Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Virtues of (Personal) Networking

I’ve taken a bit of hiatus from blogging as I’ve settled-into my new gig at WSO2. But I’m back with a career and social observation that applies to everyone. 

This past week – partly by chance, partly by design – I’ve had lunch/coffee with

  • A CEO / Serial entrepreneur looking for marketing guidance on his latest venture
  • A college alum reaching-out for an informational interview
  • A product marketing leader wanting to share professional experiences

It’s been an interesting set of wide-ranging conversations. But taken as a whole, it dawned on me that everyone, no matter what their level or level of discussion, should go out of their way to expand their network and “pay it forward” by sharing experiences, knowledge, and connections.  Never turn down an opportunity to exchange ideas or to meet someone new. 

The LinkedIn era

This is a new career era where potential employment is as much about using your network and knowing someone, as it is about being discovered via blogs, LinkedIn, etc.   

As a hiring manager, rarely does a good resume come in because of a passive job posting. Rather, almost always good candidates are found in the blogosphere, on LinkedIn, or through a referral by a friend / colleague / Tweep.

So as the saying goes, one’s professional value is as much “what you know” as “who you know”. Per the Network Effect, every new contact you make exponentially expands your marketability, source of knowledge, and overall professional value. So the act of expanding your network makes you more discoverable and valuable.

A nod toward WSO2 Principles

The other aspect of my (new-ish) philosophy is reflected in two of WSO2’s six new principles (we will announce them soon) that all of our employees embody. I try to take-them-to-heart every day in the office.... and outside. You should too:  

[Life is a] Journey of Experiences
  • Each person is on a journey of constant growth.
  • We provide everyone opportunity for their best journey.
  • We are humble in accepting feedback and act with integrity.

[We are a product of] Community Contribution
  • We are part of a wider community.
  • We stand on the shoulders of other giants.  
  • Everyone contributes; therefore, everyone can influence.
  • We want to contribute to communities, facilitate external contributions and encourage community participation.  

These two principles speak to me professionally – to see that my career is a journey, and it is my (and our) individual responsibility to make the most of opportunities to learn from anyone and everyone. And the broader tech/business community is valuable to us when we constantly share our experiences amongst friends and colleagues.

As corporate principles, they also speak to me – to appreciate every employee and colleague’s experience, perspective and approach to their job. And to take all feedback (the good and the bad) as a contribution. As part of the open source community, we also have to be humble, but also realize it’s our responsibility to contribute back to the community-at-large.  

Networking is holographic - Our network of experiences, and our contribution to/from our community, is true at work as it is in life.  So meet new people. Struggle against being insular; share information, don’t hide it.

Propel others. In doing so, you’ll propel yourself.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

4 Warning Signs an Integration Wall is Approaching

The Integration and API Management markets are growing,  expanding in both popularity and use.  Enterprise App integration will surpass $33b by 2020, and other markets like iPaaS and Data Integration are growing at double-digit CAGRs.  Enablers, such as  containers and serverless technologies are only accelerating the move toward increased disaggregation of applications.

All seems rosy. And it mostly is.

But with the explosive growth of APIs and endpoints, traditional centralized tools like ESBs will become unsuitable, and simple low-code snap-together tools won’t scale to address the broader scope.  We’re potentially about to hit an “integration wall” at high speed.

Consider the following four warning signs – some technical, some process – that I find are beginning to plague the integration market:

1. Waterfall Development for integration is hitting a wall. 
Although most code development has shifted to an Agile Development model, the same can’t be said for Integration tools. As the quantity and diversity of endpoints increases, and as Integration projects become more diverse and complex, use of the waterfall model is beginning to slow down integration projects.  And with a future where there will be billions of Integratable endpoints, it’s obvious that an Agile Development model for integration will need to become the norm.

2. Existing tools and programming languages aren’t optimized for Integration-at-scale.
Enterprises that currently use low-code, snap-together, centralized integration technologies (including iPaaS) will not be optimized for orchestrating, integrating, observing and governing the expansion of constantly-changing endpoints. Nor are traditional centralized approaches (think: EDI and older ESBs) prepared to handle increasing endpoint scale or diversity.  Many of these existing tools are well-adapted for Line-of-Business or Citizen Integrators of relatively small-scale implementations but are far from well adapted for more complex integration-at-scale projects.

3. Current programming languages are not optimized for Integration. 
With languages like Java/Spring or JavaScript/Node, developers can engineer flow, but must take responsibility for solving the hard problems of integration. With these languages, developers have to write their own integration logic or use bolt-on frameworks.  Clearly a new programming paradigm will be needed long term.

4. The Exploding Endpoint Problem is very real.
As I referenced above, IT is ill-prepared to address the oncoming wave of service disaggregation, the diverse types of APIs, differing sources of service endpoints, challenges from Big Data, and multiple approaches to serverless IT. The industry is about to hit a scale and diversity wall. To wit,
 • 917 apps in use per enterprise (Netscope, 2016) 
 • 893-1206 average cloud services used per employee (Kleiner Perkins, April 2017)
 • 19,000 APIs as-of January 2018 (Programmable Web, 2018) 

And if you don’t believe those numbers, Matt Eastwood of IDC recently pointed out that the number of containerized services has expanding well beyond where VMs ever were.  Yep, billions of programmable endpoints aren’t kid’s stuff.

Where does this leave us?

A new approach to addressing the future of integrating thousands – or millions – of endpoints could lie in a new programming language, Ballerina.

Ballerina is a simple programming language whose syntax and runtime have been optimized for the hard problems of integration.  Its focus is integration – bringing concepts, ideas and tools of distributed system integration into the language.  Based on the concepts of interactions within sequence diagrams, Ballerina has built-in support for common integration patterns and connectors, including distributed transactions, compensation and circuit breakers. And it supports JSON and XML, making it simple and effective to build robust integration across distributed network endpoints.

So, watch this space for future developments. And in the meantime, beware of the approaching wall.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

My Next Big Thing

Skating to where the puck is going to be

Some of you have noticed my professional interest has shifted. This week I joined WSO2 to help them achieve their next stage of growth.

I am thrilled about this move because the ever-increasing popularity of cloud services and cloud sprawl is triggering the need to integrate those exploding quantity of endpoints – APIs services, events, and data streams.  This is an important technology market, helping companies harness the power of the cloud to generate real business value. It's where the industry is headed.

For me, the opportunity to develop and shape new technology categories for integration, API management, identity and services analytics was too exciting to pass-up.  And WSO2 has a number of unique advantages that I found compelling – ranging from their suite of technologies to their open-source model (and culture) to.... well, stay tuned for a big announcement in the near future.

To be sure, there are already a number of industry players in the API and Integration markets. Most are either pursuing relatively straightforward SaaS integrations around a “hub” (think: SalesForce, WorkDay, Netsuite, Oracle) or building simplified “Citizen Integrator” templated approaches to Integration (think: iPaaS).

And if you somehow haven’t been reading about Containers, Serverless Architectures, IPaaS and others, you should know that the exponential trend toward more, smaller, cloud services is already upon us. Leveraging these technology resources will enable (if not accelerate) the trend away from large monolithic apps (and SaaS apps) toward more granular – and more flexible – services and APIs. And businesses that move in this direction will find themselves with a more agile IT that can respond/adapt to needs more quickly.

Continue to watch this space for tips and observations on WSO2, as well as about the API Integration space overall.