How time flies, especially in the cloud world. Less than a year ago, Bernard Golden kicked off the Cloud Luminary Fireside Chats, a series of monthly discussions with leading thinkers in the industry. With cloud as the starting point, the Fireside Chats have taken us on a journey across a wide range of topics, from Cost Analytics and Data Centers to DevOps, Docker, and the State of Open Source.
A hallmark of the series has been its off-the-cuff format. Unlike the typical conference talk, the Fireside Chats have been interactive, engaging and somewhat random - you might say "the kind of conversations that take place in the hallway at the coffee urns." Bernard's cat has made a guest appearance on at least one occasion.
The informal approach has led to a lot of great quotes, both funny and insightful. Sadly, we don't have time to pick out all the random lol moments. But it's our hope that at the least, this post highlights some of the valuable insights shared by our guests over the past year.
If you are interested in exploring these topics further, by all means check out the Fireside Chat webcasts on our YouTube channel or visit the specific links below. To keep up with what's new at ActiveState,
On with the quotes.
The Role of Culture in Implementing DevOps
"CEO's come in and go, "Oh I need to re-establish the culture of this company." And you see it in lots and lots of especially large companies, and it often just doesn't work. Culture is an output, not an input...if you're looking to do the applications faster and with higher quality...you can't go in and say, 'I'm just going to go in and change the culture'...Culture is a result of what you do, it's not something that you do...You've got to do things that affect that change. So I agree with you, mate. Changing processes, changing technologies, adding tooling that [is] going to help that collaboration happen...I'm a big believer in that."
— Andi Mann (then VP in the Office of the CTO at CA Technologies)
"Businesses operate on repeatability and measurability...if the leading edge is this thing called culture that's intangible...it makes it very difficult to approach as a problem to solve and to correct...I'm a strong believer that the things you need to focus on are the things that you can change...We're not going to get everybody all believing the same thing and we're certainly not going to get people all believing the same way in an enterprise IT organization. What we can get them behind is incentives...And likewise the other piece that we can focus on is process...that we can reduce friction within and that's going to lead directly back to greater business agility."
— JP Morgenthal (then Director, Cloud Computing & DevOps Practices, Perficient)
In response to the question, "Who needs to be involved?": "My one word answer to this one was "everyone", which is actually intended to be glib but it’s somewhat true. The point is, DevOps is an unfortunate name because it seems to imply we’re only talking about those two groups...you said this touches a lot of groups and that’s absolutely true. These lines are blurred. What’s rather a matter than saying, "who needs to be involved" — because I don’t think that it’s the same in every organization...what’s really important is being able to identify them and bring them in as you can."
— Matt Stratton, Senior Solutions Architect, Chef, on who needs to be involved
"Mostly, there are people in the trenches who are tired of pagers and cell phones going off and they’re coming from the ground up. They’re the guys and gals fighting that uphill battle because they’re trying to solve their problems, and a lot of other people aren’t really vested in it because the culture is silent. Basically what you see there is, they’ll create small wins, but to really get to the end-game they have to engage everyone. When you’re not getting that engagement, you really have to work up the management chain and try to get buy-in, and a lot of times you don’t get it until you see results. So it's this catch-22: you have to do what you can do with what you’ve got, show results, capture your metrics before you implement these methods...and then sell."
— Mike Kavis, VP/Principal Architect, Cloud Technology Partners
The Cloud Foundry Foundation
Following the announcement that Sam Ramji was appointed CEO of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, Sam joined Bernard to discuss his focus, goals and vision for the organization.
On the Technology:
"The key thing is drive and speed. It's an amazing set of capabilities that we have. We are effectively the fastest growing software startup on the planet. We have hundreds of engineers working on the core. We have thousands of engineers who are building applications on top of it. It's already being adopted by hundreds of enterprises and we have distribution channels with some of the biggest software and technology companies on the planet."
Functioning like a Startup:
"When you think about the challenges a startup usually has is, number one: where do I get my money? Well we now have $18 million dollars of investment that we need to shepherd and do the right things with...Plus, you always struggle with distribution....HP, EMC, SAP, VMWare, Pivotal, Intel, IBM. There are companies like Centurylink and Swisscom who are operators that are service providers, those are also distributors for Cloud Foundry...The third advantage we have is that we're not for profit... the purpose of the trade association is to drive a global brand, to drive rapid growth. It's basically marketing and business development and then shepherding."
"I don't know how to run a foundation. I know how to run a startup. I have five startups in my history, so my promise to each member and the Cloud Foundry community is that I'm leaning forward, exploding out of the box."
Impact of Docker on Enterprise IT
"Even the business people are trying to get in on [Docker]...you've got a big delta right now between these expectations and...what's happening on the ground…The rules have changed. Now you cannot go to a customer, a developer at any rate, and say, "First you have to install this huge piece of software that could take a couple of hours, and then you got to do this and you got to do that." You got to be right there, immediately delivering. That's what Docker brings."
"What it is that you should not do, is have committees that sit down and try to figure out what is the best of breed...what you'll end up with is 10 architects with 20 opinions and you'll end up being paralyzed and doing nothing...and then you won't make any progress at all. I think that is a bad strategy."
— Alexis Richardson, Founder & CEO, Weaveworks
The Technology Sales Process
"Nowadays we're seeing that process to get on board with the cloud. In most cases you get on a website, and you might sign in with a github ID and a credit card, and that's it. You're up and running. There's no seven-day process to wait for some manual approval in some back room somewhere. There's no salesperson who has to come on site and talk to you and meet with you. If it's not instant it's not gonna happen."
— Donnie Berkholz (then Analyst and Resident PhD, RedMonk)
Reshaping Enterprise IT - Advice for CIO's
Tim Crawford, CIO Strategic Advisor, AVOA, provided three action items for CIO's to lead their organizations into a new era.
"The first thing is, understand how your business operates. I don’t mean if you’re a clothing manufacturer that you sell shirts. What I mean is, what does the supply chain look like? How do the products get manufactured? How do customers engage in being able to purchase those products? Are they looking up in their mobile device? Are they looking up at Amazon? Are they going into brick and mortar stores? Are they paying via credit card, cash? What is their average spend? What is their demographic? Start to understand how [your] company makes money, understand how the company spends money...
The second thing is, understand who your customers are. Who are they today but also who could they be? Maybe there are some opportunities. For example, using that same retail example. Maybe today you’re focused on brick and mortar stores and the rest of the organization is like, “It’d be great to engage via mobile devices, but we don’t know how to do that.”...Understand how customers' behavior is changing for your particular industry and your particular market...
Then the third piece is, take a holistic view of your existing assets...take a step back and say, “What would others say?" If you’re the CIO, "If I brought in a peer to look at this, what would he or she say about where I am today? Someone that doesn’t know me, someone that’s not my friend, someone that will tell me exactly what their candid opinion is of it.”
Cloud Utilization and Cost Analytics
"Utilization and cost analytics is the ability to understand how your cloud deployment behaves from a usage and cost perspective. In public cloud specifically, whenever you spin up new servers or databases or you use more and more storage, you pay as you go, and therefore usage and cost are tied together. When you over-provision on your resources you would pay more. Therefore, it's very important to define a set of cost utilization as well as performance metrics that will help us understand who used what, when, and how we can reduce the cost and improve the performance to avoid the budget violations or even performance issues in our cloud deployments."
— Sharon Wagner, Founder and CEO, Cloudyn
"If the philosophy of cloud computing is to treat compute, network and storage as a legitimate and true utility, then utility economics needs to be able to be applied to this industry in order for buyers and sellers to make sense of it...It's interesting to talk about miles per gallon, but what happens when internal IT and nine different vendors that are out there in the market offering a service, define the gallon differently? How do you actually create economic transparency and interoperability comparisons in a meaningful way between legacy IT and on-demand service?...You can't have a utility if you don't have a single unit of measurement"
— John Cowan, Co-Founder and CEO, 6fusion
"...In one of these surveys, we discovered that 25 percent of the enterprise end users weren't doing any cost analysis at all on their use of cloud services, and for me that's a really terrifying statistic because the whole point of the cloud is that it's variable and scaleable, and the on-demand purchase and procurement of cloud means that you should be able to purchase it up and down whenever needs change. And I think because only 25 percent of users are actually keeping track of what they are doing, this explains why we found that 33 percent of users weren't confident that they had a good control over their costs."
— Owen Rogers, Senior Analyst, Digital Economics, 451 Research
Setting up Innovation Labs for Success
Jason Valentino shared his experience leading Capital One Labs and integrating the innovation lab concept successfully within the larger organization.
On Getting Started:
"We found external leadership to come in and it helped grow this concept. It started very small. It started with two, three really strong leaders. It started with an open checkbook, some executive buy-in and an awesome facility. Once we had this facility and we had our first couple developers, we started making headway.
All of a sudden people would walk in the door and start saying, I want to work here. This is not what I expected, this is not a bank, this looks just like the start-up I just left. And we started growing a team. The first year was just build our foundation. Figure out technologies we're going to use. Get our underlying infrastructure together. Pick a couple pet projects, get a little bit of headway and help build a relationship for the rest of the enterprise."
"In addition to us doing new product development, we were also able to use new infrastructure, which ended up becoming just as important to the company as the products themselves."
"So after about year three...it's not a lab influence, it's the people that are doing the things you like, they're now embedded into your organization...At the same time, if the lab is doing well, the rest of the organization is going to rise to the challenge as well. I've got to be honest. We have a large cloud computing group in the company that totally does it better than my four-man skunk team used to."
Industry Trends in Data Center Operations
"There really are no good reasons anymore for someone to own their own data center other than a personal desire to do that. And I can tell you that the evidence speaks for itself. I mean, we are approaching a thousand customers in our facilities in Vegas alone, and those customers are anything from the most secure government organizations...as defined by government regulations on security...all the way to companies that have as much as a billion dollars worth of gear with us that have sent over entire risk teams to evaluate our facilities."
— Mark Thiele, EVP Data Center Tech, Switch
The State of Open Source
Open source business strategist Matt Asay joined Bernard following this year's OSCON to explore the current state of open source — its benefits, challenges, dynamics and adoption within enterprise IT.
Here is the recording for your enjoyment!
- Why open source has taken the enterprise IT market by storm
- The future of proprietary software
- How open source is a key component of Third Platform strategies
- Building open source organizational tools
- The paradox of "full stack" developers
- Participating in open source communities
Thanks for joining us for the Fireside Chats. It's been a pleasure, and we'll catch you down the road.
For those interested in learning more, HP has acquired ActiveState's Stackato business.