The Smile-IT Blog » October 2014

Monthly Archives: October 2014

I wasn’t cheating (It’s still the End of the Cloud)

I swear, i haven’t known any of what I’m going to share with you in this post, when I wrote “The End of the Cloud (as we know it)“. If I would have I probably may not have written it.

Anyway, this is about Jonathan Murray, CTO of Warner Music Group (@Adamalthus), defining something that isn’t even mentioned yet by Gartner and the-like (google it, for proof; even bing it; the result remains the same). And – hey! – he did that back in April 2013.

What he’s essentially saying is, that in order to enable businesses to compete in an ever more demanding, more dynamic, more agile era of interacting services and capabilities, in an era where things are connected to the net, to systems, to businesses, to humans, in an era where everything is going to be digitalized, IT needs to disruptively change not only the way it is delivered to businesses but actually the way it is built.

What Jonathan demands for (and according to his own account is realizing within Warner) is “IT Factories”. No Silos anymore. No monolithic application engineering and delivery. A service oriented component architecture for everything IT needs to deliver and connect with. And the term “Cloud” isn’t even mentioned. Because we’ve landed beyond even discussing it. The models are clear. The need for adopting them for the benefit of a new – an agile – IT is now!

What Jonathan demands for is “The Composable Enterprise” – essentially consisting of 4 core patterns:

  • Decouple the Infrastructure
  • Make Data a Service (awesome, disruptive quote from Jonathan’s September 2013 “CloudFoundry Conference” talk: “Stored procedures need to be strangled at birth!”)
  • Decompose Applications
  • and finally, of course: Automate Everything

Read the concept in his blog post on

And here’s two recordings of talks given by Jonathan – both really worth watching:

And then, let’s go build it …!


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Tension or Suction?

What was it, that made you learn best, back in school? Was that when you were totally captured by a topic or the way it was presented by your teacher? Or was that when your parents stood behind you (virtually “with a stick”) giving you a hard time by pushing you to do your homework?

Yesterday, I read the following in some article: “[…] which are closely related and characterized by constructive tension […]”. That resonated. “Constructive Tension” – What is this really? How can “tension” be “constructive”? How would anyone think of “tension” to be the driving force behind an initiative and imagine that it can be created to be “constructive”?

It was some 12 years ago – commencing into my people management years – when I learned to adopt a principle – first theoretically, later by literally experiencing it in my daily job: “Suction instead of Tension” *). That is why I instantly believed that “constructive tension” cannot exist. Here’s why:

  1. Tension is a force – physical or emotional – that leads to strain. Strain is in no case a constructive feeling – rather destructive.
  2. Goals, outcomes, deliverables, … targeted by applying tension to the actors are normally either not achieved at all or are not perfect. At least, they are not sustainable. Accepting imperfect or non-sustainable results to an initiative is like accepting to be second best. Hence, applying tension in the assumption that it might be constructive is accepting tension for the benefit of its constructiveness over first-class awesomeness of an initiative and its outcome. Noone would really wanna do that.
  3. People loaded with tension steadily float into a state of sneaking demotivation. The constant personal pressure put on them by the tension applied to the respective initiative may lead to some positive results but experience shows that in the long run people get less productive, less motivated and less constructive – eventually leading to an all-time motivational “low”, fully disabling them to yield great results. Rather destructive than constructive, that is.

Bottom line: There is no such thing like “constructive tension”. It cannot exist. By definition. It is a paradox in itself.

The only constructive force supporting personal motivation and thereby leading to utterly perfect results and a sustainable, positive outcome of an initiative is “suction”. By creating a culture of intrinsic motivation, self-responsibility, involvement and identification with a goal, mission, vision and strategy, people will work their axxxx off to achieve the utmost perfection and exceed any goals set. I have experienced “suction moments” in teams which have enough force to blow you away and leave you standing in awe about what is possible if the motivation is just right.

You can reach beyond any all-time high if not tension is your pushing force, but a culture of “suction” is your guiding path!

*) in German: "Sog statt Druck" - which is one of those rare cases were the German language offers the better flow
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Dearest Award

liebsterawardI am posting my stuff in English – since the beginning – no idea why? Probably because the things I’m writing about are best communicated in the English language – probably just because I love the English language. However, it is virtually impossible to translate the German word “liebster” (in the sense of liking something the most) into a fitting term using only one word. I chose the word I would have chosen for “Liebster” as the most loved person.

Now, imagine getting nominated for the (German again) “Liebster Award” by your Dearest and she doesn’t mean to give you an award for being her Dearest, but rather to award your blog for being one of the most liked 🙂 – Weird. And even more as there was a pretty long challenge involved – answering a little questionaire – and that challenge was in German, though I write in English.

However, I liked the questions that @katharinakanns’ Soprani Software Blog challenged me on – so here it is: my participation in the “Dearest Award” – my answers to her questions (wait .. wait .. wait … nominations, new questions for you as well as the rules follow below – scroll down):

  1. What’s your blog’s topic?
    The tagline says it all: It is about the 3rd – already having advanced into the 4th – Industrial Revolution where IT involves itself into our everyday life with constant online-ability, ever faster delivery cycles, things all around us connected to the Internet, mobility, social media, collecting of data, new security challenges, behavioural change, etc. … and many even more funny stuff, too.
  2. For how long do you blog? How long did you consider it before actually starting? How long did you consider what your blog should be called? And how to publish it?
    I didn’t think much about it. I once discovered Mr. @etherealmind’s “Arse First” method (see the very first blog post) and thought: “Hey! I can do that! AND it could be fun! I tend to seek for fun in whatever I do, as I believe it is of utter importance to have fun – seriously 😉 – so to start it was obvious as well as its name 🙂
  3. What’s your goals? I.e.: Why the hell are you spending that effort?
    Well – in most cases it is no effort. I have no particular goals (yes, I mean, increasing reach, strengthening networking, leaving a trace, giving thoughts – that kind of thing). I am writing when something pops up (“Arse First” – sic!), hence the comparable rare content for a comparable long timespan.
  4. What was the most satisfying (joyous) reaction to one of your blogs?
    That the marketing department of my employer asked to be allowed to take one of my privately written posts for our company blog. I felt honoured by that …
  5. If you’re blogging about your work: What are you doing during sparetime? If your blogging as a hobby: What do you do for a living?
    Can’t really answer that as I am constantly blogging ’bout topics around what I do for a living or things that pop into my mind without even thinking whether they are for fun, work , money or anything else (see this .. or e.g. this)
  6. How did you decide the language of your blog?
    I fully honestly and truly have not the slightest clue; but maybe the intro give glimpses of an answer …
  7. How much are you OK with your blog system? Much cursing or no problem at all?
    OK, I’d say. I still have no clue why (the hell) the new “Contango” theme wouldn’t display feature images anymore – but it doesn’t bother me much.
  8. What would you tell someone who wants to start a blog?
    “Well, do it … Want a tour in workdpress? – I can help.” … and I’d point him to Mr. @etherealmind 🙂
  9. How much occupied are you with your blog?
    Right now: A lot. (these questions deserve some thought). Normally not at all – in a way. I would get rid of my thoughts in just another way . The most recent post (not this one -> this one) was done in less than 30 mins.
  10. Are you blogging regularly, sometimes or occasionally? Why?
    Oh! I should have spared some of the implicit answers above for this one: Well – I think the above tells it already: I’m writing when I feel like having something to say. Otherwise, I better shut up.
  11. Joker: How are you ensuring a healthy blog-life-balance?
    Well – simply by the above 🙂

My Nominations

… are – however – mostly German (mostly!):

And here’s what I’d like to ask you guys:

  1. Who’s reading your blog and why are they? / Wer liest deinen Blog und warum?
  2. What are you gaining by producing content for your blog? What makes it worth it? / Was bekommst du, wenn du schreibst? Was macht es für dich wert, zu bloggen?
  3. What’you love the most to write about? / Worüber schreibst du am liebsten?
  4. What are you reading? / Was liest du?
  5. How much in your blog is “private” life? How much is job life? How much is mixed? / Wieviel in deinem Blog ist aus deinem Privatleben? Wieviel aus deiner Arbeitswelt? Wieviel ist gemischt?
  6. What other public appearances do you maintain (like e.g. facebook or TED talks)? / Welche öffentliche Präsenz hast du sonst noch (z.B. facebook Profil oder TED-Talk Auftritte)?
  7. What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened with or by a blog post of yours? / Was war das Peinlichste, das dir je mit einem oder durch einen Blog Beitrag passiert ist?
  8. When was the last time that you sang a song (in the shower or on a stage)? / Wann hast du das letzte Mal gesungen (egal ob in der Dusche oder auf der Bühne)?
  9. How many devices do you own and which? / Wieviele technische Geräte besitzt du und welche sind es?
  10. Do you only use the web interface on your PC to blog or do you also use your mobilephone, email-2-blog, …? Benutzt du nur die Weboberfläche am PC, um zu bloggen oder auch dein Handy, die eMail-Schnittstelle, …?
  11. Joker: Are you on your own, live with your Love, have a family or still reside at your parents’? / Lebst du alleine, mit deiner/m PartnerIn, mit deiner Familie oder immer noch bei deinen Eltern?

Rules to go by:

  • Start with saying thank you and linking to the blog having nominated you
  • Add the award plate image
  • Answer the questions given
  • Chose 5 – 11 other blogs – the intention is to make little known blogs known
  • Formulate 11 questions of your own to challenge your nominees on. No boundaries and limitations on creativity whatsoever …
  • Repeat the rules nicely at the end of your blog
  • Send a nice little eMail to your nominees adding a few explanatory lines
  • That’s it. You may wanna add the optional “rule” to leave a comment at the nominator’s blog – it’s like a nice little virtual bouquet and another way of saying “thanx”


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What about Transparency?

If you need to seek for transparency, your provider failed.

Around September 25, AWS notified their valued customers of ongoing reboots of their EC2 infrastructure during the course of the upcoming weekend. The notifications always also stated: “You will not be able to stop/start or re-launch instances in order to avoid this maintenance update.” Hence, we – and many others, obviously – were forced to undergo this maintenance and prepare for any potential subsequent maintenance of their own following any possible failure during the reboot (which admittedly we were lucky not to have).

In an attempt to understand the root cause of this “scheduled” maintenance, we were able to discover some forum conversations such as this one:

On Wednesday, Oct 1st, customers received an eMail notification subjected “Follow-up Note on Bash Security Issues from Last Week” which claimed that AWS “reviewed the security issues, known as CVE-2014-6271 and CVE-2014-7169, and determined that our APIs and backends were not affected“. More detailed explanations were linked into the eMail referring to an AWS Security Bulletin.

When digging a little further into the issue, I was able to discover this article (also dating September 25th).

At this very moment it is still unclear what really caused the host reboots affecting many EC2 customers, and while AWS did a very good job in sending target oriented information to those customers who are really affected by the reboot (rather than spamming everyone with the info), they failed completely in making it transparent to users why the reboots need to happen.

Security – ladies and gentlemen at AWS – is about transparency. First and foremost.


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