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Read “The Circle” and opt out!

Is it – as a committed social media aficionado – applicable to call for an opt out of it all? It is, once you’ve read “The Circle”, the 2013 fictional novel by author Dave Eggers.

Eggers portraits a powerful internet company making money through advertising (links to Google or Facebook are purely accidental, of course). Mae Holland is a tech worker and in her second job after having graduated she’s given an opportunity at The Circle – an opportunity which most tech workers these days desperately seek for. Mae got support from her college roommate Annie who had already made it to the group of the 40 most senior managers in the company, directly reporting to the founders – “Three Wise Men”: Tom Stenton, Eamon Bailey and Ty Gospodinov. While the first two actively involve themselves in the company’s endeavours, Ty works on new developments mostly secluded in the background.

Mae starts in Customer Experience and works herself up the chain by overcommitting to objectives and seemingly easily (but in truth with great personal effort and sacrifice) following the increasingly demanding involvement not only in her work duties but also all virtual and physical social interaction with fellow colleagues. She not-falls-in-love with one nerdy Circler she has sex with, whom she somehow admires for his technological development of a system protecting children from violence; she commences to desperately long for encounters with another Circler, who becomes increasingly mysterious as the company develops itself more and more towards total transparency.

Eggers, the author, does not keep the reader long from his message: One of the first major announcements of one of the Wise, Eamon Bailey, is a development called “SeeChange” – an extremely low-cost, top-quality A/V camera, capable of running on battery for about 2 years and streaming its crystal clear 4k images via satellite onto the SeeChange platform. Anyone can install cameras anywhere, they are barely noticed and everybody can logon to SeeChange with their unique – very personal and real – identity, their “TruYou”.

Rings a bell? Well, this is only the starting point into a rollercoaster of more awesomely cool technology tools, all aggregated through “TruYou” and made available to everyone anytime.

Dave Eggers is brilliantly creating a staggering balance between technological blessings and their benefit for employees, communities and the people as a whole on the one hand and the increasing sacrifice individuals could be demanded to make on the other hand in order to leverage that technological advance. This is – in short – the utter embarrassing red line throughout the whole book from the very first page until the closing line.

Of course, “The Circle” addresses the time we spend in social media, the way we communicate with each other (personally and virtually), the blessings and the threats that a modern, technology-based life bears. While reading, I was constantly torn between appreciating the sketched development (note: this isn’t science fiction, this is just the next step in a logical advance that we’re facing) and detesting the commitment it would demand from the ones making real use of it. Being into like two thirds of it and swallowing the book’s lines in nightly sessions, my only remaining questions was this: Will Eggers eventually manage to destroy my thorough belief in the two main importances of modern social media involved life and communication:

  • Utter transparency: I want to always know – or: be able to know – who does what with my data
  • And utter free will: I want to always be allowed to opt out, if I want to

I will not disclose the answer – I’d be “spoiling”. BUT – if you haven’t done so far, I recommend: Read “The Circle”. And then consider carefully, where and what to opt in or opt out of. It remains important.

circlebig

P.S.: There’ll be a movie comin’ this year, starring Tom Hanks as Eamon Bailey. Don’t read the articles on it, as they all contain spoilers on one important turn of the story!

 

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#CITIZENFOUR – a film by Laura Poitras

Thanx to rolfgeneratedcontent, I decided for one of my meanwhile (unfortunately) rare visits to the cinema and watched CITIZENFOUR, the documentary film by Laura Poitras outlining the chronology of events leading to the disclosure of some of the biggest spying endeavours of western governments (no, this is not only on the US, indeed).

The film is great work! It offers a glimpse of the vastness of data collected by programs like PRISM or TEMPORA, how security agencies engaged with big telecommunication providers in order to simply intercept lines, communications, traffic, … on the very source of transmission instead of at its origin – the persons involved.

Technology of these interceptions isn’t really rocket science (except, of course, for the decryption intelligence that those national security agencies posses just by their exceptionally high budgets – brain power is venal, either).

However, the question I keep pondering since having watched this documentary film is: What’s really the revelation? Not only of the film but of Ed Snowden’s work as such? Don’t get me wrong! I won’t argue for dropping human rights and personal privacy laws. Not at all. Neither will I say that the collection and structured analysis of data from millions of people against whom there’s no legal suspicion has any rightful legal basis. No. What I do, though, want to query is all those post-Snowden arguments against Cloud vendors and Service providers which state that no data can be given off-premise anymore for the reason of all the various programs that Snowden “whistleblowed” on.

Let me give you three simple considerations why I think that Snowden may have shaken us up (as awareness was so low prior to his revelations) but has not really disclosed the unknown:

  1. In a talk in 2013, Dr. Gerd Polli, ex head of the Austrian National Security, in essence stated that National Security Agencies always throughout the years head the possibilities, the money and the brain power to not only be ahead but supersede by far any technological intelligence within any non-governmental endeavour. Not only where they able to create respective programs but additionally have governments and businesses been their best-paying customers to receive espionage services; over decades. So the fact as such is far less new than – e.g. – Cloud Computing as a disruptive technology.
  2. Last year, facebook claimed 2.23 billion active users. All of them disclosing information about their current, their future, their past position, their activities, the people they surround themselves with, … Even though facebook – in my humble opinion – does a good job in allowing people to keep a respective level of privacy, it still lets through quite a bit even when I’m not connected to someone. Very useful information for anyone intending to stalk out the little extra of me.
  3. Anytime in the past – long before 9/11 and long before the capabilities of Cloud and Social services – could I have been observed by governmental institutions just because I may have been mistakenly judged to have illegal objectives of some kind. In the quest of identifying truly dangerous characters in a society it is highly unfortunate that sometimes legally acting people become victims. I’m by no means claiming this to be a good thing. And I believe, it is everyone’s responsibility to help clearing up wrong accusations and even more is it the core responsibility of governmental executives to treat observation and investigation cases with ever more care. However, fact remains – such things happen, also did they happen in the past.

My claim here is: This isn’t new. This isn’t a revelation. This isn’t a disclosure of the unknown. And this is by no means a reasoning why any kind of online services should be considered less secure than they have ever been before.

Remains the utterly hardest question: What can – what should – be done about it? Nothing? Abandon those programs? Let them Agencies act freely ever on just upon their will?

There’s no right answer to that, I believe. And I will always appreciate the aim of governments to reduce the danger of the next silly poacher causing a human life in the name of some religious interpretation …

I do think, the only rightful answer for acting and living within the fact of ubiquitous observation and data collection is two-folded:

  • Every single person has to act transparently, openly and humanly in a manner which obeys the laws, rules and regulations of his society for the benefit of a calm and secure life of everyone.
  • And every company – especially but by no means only telcos, security agencies and/or service providers – have to be fully transparent about every – literally: EACH and EVERY – interception of information running through their lines, services, …, their business.

I as a citizen have a right to know what is known about me by whom. And that includes Security Agencies to the full extent. In that, Ed Snowden’s revelations indeed serve the greater purpose of making a change to how governmental security treated privacy so far – and in that, they do need to be continued.

 

{ feature image from www.thehollywoodnews.com }

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Bedürfnispyramide / Hierarchy of Needs

… und auch wenn die allgemeine Digitalisierung und das dauernde Verbundensein grundsätzlich spannende und bereichernde Entwicklungen sind, dürfen wir – gerade dieser Tage – WLan und Akkuleistung auf der Maslow’schen Bedürfnispyramide ruhig ein wenig weiter oben einreihen. Tim Minchin hat da ein paar ganz gute Ideen dazu …


 

… and even though Digitalization and ubiquitous connection of everyThing are interesting and enriching advancements of mankind, we’re surely allowed – especially during these days – to put “WiFi” and “Akku” onto some higher places within Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”. Tim Minchin has some nice ideas to this, indeed …

 

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The “Next Big Thing” series: Digital Transformation

Beware! No. 7 of the “Next Big Thing” blog post series is probably going to be at the heart of all the big business disruptions to come:

 

“Digital Business”

as a term has more or less become a substitute for the formerly heavily stressed “Industry 4.0”. Digital Business can best be described by a couple of examples illustrating how every business – without exception – will be disrupted by the huge innovative potential rolling along:

Example No. 1 – Retail and Education

School notifies the parents of a boy that he needs a certain educative material by tomorrow; they do that by means of a private message to the parents coming from the school’s facebook profile. The boy’s mother investigates through her mobile phone where the particular material can be purchased, connects to the store chain by means of a mobile app and requests availability information. The store responds with availability and price (through their app) also informs that the particular item has to be sent from a remote outlet and requests confirmation for the purchase and delivery. The mother responds with payment data and the school’s address for target delivery whereas the store chain triggers delivery of the item to the nearest train station, notifies the train operating company that a parcel needs to be delivered by tomorrow to the respective address whereas the train company in turn arranges for delivery to take place to the school’s nearest train station and from there by a drone directly to the school.

Example No. 2 – Weather and Insurance

A terrible thunderstorm destroys a house’s window. The respective sensors thoroughly detect the reason for the breakage of glass not to be from human intervention but from bad weather conditions and notifies the smart home automation gateway of what has happened. The gateway holds police, hospital and insurance contact information as well as necessary private customer IDs. Location address is derived via GPS positioning. The gateway self-triggers a notification and remediation workflow with the insurance company, which in turn assesses the incident to be a valid insurance case, triggers a repair order with an associated window glassworks company. The glassworks company fits the order into their schedule as it is treated an emergency under the given circumstances, rushes to the given location, repairs the windows, the workers report back to the insurance via mobile app and the insurance closes the case. All this happens without any human intervention other than final approval by the house’s owner that everything is OK again.

Example No. 3 – Holiday and Healthcare

The wearable body control device of an elderly lady records asynchronous heartbeat also slowly decelerating. The pattern is maintained within the device as being a situation of life endangering heart condition, hence the device commences transfer of detailed health monitoring data via the lady’s mobile phone to her children on the one hand and to her doctor in charge on the other hand. Both parties have (by means of device configuration) agreed to confirm the reception of data within 5 minutes after start of transmission. As none of this happens (because the kids are on holiday and the doctor is busy doing surgery) the device triggers notification of the nearest ambulance, transmits the patterns of normal health condition plus current condition and includes name, location, health insurance and nearest relatives data as well as the electronic apartment access key. The ambulance’s customer request system notifies the doctor in charge as well as the lady’s children that they’re taking over the case, an ambulance rushes to location, personal opens via mobile phone using the received electronic key, finds the lady breathing short and saves her life by commencing respective treatment immediately.

Fictious?

Well – maybe, today. But technology for all this is available and business models around it have begun to mature.

What these examples show – besides that they all encompass the integration of Things with several or all aspects of the Nexus of Forces discussed earlier in this article series – is an aspect essential to understanding “Digital Business” and that immense digitalization of our daily life: “Digital Business” is nothing else than the seamless (mean it;. literally: s-e-a-m-l-e-s-s) connection of humans, businesses and things (as in the IoT definition). “Digital Business” is a merger of physical and digital worlds!

In turn, this means plain simply, that there will be no business whatsoever that goes without software. Businesses already penetrated by software will experience increasing software, automation and integration challenges and businesses that haven’t yet introduced software into their models will face an increased challenge doing so, as well as to integrate with the digital world around them. Essentially for nothing else than just for staying in business.

 

{the 8th issue of this blog post series covers a way to approach all those challenges through creating a true services ecosystem for the enterprise; and as it’s the last it also wraps up and concludes}

{feature image found on http://marketingland.com/}

 

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IT Bildung fürs Digitale Zeitalter

Und wieder eine “Jammer”meldung (nein, nicht Yammer, das Microsoft Enterprise Social Network ;)):

41.000 IT Experten fehlen

meldet BITKOM e.V. in einer Aussendung vom 11.11.2014! Und konkludiert nach der Diskussion der durchaus repräsentativen Analyseergebnisse (1.500 Unternehmen wurden befragt), dass es dringend eines “Pflichtfachs Informatik in der Sekundarstufe I” bedürfe.

Die Deutsche Sekundarstufe I entspricht der Österreichischen “Unterstufe” (also z.B. Hauptschule oder Gymnasium, Klasse 1 – 4, oder 5. bis 8. Schulstufe). Das ist aber hier überhaupt nicht das Thema, denn der Ansatz und die Forderung ist sowieso grundlegend falsch (egal für welche Schulstufe) und geht vollkommen an dem vorbei, was in einem Bildungssystem für das “Lernen” von IT nötig wäre!

IT wird in kürzester Zukunft integraler Bestandteil aller Wirtschaftszweige sein. In einem eigens dafür geschaffenen Schulunterrichtsgegenstand – in einer eigenen Lerneinheit – disjunkt von allem anderen Lernen durch Lehrkräfte, die die Ausbildung dazu nie bekommen haben, “Computer-Gebrauch” unterrichten zu lassen, ist so sinnentleert wie auf Grund von Lehrermangel einen Geographiker Physik unterrichten zu lassen (ja, auch das kommt – zumindest im österreichischen Schulsystem – tatsächlich vor, insofern überrascht mich die Forderung nicht wirklich; sie ärgert mich bloß).

Die einzige wirklich zielführende Maßnahme ist das integrierte Benutzen von Computern im Unterricht.

  • Ob eine Schülerin ihr Heft oder ihr Notebook zum Mitschreiben benutzt, muss egal sein.
  • Ob ein Schüler das Tafelbild abmalt oder mit dem Tablet fotografiert, ist völlig einerlei.
  • Ob eine Schülerin ein Wörterbuch oder linguee.com am Mobiltelefon zum Nachschlagen verwendet, darf keinen Unterschied machen.
  • Die Nutzung von Mobilgeräten im Unterricht muss explizit erlaubt sein (verbieten kann die Schule ja gerne die Nutzung bestimmter Apps, wenn sie es nicht schafft, den SchülerInnen den richtigen – den zielführenden – Umgang mit dem Gerät zu vermitteln)

So lange unser Schulsystem “Informatik” als Unterrichtsgegenstand begreift, anstatt IT als integralen Bestandteil des Lebens, bildet es unserer Schüler eindimensional, allenfalls parallel in verschiedenen, voneinander getrennten Disziplinen aus. Die Realität ereilt die Ausgebildeten dann, wenn die erste Jobausschreibung mit der Forderung nach IT-Kenntnissen überrascht – und viele (wenn nicht alle) Jobausschreibungen werden das in Zukunft! Aufgabe jedes IT-Unternehmens, -Vereins oder -Netzwerkes ist es daher, Informatikunterricht abzulehnen und die echte Integration der IT in das Ausbildungssystem zu betreiben!

 

Das Feature Bild entstammt dem – grundsätzlich erfreulichen – Focus.DE Artikel: “Tablet-Computer sollen Unterricht verbessern

 

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The “Next Big Thing” series: #Mobile Everywhere

{this is No. 4 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}

 

I would be interested in getting to know, how many readers of this series still know a person not owning a smartphone? (I do, by the way ;))

Even though I have written several times about the danger of it and how important it is to consider behaviour for a healthy adoption of “Mobile Everywhere” (e.g. in “Switch Offor “3 importances for a self-aware social networker) I am still a strong believer in the advantages that elaborate mobile technology brings into day-2-day life.

Not only do mobile phone technology and mobile app ecosystems add significant value to the other two forces (data and social) but additionally they’ve meanwhile “learned” to make vast use of them. You could actually describe a stacked model of this bond of disruptive technologies which are discussed in this series in a way that

  • data is the back-end business layer of the future
  • social platforms are the middleware to bring together information offers and information needs
  • and mobile technology is the front end to support information and data consumption in both ways

The image below turns the “Nexus”-model from the beginning of this series into a stack appearance:

 

Nexus of Forces (stacked)

Nexus of Forces (stacked)

 

Which – essentially – closes the loop with why we do see a bond of not only the technologies in mobility, social media and data and analytics but even more the visions, strategies and concepts of these three. Needless to say, therefore, that businesses who have a strong strategy and vision around the Nexus of Forces and – at the same time – are backed by a strong Service Orchestration roadmap will be the winners of the “race of embrace” of this bond.

Now, thinking of the Pioneers, which I’ve started this blog series with, I recall that one could see all forms of leveraging the aforementioned concepts in the ideas of the startups presenting there. And – unsurprisingly to me – not a single moment during those 2 festival days back in October this year, “Cloud” was even mentioned, let alone discussed. It is no topic anymore. Period.

However, there’s more: The Nexus of Forces as such is only the beginning of a path leading into the next industrial revolution and we’re already well under way. Hence, this blog series will continue discussing concepts and challenges which build upon the Nexus of Forces and takes it to the next level with change to come for each and every enterprise – software-based, hardware-based or not even technology-based at all.

 

{No. 5 of this blog post series takes the first step into “Industry 4.0” and related disruptive topics}

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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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3 importances for a self-aware social networker

The social and mobile world is undergoing another change in perception. Back in 2006++ when most of today’s social networks commenced their big leap into our everyday life, they drove the always-on culture, the work-everywhere culture, the instant-communication culture. People where happily adopting all the tremendously great possibilities they were given by the smartphone vendors who in turn where driven to ever-new feature climaxes by the evolving hype. And today – these days, virtually – a shift (maybe: a turn) is notable. The crucial point here: This turn is risking to go utterly and completely into the wrong direction!

And here’s why!

Why dictate instead of educate?

These days an article crossed my desk saying, that the German government has introduced a policy that employees must not be called or contacted anymore outside working hours. “The guidelines state that ministry staff should not be penalised for switching off their mobiles or failing to pick up messages out of hours”, says the article in The Telegraph. Digging further, one can find the Daimler “Mail on Holiday” program which allows employees to invoke an automatic process delegating and deleting eMails form their inboxes when on vacation or a Volkswagen initiative (admittedly already from 2011) where the company switched off eMail synchronization during out-of-work hours.

When reading this, the very simple thing I am really asking myself is: Where is the awareness education for people confronted with such kind of policies? How do employers or governmental organizations ensure that their core value – their employees – actually understand how mobile technology and social interaction influences their behaviour and – even more important – how they can find an approach of wellbeing to all the thrilling possibilities of technology for themselves?

Why allow speeding in messaging?

The second thing that hit me really hard was the article of a 17yo girl in an Austrian newspaper, contemplating the behaviour of herself and her friends in WhatsApp. What she essentially says is that FOMO (“fear of missing out”) is actually FOMF (“fear of missing friends”). Young people everywhere seem to have floated into a symbiosis with their phone for the sole purpose of instantly – literally within a second – answering any incoming message. Otherwise they would risk losing friends and social contacts because when their friends and schoolmates having seen them online sometime during the day wouldn’t receive an answer within “due course”, they’d assume not to be liked anymore and quit friendship.

The shocking detail here is two-folded: On the one hand, instant messaging conversations in 90% of all cases completely lack content anyway (they run along a thread something like “hey :)” – “hey :)” – “how r u” – “ok. and u” – ok, too” – what r u doin” – “nothing”) and on the other hand, not being answered can so frighteningly quickly evolve from frustration into anger and into ignorance within instances.

And I am asking myself: Is friendship worth anything these days? And who teaches our children how to keep it up? Who educates them for responsibility humans deserve and for responsibility and self-awareness and caution with the technological possibilities they are so happy to be given.

Why allow loneliness when everyone is always around?

The third thing that stroke me was another awesome TED talk (TED talks tend to be awesome whatever topic they touch) by Sherry Turkle, a psychologist and cultural analyst, talking about being connected and still remaining alone (here’s the link to it). What she is stating – undermined with respective research – is that we have grown more alone then in former times when getting in touch with each other was so much harder due to the lack of communication facilities. The truth of what she says is undeniable: When we wanted to arrange to meet our friends in the 8oies or even 90ies, we had to pick a landline, hope the other one was where his landline was and plan around other duties (like school, sports, music education, homework, shopping, etc.) as a long as to find a free timeslot for meeting for a coffee or coke. And by that, we were closer to each other than we are now. We always and ever knew our friends plans. We literally felt them without having to talk to them. Today, we don’t talk. We chat, message, eMail or tag’em in a post – and know nothing about how they feel. They remain as alone as we are in fact – with all those 100s of social network “friends” around.

And I am simply asking myself why nobody really notices?

The answer

The items above kept me thinking … thinking of a solution … Here’s what I think, we can do – as a parental guide, a school teacher, an employer or just a human friend. The solution to the huge challenge our society is facing with the equally huge technological possibilities does not lie with rules, regulations, policies and prohibitions. It will not help at all to tell our kids, our employees or our friends what they can do, shall do or must not do.

The true answer is within ourselves and the only thing helping it to surface is helping to create self-awareness about how we treat technology around us. So here’s 3 simple things to try:

  1. Do not ban eMail, switch off sync or forbid mobile phones. Instead, offer freedom to employees. Start with educating management to not expect availability from their people at weird times, teach them to accept individuality in how employees use the technology around them. And coach the employees in acquiring and living up to what they need for wellbeing at work. If one wants to switch off when leaving the building: Fine. If one wants to check eMails during vacation: Fine, too. I trust more than anything, that productivity increases when one can use social interaction and mobility the way they want it.
  2. Do make children understand the amount of pressure they put themselves and others into when expecting behaviour without explicitly explaining it. In terms of communications, I think, it is no bad thing to chat and message a response instantly upon message arrival. It’s getting tremendously dangerous when a response is expected without even taking into account what hurdles might hinder the other to respond. They might have forgotten their phone, be on holiday without parental phone admittance, be in a verbose conversation with someone. And their lack of responsiveness may have nothing at all to do with a lack of appreciation. Understanding the difference may make them truly self-aware and sensitive users of that great mobile and social revolution, we’re facing.
  3. And finally: Get a feeling on how much in touch you really are. How much you really know about someone who is posting on facebook or twitter, is joking with 20-something groups on whatsapp … and at the same time is feeling tremendously alone because of a complete lack of real life relationships. And maybe that one is you …

I think, the technology surrounding us – and the path, twists and turns this technology keeps taking – bares so many great advantages for our day to day lifes, if we only learn how to integrate them without letting it role over us destructively. So let us not let it do so!

 

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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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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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