Developers are now expected to do everything by themselves

For the February edition of Leaders in Tech | Berlin, Austin Fraser invited Andrew Holway, founder of Otter Networks, to speak about the current state of DevOps, the impact of new platforms like Kubernetes, and how technology leaders should think about both infrastructure and knowledge management in their organizations.
 
Andrew’s presentation (which was recorded and will be available subsequently) started with a review of the “old world” and the “new world” of software engineering, from when engineers needed to take care of hardware, networking, and all sorts of complicated operational issues in order to run software online. In an in-between phase, Amazon Web Services has abstracted away many of the annoying and frustrating parts. However, Holway posits that the main user that Amazon creates its tools and services for is a DevOps engineer, and that it’s not reasonable to expect developers to directly consume AWS’ APIs. In the new world, Kubernetes and other automated platforms like it have dramatically reduced the complexity of operational work that DevOps engineers used to handle, virtually eliminating the need for DevOps as a discipline.
 
DevOps is FSCKed by Andrew Holway slides:
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vRV4B7JSfyukZRFosukMNwQu7rt8KH1nor44CswGF6zBrdkuwueBJvDg6ZPGoqXHH8AbeA7kYx5AD2v/pub
 
The talk sparked many questions and discussions among the 50+ attendees, who ranged from CTOs to team leads to startup founders. For example, one question from the audience concerned how databases are handled. Andrew’s response revealed the larger trends within software engineering: “Even if you’re consuming your database from the cloud provider, you still have to have some knowledge of databases as a developer – most full stack developers have a good understanding of the databases. The role of DBA disappeared some years ago, I haven’t seen one in ages. The role of DevOps engineer is going the same direction as DBA, and these roles are just being pushed into the development team. Developers are expected to do literally everything by themselves.”
 
Dmitry Galkin, a cloud solutions architect at Cloudification.io attended the Leaders in Tech event because he had checked Otter Networks website in advance and was curious to see what the talk would be about. In the end, he had a different perspective than the speaker. Even though he thought it might work for smaller teams, for bigger and more complex organizations, Dimitry said, “I wouldn’t be so sure that DevOps will disappear in the next five years.”
 
Nicholas Wittstruck was also in the audience at the Leaders in Tech event in Berlin, he has been at several Leaders in Tech meetups. Nicholas is the Head of Shop and IT at Bringmeister.de, and his take on Holway’s presentation was that, “It’s important on a strategic level – when it comes to the next project that you work on, you have these things in mind. In this specific case, when it comes to deploying your  infrastructure next, maybe it makes sense to have a look at Kubernetes and do it on GCP [Google Cloud Platform], even though you’re using AWS right now.”
 
As a returning participant to Austin Fraser’s Leaders in Tech event series, Nicholas Wittstruck has some advice for people who are on the fence: “There are two things that I really like about these meetups. The first one is that there are really interesting talks. It’s also about meeting people that are in the tech scene in Berlin. I’m meeting some people again at each meetup, which is nice for networking. You get to know people who have similar problems.”
 
Many thanks to Secret Escapes for hosting this edition of Leaders in Tech | Berlin in their office in Mitte. Don’t miss the next Leaders in Tech event, become a member of our Meetup group. Leaders in Tech brings together CTOs, CIOs, VPs, Heads of IT, and other senior technology leaders to discuss current tech trends and build lasting relationships.

Lessons from Psychology and Pedagogy for Software Teams

On Wednesday, Feb 13th, 2019, Andrew Holway of Otter Networks will be speaking about the rise of productivity engineering, which aims to reduce the cognitive load that Kubernetes and other fully automated platforms place on software developers. His talk, “DevOps is FSCKED” will cover a lot of ground, including some important concepts from psychology. To help you get up to speed on these, here’s a primer on a few of the ideas that may come up in his talk.
Tacit Knowledge
Tacit or implicit knowledge is a category of expertise or skills that are gained through personal experience that are difficult or impossible to pass on through written or spoken communication. In contrast to formal or explicit knowledge, which can be codified in documentation, codified in books, or shared in discrete units, implicit knowledge tends to be created through experience and relies on context and practice.
Tacit knowledge is best shared or transferred through high-quality social interactions. Formal instructional environments often don’t work as well; something more akin to pair programming allows the learner to observe and practice with someone who already has the knowledge.
How does this relate to DevOps, Kubernetes, and productivity engineering? Holway explains, “To manage all the infrastructure as code, you have to have a dedicated person. It’s hard and annoying, and it requires a ton of tacit knowledge. You end up with a separate person, and you’re back to system administration and developer silos.”
Cognitive Load
The concept of cognitive load commonly refers to the idea that there’s only so much our brains can think about at one time, and if we “overload” the mind with too much, it tends to make more mistakes. In some settings, like in instructional design, it derives from the idea of “working memory” which suggests that short-term memory can hold a limited about of new information that a person can work with.
For developers and in software teams, the cognitive load burden can be thought of as the number of software-related issues or details that a person needs to keep in mind. If developers are also handling system administration-related tasks, the decisions they have to make and the impact of those details create an additional burden on them that wasn’t there before.
Is your interest piqued? Come to the event to find out how Andrew Holway will take these ideas from instructional design and apply them to technology teams.

Andrew Holway on DevOps: Held together with spit and hope

 
Later this month, Andrew Holway of Otter Networks will be speaking at Leaders in Tech | Berlin. His talk “Devops is Fscked” (Meetup), will look at how fully automated platforms such as Kubernetes are making it possible for software developers to utilize cloud services directly and eliminating the need for siloed infrastructure management.
I met up with Andrew to learn about his journey from sailor to supercomputer designer to freelance DevOps engineer to CTO — and now to teaching companies to eliminate their dependency on DevOps.
 
You started off in a totally different kind of engineering, on boats, doing rigging and some electronics, but ended up working with supercomputers. How did you start working with DevOps?
I was basically like a fixer, a problem solver. I worked in supercomputing for 5 years where I developed large scale supercomputer platforms for processing data from high-profile academic science projects such as the Large Hadron Collider. I came to Berlin and I started working in commercial sector stuff, and then in Amazon Web Services. I noticed that a lot of what I would build for my clients in AWS was basically only supportable by me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but when I look back on it… the nature of what I do is very complex and there’s generally only one of me. When I leave a situation, there tends to be something that needs to be taken care of. And often that thing cannot be taken care of because only I can take care of it.
This has been a common thread throughout every DevOps job that I’ve done. I’ve put together some solution, but when you’re building it, you’re often learning. That means you’re also generating a bunch of technical debt, just by the very nature of learning.
Most of IT is built out of technical debt. Everybody’s constantly learning about how to do the thing that they’re doing. That’s especially bad in DevOps because everything’s changing so fast. It’s especially bad when you’re consuming services from external partners, such as Amazon Web Services. Everything’s glued together with spit and hope.
Tell me about a previous company or team you worked with where DevOps wasn’t working.
I worked with a company in Berlin… I got hired by the then-CTO. It was a quite complicated system; it had many moving parts. Everything was written in Ruby and every single system was deployed in a different way. Everything! The main website was deployed on some servers in Rackspace. There were some other bits that were deployed onto ECS. Then there were some bits that were deployed in Docker on another platform. And some other bits were using another deployment method and another technology.
All these DevOps engineers that were there during the heyday of the company, they treated it as a massive learning exercise. Nothing was finished, it was all half-done experiments.
The DevOps engineers didn’t ever go back and fix whatever they had done before?
They had four engineers and all of them did whatever they wanted. Then they all went off and worked for other companies.
I’m pretty sure it was the unmanageable infrastructure which killed that company. It was insane, everything was unstable, everything was half-done, it was mind-blowingly bad. It was unmaintainable. This happens a lot. You have these DevOps engineers running amok. I’ve been that person: there’s no oversight, nobody else knows what they’re doing.
When did you realize that DevOps consulting wasn’t solving the actual problem?
The moment I walked out the door, nobody knew what I’d done, nobody understood it. You can write documentation until you’re blue in the face, but the knowledge of how to deal with all of this stuff, I know now is tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is knowledge which is very difficult to share or transfer verbally or written down. This is why documentation in software development is kind of a joke.
A carpenter can’t read a book on carpentry and sit and talk to a million carpenters, and then just make a table. Technical knowledge is tacit, you have to feel the tools in your hands. You can’t just read the documentation and do it.
How does Kubernetes change the relationship between developers and DevOps?
All of the complexity, which DevOps engineers previously had to manage, ceased to exist: in Kubernetes, all of the “Ops” have been “Dev”ed. Everything that I ever tried to achieve as a DevOps engineer is all delivered by Kubernetes out of the box: scalability, reliability, cost-effectiveness.
What is the ideal end of state for software developers using Kubernetes and productivity engineering?
They’ll have ownership of their own domain. They’re autonomous, they can write, they deploy, and manage their own applications. They  don’t need any third parties to do that. I consider that we’ve won when we never hear from people ever again. That’s our goal: to set people up so they don’t need to talk to us again.
 
To learn more about Andrew Holway’s predictions about DevOps and Kubernetes, strategies for transmitting of tacit knowledge, and the growing need for productivity engineering, join Leaders in Tech | Berlin on February 13th, 2019: http://eventbrite.com/e/leaders-in-tech-berlin-devops-is-fscked-tickets-54523716905
 

Austin Fraser supports ConnectTVT digital talent initiative

We are joining forces with ConnectTVT to support the region’s next generation of digital talent. As part of this collaboration we have sponsored five tickets for local schools, colleges and universities in the Reading area at this year’s inaugural Tech for Good conference.
Tech for Good is a headline event for the Festival of Digital Disruption (FoDD), the three-day town-centre tech ‘takeover’ in Reading, running November 21-23.
As a key employer in the Thames Valley, we are working tirelessly to lead the way in investing in digital skills and the wider tech economy in the region. Through our Leaders in Tech programme, we bring together C-suite and senior level executives to explore emerging IT trends, share expert insight and support the growing tech community.
Other investments include the new RDGUK Office Hours initiative, which aims to foster a collaborative ecosystem for local businesses, as well as more education-led programmes such as the recent Reading University Hackathon.
A long-time partner of ConnectTVT, we collaborated with founder Louize Clarke and her team to bring Glug Reading to the region as well as its 50 Game Changers initiative.
Mark Thomas,Technology Regional Manager, commented: “Working with talent in this space, it’s alarming to see the huge skills gaps in technology.  We’ve always championed ConnectTVT’s mission to make sure the Thames Valley maintains its leadership in the tech economy and are huge believers in paying it forward. We’re thrilled to be part of the Festival of Digital Disruption and hope that the next gen come away truly inspired to explore careers in tech.”
Louize Clarke added: “There’s a lot of conversations around investing in the next generation but we really need more investment on the ground to achieve this. We’re lucky to have friends in Austin Fraser who support our vision and genuinely want to connect young people with the opportunities that technology can offer.”

Leaders in Tech | Reading: Does size matter? Big Data Deconstructed

 
Leaders in Tech | Reading: Does size matter? Big Data Deconstructed
 
On the 13th September we hosted one of our most successful events today in which we discussed the benefits and trends of AI, Big Data and Machine Learning.
We discussed how to draw much deeper insights into our data, understand what motivates our customers and what slows down our production lines.
We identified that businesses leveraging big data and machine learning, can expect to see a marked improvement in their KPIs. For those not yet using big data, the biggest barrier is simply not knowing if the benefits are worth the cost and effort.
Adding machine learning and cognitive interactions to traditional business processes and applications will enable greatly improved user experience and productivity.
 

 
We were very lucky to have some excellent speakers on the night – covering a very diverse scope of topics:
Riki Dolby, Director of Engineering at InfoSum spoke about how data-driven business intelligence delivers tangible business value and competitive advantage.
Jon Stanesby, Director of Product Strategy at Oracle covered key points around what A.I. can teach us and what our knowledge can in turn effect A.I.

Ross Verrall, Senior Developer at Nvidia discussed the concept of demystifying the Deep Learning that is sweeping across multiple industries and is shaping the reality of day to day businesses
Ray Noppe, CTO at Advinia helped shed light on the impact of AI on the lives of people suffering with Dementia. This thought provoking talk gave a different perspective on the use of A.I. in day to day care.
As part of this we were able to entertain a huge number of Leaders in Tech with a four course wine and canapé tasting that proved an overwhelming success.
 

 
Thanks again to our speakers and all who attended our Leaders in Tech meet up held at our Reading HQ. We very much look forward to seeing you at our next event!

London Magento Users Group – F*&k Ups!

 
In our September instalment of London Magento Users Group, we will be hosting a F*&k Ups! Night. We will have speakers get up in front of a room full of strangers to share their own professional f*&k up. The stories of the business that crashed and burned, the partnership deal that went sour, the product that had to be recalled, we want them to tell all.
Agenda for the evening, as follows:
18:30 – 19:15 Arrive, network, eat and drink!
19:15 – 19:25 Introduction from Emma Gilder, Co-Organiser, Austin Fraser
19:30 – 19:50 Tom Robertshaw, Ecommerce Evangelist, Space 48
“Over the last 10 years, I’ve gone from being a Comp Science student to a developer, to an agency owner, to an ecommerce evangelist. This has given me the opportunity to fuck up in a range of roles and responsibilities! All that practice means I’ve now gotten the hang of how to royally screw up a situation. So whether you want to overwrite production DBs, get removed from client Christmas card lists, or offer two for one hot tubs to all your client’s customers, come and learn from the best in the business.”
19:55 – 20:15 Speaker to be announced shortly…..
20:20 – 21:00 Network and drink some more!
We are the proud sponsors of the London Magento Meetup and co-organisers for the last 6 years. We’re here to listen, advise, and ultimately, to help organisations perform better.
Get your free ticket here: https://www.meetup.com/magento-london/events/254207661/

Leaders in Tech Berlin: Liberating Structures and Unleashing Innovation

‘Leaders in Tech’ is a group of senior execs and thought leaders who get together to discuss current tech trends, share knowledge, learn new things and network. We have created thriving local communities in Munich, Stuttgart, Berlin and Reading, UK.
Our Berlin launch event was held at VW Digital Labs on 23rd November 2017. Eric Heymann, Vice President Engineering at FlixMobility Tech GmbH (FlixBus), gave an interactive presentation on the journey to a fully independent, agile team. 
Our next ’Leaders in Tech’ event on the 30th August will focus on Liberating Structures and Unleashing Innovation.
As a leader of so-called self-organised teams, you may be struggling to find the right balance between giving directions and letting the team find their own ways.
We all rely on tools and frameworks that help us to do a better job in our day to day, which in our case consists of leading complex team dynamics that cannot be influenced in a “command and control” management style.
So how do we deal with that?
The Liberating Structures framework provides you with 33 new tools you can rely on in case you want to allow a group of people the freedom to facilitate their own collaboration.
Join Thomas Strecker, Branch Manager at Codecentric AG and Marcel Wolf a leading trainer and coach in exploring the Liberating Structure concept.
Starting with key terminology and “design patterns”, we will be conducting a guided interactive ‘Liberating Structure Experiment’ to further understand best practices and key overall benefits to the business.
If you would like to find out more about maximising the productivity of you team, discuss this and other current trends with your peers, and expand your network, then register for the upcoming ‘Leaders in Tech’ Meetup —-> https://www.meetup.com/Leaders-in-Tech-Berlin/events/253124682/

16th in the Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2018

16th place in the Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2018
We did it! We placed 16th in Austin Business Journal’s Best Places to Work for 2018 and we’re super proud of our placing. Being recognized as one of the Best Places to Work in Austin means so much to us.
 
We are so proud of every team member for helping make this happen! When you work with great people around you, you can achieve extraordinary things.
 
It’s our third year being a finalist in this prestigious award and since last year’s nomination, we’ve become even better at listening to our people. We’re committed to creating exciting and rewarding career opportunities and building closer relationships with the communities we operate in.

DJUGL is back

DJUGL is back!
Our London based Python/Django community is busy preparing for the 3rd instalment of the year, being held on 17th July 2018. For full details about the event and to book your free place click here.
 
For those new to DJGUL, we’re linking up great companies and developers of all levels within the Python/Django space. We meet quarterly for engaging tech talks and conversation. It’s a fun social event for developers who are keen to expand their knowledge, share news, niggles and of course meet new people. Jamie Janner, Python Consultant for London, explains how being a part of this community can have a positive impact on your career: “It enables developers to experience a more 360 view of the community and understand new technologies, best practices & other roles & avenues available to them in their careers.”
 
So whether you’re looking to upskill, speak in front of your peers or learn something new – join our community and become a Djugler.
 
Our London team of specialist tech Consultants have immersed themselves in this community. With their unrivaled technical knowledge they’ve been helping to run Djugl and support developers and companies who use Python and Django, since 2008. Austin Fraser’s own Python Consultant, Ross Lewis explains: “It allows us to be a face and have a presence within the communities we engage with day in day out. We are able to experience the industry through their eyes and hopefully learn more about the work they do. In doing this, we are able to connect on a deeper level”.

Jamie Janner – [email protected], Ross Lewis – [email protected] and team will be on hand during the event, so book your free place, grab a beer and slice of pizza and let’s talk.

Austin Fraser secures top 20 ranking in Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200

Austin Fraser secures top 20 ranking in Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200
Celebrations are set to take place across all Austin Fraser offices, following our second consecutive placement in the Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200. 2018 sees us come in at 20th in the ninth annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 league table, which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.
 
Growing our international presence
How have we achieved this? In the qualifying two year period, we’ve seen exponential international growth, with revenue rocketing up over 115%. Global locations have doubled in the past 18 months, too, opening offices in Berlin, Denver and Dallas. And we have more ambitious plans for Europe and the US in place.
 
Strategic leadership
As many of you will have seen in the media, earlier this year, we announced a significantly expanded leadership team, with the aim to propel Austin Fraser’s organisation’s global growth. At the same time, the business has been developing deeper relationships across our specialist sectors across Technology, Automation, Aviation and Life Sciences industries
 
Strengthening our culture
International growth comes with its own set of challenges. So we were delighted to see other regional players like the Bullit Group and Westcoast in the league table.
We’re a people-led business to our core and have nurtured a culture that supports, fosters and rewards success. As a recruitment partner, our teams are genuinely motivated by a core desire to ensure both our clients’ and candidates’ success. We couldn’t be prouder of every team member for making this happen and look forward to celebrating and thanking everyone in person.

Understanding Developer Typology

Understanding Developer Typology
Ahead of our June 2018 Leaders in Tech: Baden-Württemberg we speak with 1&1’s Matthias Wittum, Head of the Source Center and Christian Rehn, Software Developer in 1&1’s Customer Selfcare Solutions about their highly developed frameworks and models which are specially designed to examine developer typology. Their frameworks and models are proven to support developer teams, strengthen communication and optimise design decisions.
 
Matthias Wittum explains that whilst working with Christian Rehn, they identified how different developers can be when it comes to reaching a design decision and how this has an impact on development teams. We know that developers are unique problem solvers who draw on different approaches, knowledge, cultures, experience and principles to produce software solutions. Developers naturally approach projects uniquely, and the outcome can play to a particular focus or strength. Of course within a development team this can lead to several solutions being found and so the challenge is often finding one team solution or design route.
 
There are enough personality tests out there, but no tests or frameworks based specifically on developers. We felt that some instruments were needed to enable better production efficiency and to help develop teams according to their orientation and typology, so we started filling the gap. That’s how the Design Types Model for instance, came to fruition. It sets out to define developers’ typology via a relatively straightforward base of questions for each developer to answer. The answers provided help classify their typology and then you can group them accordingly. Using this model makes it easier to gain an impression of whether the tasks, the way of working and the environment are a good fit.
 
Here are three Models which we have formulated to identify developer typology, aid better case arguments to reach design decisions more quickly and to help optimise development teams:

Design Types Model – sets out to identify why software design is individual and often leads to discussions with colleagues.
Design Cards – great interactive tool using a set of predefined cards used to aid technical discussions by using proven arguments.
Design Matrix – helps you to examine technical problems from all perspectives.

Read more about these interactive Models here.
 
Ever since the agile movement, technical decisions are increasingly discussed or reviewed within the team. Collective Code Ownership means that everyone is now jointly responsible for the software and as a result, it is important for developers to be able to argue precisely and comprehensively, to be able to put oneself into the motives of your colleagues. With our models, we want to support exactly this and strengthen communication in development teams.
 
Leaders in Tech
Thanks to those who joined us at our Leaders in Tech: Baden-Württemberg meetup held on 21st June 2018 when Matthias and Christian give a complete overview of the developer typology, as well as the Design Cards and the Design Matrix. As a start, to understand the concepts and the overall context.
 

3 Top Tips to Building a Successful Engineering Team

3 Top Tips to Building a Successful Engineering Team
 
We spoke with Florian Gamper, freelance CTO/CIO whose background is in Software Engineering from Enterprise Backend to Web and Mobile. Florian is a speaker at our Leaders in Tech: Berlin event and over the years he has built numerous startups, Engineering Teams and Ventures for Companies like Dr. Oetker, BCG Digital Ventures and Columba. Resulting in projects like Coup (Electric Scooter Sharing for Bosch), Mein-Dach (Community Platform for Brass Monier) or backen.de (Oetker Digital).
 
As a Leader in Tech, we asked Florian what his 3 Top Tips are for Building a Successful Engineering Team
 
TIP 1 – Recruiting and interviewing your dream team
It starts with finding the talent. No longer do you have to wait for them to find you, now there’s a much more bi-directional process where you apply to them directly. This helps both sides engage in a deeper partnership. Be prepared to give your ideal candidate(s) an interesting story behind your company and an explanation as to how together, the projects can help take them to the next level.
Don’t ruin their first impression of your company! Before any interview takes place make sure the right people are in the room, and that you’re set up with a proper internet connection and good video chat system for remote interviews (not kidding … falling out of interviews all the time ruins your first expression … so ditch skype).
Finding and recruiting the right people to build a successful Engineering Team takes a lot of time. Don’t rush the process and if you have the funds to use freelancers for the intermediate, do it, it helps a lot. Never hire in doubt or rush.
 
Now it’s time to build your team.
 
TIP 2 – Cultivating the perfect environment
To create the perfect environment for an engineering team to thrive, the culture, supported from the top down, has to be right. To excel, you need to create a supporting culture with a welcoming and open mindset, which each member of the team needs to be a part of. To achieve this there are three simple rules: you have to build a culture that doesn‘t blame, gives fame, has no shame (it’s ok to admit a mistake) for the team to thrive. Set guidelines within which they have the freedom to experiment and thrive.
Glitches can appear if you don’t have the right processes in place to support your successful engineering team. To help track and record workflow you need to have stable processes in place such as CI/CD, Wiki, Tasks.
Listening, can help you spot the early signs that you’ve got the culture right. People will not only talk to each other about work, but also about their lives and hobbies. Bonds form and they’ll do some stuff together after work, ensure these are never siloed in the engineering team.
 
Never fear to lose the wrong people.

 
TIP 3 – The Future for Engineering Teams
Engineering Teams have to prepare to be more and more involved in production processes. Continuous deployment is a key to fast and steady delivery. In the near future teams will get more diverse in skills and topics as ML and other Cloud Technologies are going to be part of wider projects.