Coté Memo #077: Avoid going from “VP of Having a P&L” to “VP of Special Projects”

DevDaysDays Chicago

I’ll be at DevOpsDays Chicago in a few weeks, August 26th to 27th. If you want to go and haven’t registered yet, you can use the code PIVOTAL10 to get 10% off, which gets it down to like $170 or something. It’s excellent value for a tech conference, plus you can see me speak and staff a booth! While I’m up there, on Aug 26th, I’ll be speaking at the local Cloud Foundry Meetup.

Tech & Work World

Stacking the Deck

I’m working on the second part in my “cloud native journey series” (part one was an overview and brief summary). Here’s an excerpt from my draft on greenfield journeys, on selecting the right initial projects:

Selecting your first projects

If you’re a small team, or a small company, selecting the project to work on is likely easy: you probably just have one application, so select that! In larger companies, there are often 100’s, of not 1,000’s of application and projects you could pick from. You want to pick one that will have customer value (that is, be customer facing) and will give you feedback once you deploy it (people will use it a lot, it won’t just be shelf-ware). You also want to pick a small enough project that getting it into production is possible in a short amount of time, let’s say 3 months at the maximum. Finally, if things go poorly, you want it to be a somewhat low profile project so you can sweep it under the rug if things really go poorly so you can live to greenfield another day.

This last point is no doubt contentious to the purer minded of y’all out there, and I can sympathize. We should strive for truth and transparency! I’m sure you’re lucky enough to be in a corporate structure that rewards the value of failing (learning), but think about your peers who are not so lucky and work in caustic corporate culture that punishes any type of failure by “promoting” the former “VP of Having a P&L” to “VP of Special Projects.” In such cases, you’re given the chance to advance to the next place on the board by success, so you’ll want to pick a project accordingly. Of course, the point is that as you build up the success record of failing fast, as it were, you’ll be able to change said caustic corporate culture around…hopefully. While a bit dated, the 2010 booklet, The Concise Executive Guide to Agile has a detailed discussion and methodology that’s helpful for picking your initial projects.

There’s a different type of project you can choose as well, what I like to think of as a “moribund” project. It fits all the criteria above, but already exists and just needs to be shown some love. One of our customers, Humana, profiled this strategy. Their Vitality project wasn’t getting the engagement levels they wanted: just 3% of potential users. They wanted to triple engagement, getting it to 10%. As they detailed in their keynote at this year’s CF Summit, after reving that project with a more agile and cloud native approach, they were astonished by the increase in engagement to over 30% of potential users. They then parlayed this success into two other, small but important projects and are not on the path to transform how applications are done company wide, beyond the greenfield.

At ~3,500 words, I need to cut down the full piece a bit. We’ll see what comes out the other end of the chute!

Shameless Self-promotion

Some recent items from me/us:

More from “cloud native” land

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the infrastructure niche of the tech world has gone crazy for “cloud native.” Consequently, I follow it a lot and type that phrase a lot. Here’s some recent items I’ve found:

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

7 Minute Workout

I’ve been trying to the old 7 minute workout via an app (there’s a NYTimes one up too). Not having exercised for, let’s see…none of my life, it sure is hard and just the right amount of time and pain that I keep doing it.

We’ll see what happens.

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Coté Memo #076: How cloud native makes customers awesome

Follow-up

  • The piece on “cloud journeys” I excerpted from last time is now posted.

Tech & Work World

Cloud Native

I’ve been writing some pieces on “cloud native” of late. It’s a term we’ve been using at work to describe what we’re all about. Here’s an excerpt from an internal newsletter piece I drafted today:

You’ve probably coming across the term “cloud native” frequently. James Watters has an excellent post on the topic, but I wanted add some background for y’all here. We’ve made “cloud native” an umbrella term to describe what Pivotal Cloud Foundry does for our customers. It’s shorthand for how we make our customers awesome: our platform gives them the tools and processes needed to start deploying their custom-written software weekly, if not daily, along with the tools needed to keep that software running happily in
production.

With this platform and knowing how to use these cloud superpowers, our customers become truly agile: frequently changing both their businesses and IT processes to keep competitive, e.g., they can think of a new business idea on Monday and have it up and running by Friday.

Speaking of this, if you’re interested in migrating to cloud-land, check out an excerpt from Josh Long’s upcoming book, Cloud Native Java. on the topic. Also, of course, you can get the developer experience for free for two months.

Upcoming Conferences

Shameless Self Promotion

  • Last week’s Software Defined Talk podcast: “Once we settle the important topic of lawn management in Texas, we discuss the circus around HP dress codes (and the actual lack of them), HP/Stackato, GitHub and the ALM market, and the odd fate of the GPL in commercial software land.”
  • Torture your friends with three ways of modeling the ROI for DevOps.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

No fun this issue, just work.

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Coté Memo #075: Dealing with legacy code in a cloud native world

Get your lurn on – this weekend!

https://player.vimeo.com/video/121473651?color=01786e&byline=0&portrait=0

Do you want to bone up on your product management skills? Check out this two day workshop from Craftman PM. I used to work with Prabhakar and he’s anything but boring when it comes to opinions around product. Check out more details, and if you use the code COTE when registering, you’ll get $250 off!

Follow-up

W Austin

As I mentioned last time, we stayed at the W in downtown Austin last week. It was nice! The “wet” (W-speak for “pool”) was nice with in-pool bar service.

Tech & Work World

Dealing with legacy code

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I’ve been working on a series of blog posts (which we’ll then slap into a PDF – hey, presto! Whitepaper!) on “the cloud journey.” Here’s an excerpt from the first part summarizing the challenges of “the legacy journey”:

These groups have a full portfolio of existing IT and applications that they must maintain and grow. There are many “obligations” owed to the past and they often operate under many more constraints than the other two types of teams. Their challenge with Pivotal Cloud Foundry is planning out how to methodically “slice off” parts of their existing applications and re-platform them as cloud native applications. These teams are metaphorically tasked with rebuilding the jet engine mid-flight.

Legacy teams are often looking for fixes to lingering, systematic problems they have (the relational database can no longer scale) and the effects of too much technical debt (“our system is so burdened and fragile that it takes weeks to do a release”). The challenge these teams have is that all of their time is taken up simply keeping their applications up and running, leaving them little time to work on new functionality in their application. Worse, when there is time to add in new functionality, the legacy system is so ponderous (and often poorly understood) that changing it takes much longer than it should.

To me, the challenges here are about balancing risk perfectly, knowing when to keep doing “the wrong thing” despite the allure of “the new thing.” Eventually, these teams have to choose either to “give up” or “go for it”: If the risks of making changes are too high, they must quarantine the applications in questions. Or, if the risks seem acceptable, the teams have to start systematically re-platforming and re-writing the backing services and applications themselves.

DevOps at Solarwinds

I was on a panel for Solarwinds online conference, thwackCamp. It was fun, actually. Check out the recording and a piece written about it.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

Movie Time

I say Amy) last week. I wasn’t expecting to like it much (we just wanted to see a movie, and Kim wanted to), but it was actually good. You know, tragic and such, but good.

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Coté Memo #074: “Let’s start an anonymous club.”

It’s mostly links this week, with a big add video ad for my pal below:

Get your lurn on

https://player.vimeo.com/video/121473651?color=01786e&byline=0&portrait=0

Do you want to bone up on your product management skills? Check out this two day workshop from Craftman PM. I used to work with Prabhakar and he’s anything but boring when it comes to opinions around product. Check out more details, and if you use the code COTE when registering, you’ll get $250 off!

Tech & Work World

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

Things are working out

It’s our 10th wedding anniversary (yay us!) so we’re treating ourselves to a little downtown Austin fun. We’ll be checking out the newish W down there. I’ll report back if it’s zaney. They got vinyl in the bar, man.

Leave your shoes at the door

This is my new favorite song. I listen the rest of ’em on repeat all the time now-a-days.

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Coté Memo #073: If you like tater-tots, go to Minneapolis

I’m in transit between Minneapolis and San Francisco right now. The MSP airport is delightful, with a long mall at the base and concourses reaching out, it seems civilized.

Follow-up

  • I had lunch with one of you today who said, “looks like you started up the newsletter,” to which I replied, “well, if I can send one more out and then not do it the third time, then yes.” So, here’s number two. Almost to fail-o-victory!

Tech & Work World

Coté Content

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

“Nothing in particular”++

Suggested sound-track for reading this chart.

Trends in religious affiliationn

(Via @bruces)

That looks like relaxing chaos

I like the Power Ranger show too much. I don’t like the content too much, but the relaxation of what it looks like to be the show runner. The show has a predictability and stability to it, and an audience of adoring kids. And it looks like, if you get the whole Power Rangers idea and mythos, it’s hard to screw-up.

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Coté Memo #072: Since last time…

It’s been forever since a memo! Here’s this week’s. I’ve tried to craft a work-flow that will allow me to collect links I want to share, in addition to shameless self-promotion and the occasional commentary in here…and actually send these out weekly. We’ll see what happens.

Travel

DevOpsDays Amsterdam - Thursday June 25th

I’ve been traveling a lot recently and have more coming up. The main thing is going to lots of DevOpsDays. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to speak at them, but the main part I like is talking with old friends and meeting people who are trying to sort out what exactly DevOps is and if/how it applies to them.

I’ll be at DevOpsDays in Minneapolis next week, and I may be at the Pittsburg and Chicago one.

If you’ve missed them, you can see recordings of my talks from Austin and Amsterdam (you have to go 40:30 in to find mine).

Tech & Work World

All about me…

Quick Hits

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Coté Memo #071: How to eat a bubble at #ApacheCon

The Cloud Foundry Summit is coming up on May 11th and 12th, in Santa Clara. It’s a great chance to dive into Cloud Foundry ecosystem both on the technology side and to hear how organizations are using Cloud Foundry to become Software Defined Businesses. Register now with the discount code COTE and get 25%, which will bring the price down from $250 to about $187.

Follow-up

  • None this week.

Tech & Work World

ApacheCon 2015

It being in Austin, I’m at ApacheCon this year. The ASF was nice enough to give me a media pass, which Pivotal being a big sponsor wasn’t necessary, but I thought it was a sweet gesture, the kind of sentimental stuff I appreciate. I used to do media training with them (come sit with a real analyst for 5 minutes) which I always enjoyed immensely.

I’m helping man the Cloud Foundry booth a bit (we have plenty of folks keeping the Pivotal booth humming since we do a lot of data stuff in this community and launched Geode today).

Today the traffic was pretty slow (the data folks had more), but the nature of people we talked with was more interesting than volume. I’ll see how it pans over the next few days, but my theory is that ApacheCon is good more for business development (partner, etc.) than for “lead-gen” (finding potential customers, working on retaining existing ones). Indeed, I talked with one of the fellas at another booth and he turned out to be their biz-dev guy, who echoed this theory back at me.

Also, they served lunch at Threadgill’s. Yuh!

Jevon's Chicken Fried Steak

(“Introducing a Canadian to chicken fried steak” photo no actually from today. Also: pie!)

A bubble-talk bubble

It’s like there’s some coordinated PR effort going on: have you noticed how much “there’s a bubble talk, yes/no?” talk has been going on of late? There’s this interview with Marc Andreessen, some horseman of the digital apocalypse vitriol, and more from Scott Kupor at Andreessen’s outfit.

The most recent Exponent podcast is the best overview of the topic, which I’d recommend, along with Ben’s write-up.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

How to eat

One day I hope to do a “series” called “how to eat.” It’ll go over the proper eating procedures for various types of food. When I pitch this to people, they get confused. Why would you need that? Well, for example, what’s the proper way to eat sushi? How would you explain how to eat a hamburger and onion rings to someone who’d never seen it? What do you do with all those little bowls of stuff you get a Korean restaurant? When you’re eating at one of those European hotel breakfast buffets, what’s up with all that lunch meat? How do you eat a taco properly, or a chalupa (as we call all tostada like things in Texas)? You get the idea.

Just think of how fun it’d be to make videos of all that! And then blogs-cum-books, and so on. Even a podcast.

The further part of the dream is couple it up with the series my wife would do called “You’re doing it wrong.” Each episode would be about the modern day etiquette practices that people often overlook. People would be going about putting on a wedding (“if you’re family helping out, don’t try to hijack the agenda”), a baby shower (“don’t just buy random stuff, figure out the style they want and don’t deviate”), visiting with friends (“ask if you should strip the bed when you leave”), and so forth, and Kim would bust in after the initial montage of things going wrong and say, “you’re doing it wrong!” and then go on in the rest of the episode to explain things like, for example, how you need to figure out if Christmas gift-giving is done on the “give them whatever you think they want” vs. the “give them only exactly what they asked for” methods.

The “cross-over” would occur every now and then (maybe during the credits) where I’d stumble on with some food-related thing (“here’s how to eat at a wedding”) and basically be a buffoon that my wife would roll her eyes at (“as long as the bride and groom are having a good time, don’t be afraid to fill your plate with those mini steaks! Is this an open bar situation?” [wife rolls eyes])..and then she could come on my show occasionally and tell people how they’re doing it wrong (“always bring over a nice bottle of wine, no matter what the host said!”).

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Coté Memo #070: Lost in the review hole, Lord of Computing

There’s few links today, just some pointers to now published material that I’ve alluded to recently, and some moaning on needing to be a better team-player.

Follow-up

  • We got up to 100 subscribers, so good job there, y’all ;)

  • As several people wrote, the word I was looking for in that discussion of lower case letters is “semiotics”, the study of symbols.

  • The podcast I excerpted from on the operational needs of cloud platforms (and people who don’t capitalize words) is now up. There’s audio, of course, and a full transcript.

Tech & Work World

I am not scalable

I’ve been struggling with extending my reach of effectiveness at work. That is, working well with others. When it comes to “getting things done,” I’m very good at it if I do all of it on my own, and every knob and wing-ding from concept to delivery is under my control. Once someone else gets involved in more than a faceless way, things slow down. I almost give up because I can’t stand to wait.

This is very much so driven by the blogger culture that I “grew up in” over the lat 90s and 2000s. You would just type, hit publish, think of new edits, hit publish again, etc. It gets enforced by a (non-pairing) programmer mentality where you can do all you need on your own (short of last code review, perhaps), pretty much.

In the white-collar world, things are rarely like this. First, there’s often at least one other person who has to approve your work. This is often to the benefit of the message and making sure the company does well. Second, there are often “gate keepers” who control the release of product into the world.

Each of these steps (and others) are intended to add value to the end product, but I still struggle to value those steps myself and, thus, find the value in them. Obviously, that’s an annoying problem for all people involved. Now, watch me click publish…

New Podcast

I (re-)started a new podcast today, here’s the first episode:

How to demo your cloud poop, don’t smoke corn silk, and other advice for people who lived in the 1930s – Lords of Computing Podcast 001

After catching up several times over the past few months, John Willis and I decided to reboot our podcast from long ago. In this first episode, we talk about putting together good demos for cloud platforms, among other things.

We’ve re-named it the Lords of Computing, borrowing an ancient domain name I’ve had forever. Take a listen, and subscribe! (This will be three podcasts I do regularly now, which is great: it’s one of the things I like doing most.)

Fun & IRL

No fun today, just work. I did notice that there was a half pot of coffee left at 3pm today. Something was going wrong.

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Coté Memo #069: Chili Cheese Tots, shift key avoidance syndrome

Follow-up, Follow-forward

  • The column I excerpted from last time is up, over at FierceDevOps: Software-defined businesses need software-defined IT departments. Tell me what you think; they asked me to write a monthly piece, so I’d love to get some ideas for topics going: got any?

  • I got some good feedback on the podcast sponsorship meanderings. Apparently, there’s pretty good money in tech podcasts. The next thing I’m curious about is if the advertising actually works…or how people even measure it.

  • We have 98 subscribers right now – exciting! Tell one of your pals to sign up so we can get above 100 for the next one.

  • I’ll be at ApacheCon (in Austin) next week. We’re hosting a related event during the conference if you’re interested; I advised them on pizza ordering (either Home Slice or Conan’s – we’ll see what happens). It’d be fun to chat if you’re there. A few weeks on, I’ll be at DevOpsDays Austin, giving a talk and hanging out. The Cloud Foundry Summit is coming up and, as you might guess, I’ll be there as well.

Tech & Work World

no caps

Today, I bring you an excerpt from an upcoming Pivotal Conversation episode with Andrew, due to be published this week:

Coté: You know, I was thinking. There’s something I wanted to ask you. You have, like myself, pretty broad experience in the IT world over a couple of decades now, which is odd to think about. I think you’ve had your head in a slightly different silo than I have, in the early days. I think you can answer something that’s been bugging me. What is up with people who don’t use the shift key? Like they never capitalize anything. They have good punctuation. They don’t capitalize the beginning of sentences. Am I over thinking this? Is there … I feel like a lot of technological people that I know, I shouldn’t say a lot, there’s a fair amount of them who don’t capitalize things. Because they’re sort of like programmers or operators, I know that they pay close attention to syntax. I feel like it must be a conscious choice. Right? They must have decided, sort of like: one day I decided I’m not going to put 2 spaces after a period. Done. I never do that. Right? So, I ask you again, what’s going on with people who don’t capitalize things?

Andrew C Shafer: I think it’s just a hipster…I sometimes do that. It actually is conscious.

Michael Coté: See. This is … I’m not passing any judgment. I have no judgment to pass at all. I’m genuinely curious. When that affectation is applied intentionally, what the semantic thing is going on there. Is it, what’s that fancy word, like the study of symbols? Symbiotic? There’s some sort of symbiotic thing going on there.

Andrew C Shafer: Quite frankly, I don’t know how philosophical you want to get, in an encore performance here, but I don’t actually see the point of capitalization. Seems redundant.

Michael Coté: Now, that’s a statement right there. I like it. That’s something meaty. I think, this has been my theory.

Andrew C Shafer: With punctuation and spacing, what purpose does capitalization…

Michael Coté: Yeah. Yeah. It can all be inferred, basically. Right? You know. This would also highlight why, if this was like 2002 and we were complaining about the kids with their T9 texting, that would be a whole other discussion of no capitalization. In this case, I think it’s this subset of people who are technologically inclined. I feel like the answer you just gave is probably what’s going on with a lot of them. It’s like, I want to have an economy in my writing that strips out anything that’s unnecessary.

Andrew C Shafer: Yeah. It’s a protest against hierarchy.

Michael Coté: Namely the hierarchy of typefaces that are taller than others.

Andrew C Shafer: Exactly. We don’t need a class system.

Michael Coté: We need a class system. That’s an entirely different type of “class system” we’re talking about. Not separating things out in their value. More logos space class system.

We then talk some sort of tech stuff. I’ll drop in a link to the episode once it’s published. Or, just subscribe to the podcast feed to get it once it’s published.

“the feeling of being informed when you get to the very end”

Ben Thompson pointed out this good, short interview with The Economist’s Tom Standage

I love their Espresso app, and here’s some stats on it:

It’s $3 per month. It’s doing well: We’ve had about 600,000 downloads. Weekly reach is about 200,000 readers, daily reach is about 120,000 readers. 175,000 weekly subscribers have enabled free access to Espresso. So in all of those ways, it’s good.

…I don’t know all those term well enough, but let’s take a stab. I’ll assume “daily reach” means people paying for it regularly. So, the revenue could be something like:

$3 X 200,000 = $600,000

I’m unsure if that 175,000 weekly readers is on-top of the 200,000. I’m a weekly (digital) subscriber (through airline miles!) and I added it (meaning, I don’t pay “extra”). Anyhow, like many people I probably don’t actually read the weekly edition of The Economist cover to cover, but I do tend to read the daily Espresso.

Someone in tech needs to do that model. It’s a great format: a few hundred words per story with a summary of 3-4 stories at the end, and then the usual Economist numbers fest. If you could draw lines around “enterprise IT” (that is, not Apple, Google, Facebook, and all that), I think you’d have something pretty good. You’d need to define the companies, technologies, and topics you cover there, and then just take the Espresso approach. Their “model” is world news and business, of course: much larger. Scoping down to just some chunk of the IT world would be easy enough for 1, maybe 2 people to boot-strap in. And fun!

Quick Hits

Nice chart on Uber growth:

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As you’ll recall, I threw together this one from rumored revenue in the Wall Street Journal:

Uber's rumored net revenue

I like to use these charts to illustrate how fast a software defined business can grow and that, you know, it’s a thing.

Fun & IRL

Eating Right

We visited with friends for Easter this weekend.

On the way, I enjoyed a rare road-food treat at Sonic:

Sonic Chili Cheese Tater Tots

To make up for that, our friends made excellent food each night, for example:

Eating right

I didn’t get a picture of the lamb-chops. Or the omelet stuffed with left over smoked pork.

#WorkingFromHome, lanyard signaling

A reader wrote in:

One tip on working from home from a friend that works at Cisco. He wears his Cisco badge on a lanyard when he works at home, so even when he goes to get a drink from the fridge the family knows he’s still “at work”. He just holds the badge up when his wife asks him to flip the laundry or take out the trash. For me, I’m still trying to get French doors put on my home office door to help w/the noise. Looking forward to your tips.

Man, I think my wife would kill me if I did that, but it does get to the point. Sometimes signaling is all that’s needed. My wife is very good at responding to a door closed signal. Whether it’s locked or not she assumes that means no interruptions and will keep the kids out, even I actually don’t mind. So, I have to be very mindful of door closed or not.

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Coté Memo #068: Are they really making $48,000 a month just talking about Apple?

Tech & Work World

Podcasting Rates

Brandon shared some podcast revenue estimates with me from the Hot Pod newsletter recently. I’m all for there being lots of money in podcasting, but they seem bonkers high:

Then there’s Standard Broadcast Co., independently produced shows that hang a banner under the same ad sales network. This includes three of the most popular tech podcasts: John Gruber’s The Talk Show; Marco Arment, Casey Liss, and John Siracusa’s Accidental Tech Podcast; and CGP Grey and Brady Haran’s Hello Internet. Those three programs have in the 80,000 weekly download range, and command a rack rate of $4,000 per ad slot ($50 CPM) with up to three ads per show, often sold out well in advance.

So, doing the math on this:

  • ATP will have 2-3 ads per episode. Let’s go bonkers and do 3.
  • ATP has 4 episodes a months, excluding holidays and such.
  • So: each episode would be (3 ads X $4,000) = $12,000
  • (4 episodes a month) X $12,000 = $48,000

Really? $48,000 a month?! Let’s half that: really? $22,000 a month?! Let’s 1/4 it! Really? $12,000 a month?!

I could go out and check rate sheets for various podcasts (see some at Standard), but I’m curious if these numbers seem high to y’all. Cracking the nut of pricing for “infrastructure” and “enterprise” podcasts has always been hard.

Back at RedMonk, we could paid about $2,000-$4,000 per “sponsored episode” (think of “native advertising” for podcasts before such a concept existed – we did a lot of interviews with early Puppet users, for example). I was once offered somewhere between $1,000 to $2,000 per episode for a podcast that I was wanting to start at 451 (thanks, you know who you are!); it got killed by 451 because they saw ads in podcasts as too close to commissioned work…or whatever.

Now that I’m in marketing, how would I think about paying for podcast ads? Well, we target Global 2,000 customers at Pivotal, so our deal size is large (we had 40+ customers in 2014 that accounted for almost $40m in bookings – you can do the math there for average deal size, and crimp it around a bit for a realistic distribution). This means that if I got just one “really good lead” from a podcast…I’d pay almost anything. If I’m looking to help create a $300,000 to $5m deal over the course of 1-3 years…what’s $3,000 here, $10,000 there? (This also throws some cold water on people who get freaked out about webinar, analyst, and other enterprise sales marketing price-tags: it’s because the end-goal is huge).

Still, it’s hard to know what good rates are. I’d love to hear what y’all think and what’s worked or not. You know, it’d be nice to get some revenue for my co-hosts and I for Software Defined Talk – and it’d also be good for any podcast deals we end up doing at Pivotal.

On another note: if the rates from Hot Pod are even half (or a 1/4th!) realistic, the independent analyst business model is looking even better if you can monetize a podcast.

For reference, here are weekly downloads of my podcasts (which are mostly Software Defined Talk at the moment):

Podcast stats, , as of 2 April 2015

You can check out individual episodes numbers as well. (And, check out the fancy chart styling in the preview version of Microsoft Excel for Mac!)

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

No fun today, just work.

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Coté Memo #000: No jokes here.

Tech & Work World

“What kind of company do you think we are?”

Here’s some excerpts from a FierceDevOps column I submitted yesterday.

Quick tip: if you’re in a room full managers and executives from non-technology companies and one of them asks, “what kind of company do you think we are?”…no matter what type of company they are, the answer is always “a technology company.” That’s the trope us in the technology industry have successfully deployed into the market in recent years. And, indeed, rather than this tip being backhanded mocking, it’s praise. These companies are taking advantage of the opportunity to use software and connected devices in novel ways to establish competitive advantage in their businesses. They’re angling to win customer cash by having better software and technology than their competitors.

And, later revisiting my old IT – SaaS = what? trope…

There’s another “horseman” in the broader industry that’s driving the need to change how IT departments are structured: the rise of SaaS. Before the advent of SaaS across application categories, software had to be run and managed in-house (or handed off to outsources to run): each company needed its own team of people to manage each instance of the application.

451 Research ChangeWave Cloud Usage

Source: 451 Research/ChangeWave

As SaaS use grows more and more, that staffing need changes. How many IT staff members are needed to keep Google Apps or Microsoft’s Office 365 up and running? How many IT staff do you need to manage the storage for Salesforce or Successfactors? Indeed, I would argue that companies use more and more SaaS instead of on-premises packaged software, the staffing needs change dramatically: they lessen. You can look at this in a cost-cutting way, as in “let’s reduce the budget!” Hopefully you can look at it in a growth way instead: we’ve freed up the budget to focus on something more valuable to the business. In most cases, that thing will writing custom software. That is: developers.

Quick Hits

tumblr April Fools

Fun & IRL

#WorkingFromHome

I’ve been collecting some little aphorisms and such on working from home when you have young kids. I find it extremely challenging, and rewarding at the same time. I’m curious how other people cope. Part of the issue is that, with a 1.5 and 5 year old, about once every 30 minutes someone is crying or wants attention. There’s just no letting up. If you’re the parent working, you have to just ignore it, which is weird.

Here’s something I wrote up recently:

The end of the day is the worst. Your family asks you every five minutes when you’ll be done; they start wanting to play with you. At the same time, you’re desperately trying to find time to get done. Each time they interact with you, it slows you down.

The answer, of course, is the same as always: you have to control access to you in a way that;s not assholey. Lock a door, go to a distant room. You have to hide.

Five year olds aren;t up to speed on the cost of context switching and haven’t read the maker/manager essay.

Anyhow, I think there’s a good presentation in collecting enough tips and, more helpful, counseling to make it work.

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Coté Memo #066: The best time to post is an hour after closin’ time

From yesterday, posting here a bit late.

Follow-up

  • It’s been awhile, a little over a month. I hope to see y’all more regularly. I was reading the excellent TechReckoning Dispatch and thought: what the fuck am I doing over here?

Tech & Work World

Meanwhile, at work…

I’ve been up to hijinks over at Pivotal. Check out my recent posts there:

  • We did a round of briefing analysts on a bundle of announcements around Pivotal Cloud Foundry. It was fun being on that side of the table again.

  • The podcast with @littleidea is fun.

  • In addition to the blog work, there are several guest columns lined up. I’ll of course link to them once they’re hear. Perhaps I can get some chunks of drafts in here to gauge interest, per usual.

Talks

I’ve been pitching some DevOps related talks here and there for the rest of the year. DevOpsDays Austin is coming up, and I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to talk there. Pivotal is sponsoring it, so you can come talk with my co-worker Abby (@ab415) about Pivotal Cloud Foundry. Or, hey, just get some free shit. Why not?

Also, I’m trying to get together some panels going over developer relations. As you may recall, I wrote an introductory level report/how-to on the topic while at 451. The plan was to drive consulting work off that, of course, but now it’s just sort of orphaned. It’d be fun to keep that theme of research going, if only by having some discussions in public about it time to time.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

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Coté Memo #065: Back home, finally

After two weeks away from home, I’m finally back.

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Follow-up

Some reader follow-up on the Mexican matches from @MordodeMaru:

That match-box sure is another mindfuck. I think the key is the de lujo rather than the Clásicos. De lujo means high-class, luxurious and those objects (except for the Parthenon temple) are considered high society objects. It’s a very typical Spanish expression to say something is de lujo to mean cool, and this is something publicity picks up very frequently.

Tech & Work World

The industry analyst business – meta-level

I finally wrapped a long post on the tech industry analyst market. As I talked about in a recording for thenewstack.io analyst podcast, I originally wrote the first draft back in April of last year when Ben Thompson first launched Exponent.fm. In a more recent episode, he went over how his business has been going (very well!) which reminded me that I should finish up the post.

In the proceding time there was new data out there which allowed me to rate his success by revenue, broadly. And, since I’d left the analyst world, I felt a little more free in analyizing that world.

Anyhow, it’s been nice to hear the reception from other analyst types. In talking through the piece with Alex Williams today, I think the part that I found lacking (as I disclaimed in an aisde at the top of the post) was an explanation of how this new crop of analysts could better attract buy-side customers.

What the new analysts do is mostly “vendor sports” which is appealing to the investment community (who wants to know how to allocate their money), vendors (who want ideas and competative intel), and the smaller “general audience” that just wants tech news. Buyers want advice about what IT to buy and how to use it. Alex and others are exploring ways of doing that…but there could be a lot more done there to marry-up the kind of work Ben Thompson, Horace Dediu, and even RedMonk does with Wirecutter style reviews (credit to SDT co-host Brandon Whichard for the Wirecutting framing which I think is spot on).

The issue, as I do cover in the post, is that doing these kinds of reviews and advice for enterprise technology is really expensive. Imagine what it would take to build out labs and tests to evaluate all the OpenStack distros, running in various modes…and then compare them to VMware and Microsoft virtualization. Or to evaluate all the ERP software out there.

I think it’s technically possible and would even be interesting. The problem is the opportnity cost for people involved: if you had the analytical and technical acumen to do that kind of testing, you can probably make more money working for an actual enterprise or vendor.

The problem always comes down to what people want to pay for, and it doesn’t seem easy to make money off the hard work in IT analyst land. That’s part of why Gartner has such a strong position, and, as I advise in the piece, an area they could defence against well.

As a side-note, I left out something I’d noticed about Forrester while putting together charts for the piece: they seem to be loosing profits, I’m not sure why, could be for growth or something bad.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

It looks like you’re supposed to drink 3-5 cups of coffee a day now. That and two glasses of wine a day, and we’ll finally be livin’ the life!

Honestly, I can’t keep up with all this stuff. Is there some source for nutritional advice that can be trusted more than 24 months?

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Coté Memo #064: I’m calling from Mexico, someone has stolen the Venus de Milo!

Follow-up

  • We’re up to 90 subscribers and one of you went a helped out one of our sponsors (The Craftsman PM), so thanks!

Tech & Work World

Sayulita

Week in Mexico

I had a nice chance to spend the week in Mexico this week. A friend of mine rented a house here in Sayulita and asked if we wanted to go along. Since I work remotely, so long as there’s a fast enough Internet connection, I’m good to go. Now, the family is frolicing around on the beach while I type away in cyberspace. What a world!

That advice from The Hitchhiker’s Guide was right, though: we should of brought more towels.

Allow to comment on the odd design of these matches:

Week in Mexico

First off all, the Venus statue. Sure. Makes sense for matches. And there’s a train, of course, and the Pantheon goes along with the statue…plus you can win $1,500 pesos? I’m not really sure what’s happening here.

I like to think there’s a caper where someone stole the Venus de Milo and is transporting it on a train. Perhaps an overworked Mexican detective is working with interpol investigating where this Mexican train is traveling and trying to find the statue. I don’t know, they sent the Venus di Milo to a musem in Mexico, or it was being transporting between the Panama Canal and Boston, or something. A sort of The City and The City situataion? Hijinks occur, and they end up solving the mystery with some match sticks.

That’s probably it.

Here’s some photos of the area:

Week in Mexico

Week in Mexico

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

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Coté Memo #063: Working at Pivotal and Yak shaving

Follow-up

In reponse to the analyst access commentary from last time, a reader wrote in:

Are you familiar with Securosis? They’re a security-only analyst firm.

Their business model is pretty different – everything they publish is free, and make money through sponsorship and inquiries etc. They have a model they call totally transparent research. I don’t know how much they make – but apparently they make enough to cover themselves.

Tech & Work World

Working at Pivotal

Cote Pivotal Linedrawing

I started a new job earlier this month at Pivotal. I haven’t had time to write an informal overview yet, but instead I did this interview/post on the official Pivotal blog.

There’s also a follow-up piece that I haven’t promoted too much yet. I’ve been busy. Hopefully I’ll have my feet better under me.

So far it’s been great, I’m really liking it. We have so much cool stuff at Pivotal and are getting crazy traction, with around $40m in Pivotal Cloud Foundry bookings last year.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

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Coté Memo #062: The Problem with Analyst Access

We’ve got a new sponsor this week, see below. There’s a 10% coupon. I’m planning on going to the event to get my lurn on.

Also, I wrote this pretty fast. Pardon messups.

Tech & Work World

The Problem with Analyst Access

One of the core opportunity/problem diachotomies in the analyst industry is “access”: access to the analyst’s insights, access to the analysist content, and access to the analysts themselves. Gate-keeping this access is the basis for much of the business: paywalls, paying for consulting, etc.

However, that business model can be a dangerous leaky abstraction in seamingly trival ways. For example, I recently wanted to sign up for RSS feeds for all the published research from Gartner, Forrester, IDC (actually, they have several, but no “everything” feed I’ve found yet), etc. (I already know 451’s feed URL, which is admitly not super easy to find, but there for finding). They don’t really seem to have them. There’s not full text in these feeds, of course: you need access to their paywall to read the full text. But, it’s important for me to know what they’re publishing and I imagine other folks would like to know.

Here’s how most access to analyst content seems to happen, you ask the AR person to send you a copy. You rarely get your own account (it’s too expensive, most analyst customers seem to think). Instead, there’s one account that an analyst relations people uses, and you can ask them to look up things for, like a reference librarian. And yet, analyst shops rarely put out a “card catalog” (that RSS feed) that lets us without accounts know what’s published. Thus, I don’t know what I should be requesting.

Of course, the analyst side of this is “well, you should stop being a cheap-ass and pay for an account, doofus, problem solved.” And, having been an analyst for almost 8 years of my career, I can’t fault them for wanting to get paid. I’ve got 5 kids to feed too!

But this need to control access so tightly that I don’t even know what they’re publishing is sort of a non-starter.

Once again, this brings me back to “access” as the number one variable and lever you can play with in the analyst business. GigaOm toyed with this when they set a very low price in their early days (around $70-200 a year for an individual subscription, depending on discounts) and I look at people like Ben Thompson as hacking that even more (he’s just $100/year). My alumus RedMonk took another tact years ago and just ditched the paywall, getting paid for consulting and other things (like their growing[?] events business); someone once derisivly called RedMonk a “patron” model, which is sort of right, but only a tiny bit.

So, in other words: hey analyst shops, can you get some RSS feeds? (Hopefully, they exist, and I just haven’t found them yet. Remember: all published research, not just blogs and announcements.)

Cloud SOTU, 5 years late

I had the privilege of talking to the Austin cloud user group earlier this week. I’d given the opening talk back in 2010, so they asked me to come give an update. The themes and many of the charts will be familer, but I’ve been honing down to a more specific message: you should get a platform…and probably not build it on your own.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

Too much fun this week to document. Stay safe out there.

Sponsors

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Coté Memo #061: On the tedious need to have an opinion

Tech & Work World

Having an opinion, or not

In the types of jobs I’ve found myself in over recent years – analyst, strategist, “content producer” in the form of podcasts and blogs – you have to generate a lot of opinions. The best actually seem to really care about the things they have opinions over and can express, at length, why they think like they do. Think about the ATP crew or any of the other podcasts out there: they really care about Apple! Ben Thompson is another font of opinion, and his content is very interesting for it.

I seem to have powered down my opinion engine of late: I just haven’t cared as much. I find myself taking a “wait and see position” more than not: in the technology space, I’m more interested in learning how people are using technologies and about how the actual technologies work than having a strong opinion about which their metaphysical essence.

I find that “having an opinion” also guides a lot of managing teams. A manager should have an opinion about how the team runs, what their work product looks like, how they’re rated, and ways to improve. That takes a lot of opinion, expressing it, and enforcing it. At an individual level – managing yourself – the same applies.

This leads me think that we need opinions to simply tell us what to do day to day and how we should rate how we’re doing. It feels something of a wrong conclusion: you’re not supposed to be overly subjective in “managing.” And yet, it seems to me that most interesting – not always the most profitable – “work” is driven by a strong opinion, and following it to its logical conclusion.

Quick Hits

Fun & IRL

My old cache of D&D books. And there's a whole 'nuther box!

Whenever I dig around in the attic, I came across the two (!) boxes of Dungeons and Dragons books I have up there. It makes me long to DM again. After coming across this “Three Sad Wizards” module and listening to the first episode of Total Party Kill, I wrote up the beginning of an adventure that night sitting up in bed.

Here’s the summary I tapped out at the top:

“The player wakes up in a dungeon with no memories of who they are and must quest through the valley of five rivers [can you tell I’ve been reading Game of Thrones?] to discover their past. The player should either be a warrior or a thief, they can decide which at some point early on.”

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Coté Memo #060: Mark all cookies as read

Follow-up

Tech & Work World

Whatever happened to “mark as read”?

Like most old cyberspace people, I lament the death of Google Reader and RSS daily. I still use Feedly (coupled with Newsify it’s alright – I wish Flipboard would work with Feedly but, you know, it doesn’t, because monetization or some crap, I guess), so I have that going for me.

Now that are so many other options out there for “reading interesting links,” I find that what I like about RSS readers is that they mark a story as read. Things like Flipboard, reading tumblr, HN, and all that seem to lack that feature – I don’t want to see the same thing twice, or, more likely, five times.

Which brings us to the “fun links in your social networks app du jour”, Nuzzel. It’s nice enough, but like all the other apps like it, it has no mark as read feature. I keep seeing the same stuff over and over. (And if you recall how I actually use Twitter, ignoring my “real” timeline in favor or a list I made, apps that depend on the Twitter timeline are borked for me).

As I alluded to above, Flipboard was the best when it worked with Google Reader – I could load up all the social crap it works with, and Google Reader, and it was tidy, marking as read my RSS stuff and letting me swipe through all the other nonsense that would sate my FOMO goblins.

So, a plea to all you FOMO app people: add mark as read to your app. Even better: add Feedly integration, they must have APIs or something, right? Make it an in-app purchase! I bid 20 quatloos on the new comer!

(The reason I really like Newsify – the one feature I can’t live without, as it were – is that it marks as read as you scroll, like the old Google Reader! The Feedly app sort of does that, but it doesn’t have real scroll, instead it flips through pages, making me have to shift my eyes from the bottom of the screen to the top each time I “scroll.” I know, this seems like a tiny thing, but when you read as many feeds as I do, it’s now.)

Quick Hits

Like most folks, I was gone for two weeks. These may be a bit stale.

https://twitter.com/nntaleb/status/550370028437385216

Fun & IRL

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