Coté Show: North-bound Enterprise Architecture with Matt Walburn – that business/IT alignment dance

Further on the quest to figure out what a “cloud-native enterprise architect” is:

What’s the “business” side of enterprise architecture? And how does EA’ing start mapping to DevOps, cloud-native, and all the new stuff? In part one of this discussion, I talk with Matt Walburn about how EA’s fit into The Business.

Check out the full shows notes, and be sure the subscribe!

“The concerned citizen super coder,” or, transforming how the US government does software, Diego Lapiduz – Lords of Computing Podcast #008

Summary

What organization could be larger than the US Federal government? Not only that, the chance to transform how software is done in the government has perhaps one of the largest possible impacts of transforming any “IT department.” In this episode, Matt and Coté talk with Diego Lapiduz who works in the GSA’s 18F organization helping government agencies develop their software in new, more agile and cloud-driven ways. We discuss the background of 18F and the broader government initiatives to transform how software is done and also walk through some of the learnings 18F has had in trying to make such a huge transformation.

Subscribe: iTunes, RSS Feed

Show-notes and Links

Getting beyond “the comfort of the number.” – Lords of Computing Podcast #007

Summary

In this first part of a new series, Matt Curry and I discuss many of the problems with transforming how a large company uses IT. From dealing with businesses cases, the finance department, and changing how the business thinks about using IT, there are numerous organizational change problems to chew on. This launches a new series of episodes in Lords of Computing where Matt and I will talk interview various folks out there who are going through transformation at their company. We’re interested in hearing what’s work and not worked for them.

Subscribe: iTunes, RSS Feed

Show-notes and Links

When the practice of using the tool is novel, thought-lording new technologies – Lords of Computing #5

We discuss how you (slowly) introduce new technologies into the market by looking at past tech cycles John has gone through. We also catch-up on the Craft conference and John’s travels in Europe.

SPONSOR: Come check out the Cloud Foundry Summit, May 11th and 12th. You’ll hear how companies are using Cloud Foundry to create software defined businesses and get the latest technical details on Cloud Foundry. Register with the code COTE to get 25% off!

Subscribe: iTunes, RSS Feed

“I have become the hustler,” Robert Brook – Lord of Computing Podcast #004

Summary

It can take a long time to get “the mainstream” to use new technologies. One would assume that this would be true in supporting the government, as Robert Brook does in his day job. In this brief episode, over the din and bottle collection activities at Monkigras, I catch up with him on just that topic and how he tries to manage being a change agent for the benefit of the UK Parliament.

See the full show-notes.

Subscribe: iTunes, RSS Feed

Show-notes and Links

For this episode, we also have a transcript thanks to Pivotal:

Coté:
How many times do you think we can get you to cackle?

Robert Brook:
No, I … You will. Definitely, you will. I’m so worried about this new machinery you’ve got set up.

Coté:
I know. I know. You know, I think we have a shared interest.

Robert Brook:
Yeah, we do.

Coté:
In the Roland R09, if I remember.

Robert Brook:
Yeah.

Coté:
Which is a lovely piece of equipment.

Robert Brook:
Mine is all dusty and broken. Yours is all new and shiny.

Coté:
This is a zoom H4N.

Robert Brook:
It’s amazing.

Coté:
I last used this equipment back when I was doing videos for Redmonk. What’s nice about it, it has XLR lens in.

Robert Brook:
Oh, right.

Coté:
Which, unless you’ve actually tried to do any AV stuff, means nothing to you.

Robert Brook:
Did you plug a mic in?

Coté:
Oh, yeah, I used to have two lav, three lav mics and a little mixer thing.

Robert Brook:
This is like the market for you.

Coté:
Sure.

Robert Brook:
Or that’s being in the toilet in London.

Coté:
We are sort of in a kitchenette area here in Monkigras. I think it’s quite exciting. Who are you? Let me pull a Scoville on you.

Robert Brook:
Who? Yeah, who am I? What does he ask?

Coté:
I think he says who are you, and what do you do, and tell me something cool in Google+.

Robert Brook:
Oh, god, I’m too old for any of this. I’m too old for anything. My name is Robert Brook.

Coté:
That’s right.

Robert Brook:
I work at UK Parliament. I’ve been working there for 14 years, which means I’m completely institutionalized.

Coté:
This is what I’m actually most excited about. I can finally figure out what you do exactly.

Robert Brook:
You think that’s going to happen.

Coté:
I’m going to pull a Coté Sr. on you. He’s always trying to figure out what I do, and I’m not sure if he knows quite yet.

Robert Brook:
My dad’s completely given up on that. He just thinks I’m the guy who fixes the Princes.

Coté:
Now, from what I can tell, you sort of pay attention to interesting, new, small technologies.

Robert Brook:
I do do that.

Coté:
Small in a beneficial way. And you think, “How might this be applied to the UK Parliament?”

Robert Brook:
No. Well yes I do do that, but I don’t get paid to do that by my employer. I just do that out of the kindness of my heart.

Coté:
You do get paid for this.

Robert Brook:
Yeah, I do get paid.

Coté:
This would be the Sunshine Bakery.

Robert Brook:
It’s a fascinating place to work, but I understand why it attracts certain sorts of people. I understand why it frustrates most people because a lot of people want it to be like a business, or a department, government department, and it just isn’t. It’s a really weird place to work.

Coté:
Yeah.

Robert Brook:
But I’m still there.

Coté:
Over the years you’ve come out with all sorts of interesting little projects, which may be one of your personal time things. Still I think they’re reflective of a “software could make this suck less.”

Robert Brook:
Totally. I think I, occasionally, I might think to myself, “Am I quoting Coté here?” I keep thinking I probably am. I keep thinking, I want to help reduce friction in the existing systems.

Coté:
Yeah.

Robert Brook:
Which is such a low bar.

Coté:
I know what you mean. We saw a talk from a Swedish reporter. She was going over some … I wouldn’t call them friction-reduction, but friction-coping techniques, like dealing with PDFs. She basically just wanted to get data into a spreadsheet to do analysis over, and it turns out that’s quite hard but she had astounding results, which is really nice.

Robert Brook:
Which is, in a very small way, what I’ve been doing recently as well. Which is, most of it is really grunt work, with stuff like open refine and getting CSV files in and out, that sort of stuff. It’s boring day to day,

Coté:
Give us some examples of that. What are some less frictionful. How have you been removing friction?

Robert Brook:
How have I been removing friction? A lot of my time now is talking to people and convincing them to do things and think about stuff and not worry. I used to. I never called myself a developer …

Coté:
You’ve become a hustler.

Robert Brook:
I’ve become the hustler.

Coté:
This is a very valid career track for technical people. Sometimes this is also known as being a CTO.

Robert Brook:
We have a new CTO come to join us.

Coté:
Oh, good.

Robert Brook:
We have a new regime. It’s called digital; apparently, we’re doing digital. I’m looking forward to seeing the results.

Coté:
When I was writing up my “why I’m working at pivotal-dot” post, I was realizing I’ve never really been comfortable with the idea of digital enterprise. Now I like it, because I’m always hunting for the opposite of something. Is that an adjective that you add to something? Like if you attach an adjective to it, it must imply there was a negative to it, otherwise, something. Otherwise Hemingway cries. It does seem like it’s a good foil to talk about; there’s an analog world, an analog business, because I think that really is the way to highlight how much interesting opportunity there is, code war.

Robert Brook:
This is hugely self-indulgent, which is why I’m not on the Internet anymore. I’m so self-obsessed that I just want to sit around and think, because there’s so much to think about. That gap between where we were 25 years ago and where we should be now, and why we aren’t there. Why haven’t things got better quicker? Why aren’t everybody …

Coté:
Right. Like, remember when podcasting was new?

Robert Brook:
Yeah.

Coté:
Jon Udell had a podcast, and he was like, “All I want to do is get my local library to have an iCal file.” I think he’s still working on that.

Robert Brook:
iCal is a good example because it worked for a while. Apple did that iCal exchange stuff.

Coté:
What was that company Yahoo! bought? Upcoming.org? Then obviously I guess because it was an organization, it didn’t make a profit, so that died out. Now you’ve got the Lanyard and things like that. It can be really hard just to get an iCal file.

Robert Brook:
Yeah, I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed generally. I always expect more, particularly at work. I’m notoriously curmudgeonly. I always want everything to be better faster, and the quite reasonable response to me has always been, “Well, Robert, what do you think we’re doing? This just takes a lot longer and is much more expensive than we think.”

Coté:
There’s like, you know, we only got democracy about what, a hundred years ago? Just slow down, man!

Robert Brook:
Exactly! What the hell is wrong with you people? Computers, what is this? The organization I work in, we don’t have the benefits or the disbenefits of working for a business.

Coté:
Right.

Robert Brook:
We don’t have the pressures that businesses are under. We have different pressures. Those pressures are usually weird pressures. Seeing our internal processes in terms of external actions is really, really strange.

Coté:
What’s an example of when you were doing your hustling, as you were saying about earlier? When you had to go talk to someone and convince them, like, “It would be a good idea if we had an iCal file”? What are the objections that they usually raise, and how do you soothe them?

Robert Brook:
Well, often, it’s simply, “I don’t understand what you just said.” That’s definitely my problem, at communicating why the hell people should do stuff at all. There’s this big argument about, well, loads of green screen stuff is going to stay on the green screen, and it’s never going to make it to your lovely little iPad or something like that. But, I mean, it should. We should expect more.

Coté:
Yeah.

Robert Brook:
I don’t think we expect enough. We seem to be satisfied with the shiny and the immediate, and we’re not satisfied with, particularly, our parents. It’s not enough, it’s just not enough.

Coté:
I think that’s true. When I was at the apex of my DevOps peddling at 451, that was sort of the more uplifting thing and I guess I still do when I talk about DevOps. Now we’ve arrived at, “the business should expect more.” Like I don’t really know what the business is. It does seem like that’s the next large challenge that we have. Like you know, we can all replicate how Netflix runs and does all that, but we need those business folks, or the enterprise people, to actually make demands of us.

Robert Brook:
We can scale servers, but we can’t scale people that give a shit.

Coté:
Well said.

Robert Brook:
That’s a big … There’s a kind of no man’s land between the tech people and the CEO people. That promise hasn’t been delivered. Not because there’s a technical gap; there clearly isn’t. Technology is great. Technology is great, and it’s going to get better.

Coté:
There’s like a business analyst gap. There needs to be a translator between these things. Bi-directionally.

Robert Brook:
Yeah. I’m completely aware, this is like a well-trodden path. We’ve been through this, and business analysis are supposed to in the BPM and all that sort of stuff. We’re supposed to solve this.

Coté:
Oh, BPM.

Robert Brook:
Yeah.

Coté:
I remember I read a great book on business process modeling. I must have been in my 20s because I read the whole book in detail, and at the end, I was like, “What the fuck did this just say?” As I grew older, I was like, oh! You’re, like, modeling out the processes of the business.

Robert Brook:
Yeah. We went so far as, remember the BPML?

Coté:
Yes!

Robert Brook:
It was like business process modeling language. It was like, “Who the hell thought of this?”

Coté:
Man, I wish I could find that book. It was quite the tome.

Robert Brook:
There’s a lot of gap there. It just feels like we haven’t got the grits for that. There are these two separate tracks. There was talk recently of having more tech people at kind of the senior board level. Then there was talk that you need a chief technology officer; you need a chief marketing officer; you need a chief copy officer. No, you just need to get it right.

Coté:
Yeah. It’s … I always wonder when you have all these CXOs, as it were. It’s almost like it’s not a misapplication. It’s an overapplication of the theory that one person should have ownership of something.

Robert Brook:
I totally think it’s actually unfair to put people in that position and to give them that supposed role and say, “Right, you’re going to help out.” You think, “Wait a minute, where could we actually put the lever in the organization for the most effect?” It’s going to be much, much lower down the grades. It’s going to be those people sitting.

Coté:
Bottoms up, if you will.

Robert Brook:
Oh, completely, yeah.

Coté:
One theory of hope, or one hopeful theory, depending on how you want to describe it, is you got the kids with their Facebook and their mobile phones.

Robert Brook:
iPads.

Coté:
These millennials. Do they call them that over here? Millennials.

Robert Brook:
Probably, yeah.

Coté:
Who knows. You’ve got these millennials, and they just know about computers. Maybe as they get into the workforce, they will be this bottoms-up tide rising. Do you see any hints of that happening?

Robert Brook:
Yeah, on the hardware usage side, there’s Federica Bottici talked about this recently, about the introduction to medium-size screens into organizations. Stephen Hackett was arguing he doesn’t see it anywhere, this isn’t a corporate thing and Federica was saying, “No, kids playing games on their iPad are going to be writing college papers on their iPad in a couple of years, and then they’re going to go the workforce”

Coté:
Yeah, man, they’ve got to figure out that moving your finger around to move your text, because that’s hard.

Robert Brook:
Well, once you come onto the software side of it, you think, “Well, okay, is iPad close to a general purpose computer? If so, what are we going to do? Are we going to have these kids coming in with just ipads and just documents?” I mean it’s not going to … We’re at the backend systems.

Coté:
Yeah, that’s a concrete thing to imagine out. Do some futurology. In the sort of problem domains or the friction areas you deal with, what would it mean to be iPad-first, or tablet-first? How do you imagine that would change things around? Like, I show up in a government office, and I’ve got an iPad, or whatever; I’ve got a tablet. Then the interloquer, the person I’m dealing with, the person who’s assisting me to realize my ambitions with the government also has a tablet, and then what? Am I beaming things back and forth?

Robert Brook:
Well, I’m going to be really crappy and say I don’t work for the government. But anyway …

Coté:
Let’s just imagine it.

Robert Brook:
Some people here do work for the government, the picker boys, a very impressive bunch of people. I think that the rather obvious thing is mobile first, so where people are consuming these services, you can imagine the services being extended out to obviously where the eyeballs are. The interaction is not yet …. Again, I just want to have people sit around and think about this.

Coté:
Yeah, like I went to go, I’ve gotten a lot of traction out of this DMV story. But I went to the DMV recently, and it sort of occurred to me, that why don’t I just take a picture of myself and be done? There’s all sorts of fraud and security and chain-of-trust nonsense, but there’s some basically fundamental things that it would be interesting …

Robert Brook:
There’s the equivalent over here is the DVLA, the vehicle licensing authority or something like that, and that’s exactly the changes they’re going through at the moment which are huge, absolutely huge.

Coté:
Yeah, that would be fun. It’s your point of it’s just slow change. Let’s just use the on-board camera, and that’s just what we’re going to do for the next few years.

Robert Brook:
Yeah.

Becoming a tech reporter, talking with Alex Williams – Lords of Computing Podcast 002

Summary

How do you go from playing baseball in France, to getting shot at, to covering the tech industry? I talk with Alex Williams about how he did just that and eventually launched thenewstack.io, one of the more interesting, new technology news sites.

Dell World Social Think Tank - Enabling Innovation in IT.

Sponsor: 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.

Subscribe: iTunes, RSS Feed