Tag Archives: Culture

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of presenting a new talk at the London Microservices User Group, which was entitled “The Business Behind Microservices: Organisational, Architectural and Operational Challenges”.

The key theme of the talk was exploring the often under-appreciated organisational and people impact that introducing (or moving to) a microservice architecture will have on a business. As mentioned in the talk, I’ve lead the implementation of microservices architectures in several organisation as part of my work with OpenCredo and Container Solutions, and so I was keen to share my lessons from the trenches.

You can find a recording of the talk over on the Skillsmatter website, who were our generous hosts for the evening 

Daniel Bryant - Business Behind Microservices video recording


You can also find the slides on slideshare:


The original talk abstract was as follows:

The technology changes required when implementing a microservice-based application are only one part of the equation. The business and organisation will also most likely have to fundamentally change. In an ideal world, this shouldn’t be a problem – what with the rise of agile, lean and DevOps – but this is not always the situation I encounter in my consulting travels. I would like to share some stories of successful (and not so successful) strategies and tactics I have used over the past four years when introducing service-oriented architecture into organisations.

Join me for a whistle-stop tour of the business and people challenges that I have experienced first hand when implementing a greenfield microservice project, and also breaking down a monolith. We’ll look at ‘divided companies’ vs ‘connected companies’, determine the actual impact of conway’s law, briefly touch on the lean startup/enterprise mindset, dive into change management without the management double-speak, and look at the lightweight processes needed to ensure the technical success of a microservices implementation.

As usual, please do let me know if you have any questions!

So, I’m just heading back home after an awesome few days in Budapest, where I was attending the second edition of Craft Conference. I didn’t realise the conference was happening last year, but when my twitter stream was flooded was interesting looking #CraftConf tweets I had a look at the UStream live stream, and then I realised I was missing out! I managed to watch many of last year’s talks via UStream after the conference, and there was some great speakers and great content. As soon as this year’s Craft Conf was announced I bought a ticket, flights and hotel! Having completed the roller-coaster ride that was CraftConf 2015, I’m happy to say that I wasn’t disappointed…

The good…

A quick look down the list of speakers will give you an insight to the amount of tech rockstars that were in the building: Mary Poppendieck, Dan North, Jessica Kerr, Randy Shoup, Trisha Gee, Michael Nygard, Amber Case, Michael Feathers, Sandro Mancuso….need I go on? If you look back at the list, something may strike you as different compared to the majority of other tech conferences – many of the rockstars present are female.

Having first-hand experience of sitting on tech conference program committees myself, I know that it can be very difficult to organise and encourage talk submissions from a diverse group of speakers, of which gender diversity is just one part. I have to tip my hat to the CraftConf organisers for running a tech conference where 25% of the speakers were female, and the fact that they stated in the keynote that this isn’t enough should be applauded (kudos also to the organisers for offering ‘diversity tickets’ to attendees)

The vast majority of talks lived up the billing, and all four keynote sessions were phenomenal (and I don’t use this word lightly!). I left every keynote buzzing, and judging by the amount of chatter and questions from my fellow attendees, so did most other people. Don’t get me wrong, the keynotes weren’t all ‘ra ra – new tech’ or ‘developers, developers, developers’, they were genuinely thought-provoking and some of them boarder-line offensive (in a good ‘call to action’ kinda way). If you go to as many conferences as I do (including some of the bigger names), you’ll again realise how much effort must have gone into organising and planning this content – a big thanks once again to the organisers.

The ‘standard’ sessions running throughout the day were superb (with only a couple of misses detailed below), and the fact that talks were running from 9am to 7pm allowed me to definitely think I was getting value for my money. My general rule for tech conferences these days, is that if I enjoy over 50% of the talks I attend then I’m happy – CraftConf was in the 80-90% range, which is very rare (only the QCon series manages this usually).

During breaks, or when I did skip a talk session, there was always someone to talk to out in the sponsors area or one of the lounges. A tip of the hat again to many of the speakers, who constantly made themselves available and approachable when milling around the conference (and thanks in particular to Adrian Trenaman, Randy Shoup, Sandro Mancuso, Werner Schuster, Trisha Gee, Isra Kaos, Sven Peters, Simon Brown and James Lewis for some great chats).

I’ve listed some of my favourite talks below (in no particular order), and have included links to InfoQ summaries I have written where available (I will try and write more over the coming weeks).

There were also several talks I missed, due to InfoQ commitments or otherwise chatting to interesting people, and I’ll try to watch these back when they are released on UStream:

  • The Ethical Developer – Grady Booch (heard great things about this talk throughout the conference!)
  • DevOps for Everyone – Katherine Daniels (I follow Katherine on twitter, and she talks about some cool stuff)
  • Automating the Modern Datacenter – Mitchel Hashimoto (who doesn’t know what Hashicorp do?)
  • Consensus Systems for the Skeptical Architect – Camille Fournier (I again heard great things about this talk via twitter)

The logistics of the conference was also superb. I found the venue easily enough, registration was a breeze, and moving around the venue was straight-forward (after some initial hunting for the ‘tent’ room, which was actually a tent outside! 🙂 ) Lunches and breaks were well spaced apart and nicely timed, and the food and drink was also excellent (including getting fed for the entire day on the Thursday). The queues for the lunch sessions did get a bit disorganised, but after completing the Paris Marathon and nearly getting shoved to the ground several times when stopping for food and water breaks, I’m starting the think that queueing may be a distinctly-British thing… 😉

The (not so) bad…

I had a few minor grumbles, and to be honest these really were minor. A couple of the talks were too high-level or a bit disorganised, but I only left one early. I’m not going to name and shame people here, but if the conference organisers do ask for feedback then I’m happy be honest. What could help for next year is to indicate the intended audience ‘level’ for a talk, but even then I would expect quite deep content for each session at the conference that I believe CraftConf is trying to be.

I did have a couple of interesting chats with people who mentioned that CraftConf isn’t really a conference about software craftsmanship, and I do agree here – at least in terms of how we define mainstream ‘software craftsmanship’ in London and the USA i.e. focusing on clean code, TDD and outside-in development.

However, I strongly believe that CraftConf is a conference about the software development and delivery craftsmanship, and this is exactly what a generalising specialist like me wants. I care deeply about software development from idea inception through to development, delivery and ultimately validation (thinking about project management, leadership and stakeholder management along the way), and CraftConf hit all of these points nicely for me. The only reason I mention this fact, is that if you are a hardcore London or US-based software craftsman, then don’t come to this conference expecting the type of content you may be used to in typical craftsman events.

I’ve seen a couple of tweets and another blog (including the ever-informative Burning Monk) saying that there was a lack of deep-dive language and functional talks, but I think the conference was all the better for it. This is obviously a subjective opinion, and I enjoy learning about languages and functional as much as the next developer, but I tend to target specialist conferences around these subjects when I want to know more (for example, Scala eXchange or SpringOne 2GX).

For me, the balance of talks at CraftConf was superb, and there could be a danger of diluting the content (and the audience) if the organisers try to make the conference ‘all things to all people’. Just my two pence, but the organisers have run two amazing conferences already, and so I say listen to your heart, not necessarily the advice… (and I appreciate the irony of my advice in this context 🙂 )

And yeah, there was no ugly…

If you’ve read the above content, then you’ve probably figured that I think quite highly of CraftConf, and you would be right. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the conference, and the combination of speakers, topics and attendees was fantastic. I’ll definitely attempt to head back next year, and this time I’ll keep an eye out for the CFP, as I would love to speak here as well.

The primary meme I took away from this year’s CraftConf is that software development is on the verge of breaking out of the traditional IT shackles, in much the same way computing infrastructure has broken-free and is rapidly evolving with the mainstream adoption of cloud. For anyone familiar with the diffusion of innovation graph, lean principled and business-focused software development is getting dangerously close to the late majority, and this really will shake up the industry (especially the traditional software development shops and developers). Alf Rehn’s and Marty Cagan’s keynotes were great example of this

I’m starting to think that the ‘full-stack’ developer of 2018 will not only have the skills that we expect now, but they will also be business savvy, and know enough statistics and data science to appropriately challenge slow moving executives as to what the expected return on investment will be from the latest (HiPPO) instructions from above… People may say this kind of thing happens now, and it does (and it famously has been in companies like Amazon for quite some time), but I believe this will soon happen in the majority of companies. Don’t forget, if you attended CraftConf or are reading this blog you are already part of a self-selecting audience who aspires to learn more and become better – and you’re in the minority within our industry…

The second meme that I picked up on was is that we are working in a golden age of tooling and process. With the emergence of technologies like cloud and containers, and practices like lean, BDD and TDD, there really is no excuse to be building bad software applications. It may take a bit more thought and design, as mentioned by Mary Poppendieck, Dan North and Jessica Kerr, but it is most definitely possible to build large complex systems that can be validated, tested and deployed with relative ease.

In summary, if you are looking for premium-level conference content at a frankly bargain price (with a fantastic location thrown into the mix), you can’t go wrong with CraftConf. I guarantee you’ll leave with more knowledge than when you arrived, and a whole-lot more questions…

Once again, many thanks to all of the organisers, volunteers and speakers – a great job by all concerned!

On Thursday I once again had the pleasure of presenting at the London Java Community (LJC) meetup. This time I presented a new talk “The Craft Consultant’s Guide to… DevOps”. This builds on a DevOps parody talk I gave at last year’s LJC Unconference, and also combines some of my thoughts from my earlier “Chuck Norris doesn’t do DevOps, but Java developers might benefit” talk.

The goals of this talk was to provide a high-level overview of some of the key themes of DevOps, specifically from a tooling perspective. It’s worth stating at this point that in my opinion DevOps is more about methodology, process and culture more than it is tooling. However, for the intended audience of this presentation the focus on tooling provides a framework on which to build understanding for the non-technical issues. The slides can be found below:

The original abstract for the talk can be found in the next paragraph, and as usual, if you have any comments, thoughts or (constructive) criticism then please do get in touch!

“Come along and learn how the Crafty Consultant makes his money by consulting craftily in DevOps. We’ll see how silos can be broken down by introducing more independent and isolated team, how only idiots automate everything, and why monitoring only provides actionable insight that simply confuses your clients…

…and then we’ll look at the real world implementation of DevOps 🙂 The primary aims of this talk are to introduce the concepts behind the DevOps movement, and we’ll do this by debunking all of the Crafty Consultant’s advice. We’ll cover the drivers of breaking down silos (in business and in tech), the benefits of automation (especially with provisioning and configuring infrastructure), and the power that monitoring provides (particularly when deploying to the cloud, or implementing a microservice architecture).”

Details of the event can be found on

The LJC ran it’s ever-popular annual Open Conference on Saturday 23rd November, and this was the first time I’ve made it along. To say I was impressed was an understatement, and I’ll try and capture some more thoughts in a later blog post, but for the moment I wanted to share the slides from the main presentation I delivered “Chuck Norris Doesn’t Need DevOps”


Can’t see the presentation slides? Please click here

The original pitch for the talk was as follows:

“We all hear the term “DevOps” being thrown around on a daily basis, but what does it actually mean? With a little help from everyone’s favourite 80’s action hero, we’ll undergo a whistle-stop tour of the philosophy, culture and tooling behind this buzzword, specifically aimed at Java Developers.

We’ll also look at a real-world case study from Instant Access Technologies Ltd, and explore the key role that DevOps has played during a successful upgrade of the epoints customer loyalty platform to support increasing traffic. The core discussion will focus on the challenges encountered as we moved from a monolithic app deployed into a data centre on a ‘big bang’ schedule, to a platform of loosely-coupled components, all being continuously deployed into the Cloud.”

Thanks to everyone who attended my presentation! The feedback was most welcome, and the questions were great. If anyone wants to add anything further than please feel free to comment, email or tweet at me!

This was the first year I’ve attended the JAX London conference, and I must say I was impressed. The conference struck a nice balance between discussing the latest technologies in the Java space and also the ‘soft skills’ side of what we do as developers, which includes use cases and lessons learned from everyday life as a developer

Day One
Unfortunately the combination of the UK ‘Super’ Storm and South West Trains approach to business meant that I couldn’t make the first day of the conference, which was included a series of tutorials. This was a real shame, as I had been eagerly anticipating listening to Thoughtwork’s Neal Ford talking about Continuous Delivery. Thanks to Neal’s website I managed to get hold of the slides, but I’m still gutted that I couldn’t attend.

Day Two
With the Storm well and truly behind us the conference got into full swing. @monkchips provided the opening keynote “How Java got its mojo back”, which I thought was a great start to the conference. Key takeaways:

  • Java is still very much alive a kicking, even with all of the competition of other languages
  • Java may not be ‘cool’, but thanks to the JVM, the execution scales very well
  • Twitter et al have moved from cool technologies (Ruby on Rails) to not-so-cool JVM-based technologies (Scala + Java) in order to meet the massive scalability demands
  • Java may be missing a killer web-app framework (and who can deny the JSF approach is a little clumsy), and this may hinder the hipsters from adopting the Java ecosystem
  • The Java development ecosystem shows the full range of governance available within our industry, from dictatorship (OSGI) to direct democracy (Apache). I thought this was a fun fact!
  • NoSQL is rapidly becoming the de facto datastore of choice – is HDFS the new relational database?
  • It’s now more difficult to sell software, and instead the focus is moving towards selling services and data
  • Java is the architects choice, the engineers choice, but is it the developers choice?

As @monkchips himself noted, it was a slightly tough audience, and I’m not sure why. Maybe the combination of the previous day’s storm and an early start had set everyone up badly?

2013-10-29 09.50.11

Next up with @mashooq talking about “TDD at Scale”. This was an excellent talk, and there were plenty of great points made:

  • Doing TDD does not guarantee that good design will emerge from the codebase
  • …this is further exaggerated by the fact that good a TDD lifecycle should include “Red, Green, Refactor”, but it’s all too tempting to just go “Red, Green, Red, Green…” Unfortunately I’ve been there and done that…
  • It may be easy to split an application into components, but unless a component maps to a real business process, then it will be difficult to create real meaningful acceptance tests around this. This can lead to overly fragile tests, which simply test technical functionality.
  • Avoid the test fixture ‘God’ Class anti-patten at all costs. This is created with good intentions to manage test fixtures, but soon grows out of control…
  • …instead you could/should invest in creating a DSL to create test fixtures
  • Classify tests into Unit, Integration and Component/Acceptance, as this allow some flexibility to choose when expensive/slowest tests are run
  • Regularly email the team with the 10 slowest tests. Often the slowness is due to a simple design flaw in the test. Name and shame the perpetrators until they fix the tests 🙂
  • Parallelise test execution (where possible)
  • System tests are very valuable, and so don’t forget them. If implemented correctly then this truly can become ‘living documentation’
  • Lisa Crispin’s ‘Agile Testing Quadrants’ provide an invaluable insight to the range and value of testing that is available in any software development project. This was a great nugget of wisdom!
  • The foundations to successful software development are design, code quality, TDD and constant critique

For the third session I attended one of the Big Data Con talks about the ‘Lambda Architecture’. If you haven’t read about this architectural pattern then it’s worth doing some research, as I’m increasingly seeing this adopted by many of the Big Data shops. Although interesting, I didn’t particularly take away lots to share from this, and so I’ll skip notes here.

The fourth session I chose was an explanation (and demo) of the Apache Drill project, which is an open source clone of the much discussed Google Dremel project. The talk was more of a introduction to the project, and so I don’t have lots of notes to share here either. I would recommend having a quick read about Dremel, and also watching a few of the related videos floating around the interweb, as when completed I expect the Apache Drill project to create quite a stir in how we query Big Data sources.

For the fifth and final session of day one I attended @sandromacusso‘s talk on ‘Why other people don’t get it’, focussing on how to create a great development team, how to handle situations where ‘they’ (management) just don’t get it, and also how we as developers should take responsibility for ourselves and our careers.

I always enjoy Sandro’s talks, and this one was a personal highlight of the conference for me – the scene was perfectly set when Sandro opened the session with a question “Does anyone have complete freedom to do what they want in their day job?”. Three of us put up our hands, to which Sandro replied that we “should get the f*ck out, as we shouldn’t be in this session”. Fair comment! There was a lot to take on board here, and I was was quite engrossed to the actual talk, and so my notes are a little sketchy. I’ll try my best to summaries the key takeaways for me:

  • In order to create a great software development team and company you have to:
    • Define the culture you want to have in your company
    • Don’t make your problem bigger. Hire allies
    • Help people to help you
  • Hiring great developers is not an easy process, but this is critical for creating a great team (and company)
  • Good Developers want a good company. If you’re hiring developers then please remember this obvious but often forgotten fact!
  • Don’t just rely on boilerplate job advertisements for recruitment (Sandro’s slides contained some great examples)
  • If you wouldn’t promote someone on a criteria, then don’t use it for a job advertisement i.e. please don’t use the much maligned ‘X years experience of Y’
  • Hiring developers should not be entrusted to the HR department. There doesn’t exist a simple process or test to find the best developers
  • Look for passionate developers. Passion could/should be used as a CV filter
  • If you have a problem developer at your company, ask yourself
    • How was he hired?
    • How was he nurtured when he got here?
  • If you are looking for a job then publicly display examples of code you have created (OSS etc), personal projects and other involvement with the larger community. Show that you’re more than a 9-to-5er – show your passion for software development! Amen to that…
  • Pairing is a vital skill to learn – this allows prospective colleagues to see how you think, how you code, and also how you will be able to transfer knowledge
  • When looking to do something beneficial within your company, such as creating ‘brown bag’ technical sessions, or running software craftsman discussion groups, it is best to “ask for forgiveness, rather than beg for permission”
  • If you are in a position of authority then you should lead by example
  • If you are responsible, then you must also be accountable
  • Managers of great teams must provide autonomy, mastery and purpose
  • You are ultimately responsible for your career, therefore you must take responsibility. If you don’t like something, then take action to change it

2013-10-29 17.55.54
That’s all for this first part of the JAX London review. Stay tuned for the second part later this week (hopefully… 🙂 )