Three keys to sustainable (software) development

Executives making substantial investments in new technology platforms and capabilities have a not-unreasonable expectation that their investments will have a lifespan of over a decade or more. This is particularly true for leaders of organizations whose businesses are not rooted in the constant change and turmoil of the technology industry.

Unfortunately, such reasonable expectations run counter to the reality of cycle times in the IT industry. Technologies come and go, become fashionable and then become irrelevant over periods as short as six months or a couple of years. Software and technology platforms, development tools and architectures are born, thrive and die – or are replaced – within a decade.

How then should we square the need for sustainable returns on new systems investments with the countervailing cycle of constant technology disruption?

The answer involves understanding three core concepts: iteration, abstraction and…Legos.

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Is Your Future ‘Serverless’?

Few aspects of business confound and irritate senior executives more than the IT’s addiction to trends, buzzwords and impenetrable acronyms, the seemingly endless complexity of the organization’s IT landscape, the resulting growth of technology budgets and ultimately – despite all of that incremental spend – the declining productivity and efficiency of software development and delivery.

The latest trend dominating the software technology headlines is “serverless computing.” This new approach to developing web delivered applications has two primary benefits: It enables clients, designers and software engineers to focus solely on needed functionality, features and business logic without getting mired in the traditional complexities of underlying systems software decisions and it removes the effort required to configure and manage the complex web of software typically required to bring an application to life in the cloud.
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It’s Not About Digital

When the internet emerged as a new channel for content providers many publishing companies created “new media” divisions. Online distribution was seen as something new and “other,” requiring a distinct operating model that would insulate the core business from these risky innovations. Today, of course, that’s all changed. Publishers have elevated their online operating model to be the core business — and the internet has emerged as the platform for “everything.”
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The Third Wave

Amazon’s AWS re:Invent 2017 Marks the Beginning of a New Era in IT

tl;dr Amazon’s announcements at it’s 2017 developer conference define the beginning of new era in IT. The company announced a raft of new managed services that enable customers to focus on extracting business value from their application investments without the demands and costs of designing, building and operating complex infrastructures. Central to this third wave of cloud computing are new managed services for serverless-computing,_machine learning, data analytics, and the Internet-of-things_.

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Beyond Cloud – The 3rd Computing Era

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve presented a more forward looking view of what lies beyond our current conception of cloud computing at CloudConnect in Las Vegas, a research symposium at UC Berkeley and to the Northern California chapter of the Young Presidents Organization. I’ve used these presentations to outline an evolving set of ideas anchored around the idea that we’re in the middle of the 2nd Era of Computing rapidly evolving towards the 3rd Era. The organizing principle behind the ‘Era’ concept is the degree of coupling in and between application code and the underlying infrastructure. Continue reading →

Sharing in the Success of the Digital Economy

Sharing in the success of the digital economy

“The digitally enabled economy is unleashing a new wave of change, something we are only just beginning to feel and understand. The economic evidence shows that this innovation –the development and adoption of new products, services, processes and business models – is vital to support rising living standards. But making the political case for the progressive power of innovation, and the digital economy, can be more challenging. The forces of ‘creative destruction’ threaten incumbent firms, jobs, and the way people work and live, creating strong incentives to oppose change. Confronting these hard realities is one of the defining challenges for progressive politics in the 21st century.”

Includes a chapter by Desiree van Welsum and me.

The Industrialization of IT

iStock_000016519692LargeAnyone who has spent any time discussing cloud with me, or seen me present on cloud issues will no doubt quickly learn how fond I am of analogizing this technology domain with the automotive industry.

Our drive to solve the Time-to-Value problem and to implement continuous value delivery have deep rooted connections to the mass production innovations of Ford, the scientific management disciplines of Taylor and the far reaching Lean Production System invented by Toyota. As IT professionals we have – in my view – much to learn from the rich industrial heritage of high volume manufacturing processes.

I recently had the opportunity to share my views on cloud computing and it’s implications for developing economies at the World Bank in DC. Preparing for this talk gave me the opportunity to crystalize my thinking on the Cloud-Manufacturing analogy and are synthesized in the slides I presented which can be downloaded here.

Inflection Points

inflectionAlthough the articles on represent my personal views on the intersection of technology, policy and economics I rarely write about the personal impact of these issues on me. That will be unavoidable with this posting. We sit at the inflection point between two eras of computing: The distributed machine and application focused model of today and the data driven composable service model of the ‘Metaform‘ that is now emerging. The profound implications of this technical inflection have created a personal and professional inflection point. It’s time to embark on a new journey…Continue reading →