Sunday, September 25, 2011

Strata Conference

The O'Reilly Strata Conference NYC has now finished and I have to say it was a blast. The standard of speakers, corridor chat and the general environment was exceptionally high. If you're interested in speaking, they've already opened up the request for proposals for the Feb'12 event, so get writing.

There was something magical about the event in NYC created by a convergence of people, technology and ideas. I haven't seen a conference with this much buzz and excitement since ETech. You can guess that I was truly impressed, it was O'Reilly at its finest and that's a tall order given the very high standard of their conferences. If you missed the conference, then you can find many videos from the event on the O'Reilly channel.

I was also fortunate enough to be asked to speak, the video of my talk is below. In my session I covered commoditisation, innovation and the role of big data by examining some of my new research into the evolution of organisations. As per normal, the title of the talk is my usual Situation Normal, Everything Must Change and the talk itself is different from any other previous example i.e. the title applies to the talk itself.

By the way, if you have enjoyed my talks and you're interested in helping out with my research then please take 20 minutes to complete my online survey, as that would be really appreciated.

OSCON 2010: "Situation Normal, Everything Must Change"

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Prisoner of T5 ...

On average, I find myself on a plane at least twenty times in a year. There's a lot I dislike about flying. In no particular order my pet dislikes are: flying coach, British Airways and airport queues at customs (especially NYC & SFO where it is particularly abysmal).

I don't suffer from jet lag (I use the starvation trick when needed) and I generally find airport security pretty quick and responsive. Though I'm a smoker, I've always gone outside the building to smoke, so the movement of airports to non-smoking has been no skin of my nose.

Well, that was until today.

I arrived early at Heathrow Terminal 5 (an airport I rarely use as it's mainly BA), sat down for a quick bite to eat and then decided to go out for a smoke - obviously you can't smoke in the airport.

So I went to security who said I had to be escorted through. Kidding? I have been through every one of the world's busiest airports plus a whole host of smaller airports and I've never once needed to be escorted from departures to outside the airport. I was then told by security that I had to get permission from the British Airways customer support person - damn.

Being incredibly polite I asked the lady from BA whether I could be escorted outside to have a cigarette. "No" was the reply because there was less than three hours until my flight.

So, let us be clear ... I'm currently a "captive" inside T5 departures lounge unable to leave until I get on my flight? I'm held against my will, a prisoner of BA!!! I feel a protest song coming on ...

"Free, Free, Free Simon Wardley ..."

Joking aside, my dislike of British Airways has hit an all time low.


Well, it's BA so what do you think happened. Yes, my flight has been delayed close to departure by just under two hours. Still not allowed out to have a smoke - a cruel and unusual punishment.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Next phase of research ...

Many years ago, I produced the ubiquity vs certainty curve to describe the process of how business activities evolve. It took 4,084 data points to create the curve and more details about this topic can be found here.

Currently, I'm researching into how organisations evolve. After conducting a number of general and then specific interviews (creating a thousand data points), I've been able to create models of evolution which hopefully I'll be using in future presentations.

However, I need to collect more data to test the models and either verify or falsify them and hence I've put a general survey online : [Link to Survey]

The presentations that I give at various conferences are based upon this process of hypothesis and testing, so if you have ever found my work useful (such as my various talks at OSCON on cloud computing, see below) then I would be very grateful if you could take 10-20 mins to complete it.

Depending upon the results and validity of the models, I'm aiming to give a number of talks next year on how organisations evolve combined with techniques to exploit this. Naturally, I'll be blogging about the findings as well and the survey does allow you to provide an email in case you'd like a copy of the overall results.

[Link to Survey]


Simon Wardley

OSCON 2010: "Situation Normal, Everything Must Change"

Friday, September 02, 2011

The battle that wasn't ...

Chris Boos wrote an interesting post about a debate that @samj and I were having on twitter regarding APIs in the cloud space. I thought I'd leave my comment here as a general view on the subject.

A couple of things to point out. Twitter is not the best tool in the world to determine the exact context of a discussion because those listening aren't generally privy to the history of the discussion. Hence in this case, it may not be clear that Sam Johnston and I are in absolute agreement on the importance of open source and efforts like OpenStack in this world.

Any difference between us is on the necessity of reverse engineering APIs and co-opting as the main short term tactical play. The long term we're both totally in agreement on - open standards, open formats and open source are critical.

Our difference in views on short term tactical plays hardly constitutes a battle but is merely debate. As for being a "giant", whilst that is very flattering it doesn't coincide with my view of the world. Nevertheless, it was an excellent post by Chris and much appreciated.

Comment --

Just to clarify my view - as it currently stands any company can reverse engineer an API for reasons of interoperability. Hence when trying to make a market of providers in the IaaS space with semantic interoperability between providers, I strongly support adoption where there is clearly a dominant API.

It should be noted that such a market can have multiple open source and proprietary implementations around the API. However, running code through an open source effort is necessary to form a market place without a single (or consortium of) vendor(s) being able to force a tax on that market. In other words, providers need to have an operational means of implementing the service and compete in the market without a necessity to purchase software licenses (a tax on competition). They may choose to buy software to do so but a free market is one unencumbered by such forced taxation.

This is why I do no support MSFT Azure's effort, despite the provision of open standards because there exist no open source implementation.

This is why I did not support Google's AppEngine, despite the provision of an SDK as there existed no fully operational open source means of implementing the service.

This is why I strongly support open source efforts which reverse engineer the dominant API for reasons of interoperability e.g. open stack, eucalyptus etc.

It is also why I strongly support open source efforts which attempt to create the dominant standard in a fledgling market, such as CloudFoundry in the PaaS arena.

Once the marketplace of alternative providers is large enough and it has the dominant ecosystem then the open source effort in effect becomes the defacto standard for implementation and the API in that market. If necessary, due to abuse of position by the original provider, then the API can be differentiated away from the original provider including providing an entirely new API where applicable.

I don't find attempts to differentiate on API in a utility world where one API is clearly dominant meaningful. Of course if an open source effort (such as openstack) creates a large enough ecosystem then it is in effect the dominant and can do as it pleases.

I find re-inventing the wheel by creating an API by committee and attempting to get the market to adopt as a wasted effort when a market has in principle chosen.

I do find the way to standardise is through creating the largest ecosystem and in such cases both reverse engineering the dominant API for reasons of interoperability combined with provision of open source running code is necessary.

Co-opt rather than compete is the order of the day in this world.