Keeping developer skills fresh

My co-worker Richard wrote up a laundry list of tactics to cultivate and maintain developer skills. It’s drawn from the tactics we’re seeing organizations put in place and a recent survey from the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

Internal events

While I used to scoff at internal brown bags and workshops, I’ve seen those be highly effective in organizations looking to buff up at their developer skills. It both transmits actually new information and shows developers that the company actually cares. Upping morale and skills is hard to beat.


Also, it looks like the continual cross-training you get from pair programming is effective. Staff keeps up to date from the micro level of new keyboard short cuts to the big picture stuff like architectural patterns and domain knowledge. Plus, they learn and practice working together and trusting each other.

More survey findings

The developer survey that Richard kicks off with has some more interesting answers. Here’s some details from the survey:

– “By a nearly 2:1 margin, they are choosing training over hiring or outsourcing as the preferred method for addressing a shortage of skills in their own companies.”
– “We suspect that the companies further along in their cloud journey are doing more interesting things and are more risk tolerant; developers find those jobs more attractive. However, those companies that still primarily rely on legacy architectures, don’t push the envelope or are only very sluggishly making efforts toward digital transformation, struggle to hire and retain people that have the skills necessary.”
– “the majority of companies (62%) express confidence in the abilities of their developers to “keep current” with their IT knowledge and skills. At an individual level, however, only 47% of developers express confidence in their own ability to keep current.”
– “By a large percentage (60%), companies say they first adopt a technology—then upskill, train, or hire as necessary. This is preferred to selecting a new technology based on the skills already available in the company (40%).”
– “By and large, companies are addressing the shortage of skills by training or upskilling existing people rather than outsourcing (61% versus 39%) or hiring (62% versus 38%). They are making use of a variety of training methods from formal internal trainings, vendor-led trainings to informal trainings like ‘lunch-and-learns.'”
– It was done in 2016Q3, over 845 respondents in an online survey. “The survey divided respondents into four broad IT ‘roles’: Developer 30%, Operations 30%, Manager 20%, and Line of business leadership 20%.” And spread across geographies and industries.

AirBnB lowers hotel prices 8-10%, effects low end hotel more

There’s all sorts of fun findings and theories in this study of AirBnB’s effect in the hotel market in Austin and Dallas. The easiest one is that it lowers pricing by 8-10% for the non-business traveler segment:

As Airbnb has its roots in casual stays, including those involving shared accommodations, we expect it to be a more attractive option for travelers on a budget. Conversely, business travelers and vacationers who frequent high-end hotels are two examples of consumers we argue are less likely to substitute a hotel stay with an Airbnb stay.

There’s also some interesting commentary on the very fixed assets of traditional hotel companies verses the agility of AirBnB:
– It’s impossible to rapidly increase the supply of hotel rooms to meet demand: it takes an average of 4 years to build new hotels, so you can’t really meet rising demand even on an annual basis.
– In contrast, the AirBnB supply can expand and contract on a daily basis as people decided to list and delist their rooms and houses.
– Of course, AirBnB demand is cap’ed to the number of fixed houses and apartments in an areas…but companies to hotel rooms, that supply seems infinite. (There’s an interesting analogy to public cloud here.)

Docker industry research roundup, circa 2015 – Austin Docker Meetup, Jan 2016

I was asked to be on a panel for the first Docker Austin meetup of the year, tonight, Jan 7th at 6pm. Here’s some slides I put together in my capacity as “person who used to put together slides like this and is trying really hard not to do his job pitching Pivotal to avoid being rude” (well, except for a shameless plug or two):

See ya there!

Update: I’d wanted to put a TAM in – the money Docker and containers are going after, this from Gartner:


While matching it to virtualization is a poor match (you’d probably also need some systems management and maybe even appdev numbers in there), I think looking at the current x86 virtualization TAM is as good as you’re going to get with a conservative approach.

My reasoning is that if “the market” is willing to pay this much for virtualization now, that’s the kind of foot-print and allocation we should start looking at for “containers” (over more of a 10 year time span, probably).

For this kind of hand-wavey, way future looking TAM’ing, what’s a plus or minus a billion or so anyhow?


Use agile for speed, not cutting costs – Agile survey from Gartner AADI

I’m at Gartner AADI this year, the first time I’ve been to a Gartner conference. One of the sessions was a read-out of a recent survey about Agile. While a small sample set – “167 IT leaders in 33 countries” – it was screened for people who were familiar with or doing agile of some kind. As with all types of surveys like this, it’s interesting to look at the results both with respect to “what people are doing” and how they’re thinking about what they’re doing. Here’s some slides I took pictures of during the talk:

Organization's Profile - Gartner AADI agile survey readout

Why organizations do agile - Gartner AADI agile survey readout

Agile methodologies in use  - Gartner AADI agile survey readout

When agile practices were adopted - Gartner AADI agile survey readout

Agile stumbling blocks - Gartner AADI agile survey readout

My first take-aways are:

  • Well, Scrum is popular.
  • Most of the “stumbling blocks” are, of course, meatware problems: people and “culture.”
  • Pair programming, as always, gets no respect.
  • Organizations want to use agile for speed, not for cutting costs.

Link: Tech companies that are likely to acquire startups in 2016

“The roughly 60 or so publicly traded software companies hold more than $380B in cash and short term investments on their balance sheets. Though Microsoft, Google, Cisco and Oracle possess 75% of that cash, 14 other companies have cash reserves of greater than $500M.”

Source: Tech companies that are likely to acquire startups in 2016

The growing computational foot-print

As pointed out by Andrew, frequently, this is the chart you want to use when you’re illustrating “software eating the world.” For example, as I’ve been writing in my first column for FierceDevOps:

I often joke that it’s been impossible to see a keynote in recent years without seeing the horsemen of the digital apocalypse. These are the cliche topics that seem to come up in every keynote. Two of these lay the groundwork for why the structure of the IT department needs to change:

  1. Software is eating the world – Cloud technologies and practices have made huge improvements in productivity and costs when it comes to creating and running custom written applications. It’s easier to write and run software now, and the rise in “always on” devices (all those super-computers in our pockets that are on the Internet 24/7) creates a massive foot-print for computation: an endless buffet for software.

  2. Change or die! – with this huge buffet of opportunity, there’s a rallying call for companies to invent new business models that rely heavily on software. This means that most every business has the opportunity to use custom written software to change the nature of their business. Think of the opportunity for Taxi companies to use software to change how they operate, or for the hotel industry to come up with a brand new business model to sell empty capacity…and you’re thinking of Uber and AirBnB. The “or die” part is a rhetorical trick to position this imperative as dire. And, indeed, in recent years studies have shown that remaining on-top has been harder. Change is needed to survive.

As the second points two, these two alone create a pull for more custom written software in businesses. It’s fast and cheaper to create software, and competition is relying on that to create new business models that challenge incumbents or, rather, those businesses that are not evolving how they run their business with software. Again: think of all those taxi services versus Uber.

What are normal people doing with continuous delivery?


My latest Pivotal blog post is up, it re-caps a presentation I did recently covering what “the market” is doing with continuous delivery.

There’s a lot of opportunity, the glass is half full. See the slides over in my previous post on this talk.

Also, check out the recording of the full talk (it has some bonus material on containers recent role in CD) from HeavyBit, embedded above.

Organizational change is hard

From a 2013 McKinsey survey on “going digitial.” The read is: you have to change to “culture” (business process and/or orginization) to take advantage of all that “software is eating the world stuff.”

Here’s their analysis:

Organizational issues can also hinder companies’ efforts to meet goals and see real impact from digital. As in 2012, executives most often say misaligned organizational structures are the biggest challenge their companies face in meeting digital goals. This is followed by insufficiently reworked business processes (to take advantage of the digital opportunities) and difficulty finding functional talent (such as data scientists or digital marketers). In contrast, a lack of infrastructure and absence of good data are less pressing than they were last year.

Good stuff.

CMDB use from 451

The use of CMDBs has steadily risen, from 50% at interviewed enterprises in 2009, to 59% in use today. Homegrown methods of maintaining a CMDB are still prevalent, showing up at 7% of enterprises, while BMC, HP, SolarWinds and ServiceNow all show projected growth for new installations moving into 2015. Of those enterprises with a CMDB in place, 18% plan to increase spending on their solution in 2015.

Two very different estimates of cloud email usage and forecasts

A while back I posted a quick quote from recent Gartner prognosticating about cloud email. The up-shot was that right now, it’s just about 8% for all types of companies, globally (except India and China for some reason). Someone from SpiceWorks left a comment that arecent survey of theirs indicated something much different, at least across the more SMB focused demographics they asked (out of 539 respondents, 46% were in companies of 10-99 employees, 23% were from companies of 100-249). Gartner, no doubt, covers a broader market, perhaps even weighted to larger companies (I don’t have access to the report, so I can’t look up the demographics).

For your entertainment, here are the two charts:

Email Moving to Cloud Estimates

Email Moving to Cloud Estimates

(The SpiceWorks 2014 estimate is a bit of fuzz-work on my part based on people’s claims to migrate in six months. If that bothers you, just assume it’s flat and the fun still stands.)