The state of Java – My Feburary Register Column

This month, my column at The Register is on the state of Java and the evolving nature of J(2)EE:

Despite all the inside-bickering, lawsuits, a shotgun wedding to Oracle, drawn-out releases, and rivals from PHP, to Rails, to Swift, Java is still in wide use and shows no signs of finally dying. Jobs-wise, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better language than Java as your primary programming language if you wanted to switch from dropping off hot-pies to writing code.

Check out the rest!

Source: Java? Nah, I do JavaScript, man. Wise up, hipster, to the money • The Register

Book Review: Automation & tech ethics, book review

These two books go well together because the first describes how automation is lowering the need for labor, leading, likely, to less jobs, while the second provides a compendium of examples of such software-driven labor change.
Vinnie’s book has the optimism of a technologist, while Avent’s is much more fraught. Both accurately describe how IT is optimizing and replacing “analog” labor and businesses, leaving the core problem of devaluing human labor, perhaps to the point of eliminating millions of jobs, permanently. Vinnie’s optimism is the usual believe that we can figure it out, mostly by being more humane in our politics and safety nets, but also in the belief that new problems and jobs will come about. Avent, on the other hand, offers little in the way of solace.
As the review in his magazine, The Economist, put it: “I found the virtuosity with which Mr Avent knocked down possible solutions disquieting.” Aside from actually reading the book, the lecture Avent gave at LSE is good stuff too.
Check out the full review.

WTF is “digital transformation”? Beyond AI and VR for practical, software-driven innovation – My January Register Column

At the top of the year, companies are setting their IT agendas. Most high level executives seem to be lusting for “digital transformation,” but that phrase is super-squishy. In my Register column this month, I offered my advice on what it should be: simply “digitizing” existing, manual work-flows by perfecting how you do software.

This, of course, is the core of what I work on at Pivotal; see my wunderkammer of knowledge, the soon to be PDF’ed “Crafting your cloud native strategy,” for example.

What do these opportunities look like in businesses? Here’s a chunk that cut out of the piece that provides some examples:

A project to “digitize” the green card replacement program in the US provides a good example of the simple, pragmatic work IT departments should be curating for 2017. Before injecting software into process it’d “cost about $400 per application, it took end user fees, it took about six months, and by the end, your paper application had traveled the globe no less than six times. Literally traveled the globe as we mailed the physical papers from processing center to processing center.”

After discovering agile and cleaning up the absurd government contracting scoping (a seven year project costing $1.2bn, before accounting for the inevitable schedule and budget overruns), a team of five people successfully tackled this paper-driven, human process. It’s easy to poke fun at government institutions, but if you’ve applied for a mortgage, life insurance, or even tried to order take out food from the corner burger-hut, you’ll have encountered plenty of human-driven processes that could easily be automated with software.

After talking with numerous large organizations about their IT challenges, to me, this kind of example is what “digital transformation” should mostly about, not introducing brain-exploding, Minority Report style innovation. And why not? McKinsey recently estimated that, at best, only 29% of a worker’s day-to-day requires creativity. Much of that remaining 71% is likely just paid-for monotony that could be automated with some good software slotted into place.

That last figure is handy for thinking about the opportunity. You can call it “automation” and freak out about job stealing, but it looks like a huge percentage of work can be “digitized.”

Check out the full piece.

6 DevOps columns: government, compliance, ROI, management

Last year I wrote several columns for FierceDevOps. Nancy Gohring was the editor there and graciously asked me to do so (she’s moved over to being an analyst at 451 and is doing awesome work over there). The FierceEmpire has shifted their stuff around and now it’s either impossible or impossibly tedious to find those pieces, so I moved them over to Medium. I’ve got to get my URLs to be my overly self-referential self, after all!

Here they are:

  1. Software Defined Businesses need Software Defined IT Departments
  2. Here’s how we can help push DevOps into the mainstream
  3. There’s no easy way to model DevOps ROI
  4. Management’s role in DevOps: orchestrating the why
  5. Barriers to DevOps in government
  6. Addressing the DevOps compliance problem

Hey, biz bods: OpenStack will be worth $3.3bn by 2018 (Register Column)

OpenStack market sizing chart

My new somewhat monthly column in the channel section of The Register is up. It goes over 451’s recent OpenStack market-sizing and relates some anecdotes about how common it is to get outside help with private cloud installs. You know, of interest to people who’d be reading up on channel stuff.

One of the co-authors of the 451 report also has a nice summary up, available for free.
The folks at Piston pointed out that you could misread one of the mentions of them saying that their customers require PS work. In fact, they say, about 95% of their installs required no professional services work.

Hey, biz bods: OpenStack will be worth $3.3bn by 2018 (Register Column)

DevOps is actually a thing – and people are willing to pay for it (Register Column)

My second column at The Channel Register is up, a quick overview of our recent DevOps work at 451. They’ve got a fine strapline: “But you’ve got to untangle deployment wizards from the duct-tape cats”

At the moment, there’s some charts missing from it – I’m sure they’ll show up soon. In the meantime, you can see the charts here.

You may recall the first one on developers being “a thing.”.

DevOps is actually a thing – and people are willing to pay for it (Register Column)

Will the blighters pay this time? Betting big on developers (Register Column)

One of my collegues at 451 asked if I’d be interested in taking over his column at The Register. Of course I would, that’s only about my favorite news outlet ever. My first column is up now, all about what feels to me like the re-emergence of the developer market (tools and middleware), a theme I’ve been puttering about with at 451 for those who’ve been following along.

Here’s the last bit of the column:

Will the developers finally pay for the tools they use to make their write and run software? In the consumer space of $19bn exits, oddly enough, perhaps not: many of the old ways hold true – there is still DIY pride and 20-year-olds with nothing better to do than code all night.
Outside of the Ramen-noodle-coated technology world, however, as more devices get IP addresses and need software accordingly, it’s not full-on bonkers to think that there will be more developers at “normal” companies. And that’s the meat-and-potatoes of any “infrastructure” play: the mainstream companies which would rather purchase tools and middleware than quickly polish off another cup of Ramen before firing up a bare-bones editor to type up yet another chunk of middleware from scratch.

I’ll be doing this monthly, so there’ll be something more up in April. If you still know how to spell RSS, here’s the feed for my pieces.