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Making code reviews not suck

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Not all Agile teams practice strong code reviews, but one of the original Agile practices (sort of long forgotten, it seems) of paired programming was all about code review. As such, I thought I’d cross-post these two videos going over what one RedMonk client, SmartBear, does to help make code reviews suck less. –Coté

Yesterday SmartBear released version 6.0 of CodeCollaborator, the popular code reviewing tool. They’ve added in numerous features, of course, with highlights like handling asset as an item to review (like a Word doc), enhancements to the Eclipse plugin, and integration with VisualStudio. Check out the 6.0 feature list for more details.

I discussed the new features with them in the below interview and then got a quick demo:

New features interview

You can download the video directly as well.

Also, a full transcript of the video:

Michael Coté: Well, hello everybody! Here we are in lovely Austin, Texas, at what we have dubbed the SmartBear studio. This is Michael Coté, of course, of RedMonk. And today I am joined by a guest to go over a new release that SmartBear has out. You want to introduce yourself?

Gregg Sporar: Thank you, Michael. Yes, my name is Gregg Sporar. I have a face made for radio, but yet we are going to record this on video.

Actually, that was the great thing about doing the podcast, because it’s a podcast and it’s just my voice.

Michael Coté:[the podcast] on code reviewing.

Gregg Sporar: But then, you took this giant picture of me and put that on the blog, and I am thinking, dude, more of a Gravatar. We don’t need — here, we are. We are talking about Code Collaborator v6.0.

Michael Coté: That’s right. Just to give us like a really quick introduction, like what does CodeCollaborator do for people who don’t know off the top of their head?

Gregg Sporar: CodeCollaborator’s sole goal in life is to automate the grunt work parts of the peer code review process. So the collecting of the files and making them available on a central location. Coordinating the communication between the review participants and tracking what everybody says and where defects are found and that kind of thing, and then reporting the statistics at the end.

Michael Coté: What release number is this one?

Gregg Sporar: We are talking about version 6.0.

Michael Coté: So in 6.0, so tell us what the new features are? What’s going to get people excited about this release?

Gregg Sporar: There are several things. Let’s back up for just a second to version 5.0 last year, when we added support for reviewing materials other than just source files. The reason for that was, because a lot of our customers, you are dealing with a software development team, but there are other people on the periphery as well, that might want to be involved in the review. If you’re building embedded software, it might be that the firmware guys or the hardware design guy, he wants to be involved and he wants to see his schematic in that.

Michael Coté: Right.

Gregg Sporar: Then we also had just regular software development teams coming to us saying, well, this is great, but I would like to add the design document to the review and look at it and reference it from within the same tool.

So last year we added support for PDF files, for example, and for image files, for JPEGs, and PNGs, and GIFs, and that kind of thing.

Michael Coté: And that allows you to add in all the commentary and the usual meta information on a piece of code?

Gregg Sporar: Exactly! So whenever I would show the PDF feature to people, they would say, well, that’s great, but I would really like to do this with a Word document.

Michael Cote:: Sure.

Gregg Sporar: So there is a plug-in that Microsoft makes available to create a PDF off of a Word document, but people don’t want to do that. They just want to take their document and put it in place. So that’s one of the key features in 6.0.

The way we actually implemented that is kind of interesting. We built a Windows printer driver, because, again, at the end of the day, we just need to be able to render something and paginate it and put it into the tool. The best way to do that really in that environment is a printer driver. So it’s not just Word, it’s not just Microsoft Office apps, it’s any Windows app that can render paginated output.

Other major features. A significant enhancement to our Eclipse plug-in, which we have had for a few years now. In the past it was limited to just being able to show you or actually just being able to create a review or add materials to a review, and now we have actually brought the entire review experience directly into the IDE.

Another thing that we have gotten a lot of request for is for Visual Studio. Not everybody uses Eclipse, believe it or not. So what we have done is just sort of an initial entrée into the Visual Studio world, we have essentially got functionality equivalent to what we had in our old Eclipse plug-in.

So again, I don’t have that ability to bring the review experience in, like I have done now and with the guys that built for our Eclipse plug-in, but it’s a start. It gets you partway there.

Again, to let you stay within your working context, to at least be able to create the review or add materials to that.

Then there are what I call Red Meat features. Not RedMonk, Red Meat. This is the real type stuff, because these are features that you don’t have to be an Eclipse user or Visual Studio user, this is something that’s going to affect everybody.

This is, for example, one of the things that a lot of people have asked for, for a long time, the ability to delete a comment after you put it in to the tool. We are not actually going to allow you to delete, we are going to allow you to redact the comment.

Michael Cote:: Right.

Gregg Sporar: I will show that to you during the demo. The reason for that is, we can’t really completely remove it, because it would break the IM type paradigm for our real-time track capability. I mean, think about it, if you were IMing with somebody —

Michael Cote:: And it just disappeared.

Gregg Sporar: And it just disappeared while you were reading it, that would kind of freak you out. That breaks that paradigm.

Michael Cote:: It’s kind of like that email recall feature, which is a little strange in its own right.

Gregg Sporar: Which is a little strange in its own right. Then the other issue of course is, we have a lot of customers who, auditability, traceability, that kind of thing, is really important. Nothing can ever be deleted.

Michael Coté: Sure.

Gregg Sporar: So we are going to allow you to redact a comment. We have changed the way that we display defects within the file comparison window. We have added, again, some of these usability type features that affect everybody.

We have made some enhancements to our ClearCase Integration. We have also put in some pretty important enhancements to our integration at the other end of the spectrum to Git and Mercurial.

Michael Coté: And how many version control systems do you guys work with now?

Gregg Sporar: 16.

Michael Coté: 16? That’s pretty nice.

Gregg Sporar: That’s a rather large number.

Michael Coté: That’s probably more than most people could name off.

Gregg Sporar: So a fun drinking game is to get a couple of beers in me and then try to get me to list the 16 in reverse alphabetical order, because I can do it in alphabetical order, but reverse alphabetical order is a little more difficult.

One last [thing], maybe, to mention really quickly. We did, and this is again something that you can’t appreciate unless you are an existing user of the product, we have significantly enhanced some of our reporting capabilities. That’s kind of that third pillar of what it is we do.

For the customizable reports, where the user can build their own query, we have added some additional fields that they can now filter on and select and that kind of thing.

Then we put a lot of effort into adding what we call user-oriented reports. So we have always had review-oriented reports and defect-oriented reports, that again, primary key is information about the review overall or primary key is, tell me about the defects that were found, but now we have added a third category, which is, tell me what I have been doing.

Michael Coté: I always think of that as self-micromanagement. Sort of optimize your own self.

Gregg Sporar: So one of the features, it is the ability for me to come in after the fact into the tool and find out, well, what reviews did I work on during the last week? I had a guy at a customer site explain to me this feature, because when he is doing his weekly status report, he knows he typically spends about 10-20% of his time during a week doing code review. Well, he wants to know, what reviews he did.

Michael Coté: Yeah.

Gregg Sporar: So again, user-oriented reporting.

Michael Coté: Well, great! Well, let’s check out a demo of those features and see what we get to see.

Demo

You can download the video directly as well.

There’s also a nice wrap-up of posts detailing features on the Smartbear blog.

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Written by Coté

September 15, 2010 at 8:56 am

As If Another Proof Point Was Needed

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Annie Shum’s interview earlier this week gave readers of this blog a multi-dimensional view of imminent changes in IT. If you needed independent validation, it came yesterday through EMC’s Chuck Hollis words in the national solution provider GreenPages Technology Solutions’ 14th annual summit:

Vice President Global Marketing CTO Chuck Hollis Monday said the changes resulting from the storage giant’s own no-holds barred journey to the private cloud led to a decline in IT employee job satisfaction…

Hollis said the internal IT satisfaction drop came in the second phase of the EMC cloud revolution focused squarely on mission critical applications. That second phase — which EMC is in the midst of now — has sparked major changes in IT jobs as the company has replaced IT management, security staff and backend IT staff.

“During this phase, this is where org (organizational) chart issues started to come in,” Hollis said. “People’s jobs started to change. Younger people in the organization were being promoted over older people.”

As if another proof point to add to Annie‘s rigorous data was needed…

Written by israelgat

August 4, 2010 at 7:30 am

Through the Prism of IT Transformation for Tomorrow’s Enterprise Datacenters: Interview with Annie Shum

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As indicated in our recent post “Extending the Scope of the Agile Executive”, Cote and I have recently reached the conclusion that The Agile Executive needs to cover structural changes in order to give a forward-looking view to its readers. We start the coverage of structural changes that are relevant to Agile with an interview with Annie Shum, VP of Advanced Technology, Amdocs Corp.

We cover a broad panorama in this interview with Annie. Here are some items that may be of special interest to the reader who focuses on Agile methods, processes and governance in a broad sense – from programming to IT operations and anything in between:

  • Unleashing disruptive transformations
  • Supply and demand – the two sides of the IT “coin”
  • Open source software in general and OpenStack in particular
  • The impact of social networking and other Web 2.0 tools
  • Three billion downloads and counting…
  • Finding the “right” balance between hierarchical command-control and bottom-up empowerment
  • “Self-service” IT service delivery/deployment
  • Forthcoming changes in IT system administration and the rise of DevOps
  • How to gain freedom from a variety of low-level operational tasks and controls of physical infrastructure
  • Provisioning and over provisioning
  • Many others…

Annie answers all questions with data, insights and passion. No surprises there…

Israel: Nancy Foy immortalized the monolithic International Business Machines Corporation in her classic “The Sun Never Sets on IBM.” Much has changed, of course, since the book was published in the 70’s. For quite a few years IBM has been deconstructing its business design, its organizational structure and both internal and external processes. By some accounts, prior to Gerstner IBM had even been contemplating reforming itself as a bunch of independent companies. The contrast to IBM’s announcement a couple of weeks ago about putting both software and hardware under one hand is noteworthy. What do you make of it, Annie? Is this a new development? Or is it a blast from the past?

Annie: Interesting question but I would be remiss if I failed to point out that I don’t have a crystal ball or the expertise to predict reliably whether this will be an isolated case or a trend-setter.  Although the arguably radical IBM organizational restructuring in management is newsworthy, I am not especially interested in looking at it purely from the perspective of vendor management structure because it is merely a means to an end.  What intrigues me is the rationale behind this key announcement.  In particular, I am interested in envisioning the more profound and potentially game-changing, if not disruptive, transformation that IBM hopes to unleash by adopting this bold organizational restructuring with likely (significant) risks.

To better understand this new undertaking, I think it would be instructive to analyze it from the supply side as well as the demand side.  So let’s break up the narrative: first by looking at the supply side, namely the IT service providers/system vendors, followed by the second half of the narrative, the customers/consumers.

Israel: I am intrigued by your supply side/demand side approach. Please elaborate.

Annie: To understand the supply side, consider the three major IT vendor announcements made during the week of July 19, 2010.  Not as three disparate events. Instead, by putting them in context and connecting the dots among them, we can uncover some very interesting insights into emerging trends of the IT industry in general and actionable guidelines for tomorrow’s enterprise datacenters in particular. 

Let’s begin with the May 2010 report from Saugatuck Research titled, “Gorillas In the Cloud: Applying Saugatuck’s “Master Brand” Model to Cloud IT” whereby “Master Brands” refer to those vendors (and service providers) that dominate and influence IT marketplaces, technologies and/or user accounts. This May report sets the stage for the latest Saugatuck research alert titled, “One-Stop Shopping – Major Vendors Acquire Assets for the Cloud”. This research alert describes how increasing numbers of major vendors are striving to become the “sole source for offerings up and down the IT EcoStack™ targeting the Cloud.”

As if on cue, IBM released two major announcements just this past week. First, on July 20, 2010, InformationWeek reported that IBM plans[i] to combine hardware and software to spur the company’s efforts to deliver bundled, plug-and-play systems. According to Sam Palmisano, the core strategy pivots on producing tightly bundled computer systems that “feature chips, middleware, and business software designed from the ground up to support Cloud Computing and other new-wave IT architectures.”

To some long-standing industry observers, this strategy may appear to be “back to the future” and IBM is simply returning to its roots after a prolonged hiatus from its original business model.  There is, however, an important historical footnote. Almost five decades ago, due to concerns of monopoly antitrust abuses stemming from the bundling of hardware and software in the IBM mainframe systems, the US government took legal action leading to IBM’s acceptance of the 1956 Consent Decree.

Today, unlike the past, IBM no longer dominates the computer systems market. In fact, there is a growing trend towards bundled systems, mainly by the “Master Brands”, to “mask” complexity for customers as they embark on implementing complex IT endeavors including key programs such as datacenter consolidation, server/storage virtualization, predictive analytics, SOA/BPM, Cloud Computing (public, private or hybrid), and Green IT. For example, Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems in 2009 for $7.4 billion to support what InformationWeek described as Larry Ellison’s “applications-to-disk” strategy, while HP and Microsoft earlier this year unveiled a multi-million dollar initiative under which they will jointly engineer servers and software.

It is likely that the timeline of the July 19 IBM announcement was influenced (perhaps even pressured) by its rivals taking a similar approach to address evolving enterprise datacenters. To expedite this strategy to deliver bundled “plug-and-play” systems, IBM first announced sweeping organizational restructuring to foster internal collaboration and harness synergies across products and LOBs. Clearly, the biggest change is the management restructuring by consolidating key hardware and software divisions under the watch of a single executive, Steve Mills who’s a longtime IBM software chief.

Next, just three days later on the heels of this organizational makeover, IBM made another major announcement on July 22, 2010 amidst much fanfare and hype. Presenting the vision of a new “Dimension in Computing” designed to control multi-platform datacenter operational costs and (significantly reduce complexity), IBM announced a new hybrid “system of systems” platform that unifies IT for efficient service delivery and large-scale datacenter simplification. Dubbed a “datacenter in a box” or a “cloud in a box[ii]”, it integrates the new super powerful and energy-efficient mainframe zEnterprise, 196  running z/OS and the zEnterprise  BladeCenter Extension zBX, running Linux and AIX. By extending the System Z’s qualities of service (spanning security, scalability, availability, efficiency and virtualization) to enable Cloud readiness and optimized service delivery for enterprises, IBM likely is promoting its strength in building private Clouds for large enterprises.  See the following two slides from the IBM July 22 announcement.


Israel: So it looks like the IT industry is heading towards more “power” consolidation of mega vendors or as you referenced earlier, “Master Brands”. Is this a fait accompli? If so, is it a matter of channeling demand toward one-stop-shopping irrespective of integration realities underneath? Isn’t there a danger to this trend?”

Annie: Despite these high profile announcements by the major vendors, it is far from fait accompli. And yes, your comments are only too real especially for those who have lived through the era of monopolies and antitrust concerns. Frankly, many people believe that such a trend may be a clear threat in the presently emerging era.  While I don’t want to downplay the risk and potential damage of antitrust abuses, I believe there are some factors at work here to counteract, or at least limit, unchecked monopolies in the IT industry.

In this Internet age with the rise of “Consumerization of IT”, catalyzed by the nearly ubiquitous access to social networking and other Web 2.0 tools, IT has permeated almost every market sector in our society. The set of functions and services supported and enabled by IT has become exceedingly vast, diverse and complex such that no single business model or supplier is in a position to dominate, let alone destroy all others.  The era when a handful of proprietary stalwart vendors dominated the IT industry is all but over. Just this past decade, we have witnessed the meteoric rise of Google, Facebook and more recently, Twitter. A growing formidable force, namely the open source software and its bottom-up self-organizing community, powers as well as empowers most if not all of the Web 2.0 companies. At this point in our discussion, it is apt to segue to the third vendor announcement during the week of July 19, 2010.

On July 19, Cloud service provider RackSpace with NASA announced the sponsorship of the project: OpenStack, an open source IaaS Cloud platform. Included in the announcement is a diverse group of computer system providers from across the technology industry like CITRIX, DELL, NTT DATA, RIGHTSCALE and others to drive a deployable, totally open cloud solution.  According to their mission statement, OpenStack is designed to foster the emergence of technology standards and Cloud interoperability. One of the primary objectives is to facilitate enterprises to avoid vendor lock-in.

Israel: This appears to be a very timely announcement given that “vendor lock-in” is one of the top concerns confronting enterprises as they evaluate and plan for the transition to Cloud Computing. Having said that, are we not back to “square zero” – striking a balance between openness and “one-stop shopping” tight integration?

Annie: Yes indeed. Although some industry observers describe the issue as “vendor lock-in”, others see it as a broader issue describing it as the “challenge/difficulty of bringing back in-house” or the “lack of interoperability standards for seamless portability”.  For example, in the 2009 Cloud Computing survey conducted by IDC, over 80% surveyed rated this issue under both labels to be very important.  Incidentally, I should point out that “vendor lock-in” is neither a new nor a unique issue with Cloud Computing. On the contrary, it is a long-standing “problem” going all the way back from the early days of mainframe computing and culminating with the government versus IBM antitrust lawsuit in the ‘50s as we discussed earlier.

Interestingly, there are many forms and variants of vendor lock-in and they are not all equal. For example, many industry observers have been unhappy with the proprietary development and delivery model that Apple imposed on the iPod/iPhone/iPad.  Although the risk of “vendor lock-in” may be real, any negative impact on the ever-growing large and loyal Apple customer base seems minimal.  Just think about the run-away successful App Store. It is heavily “curated” by Apple. Yet since its opening on July 10, 2008, there have been more than one hundred thousand available apps in App Store, over two billion application downloads (as of November 2009), and reaching three billion downloads by January 2010. Steve Jobs hailed this as a landmark event: “Three billion applications downloaded in less than 18 months – this is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

Sorry we digressed. So let’s resume our discussion of the recent major announcements.  In a nutshell, the OpenStack announcement attempts to address the issue directly by allowing any organization to create and offer Cloud Computing capabilities using open source software freely available under the Apache 2.0 license running on standard hardware.

Now this gets interesting: a tale of two diametrically opposite strategies.  On one hand, we have IBM announcing the high performance zEnterprise 196 as a hybrid integrated multi-architecture “datacenter /Cloud in a box”. The goal is to mask complexity and maximize efficiency:  infrastructure (management /admin costs savings up to 70%) and energy consumption (up to 82% energy usage reduction) with a bundled technology stack: integrating multi-platforms, infrastructure and management (spanning service, platform and hardware).  A principal concern of this proprietary single vendor approach is the risk of “vendor lock-in”.

On the other hand, the OpenStack is “DIY” based on an open source development platform. The goal of OpenStack is the following: “Anyone can run it, build on it, or submit changes back to the project. We strongly believe that an open development model is the only way to foster badly-needed cloud standards, remove the fear of proprietary lock-in for cloud customers, and create a large ecosystem that spans Cloud providers.”  The cons/challenges of this approach are probably similar to conventional “DIY” open source projects.

I should clarify that this dichotomy may be seen as an entire spectrum. As noted here IBM, VMware, etc on one hand, and RackSpace, Eucalyptus, etc on the other hand, exemplify the two end-points bookending the dichotomy spectrum. Along the spectrum, there are a growing number of intermediate options/offerings (with a rising number of variations) by a wide variety of IT Cloud service vendors: stalwart vendors including Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce.com,  etc as well as young companies and startups such as RackSpace, RightScale, Boomi, Canonical, Cloudkick, Opscode, etc.

Israel: Is this shaping up to be a battle between two diametrically opposite strategies? And if so, which one will come out on top? Or is it a draw?

Annie: To me, a similar dichotomy has already existed previously in the IT industry. For example, think Apple versus Google. Consider the modus operandi of the Apple core business model (“close or at least closely curated” to optimize user experience and quality) versus that of Google’s (“open standards/APIs” to maximize opportunities for 3rd party development participation).

Insofar as whether bundled systems or “Cloud in a box” versus open source “DIY” will be the ultimate winner, I have to defer to other industry observers with more experience such as you.  Perhaps in our future Q&A meet-up, I am interested to hear your views on how the competition may be settled eventually.  However, while we all await the uncertain outcome, IT practitioners should be mindful that the dichotomy spectrum would have profound implications not only on the supply side but also on the demand side.  In particular, because the offerings from the dichotomy spectrum will be rapidly evolving, the fluidity will very likely confound and confuse users/consumers as they attempt to balance a convoluted set of different tradeoffs. Many  enterprise IT practitioners will be under pressure to make difficult and ambiguous choices by picking one or more evolving offerings over other evolving offerings for building the foundation of tomorrow’s enterprise datacenters in the Cloud era.

Israel: Good timing.  So far in our Q&A today, you have focused on the first half of the narrative – namely, the supply side, now let’s continue to part 2 of your narrative, namely, the demand side.

Annie:  Earlier, I discussed the supply side by connecting the dots among three key announcements during the week of July 19. Now similarly for the demand side, I will suggest a few more dots that I believe should be connected. Specifically, I suggest connecting the following trends:

  • The growing complexities and inefficiencies of on-premises enterprise datacenters;
  • The inevitable rise of alternative delivery and deployment models for IT services; and
  • The advent of Cloud Computing:  a long-standing vision whose time may finally arrive.

Several months ago, I published a guest post on your blog site entitled “The Urgency of Now.”  You might recall that I began the post with some sobering and perhaps even alarming statistics about the gross inefficiency of traditional on-premises enterprise datacenters.  Here again is the Enterprise Datacenter Index at–a-glance:

In summary, enterprise IT faces a “crisis of staggering complexity” and IT infrastructure is reaching a “breaking point” marked by such salient factors/trends[iii] as the following:

  • 1.5 X: Information explosion driving over fifty percent yearly growth in storage shipments;
  • 85% idle: Over-provisioned waste primarily in distributed computing environments e.g. typical computing resources (capacity) remain idle for  an average of over eighty percent;
  • $40 Billion or 3.5% of sales: Retail industries annual loss due to (supply) value chain inefficiencies;
  • 60-70% IT spending on maintenance/overhead: Overall IT spending profile shows that the lion’s share of IT expenses goes towards overhead and maintenance. Maintenance overhead: seventy cents per dollar is spent on maintaining IT infrastructures at the expense of adding new capabilities;

Now consider the following scenario. Suppose enterprise IT could choose an alternative set of “self-service” IT service delivery/deployment models that would be orthogonal to traditional hierarchical command-and-control Cap-ex based datacenters.  Instead of owning and tightly controlling its own private internal datacenter and purchasing capital resources up front, an organization on-demand would “rent” pooled computing resources hosted on the provider’s multi-tenant environment. The Internet would serve as the global infrastructure “grid” and all services would be delivered through Web APIs.  In lieu of having a dedicated IT staff administering IT operations, users could avoid lengthy red-tape delay and access directly/immediately to provision as well as to manage computing capacity as “self-service IT”. In addition, instead of formal contracts and protracted delay in hardware procurement, an organization would pay for access at any time to “unlimited” computing capacity simply with a credit card.

Because there would not be formal contracts imposing preset time commitments, both entry and exit would be friction-free. In this way, an organization could accelerate time-to-value/market and help to catalyze experimentation and innovative endeavor. Furthermore, CIOs of enterprise IT could avoid or mitigate the lose-lose dilemma because they would not be restricted to choosing either a policy that leads to “waste due to over-provisioning” using peak usage estimates for capacity planning or a policy that can incur “risk due to under-provisioning” using non-peak estimates. Ideally, IT staff would “plan capacity based on typical usage” while confident that it could “scale dynamically at peak times” to maintain performance and SLAs. Simply put, the primary objectives for today’s organizations are not just about increasing speed and efficiency for back office automation. Rather, they also are about increasing speed and flexibility to adapt to changes by yielding judicious control to providers for on-demand utility computing services off-premises.

Conceptually, this scenario is an overall vision of Cloud Computing. With the advent of Cloud Computing, the vision of “Computing as a Utility” is beginning to take shape. Since the early days of time-sharing computing, that vision has taken a quantum leap towards reality. One of the earliest references to Utility Computing occurred in 1961 at the MIT Centennial. On that occasion, John McCarthy presented his vision of computing organized as a public utility. Just as the telephone system had developed into a major industry, Professor McCarthy envisioned that “Computing as a Utility” could one day become the basis of a new and important public industry.

Rooted in the long-standing vision and hope for “Computing as a Utility” that began more than half a century ago, the genesis of Cloud Computing goes back a long way. To a growing number of industry observers, it is an old idea whose time may have finally arrived when, in 2006, Amazon began offering Cloud infrastructure services to the public as a utility. Despite initial skepticism, it was a watershed event in the quest of Utility Computing and helped to usher in the first wave of industrial-strength commercial Cloud Computing offerings.

Israel: To wrap up our discussion today, can you leave us with a few thoughts about some of the implications of Cloud Computing as enterprises begin their transition to the Cloud?

Annie: Eric Schmidt, Google’s Chairman and Chief Executive has stated that Cloud computing will be “the defining technological shift of our Generation”. However, the media and vendor-spun hype (at times referred to as “cloud-washing”) around this topic has created an unprecedented level of confusion. Today, unabated sound and fury surrounding the Cloud Computing buzz continues and indeed, increases. Nevertheless, it is all but certain that there will be no “big or easy switch” for enterprise IT to transition overnight from running applications on premises to the Cloud. Because the shift is not an “all-or-nothing” or a “one size fits all” endeavor, stakeholders in enterprises should take a judicious measured approach to balance different tradeoffs.

To sustain the transition of enterprise IT to the Cloud will require not only technological advances but also new business models, new forms of IT organizational management structure and perhaps even new IT roles.  One of the “inconvenient” truths about embracing new user-empowerment technology trends and business models is the slippery slope of finding the “right” balance between hierarchical command-control and bottom-up empowerment. The harm (ineffectiveness and counter-productivity) of too much top-down control can be matched or even surpassed by the dangers of too little control. User empowerment without reasonable constraints can lead to anarchy and chaos. A new form of organizational governance is clearly required to avoid these problems. Striking a balance between planned orderliness and new emergent forces has been a challenging dynamic since the dawn of civilization.

Many of the principles that have been refined over the millennia will have direct applicability for governing tomorrow’s world of “self-service” computing in the Cloud. Clearly, there will be direct implications to new scrutiny as well as the shaping/changing of security and governance related policies. However, an organization should not overlook the human aspects and the cultural impact on the IT system administration personnel.  For example, resistance to sweeping changes driven by a fear of losing control and the stress over the prospect of losing employment can be one of the more profound ramifications that often are under the management radar.

Cloud Computing likely will change the status quo of IT system administration and, perhaps in the future, could obviate the need for some traditional IT system skills. Cloud Computing, however, is also opening new opportunities for the technical IT community and enterprise IT personnel. There is a growing consensus that, as Cloud Computing evolves, the need for more business-minded IT staff will accelerate. Specifically, there likely will be an urgent need for people “with broader business skills who can manage multiple supplier relationships.”  Freed from a variety of low-level operational tasks and controls of physical infrastructure via Cloud Computing, enterprise IT has the opportunity to promote system administration staff to higher-level decision makers as IT service facilitators and SLA contracts managers. In the near future, many traditional hierarchical command-control system operators may pursue a wider array of IT professional opportunities spanning the roles of enterprise architects; capacity planning; budget planning; performance assurance; and data, security, governance gatekeepers.

Israel: This really resonates with what I see happening in many of my consulting engagements. Successful companies waste an immense amount of capital, energy and management attention on migrating from yesterday’s datacenter to today’s or tomorrow’s datacenter. When exposed to the pains of such migrations, I am always reminded of Peter Drucker’s quip “Companies make shoes!” It is beyond me why companies who makes shoes, cars, drugs or financial instruments would want to be prisoners of their own success, hopping over from one data center to a bigger data center every few years.

Annie: Thanks for Peter Drucker’s quip. I am going to borrow it for my future use.

Israel: Annie, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your insights with us. You really connect the dots!

Endnotes:

[i] Based on the assumption that IT infrastructure performance can be greatly enhanced when each element is designed and brought to market as a component of a tightly integrated, optimized system.

[ii] With this slogan, IBM is promoting the hybrid zEnterprise 196 integrating multiple architectures and OS in a “box” as the one stop shopping ready-made private Cloud for enterprises.

[iii] Information source from IBM, The Open Group Conference, July 22, 2009.

Interview with Jim Highsmith

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InformIT has just posted my interview with Jim Highsmith. While the interview naturally focuses on the the new edition of Agile Project Management, Jim makes quite a few observations on deep truths. For example, in response to my asking him to do a quick “retrospective” of the period since he signed the Manifesto, Jim gives both perspective and retrospective. Here is an excerpt from his answer:

If the Agile movement is to continue, we have to better understand what the core Agile principles really are, and not just our personal interpretation, and then find ways to incorporate thoughts and ideas that may seem in conflict with our own ideas. Just because some Agile camps may have a more widespread audience, that doesn’t make them the source for all things Agile. The essence of change is tolerance for new ideas that conflict with our own.

Enjoy reading the full interview!

Written by israelgat

August 17, 2009 at 8:21 am