Lingo Explained : Lombardi Time

Personally, I am someone who is always on time. A disaster must have struck down upon us before I am late to anything. I would rather sit in my car for an hour as I am way too early for a meeting, than to be a minute late. This week I learned that there is a term that follows the same belief!

Vince Lombardi was the head coach of Greenbay Packers. He ran a disciplined regime and introduced something that later became known as “Lombardi Time” ;

Lombardi expected his players and coaches to be 15 minutes early to meetings and practices. Not on time — 15 minutes early. If they weren’t, he considered them “late.” Thus, it came to be called Lombardi time.

A fun fact ; The clock above the entrance of the Greenbay Packers their stadium runs 15 minutes early… 
So next time we have a meeting together, show up on Lombardi time. I’ll be there!

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A roadmap to the cloud… Where should I focus on?

Cloud is here to stay!
A lot of questions about “THE Cloud” have risen the last years. In the beginning, the most responses included that it was a hype or that it was a rebranded solution from the past (“ASP“). Though at this point in time, it is safe to say that “Cloud Services” are here to stay and that there is no point back but to embrace them as an IT department. My personal sentiment is that the current market leaders “Amazon” & “Microsoft” will continue to grow and eventually dominate this market. As google has enough cashflow, I suspect that they will join in this battle. So the current conundrum is ; how to move your current landscape from an “on premise” way of working towards the cloud…?

Cloud Maturity Model
For organisations who are stuck with this question, I would like to point out to a fine document (“Cloud Maturity Model“) of the Open Data Center Alliance. It describes the different stages, even from different perspectives, that you will traverse in your journey.

Quote about the cloud maturity model ;

2014-12-02 10_59_04-Cloud_Maturity_Model_Rev_2.0.pdf - Adobe Reader

Progression through the various maturity levels is based on the evolution of a number of parallel capabilities, as described in the following figures.
The result is represented by an inferred resulting maturity, roughly mapped as follows:

  • CMM 1. (Initial / Ad Hoc) The existing environment is analyzed and documented for initial cloud potential. Pockets of virtualized systems exist, for limited
    systems, without automation tooling, operated under the traditional IT and procurement processes. Most of the landscape still runs on physical
    infrastructure. The focus is on the private cloud, although the public cloud is used for niche applications.
  • CMM 2. (Repeatable / Opportunistic) IT and procurement processes and controls are updated specifically to deal with cloud and who may order services and service
    elements and how. Private cloud is fully embraced with physical-to-virtual movement of apps and the emergence of cloud-aware apps.
  • CMM 3. (Defined / Systematic) Tooling is introduced and updated to facilitate the ordering, control, and management of cloud services. Risk and governance controls
    are integrated into this control layer, ensuring adherence to corporate and country requirements. Complementary service management
    interfaces are operational. More sophisticated use of SaaS is evident, and private PaaS emerges.
  • CMM 4. (Measured / Measurable) Online controls exist to manage federated system landscapes, distributed data and data movement, federated and distributed
    application transactions, and the cross-boundary transitions and interactions. Defined partners and integration exist, enabling dynamic
    movement of systems and data, with supporting tool layer integration (for example, service desk, alerting, commercial systems, governances).
    Cloud-aware apps are the norm and PaaS is pervasive. Hybrid apps develop across cloud delivery models.
  • CMM 5. (Optimized) All service and application deployments are automated, with orchestration systems automatically locating data and applications in the
    appropriate cloud location and migrating them according to business requirements, transparently (for example, to take advantage of carbon
    targets, cost opportunities, quality, or functionality).

So far, so good… yeah? I know, this all still sounds a bit “fluffy“. The basics to remember is that there are various stages involved so you can keep track of where you are. Though for me there are three focus points that every organisation should embrace in order to be ready for the future with cloud services.

  • IAAS has become commodity
  • Federation is the new black
  • Interoperability is mandatory

IAAS has become commodity
I do NOT believe in on-premise virtualisation farms anymore… for the majority of organisations. I must concur that there are use cases that would still require this, though for the majority of organization this is not the case. I can see you pondering “But we are special!”, and I must disappoint you, most organisations are not. Internal IT should focus on the things that deliver real value to an organisation. An Infrastructure-as-a-Service layer has become a basic commodity in the market and you should embrace it. The time you spend in maintaining the lowest layers is better invested in real business value. I, yet again, concur that this will imply a shift of skills needed…

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and others build windmills.” -Chinese Proverb

Federation is the new black
Let’s start with a quote from the maturity model ;

Federation refers to the ability of identity and access management software to be able to securely share user identities and
profiles. This ability allows users within a specific organization to utilize resources located in multiple clouds without having to generate
separate credentials in each cloud individually. IT is able to manage one set of identities, authorizations, and set of security review processes.
From the user perspective, this enables seamless integration with systems and applications.

For most organisations, start with setting up a federation service… Active Directory Federations Services, or a SAML provider, pick something that best fits your current technology stack. Though be aware that federation is a key, if not THE key, component of a succesful cloud roadmap!

Interoperability is mandatory
And, yet again, let’s start with a quote ;

There are two key concepts of interoperability: (1) The ability to connect two systems that are concurrently running in cloud
environments, and (2) the ability to easily port a system from one cloud to another. Both involve the use of standard mechanisms for service
orchestration and management, enabling elastic operation and flexibility for dynamic business models, while minimizing vendor lock-in.

Your high level architecture should consist of “islands”, which are linked together via APIs and/or abstraction layers and where authentication is done via federation mechanisms.

In addition, keep in mind that you will move systems around. So interoperability towards migrating systems is a key requirement and should always be a focal point in your decision-making. For instance; Think about exit scenarios with a specific cloud provider. How will you handle this?

Conclusion (TL;DR)

  • Cloud is here to stay. In a few years, it will be the defacto standard.
  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service has become commodity. In a few years, this segment will be dominated by Amazon, Microsoft & Google.
  • Federation is the new black. If you haven’t set up a federation system… DO IT NOW!
  • Interoperability is mandatory. Always keep in mind that systems should be portable islands which are built for data interaction.

Lingo Explained : Child / Beginner’s Mind

In Zen Buddhism they have a concept called “Shoshin (初心)” meaning “a beginner’s mind”. Sometimes it is also referred to as “a Child’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject.

beginners_mind_experts-mind

Due to our experience, we often already have certain prejudgements about the scenarios we are in. These limit our vision, narrowing our view on the matter at hand. Going one step back, starting from a blank slate & posing question is the way to think as a “beginner”. The view of a beginner will make us look at a situation from another viewpoint, thus providing us with additional information to which we may have been blinded.

Lingo Explained : Push The Envelope

Another idiom I see myself using occasionally is the “Push The Envelope”, where it’s come to my attention that it’s not that commonly spread as I would have imagined.

push the envelope
Fig. to expand the definition, categorization, dimensions, or perimeters of something.

The following website has a nice debrief on the matter ;

Meaning

To attempt to extend the current limits of performance. To innovate, or go beyond commonly accepted boundaries.

Origin

This phrase came into general use following the publication Tom Wolfe’s book about the space programme – The Right Stuff, 1979:

“One of the phrases that kept running through the conversation was ‘pushing the outside of the envelope’… [That] seemed to be the great challenge and satisfaction of flight test.”

Wolfe didn’t originate the term, although it’s appropriate that he used it in a technical and engineering context, as it was first used in the field of mathematics.

The envelope here isn’t the container for letters, but the mathematical envelope, which is defined as ‘the locus of the ultimate intersections of consecutive curves’. In a two-dimensional example, the set of lines described by the various positions of a ladder sliding down a wall forms an envelope – in this case an arc, gently curving away from the intersection of the wall and floor. Inside that envelope you will be hit by the ladder; outside you won’t.

(Note for the mathematically inclined: it might seem intuitive that the centre point of the ladder would follow that same arc. In fact it describes a circle centred around the origin).

That’s enough mathematics. The point is that an envelope is that which envelops. The phrase has something in common with an earlier one – ‘beyond the pale’. Inside the pale you were safe; outside, at risk.

In aviation and aeronautics the term ‘flight envelope’ had been in use since WWII, as here from the Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society, 1944:

“The best known of the envelope cases is the ‘flight envelope’, which is in general use in this country and in the United States… The ‘flight envelope’ covers all probable conditions of symmetrical manoeuvring flight.”

That envelope is the description of the upper and lower limits of the various factors that it is safe to fly at, that is, speed, engine power, manoeuvrability, wind speed, altitude etc. By ‘pushing the envelope’, that is, testing those limits, test pilots were able to determine just how far it was safe to go. By 1978 the phrase was in use in print. In July that year, Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine had:

“The aircraft’s altitude envelope must be expanded to permit a ferry flight across the nation. NASA pilots were to push the envelope to 10,000 ft.”

The following year, Wolfe picked up the phrase and it went from a piece of specialist technical jargon into the general language.

And on a personal note, I always link it to the following scene from my younger years…

Anyhow, it is one of the perks of acting as a fox to “push the envelope”!

What kind of person or company are you? A fox or a hedgehog?

In the past I’ve already blogged about the “Fox or Hedgehog” story. Today I want to do it once again.. Simply because there are still a lot of people who aren’t familiar with the story yet.

A fox and a hedgehog were strolling through a country path. Periodically, they were threatened by hungry wolves. The fox —being blessed with smarts, speed and agility — would lead packs of wolves on a wild chase through the fields, up and down trees, and over hill and dale. Eventually the fox would return to the path, breathless but having lost the wolves, and continue walking. The hedgehog, being endowed with a coat of spikes, simply hunkered down on its haunches when menaced by the wolves and fended them off without moving. When they gave up, he would return to his stroll unperturbed.

The Fox
106423_Red_Fox_Hitchens_hires

  • Complex Thinkers, who account for a variety of circumstances & experiences
  • More cautious, centrist, likely to adjust their views, pragmatic, prone to self-doubt, inclined to see complexity & nuances

The Hedgehoge
hedgehog

  • Keen ability to focus & drive a single path
  • Focused world view, ideological leaning & strong convictions

So what is the best type? Like with every consultancy answer… It depends!

Hedgehogs have the benefit of focus and ability to keep their heads out of trouble during though times. They avoid substantial risk and will try to conserve their current state. The disadvantage is that this conservatism holds them back and markets move past them. They cannot release their defense mechanism of focusing on that one thing.

Foxes have the benefit of broad vision and ability to oversee complex situations. They succeed because they have the ability to step outside of the market path. The disadvantage is that their vision can exceed the market or that they have a difficulty maintaining focus to see things through.

So in the end, you will need both… Just like nature tried to balance everything out. Envision Steve Jobs as the Fox, and Wozniak as the hedgehog. Apple wouldn’t have been the apple we know today if it wasn’t for BOTH of them!

Mimicking doesn’t work! Understand why you do things…

Cargo Cult
Ever hear of “Cargo Cult“?

“A cargo cult is a religious practice that has appeared in many traditional pre-industrial tribal societies in the wake of interaction with technologically advanced cultures. The cults focus on obtaining the material wealth (the “cargo”) of the advanced culture through magic and religious rituals and practices. Cult members believe that the wealth was intended for them by their deities and ancestors. Cargo cults developed primarily in remote parts of New Guinea and other Melanesian and Micronesian societies in the southwest Pacific Ocean, beginning with the first significant arrivals of Westerners in the 19th century. Similar behaviors have, however, also appeared elsewhere in the world.

Cargo cult activity in the Pacific region increased significantly during and immediately after World War II, when the residents of these regions observed the Japanese and American combatants bringing in large amounts of matériel. When the war ended, the military bases closed and the flow of goods and materials ceased. In an attempt to attract further deliveries of goods, followers of the cults engaged in ritualistic practices such as building crude imitation landing strips, aircraft and radio equipment, and mimicking the behavior that they had observed of the military personnel operating them.”

The red thin line throughout this story is that mimicking doesn’t work! Attempting to recreate succesful outcome by replicating circumstances associated with the outcome, although those circumstances are unrelated to the causes of the outcome or insufficient to produce them by themselves, will fail! In our day-to-day lives, we come across this situation frequently. People who repeat a given ritual just because they were told to do so, without knowing why they actually do it. Let’s get down to earth, and reflect by looking towards our own job… Are their aspects where we just repeat things we’re said, without actually knowing why we do it? *silence*

The tail of the fish
There is another, not so known story, that reflects to the same situation.

A mother is baking a fish. Before she throws in the fish, she chops of the tail. The little daughter asks; “Mommy, why do you chop of the tail?”. The mother replies; “Because my mother did so.” The little daughter visits the grandmother a week later and asks ; “Granny, why do you chop of the tail of a fish before baking it?”. The grandmother replies; “Because my mother did so.” That week, the little girl visits her great-grandmother in the nursing home and ask here ; “Nana, why do you chop of the tail of a fish before baking it?”. The great-grandmother replies; “Because the pan was to small for the fish. So we chopped of the tail so it would fit!”.

So know why you are doing this… Mimicking might work out sometimes, yet in most of the cases you will not be working efficiently.

African Proverb about Life

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle. When the sun comes up, you better start running.