Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Liz McMillan, Derek Weeks, LeanTaaS Blog, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

i-Technology Viewpoint: Silicon Valley Recovering Slowly

Seemingly Glacial Pace Illustrates a Changing World

There are a few key things to remember.

First, San Francisco likes to compare itself with Paris, or say, Florence. It ignores San Jose and Santa Clara County. Its blueblood natives pride themselves on tolerance and philanthropy, and they don't know the difference between a memory chip and a guy named Chip out at the club.

Second, Santa Clara County, home of the original Silicon Valley, is often slammed as being a culturally deficient workaholics' paradise that cares less about philanthropy than it does about how the latest chips will "enable" their business models and provide their well-deserved multimillions.

Meanwhile, over in Oakland, Berkeley, and the rest of the East Bay, chips grow on peoples' shoulders as the fastest-growing region of the Bay Area continues to get little respect, yet provides the last conceivably affordable housing in the region and has a true cultural and economic diversity not seen in its two domineering brethren.

Yet these three areas hold together well enough to form the San Francisco Bay Area, a region cooled by the Pacific Ocean and tempered by a mosaic of homegrown U.S. and international cultures, and a deceptively intense daily pace that simply does not allow for serious regional grudges to take root. Hey man, it’s cool, no problem. Be yourself, man, but dude, that was my parking space!

This reporter has lived throughout the Bay Area off and on for the past 25 years. I love it, as do most people who live here. Great weather, great food, an underrated sports environment, and an area that continues to be among the most creative—and competitive—technology-driven regions in the world.

But yes, the Bay Area can seem insufferable. Self-satisfied and smug, on the bleeding edge of political correctness, and a place that has fueled individualistic narcissism since the days of the Gold Rush of 1849.

So maybe there aren’t many tears being shed for us these days. But the severity of the economic doldrums of the past five years cannot be overstated, at least when compared to previous Bay Area economic slumps. This was hardly a little dip, a little soft patch, a little recession. Eyes rolled when the 2000-2001 national recession was declared over in 2002, as our beloved technology industry was still in freefall that year.

The fall continued, and continued, like a nightmarish roller coaster with an undetermined, and perhaps unlimited drop after that nice initial climb. Official unemployment rates never told the story, as most out-of-work engineers and marketeers in the Bay Area simply became underemployed consultants, contractors, or eternal job seekers who refused to file for benefits.

In a state that encourages 100% interest-only housing loans, and with real-estate taxes tightly capped from the days of Proposition 13 in 1976, it still seems as if the equity train can be ridden forever. Living off of one’s home equity has become the latest lifestyle choice, like buying a hot tub in the 70s, getting that Bimmer in the 80s, or putting in a great wine cellar in the 90s.

Over the past five years, marketing budgets got zeroed out, engineering got outsourced and offshored, and business after business went out of business when caught in the vice of declining revenues and long-term lease agreements for office space they’d never use. I’ve seen documents relating to several major business failures, and all contained leases for as much as 500,000 square feet of office space (at premium prices) that had as much chance of being fulfilled as the promise of cheap nuclear power. Basements full of hundreds of computers, phones, desks, and chairs now worth less than the plastic contained in them  became a common, iconic image.

The good news is that some of the worst commutes in this traffic-strangled region improved dramatically. One could now sail at virtually any speed past empty glass houses, chatting on one’s cellphone about…what? Certainly not business, because there wasn’t any.

And the doldrums persist. A report in the May 29 issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, headlined “Painful Recovery,” brings some statistics to bear on a problem that has simply not gone away.

The story, written by Tom Abate, shows average Class A Bay Area office rents continuing to drop, reaching a current $24.18 per square foot per month. This compares to close to $60 in early 2001, dropping quickly in 2002, but continuing to drift slowly downward to the present day. Vacancy rates have dipped slightly from a year ago, but still stand at almost 19%, compared to about 3% in 2000.

Payrolls in metropolitan San Jose dipped by 20%, or more than 200,000 jobs. (San Francisco lost about half that amount, and the East Bay declined only slightly.) But remember, these are official government statistics. They don’t count all the outsourced payrolls that actually provided jobs to the region, and they cannot reflect the psychological effect on a region that has been used to double-digit growth on a regular basis for decades. Hotel room and occupancy rates have recovered from their lows of two years ago, but still stand well below their peak.


Downtown San Jose. Will This Be The New Detroit?


Trade shows can be a good arbiter of how things are going in the industry. Well, Comdex has died and is probably not going to be resurrected. Although not held in the Bay Area, about 40% of its attendees and exhibitors came from here in its glory days. Major events such as Sun’s JavaOne, held at the Moscone Center, seem to have lost their edge. (We’ll find out in a couple of weeks when the show returns for its 10th year.) MacWorld Expo seems to be back, albeit fueled more by iPod enthusiasm than any sharp increase in personal computer marketshare by Apple.

Company-produced events such as the Intel Developer’s Forum, and annual customer events by Oracle and RSA, have strong enough attendance these days, although they don’t seem to be on the sort of dramatic growth curve one routinely saw at industry events for a 15-year period from 1985 to 2000.

And I saw recent enthusiasm at a major wireless event and a more recent PalmSource developer’s conference, both in San Jose. But both at San Jose hotels, with crowds in the 1,000-attendee range. The days of drawing 40,000 people to the San Jose Convention Center for Internet World, and paying $40 to park your car in this underserved transit corridor are gone, gone.

San Jose will become the new Detroit, in Oracle CEO Larry Ellison’s memorable comparison in a Chronicle interview awhile back, if it doesn’t somehow figure out how to deal with a more global economy, business consolidation, and a more reasonable assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. San Francisco’s bluebloods don’t miss the dot-com era, as all these assuming young hotshots were driving what’s left of the “working class” out of The City (as it likes to call itself). And Oakland, whose Mayor is feisty former Governor Jerry Brown, continues to be the unsung center of an unsung region.

But, specific parochial viewpoints aside, the entire region has in fact suffered from a decline that does not show signs of a true, imminent recovery. Abate’s story quoted an academic as referring to the recent regional downturn as “massive” and noting that 80% of the job losses will probably not return. Ever. Ever?

The story also profiled what may be the typical new growth company in the region, a company involved in GPS systems that is showing a 20% revenue growth per year but is hiring “in the single digit range…(and) whenever possible…at other locations outside the Bay Area.”

To be sure, there are still several very large companies out here, making profits. Cisco, HP, Oracle, Intel, and even Sun come to mind. Yahoo and Google and eBay are all newcomers to the superstar scene.

Hundreds of smaller companies continue to churn out great products and great ideas. Intense, passionate, even fanatic communities continue to thrive, whether dedicated to Java, open source, search, or plain old silicon horsepower enhancement.

But the reality is that that Silicon Valley and the San Francisco Bay Area have been knocked off their perch—some would say high-horse—in the world of technology. The idea of outsourcing ever more aspects of the business to India or China are not popular here. Nor are H1B visas.

Web developers make half of what they made five years ago. Stock options went under more water than a coral reef and ESOPs disappeared like the coin in that creepy magician’s hand. The irony is that most people are working harder than ever to make less and less. There’s no such thing as a debate over restricting workweek hours or guaranteeing jobs for technology employees. Here, your career lives or dies solely on your abilities and wits. There is little room for complainers, order takers, or cruise-control work ethics. Here, as they say, “it’s about” opportunity, insane creativity, and new paradigms.

Silicon Valley and the Bay Area were saved in the mid-80s slump by the emergence of the personal computer (with a grudging thanks to IBM and Microsoft, two not-Bay-Area companies), and then in the mid-90s by the Worldwide Web (with a big thanks to Switzerland and the local heroes at Netscape).

Surely something will come along soon to refire the area’s creative and engineering cauldrons, something for which the Bay Area’s unique combination of talent and climate is better suited than anywhere else on the planet. There are simply too many experienced, manically driven people here to keep the good times from returning, full force. Right?

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
As many know, the first generation of Cloud Management Platform (CMP) solutions were designed for managing virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and traditional applications. But that's no longer enough to satisfy evolving and complex business requirements. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, Embotics CTO, explored how next-generation CMPs ensure organizations can manage cloud-native and microservice-based application architectures, while also facilitating agile DevOps methodology. He expla...
Some people are directors, managers, and administrators. Others are disrupters. Eddie Webb (@edwardawebb) is an IT Disrupter for Software Development Platforms at Liberty Mutual and was a presenter at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, Organically DevOps: Building Quality and Security into the Software Supply Chain at Liberty Mutual, looked at Liberty Mutual's transformation to Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps. For a large, heavily regulated industry, this task ...
The notion of improving operational efficiency is conspicuously absent from the healthcare debate - neither Obamacare nor the newly proposed GOP plan discusses the impact that a step-function improvement in efficiency could have on access to healthcare (through more capacity), quality of healthcare services (through reduced wait times for patients) or cost (through better utilization of scarce, expensive assets).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...
"WineSOFT is a software company making proxy server software, which is widely used in the telecommunication industry or the content delivery networks or e-commerce," explained Jonathan Ahn, COO of WineSOFT, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The past few years have seen a huge increase in the amount of critical IT services that companies outsource to SaaS/IaaS/PaaS providers, be it security, storage, monitoring, or operations. Of course, along with any outsourcing to a service provider comes a Service Level Agreement (SLA) to ensure that the vendor is held financially responsible for any lapses in their service which affect the customer’s end users, and ultimately, their bottom line. SLAs can be very tricky to manage for a number ...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
Modern software design has fundamentally changed how we manage applications, causing many to turn to containers as the new virtual machine for resource management. As container adoption grows beyond stateless applications to stateful workloads, the need for persistent storage is foundational - something customers routinely cite as a top pain point. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Bill Borsari, Head of Systems Engineering at Datera, explored how organizations can reap the bene...
The past few years have brought a sea change in the way applications are architected, developed, and consumed—increasing both the complexity of testing and the business impact of software failures. How can software testing professionals keep pace with modern application delivery, given the trends that impact both architectures (cloud, microservices, and APIs) and processes (DevOps, agile, and continuous delivery)? This is where continuous testing comes in. D
In a recent post, titled “10 Surprising Facts About Cloud Computing and What It Really Is”, Zac Johnson highlighted some interesting facts about cloud computing in the SMB marketplace: Cloud Computing is up to 40 times more cost-effective for an SMB, compared to running its own IT system. 94% of SMBs have experienced security benefits in the cloud that they didn’t have with their on-premises service
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
Admiral Calcote - also known as Lee Calcote (@lcalcote) or the Ginger Geek to his friends - gave a presentation entitled Characterizing and Contrasting Container Orchestrators at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. Okay, he isn't really an admiral - nor does anyone call him that - but he used the title admiral to describe what container orchestrators do, relating it to an admiral directing a fleet of container ships. You could also say that they are like the conductor of an orchestra, directing...
Our work, both with clients and with tools, has lead us to wonder how it is that organizations are handling compliance issues in the cloud. The big cloud vendors offer compliance for their infrastructure, but the shared responsibility model requires that you take certain steps to meet compliance requirements. Which lead us to start poking around a little more. We wanted to get a picture of what was available, and how it was being used. There is a lot of fluidity in this space, as in all things c...
The goal of Microservices is to improve software delivery speed and increase system safety as scale increases. Microservices being modular these are faster to change and enables an evolutionary architecture where systems can change, as the business needs change. Microservices can scale elastically and by being service oriented can enable APIs natively. Microservices also reduce implementation and release cycle time and enables continuous delivery. This paper provides a logical overview of the Mi...
Gaining visibility in today’s sprawling cloud infrastructure is complex and laborious, involving drilling down into tools offered by various cloud services providers. Enterprise IT organizations need smarter and effective tools at their disposal in order to address this pertinent problem. Gaining a 360 - degree view of the cloud costs requires collection and analysis of the cost data across all cloud infrastructures used inside an enterprise.
"I focus on what we are calling CAST Highlight, which is our SaaS application portfolio analysis tool. It is an extremely lightweight tool that can integrate with pretty much any build process right now," explained Andrew Siegmund, Application Migration Specialist for CAST, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
DevOps promotes continuous improvement through a culture of collaboration. But in real terms, how do you: Integrate activities across diverse teams and services? Make objective decisions with system-wide visibility? Use feedback loops to enable learning and improvement? With technology insights and real-world examples, in his general session at @DevOpsSummit, at 21st Cloud Expo, Andi Mann, Chief Technology Advocate at Splunk, explored how leading organizations use data-driven DevOps to close th...
"We started a Master of Science in business analytics - that's the hot topic. We serve the business community around San Francisco so we educate the working professionals and this is where they all want to be," explained Judy Lee, Associate Professor and Department Chair at Golden Gate University, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Gone are the days when application development was the daunting task of the highly skilled developers backed with strong IT skills, low code application development has democratized app development and empowered a new generation of citizen developers. There was a time when app development was in the domain of people with complex coding and technical skills. We called these people by various names like programmers, coders, techies, and they usually worked in a world oblivious of the everyday pri...
The “Digital Era” is forcing us to engage with new methods to build, operate and maintain applications. This transformation also implies an evolution to more and more intelligent applications to better engage with the customers, while creating significant market differentiators. In both cases, the cloud has become a key enabler to embrace this digital revolution. So, moving to the cloud is no longer the question; the new questions are HOW and WHEN. To make this equation even more complex, most ...