Welcome to This Week in Modern Software, or TWiMS, our weekly roundup of the need-to-know news, stories, and events of interest surrounding software analytics, cloud computing, application monitoring, development methodologies, programming languages, software architectures, and more.
This week, our top story is Puppet Labs’ fourth annual State of DevOps Report.
TWiMS Top Story
2015 State of DevOps Report—Puppet Labs
What it’s about: Puppet Labs, in partnership with Gene Kim’s IT Revolution, released its much-anticipated State of DevOps Report this week. DevOps has generated enormous interest and buzz in recent years, but the hype has also produced an attendant amount of noise. (See also: Cloud.) Puppet’s well-regarded survey, now in its fourth year, digs deeply into the actual business impacts of DevOps practices, and the results have become must-read material for anyone who builds software or manages the infrastructure it lives on.
Why you should care: The findings speak for themselves. Puppet’s survey, which included nearly 5,000 respondents this year, once again debunks the myth that speed and reliability are mutually exclusive. Moreover, it continues to find strong correlations between DevOps practices and IT performance, with high-performing technology teams deploying 30 times faster with 200 times shorter lead times than their lower-performing peers. This is improving stability and reliability, not undermining it: High-performing IT teams experience 60 times fewer failures; when failure does occur—and it always does—these organizations recover 168 times faster. This year’s report also digs into the impacts of lean management and continuous delivery (hint: they’re great), diversity in tech (it improves organizational intelligence), and employee burnout (DevOps can help there, too). Recommended reading.
- 7 DevOps Tips from Gene Kim—New Relic Blog
- Gene Kim Explains ‘Why DevOps Matters’—New Relic Blog
- No, DevOps Isn’t Just for Unicorns—New Relic Blog
What it’s about: A new report from technology research firm IDC says public cloud spending will hit $70 billion this year, an astonishing amount when you consider the relative youth of cloud computing—Amazon Web Services won’t celebrate its tenth birthday until next year, for reference. Discrete manufacturing, banking, professional services, process manufacturing, and retail are the top five industry consumers of public cloud resources, comprising 45% of the current market. Which means there’s still massive opportunities in those and other industries during cloud’s next growth spurt.
Why you should care: Yeah, this ain’t a passing tech fad. It’s understandable for people working in technology to become jaded about certain trends, and “cloud” has been one of the loudest terms in IT for at least the past five years or so. But IDC’s data shows there are reasons—70 billion of them!—for the excitement. Looking forward, that 11-figure milestone represents only the beginning. IDC—which as reported in EnterpriseTech has previously projected cloud spending will reach $127 billion annually in 2018—notes that we’re just now entering the “innovation phase” of public cloud, which means there’s a golden age of new applications and services built on top of public cloud resources. It’s a good time to be in software.
What it’s about: With allies like these, who needs competitors? According to writer Barb Darrow, the press release announcing the new Cloud Native Computing Foundation(CNCF) sure sounds nice, but a behind-the-scenes look at the partnership—and disagreements—between its backers, and especially Google and Docker, reveals that it may not be all smiles and handshakes.
Why you should care: The promise of containerization depends in part on standards: If everyone does it a little differently, then the build-it-once ideal of application development in a multi-platform world begins to lose power and appeal. As groups like the CNCF or the recent Open Container Initiative and Cloud Foundry Foundation continue to form, it would seem like the biggest names in tech are holding hands and singing “Kumbaya” together. Not quite: Fortune notes, for instance, that Google and Docker are very much competitive, especially now that Google has open sourced Kubernetes, its container orchestration technology, which could ultimately compete with Docker’s own offerings. Docker’s container technology is open source, but the company behind it is very much a commercial enterprise. (Ditto Google, of course.) That means the image of alliance and goodwill for all is incomplete. At DockerCon, for instance, Google’s Brendan Burns wasn’t allowed to mention the “K word” in his talk on, uh, the K word: Kubernetes.
- Kubernetes Hits 1.0, and Google Gives It Away—InfoWorld
- TWiMS: Tech Giants Back Container Standards—New Relic Blog
Apple Waits as Developers Study Who’s Buying Its Watch—The New York Times
What it’s about: Another quarter, another Apple earnings call: The company was actually punished by investors for beating earnings estimates by “only” four cents a share, as the firm raked in $49.6 billion for the three-month period. Investors also wondered if CEO Tim Cook and company would reveal how much of that revenue came from the recently launched Apple Watch. No dice: Cook said only that the device exceed Apple’s own internal projections, which means, well, nothing. But Apple Watch’s success may ultimately depend not on pleasing investors, but winning over a more important group: app developers.
Why you should care: A reluctant development community can hamstring a device—or an entire platform. Just ask Microsoft, which has struggled to get developers interested in Windows Phone and its ongoing catch-up efforts with mobile, thanks in large part to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android dominating the market. Yet iOS’s overwhelming popularity with devs didn’t guarantee anything for Apple Watch: The New York Timesnotes that the companies behind some of the biggest apps in the world—Facebook, Google, and Snapchat among them—remain content to simply monitor Apple Watch from the sidelines for now. A floundering Apple Watch wouldn’t kill the nascent wearable device industry, but it would certainly represent a missed opportunity.
What it’s about: “Fail fast” has become a mantra of modern software and entrepreneurship, but when you pause to consider the phrase, it’s incomplete at best. The wiser, more accurate advice should go something like: “Fail fast and make sure you learn as much as possible after falling flat on your face.” It doesn’t have quite the same ring, and that’s Gil Zilberfeld’s point over at DZone: Failure without learning is just failure.
Why you should care: Any software development carries inherent risk, and failure is often a fact of life, so you need to make the most of it by learning from the situation, responding appropriately and decisively, and getting better. Zilberfeld serves up a series of questions to ask in the wake of a project misstep. One of our favorites: “Was this really a failure?” Indeed, what at first might seem like a negative outcome may actually spawn new opportunities or ideas. Another bit of sound advice: “Share the story.” Don’t just learn from failure yourself; share the learnings widely to help others on the team.
Data Analytics Gaining Ground in Courtrooms—Bloomberg BNA
What it’s about: All rise: Data analytics are now in session. Bloomberg BNA’s Business of Law Community notes the rise of data analytics in a legal industry that’s often relatively slow to adopt new technologies. And while a cottage industry of new software and data analytics firms is popping up to serve the needs of law firms, the industry as a whole wants more evidence before rendering a decision on the value of courtroom analytics.
Why you should care: The legal industry’s grappling with data analytics is a great reminder that the power of analytics and data-driven decision-making, something those in the technology industry take for granted, remains new terrain in many other industries and parts of the world. It’s also a fascinating look at the increasingly widespread applications of data analytics, which some forward-thinking lawyers expect to become a competitive differentiator, especially in the cutthroat world of corporate litigation. Among other uses: Strong data analysis will help attorneys and their clients make better decisions about whether to pursue a settlement or move forward with a trial. Apparently, they’re not very good at that. Exhibit A for the wider use of analytics in law: A 2008 study for 2,000 civil suits in California found that plaintiffs who rejected settlements were wrong 61.2% of the time, meaning they ended up with an equal or worse judgment at trial.
Want to suggest something that we should cover in the next edition of TWiMS? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin Casey is a freelance technology writer and business writer for InformationWeek and other publications, with an increasing focus on IT careers and big data. Kevin won a 2014 Azbee Award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for his feature story "Are You Too Old For IT?" and was a 2013 Community Choice honoree in the Small Business Influencer Awards. View posts by Kevin Casey.