Sun 17 March 2013
If you want to get drunk, you can do that any time, and you don't need to pretend to be Irish to do it.
Also, Guinness is not a good beer.
Wed 06 March 2013
I was in a large meeting earlier this week. An executive was asked a question that went like this:
"It seems like there has been a lot of X lately. What are you planning to do about X" (X, in this case, being a particular organization/cultural issue).
The executive's response was "I know there is the perception out that there that X, but that's not really the case because of this, that, and the other thing. Don't believe everything you hear."
This strikes me as being exactly the wrong way to answer questions like this one. "You're wrong and here's why" doesn't work with kids, it doesn't work in political arguments, and it doesn't work in discussions of workplace and organizational culture. When you respond to someone that way, you're telling them you don't care what they think or why, and that instead, they should listen to you because… Appeal to Authority!
Take a few minutes to listen to what the person is actually saying in their question and understand the motivation behind that. Find a way to answer that speaks to the person's real concern. With kids, it's often something like "It sounds like you're really mad about this…" and then talking through why they're mad. While that exact tactic may not fly in the workplace, you'll be a lot more likely to have a productive discussion if you don't start it off by completely invalidating their emotions and telling them they are wrong to feel that way.
Tue 05 March 2013
At cloudscaling.com, Randy Bias looks a bit deeper into the growing likelihood that VMWare is on the brink of getting its lunch eaten by Amazon:
Enterprises need a different kind of cloud. An elastic cloud. Unfortunately, VMware’s key technologies don’t allow you to build an elastic cloud based on VMware.
There are four key areas of de facto or explicit restriction:
- VMware best practices, hardware compatibility lists, and reference architectures all focus on legacy scale-up, gold-plated approaches that needlessly increase costs.
- The VMW end-user license agreement (EULA) disallows the use of any other technology for managing their hypervisor (ESX/ESXi), particularly for hosting providers. You must deploy vCenter, vSphere, and vCloud, and the like.
- VMW’s current business model and revenue stream is dependent on selling the more expensive enterprise licenses that focus on technology irrelevant to an elastic cloud such as DRS, HA, and similar.
- The vCloud API is too focused on enterprise virtualization use cases (e.g. the whole vApp mess).
The bulk of Amazon's business, Bias says, is based on their EC2, S3, EBS, and VPC services. All of these ought to be relatively easy to replicate and implement. Ergo, rather than pursuing a doomed model of selling the same gold-plated stuff to enterprise customers, VMWare ought to pursue Amazon on its own turf. Use OpenStack to build ESX-based scalable cloud models.
In theory, this works. Maybe.
Practically speaking, though, it is probably too late. Even if VMWare were inclined to make such a change (which they don't appear to be), why would people suddenly start using their services over Amazon's?
Furthermore, even if VMWare could win over enough customers to be successful in the scalable cloud market, it seems like a race to the bottom. VMWare has gotten fat and rich off of their current strategy of selling a high-end set of products to customers with deep-pockets. If they switch strategies now, they are going to be just one of many companies fighting for scraps at the margins.
Thu 28 February 2013
Mike Sutton says:
Most organisations I know have too many people in them for what they are doing. An abundance of middle men and women obscuring the aims.
That is probably true, but what is the answer? Just get rid of them?
The important question is how these organizations got that way. The assumption in the tweet seems to be that it is pointless bloat, or maybe more deliberately pernicious--people building their fiefdoms, making stupid busywork, that sort of thing.
Speaking only from my own experience, that's not it, or at least not the majority of it. The organization has a thing or a set of things that it is produces, and it has brought together a group of people to do that work. Then the market changes, and the company has to produce a different set of things, or maybe the same set of things in a different way. Does it need the same group of people for that? Maybe, or maybe not. Maybe it needs to add some new people.
One option is to just get rid of the people it no longer needs. Another is to try to find something else for those people to do. That second option is the more humane one, but it takes time, and maybe you don't always find exactly the right fit for everyone. The result is that you end up with, at any given time, more people than what you exactly need to produce the thing you're producing at that time.
People likes lean. Hell–I like lean. But I also have a conscience, and that conscience tells me that, unlike widgets and bits of code, humans aren't just resources that you want to pile up or trim without care.
Wed 27 February 2013
When people come forward with ideas for improving things, make them feel guilty and ashamed of not just muddling through the old, broken stuff the way everyone has done for years.
Tue 26 February 2013
With this past Sunday's episode, I think I may be approaching the limit of my tolerance for The Walking Dead.
There was a lot of griping about the show's second season, mostly about the characters being stupid and making bad choices, but also that so much time was spent wandering around Herschel's farm. Neither of those complaints really rang true for me.
I think a lot of people came into those show looking for a lot of zombie-killing heroics. Instead, they got some average people (some of them not the sharpest knives in the drawer) muddling their way through a horrible situation. I actually like that about the show. I like that the characters don't make the best choices, that they often survive due to random chance, in spite of their own actions.
Well, I appreciate that aspect of the show, and that is sort of the problem.
Sunday's episode "I Ain't A Judas" featured what should have been a big, emotional moment in the arc of this season. Andrea, separated from the group since the end of last season, finally makes her way to the prison. Reunited with her friends and adopted family, but conflicted because of her lingering allegiance to the Governor, she pleads with Rick and…
And that's where I turned off the TV.
Because I just didn't care. Here was this big scene, with basically the entire main cast trying to resolve a major story point of the season, and I realized I had no interest whatsoever in the outcome. Mind you, it was late in the evening and I was tired, so I will likely finish out the episode later this week, and probably watch the remainder of the season, but it will be largely out of a feeling of obligation.
The problem is that, because of the ordinariness of all the main characters and the mundaneness of their decisions, it is difficult to maintain any real investment in the story. It's realistic that they would make bad choices, but who wants to watch that week in and week out? Sure, there are zombies, but if I want to watch people make bad choices, there are more than enough options to pick from in real life.
Mon 25 February 2013
In a post titled "Why your enterprise private cloud is failing", James Staten addresses corporate IT groups trying to build out their own "cloud" infrastructure:
Your approach is wrong.
Your [sic] asking the wrong people to build the solution. You aren't giving them clear enough direction on what they should build. You aren't helping them understand how this new service should operate or how it will affect their career and value to the organization. And more often than not you are building the private cloud without engaging the buyers who will consume this cloud.
And your approach is perfectly logical. For many of us in IT, we see a private cloud as an extension of our investments in virtualization. It's simply virtualization with some standardization, automation, a portal and an image library isn't it? Yep. And a Porsche is just a Volkswagen with better engine, tires, suspension and seats. That's the fallacy in this thinking.
Staten is right.
The tendency of big IT shops is to build solutions that will solve their problems:
Those problems are all very real. However, they don't mean much to the people who use your infrastructure. If the thing you build only solves those problems, all of your developers are going to keep right on charging EC2 instances to their credit cards.
Does that mean we shouldn't worry about those problems, or that they are somehow less important than the problems your developers and testers are trying to solve? Of course not. All users of the infrastructure need to be taken into account.
I think the bigger question here is whether private cloud infrastructure can actually solve all of those users' needs. I tend to think it can't.