Kauflust (IV): Surface Go (English edition)

A smaller Surface Pro? Powerful enough to master all everyday office- and business-applications? Starting around 449,– EUR? Give me that Surface Go!

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Surface Go with Type Cover, Surface Pen and mug of coffee

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Liebe Clara (*), …

(This is the German version of my Dear Clara (*), …-article I posted some minutes ago)

Ich bin nicht der Techniker-zu-Deiner-Verfügung

…ich bin nicht der Techniker-zu-Deiner-Verfügung, als den Du mich eventuell ansiehst, weil ich unter Umständen einige Informationen teile, vielleicht Dinge weiß, die Dich interessieren oder wir uns gegebenenfalls mal in der Vergangenheit getroffen haben, ein paar Worte miteinander wechselten oder uns gar beim Turniertanzen gemessen haben.

Wenn Du mich also im sozialen Netzwerk Deiner Wahl etwas fragst, dann gibt es kein Universum, in dem Du von mir erwarten kannst, dass ich Dir innerhalb von Minuten, Stunden oder sogar Tagen antworte. Du wirst Deine Antwort bekommen, jedoch nur zu einem Zeitpunkt, an dem es mir auch passt.

Nebenbei (auch wenn es sich vielleicht anders anfühlt): Ich bin nicht sonderlich aktiv in sozialen Netzwerken unterwegs, ich schaue da vielleicht jeden zweiten Tag hinein, habe keinen FB-Messenger installiert, ja ich benutze noch nicht mal die Standard-Apps für das jeweilige Netzwerk auf meinen mobilen Geräten und habe sämtliche Benachrichtigungen dieser Netzwerke abgeschaltet.

Deshalb tue mir bitte einen Gefallen: Erspare mir, von Dir im sozialen Netzwerk Deiner Wahl gestresst zu werden, und das noch nicht mal 48 Stunden nach Deiner Anfrage. Es wird nicht dazu führen, dass ich schneller oder qualitativ hochwertiger antworte, aber es wird definitiv dazu führen, dass Du dir von mir eine Breitseite und eine geharnischter Antwort einfängst. Und wenn Du Pech hast, dann blogge ich sogar darüber und wenn Du ganz viel Pech hast, rutscht mir sogar Dein echter Name raus, Clara. Deshalb: Frage und frage auch nach – Du sollst Deine Antwort auch haben. Erwarte sie aber nicht in Echtzeit oder zeitnah, deshalb frage lieber zeitiger. Erspare mir Deinen Frust und Deinen Stress, sonst bekommst Du das genau so zurück.

Danke Dir, Clara!

Beste Grüße,

Karsten

(*) Name aus nachvollziehbaren Gründen geändert

Dear Clara (*), …

I am not a Technician-at-your-Disposal

(Deutsche Version dieses Beitrags)

…I am not a Technician-at-your-Disposal, even though I am perhaps sharing quite a lot of information, perhaps may have quite a lot of knowledge in regards to things you are interested in and we perhaps met at some time in the past, had a conversation or two or even battled with each other in a ballroom competition.

So, whenever you ask me something in some social network, there is no world in which you would have the right to expect an answer from me within minutes or even days. I WILL answer your question, but at a point of time, when it fits into my life as well.

Additionally, although it might look differently, I am not following social networks very closely. I am looking into them not more often than every second day, I have no FB-messenger or similar software installed, I actually refuse to use the default applications for such networks and I have turned off any notifications from those networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.).

Therefore, kindly hesitate to stress me in your social network of choice not even 48 hours after your inquiry. It won’t improve my reaction time, it won’t give you a better answer, but it will guarantee you my frustration and a harsh response. So, do me a favor, Clara: Ask me, but ask me in time. Expect an answer and perhaps remind me of that answer (you deserve it), but don’t bug me or lay your stress and frustration on me, since I will answer you in exactly the same way then.

Thank you, Clara!

Truly yours,

Karsten

(*) Name changed for some obvious reason

Life at Cloudibility (X): DevOps? They should do it, not us!

logo_cloudibility_rgb_transparent_square_smallThis is, what you have to take care of when trying to establish a DevOps-culture: Many, if not most, people being affected by a DevOps-approach, will agree with it. At least as long as it does not force them to change anything and as long as they can sell it to their customers or supervisors since DevOps is very popular these days and is to be implemented by them, not by themselves.

Just last week, we had such a situation: We are in a short-term project with an enterprise customer. We have been hired by the vendor doing operations for that customer in a somewhat-CloudNative-environment (they run OpenShift on BareMetal-machines).

The end-customer sees a lot of – let’s call it that way – potential in the collaboration with the ops-vendor. Or to put it in clear words: There is no transparency, no knowledge-sharing, no automation, no versioning and no proper mindset in place at the ops-vendors teams. As a result, a lot of the infrastructure is somewhat running, but not even close to the standards, the end-customers expects. Rightfully expects, in my opinion.

This was the situation when Cloudibility experts were hired to analyze and fix errors in the environment, the software, and the collaboration. We proposed an agile DevOps-based interaction- and operations-model to our customer (the ops-vendor) and discussed chances for such a model with the end-customer as well. Both parties appeared to be very in close in their expressed opinions – yes, they all want to switch to a DevOps-approach.

One week later…

One week later, one of the two companies still sticks to that opinion, the other one does not.

The ops-vendor changed his mind since we perhaps were too successful and identified as well as fixed a lot of improvement-opportunities. He simply does not see the need to change his processes (which lead to the situation we came in) and his way of executing anymore, since the fixes are actually working and the customer appears to be satisfied.

DevOps now is to be executed by his customer, he will be participating in this „a little bit“ (quote), but only „as long as it fits into our processes and does not imply ourselves to change our approach“ (another quote). Plus: „We want to keep our internal approaches a secret, the customer does not need to know about them or can even expect us to adjust to his way of interacting – he is the customer, we are <Company-Name ommitted>“ (quote). And: „Don’t forget, we are not even required to have a logging and a monitoring in place, by the terms of the contract that customer signed“ (quote).

What could possibly go wrong with such a mindset?

Frankly, we expected this behavior from this customer, but it is frustrating nonetheless since they offer a CloudNative and Enterprise-ready environment and operations-model to their customers – and simply can not deliver due to having the wrong mindset and approaches, which gets only visible once a customer signed the contract (we have seen this several times with this customer). They execute IT the old-fashioned ways, having SDM (Service Delivery Managers), steep hierarchies and ITIL-processes in place, instead of DevOps-managers, experts, and an agile operations approach.

So, be careful when someone tells you about executing DevOps. Chances are, all they want is to get their backs covered and they will refuse DevOps as soon as it would imply to change something in their own processes and approaches.

Are we stopping to help such customers and to propose modern, lightweight, cost-efficient and adoptable processes and approaches?

Never ever!

And we will – of course! – successfully end our mission in that specific project as well. But it is kind of sad to see a chance for establishing better approaches and better processes pass by just because one of the involved parties does not want to change anything on their side.

Sad from a mindset’s perspective. From a commercial perspective, it is not: We are happily there to help with the next failing project. Again.

DevOps: Just get it started!

DevOps. Just do it!

I hear this quite often:

Yeah, we want to do DevOps. We understand this is a critical thing, it is important for succeeding in our Dev- and Ops-projects. We can’t do without.

But…

…we need to get the whole picture first. We need to have a fully featured DevOps-concept. We need some infrastructure. We need top clarify with our Stakeholders.

You know what?

These are only excuses for not doing DevOps.

The best approach to DevOps is by simply starting it. Forget about that fully featured DevOps-concept to be discussed throughout all hierarchy levels of your organization. Forget about providing the perfect infrastructure. Forget about everything – just start it!

DevOps is a process and a mindset. It is an approach to collaboration, to transparency and to knowledge sharing. Yes, it always can be done better, more aligned, deeper integrated, etc.

But nonetheless: The best way to start doing DevOps is to simply start doing it.

Today.

DevOps: I will never ever set up and maintain my environment by hand again!

Repeat after me:

I will never ever set up and maintain my environment by hand again!

I will never ever set up and maintain my environment by hand again!

I will never ever set up and maintain my environment by hand again!

If you ignore this advice, you might be ending like a lot of projects I’ve seen in the last years: Unmanageable, unstable, unpredictable and basically unreliable.

Use a tool

Ansible_logo.svgIf you ever happen to set up a something in your environment, learn about tools like Ansible and perhaps Terraform first. Provision your machines and VMs with these tools, roll out your environment using these tools and version the scripts in a repository.

Do not, ever, later on, do changes or install updates on your environment by hand! Again, use Ansible or a similar tool, to roll out and install updates and components.

Version things

220px-Git-logo.svgThe key to automatization is using tools like GIT extensively. Every single configuration file, every single automatization script needs to be put under version control. Every iteration, every change, needs to be versioned as well. Get rid of your local script repositories, keep things in a central, safe place. Share the scripts and configurations, and don’t only document them in your ticketing tool!

Do not use SSH

Of course, SSH is used when working with Ansible or other automatization tools. But you, or any of your team members, should not use it. Using SSH to do tasks on a machine is by definition a manual process, something which has to be avoided! So, forget about SSH as a tool for manually managing infrastructures, configurations, and machines. Script your changes, test your changes, roll out your changes or roll them back – all using Ansible (or other similar tools) and version those scripts as well.

Automatization is key, the tool is not

Don’t feel comfortable with Ansible? Not an issue, use Chef or Puppet or any other automatization framework instead! Don’t want to learn about Terraform? Then go the native route using AWS-CLI or Azure-CLI instead. GIT sucks? Use SVN or CVS or Mercurial!

Regardless of the tool: You need to get the right mindset, and you need to get it, before starting any work! It never worked (and never will work) bringing in automatization and tools later on. You simply won’t be able to consolidate all different configurations without any bigger effort. It’s not gonna work!

Be a developer

Yeah, I know. You are not a developer. You are an administrator. You don’t program things. You don’t write nasty code. You are the specialist, the surgeon.

Well, no. You are a fool if you happen to think so.

You need to think like a developer thinks: Laziness over repetition, scripts over manual approaches, versioning over file-share-based storage. A developer – and believe me, I am one these guys – has a very simple approach: Every repetition of any kind of functionality to be implemented, is basically a wast of time.

A developer tries to write specific code only once, he organizes code in libraries for reusability. He refuses to do things a second time if he could reuse existing code or a library.

Adopt this kind of thinking! Express everything in scripts. Version these scripts. Create your own library of scripts and share it with your fellow colleagues!

Stay in control

I get often asked: What and when do I need to automatize? The answer is simple: Everything, anytime. The moment you SSH into a machine and do any kind of change there, you have lost control. Even if you are unsure about a configurational change being the proper solution to an issue, use a script.

Did I say „Even“? Especially then!

Using an automatization framework, you can roll back the change or set up an environment into a well-known state, allowing you to safely perform changes, test the outcomes and understand the consequences. Since you have versioned everything, you can always revert back to the last known version. Since you have everything in a shared, safe place, you can even lose your computer and your notes – and still remain operational.

And, in case it was not clear enough: This holds true for any kind of environment – Bare-Metal, virtualized, cloud, everything in between.

To stay in control, automatize and version. Everything!

And now repeat the headline. Until you live it.

Life at Cloudibility (VII): Can’t we negotiate a special price?

I do often get this question when providing our specialist’s profiles to possible customers.

Well. No. We can’t. And we won’t.

Let me explain that bold statement a little bit. There are plenty of reasons for saying so. The most important one: We have some of the best specialists here at Cloudibility.

We love our experts.

We provide our bright minds with an environment which allows them to shine – a good work-life-balance, paid educational hours, etc. We do this, since we would have liked such an environment ourselves when being employed. But it was not possible due to calculation issues. Which forced us to quit our jobs.

Therefore, we want to pay our experts reasonable salaries and want them to gain even more knowledge. We want them to stay motivated and hunt for solutions instead of billed hours. We are investing a lot into our experts, and we are very happy and proud to do so. We know, that you deserve the best expert and the best approach for your project.

But it’s still expensive, though.

Do you know how much it costs, to do without good experts? Or to simply opt for the cheaper alternative since it is … cheaper? Can you really afford the second best or a somehow okayish solution? Just for the sake of saving some bucks forehand?

Our experts are worth their money.

They are experts and bright minds, they are able to solve problems, they are able to think outside the box. They save you time and money and nerves, they bring knowledge and experience into your projects.

So, no. We won’t do special prices.

We already have the best prices in the market since we have the best experts and the brightest minds here at Cloudibility.

Period.

Five minutes late…

I am delivering a Xamarin workshop this week. Unfortunately for my sleeping habits, the location is Munich, appr. 550km away from home.

The best way to get there is by train, at least if you don’t like flying. So, my train was to depart at 4.30am. Which implied I would have to leave home at latest at 3.50am.

Well. So much for the theory.

In practice, I left home at 3.55am. Which caused me to directly head on the Autobahn towards Munich. Instead of having a somewhat relaxed trip to the Bavarian capital, I had an unrelaxing one in my car. And instead of elegantly driving with an ICE-train from Munich to Frankfurt and then back home on Friday, I’ll drive back home on Thursday and try to catch the morning train from Berlin to Frankfurt on Friday, since I don’t want do sit in my car for 10+ hours.

This makes five minutes quite important.

And that’s why I try to keep an eye on the details, though I’m the high-level guy at Cloudibility.

Life at Cloudibility (IV): Best. Team. In. The. World.

Cloudibility-Logo-SquareWe have the best team in the world. Period.

I’ve never seen a team being that committed. That focused. That inquisitive. That eager to learn. That funny. That great.

Team, I am so proud of working with you! 

Next week, we will start our expansion. I mean: We will really start it. Three new Team-Members at the beginning of the month. Two more in the middle. One more beginning of August. One more at mid of August. One, two, three perhaps beginning of September.

But: I am not afraid. I know, that we already have a great team and we will continue to be one. We looked carefully at the new colleagues‘ character and found them to match the team in culture and commitment.

Sandra, Ronny, Emily: Welcome!

You will be part of Cloudibility, you will shape us and you will grow with us. And I am very confident to count you in next time when I write about the:

Best. Team. In. The.World.