Design Thinking (Part 2 of 2): Think Bigger and Adopt a Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”, Shunryu Suzuki

When I started learning Design Thinking, I knew it was applicable to designing products. Design Thinking has obvious value for creating user interfaces, clothing and cars. What I did not know is that it could be applied to more abstract concepts like sales strategy, data governance, and business models. Yet, those were my first opportunities to practice Design Thinking. What is the most important lesson that I learned? Be creative. Design Thinking is not a set process. (more…)

Cloud Foundry Summit 2016: Will Cloud Foundry emerge as the open winner for Cloud?

Developers and cloud operators from all over the world gathered in sunny Santa Clara at the end of May for Cloud Foundry Summit 2016. The event is a premier event for one of tech industry’s leading open source cloud platforms. Progressive enterprises like Allstate talked about how they adopted Cloud Foundry. There were standing room only sessions like “Cloud Foundry and Containers” by IBM’s Julian Friedman. The room was packed all the way to the back door for that one. Springer Nature’s Daniel Otte and Simon Johansson had the best slides and delivered an entertaining keynote. Credit to Simon’s wife, who has a lot of talent and toys, for making those slides.

Consequences of traditional deployment

Best Slides at the Summit

Tech trailer blazer Paul Maritz spoke during the closing keynote. He described a pattern where technology has one open and one closed winner.  For example, Android and iOS are, respectively, the open and closed winners among mobile platforms. Linux and Windows are the open and closed winners among operating systems. The question raised is, will Cloud Foundry emerge as the open winner for cloud? (more…)

Docker for the Enterprise: Are we there yet?

Soon after its initial 2013 release, Docker became a frequent topic in my client discussions. By 2016, even the biggest enterprises are exploring Docker. No longer is it just younger companies like Yelp. Mature enterprises like Verizon have publicized their work with Docker. What do enterprise executives see in Docker? Some believe Docker could usher in an era of harmony between application developers and IT operations. Others believe Docker will help lower costs, solve vendor lock-in and enable their hybrid cloud strategy. Can Docker really help and enterprise achieve all this, today? 

Adoption Begins with Three Key Developer Benefits
Docker’s momentum did not start with executive initiatives but rather with grass-roots developer adoption. Why? (more…)

Will Enterprises reorganize into Agile Squads as they embrace Cloud?

The AWS meetup group in New York invited Hudl CTO Brian Kaiser to speak in September. He presented how Hudl implemented agile methods to overcome slowing code deployment time. As his company grew, deploys that used to take 30 minutes could take a few hours or even be pushed to the next day. Brian emphasized that their agile transformation began with the reorganization of teams into Agile Squads. Only later did they transform their “Monolith” application using microservices technology. Hudl’s approach offers insight on how enterprises can successfully transition Big IT to Big-and-Fast IT.

Hudl provides tools for coaches and athletes to improve play and strategy. Their initial tools were for football, a sport that epitomizes the importance of agility. Analyst David Linthicum once wrote about the important of agility in cloud computing using football analogies, including these.

  • Agility beats strategy each and every game
  • Agility (of a lineman) is more effective than size
  • The game can change quickly

In football, a team could be down by 20 at halftime and still win, or vice-versa. Those of us in technology know that our game can change quickly too. New disruptive innovations abound. How do enterprises take advantage of what is new? How can enterprises become more agile? (more…)

Lessons Learned from Nebula and an Updated Perspective on how to Assess Enterprise Clouds

I invested 14 months of my life working at Nebula after having worked 14 years at IBM. What a contrast. Nebula’s leaders and founders changed the IT universe by creating OpenStack Nova. Perhaps there was too much focus on changing the world than on making money, but it was awesome to work with the people who pioneered OpenStack. The mentality was very different than my prior experience, where the clear emphasis was sales. This blog post captures lessons learned from my Nebula experience.

The biggest takeaway might be best summarized by a question posed by one prospect. Do you have an equivalent of a “Hello World” program for cloud? What this prospect needed was something rare in today’s enterprise, applications well-suited for the cloud. Many enterprises and vendors have prioritized building and providing IaaS and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service). If you read my very first blog post, “How to assess the maturity and growth potential of an enterprise cloud”, you will see that I had focused on IaaS and PaaS too. I have now updated the assessment method to include applications, as described later in this post.


Does the Cathedral and Bazaar analogy apply to Cloud Architecture?

Gartner’s Lydia Leong titled a recent blog post “The beginning of the end of cloud computing”. To clarify, I would state that we are at the end of an era of exploration and at the beginning of an era of adoption of cloud computing. What we have learned is that the most successful enterprise cloud initiatives are strongly influenced by developers and are not just an IT initiative. How do we build and provide the cloud environments that are agile and empower developers in this time of rapid innovation? To answer this question, consider “the cathedral and the bazaar” analogy that was used by Eric Raymond to describe how we engineer software.

Cathedral versus Bazaar Cloud Architecture
The cathedral architectural approach is more of a do-it-yourself (DIY) method, where one develops customized solutions. The bazaar architecture approach prefers turnkey solutions, leveraging standardized marketplace offerings. The cathedral approach is appealing because it can provide the best point-in-time solution. What’s the downside? While it meets short-term needs, customized solutions are harder to adapt to future needs. For example, some enterprises have assigned many of their top people to build a cloud. They now, however, face a new challenge. How do they maintain cloud “version 1.0” and also build “version 2.0”?


Moving from Big East IT to a West coast startup

One could say that I broke up with IBM on Valentines Day, 2014. The following Monday I joined a West coast startup, Nebula Inc. I left Big Blue, a 102-year-old stalwart of the IT world, for a bright eyed 2-year-old company. Imagine going from a 400,000 plus person company to one that has yet to grow to 100? As of this post, I’ve been at the new company for just over two weeks and it has been an eye opening experience. At IBM, my jeans and blazer look often stood out, e.g. I was the only one in jeans. At my first startup meeting, I felt overdressed and took off the blazer.

In one of my first meetings representing Nebula, a successful East coast CTO asked a question I had not heard before. Can West coast vendors meet the needs of established East coast enterprises? I certainly believe that my West coast startup will be successful with established East coast enterprises. Wish me luck!