Coté

Open Source usage survey

Some commentary on a recent survey commissioned from my work, VMware.

Unsurprisingly, open source is used by almost everyone. When it comes to what I care about software development, open source is indispensable. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a developer who only uses closed source software, if not whole systems like kubernetes or Cloud Foundry for running their applications. It’d almost be impossible. 

And, indeed, in our State of the Software Supply Chain survey this year, 2022, 90% of respondents said they were using open source in production.

Still, I wonder what those other 10% are doing! 

Do they write all their own software? They’re not running Linux in production I guess, either. 

What’s holding those 10% back?

  • 44% selected we’re still figuring out how to manage OSS in production. 
  • 38% chose we don’t see sufficient support for open source software in production environments
  • 34% chose we don’t trust open source software for production environments.

Benefits

There’s so much they’re missing out on. For all this praise about open source for me, what are the benefits of using open source? 

80% of people said reduced costs. Now, a lot of people will tell you that open source isn’t free. What they mean is that the cost of labor to use and maintaining it (upgrading and security patching) in staff time and pay…but clearly people are benefiting from open source overall being cheap. And, of course, many companies pay for commercial support and closed source tools for the open source stuff they use.

Cost was also the number one benefit in our 2021 survey. 

The other benefits were flexibility, support from a large community, and developer productivity. 

All of these are the promises of open source and what we’ve come to expect over the decades. Indeed, if you look the reasons people chose open source and then the benefits they got, those expectations pretty much line up. For example, 50% of people said they expected developer productivity as a benefit, and 52% got that benefit.

Problems: Security

Let’s look at the concerns people have. 

Chart

Security is what we should really dig into since it’s such a big concern. Now, I don’t think the concerns about security mean that open source is NOT secure. I don’t really think that’s the case at all. I think open source tends to be as secure as any other type of software, closed or run in the public cloud. What’s important is that you have the right process, packaging, and management in place. Again, this is important for anytime of software. Open source software is as secure, or, if you like, as insecure as closed source software. Make sure to get the right tools in place.

I want to add my own criteria for using open source that you should consider: make sure there’s a thriving, well supported community that you can depend on for the long-term. There’s two reasons for this: you want to make sure you’ll get community-based support when you’re learning how to use the OSS and troubleshoot it. Also, you want to make sure over the years that new, innovative features are added.

A thriving community will address these criteria.

Packaging and management

What you want to do is make sure that community and the vendors and cloud services you work with prioritize getting updates and patches out for their open source packages and services. And this is about more than “security”: it’s just upgrading to new versions of the projects you use to get new features and performance improvements. 

You want to have the processes and tools in place to deploy those updates as soon as possible, ideally without taking down production and stopping the business from running.

The container-based applications that run in kubernetes and Cloud Foundry - both open source! - provide excellent ways to do this nowadays. For example, the US bank Wells Fargo runs many applications in containers and because of how open source is packaged and managed in their platform, they’re able to deploy updates multiple times a week without disrupting their applications and, thus, business. I’ve seen this across banks, government agency, retailers: you name it.

So what you see in our second survey, here, is that with the right tools and process in place, and managing how your open source is packaged, you can get tremendous benefits from cost savings to developer productivity. The added bonus is that these same controls for open source can be applied to your own code and software. Securing open source is important, but the more important problem to solve is securing your own software. That comes down to the same thing: tools, process, and package management.

Once you have those controls in place, you can get that innovation engine going.

Getting more eyeballs for your boring enterprise tech videos - analysis and LIFE HACKS from four months of long and tiny b2b videos by channel and numbers

Looking at four months of numbers, here’s my theories of how to get more attention for my enterprise tech videos:

  1. Make short ones, each with one point - 1 minute to 10 minutes.
  2. Post the videos natively to Twitter, YouTube, or whatever channel - don’t rely on people clicking on YouTube.
  3. YouTube is, in general, the worst performer for eyeballs.
  4. LinkedIn is the best all around performer (but, I haven’t found detailed analytics, like seconds watched versus just auto-play).
  5. I haven’t done enough analysis of CTAs (“click here to go to my landing page and move further along the sales funnel to giving us CASH!") but they’re near impossible - Twitter looks good, but I don’t have enough visibility into the end-to-end funnel.
  6. Thus, following 5: focus on ideas you want in people’s heads (brand, thought lording, reputation, etc.) over clicks/transactions.

Analysis

I do a lot of videos for my work - selling kubernetes and appdev stacks for enterprises, along with the services/consulting that go with it (hey! VMWARE TANZUUUUUU!). Over the past two months I shifted from longer form vidoes (30-50 minutes) to tiny ones.

Sort of counter-intuitively, tiny videos take just as much work as long ones - lots and lots of editing, making subtitles, making zaney thumbnails, and all the usual uploading posting around. Sometimes tony videos take more work than just uploading longer, 45 uncut minutes.

The results are dramatic though: the shorter videos I do get a lot more views and “engagement” than the longer ones. This fits common SEO, social/influencer hustler folklore: no one likes long form content. After over 15 years of podcasting and presenting and blogging, I know that folklore isn’t, you know, universally true.

The Charts

The following tables are incomplete, it focuses on the tiny videos. See the taller table that follows for the numbers for the longer videos. (Click for the larger version of each chart.)

Table 01 shows the Dec 2020 and Jan 2021 tiny videos I did. I’ve been very time constraint of late (we have to - er, get to - home school a seven and ten year old, and also need to watch a 10 month old), so I’ve shifted to doing these small videos in the time I can find, often when I’m taking my baby daughter on a walk and she finally falls asleep:

Table 01: Tanzu Talk tiny videos (and some long), Dec 2020 to Jan 2020.

Table 02 shows the tiny videos I did back in the Spring (2020). I was similarly time-constrained - technically (and, mostly - hey, my therapist has helped me recognize that I’m a workaholic, but, like, the content I produce for work is my passion - my work isn’t just yelling at supply chain people and arts and crafting PowerPoint slides and pivot-tables…OK…I’ll take a breath…) I was on paternity leave, so I had to snatch the times I could. I uploaded these videos to my personal YouTube site (the Dec/Jan ones are on the VMware Tanzu channel), so their YouTube views are shit:

Table 02: cote.pizza tiny videos, Spring 2020.

I call these “cote.pizza” videos because that’s the URL for a CTA I had.

Then, for comparison, Table 03 the views for all the Tanzu Talk videos - most of them are long form and were only hustled with YouTube links in Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.:

Table 03: All Tanzu Talk videos, tiny and long, 2020

Findings

There are some key findings:

  1. The short videos get a lot more traffic.
  2. Posting the videos natively to Twitter and LinkedIn gets a tremendous amount more traffic than posting links to the YouTube videos. You can see this in Table 01: the videos in December were promoted with links to YouTube, but the ones in January were posted natively to Twitter and LinkedIn. (Some videos were previews of longer ones, like the DevSecOps for Fed one).
  3. I haven’t done a video-by-video analysis, but very few people (if any) will click on a link to YouTube that I post in Twitter or LinkedIn. I don’t know if they click on CTAs either. (There’s some views from Instagram, Facebook, and even TikTok too, but I’m leaving those off from this write-up - they’re not high or consistent enough to consider - you’re better posting Nutella videos to those channels.)
  4. I have no proof of this, but I think adding in subtitles helps. Instagram will auto-generate sub-titles for you, and you can rely on YouTube’s auto-generates srt’s to upload to LinkedIn and Twitter, but I’d use something like Descript to make a “perfect” srt file.
  5. My Minecraft Yeller Thumbnails are the radest shit you will ever see in b2b marketing. COME AT ME. (I discovered Adobe Spark Post which is fucking awesome for this shit.)

Concerns/open questions

The major component I’m missing is following what happens when people click a CTA link. I encoded most all links I use for attribution to me, but I, of course, didn’t tell any of our web-funnel acquisition people this, so I don’t know how get those numbers. This would be extremely valuable info.

On the other hand, the price range of software and services (six to seven figure deals) I help sell is so high that having just one click, or just someone having seen and been influenced by my video evne though clicked nothing trackable.

Also, I’m concerned about echo chambers. Many of the “engagements” (likes and stuff) I get are from co-workers, which I value tremendously! There are, though, a sort of knowable set of “customers” who also engage. I need more insight into how far out of the echo chamber I’m reaching.

Let me state this clearly: I have no idea if all of this is helping the business. BUT IT SURE IS FUN TO DO!

All of that aside, let me tell you a (depressing?) secret: the only thing people care about are raw views. There may be some quibbling about completion rates, CTA following, etc.: but at the end, people will just remember the raw numbers. (Still, I’d like to have more visibility into the money I’m helping bring in and retain, but, hey, as I like to say, “I get paid either way.")

Next to try

  1. “Everyday someone’s born who never watched The Flintstones" - Looking at the numbers, not that many people have seen my longer form videos. Very few have watched to the end. If I slice-up and reserve some of those at tiny videos, it won’t be feed them left-overs reposting, it’ll actually be new for many people. I think this is something that us insatiable, completist readers don’t get and why we find re-posting/ICYMI’ing so vile.
  2. People love stuff about auditors/governance and security…but, really, you can’t predict what people like.
  3. Post in LinkedIn - you’ve got ten minutes, that’s a lot more than Twitter’s 2m30s.
  4. In Twitter, you can share access/use for the videos with other people. I need to share this with the people who run @VMwareTanzu and other accounts and see what success they get with posting those videos natively. Based on purely gut feel after looking at some of the videos, this will drive a lot more eyeballs.

Oh and… HEYYYY, GUYYZZZ! Three, two one! LIKE AND SUBSCRIBE BELOW!!

Appendix

Some additional notes as I think of them:

  1. Many of the longer form videos were streamed in Twitch at first. For my stuff, there’s around, I don’t know, 30 maybe 50 or 60 views after streaming in Twitch. During, it’s like zero to five, but usually, like one or two. I don’t really consider Twitch to be, uh, the “right fit” for my content. I think my co-workers who actually code (that’s like watching someone game, right?) have much more success.

Banks are handling disruption well - Highlights

Thus far, it seems like the large banks are fending off digital disruption, perhaps embracing some of it on their own. The Economist takes a look:

  • “Peer-to-peer lending, for instance, has grown rapidly, but still amounted to just $19bn on America’s biggest platforms and £3.8bn in Britain last year”
  • “last year JPMorgan Chase spent over $9.5bn on technology, including $3bn on new initiatives”
  • From a similar piece in the NY Times: “The consulting firm McKinsey estimated in a report last month that digital disruption could put $90 billion, or 25 percent of bank profits, at risk over the next three years as services become more automated and more tellers are replaced by chatbots.”
  • But: “Much of this change, however, is now expected to come from the banks themselves as they absorb new ideas from the technology world and shrink their own operations, without necessarily losing significant numbers of customers to start-ups.”
  • Back to The Economist piece: “As well as economies of scale, they enjoy the advantage of incumbency in a heavily regulated industry. Entrants have to apply for banking licences, hire compliance staff and so forth, the costs of which weigh more heavily on smaller firms.”
  • Regulations and customer loyalty are less in China, resulting in more investment in new financial tech in Asia: 
  • As another article puts it: “China has four of the five most valuable financial technology start-ups in the world, according to CB Insights, with Ant Financial leading the way at $60 billion. And investments in financial technology rose 64 percent in China last year, while they were falling 29 percent in the United States, according to CB Insights.”
  • Why? “The obvious reason that financial start-ups have not achieved the same level of growth in the United States is that most Americans already have access to a relatively functional set of financial products, unlike in Africa and China.”
  • There’s some commentary on the speed of sharing blockchain updates can reduce multi-day bank transfers (and payments) to, I assume, minutes. Thus: ‘“Blockchain reduces the cost of trust,” says Mr Lubin of ConsenSys.’

Fixing legacy problems with new platforms, not easy

  • The idea of building banking platforms to clean up the decades of legacy integration problems.
  • Mainframes are a problem, as a Gartner report from last year puts it: “The challenge for many of today’s modernization projects is not simply a change in technology, but often a fundamental restructuring of application architectures and deployment models. Mainframe hardware and software architectures have defined the structure of applications built on this platform for the last 50 years. Tending toward large-scale, monolithic systems that are predominantly customized, they represent the ultimate in size, complexity, reliability and availability.”
  • But, unless/until there’s a crisis, changes won’t be funded: “Banks need to be able to justify the cost and risk of any modernization project. This can be difficult in the face of a well-proven, time-tested portfolio that has represented the needs of the banking system for decades.”
  • Sort of in the “but wasn’t that always the goal, but from that same article, Gartner suggests the vision for new fintech: ‘Gartner, Hype Cycle for Digital Banking Transformation, 2015, says, “To be truly digital, banks must pair an emphasis on customer-facing capabilities with investment in the technical, architectural, analytic and organizational foundations that enable participation in the financial services ecosystem.”’
  • BCG has a prescriptive piece for setting the strategy for all this, from Nov. 2015.

Case studies

  • A bit correlation-y, but still useful, from that BCG piece: “While past performance is no guarantee of future results, and even though all the company’s results cannot be entirely attributed to BBVA’s digital transformation plan, so far many signs are encouraging. The number of BBVA’s digital customers increased by 68% from 2011 to 2014, reaching 8.4 million in mid-2014, of which 3.6 million were active mobile users. Because of the increasing use of digital channels and efforts to reconfigure the bank’s branch network—creating smaller branches that emphasize customer self-service and larger branches that provide higher levels of personalized advice through a remote cross-selling support system—BBVA achieved a reduction in costs of 8% in 2014, or €340 million, in the core business in Spain. Meanwhile, the bank’s net profits increased by 26% in 2014, reaching €2.6 billion.”
  • And a more recent write-up of JPMC’s cloud-native programs, e.g.: ‘“We aren’t looking to decrease the amount of money the firm is spending on technology. We’re looking to change the mix between run-the-bank costs versus innovation investment,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to be really aggressive in reducing the run-the bank costs and do it in a very thoughtful way to maintain the existing technology base in the most efficient way possible.” …Dollars saved by using lower-cost cloud infrastructure and platforms will be reinvested in technology, he said.’ JPMC, of course, is a member of the Cloud Foundry Foundation which means, you know, they’re into that kind of thing.
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