[This article was written by Kevin Casey.]
Welcome to the third edition of 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, and the myriad of other issues that influence modern software.
This week, our top story concerns Google dropping its public cloud prices—again.
TWiMS Top Story:
Google One-Downs Amazon With New Cloud Price Cuts—InfoWorld
What it’s about: Google has launched its latest salvo in the ongoing public cloud price wars, and this time it appears to have Amazon squarely in its sights. In addition to lowering prices across the Google Cloud Platform, the company also introduced its new Google Compute Engine Preemptible VMs, which it says can lower the costs of short-duration batch jobs by 70% compared with regular VMs.
Why you should care: This is second time in less than eight months that Google has dropped its cloud prices; in October 2014 it announced a 10% across-the-board cut. In both instances (no pun intended), Google invoked Moore’s Law as the catalyst behind the aggressive pricing strategy.
No matter the reason, Google’s latest price cuts threaten to put additional pressure on its cloud computing competitors, especially Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure—and that’s good news for developers and organizations from a public cloud cost standpoint. Google lowered the price tag on all of its Google Compute Engine VM types, ranging from 5% on high-CPU VMs to 30% for micro-instances. The new Preemptible VMs, which enable short-term use of idle capacity, will compete with Amazon’s existing EC2 Spot Instances, though with a fixed-price model instead of Amazon’s name-your-price approach.
A JP Morgan analyst noted one loser in the latest phase of the cloud price wars: branded hardware makers, who stand to lose customers as more organizations—especially small and midsize businesses—are drawn to the cloud by commodity pricing.
- Google Slashes Compute Engine Prices by up to 30%, Introduces Preemptible Virtual Machines—VentureBeat
- Want a Cheap Cloud VM? Google Has One. But There’s a Catch—The Register
- JP Morgan Reacts to Google’s Cloud Pricing War With Amazon—Benzinga
- Pay Less, Compute Moore—Google Cloud Platform Blog
What it’s about: Fin Goulding, CIO of Europe’s largest sports-betting operation, explains how DevOps and Agile have helped turn the bookmaker into a digital leader.
Why you should care: It’s easy to get cynical when a trend turns into trendy, and DevOps certainly qualifies these days. So it’s refreshing to read about the real impacts of a DevOps transformation, in this case at Paddy Power, where Goulding brought DevOps, Agile development, and the concept of T-shaped skills to bear on the IT systems and applications that power Europe’s biggest bookmaking business.
“It’s doing things very quickly and watching them failing quickly and then fixing them again and getting it right,” Goulding tells ZDNet. “In that atmosphere I think it is more enjoyable for people if they are working in a team that has end-to-end responsibility—from idea to production.”
What it’s about: Opening remarks from a SXSW talk by Mikey Dickerson, Administrator of the U.S. Digital Service, titled “How Government Fails and How You Can Fix It.” Dickerson was part of the outside tech team that solved the much-publicized problems with the rollout of HealthCare.gov. He gave the talk with Jen Pahlka, founder of Code for America and former Deputy CTO for the United States.
Why you should care: Dickerson notes that the issues plaguing HealthCare.gov’s launch didn’t require much engineering ingenuity to fix. In fact, they were surprisingly straightforward. For starters, there was no monitoring of production systems in place. The solution? Start monitoring production systems. (Learn more about the important role New Relic played in this initiative.) “For those of you that run large distributed systems, you will understand that this is as if you are driving a bus with the windshield covered,” he says.
In addition, Dickerson makes a plea for engineering talent to join him in Washington as the U.S. Digital Service looks to replicate itself within all 24 major federal agencies: “Some of you, not all of you, are working right now on another app for people to share pictures of food or a social network for dogs. I am here to tell you that your country has a better use for your talents.”
On Mobile, Slow Speeds Kill—Om Malik
What it’s about: Om Malik explores the allure for media companies of the faster content delivery promised by Facebook Instant Articles—and why those media firms should have paid more attention to their own technology infrastructure in the first place.
Why you should care: Speed matters to mobile user experience, just as it does on the desktop and everywhere else online. And Malik finds that Facebook’s pitch to publishers is on target: their pages take far too long to load, and the social media giant is doing a much better job of delivering that content. Yet this could come at enormous cost to publishers, who must give up control of their content (their bread and butter) to Facebook. It’s an important reminder that application performance is critical to improving user experience and satisfaction, and you ignore it at your own peril.
How to Write Ruby Faster at the Source Code Level—The New Stack
What it’s about: SoundCloud developer Erik Michaels-Ober, presenting at RubyConf India 15, explains the benefits and practices of doing performance optimization at the source code level in Ruby.
Why you should care: It’s one thing to be able to write code; it’s another to be able to optimize it for the best possible performance. Michaels-Ober, one of our 20 Ruby Developers to Follow Online, notes the resistance to doing performance optimization too early, thanks to a 1974 quote by algorithm guru Donald Knuth that “premature optimization is the root of all evil.” But optimize you should, and Michaels-Ober provides specific examples of how Ruby developers can do so at the source code level so that their applications run faster and their code is easier on the eyes when others read it.
7 Mistakes You’re Making in Your Programming Career—Simple Programmer (via DZone)
What it’s about: Simple Programmer checks in with a bit of cautionary career advice to close out the week.
Why you should care: Are you making any of these mistakes? We were especially interested in number 6: “Not working on a side project.” The piece recommends side projects as a tool for building new skills and learning new technologies that you don’t necessarily get to work with at your day job.
Want to suggest something that we should cover in the next edition of TWiMS? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.