a reckoning for tech by the humans that work with it

Of Two Minds – TR Dispatch v2n10

The TechReckoning Dispatch. Vol. 2, No. 10. July 20, 2015. In this issue: Being comfortable with ambiguity, Big Flowering Deal, The Reckoning Dammit, Amazon, Hacking Team, Reddit, OpenStack, Microsoft, Server SANs, Vacation, and our question: Home Backup? [View in Browser]
A necessary part of being an adult is the ability to hold two contradictory thoughts in your head: like ice cream is both good and too much of it is bad for you; like you can get a fine storage solution from EMC or NetApp or a host of other companies; like private, public, and hybrid clouds are all valid use cases in 2015; and like Ellen Pao was both perhaps not the right CEO for reddit and also the subject of horrible, hateful sexist and racist comments.Now Matt Oswalt has had enough with the Big F’ing projects from networking vendors: Big Flowering ThingThis is a big rant with lots of parts. I recommend going and reading the whole thing. Here are two quotes:
We can’t stop talking about “NSX vs ACI” despite the fact that I can’t pay someone to build a reliable multicast stack, or support the myriad of services required by IPv6. …Vendors, please stop devoting all of your energy to trying to build everything for us. Please start dedicating more energy to providing simple tools and APIS that enable us to build it ourselves.
I think Matt is both right and wrong. Some parts of the industry are at the platform-building/utility stage; and in others we’re still figuring things out. Different domains require different solutions.The typical way we develop a infrastructure project is for a truck to drop off a stack of parts on the loading dock and we hire some people to put them together. Sometimes integrators will drop off pre-built kit, and in recent years folks like VCE figured out how to drop off pre-assembled kit — with the seams and bolts still showing, but at least not just a pile of parts. The newish storage and hyperconverged vendors are now selling actual pre-built cars, with very little assembly required. This feels scary to people used to building their own carburetors and swapping out new exhaust pipes and adding spinners. This also feels scary to VARs who used to charge for two weeks of installation and now get an afternoon.Platform economics always drive moving functionality into the platform. Some of Innovator’s Dilemma author Clayton Christensen’s more recent work is on standards and modularity (If you’re an MBA, feel free to do something useful with your fancy education and send me some links on this and for extra credit send me some thoughts on how they apply to current horse races in infrastructure.)So one trend we’re seeing is yes, vendors are driven by economics and customer choice to deliver bigger and more complete solutions – Big Flowering Deals, as Matt says.Matt mentions an alternate approach to problems that are more agile but require higher skill level and sharper tools to assemble. Smaller tools, Unix-like tools. I see this especially in the open source world — look at the number of small simple tools that Hashicorp and CoreOS are building, for example. Maybe this even applies Windows Nano Server and all that PowerShell? Could be. The problem comes when you apply platform strategies to these emerging areas. You end up with — Matt’s metaphor — a nuclear submarine in your driveway.Big and small both work. I’m capable of holding ambiguous state and contradictory thoughts in my head.

The Reckoning

There are still a few more early bird tickets left. It’s a bit of a reach, this conference doing good and meaningful work as a technologist. You learn after your first IT gig that work is about more than trouble tickets, and you learn after a few years that it’s about more than IOPS and SLAs. How are we all going to look back on our 45 years on the job? No idea. But come to The Reckoning and start talking about it.This week’s featured speaker: Mark Twomey, aka @StorageZilla. Mark, who has worked for EMC for 18 years, is profane and funny and, well, biased, but he never fails to speak his mind. I find it really odd that not only has Mark not been fired from the Evil Machine Corporation, but has managed to carve out a role as a Technical Director in the Office of the CTO all the way from Ireland. We’ll hear how he has managed to do good work inside a giant corporation.You should buy a ticket today! Just to get you off your butt, here’s a giveaway: I have a SanDisk Lightning 400GB SAS SSD that was given as a gift in Data Field Day 1. AFAICT, retail on this is about $1500, but I have no use for a SAS drive. I’ll give it away to somebody who is interested in it and has registered by Sunday, July 26. Just shoot me a note. If multiple people ask, we’ll pick randomly. Your chances are good.

Worth A Click

I told you Amazon was vying for the title of Next Operating System.  This API Gateway could be a Big Deal, but don’t forget the Service Catalog, which sounds pretty enterprisey to me. Amazon launches API Gateway, makes three AWS tools generally available by Janakiram MSV at TechRepublic.Microsoft, also in line for Next Operating System, also announced a bunch of new Azure stuff at their partner event. The most interesting is being able to fail over vSphere VMs to Azure. Would you trust this? Azure Site Recovery Now Handles VMware Workloads by Kurt Mackie at Virtualization Review. ICYMI, they raised their Azure prices across much of the world: M$ Price Hike: Is the race to the bottom over? by Anthony Spiteri on his blog. We’re dealing with the intersection between cloud economics and currency fluctuations:  Magic 8-Ball says there are many conflicting factors here. Paul Miller at Forbes points to Owen Rogers’ work at 451 Research that says that reserved instances are still falling more than realistic spot prices (12% vs 2%), but also that the price reductions that get headlines aren’t necessarily for realistic workloads. In Cloud Computing, It Pays to Commit.
What is noteworthy is that the 2% figure represents 451 Research’s attempt to model price across an entire portfolio of services, including compute, storage, networking and higher-level services. While the cloud providers themselves might like us to fixate on more dramatic 43% cuts in outbound bandwidth costs or 30% reductions in the price of the smallest virtual machines, real workloads combine a number of moving parts and don’t really see such dramatic reductions in the monthly bill.
Stephen O’Grady sums up his OpenStack experience. Stephen’s one of the smartest people I read, but 1600 words and this damp squib is all he can come up with as his conclusion. (OTOH the vendor poop I heard coming out of the last summit was that they are seeing real customers. I am capable of holding the contradictory thoughts in my head: that there are real customers and also that OS continues to fail to define itself.) What Is OpenStack?
For these strategies to pay off, however, the OpenStack project and its members need an answer to the fundamental question of what is OpenStack. Without that, the project will have a difficult time improving the developer experience and will leave itself vulnerable to more focused projects with a clear sense of identity and purpose.
[He pops in with Mesosphere at the end. Disclaimer: I am talking with them about a project, so I’m not disinterested, but if you don’t think that both Mesosphere and OpenStack are auditioning for the lead role in the play, the role called the data center operating system, WHICH IS THE ACTUAL MESOSPHERE PRODUCT NAME, you’re not paying attention.]Microsoft lays off 7800 and writes of $7.6B, but says it’s not giving up on phones. I am also not giving up on being an astronaut. Don’t worry, nobody else knows either: lying, delusional, or strategic? I am capable of holding all three possibilities in my mind simultaneously. Nadella: Microsoft isn’t killing Windows Phone and will go it alone if it has to by Marc Hachman at PC World.Wikibon’s Floyer says hyperconverged will take over within 10 years, with traditional SANs losing 90% of their revenue. Server SANS to kill legacy SANS by Chris Mellor at the Register. (Trevor Pott in the comments gives a Gartner prediction of half by 2018, but I don’t have a source on that. Youch, even accounting for ambiguous futures.)The hacker Hacking Team was hacked by other hackers who thought they were bad. Because they were. How spyware peddler Hacking Team was publicly dismantled by Violet Blue at Engadget. (I think we’re up to at least three Flash zero-days and one Windows zero-day exposed by this data dump but I’m not keeping track so there may have been more.) When I try to cover breaches like this report of 30,000 MongoDBs without authentication on the open Internet I just get depressed. Did you ever watch Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, which was terrible, but ended with a good post-apocalyptic epilogue where everybody’s brains were compromised? That’s how I picture our future cyberwarfare, but I am comfortable with the ambiguity of not know how f’d we are going to be.Lot of crap got written about Reddit, none of which changed anybody’s mind. I’m more on the Internet Garbage Fire myself this week, but again, let’s hold contradictory thoughts in our head please, cause I also loves me some cable p*rn (SFW link, I promise). The most cogent analysis came as usual from somebody WHO HAS SOME EXPERIENCE AND IS NOT JUST TYPING INTO A BOX, Chuq von Rospach. The Death of Reddit
That, in a nutshell, is one of the big problems at Reddit: they wanted to be inclusive, which is a laudible (if somewhat naive) goal. Groups of — questionable — ethics and reputation have taken advantage of that, and it doesn’t matter if you have a big building with ten floors of community rooms full of great people organizing to do great things, that basement full of bikers is going to end up dominating your reputation and the conversation about you.

CRN has a terrible website with slideshows and a dialog box on mobile that keeps asking you if you want to download its app. (Bad website! No donut!) So to save you the clicks here are its 10 Coolest Storage Startups  of 2015 so far by Joseph F. Kovar: TransferSoftKomprisePortworxAccelStorHedvigInfinidatNexGen StorageCohesityRubrikQumulo. Soon to be appearing at a trade show near you. (Disclaimer: I’ve worked with Portworx.)

Ken Hui shares some personal perspectives on life, both sad and encouraging, after his wife died. Life is too short not to pursue your passion (trust me, I know)
I was able to cut through the noise and to focus on a career path that would allow me to learn technology, teach it to other, and share it in community – all of which are things I am passionate about and have gifts to offer.  That was also when I decided that, going forward, as long as I made enough money to take care of my family and to make them comfortable, I would choose pursuing my passion over money and title.

Rumor Mill

Oracle is rumored to be doing more audits, and then truing up with cloud credits if they can get away with it. Oracle’s business has always been fear, not love. Oracle is using an ugly ‘nuclear option’ to boost cloud sales, says consultant by Julie Bort at Business Insider.Are some of Citrix’s products going away? IT fears some Citrix products, services may disappear by Jake O’Donnel at TechTarget. I saw some Citrix folks strenuously disagree.This is not a gossip newsletter, so we’ll pretend we are writing about boy bands instead of the Open Container Project and only use first names. Adrian of the Battery Boys wrote an article (appears to be down for the moment), which Benjamin of One Pivotal Direction called a “fantasy story,” and said that the members of pop hitmakers Docker That “ride on the ideas of smarter people, take all credit.” Then Solomon of Docker That asked Kelsey of rival band New CoreOS on the Block this passive-aggressive question, “as OCP members you are responsible for the success of runC. How will you address the conflict of interest?” Perhaps Solomon should read RFC 2062 from 1996 old school boy band IETF, which says that all standards should have two independent implementations in production. Tune in next week to a breakdance battle on Container Teen Dance Party!

Keeping up with John

I was a guest on In Tech We Trust. Episode 044: Google Gets Windows. Stick around to the end to hear me shake my head about how taking venture capital is like a single roll at the craps table.Geek Whisperers: From Photographer to Developer Advocate with Ashley MacNamaraNew and Old Communication Platforms in 2015Technology Evangelist as Utility Infielder with Greg KnieriemenThe Whisperers will be at SpiceWorld in September! I think they like bacon more than Amy does.

Always Read The Comments

I got a lot of OOO messages this week — was everybody on vacation? We just had one response to our question last week, which was about vacations.Abdullah Abdullah:
A job is either something you like or it is something you’re forced to do to make a living, for those who do it for just a living they would be more than happy to shut them selves off the business and turn off their phones while being on a vacation. Sadly I am not that lucky, I am too attached to my job and most of times I would be more than happy to answer a phone call or have a quick remote session with a customer to redeem any issue but most of the times I get my rest when having a vacation in terms of company coverage as we have a team that can handle any customer that I have been taking care of, now in terms of my personal relationship with technology this is a never stopping no_vacation job that I have put on my shoulders simply because I am happy with it.I used to work as a System Administration before my current job, and it was havoc when trying to have a vacation because it was a bank and if something breaks they wanted things up and running ASAP and they didn’t give a chance to my colleagues much to prove themselves in terms of getting things to work, so it depends on the business, the team, personality and most importantly the wife’s patience ;-).

Just Hit Reply

1. Talk to me about platforms, economics, bundling, and small vs big tools if you’re so inclined.2. What’s your home off-site backup strategy? Right now I’m just backing up the household Macs via Time Machine to a local 4TB disk. This is ok… unless we have a fire. Guess who just had a fire? (A three-foot section of our wood fence caught on fire around midnight July 3. Might have been our neighbors’ fireworks. The dog barked and barked until we got up to foot-high flames. An extinguisher and the garden hose and the fire dept took care of it. Our smoke detectors now all have fresh batteries.)The TechReckoning Dispatch. ArchiveSubscribeEmail meCome to The Reckoning 2015Published notionally every week-ish. You look marvelous. Listening to: Secret Windows Phone App #1. “No to spectacle. No to virtuosity. No to transformations and magic and make-believe. No to the glamour and transcendency of the star image. No to the heroic. No to the anti-heroic. No to trash imagery. No to involvement of performer or spectator. No to style. No to camp. No to seduction of spectator by the wiles of the performer. No to eccentricity. No to moving or being moved.”