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The “Next Big Thing” series: From Social Network to #Social #Revolution

{this is No. 3 of the “Next Big Thing” blog post series, which discusses the revolution to come through ongoing innovation in IT and the challenges involved with’em}

 

Along with Cloud patterns the delivery of large engagement platforms – essentially web applications architectured, of course, specifically to serve a vast amount of simultaneous access and a huge stream of information – became possible.

If one does take a look back into history of social media, these platforms step-by-step evolved from pure public-chat and tweet apps into full blown areas for (group) communications, gaming, advertising and (sometimes) simply storing information. Not by what they were originally intended to be (facebook’s core goal was – and still is, if you trust Zuckerberg – to connect everyone) but by how the consumers (private or business ones) developed themselves within them as well as developed and matured their usage patterns.

However, there is a “meta level” beyond the obvious: Observing youth and their approach to using technology surrounding them might lead to thinking: Those guys have completely forgotten about communication and engagement. I trust, the opposite is the case. When I talk to my kids, I learn that they read everything, absorb everything, have a much faster ability to notice news, information, consume different channels, etc. The only thing is: They do not react, if it doesn’t touch them. And that pattern applies not only to advertisement-backed social media feeds but also – and maybe foremost – to direct 1:1 or group conversations. And this is why I believe that the social aspect within the Nexus of Forces will have a much stronger impact than we currently notice.

I tend to claim a social revolution to approach us because – together with the other forces – social media will become the integrative middleware between what we want to consume, businesses want to drive us to consume and how we consume it. No advertising phone calls anymore, no spamming in our mailboxes (hurray!), but a social feed of information which is far better suited to create the impression of personal engagement while in truth being just an efficient aggregation and combination of data that we all have earlier produced ourselves.

Are businesses ready for that revolution? Can they adapt their marketing strategies to leverage those vast new possibilities? Orchestrating services and data in order to feed social platforms with what is considered relevant to the customers of a certain enterprise will become a core IT capability in order to be able to become a player of relevance in the social revolution.

 

{No. 4 of this blog post series talks about the challenges of the “mobile everywhere” culture – soon to come – stay tuned}

feature image found at AFAO talks (http://afaotalks.blogspot.com.au/2012/07/going-social_20.html)

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Digitalisierung kostet! Jobs oder Skills?

Gerade eben gelesen: “Ausbau des Online-Bankings kostet bei ING 1.700 Stellen“. Wirklich? frage ich.

Ja, natürlich – und darüber soll mein Beitrag hier keineswegs hinwegtäuschen – ist es dramatisch, wenn ein Unternehmen 1.700 MitarbeiterInnen freisetzen muss (oder möchte?). Natürlich erwarte ich – so ist nun einmal mein persönlicher Zugang nach 5 durchlebten Siemens-Sozialplänen in Management-Position – von einem solchen Unternehmen geeignete Auffangmaßnahmen in Zusammenarbeit mit den jeweiligen nationalen sozialen Organisationen (Sozialversicherung, Arbeitsmarktservice, etc.).

Aber dürfen wir wirklich der Digitalisierung den schwarzen Peter für diese Arbeitsplatzverluste zuschieben? Dürfen wir sagen, dass die Digitalisierung daran schuld ist, dass Menschen nicht mehr das tun können, was sie vielleicht über Jahre (vielleicht aber auch nur über ein paar Monate) getan haben?

Ich glaube, dass dies ein radikal falscher Zugang zur Frage der kommenden Veränderungen in der IT ist! Durch die in den nächsten Jahren kommende Durchdringung nahezu aller Geschäfts- und Lebensbereiche mit digitalen Hilfsmitteln (Stichwort: Internet of Things), durch das Einzug-Halten von Software in Themenbereiche und Geschäftsarten, die heute vielleicht noch nicht einmal irgend etwas mit Software zu tun haben, werden völlig neue Jobs – völlig neue Arten von Arbeit – geschaffen werden.

Digitalisierung kostet nicht Jobs. Digitalisierung kostet Fähigkeiten. Manch Fähigkeit, die heute vielleicht noch ein Alleinstellungsmerkmal für eine/n ArbeitnehmerIn ist, kann morgen schon eine sein, die von einem Ding, einem Software-Service oder einer neuen Daten-Plattform erledigt wird. Das heißt jedoch nichts anderes, als dass jede und jeder in welcher Wirtschaftssparte auch immer Berufstätige sich heute bereits überlegen kann (darf, muss?), wie sich die persönlichen Fähigkeiten so weiterentwickeln lassen, dass auch in einer durch Digitalisierung veränderten Branche die eigene Arbeitskraft noch benötigt wird.

Und es läge in der Verantwortung der Unternehmen, nicht nur die Transformation des eigenen Produktes oder Unternehmens auf Grund der fortschreitenden Digitalisierung zu managen, sondern auch und im besonderen Veränderungsmanagement für die eigenen MitarbeiterInnen aktiv anzugehen!

 

{header image (C) Getty Images, trend.at}

 

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Gartner ITxpo: IT im größten denkbaren Wandel

Von Montag 9. bis Donnerstag, 13.11. ging in Barcelona das heurige Gartner Symposium mit der ITxpo über die Bühne. Glaubt man den Betonungen der Gartner Analysten selbst, so ist dies eine der wichtigsten Trend-Konferenzen des Jahres und in der Tat haben die Einschätzungen des IT Research Unternehmens durchaus Hand und Fuß.

In der Keynote – wie könnte es anders sein – steht die “Digitale Wirtschaft” (eine ansich sperrige Übersetzung des Begriffs “Digital Business”) natürlich im Mittelpunkt und Peter Sondergaard, Senior Vice President und Head of Research, wartet mit 3 wesentlichen Zukunftsaussagen auf:

  • IT und Geschäftsanwendung haben sowohl grundsolide als auch sehr flexibel zu sein, um mit den sich schneller ändernden Anforderungen an Integrationen, Beziehungen, Kommunikationspfaden, … etc. Schritt halten zu können, die mit dem “Internet der Dinge” und der nahtlosen Verknüpfung von Mensch, Unternehmen und Dingen einher gehen.
  • Jedes Unternehmen ist ein Technologie-StartUp, denn mit dem massiven Einzug von Software in nahezu jedes Geschäftsmodell (Gartner nimmt IT Ausgaben von 1.3Mrd im Jahr 2015 im EMEA Raum an) ergeben sich völlig veränderte Ausgangslagen für sowohl Technologie- als auch Non-Technologie-Unternehmen.
  • In einer digitalisierten Wirtschaft müssen IT-Organisationen ihren Zugang zu Sicherheitsfragen und Risikomanagement grundlegend ändern, denn in einer Welt, in der jeder mit allem und alles mit jedem vernetzt sein kann, sich diese Verbidnungen zu jeder Zeit neu definieren können und durch wesentlich raschere Innovation jederzeit neue Verbindungen entstehen können, bleibt keine Zeit für Vorabminimierung von Risikoszenarien – ja: sind diese nicht einmal vollinhaltlich abgrenzbar. Im Gegenteil, es müssen Risiken bewusst in Kauf genommen und proaktiv gemanaged werden.

Die Pressemitteilung zur Keynote von Peter Sondergaard kann im Gartner Newsroom im Wortlaut nachgelesen werden.

 

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Mind: DevOps isn’t a role model!

This blog post (“How ‘DevOps’ is Killing the Developer”) airwaves a bit at the moment. It reached me right at some really cool, breakthrough conversations on how DevOps will lead change of culture and role perception … and it fully truly nailed the opposite of those highly positive talks. To say it in the words of one of the commenters: “I couldn’t disagree more!” I even would go as far as to consider it dangerous!

Why?

Because the post reflects a totally wrong perception of DevOps! The article claims that DevOps would transform the role and responsibility of a particular person – a developer in this case. I would be surprised if literature really postulates this – the change of a role. DevOps is the transformation of HOW things are done, not WHO does it. Firstly, you have to lay the basis for a DevOps company transformation. Do developers change their expertise by that? No. Do OPS guys do? Neither. BUT: They do get closer together, get better understanding for each others challenges.

Secondly: The post misses another highly important – maybe the most important – investment along with DevOps introduction: Automation! Along with the cultural change, you’ll have to invest in automation of processes for artefacts which would formerly have taken you days and weeks to create/setup/deploy/run.

90°

So – let’s be clear here: DevOps isn’t the change of a role! DevOps is a 90° turn of a modus operandi. The whole movement derives from manufacturing where the importance lies in getting rid of any blocker in a production pipeline. Neither would a continous production change the role of the screwmaster (to name just anything) nor would DevOps change that of a QA expert or buildmaster … or – well: developer (as exemplarly taken here)!

The article is dangerous in another aspect: It claims developers to concentrate on development and nothing else. It is – but – another important aspect of DevOps as a cultural tranformation: To bring understanding for everybody else’s responsibility in the process to everybody. And thereby encourage Automation even more to take its place in it all. This importance is totally missed out in the post!

Bottom line

Let’s be crystal clear on a few things with DevOps:

  • It’s a cultural and organizational change; not a role and responsibility change for single individuals
  • It is a 90° turn of a modus operandi. It turns vertical silos of responsibility and action into horizontal pipelines/chains of continous work-flow
  • It’s a way to create role and responsibility awareness throughout the whole chain of collaborating individuals
  • And it surfaces the need of Automation to support cultural and process transformation, stability, security, repeatability, speed, continuity, …

There’s – however – a really positive DevOps-supporting aspect in that post: It does indeed drive discussion into a good direction … just browse through the comments there … 😉

 

( This post was also published in the official Automic company blog: http://blog.automic.com/devops-not-a-role-model )

 

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From bottom to top much can be lost

I’ve not been here for long. Not because I wouldn’t have had things to say – I actually had to say a lot, but it all went into our company’s architecture documentation. 100s of pages of high level designs, dependencies, relations, segregations, inputs, outputs, … and all of that boring stuff. Down the track of this work, one of the most important conversations with stakeholders and builders all-the-same was the one of the

Bottom-up versus top-down approach

Obviously – as with everything in life (well: nearly everything) – there’s 2 approaches to create blueprint documents/specifications and build the needed services accordingly: Bottom-up and top-down. In our case, the question arose wrt the framework of delivery support systems (operations support as well as business support systems) and the process of building/integrating them.

How to bottom-up or top-down?

The bottom-up approach focuses first on a few requirements to be defined in order to set expectations, then builds the stack according to the respective phase’s needs and derives the definitions accordingly. This approach is more “chaos” and ad-hoc driven and might serve a demo-led approach; at the same time it bears a few significant risks:

  • effort and cost consumption without properly defined product and architecture strategy
  • build and throw-away effects due to late findings
  • build and accept; i.e.: a prototype might be considered more mature than it actually is (under the hood) which would later result in very poor and endangering service quality
  • increased effort for keeping information through working teams synced
  • missing the point where neither the architecture not its Operations scale anymore and where a change of approach/setup is necessary (especially wrt OPS)

While the bottom-up approach clearly has the advantage of more rapid delivery and market-entry, it seriously endangers technical debt to be created:

Technical Debt (as defined by Ward Cunningham):

“If we failed to make our program align with what we then understood to be the proper way to think about our fin objects, then we were going to continue to stumble on that disagreement which is like paying interest on a loan.” – Ward Cunningham (http://agile.dzone.com/articles/understand-high-cost-technical)

Hence, as a pre-requisite for this approach to be working, one must seek upfront clarity about

  • which ecosystem/framework services to build
  • around which products
  • which relations to create – and (!) maintain

which within the top-down approach might evolve and shape during the pyramid’s first layer. The top-down approach also has the advantage of an all-know-all effect which can allow for utmost work parallelity while at the same time ensure compatibility of built entities. Its risk – however – is first and foremost the late creation of content/deliverables, hence later demo, later feedback, later market-entry, etc…

Phase-mode

Additional complexity is added when building the above in phases; i.e. from limited functionality offered to a limited amount of users in a first phase (e.g. Alpha) to offering full functionality at the final V1.0 release.

NOTE: Assuming a fully balanced build process, I would highly recommend a kanban-style build approach beginning with version 0.1 of the product or framework; assuming that fully balanced process, continous enhancements through continous deployment on a high patch/upgrade rate per day/week/month would be possible. However, even with that balanced process, the following is applicable allthesame.

Both approaches can be driven in a phased-mode in more or less the same way; i.e. in none of the 2 the full set of specifications (or backlog entries respectively) need to be created in order to start into the pyramid’s next layer. It is sufficient to create as much content as for a particular phase needed.

In both phases – though – it is essential to have a basic set of guidelines (like e.g. segregation of duties, purpose of buildling blocks) crystal clearly created so that anybody within any working team is able to align his/her work with these guidelines, perceive, recognise and acknowledge deviations and understand where alignment with other parties is crucial for ongoing success. It is the purpose of the first set of specifications to ensure these guidelines and clarity.

“… the whole debt metaphor or lets say the ability to pay back debt and make the debt metaphor work for your advantage depends upon you writing code that is clean enough to be able to refactor as you come to understand your problem.” (http://agile.dzone.com/articles/understand-high-cost-technical)

 

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SmileIT

Change “the Change”?

I’ve made up a little story.

The story is fictious. Characters in the story are fictious. Any resemblance to any existing persons are purely in the reader’s mind. Any resemblance with your company’s processes are mere coincidence.

Change?

Is it the process or is it communication?

Characters:

  • George: a very helpful infrastructure project manager located somewhere in Europe
  • Francis: an application manager located somewhere else in Europe
  • Olaf: an even more helpful datacenter operator geographically close to George
  • Dakshi: a very talented cloud operations engineer in/from India
  • Hans: a knowledgable senior cloud technician, European
  • Bob: the senior architect for infrastructure engineering (US)
  • Eveyln: the infrastructure engineering project manager (US, close to Bob)
  • cloud-team.operations@company.com: a support mailbox

On Feb, 4th Francis writes:

Hi Hans, Dakshi,

I currently have an issue you’ll probably able to solve easily.

Our company has signed a deal with a European government’s ministry to host an instance of our social enterprise application. For obvious reasons, that instance needs to be hosted in the customer’s country (not in our cloud)

As this project has a very tight schedule, and to be sure we can deliver in time, I need a dump of a few virtual machines from our existing V2 implementation so we can import them on our local VMWare infrastructure.

Machines needed are:

  • webserver01
  • dbserver01
  • accesssrv01
  • worker01
  • viewer01

I’m not sure what would be the best and fastest way to transfer them. A network transfer may be too long so maybe we can use a hard drive sent to us by UPS as we did for earlier transfers across the ocean.

I hope we can do this very quickly as the schedule is very tight, and I’m a bit late due to the time spent trying to fix the current V1 issues.

Best regards,

Francis


Let us briefly elaborate on the geographical circumstances of this request:

  • The datacenter running the V1 and V2 versions of the application under question is located in Europe
  • The customer is located in a different European country from the datacenter
  • The DC operations team is located in India

Dakshi is a very talented and quick operations guy, who picks up the request just 5 minutes later and responds willingly to export the requested VMs but being in need of a contact geographically close to the cloud DC to x-plug (and deliver) a USB harddisk . For this he redirects to Hans. Hans is known to know virtually everything which in certain organizations sometime means that Hans would be the one also doing everything – not so here: Hans redirects to George. George is a project manager located close to and responsible for activities in the DC in question, hence supposed to be best choice to coordinate the HDD x-plug and delivery process.

* FULLSTOP *


On Feb, 13th Francis writes:

Hi George,

I’m Francis, in charge of our social enterprise application. We’ve been working with our cloud team on the company’s “DriveSocial” project (V1 and V2). I’m writing to you on behalf of Hans. Our company has signed a deal with a local government’s ministry to host an instance of our social enterprise application. For obvious reasons, that instance needs to be hosted in the customer’s country.

As this project has a very tight schedule, and to be sure we can deliver in time, I need a dump of a few virtual machines from our application’s V2 implementation so we can import them on our local VMWare infrastructure.

Machines are:

  • webserver01
  • dbserver01
  • accesssrv01
  • worker01
  • viewer01

Can you please have them dumped and sent on a hard drive to:

DC1GER – Markus Verdinger, Sackstrasse 240, 99999 Praiss, Germany

The latest snapshot of the virtual machines, even though from last week would be perfect.

Thank you very much in advance,

Francis


A few minutes later the same day, Hans (in a supportive manner) shares a diagram of the V2 implementation with everybody; included is a detailed directive how to discover the right VMs within the “complicated jungle” of virtual organizations and virtual appliances [2(!) ORGs; 5(!) vApps].

George, the project manager and always eager to exactly specify the right activities, now kicks off a conversation about which server to plug the harddisk into – which ultimately involves Bob, the infrastructure architect.

On Feb, 13th Bob writes clarifyingly:

George,

They are looking for physical jump server in the EU1DC rack 0815.  On the rack elevation diagram, you are looking for CWRWTs001 in RU99.

Looks like these UCSs have the old US names on them.  We need to review the names for the UCSs in Rack 0815 and make the corrections.

@Evelyn, please set up meeting to talk about and correct this issue.  We should double check EU2DC too.

Thanks. Bob


Evelyn confirms instantly. Case closed for today.

  • Total #mail: 11
  • Total #mail today: 8

The next day passes by with Georges proactive attempts to get the right HDD into the right server. He’s supported by Olaf who gives regular live reports from the actual situation in the DC (i.e. precisely explaning which HDD is plugged into which server and asking for admittance to x-plug).

On Feb, 15th Geroge writes:

Hans,

Can you let us know who will be baring the costs for sending this HDD over to Praiss, Germany?

cheers G


Hans in all honesty responds not to know this and directs back to Francis “coram publico” assuming, that the cost question will for sure be no issue here as it all is about a very important customer and a very urgent request.

For the first time in our story things become “a bit complicated” here, as George has to ask admittance to book costs for x-plugging a HDD, putting it into an envelope and filing it with UPS. The representative of the respective delivery organization for this customer kicks in and asks whether sales has a budget (and PO) for this effort. George suggests to use a cloud development PO for the sake of simplicity, Hans again suggests – for the sake of even more simplicity – to invoice the department responsible for the social enterprise application directly (as this will be the benefitting party in this whole story anyway).

On Feb 15th, late in the evening (after having patiently watched the emails on the matter so far), Francis writes:

Jesus Christ…

Please invoice our department

In any case this is still our comapny’s money – so what!

Best regards

Francis

… and George kicks off the task of x-plugging and exporting with Dakshi by — — — asking Hans to open a Change Ticket in the Change Management system for this activity!

… which now – for the first time – leaves Hans standing in complete awe and totally leaking to understand his involveness in the case (especially as Hans is a future oriented agile minded technician who disbelieves in the flexibility of traditional change processes based on ITIL; ITIL was great some 10 years ago – Hans believes, that this is the cloud era which asks for more rapid process definitions and especially executions – but that’s a different story …)


This is the last we hear from our story’s heros before the weekend begins …

  • Time elapsed: 11 days
  • Total #mail: 34
  • Total #mail today: 17

On the following Monday, Hans and George spend some time (writtenly and verbously) to clarify how to rightly kick off such an activity and George (who asked for a change ticket just a few days ago) suggests, that the right way would be to engage with the cloud operations team in India directly. … Wait. … Directly with India. … I need to scroll up to the beginning here … Wasn’t that what Francis … did …

On Feb, 18th late in the evening, George writes:

Hi Dakshi,

could you please give me a feedback of the status regarding the transfer of the desired files?

Thanks and Best Regards

George

Dakshi now asks his colleague Abhu to act on the request (giving information on which VMs needed), Abhu asks Prahti to start the export. And Prahti re-queries the right ORG and vApps. Wait. … I need to scroll up again … Didn’t Hans … provide this very same information … directly to … Dakshi; well – it’s only copy-paste anyway and Hans is known to have an everlasting rapidly-searchable email-archive. Info delivered. Now to Prahti.

It’s Monday, Feb 18th.

  • Time elapsed: 14 days
  • Total #mail: 41
  • Total #mail today: 7

* FULLSTOP *


On Feb, 25th, Francis writes:

Hi Hans,

Sorry to disturb you but do you know if the virtual machines hard drive has been sent to our DC? I just had a call with them and apparently they had nothing delivered yet.

Best regards,

Francis

Hans in all honesty responds not to have any new status and Francis redirects his question to George. George in turn asks Dakshi. Dakshi confirms to have started the export but reports, that he had issues with some of the VMs (their export causing high load on the servers, which is why he did (does) not want to continue in order not to disturb productive environments). This leads Francis to ask the blunt question why it wouldn’t be possible to just use latest backups of the very same VMs.

cloud-team.operations@company.com thereafter confirms that backups can be restored to a seperate location and the export can then be started. Wait. … ? … Let’s contemplate briefly on why a restore … … …

On Feb, 26th, Prahti writes:

Hi Francis,

We have exported following machines to the attached hard drive:

  • webserver01
  • dbserver01
  • accesssrv01
  • worker01
  • viewer01
  • loadbalancer01

Prahti


  • Time elapsed: 22 days
  • Total #mail: 49
  • Total #mail today: 2

* FULLSTOP *


On Mar, 15th, Francis writes:

Hello Geroge and Hans,

I just had our DC people on the phone, and they’re still waiting for the VMs. It’s been one month now. Do you have a status on this please?

Best regards,

Francis

George, some hours later, replies:

Hi Hans, Hi Francis,

sorry for the delay, but there was no change ticket in place.

But in this case the colleagues will do an unconventional approach. However, the arrival of the disk at the agreed shipping address is expected during next week only.

Best Regards

Geroge

* FULLSTOP *

On Mar, 27th, Francis writes:

Hi George,

I’ve been contacted by the DC, and they’re still waiting for your shipment to be delivered. Do you have any update on this please?

Best regards,


After this we lose track and the emails trickle away.

  • Time elapsed: 51 days
  • Total #mail: 53
  • Total #mail today: 1

* FULLSTOP *



On June, 6th, Francis writes:

Good afternoon,

Our DC has mounted the machines and it appears you did not provided the right machines. Actually, you sent us virtual machines that belongs to another client and that are not even running WindowsServer.

Beside the fact that it is unacceptable to get the data from another client, the delay introduced by this makes our company at risk with that very important client (government ministry for employment).

For the record, virtual machines needed to be cloned, copied onto a USB drive and sent to our DC are:

  • webserver01
  • dbserver01
  • accesssrv01
  • worker01
  • viewer01
  • loadbalancer01

The client’s DC address is: DC1GER – Markus Verdinger, Sackstrasse 240, 99999 Praiss, Germany

Please, fix ASAP.

Regards,

Rewind to start …


* FULLSTOP *

Questions:

  • Where is the leak of communication?
  • Where is the process leaking clarity?
  • What could have been done by whom to improve the result of this operation/request?
  • Who should consider their job attitude?
  • How would ITIL support such a case?
  • Would this be possible to happen in your company? Why not?
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