Backstage, Java, and remote work - three more things to watch in 2024

Here are the other three things I’m going to watch in 2024. By “watch,” I suppose I mean “I really hope something interesting and definitive happens here instead of just a continuation of what was going on in 2023.” I put the first one (our old k-friend) in yesterday’s episode.

  1. Backstage - in 2022 and 2023 Backstage became super popular, at least in interest. I don’t know how widely it’s used now. It solves a legitimate problem (a framework and community for building a DevOps-oriented intranet for app developers - an internal developer portal to use the clunky word for the category of tools). How widely will get used? Is it easy to use and does it deliver the benefits, or just result in the same old thing? “Platform engineering” and Backstage have a symbiotic relationship now - though, ironically the progenitor of platforms engineering a concept/category isn’t exactly a Backstage company, I think.

  2. Java migrations and changes - Oracle has changed licensing terms for their Java VM, there are older versions of the Spring Framework rolling  out of community support, and large enterprises are forever in the process of migrating and modernizing their apps. There’s a lot of motivation to change around your Java stack, and when it comes to price, things actually happen a lot more than when the motivation is more abstract ideas like “digital transformation.”

  3. Remote Work - tech people are in limited supply for the demand from every organization to use software as its primary way of running the business. This is always a problem. Over COVID and the last few years, many of these workers have come to cherish working from home - and if the share prices of companies is any indication, working remotely, well, works. However, many executives seem allergic to the concept. I think you can make cases for both positions: it just depends on how you engineer the company to run. As long time pro remote work executives like Matt Mullenweg (of Autommatic/WordPress) have said, you can build a system of work where remote work is great. And many of us saw this happen during COVID. As executives try to bring people back to the office, workers have a bunch of bluster that they’ll rebel and quit - and some other companies may be happy to hire them and have them work remotely. But will people go back to the office? Will executives relent? It’ll be interesting to see what happens. I wrote a little bit more about this in yesterday’s links.

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Relative to your interests

  • Dutch online grocer Picnic raises $388 mln from investors, Gates Foundation - Back at cfgmgmtcamp 2023 in line waiting for some Belgian cafeteria food, I talked with some Dutch people, and we were working up an analogy to these little trucks to DIY infrastructure stacks. I didn’t verify this, but they said these little trucks are custom made (at the very least, highly customized). This made sense for Picnic’s business model: they’re all about innovating how food is delivered and the grocery delivery business. These cars can fit down narrow Europe alleys, are meant for close city delivery, etc. In contrast, already established, brick-and-mortar grocery stories like Albert Heijn and Jumbo just use stock delivery trucks. I think UPS customized trucks at some point too. I’m guessing airlines don’t get custom planes built, but might have some slight variation on the interior (the “front end”).

  • CIO interview - author of The Wolf in CIO’s Clothing - It’s been a long time since I read this book, but it’s good. It’s one of the few management books that focuses on the pragmatic, normal state of things instead of importing you to switch to a utopia culture…that is often unattainable and a distraction from just figuring out how to deal with unrealistic, cruel, and often uninformed requests from The Business. “[The work is made up of] responses to the toxic cultures that exist in many firms. CIOs are often asked to cope with budget cuts yet deliver more, and the organization will not tolerate failures. She says: ’It is a manipulative technique, but if they defend themselves, they are accused of being aggressive. I genuinely believe that we have to be able to defend ourselves. ’”

  • Marines using cheap commercial tech to hide command posts in plain sight - Nextgov/FCW - Some reverse-flow variation of “the street finds its own uses.” The other implication is that the security of consumer grade networking and IT is probably good enough, at least balancing the trade offs and benefits of secrecy and blending in.

  • Book Recommendations from the AWS Enterprise Strategy Team - Some books for IT/business stuff (you know, “digital transformation”).

  • The New News Business - “everything that happens in a marketplace falls into just three categories: transaction, conversation, and relationship. In our First World business culture, transaction matters most, conversation less, and relationship least.”

  • Developer Productivity in 2024: New Metrics, More GenAI - A round-up of all the developer productivity stuff from last year. It makes me think: what if developers are actually as productive as they can be? Put another way: how productive should developers be? Does anyone even know?

  • How to Choose Developer Events - Good advice.

I feel like I saw this wall stuff a lot in the 80s.


  • “spatial computing apps.” Here.

  • “Letterman is hurting inside and the way he is dealing with it is putting on a Velcro suit and throwing himself off a three-story building.” RoTL, Jan, 2024

  • Oftentimes in the corporate world, success is rated by “sure, we didn’t win, but imagine how bad it’d be if we hadn’t even tried” rather than rated by “did we win?” Related: the best way to make money is to avoid losing it.

  • “We’re gonna have to pull this from the Dorito budget.”

  • Last night I dreamt that the Netherlands consulting firm ITQ invited me to their conference as an an analyst without knowing I wasn’t one. When one of them remembered that I worked at a vendor, they told me about a support ticket they had open with AppDynamics. They were cheery as always.


We’re recording Software Defined Talk today/tonight (Jan 10th, 2024). Check out our YouTube channel to see the unedited recording, always with a few streamer-only treats.,, @cote,,