Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Xenia von Wedel, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff, Mike Kavis

Blog Feed Post

Technical Assets

Eight years ago I organized the Workshop on Technical Debt at Calvin College, and I’ve stayed involved in the discussion since. The concept, to me, seems simple, intuitive, and obvious: Technical short-cuts lead to a slight increase in value today at the expense of speed tomorrow. Then Ron Jeffries, a co-author of the Agile Manifesto, got up to speak, along with his partner, Chet Hendrickson. Ron and Chet had served as part of the team that invented Extreme Programming in 1999. What they had to say turned the workshop upside down. A Radical Proposition Ron and Chet begin by pointing out that every time we build software, are spending money, developing an asset. The asset might not be carried on the books as having value, but it does — we develop software in order to eliminate pain, improve customer service, create sales opportunities, or even to run an entire line of business. Every night, when the bank runs transactions, the insurance company pays claims, and the e-commerce company ships books, the software is making money for the company. Each and every day, the process runs, and the software generates money. That is, after all, why the company wrote it; it is the reason that updating the software is worth doing, even as it goes slower. Even if all the changes does is allow the money machine to run, even if the price of the change, due to something like ‘technical debt‘ seems too expensive, keeping that core system running generates us a million dollars a day. As Chet put it in the workshop, “We want to talk about increasing the things that are good — assets — instead of decreasing the things that are bad — debt.” Ron and Chet suggest that code should be a library that is cheaper to extend than starting from scratch. The idea was just a little bit too wild for our workshop in 2008. Even Ron, when he introduced it, had to include the preface that while they should get faster over time, “it never does, but it should.” Our focus, at the time, was on reducing loss through technical debt. It may be time to bring gaining value back. Assets in Action Say you start as a new programmer at Google. After a one-week training program, you have access to a piece of code called MapReduce that allows you to search large, unstructured databases for simple terms, which essentially gives you search as an API.  You also get a massively distributed cluster of computers to run it on, along with simple, code-library like access to databases with maps, businesses, and the internet. Combine that with 20% time, and you’ve just created a recipe to crack out innovative products like Gmail, Google News, Google Sky, and AdSense, and to do it reliably. Many of the ‘products’ that google makes, from Maps to Image Search, are a smattering of code built on top of a strong core system. Perhaps maintaining the core system  does get more expensive over time, but that’s not the point. The point is that extending the core system creates new opportunities in revenue. You just have to find out how. It’s not just Google’s MapReduce.. Years ago, before Amazon was selling cloud computing, I was talking to my friend Goranka Bjedov, who was a Performance Tester for Google. Goranka was explaining how all the problems with performance testing massive websites were social; creating the grid was two or three lines of Python. I asked her what about the folks that do not work at Google, that don’t have access to an API for create a grid of computers at will — what did she recommend? Goranka did not have an answer for me, but I suspect it would involve a lot of re-doing work the folks at Google had already done for her. At Facebook, the power is the social graph, combined with a very powerful screen-drawing library. Programmers can add a ‘like’ button, comments, lists of your friends who also like things with just a few lines of code. Linkedin can do the same thing with your business friends, or your resume. Amazon is famous for taking its grid computing framework and offering it as a utility, but they also took the project they used to get small, human tasks done on the CD, like entering CD jacket information, into a public service — collecting a small percentage of every transaction. Amazon also has the ability to change the front page, on the fly, and to build that front page based on what the customer has viewed lately, what customers purchased who also purchased those books, what products have been highly rated by people who rated the same things highly as you did, and more. Once you start to look to drive you functionality, you start to see it everywhere. But where do you start looking? Find The Core Most large IT shops have a spreadsheet lying around somewhere with a list of the 120 applications the team supports. When the new audit comes, or ERP upgrade, someone looks at the list and checks for in scope/out of scope, then starts ticking off compliance. That spreadsheet may be a pain point, but it is not a liability; it’s a gold mine. The thing to look for in the spreadsheet is duplicate behaviors that happen again and again. At the insurance company I spent years with, the core repeat functionality was pulling members and claims data. When I started eligibility extract might be a three month job; when I left the technical pieces could usually be done in a week. That is core functionality at work — algorithms that can be re-used. When I finished at the insurance company, we had some code-reuse — a single API the programmers could use to get lists of data. It was also a single point of failure. Ken Schwaber, who helped popularize Scrum, refers to this as the Core Systems Problem; I tend to think of it as the Sand pile problem. Sand piles Imagine the code in the core system is a bit like a pile of sand. Over time you are both relying on it while adding new features. The pile gets bigger, and eventually the base is too small to support its weight. The pile becomes unstable and there is a small avalanche. With real sand piles, the avalanche makes the pile a little wider, and little harm is done. With software, the unstable system means one bug fix introduces two (or four! or six!) new bugs in production. The choices available to management becomes taking huge risks in production, letting testing grind the project to a halt, or, perhaps, rolling back to an earlier stable system. Except – if we have exposed the core system to the business as an API, we can’t roll back. Other teams are using this current version of the system to enable their business processes. Rolling back an exposed core system means stopping everyone who depends on you. Search at Google is the heartbeat of the business in a number of ways. If it stops, the business really is dead. If the first rule of technical assets is to find them and turn them into services, the second is to protect those services. That is a great deal of what Ron and Chet were talking about — building the software with craftsmanship, avoiding the needless complexity, keeping the platform easy to change and evaluate. (Yes, you can make a codebase easier to evaluate. One way is to develop it in components that separate concerns. If you can test, or at least understand, the components in isolation, they’ll be much easier to change than code that has logical elements combined into a big ball of mud.) Yesterday, Today, And Tomorrow The overall message I took from Ron and Chet’s presentation was that there is “gold in them thar’ codebase” in the form of code reuse. Five years later, when I watch the video, though, I am struck with how much time they spend talking about doing the work in order to keep the system running clear — to prevent the sand pile avalanche What are the hidden opportunities for value in your business, and where are the sand piles about to fall over? Isn’t it time to find out?

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lev Lesokhin

Lev Lesokhin is responsible for CAST's market development, strategy, thought leadership and product marketing worldwide. He has a passion for making customers successful, building the ecosystem, and advancing the state of the art in business technology. Lev comes to CAST from SAP, where he was Director, Global SME Marketing. Prior to SAP, Lev was at the Corporate Executive Board as one of the leaders of the Applications Executive Council, where he worked with the heads of applications organizations at Fortune 1000 companies to identify best management practices.

Cloud Expo Breaking News
Next-Gen Cloud. Whatever you call it, there’s a higher calling for cloud computing that requires providers to change their spots and move from a commodity mindset to a premium one. Businesses can no longer maintain the status quo that today’s service providers offer. Yes, the continuity, speed, mobility, data access and connectivity are staples of the cloud and always will be. But cloud providers that plan to not only exist tomorrow – but to lead – know that security must be the top priority for the cloud and are delivering it now. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Kurt Hagerman, Chief Information Security Officer at FireHost, will detail why and how you can have both infrastructure performance and enterprise-grade security – and what tomorrow's cloud provider will look like.
The social media expansion has shown just how people are eager to share their experiences with the rest of the world. Cloud technology is the perfect platform to satisfy this need given its great flexibility and readiness. At Cynny, we aim to revolutionize how people share and organize their digital life through a brand new cloud service, starting from infrastructure to the users’ interface. A revolution that began from inventing and designing our very own infrastructure: we have created the first server network powered solely by ARM CPU. The microservers have “organism-like” features, differentiating them from any of the current technologies. Benefits include low consumption of energy, making Cynny the ecologically friendly alternative for storage as well as cheaper infrastructure, lower running costs, etc.
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. 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 on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.
Chief Security Officers (CSO), CIOs and IT Directors are all concerned with providing a secure environment from which their business can innovate and customers can safely consume without the fear of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. To be successful in today's hyper-connected world, the enterprise needs to leverage the capabilities of the web and be ready to innovate without fear of DDoS attacks, concerns about application security and other threats. Organizations face great risk from increasingly frequent and sophisticated attempts to render web properties unavailable, and steal intellectual property or personally identifiable information. Layered security best practices extend security beyond the data center, delivering DDoS protection and maintaining site performance in the face of fast-changing threats.
From data center to cloud to the network. In his session at 3rd SDDC Expo, Raul Martynek, CEO of Net Access, will identify the challenges facing both data center providers and enterprise IT as they relate to cross-platform automation. He will then provide insight into designing, building, securing and managing the technology as an integrated service offering. Topics covered include: High-density data center design Network (and SDN) integration and automation Cloud (and hosting) infrastructure considerations Monitoring and security Management approaches Self-service and automation
In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, David Holmes, Vice President at OutSystems, will demonstrate the immense power that lives at the intersection of mobile apps and cloud application platforms. Attendees will participate in a live demonstration – an enterprise mobile app will be built and changed before their eyes – on their own devices. David Holmes brings over 20 years of high-tech marketing leadership to OutSystems. Prior to joining OutSystems, he was VP of Global Marketing for Damballa, a leading provider of network security solutions. Previously, he was SVP of Global Marketing for Jacada where his branding and positioning expertise helped drive the company from start-up days to a $55 million initial public offering on Nasdaq.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 14th Cloud Expo, Marc Jones, Vice President of Product Innovation for SoftLayer, will explain how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.