There's a lot of private cloud out there


I’ve been looking around for estimates on how many custom written apps run on private vs. public cloud. There’s a lot of coverage and estimates of people using multiple clouds, but finding breakouts is tough. IT IS VERY HARD TO FIND!

Here’s what I’ve found recently:

  • "According to Forrester’s Infrastructure Cloud Survey in 2023, 79% of roughly 1,300 enterprise cloud decision-makers surveyed said their firms are implementing internal private clouds.” Here. // This doesn’t answer my question, but is useful.

  • Spend is a bad proxy for workload placements, but: "IDC forecasts that global spending on private, dedicated cloud services — which includes hosted private cloud and dedicated cloud infrastructure as a service — will hit $20.4 billion in 2024, and more than double by 2027. Global spending on enterprise private cloud infrastructure, including hardware, software, and support services, will be $51.8 billion in 2024 and grow to $66.4 billion in 2027, according to IDC." Ibid. // Spend isn’t a great proxy for actual usage, but there’s that.

  • IDC Cloud Pulse from last year: it’s something like 40% to 50% public cloud, but this also includes SaaS, which is not exactly what I’m interested in. (See the chart.)

    The IDC numbers are pretty good. I’d want to redo them and throw out COTS apps and SaaS, but good enough.

    So, what’s the split between public and private cloud? I don’t know: 50/50? But, again, this doesn’t track organization’s custom written apps. I could see that it’d go more in either direction.

    Furthermore, if you went off what the Goldman Sachs CIO surveys imply (mentioned last episode), it’d be more like 70% private cloud, 30% public cloud.

    I think I’ll start going with mildly uncertain 50/50 with a percent or so going to public cloud each year.

    Still, if I were to say “half of the enterprise IT world is largely ignored by the chattering class,” you’d hopefully think “well, that’s weird.”

    Tavik Frantisek Simon, from here.

    Software Defined Talk #475

    This week, we discuss Mary Meeker's AI & Universities report, the CD Foundation's State of CI/CD Report [see below], and share a few thoughts on DevRel. Plus, Coté gets fiber and is forced to watch soccer.

    Listen to it now! (You can also watch the unedited video recording.)

    Wildly Different Version Control Usage Results in Developers Surveys

    Speaking of estimates and surveys, a tale of being careful with surveys:

    • Slashdata’s survey reports that 30% have used “source code management” in the last 12 months. This means that 70% of people haven’t checked inter code for a year or more, or at all? There is more nuance to it than that, but that’s what’s implied.

    • The 2023 JetBrains survey reports that 76% of people “regularly” use a “source code collaboration tool.” This means that 24% of people don’t “regularly” check in code?

    • The Stackoverflow 2022 survey says that 95.69% of people use version control (it doesn’t say the frequency of interaction). This means that 4.31% people do not use version control. They didn’t track this in the 2023 survey.


    You should watch this talk I’ll be doing in a few weeks, FREE in the comfort of your own home/RTO-job!

    Register to watch it for free here, or in LinkedIn. Also in YouTube, if you prefer that.


    • “Clicks to Bricks.”

    • “IDC Links & IDC Blinks.”

    • “Beloved Austin local Leslie Cochran.” Here.

    • I used to listen to The Lounge Show every Saturday morning. It’s still there! Also, archives here and here.

    • “An enquiy, based on the author’s intimate diary, into the conditions for obtaining happiness and person start of values.” Here, for this.

    • If not better, at least the same. The enterprise software buyer’s lament.

    • “the riffiest of the raff.” Here.

    • I’m usually not “chill out and watch video of people just doing random shit” guy, but I’ve really been liking MrT’s breakfast service marathons. He makes an English breakfast burrito, which I do not agree with, but I’m not here to yuk your mums.

    Relative to your interests

    • Understanding the Rise of Platform Engineering and Its Relationship with DevOps - Printer-friendly - US50199923 - Platform engineering definition from IDC: ”the discipline of designing, building, and maintaining a platform of curated tools, services, and knowledge, called an IDP, that enables development teams' self-service access to the resources needed to build, test, and operate digital solutions. Platform engineering aims to optimize software delivery by removing friction from the developer experience by offering blueprinted, supported approaches to building and deploying software. The platform team, made up of platform engineers, is responsible for building and maintaining the IDP.” // A key point is self-service, you know, less tickets. // This seems like a lot for one team to take on.

    • Does Social Media Cause Anything? - It’s difficult to collect data about social media’s effects (good or bad). // “the ever-present spiderweb of the social graph, the network of accounts, RTs and likes that lets me understand not only what someone thinks but what everyone else thinks about them thinking that.”

    • The Product Model in Traditional IT - ”Outcomes vs Predictability” is good framing for switching from traditional IT to “digital transformation.”

    Conferences, Events, etc.

    Talks I’m giving, places I’ll be, and other plans.

    Our analysis of the State of Cloud Native Platforms 2024 survey, online, speaking, July 24th, 2024. SpringOne/VMware Explore US, August 26–29, 2024. DevOpsDays Antwerp, 15th anniversary, speaking, September 4th-5th. SREday London 2024, speaking, September 19th to 20th. VMware Explore Barcelona, speaking(?), Nov 4th to 7th.

    Discounts. SREDay London (Sep 19th to 20th) when you 20% off with the code SRE20DAY. And, if you register for SpringOne/VMware Explore before June 11th, you’ll get $400 off.

    Tavik Frantisek Simon - Amsterdam, Damrak, 1910
    Tavik Frantisek Simon - Amsterdam, Damrak, 1910.


    I’ve been thinking about an addition to my Bullshit Business Dictionary entry for “executize.” Maybe something like “the pre-read.” In theory, you put together a memo, document, maybe slides, that you send to an executive ahead of a meeting or for planning. You’ll put a lot of work into this, often with an executized summary at the front (bullet points), and then many pages of longer notes, research, etc. Or, you know, a “slide-bank” after the closing slide.

    In my ~30 years of experience, the pre-read is actually read only 30% to 50% of the time. There are many executives who will never read it. They want to a sort of “have the meeting in the meeting.” It’s “sort of,” because if you’re doing that you will have read the pre-read so that you can discuss your reaction to it, ask questions, and focus on making a decision.1

    You may think this means you don’t need to do a pre-read: who knows what the executive wants, what they’ll ask for, what will be in their head at the moment. Why waste time on things that never get used. However, I think do an extensive pre-read is important so that you know what to say and suggest during the meeting, at the very least so that you have context and can form opinions.

    Also, there’s a chance that your pre-read will be converted to a “post-read” if the executive ends up being interested in the topic.

    All that said, if you’re operating an unread pre-read environment, what’s more important is to be spontaneous and use improve tricks to kick around ideas - the old “yes, and” thing. There’s a view that working for an executive means you’re helping them solve the problems they have, no steering them towards the problems they should be focusing on and the solutions you think are right. I think that’s mostly right; it’s a hard thing for nerds to reconcile.

    In the “my job is to augment the executive, not help the corporate achieve outcomes/etc.” mode of operating, you might want to save your energy and time for the post-meeting work, and just do a small amount of pre-read work. Indeed, if you keep things unclear/high-level, you can likely achieve that “executize” level of bullet points right away.


    There’s other executives who will read the pre-read and/or expect a very direct, structured in-meeting “read out.” These executives usually follow the American-style of just wanting to know the conclusions, the exact actions to take next. “Application-first reasoning,” they calls it. They may or may not care why, and will instead use intuition (or trust in the process) to know that something good will happen as a result of taking actions. (The opposite of this is “principles first,” where you build up a case right-side up pyramid style.) Anyhow: figure out your executives style, there are many types.

Platform Engineering is just adding Product Management to Ops

I don’t know. I’ve been trying to sort out what platform engineering is for awhile.1 It matters a lot for my job! While I haven’t verified it, it seems like it started as a marketing campaign from Humanitec and then took on a life of its own. Now the likes of Gartner have practice areas for it and are hiring analysts to cover it.

This means that people in enterprises are trying to sort out what to do about platform engineering. Surely they need it! The category is now loaded with everything, pulling in the all the stuff, including internal developer portals, CI/CD (I don’t think people [read: vendors] explicitly discuss foundational practices like build automation anymore, but I suspect actually putting CI/CD in place is the primary driver of the benefits people get with platform projects), getting Kubernetes to work, and all the usual cloud native platform stuff.

That is, what platform engineering is has become too expansive and is, ironically, driving too much cognitive load. Here’s my simplification:

And if you don’t have 2 minutes and 36 seconds to spare, here’s a shorter version.


Mangos from Pakistan.

Relative to your interests

  • The AI summer - Several charts of technology adoption, including the Goldman chart that shows CIO’s intentions to move workloads to public cloud is always high, and not well executed. // Un-clickable citations, though.

  • Gartner Survey Finds 64% of Customers Would Prefer That Companies Didn’t Use AI For Customer Service - “Many customers fear that GenAI will simply become another obstacle between them and an agent. The onus is on service and support leaders to show customers that AI can streamline the service experience.” // I mean, that’s the point right: otherwise “productivity” wouldn’t improve. The hope is that the AI things are better at solving problems. The problem is that you usually need a human to actually change things, make things happen, and deal with exceptions. Otherwise, you get stuck on an accountability sink.

  • DevRel’s Death as Zero Interest Rate Phenomenon - A list of how to show marketing value. // This whole time all the devrel people just needed to integrate into the finally tuned, perfectly functioning, incredibly accurate, much beloved, and simply existent customer journey management CRMs out there. Also, they should have been listening to all the feedback the sales people gave them about how their activities helped close deals and clamp down churn. And if they had just engaged with the product people who were eager to work with them! Instead, just think of all the money that was wasted on teal-haired people’s sticker collection? // But, yeah. Yes, and: You can definitely always focus on selling the product more.

  • Jevons paradox - When you automate something very valuable (or just “costly”), people demand more, and more complex product. This pulls in more need for labor that can do the more complex work. Hopefully.


This is a bit of a weird recording since there’s no slides (“technical difficulties”), but if you want to see the second version of my “Why We Fear Change” talk, here it is, from SCaLE 21x. The first time I gave it (at cfgmgmtcamp) I ran out of time because I’d packed some of my Business Bullshit words in as interludes for fun.


I’ve been hunting down “private cloud” usage numbers - just anything, at this point. Specifically, I want to know which in-house apps run where. I don’t care about enterprise applications like ERP systems, nor SaaS apps: just the applications that organizations code and run themselves.

There’s not that many out there in the easy to find, free surveys. Essentially, what you see is that something like 70% to 80% of people use multiple clouds - various public ones, on-premises, “private cloud,” etc.

There’s this from Slides Benedict:

AI eats the world 1.4.006.png

If you read this chart, you’d say “something like 25% to 30% of ‘enterprise workloads’ are running in public cloud. This, 70% to 75% of apps are running on-premises.” Does that seem right? If it is, the lack of conversation around on-premises is bizarre. That’s the majority of IT and movement away from it is very slow.

But, it’s hard to have confidence in such a contrary statement because I can’t find the surveys cited to make sure (a) I focus just on apps, not SaaS, etc., and , (b) I’m reading it right, the geographies and industries/demographics (is it 100 F500 CIOs, or just rando’s who answered a survey online?), etc.

In large organizations, this isn’t too much of an insight: they’re so long, so long lived, have so many geographic groups that have their own IT stack, not to mention both centralized/planned IT and YOLO line of business IT, and have acquired so many companies…that of course they have everything. What I’m more interested in are how many apps are in the public2 cloud versus not.

I just got a pile of recommendations from people, so perhaps I’ll have more to report back.


Here’s an unpublished video I did a few weeks ago thinking through it. It was too jumpy, and more of a draft.


No one really says public cloud anymore, just cloud. This is another sign of how little attention is put on private cloud, on-premises.

How to blackmail your boss into adopting platform engineering, DevOps, agile, etc.

This is a good talk listing some tactics for changing how organizations work. It’s targeted at executives. What’s bonkers is that, as the screenshot below, it has just 27 views.

In the talk, we have a former group CIO at American Airlines. She’s telling you her tips for how to introduce change in a large organization. As Gene “The Phoenix Project” Kim says in his intro, American Airlines is the biggest airline in the world. This is also from the most famous DevOps/IT conference for executives that exists now (probably).

What’s bonkers is that it has only 27 views. And that one like is from me!

Executives and management at enterprises are always asking how to make change easier, and here’s a whole bunch a tips from their peers. And most of them cost nothing, or in the scheme of an American Airlines budget, nothing (like buying some pizza, rubber duckies, stickers, etc.). Also, she tells jokes and has some gags!

Now, maybe those 27 views are from CIOs of Global 2,000 companies who watched the video 100% of the way through. But, come on…

Are these great tips that will instantly solve all your problems, that fit to any situation. Hardly! But, with that few views, no one was even curious enough to check it out. More to the point: probably no executive has come across this video.1

My point here is that getting enterprise IT improvement content like this out is so, so hard as to be nearly impossible. Of course, you have to match your mediums to the type of content and channels you have.2 But, in general: do videos work? How about 60 second videos? Do white papers work? Blog posts? How about a webinar? How about a webinar with an analyst from Gartner, Forrester, or IDC? LinkedIn posts? License a PDF from an analyst shop? Pay a small analyst firm to write a white paper? Maybe emails?! What if I email a short video?

Some of those work sometimes, but I have the feeling that the main thing that works to reach an “executive audience” is just meetings. Which is to say, being face-to-face in a conference room or just having a meal together. And, yes, as in this instance, in-person at a conference.

The enterprise software sales process is incredibly frustrating and inefficient. But, when the hundreds of videos like that are ignored each year, you can see that being in-person is perhaps the most “efficient” way to do the job of marketing and selling because it’s the only way.3

Also, you should watch all my most excellent videos with such tips, not only 100% of the way through, but three to five times each to make sure they really, like, sink into your brain.

Anyhow. It’s a good presentation, you should check it out.


  • The catsup paradox. Everyone loves catsup on fries, on burgers, hot dogs, etc., even meatloaf. But, on its own, most people find catsup disgusting, it stinks. For example: after a meal, no one ever wants to be the one who cleans the ketchup ramekin. (Mustard and mayonnaise don’t invoke that kind of reaction, let alone pickles.)

  • “I would love to be a, sort of, Mr. Rogers for adults.” Noah.

  • “I feel like the world is burning, and I’m wearing polyester.” Ibid., but Peter from Germany.

  • “I have no idea who that is!” said ever closet Gallagher fan ever. // He probably could never tour Europe because the watermelons were too small. “That just won’t be funny,” he said, taking off his hat and rubbing his head, “It’ll be like I’m smashing a baby’s head. Just cancel the shows, Garry. Just do it.” // Months later, Garry sits in front of Pauly Shore: “now, I like what you got, kid. Your mom says great things. Say hi to her, by the way. You don’t smash any large fruit in your act right? No? Great. Have you ever thought of the Europe circuit?”

  • ”My gf, upon finding out there is not only one but in fact TWO sequels to Taken: “Somebody needs to put an AirTag on her”” kwon.

  • “Premium Economy – access a lounge where they provide materials to make your own ham sandwiches.” Here.

  • “He was scanning the horizon.”

Relative to your interests

  • AI transforming banking, reports UBS executive - ”The Swiss bank has integrated AI into its services, launching a pilot last year for instant credit tailored to small and mid-size companies requiring liquidity. This service enables bypassing credit officers to expedite the process for this standardised product.”

  • Japan’s digital minister claims victory against floppy disks - ”Japan’s digital minister, Taro Kono, confirmed that the Japanese government has finally rid itself of floppy disks.”

  • The World Is Eating Software - The software bubble. Also commentary on power steering.

  • Why Supercloud Architectures Could Upend Cloud Computing – Or Not - ”IDC’s March 2024 Cloud Pulse Survey (n = 1,350) shows that 74% of cloud buyers have multicloud strategies. It’s no longer a big deal to use multiple clouds.”

  • Join the public beta for GenAI on Tanzu Platform today! - Get your own private AI in a box sandbox going on.

  • Accountability Sinks - ’“accountability sink”: a situation in which a human system delegates decision-making to a rule book rather than an identifiable individual. If something goes wrong, no one is held to account.’ // That’s a good phrase to point out something people seem blind to. Humans set policies, humans can decide to un-set policies. // It’s a version of “it’s just business,” which people who have/use that sentiment forget is a catch-phrase for mafia movies when they kill people.

  • Frontline workers split on AI’s workplace impact - ”Nearly 3 in 5 workers using generative AI say the technology has saved them around 5 hours of work per week.”

  • How To Measure Platform Engineering - Suggested metrics: “Market share. Onboarding time. Net Promoter Score (NPS). Key customer metrics.”

  • The Blue-State Wealth Exodus Continues - State income tax flight: “The IRS last week published its annual data on the migration of taxpayers and adjusted gross income (AGI) between states. California ranked, again, as the biggest income loser ($23.8 billion) in 2022, followed by New York ($14.2 billion), Illinois ($9.8 billion), New Jersey ($5.3 billion) and Massachusetts ($3.9 billion). The top gainers were Florida ($36 billion), Texas ($10.1 billion), South Carolina ($4.8 billion), Tennessee ($4.7 billion) and North Carolina ($4.6 billion).” // It’d be buck-wild if far right cultures in southern states changes because progressive people migrated due to taxes.

  • DevOps Isn’t Dead, but It’s Not in Great Health Either - Round-up of surveys showing that the benefits of DevOps are flattening/slowing. Perhaps it’s not dead, it’s just had the final victory. That is: it’s much better than 15, even 10 years ago.

  • How Much Revenue Must a Company Generate to IPO? - “Before 2018, only one company IPOed with more than $200m in revenue. In fact, the median revenue at IPO at $90m. Today, the median revenue at IPO is $189m (corrected for inflation), more than double.”


A few items in my “topic ideas” queue:

  • I’ve had a lot4 of conversations recently about the fallacy of collapsing silos in large enterprises.

  • This is different than the “DevOps is Dead” meme that’s going on around, which I’m slowly building up some commentary around (I think my take is: what if it’s not “dead,” but just wildly successful? AKA: do you not remember how terrible things were in the 2000s? I don’t really like that take too much - way too counter-counter-take - hence still rolling around in it.) Recent DeathOps pieces: the Eulogy one, and some survey digging. Brandon and Matt discussed them on last week’s Software Defined Talk.

  • If we were to look at the original, NIST PaaS definition, is it different than the cloud native platform definition? Is it some kind of really nerdy trolling to start using the phrase PaaS again?


This also shows the value of in-person conferences, regardless of putting the videos up for free afterwards. People value an in-person experience so much more, and you’ll get so many more people seeing the talk in whole than an on-line video.


When I talk about “executive marketing,” I’m talking about something different than getting an executive to want to buy your product. What you’re doing is, one, or all of: (1) convincing them that it’s worth their time to make time to consider your product versus the gazillion other things they’re worrying about, (2) that they should spend the time and political capital to get budget sooner than the next annual planning cycle, (3) that your new idea is better than what they’re currently doing, or that your old idea is better than the new idea your competitors are selling, (4) that changing their organization to take advantage of your product is actually possible and “easy,” (5) that it will all actually work. And, that doesn’t even include just explaining what you do, or all the tactical stuff like rallying the 30 other people you need to get onboard, figuring out procurement, upselling/renewing/expanding, etc. Oh, right, and also that you (even more so, the company you’re selling for), the person selling them something, isn’t an idiot. And that’s just the mercantile stuff! Never mind being, like, an actual, nice human.


Another consequence of this is that when you do find something that works - like the DORA reports - you hang on to it for dear life and work it for all you can. Even if you can’t figure out how to do hard number metrics, remember that even low, single digit rates of opening and reading are astonishing.


When you learn to write - and, I don’t know, maybe this is some Strunk & White lore <rolls eyes> - you’re told to use italics very sparingly. You should instead write the sentence so that the italics are, like, implied. As I get older, I realize that this has all been subterfuge. It turns out, there are a limited number of italics to go around, and so the older, more greedy writers out there just tell the young people that italics are a terrible scribbler’s affectation. We just want to save them all for ourselves! So, if you are, let’s say, 40 or below, here is my wise, writerly advice to you: don’t use italics.

Publishing an annual survey is a great marketing tool, even better for thought-leadership

Using Surveys for Marketing


  • They dress like they’re Chaotic Good, but they’re totally Lawful Good under all that sloppy couture.

  • This is some buck-wild ABM: a direct appeal to Delta to buy their AI stuff.

  • “I wrote this one when my family was in Hawaii, too. I kind of had a meltdown there, to be honest.” Blue Cheese.

  • If you were to watch Furosia and Fury Road back-to-back, as one movie, it might just be the best action movie ever made. You’d need two intermissions, though, not between the two movies, but right before each major action sequence.

  • Why Not Give Robots Foot-Eyes? Here.

  • “How are you today?” “Legally prohibited from complaining due to a non-disparagement clause, you?” Via.

  • “The problem is the darker side of the word, when we use it to express ‘merely.’” Here.

  • “nothing fun happens on a Monday night.” Here.

  • “Unsavory”

  • “How does (or will) AI impact this decision?” // When AI reaches the office or the CFO. // If your CFO asked this, how would you even answer it? Would a CFO know how to interpret, verify, and trust the answer? // Maybe the right answer is “who knows. Have you actually used those things? How about we put ‘fuck around and find out’ on the ledger for this quarter?”

  • There’s no fucking around, just finding out.

  • “Why Not Give Robots Foot-Eyes?” Here.

  • “It just wasn’t their world anymore. So they had to leave.” Hilda, s1e2.

  • “There’s that well observed effect where you have better conversations if you’re not looking each other in the eye. Driving. Walking. Walking meetings. Watching telly on the sofa.” Russell Davies.

  • And: “they still have a selection of newspapers you can read. That means something, they’re not going to hurry you out if they’ve offering you a newspaper.” Ibid.

  • “How are you today?” “Legally prohibited from complaining due to a non-disparagement clause, you?” Via.

  • “The problem is the darker side of the word, when we use it to express ‘merely.’” Here.

  • “A turd for your argument” Here.

The worse, most accurate answer you’ll ever get. At DevOpsDays Amsterdam, 2024.

Relative to your interests


Someone finally figured out why procrastination is therapeutic:

Sasha Czarkowski (Rosenbaum), DevOpsDays Amsterdam 2024.

New idea for a conference talk: “How platform engineering stole all your sponsorship money.” It’d kill as a lighting/ignite/whatever talk on the DevOpsDays circuit.

It’s July!

What I do with AI, what I've given up on

Consumer-grade Chat Gen-AI Churn Update

Overall, the generative AI things have been a disappointment for me. For writing, they seem helpful for generating and starting content, but it ends up being more work to fix and, then, rewrite what they do. Over the years, people have ghostwritten things for me. Like, humans! I’d too often have to (want to) go through and inject my voice and style, and also add play around with the core ideas. Now, when “byline” opportunities like this come up, I write just write it all myself.

Using AI for writing is like that. It’s sort of good for bouncing off ideas.

And summarizing text is hit or miss. First, it can’t always retrieve web pages. I mean, I get it with people not wanting to give their content to Evil Nerds and stuff. But the result is that I don’t get what I want: a faster way to read text.1 The summaries are “fine,” but they usually tell you what the article is about instead of making the actual contents easier to read.

Should I cancel my subscriptions? I haven’t been able to get my mind around canceling ChatGPT, but I did cancel Gemini.

Gemini just never felt like it was doing more than a quarter-assed job. This was the final deciding factor: I asked it to tell me what my oldest email in GMail was and who wrote it, and it claimed it couldn’t find that, and did something like just telling me the last ten emails in my GMail inbox. I mean, come on: what the actual fuck? And this is when it actually looked at GMail. Often Gemini would tell me it didn’t even have access.

And, I’ve more or less given up on using it to play D&D. It just can’t be creative enough. This one is more complicated to evaluate. If you put a lot of work into it, it sort of works - hence my early enthusiasm. But, it’s like some of the other use cases: it’s only as good as what you bring to the table. Both your time in managing it (crafting prompts, giving it the right text to start with) and coaching it. Instead, you could just all of that yourself.

Now, having it generate code for me works well. But it’s not like I’m writing big enterprise apps. I’m just making one off scripts.

My theory is that it’s just better search, slightly better summarizing. For example, you can upload the endless lore about The Forgotten Realms, and it sort of does good at answering questions for you. It’s also good at explaining things, being a tutor. I had a long session to understand net-present value and discounted cash flows, and I feel like I understand that better. Having it explain why the Fed interest rate is so important would be interesting.

With all of the billions(!) being spent on consultancy firms, I’m not sure…why. CEOs and other executives who’re so thrilled by AI should try actually using it for week, even in just these chat interfaces. If Google can’t search it’s own services like Gmail, good luck to the rest of you.

Here is a picture of my daughter enjoying delicious Dutch fries at the zoo

You know a culture takes fries seriously when even the zoo has delicious fries. It kills me to pay for catsup though. At least it’s not in a packet.


  • This meeting could have been an AI talking to itself. At worst, two AIs talking to each other.

  • “Life in general being more software-mediated.” Sharp Tech, June 20th, 2024. // This is a good framing, and simplification of what “digital transform” aspires to describe.

  • This meeting could have been an AIs talking to itself.

  • AI: have the bullshit master do bullshit work. Yes, and: if you can have AI generate it, it’s probably not worth doing.

  • Socialism applied to developer productivity metrics.

  • “…the one that you appreciated, which: I appreciate your appreciation.”Sharp Tech, June 20th, 2024s

  • “There is, what we say, ‘the escape of the brains,’ in Italy.” Sara.

  • “We’ll have extra slides to explain the bingo to you.” DevOpsDays Amsterdam evening activities.

  • “Succor borne every minute.” The FTC.

  • ‘Perhaps they have a regex that replaces “Willie Nelson” with “Lavar Burton”?’ Here.

  • “the Let’s Only Drop Half A Bomb On Belgium Party” NL politics.

  • Mixed metaphor du jour: festering tech debt.

  • New number to track: how much of your IT budget is spent on “tech debt” (or “legacy”)? // “CIOs estimated that tech debt amounts to 20 to 40 percent of the value of their entire technology estate before depreciation.” McKinsey in October, 2020.

  • And: “Some 30 percent of CIOs we surveyed believe that more than 20 percent of their technical budget ostensibly dedicated to new products is diverted to resolving issues related to tech debt.” Ibid.

  • “lift-tinker-and-shift.” Stephen Orban, AWS, 2016.

  • Do you self identify with these sales plays? If so, dial 1–800-CUSTMRJRNY right now. Call now!

  • “Fake Buddha Quote.” Here.

  • “The median image could be described as ‘a poster you’d expect to see on the wall of a teenage boy in a movie scene where the writers are reaching for the standard stock props to show that the character is a horny teenage boy who has poor social skills.’” On AI images.

  • Next: cranium rats.”

  • Maybe there’s a rubric that: if it takes more than a day to be delivered and to your house, it’s actually a luxury good.

  • “He always carried a little grater and a nutmeg to flavor the glasses of port he drank.” On Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

  • “In fact, XML is possibly the only announcement in the development world to rival the impact of the Java platform. It is fortunate for us as developers that these are complementary technologies rather than competing ones.” June, 2000.

  • AI is the enemy of done.

  • Any person at a vendor who’s actually worked on the submission to a Wave or Magic Quadrant will tell you: if we COULD have paid them instead of doing all this work, we WOULd gladly have paid them, even out of our own wallets.

  • AI Will Not Fix Your Broken Culture (and Other Hard Truths).

  • “Reduced Snowflake expenses by 50% by clicking a button that I am pretty sure that 90% of companies also need to click. A$500,000 savings, approximately.” Here. A resume is as much about filtering out potential employers as it is the recruiting pipeline.

  • “geomyth” Here.

  • They really wear their strategy on their sleeve.

  • “The second thing I do is decide whether the country is worth wasting a meal on breakfast. I might just skip it.” Tyler.

  • And: I hate to be the grumpy old man but one day, not too long from now, I will be telling my children, “I remember when you didn’t need a visa to travel abroad. I also remember when there were no anti-money laundering and know your customer laws!” The kids probably won’t believe me.

  • “Are we up to 7 “R’s” now?” // it feels like there are only seven people who will get this joke, and I know ow three of them. From Seroter.

  • “Many prey animals will have no coherent image of what their greatest predator actually is” Here.


I feel like I’ve been busy, in a hectic state for awhile. But I’m not sure what I’ve done. Trying to look at it objectively, over the past two weeks I’ve (1) given a talk at DevOpsDays Amsterdam, (2) written 90% of an article about one of our recent surveys, (3) edited a co-workers first-ish blog post, (4) filed some expenses,2 (5) polished up my resume,3 and (6) done all the usual family stuff. This is actually a lot of work! But, it still feels like not enough. Anything that does not result in publishing, and then acclaim (or at least more than a handful of feedback) feels like “not working.”

I don’t know what that is. It’s not imposter syndrome or something from the bag of DevOps pop-psycology. I don’t think it’s, like, lack of GTD’ing or any kind of nudges-habits airport book lore. It’s weird, and unsatisfying.


I was also thinking you could make a script that launders it through, or just some simple curl thing if I knew how to setup, I don’t know, a GitHub Action? Is that what the kids do nowadays? Maybe a Tailscale port into my [yet to exist] home network raspberry pie cluster? Jesus. Just get me the text of the web page so I can get on with my life.


We switched from Concur + Amex to Workday for expenses. It’s much more time consuming, so I consider it a sort of “deliverable.” You know an enterprise app is bad when it makes you long for Concur. That’s a slight to Concur, but actually, it’s a good piece of software. What makes it good is that you can tell the teams working on it actually pay attention to the user, how they file expenses and all of the micro options that add up to hassle. The ultimate expenses filing use case is filing expenses for a 3+ night hotel stay where you’re charged something different each night. That also makes the various taxes you pay different each day. Throw in parking and different amounts for extras like meals, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic use case for filing expenses. My theory is that most people don’t like Concur because (1) filing expenses is dull, not matter how well it’s done, and, (2) company policies are usually annoying and tedious: anytime you have to deal with your corporate culture through policy instead of human interaction is infantilizing. It’s like getting a little pat on the head and being told, “oh, honey, bless your heart. You need to fill in the comment field and tell me why you used a non-standard rental car company.”


In this economy, one never knows when that might come in handy. Inquire if you’re like to see it.

Tactics for having a good executive dinner

I’ve hosted a lot of executive dinners for work - maybe 50 or 60 over the past several years…? These are commercial oriented. At my work, we’re trying to meet new people to sell our software to, or people who know people, etc. Getting to know “executives” is directly related to the sales process. The secondary goal is more brand and thought-leadership marketing: just making the attendee aware of us and what we do, and, hopefully, our “vibe.” And the priorities after those two are what you’d expect: networking, fun/useful conversation, and doing some overall “community management” and participation.

Here’s some behind the curtain stuff on doing them, especially targeted at people like me who don’t like group conversations. I’ll skip over the “sales” tactics I use1 and creating the “content strategy,” and just focus on getting a good conversation going and structuring the at-table event. “Surviving moderating an executive dinner,” so to speak :)

Those were some great shoes. I lost them. One time when returning from our Christmas trip back to Texas, what had happened was: I’d packed a duffel bag in another duffel bag. Somewhere in the trans-Atlantic flight, some inspectors had looked in that outer duffel bag, and I assume taken the inner duffel bag out. They forgot that the little bag belonged in the big bag, leaving the little bag all alone. The little bag was, of course, untagged. My shoes - those shoes - were in the little bag. And, thus, I lost my shoes.

Here’s what I try to do, big picture:

  1. Have some kind of five to ten minute “talk” that defines a topic. With me, this is usually discussing agile development, DevOps/platform engineering, etc. In the last one I did I threw out the topic: “you should centralize and standardize the platform your app developers use.” That was a good one!

  2. Find a problem with that topic, especially the “it depends” kinds of implementation topics. One of the problems with the centralize platform thing was: the developers don’t like it, and won’t use it.

  3. Ask people what they’ve encounter, done, or found.

  4. Get them in a conversational fly-wheel, all talking and exchanging ideas with each other as peers.

To do this, you have to bootstrap the group into talking and then maneuver things to make sure they keep sharing, and asking each other questions: monitor and spin the fly-wheel when it starts to slow down.

This is all difficult for me because I don’t really like talking with/in groups, so I have to force myself to be involved rather than just sitting back and listening. I love just sitting back and listening.

My introverted self believe this is all impossible. But, it’s totally possible: they all want to talk, listen, and exchange ideas…to learn - that’s why they came!2 - but usually they need help getting going.

What is an executive dinner

If you don’t know what an executive dinner is it, here’s what it is. First, it’s hosted by someone who has a commercial interest in the attendees. In my case, we’re looking to sell Pivotal/Tanzu products and services that help companies build and run their software.

You find some decision makers (they have needs and budgets) at companies that you want to sell your stuff to. You invite them to a sit-down dinner in a private room of a fancy restaurant.3 Everyone sits at a big table so they can see and (mostly) hear each other. The dinner lasts for 2 hours or so. People talk during the dinner. That’s what it looks like from the outside.

It’s like really high-touch, really-expensive lead-gen. I’ll cover the goals inline below.

(And, hey, I’m being totally transactional and mercantile here. Cold-hearted, HA HA! BUSINESS. It’s also possible, encouraged, and necessary to just be chill and, like, human. But, let’s focus on the business part.)

Finding things to talk about

In the at-the-table conversation, it’s good to call on people who will have something interesting to say, and be on topic. But these people are strangers, so you don’t know who those people are per topic. Here’s a trick that. Often, you have a pre-sit-down “cocktail” party as you wait for people to show up (like a 30 minute windows). People stand around, get drinks, and eat tiny food.

During this time, you move around the room and just get to know people.4 The good thing is, they all came for a topic and will want to talk about. You can just dive right into that topic, it’s not like fishing for topics at a playdate with mixed normals.

I usually ask people “what do you do [at work/in subject matter area]?” They’ll give a long answers! “Well, I’m the director of application development, so oversee three teams that work on our customer facing loan app.”

Next, I either ask them to:

  1. Clarify things I don’t understand5 - “whoa - what does ‘generative cyber-analytical responsiveness’ mean?”

  2. I ask for some more detail - “what kind of methodology do you use?” “Oh, why do you run on public cloud?” “Is Google Cloud good? Why not Azure”)

  3. Or, I just say “is that fun?”

The last question usually throws people for a loop, and they have to stop and do some original thinking, breaking out of the usual small talk pattern. And from there, you just ask questions about why it’s fun or not. This usually evokes problems and challenges, or victories and success they have. And, the “is it fun” question also downshifts the conversation from professional to more whimsical.

So, you walk around and talk with three or five people in this pre-event. Now, you know three or five people who can talk about some topics. During the dinner conversation, you call on those people when the topics come up (or when cold-start bring the topic up), and you know that they have something (interesting) to say. “On that topic, Geraldine: we were talking about the challenges of managing 50 plus SKUs in the salty snacks industry earlier. What have y’all been doing to make that better…and does it work?”

Keep “intros” very short

Everyone is sitting, and you have to start. The main thing I’ve learned to avoid is having each person do an open-ended introduction. You need to know who each person is, but you have to really make people keep it short. Some people’s introductions include their “life story,”, and can extend to 5, even 10 minutes if you don’t manage it. Asking “what brought you here?” usually evokes a lengthy response. And these lengthy intros snow-ball: once one person gives an extensive into, the next people start modeling them and giving long intros. So, if you have 8 to ten people to go through, you’ve blown 10, even 15 minutes of time.

You can avoid this by not asking people to say what their interest in the topic is, this usually results in two or three people telling you everything about their involvement and experience in the topics, which can be 5+ minutes which ads up. It’s risky to ask them what they’re interested in hearing, but worth it to get topics on the table that you can refer to when boot-strapping.

I try to be blunt: “let’s go around and introduce ourselves, but keep it really short so we can get to talking: tell us who you are, where you work, and just briefly what you’re interested in hearing from the group [maybe even just one thing].”

Now, there’s a trade off you’re making here. Your sales people would love to hear an extended list of wants, needs, and problems that each person has. A huge point of these events is to do a lot of sales intelligence gather all at once, and knowing people’s background and examples of what they do is very useful for qualification and structuring “customer journeys,” etc.

Moderating - keeping things conversational

About ten or 15 minutes in, you have to watch for things turning into a series of lectures from individuals. People will just give “readouts” about a topic. You might also get people who are the “let me solve this problem once and for all,” dead-ending into a conclusion rather than people doing structured shooting-the-shit. In general, you just have to let that person sort of run, and then immediately call on someone else to share their experience, or change the topic. Another tactic for the readout people is to be like: “that sounds great, but how do you get people to decide to actually do it?”

Sometimes, only a few people talk. You want “most everyone” talking. So, you have to call on people who aren’t talking. Like, just specifically on a topic: “what do you think?” - “has that been your experience?” - etc. Or, you can try to bring the conversation back to the table by saying things like “what are the rest of you experiencing/doing?”

Sometimes the conversation stalls out, and then you have to do talking. Have some 2-3 minute monologs ready. I don’t have first hand experience most of the topics at these dinners, so I go over what other people have told me, things I’ve read, etc. When you’re re-starting the conversation, you have to do the “say something that can be objected to” thing, and then ask people what their experience is.

Another trick for managing the conversation flow, is timing the meal courses. We try to have the main conversation before the food (appetizers) is brought out. Group talking while you’re eating is hard.

Having the serving staff bring in food 15 minutes after you sit down gives you a natural hard stop: you can time box the focused, group conversation, and when the food shows up, transition to side conversations.

That shift usually happens when the entree is brought out. In the appetizer phase, you’re slowing down the single thread group talk, and people are starting to talk in pairs and small tuples. This transition kind of takes over the table, and then you have lots of little conversations going on, which is my goal for the rest of the dinner.

Ending it

Closing out depends on what you want. Eventually you need to announce the formal end of the event, and throw out a “what’s next”/call-to-action. In our sales focused dinners that means saying “hey, this was great! We’re here to talk about how we solve these problems, so feel free to talk with us more.”

I don’t like the retro/summing up/what’s your take away thing like you might do at work. That’s just extra work you’re asking people to do, and also it’s usually lame, and no one’s going to do anything with it (probably).

At the end, do your CTA, just thank people, and close out. Also, people are both tired, full, and maybe booze-buzzed - not the best time for “read outs.” I used to hang out after as people moved to the bar. But, following the Ann Richards Evening Activities Principle (roughly quoted: “well, y’all, I’m leaving now, because nothing interesting/useful/good happens after 9pm”), I usually leave. Sales people sometimes stick around.

Also, sometimes it just doesn’t work. This especially true if you have free-loaders, cynics, and too heterogenous of topic areas/SME’s. When that happens, wherever: you usually met 1 or 2 people that are interesting.

Oh, and the organizing it part is a whole other thing that I don’t have a lot of experience with. We use agencies for that. They have big lists of people, and the other thing they do is gently encourage people to show up. They’ll call them the day before, and sometimes they call them if they haven’t shown up to see why. This will get some people who dropped out to decide to come! The organizers also move around in the background to time things like the food delivery above and to welcome stragglers, shuffle them into the room.


I’ve done these events in several European countries, and, of course, America. If you’re not acculturated to different cultures, it’s good to go in with some sense-making tools. Apply these tools with care: they’re stereotypes, generalizations, etc. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Americans are pretty good at organically getting a conversations going. You have to be careful with them when it comes to individuals dominating the conversation, and the “readout” person above. American business culture is surprisingly hierarchical: HiPPO, and all that.

UK people and the Dutch have the relaxed, gregarious American stereotype, but much less HiPPO: they tend to speak as equals.

Despite stereotypes, most (other) continental Europeans are like this too: but (if you’re American) you have to get ready for continental European bluntness: where they tell you you’re wrong and that’s considered polite and helpful - I think of it as “free advice.”

Also, there can be language frictions. I only speak English, so there can be barriers with the French, Italians, Spanish, and Belgians. Germans are usually confident in their English (and, of course, the Dutch are bilingual, so English is no problem). But, in the world of IT, everyone speaks English very well, they just may feel like they don’t. In those cases, I try to make fun of myself for being a dumb-and-lazy American, linguistically, and that usually opens things up a little.

Motivating myself

Have I said, yet, that I don’t like talking in groups? This means that if I don’t catch myself, in a dinner like this I’m just maneuvering to run out the clock. That’s not commercially good! How do I motivate myself to do this thing that comes very unnaturally to me and also feels…not fun?

First, it’s my job. It’s amazing how “get over yourself” effective that is for me.

Second, I’m want to hear what have people to say, if it’s interesting. I was talking with Sasha Czarkowski yesterday, and I realized that one of the main reasons I don’t like group conversations is that I fear being stuck in a boring conversation.6 So, a lot of my tactics in dinners are about keeping things interesting to me. This risks going off commercial-topic, sure. But I have the job I do because I’m interesting in what my work does and what people do with our ideas and products. So, driving conversations to what I’m interested in is rarely off topic.


I haven’t mentioned presentations because those are a bad idea for in-person dinners. Contrary to that, if you’re doing an online event, I think presentations are excellent, maybe even required. I wrote up more on that in my previous how to do executive dinners article.

I have the easy job

The other thing to keep in mind is that I just show up and talk. There is a lot more that goes into these events. You’ll need a professional field marketing person to lead and own the event: actually planning, arranging, running everything, and making sure it has tracked ROI. You’ll need people (probably an outside agency) to recruit people and call them, even day of, to remind them to show-up. Most importantly, you’ll need someone who makes sure all the post-event activities happen. These are not your sales people, it’s that field marketing person.

Anyhow. There you go: now go do some executive dinners :)

Also, here’s an older write up (from 2022) of some more of my tactics and general strategies for these kinds of event. It covers much of the above, but has a lot more on my experience doing them online (during COVID), and more detail managing the event (pre- and post-), which is the hard part.


That was long! I’ll save the strange finds and links for next time.

If you like this kind of thing and you’re not reading it in your email, you should subscribe to my newsletter. It’s all I have after the social media fragmentation we now swim in like a bunch of pirates clinging to a cracked strip of wood.


I’m not a sales person. What I mean this is how I try to mention several times the products and services we sell.


In theory, there’s people who come for a free fancy meal (and drinks), and I wager there’s some of them. But the types of people we invite generally wouldn’t blow a week night away from family just for a free steak.


In Europe, this often in nice hotel’s restaurant. In America, it’s usually a steak house.


This is another thing that takes me, a so-called introvert, to do. I have to just make myself do it, but there’s some tricks for disengaging from one conversation and going to another. I’ve done everything from just being explicit (“pardon me, I want to go talk with that person”), using the interruption of getting a new drink or some tiny food, but my most common tactic is to go use the toilet. Like, for read: works every time! And I have a tiny bladder. If you’re like me, this escape to the toilet is a good time to recharge your social energy.


Broad note: as a moderator, being the one who’s always like “I don’t know what this is, can you tell me more?” is a good way to generate interesting group conversation. Many people won’t know, or, at least, in giving the explanation, you’ve now got more conversation surface to play with.


The other reason I don’t like group talks is, I don’t know, for better or worse one of my core psychological tics is that I believe my main goal is to not be a burden, to be neither seen, nor heard. I’m like a vampire: you have to invite me over the threshold before I engage. But, in this kind of dinner, it’s no problem. I’ve been invited. In fact, you could say that the attendees have crossed my threshold.

"Consistency" - the less platforms, the better

Have you tried having less?

Standardized. Centralized. Consistent. Those words I use over and over when talking about platforms. In large organizations, you’ve got hundreds, even thousands, of applications. There are likely tens of “platforms”: the stacks of runtime and middleware goo that all those apps run on. Maybe even hundreds if the company is large enough, old enough, and has gone through enough acquisitions (most all global banks).

The more of those platforms your have, the more time you’ll spend managing them, governing them, securing them, and figuring out how to trouble-shoot problems. This is just, like, intuitively the case: instead of knowing how one thing works, you need to know how five (ten, 20, etc.) things work.

Here’s a chart on all this from our recent State of Cloud Native Platforms survey:

This used to be called the “State of Kubernetes Survey,” but it’s been slightly generalized with the rename. Still, I’d mostly think of these finds as Kubernetes-centric.

These are large enterprise challenges, and you see that in some other questions.

First, “management” is much more concerned with governance at scale and strategic risk management. They’re worried about more than just one app, or just one platform, but about the long-term health of the organization. You see that they care more about these types of concerns when compared to individuals:

And, when you look at things these larger organizations worry about, it’s back to governance, control, and consistency:

There’s all sorts of reasons that large organizations run a lot of different platforms. But, clearly, they work towards running less.

There’s more fun findings in the survey, check it out for free! I’ll probably pull some more charts out of in another newsletter episode.

Also, on that “consistency” thing, here’s more from Whitney and Oren about the benefits of having less platforms:

Conferences, Events, etc.

Talks I’m giving, places I’ll be, and other plans.

DevOpsDays Amsterdam, June 20th, speaking. SpringOne/VMware Explore US, August 26–29, 2024. SREday London 2024, September 19th to 20th. VMware Explore Barcelona, Nov 4th to 7th.

Discounts. SREDay London (Sep 19th to 20th) when you 20% off with the code SRE20DAY. And, if you register for SpringOne/VMware Explore before June 11th, you’ll get $400 off.


What does it mean when you’ve been carrying the same overdue things in your to do list manager (OmniFocus) for months? It doesn’t mean they’re not actually due. I think it might mean that they’re thing you wish you would do, but don’t need to do: false urgency? They’re things you don’t want to lose track of…that could be due…or not? Managing these items is challenging.

Developer productivity metrics, 1970s sausage fonts, only the “grown and sexy” are welcome

Once again, I am bringing you only links and funny pieces of text.

Relative to your interests

  • Measuring Engineering Productivity, at Google, circa 2020 - “If the decider doesn’t believe the form of the result in principle, there is again no point in measuring the process.” // Some great advice in here about improvement programs. Come up with metrics and needs from the (economic/strategic) stakeholder who has the power to make changes. Ask them what metrics they care about and study those. Otherwise they won’t care about the results. // Also, this is why you should seek out pre-meetings with The Bosses when they ask you for reports. You want to find out what numbers they actually care about, and what actions they can take afterwards.

  • Docker Launches 2024 State of Application Development Report - Survey for future newsletter analysis.

  • PDF to Podcast - Could be super cool.

  • How CIOs can ease the generative AI transition for developers - “AI-powered coding tools are expected to become fairly ubiquitous within enterprises in the next four years, according to Gartner research. The analyst firm predicts around three-quarters of software engineers will add AI coding assistants to their workflows by 2028, a considerable jump from the 1 in 10 enterprise developers leveraging the tools early last year [2023].” And: “why would I hire junior developers who can write crummy code when I can have a generic AI do it for me.”

  • The breath of the gods - Video influencer technique: have the video format/style match the medium. // “I have uploaded a different version to the great algo­rithmic mills, where the breath of the gods upon a scrap of video can propel it” And: “The smile, with the wince: that’s the overall expression of the 2020s internet.”

Original Content

In this week’s Software Defined Talk podcast: “we discuss the AI Hype Cycle, Apple Intelligence and other announcements from WWDC. Plus, Coté concludes the episode by using as many phrases as possible from Taylor’s Urgent/Optimistic Meeting Matrix.” Also, why having a picnic with ChatGPT is like talking about concrete.

Watch the unedited video recording, or listen to it as a podcast.

Words that indicate AI generated conference talk proposals. As determined by the NDC Oslo committee. These words were labeled “LinkedInese.”


  • “It’s fun to talk about failure when you’re no longer a failure.” ROtL #539

  • “young folks that bring some of that drama” are not invited in dine, but the “grown and sexy” are welcomed. Here.

  • “If you can’t create photorealistic images, you can’t generate deepfakes or offensive photos of people.” Here. // As we develop in this week’s Software Defined Talk, Apple’s AI stuff feels non-threatening (to humans). In contrast, most other AI things seem threatening to people’s jobs and abilities.

  • “There is a big difference between tech as augmentation versus automation. Augmentation (think Excel and accountants) benefits workers while automation (think traffic lights versus traffic wardens) benefits capital. LLMs are controversial because the tech is best at augmentation but is being sold by lots of vendors as automation.” Dare Obasanjo, via.

  • “I’m searching for something. That email from someone that will sweep me off my feet. The job offer. The opportunity that gift wrapped from the universe just for me.” Here.

  • “sharing the enormous cuts of beef bonded our group.” Good steak in Nuremberg.

  • Monte Cristo: what if a grilled cheese sandwich, but unhealthy.

  • “The great charm in argument is really finding one’s own opinions, not other people’s.” Evelyn Waugh, via.

  • “My neighbor’s dog barks in my RAM.” Borg chatter.

  • “with 1970s sausage fonts thrown in.” Moron font.

  • “There’s nothing worse than selling things to people.” Noah.

  • If you have no sleeves, there’s no danger of people seeing your heart.

  • Automating a series causal dependent activities that previously required a meatware-buffer.

  • “Think before you act, and then you will be forgiven.” TJ Watson, the IBM fella.

  • You create, we computer.

  • “The undisputed leader in workforce agility”

If you like found something useful and/or fun above, subscribe to the newsletter. A few times a week, you’ll get more. And sometimes some actual original content!

Conferences, Events, etc.

Talks I’m giving, places I’ll be, and other plans.

DevOpsDays Amsterdam, June 20th, speaking. SpringOne/VMware Explore US, August 26–29, 2024. SREday London 2024, September 19th to 20th.

Discounts. SREDay London (Sep 19th to 20th) when you 20% off with the code SRE20DAY. And, if you register for SpringOne/VMware Explore before June 11th, you’ll get $400 off.


I gave a new talk this week, at NDC Oslo: my round up of developer productivity metrics and fixes. Here’s the live streamed version (if that link messes up, it’s at timecode 7:30:20), I’ll put a link here when the stand-alone cut comes out. Also, here’s the slides.

I like to sneak in some Comic Sans at least once per conference talk.

I build up a case that focusing on “inner loop” developer productivity is fine, but you’ll get much better gains focusing on putting CI/CD in place and using a centralized platform. Hey! Who guess it’d be aligned with my commercial interests. Also, I believe it, which is handy for my ethical wellbeing. I’m giving this talk at DevOpsDays Amsterdam next week, and I’d like to think I’ll evolve it a lot. Maybe I will.

Links and strange finds from the World Wide Web

Hello there!


  • “I spent my early childhood in a 15-minute city. It was called the 1950s.” Here.

  • “a cybercriminal selling data from these breaches told its researchers that they had been able to compromise a Snowflake employee’s ServiceNow account using credentials stolen via infostealer malware, bypassing SSO provider OKTA.” // Security in 2024. What a bowl of dropped pasta. Here.

  • Money is real: “Engineering leaders, especially at large companies, are managing a team of a couple hundred people. That team might cost $50 to 100 million in salary a year. So as a CEO, when you hear from your eng leaders that ‘Engineering is an art, and you can’t predict how it’s going to work,’ it’s frustrating. They’re sitting there thinking, ‘They’re telling me this is art, but I’m spending $100 million on this art each year.’ That’s not reassuring.” Via.

  • “suddenly everything is a bit of a glitched-out swirl” Warren.

  • “CEOs holding a chip on stage in 2024 is like the latest TikTok trend.” Brian.

  • A nursing home as a refrigerator to keep people until they die. A Man With Two Faces.

  • “my trusty AI-free sunglasses.” Bag check.

  • Sunday shopping list: “Bike nut. 48 Bottom of chair leg felt pads.”

  • Nancy Barbato Sinatra died in 2018 at the age of 101.”

  • And: “I can remember times when she would be on the phone with her ex-husband [Frank Sinatra], and the next thing I knew some eggplant was coming out of the freezer to thaw so that she could make him some sandwiches when he showed up.”

  • “the single finest collection of mood songs ever recorded” This.

  • They’re like the hippies of Northern Europe.

  • I only use slide builds for jokes.

  • “Such risk, so diversify, much portfolio theory.” The Crux #96.

Relative to your interests

  • Urgent/Optimistic Meeting Matrix - So many business bullshit terms here!

  • How (some) good corporate engineering blogs are written - Fast to post, few approvals, technical peer review. // My experience: in general, you’re better to post on your own, and let whoever owns the blog figure out if they want to report it, rewrite it, or link to it. Besides: better to own your content and have to be part of your own “brand.”

  • I have a beef with “content” - I think what they mean is “the cost of buying content is near zero.” Creating it has always been expensive, and always will be. Creators just are underpaid. // “I would argue, that the cost of creating content is not close to zero.”

  • Developer Experience: What not to do - In summary: don’t be enterprise software. Less crass: be easy/instant to install and run, and have good docs that explain how to do [I’d say 2 to 3 example apps/uses]. Even better: be a SaaS, at least have that as an option. All of this advice is pretty difficult for a full on, private cloud platform to do. You can’t just “install a cloud” in a few minutes and mess around with it. Let alone, like, multi-region, etc. I think. Maybe someone could figure it out? That would actually be a good sign: if your platform is easy to install for demo’ing, it will probably be easy to install for reals.

  • 3 traits of an entrepreneurial mindset - Yes, and…how can executives setup a system where behaving like this is possible, encourages, and continuously improves? That type of work is often bundled under the phrase “psychological safety” which can come off as too…humane? A system like lean presents as more cold-blooded and analytical: something you can manage in spreadsheets. You know, “business friendly.” I don’t know: need something here.

  • Against optimization - The idea that you need slack in the system intuitively makes sense, but it feels hard to prove ahead of time. The powers that be have to believe that things will go wrong, but they’re usually so focused on things going right (sometimes hubris, sometimes too much trust-by-ignorance) and pre-optimize. // “A truly optimized, and thus efficient, system is only possible with near-perfect knowledge about the system, together with the ability to observe and implement a response. For a system to be reliable, on the other hand, there have to be some unused resources to draw on when the unexpected happens, which, well, happens predictably.”

  • How to build a successful agile development culture – and why your business needs one - An overview of agile development I co-wrote. The most distinct thing about the Pivotal Labs (now Tanzu Labs) methodology is following XP. The second most distinct thing is balanced teams. The third: actually following the practices.

  • Cloud Native App Platforms: New Research Shows Struggles and Hope - Building your own (Kubernetes) platform takes a long time: “61% of respondents indicated that at least one of their platforms is custom-built, the journey from concept to implementation is far from smooth. Alarmingly, 41% of these organizations took more than a year to develop a minimum viable product.”

  • Study finds 1/4 of bosses hoped RTO would make staff quit - Also, people on the office feel the need to “look busy.”

  • 9 Questions to Help You Figure Out Why You’re Burned Out - This is concise and good. Yes, and: what to do? How do you determine when you are “too good” of a worker, sacrificing yourself for the good of the company without proper compensation? “Too good” here means that you yield a high profit to the company. What is the proper profit? What are the morals of the company (which is, really, just people) taking too high? The employee? Should you quit a six figure job because you’re burned out? Then you have the stress of falling from the middle, especially when you’re older and need a high wage: see Barbara Ehrenreich’s Fear of Falling.

  • Zoom CEO envisions AI deepfakes attending meetings in your place - AIs “are terrible tools for delegating decision making to. That’s currently my red line for using them: any time someone outsources actual decision making authority to an opaque random number generator is a recipe for disaster.” // I would go a step further: if you can replace the office work with AI, it probably shouldn’t have been done in the first place. It was “bullshit” work. Or! It was work that person asking for it could have done on their own.

  • Developer Productivity Metrics at Top Tech Companies - Good stuff! Lots of emphasis on happiness/satisfaction. These are all from tech companies, though: no tradition enterprise responses (right?). Yes, and: what would it look like if you surveyed the top three organizations in manufacturing, banking, pharmaceuticals, and tax ministries?

  • How to Evaluate Video Performance in Developer Relations - The answer: track CTAs.

Conferences, Events, etc.

Talks I’m giving, places I’ll be, and other plans.

NDC Oslo, speaking, June 12th. DevOpsDays Amsterdam, June 20th, speaking. SpringOne/VMware Explore US, August 26–29, 2024. SREday London 2024, September 19th to 20th.

Discounts. SREDay London (Sep 19th to 20th) when you 20% off with the code SRE20DAY. And, if you register for SpringOne/VMware Explore before June 11th, you’ll get $400 off.


I’m in the middle of three weeks of speaking engagements. The first was directly for the company - our own conferences that we do either for the general public or tailored to just one customers/prospect. The second are ones that I submitted talks to. I’m finding speaking at conferences difficult, topic wise. The CFPs are so far in the future that, often, the topics and talks I submit are no longer relevant or, at least, interesting to me.

Comically, this year at cfgmgmtcamp, Adam Jacob was like: I’m not longer interested in whatever I proposed, I’m just going to do a talk I want instead. And, fuck it even more, not even slides, just sticky notes in Miro. You get to do this when you’re a famous speaker.

Using that maneuver has mixed results. Adam did OK with it: his mix of entertaining/enrapturing and trend-marginalia (sort of like Bryan Cantrill, but in aphorisms) is good. However, as with many otherwise good presentations, I suffer from the plumber problem: seeing every seam, every compromise, every missed opportunity in a talk. You (which is to say, I), have to turn off the “keynote expert” part of my brain and enjoy the vibes despite the misaligned smart art of infinite loop gifs.

I am no perfect talk maker either!1

Which is to say, here’s a new talk - rather, the slides for it. I’m giving it at NDC Oslo this week, then DevOpsDays Amsterdam. I proposed this long ago, back then the McKinsey PDF got the nerds all upset.

At the time of CFP’ing, I think I was thinking, “this nerd fight is annoying.” Since then, as published here a lot, I’ve been looking at all sorts of surveys about developer productivity, Kubernetes/platform use, etc.

Now, the conclusion I come to is the one I often do: If you want to be productive, stop trying to be productive, and just focus on putting in place best practices. As preface, I layout the history of developer productivity, mostly in my career.

I don’t know. I think it’ll be good. Maybe. Probably.


Also from that same conferences: perhaps a close, practiced eye can see that I didn’t pace myself well enough in this presentation and had to skip about 1/4 of my intended content, skipping over the closing point I wanted to make.

65% of developers learning to live with Kubernetes

State of Spring Survey 2024

The State of Spring Survey 2024 is out, you can get it for free, of course. Spring is widely used by Java developers, and Java is widely used for enterprise app development. Thus, what Spring people are doing is relevant to what large organizations are doing in software development. Let’s take a look at some of my hand-picked highlights1 from the survey:

  • Microservices are here to stay. While use has been decreasingly slight (with server less growing slightly), most all people say they use/do microservices.

  • Developers are still too close to Kubernetes: “half start with a Kubernetes distribution rather than a more complete platform a little surprising since so much extra work is required.”

  • Here’s the breakdown. In an ideal, platform engineering world, it would be the opposite with Kubernetes hidden from the developers: "Kubernetes use in Spring environments continued to grow this year, reaching 65% of respondents. More than half (52%) run a Kubernetes distribution (DIY, TKG, Rancher, EKS, etc.), a third (33%) use a platform based on Kubernetes (OpenShift, [Tanzu Platform for Kubernetes], etc.), and more than a quarter (26%) use a non-Kubernetes based platform (Cloud Foundry, Heroku, etc.).

  • Keeping up to date is a major problem, and, conversely, a major benefit. Most large organizations I talk with are several versions behind Spring. And while the survey does not break things down by organization size, things actually look better across org. size, with 55% of people saying they’re running the most recent version of Spring Boot: “While Spring Boot 3.2, the latest version, is in use by 55% of stakeholders, Spring Boot 2.7 appears to have become a sticking point, with 41% still running this version.”

  • Why are people staying with older versions? “Unable to prioritize remains the top reason for not upgrading (chosen by 48%). However, as more companies face the upgrade from Spring Boot 2 to Spring Boot 3, incompatible non-Spring libraries has risen sharply as a barrier to upgrading, moving from just 4% last time to 13% this time.”

    The support window doesn’t stay open forever.
  • This is another reason to shift down more secondary tasks to the platform - it’s easier to keep your frameworks, services, etc. upgraded if the platform is doing it for you and forcing you to do it. Once you wait a year, two years, etc., you really dig yourself into a hole that’s difficult to upgrade from. It’s not a silver bullet, of sure, but it’s better than the rusty bullets you’re probably using.

  • And, indeed, people are not shifting down at all, really, doing most of the work manually: “the majority (65%) reported they still do upgrades manually. The next leading result was Github Dependabot, used by 27%. More robust offerings like OpenRewrite didn’t even crack 20%.”

  • Upgrading means you get new features, but also performance and cost improvements. Not to mention both commercial and/or community support for patches and such. So, like: upgrade already.

  • AI ALERT!!! “A significant fraction (12%) are already

    incorporating AI in Spring applications. That’s a higher percentage than

    report using Spring AI (8%)” // The survey speculates that this difference is likely because people wanted to start doing AI stuff before Spring AI was mature enough to use. // Also, it shows you how little AI use there at the moment, squaring with the vibes I think we’re all getting that this AI thing is fixin’ ski down the slope.

There’s more in the survey, which you should check out.

And, highly related, we put out the Spring Appliction Advisor today to help you upgrade all that old Spring. I saw my pal DaShaun demo it last week and it was good stuff.

Relative to your interests


  • “And as far as your 16 ounce of Maple and Sage [sausage]: I don’t eat that. I’m not from the North. I’m a Texas man.” Randy Taylor.

  • New AI as summarizing tool theory: don’t ask it to summarize, ask it to rewrite it in AP style in less words.

  • AIs are only as reliable as humans, but something slightly more.

  • “Trend reversals travel through earnings calls like cold viruses through kindergartens.” Via.

Conferences, Events, etc.

Talks I’m giving, places I’ll be, and other plans.

SpringOne Tour London, June 5th. DATEV Software Craft Community online, June 6th, speaking. DevOpsDays Amsterdam, June 20th, speaking. NDC Oslo, speaking, June 12th. SpringOne/VMware Explore US, August 26–29, 2024. SREday London 2024, September 19th to 20th.

Discounts. SREDay London (Sep 19th to 20th) when you 20% off with the code SRE20DAY. And, if you register for SpringOne/VMware Explore before June 11th, you’ll get $400 off.

Ikea is ready to be your Instagram and TikTok decorator.


This week’s Software Defined Talk is an interview Matt Ray recorded with Amanda Silver. I haven’t listened to it yet, but she has several excellent posts about doing platform engineering at Microsoft for, like, all the Microsoft developers! So, you should check it out like I’m going to do.

Microsoft was super-cool and paid for Matt Ray’s travel. Maybe I can hit them up for some of that: Software Defined Talk on the road! It’ll be like my analyst days, except this time I’ll insist on Marriott hotels. Probably. Actually, for sure.



Why “hand-picked”? I don’t know, I think it’s because I’m sick, just had two cups of black tea of some kind (I got a new teapot from Ikea and tested it out with some old loose tea Kim got me a couple of years ago in Paris). It’s not like I reached my hand into the PDF and picked out charts. Though…that’d be pretty cool. Maybe next year.,, @cote,,