emergent design and/or architecture springs up out of the nothingness! If only it were that easy, right? I follow in the footsteps of so many people who have long wondered at the meanings of such simple words, as though they were dogma from on high. Emerge? Self-organizing? Profound, to be sure. But what do we really make of this sentence?
Oct. 6, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 375
As we increasingly rely on technology to improve the quality and efficiency of our personal and professional lives, software has become the key business differentiator. Organizations must release software faster, as well as ensure the safety, security, and reliability of their applications. The option to make trade-offs between time and quality no longer exists—software teams must deliver quality and speed. To meet these expectations, businesses have shifted from more traditional approaches of d...
Oct. 6, 2015 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 152
Information overload has infiltrated our lives. From the amount of news available and at our fingertips 24/7, to the endless choices we have when making a simple purchase, to the quantity of emails we receive on a given day, it’s increasingly difficult to sift out the details that really matter. When you envision your cloud monitoring system, the same thinking applies. We receive a lot of useless data that gets fed into the system, and the reality is no one in IT or DevOps has the time to manu...
Oct. 6, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 488
Last month, my partners in crime – Carmen DeArdo from Nationwide, Lee Reid, my colleague from IBM and I wrote a 3-part series of blog posts on DevOps.com. We titled our posts the Simple Math, Calculus and Art of DevOps. I would venture to say these are must-reads for any organization adopting DevOps. We examined all three ascpects – the Cultural, Automation and Process improvement side of DevOps. One of the key underlying themes of the three posts was the need for Cultural change – things like t...
Oct. 6, 2015 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 273
It is with great pleasure that I am able to announce that Jesse Proudman, Blue Box CTO, has been appointed to the position of IBM Distinguished Engineer. Jesse is the first employee at Blue Box to receive this honor, and I’m quite confident there will be more to follow given the amazing talent at Blue Box with whom I have had the pleasure to collaborate. I’d like to provide an overview of what it means to become an IBM Distinguished Engineer.
Oct. 6, 2015 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 123
I’ve been thinking a bit about microservices (μServices) recently. My immediate reaction is to think: “Isn’t this just yet another new term for the same stuff, Web Services->SOA->APIs->Microservices?” Followed shortly by the thought, “well yes it is, but there are some important differences/distinguishing factors.” Microservices is an evolutionary paradigm born out of the need for simplicity (i.e., get away from the ESB) and alignment with agile (think DevOps) and scalable (think Containerizati...
Oct. 6, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 2,458
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments ...
Oct. 6, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 672
DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo 2014 Silicon Valley was a terrific event for us. The Qubell booth was crowded on all three days. We ran demos every 30 minutes with folks lining up to get a seat and usually standing around. It was great to meet and talk to over 500 people! My keynote was well received and so was Stan's joint presentation with RingCentral on Devops for BigData. I also participated in two Power Panels – ‘Women in Technology’ and ‘Why DevOps Is Even More Important than You Think,’ both ...
Oct. 6, 2015 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 8,585
In a report titled “Forecast Analysis: Enterprise Application Software, Worldwide, 2Q15 Update,” Gartner analysts highlighted the increasing trend of application modernization among enterprises. According to a recent survey, 45% of respondents stated that modernization of installed on-premises core enterprise applications is one of the top five priorities. Gartner also predicted that by 2020, 75% of
Oct. 6, 2015 12:45 AM EDT Reads: 234
Somebody call the buzzword police: we have a serious case of microservices-washing in progress. The term “microservices-washing” is derived from “whitewashing,” meaning to hide some inconvenient truth with bluster and nonsense. We saw plenty of cloudwashing a few years ago, as vendors and enterprises alike pretended what they were doing was cloud, even though it wasn’t. Today, the hype around microservices has led to the same kind of obfuscation, as vendors and enterprise technologists alike ar...
Oct. 6, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 364