|By Brent Smithurst
|November 29, 2012 08:45 AM EST
The defining moment came when I was in Grade 8. My social studies teacher, Mr.Thiele, told us how and why Japan became a manufacturing leader after World War II. He had a theory. As the Japanese were forced to rebuild factories and infrastructure from scratch, they used cutting-edge technology to leapfrog other nations like Canada and the United States. My classmates were not convinced. How could it be an advantage to start all over again? Mr. Thiele contended that by building anew, Japan had access to newer and more efficient technologies that were beyond the reach of other countries. Combining modern management techniques and new infrastructure, Japan surpassed nations burdened by antiquated infrastructure and no money or compelling motivation to invest in new technologies.
I'm not sure Mr. Thiele got all his facts right, and I don’t mean to trivialize the challenges faced (and overcome) in post-war Japan. But starting from scratch with newer and better technologies can allow a company to gain a competitive edge. In this context, the Thiele Principle has guided me throughout my IT career.
Japan to Greece: A Thoughtful Approach for Improving IT Processes
When I investigate how an IT process works and why it came into being, I like to use the Socratic method to stimulate critical thinking and to generate new ideas. One of my favorite questions to ask IT staff is, how would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today? Usually the question gets the creative juices flowing, and people brainstorm new solutions. Which leads me to ask the next question: Why don't we go ahead and make the change then? In my opinion, this is a more effective way to solicit input rather than asking people to think of change simply in terms of cost-benefit analysis. It often turns out that IT staff see sunk costs as the biggest hurdle. That’s not good enough. I believe that sunk costs are irrelevant to the debate and lead to paralysis. Let me demonstrate the method with a real-life example.
The Road to the Cloud: From On-site to Co-located Servers
An employer had all its servers located in-house, with the exception of the web and incoming mail servers. This practice led to all kinds of problems. Water was often turned off in our aging office tower to allow for plumbing repairs. With water unavailable, the air conditioning did not work, and we had to turn power off in the server room to avoid over-heating.
In-house servers also required our staff to maintain them and transport backups to an off-site location on a daily basis. Capital costs were running too high. Most importantly, with no 24-7 on-site staff to troubleshoot server crashes, our European employees and partners had no access to the system during their working hours.
"How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"
"Well, I'd have our servers moved to a co-location facility with guaranteed power, 24x7 staff, and have them do the backups."
"Why don't we go ahead and make the change then?"
Nobody could think of a good reason not to make the change, so we went ahead. The switch to co-located servers solved some of our problems, but not all of them. And new issues arose. Scaling on demand was unavailable due to hardware constraints and custom software design. It still took months to requisition, configure, and put new servers into production.
Once again I asked, "How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"
"Well, I'd go with virtual servers instead of our own co-located ones."
"Why don't we go ahead and make the change then?"
This time, staff came up with legitimate reasons why we couldn't just toss our existing servers and move to a virtual infrastructure. It was simply too costly to terminate co-location contracts with external vendors. It also meant we would have to rewrite all our applications to make them work in a virtual environment. Still, we decided to use the then fledging virtual private server technology for our new projects. We achieved mixed results. While we could spin up a physical server in an instant, it would be unprovisioned with our environment, and required middleware and heavy-duty IT involvement to make it work. Development, staging, and production environments were not identical, which resulted in many errors.
"How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?"
In reality, there was no good solution to the problem at the time. At least until the private Platform as a Service (PasS) came along.
Private Platform as a Service: Opening the Path for Innovation
In the last six to eighteen months, the advent of viable enterprise private PaaS products has significantly changed the IT landscape. PaaS guarantees an identical environment throughout the development and deployment cycles, can handle any language, and is automatically configured and scaled on demand without IT intervention. PaaS effectively removes all the barriers that delay project rollouts, and allows staff to focus on real business problems rather than waste time fixing the IT infrastructure. With PaaS, innovation becomes possible.
Technology changes so rapidly that a business will be left behind if it does not constantly consider newer and better ways of doing things. Innovation starts with asking the right questions. When reviewing legacy systems and practices, ask your team, “How would you approach this if you were starting from scratch today?” The Japanese taught us that a frog in a well does not know the great sea. Chances are that if you are not thinking out of the box, looking ahead, and making continuous advancements, your competitors will. And it may take you years to catch up if you miss the boat.
Let's just nip the conflation of these terms in the bud, shall we?
"MIcro" is big these days. Both microservices and microsegmentation are having and will continue to have an impact on data center architecture, but not necessarily for the same reasons. There's a growing trend in which folks - particularly those with a network background - conflate the two and use them to mean the same thing.
They are not.
One is about the application. The other, the network. T...
May. 29, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,155
The release of Kibana 4.x has had an impact on monitoring and other related activities. In this post we’re going to get specific and show you how to add Node.js monitoring to the Kibana 4 server app. Why Node.js? Because Kibana 4 now comes with a little Node.js server app that sits between the Kibana UI and the […]
May. 29, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 837
T-Mobile has been transforming the wireless industry with its “Uncarrier” initiatives. Today as T-Mobile’s IT organization works to transform itself in a like manner, technical foundations built over the last couple of years are now key to their drive for more Agile delivery practices.
In his session at DevOps Summit, Martin Krienke, Sr Development Manager at T-Mobile, will discuss where they started their Continuous Delivery journey, where they are today, and where they are going in an effort ...
May. 29, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,433
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...
May. 29, 2015 08:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,465
Containers Expo Blog covers the world of containers, as this lightweight alternative to virtual machines enables developers to work with identical dev environments and stacks. Containers Expo Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Bookmark Containers Expo Blog ▸ Here Follow new article posts on Twitter at @ContainersExpo
May. 29, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,213
There are 182 billion emails sent every day, generating a lot of data about how recipients and ISPs respond. Many marketers take a more-is-better approach to stats, preferring to have the ability to slice and dice their email lists based numerous arbitrary stats. However, fundamentally what really matters is whether or not sending an email to a particular recipient will generate value. Data Scientists can design high-level insights such as engagement prediction models and content clusters that a...
May. 29, 2015 07:00 AM EDT Reads: 5,157
In today's application economy, enterprise organizations realize that it's their applications that are the heart and soul of their business. If their application users have a bad experience, their revenue and reputation are at stake.
In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anand Akela, Senior Director of Product Marketing for Application Performance Management at CA Technologies, discussed how a user-centric Application Performance Management solution can help inspire your users with every applicati...
May. 29, 2015 04:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,788
As enterprises engage with Big Data technologies to develop applications needed to meet operational demands, new computation fabrics are continually being introduced. To leverage these new innovations, organizations are sacrificing market opportunities to gain expertise in learning new systems.
In his session at Big Data Expo, Supreet Oberoi, Vice President of Field Engineering at Concurrent, Inc., discussed how to leverage existing infrastructure and investments and future-proof them against e...
May. 29, 2015 03:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,210
Once the decision has been made to move part or all of a workload to the cloud, a methodology for selecting that workload needs to be established. How do you move to the cloud?
What does the discovery, assessment and planning look like? What workloads make sense?
Which cloud model makes sense for each workload? What are the considerations for how to select the right cloud model? And how does that fit in with the overall IT transformation?
May. 29, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 4,302
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. But what about your data infrastructure?
The truth is, today's databases are anything but agile - they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application an...
May. 29, 2015 12:00 AM EDT Reads: 3,507
17th Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterprises a...
May. 28, 2015 11:15 PM EDT Reads: 2,240
SYS-CON Events announced today that SUSE, a pioneer in open source software, will exhibit at SYS-CON's DevOps Summit 2015 New York, which will take place June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
SUSE provides reliable, interoperable Linux, cloud infrastructure and storage solutions that give enterprises greater control and flexibility. More than 20 years of engineering excellence, exceptional service and an unrivaled partner ecosystem power the products and support that help ...
May. 28, 2015 10:30 PM EDT Reads: 650
There’s a lot of discussion around managing outages in production via the likes of DevOps principles and the corresponding software development lifecycles that does enable higher quality output from development, however, one cannot lay all blame for “bugs” and failures at the feet of those responsible for coding and development. As developers incorporate features and benefits of these paradigm shift, there is a learning curve and a point of not-knowing-what-is-not-known. Sometimes, the only way ...
May. 28, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,301
Virtualization is everywhere. Enormous and highly profitable companies have been built on nothing but virtualization. And nowhere has virtualization made more of an impact than in Cloud Computing, the rampant and unprecedented adoption of which has been the direct result of the wide availability of virtualization software and techniques that enabled it. But does the cloud actually require virtualization?
May. 28, 2015 09:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,089
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...
May. 28, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,669
As the world moves from DevOps to NoOps, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. However, applications have been architected with a much tighter coupling than it needs to be which makes deployment in different environments and migration between them harder. 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 CloudFoundry – a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS...
May. 28, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,664
How can you compare one technology or tool to its competitors? Usually, there is no objective comparison available. So how do you know which is better? Eclipse or IntelliJ IDEA? Java EE or Spring? C# or Java? All you can usually find is a holy war and biased comparisons on vendor sites.
But luckily, sometimes, you can find a fair comparison. How does this come to be? By having it co-authored by the stakeholders. The binary repository comparison matrix is one of those rare resources. It is edite...
May. 28, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,676
There is no question that the cloud is where businesses want to host data. Until recently hypervisor virtualization was the most widely used method in cloud computing. Recently virtual containers have been gaining in popularity, and for good reason. In the debate between virtual machines and containers, the latter have been seen as the new kid on the block – and like other emerging technology have had some initial shortcomings. However, the container space has evolved drastically since coming on...
May. 28, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,359
The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
The DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo – to be held June 3-5, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City – will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide...
May. 28, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,974
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to DevOps Summit 2015 as Conference Chair.
The 4th International DevOps Summit will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City.
"DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the great team at ...
May. 28, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,699