Archive for the ‘The Way’ Category

Doers for Today, Visionaries for Tomorrow and Change Agents for Always! We Truly Are The Trifecta

We Truly Are The Trifecta

The Dell EMC Dojo has a mission that is two-fold; we contribute to open source Cloud Foundry, and we evangelize ‘the way’ (XP, Lean Startup, etc) by engaging with internal Dell EMC teams in a purely DevOps manner. Our mission is direct with a scope that some could argue is boundless. By practicing ‘the way,’ hours, days, and weeks fly by as we push code to production at times every few minutes. Not only is our push to market rapid, so is our overall productivity. Oftentimes teams working with us nearly guffaw when they come to our office in Cambridge, MA and are able to see the ‘wizard(s) behind the curtain.’ We are asked how we keep three to five projects on track while also engaging with internal teams, planning large technical conferences, and working in the realm of R&D in our greater TRIGr team with an east coast contingent of only eight people and a west coast contingent of five. The secret? We LOVE what we do!

 

A team with empathy at its core, there is never a moment when a task seems impossible.

Truly, we could be featured on one of those billboards along the highway stating that there is no ‘I’ in ‘Team.’ Two baseball players carrying an opposing team member across Home because she/he has hurt themselves, a photo of all of the characters from Disney’s “The Incredibles,” The Dell EMC Dojo team… Take your pick… TEAMWORK. Pass It On.

In all seriousness, the pace at the Dojo can be absolutely exhausting, and with such a small team, the absence of one person (which let’s face it, vacation and life needs to happen at points) could in theory be a huge deal. But, because DevOps is what we live and breathe, any member of the team can fill this gap at any point, truly putting to practice the idea that there doesn’t have to be and should never be a single-point-of-failure. Albeit the industry or sector, what more emulates the ‘Go Big, Win Big’ message than this? By continually pushing ourselves to pair and to up-level the knowledge of our entire team, we never wait until tomorrow to take action. There is no need or desire to.

 

Agility is not a term we just talk about, but is simply inherent to everything we do.

With the combination of the rapidly changing market (externally and internally) and the pace in which we work, we at the Dojo have learned that we must stay on our toes. For those reading this that are familiar with sports, one of the first lessons learned in soccer is to never plant your feet. Holding such a stance allows for the opposing team to outpace you when the unexpected happens, which is most of the time. Same goes here. Pivoting is now second nature for us, and it doesn’t come with the scares. Instead, it is actually exciting when we are able to take data and identify ways in which we can better align with efficiency and effectiveness of software and methodology; to truly keep the user omnipresent in everything we do. We are happier. The ‘customer’ is happier. It is a (Go Big) win-win (Big) game. The cool thing too is that the more we practice this, the more we also feel somewhat like we can predict the future, because we begin to see trends before they are even a thing.

 

 

Doers for Today. Visionaries for Tomorrow. Change Agents for Always.

Thriving in a world of disruption – the “Dojo Way” Brian Roche, Lead of the @DellEMCDojo

Brian Roche, Lead of the @DellEMCDojo

Brian Roche

Brian Roche - Senior Director, Cloud Platform Team at Dell EMC. Brian Roche is the Leader of Dell EMC’s Cloud Platform Team. He is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA at the #EMCDojo.

We in live a world where ideas can be dreamt up, implemented and delivered more rapidly than ever before.  The pace of innovation is like nothing we’ve ever seen in our lifetime and it will likely only get faster.  Old patterns of software delivery, 12 month releases are insufficient in meeting demands of today’s marketplace.  As a result many people will face extinction if they do not change their work patterns and focus on two key objectives; customer needs and delivering software rapidly to meet that need.  Iterate and repeat.

This disruption creates opportunity if we’re in the right position to take advantage of the constant changes. In fact it is possible thrive in this new world and lay the foundation for a successful future.  At the @DellEMCDojo we have found that better way. The Dojo was created for 2 simple reasons. First to adopt a DevOps culture to achieve lower cost innovation, more rapid product delivery and to build innovative solutions that meet the needs of customers.  Second, to contribute to OS Cloud Foundry.  All of this is important because we not only demonstrate to our customers that we walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk but we also can respond to their market needs and deliver solutions to them to enable and empower them to compete effectively.

 

The dojo methodology is important but it’s what we create with this new way of working that is most important.  After all, this is a business, revenue is the score card and we measure the success of our software based on user adoption.  Here is a brief run through of the projects we’ve worked on in recent months.

 

Persistence in Cloud Foundry 

Cloud Foundry is WAY cool & 12 Factor Apps are WAY cool too BUT you and I don’t just have to worry about 12 Factor Apps.  We have legacy apps that live in our family that we still need to pay attention to. Our position is there should be a place for these legacy apps in our cool New World called Cloud Foundry. That’s why we enabled container persistence in Cloud Foundry.  Shipping in PCF 1.9 customers can take advantage of this functionality by mounting NFSv3 volumes from within their containers.  The obvious first technology integration was with Isilon; customers can now mount Isilon volumes.  As a result we have created a world where 12 Factor apps and non 12 Factor apps can live together and experience the benefit of Cloud Foundry.  We are actively developing this technology for and with customers and the response thus far has been very positive.

 

GPUaaS and Cloud Foundry 

We are seeing a growing demand for big data processing for one simple reason, the ability to make intelligent decisions about data is as important as continuous delivery.  Running those big data workloads that require massive processing power is not easy for Cloud Foundry developers today.  One obvious challenge is they cannot choose where these application workloads will be executed.  Leveraging the great work that Jack Harwood and the team in China has done on GPUaaS we were able to integrate this with Cloud Foundry.  The result is application developers will now have choice—they will be able to choose where their workloads are run leading to even greater efficiency and value from their information.

 

Blockchain and Cloud Foundry 

Blockchain technology comes up more and more when the larger Dell EMC talks to customers.  The first question is often ‘what is it and how can we leverage it?’  Up until recently we didn’t have an opinion on this technology.  So we kicked off a project with the following goals:

 

1.      Understand the different Blockchain distributions

2.      Identify ways in which we could integrate Blockchain with Cloud Foundry

3.      Make this available to the community so we can all iterate on this together

 

I’m pleased to say we now have a Blockchain implementation with Cloud Foundry and are happy to share not only the code/implementation but also our learnings.  Together as a community we can go far in developing this technology to solve real business problems.

 

 

The Dojo Effect

The Dojo team has come a long way in two years, now everyone wants to create a dojo.  The brush fires have been lit and the ‘dojo way’ is spreading.  A word of caution for those eager to get started quickly; while we’re happy with the enthusiasm and the willingness to change work patterns, there’s more to building a dojo and adopting DevOps than changing the physical space.  This methodology is nuanced, you don’t know what you don’t know especially early on.  It can be easy, especially early on in the adoption phase, to get lost and give up.  To embrace this new way of working it’s a good idea to have help from your friends, like we did from Pivotal and Pivotal Labs.  That’s where the dojo team comes in.  By working with us in a 6 week engagement we will pair with you, teaching you to fish so you form a solid foundation from which to build on after you leave.  We’re pretty strict in implementing Lean Startup and Running Lean to the letter.  Why? Because we know when you leave you’re going to relax so we want to keep the standard high knowing you may relax later.  There’s no better way to transform than to work with the @DellEMCDojo team.

Lastly, at the heart of our success is the dojo team – the people.  The incredibly talented individuals that have adopted these new work patterns and refine their art every single day by practicing at the dojo.  I would like to acknowledge and thank an amazing dojo team for riding the waves of change and finding ways to be successful regardless of what obstacles are thrown in our path.  You and your teams can find a way to thrive and enjoy the rapid pace of innovation in the same way the dojo team has.

Until next time, c ya.

Dell EMC Dojo at Hopkinton! Reviewing what we covered, and what we learned

Reviewing what we covered, and what we learned

Hey again everyone! We’re writing out today to talk about a few topics that we covered during our time at the Dell EMC Dojo Days in Hopkinton. We met with a lot of great minds and took plenty of input into how we work. We also gave a lot of insight to passersby in what we did and how we worked.

Firstly, Brain Roche and Megan Murawski debuted the famous “Transformation Talk”. We normally give this presentation in preparation for an engagement with another team, but in this case, it was given to allow open criticism and circulation of our methodology to the rest of the company. We cover in this presentation: pairing, and why it’s important to our process, why we use TDD (Test Driven Development) (and why you should too!), and our weekly meetings including Retros, IPM, and Feedback to name a few. We had plenty of great ideas and questions, as usual, and we realized twenty minutes over time that we couldn’t get Brian off the stage.

Xuebin He eventually got Brian off-stage for a talk he conducted on CICD (Continuous Integration, and Continuous Deployment). Xuebin being one of the developers at the Dojo allowed him to be a bit more technical in his talk, and cover some of the programming practices and tools we use to achieve this at the Dojo. Concourse is our tool for running our beautifully constructed tests, along with standard mocking design patterns and the code quality produced with TDD.

We picked up again on Tuesday at 1145 to talk about why a PaaS exists, and why it’s important. That talk, given by yours truly, was focused on some of the common technical roadblocks that keep developers, customers, and managers from being able to work efficiently; as well as the ways using a PaaS can solve those problems to build a better business.

To containerize applications for a PaaS, we would need to learn basics like “What is a 12 factor application, and what’s a container?” Thinh Nguyen stepped in and gave a great description on how we use guiding principles while developing our application environment to be better for us and our customers.

Throughout all of our talks, we worked away on two pair stations very carefully brought from our lair in Cambridge. We gave away some free swag, some free candy, and raffled off some super giveaways. We thank everyone involved in preparing and executing these few days for their hard work. We also want to give a huge thanks to everyone who attended our talks (rambles) and participated in some mind-expanding conversations.

Finally, I want to close with a few notes. We always enjoy fresh perspective. If you had more to say, or you missed us during our time and you want to start a conversation, leave a comment in the comment section! If you don’t want to comment here, then drop us a line in my email. We’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, remember: Cloud Foundry, Open Source, The Way. #DellEMCDojo.

THE EVENT OF THE SEASON Coming to Hopkinton December 5th and 6th

Coming to Hopkinton December 5th and 6th

Before reading this blog post, I suggest that you and anyone that may be reading over your shoulder sit down. In your chairs? Great, because the excitement you are about to feel will surely leave you overwhelmed.

 

The event of the quarter is right around the corner! Please consider this your personal invitation to join us for DOJO DAYS next Monday and Tuesday, December 5th and 6th from 10 am to 4 pm in the 176 Café out at Dell EMC in Hopkinton.

official-dojo-days-logo

DevOps is a hot word in the world of technology. It represents a way of working and technique that aims at making the customer omnipresent in everything that is created and delivered. Companies today consider this way the future.

For this reason, Dell EMC and Pivotal paired to create the first ever Dell EMC – Pivotal Cloud Foundry Dojo. Our goals are centered around personal, team and company transformation. Through the practice of modern software development, we spend our days contributing to Cloud Foundry Foundation sanctioned Open Source projects through R&D modernization and methodology known as ‘the way’ (XP, Lean Startup).

Many know us as the team in Cambridge with great food and beverage (no really, it’s amazing- come visit us to see for yourself). We realize, though, that the commute isn’t ideal for most. So, we bring you Dojo Days to experience #adayinthelifeofthedojo, with a replication of our office environment and our team in action representing the steps we took to transform.

In addition to seeing #adayinthelifeofthedojo, you will have the chance to pair with us, join our team for lightning sessions that are driven by the audience’s goals (schedule below) and have the chance to win a Dell EMC Dojo branded Patagonia, S’well water bottles, t-shirts, and more!

 

The schedule of the lightning sessions are as follows. Please come by the Café day of to sign up and/or just drop in:

Monday, December 5th:

11:45 am to 12:45 pm: Steps to Transformation starring Brian Roche and Megan Murawski

2:00 pm to 2:30 pm: TDD and CI/CD starring Xuebin He

 

Tuesday, December 6th:

11:45 am to 12:45 pm: PaaS, and Why your Developers Care starring Gary White

1:30 pm to 2:00 pm: Factor, Cloud Native, and Containers (oh my!) starring Thinh Nguyen

 

If you have any questions, please contact Emily Kaiser at Emily.Kaiser@dell.com. Otherwise, we cannot wait to see you, your team, and all of your friends out in Hopkinton next week!

A Fresh Developer’s take on Cloud Foundry Why the third platform is the new way to iterate

Why the third platform is the new way to iterate

Coming to the Dojo a little over two months ago for my first day of work at my first (out of college) job, I was mystified by the amount of understanding and knowledge I still had to gain by using the Cloud Platform as a development and deployment environment. After the first few weeks, we started developing a brand new application for internal use. There was no existing infrastructure, but a clear idea to use a SQL database, and a web portal for the UI. I was thrilled! I worked on my fair share of web applications, so this would be a cake walk.

Great! What were the IP’s? What was the endpoint? What was the downtime for our environment on updates? What was our server technology? They said it was up to me. I began thinking of asking IT for a VM spin up our database, scripts designed to back up the data with cron jobs, registering a DNS for our website, and for a potential duplicate set for our test environment; technical aches and pains that are first steps when building a web application. I then began asking what seemed the obvious question of who to go to for the resources, and I was told we would do it all ourselves. Wait, I thought, we were supposed to deploy and maintain the VM’s set up users for the database, download the applications, and backup technology? That was easily another two or three days short term, and days of complications long term. Or so I thought.

Except…I hadn’t known that we were using Cloud Foundry, and the benefits that came from this. All of the pain points I used to face in setting up a functioning web app were moot. Instead of spending time configuring and maintaining environments, the Dojo, as a team, has put together a full-functioning web application with production environment, architecture, an extensive automated testing harness, and automated deployment. All as painlessly as we might use Github.

Removing Development Roadblocks

When I thought of the Web application, a typical structure comes to mind of the architecture for the app.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.20.49 PM

A typical developer headache for a web application

There’s plenty of steps for our team, as developers, to maintain and care about here. But with Cloud Foundry, we can remove many of these concerns.

Lets talk about Databases first. Using service brokers as provided through CF, we can simply bind a SQL service to our application. For extra sweetness, we can use a buildpack that supports that our server is connecting to a service-provided database. The buildpack will, at runtime, connect our application’s backend into a bound SQL database, no environment variables necessary.

Servers and UI? No problem. Pushing applications to Cloud Foundry takes as many commands as pushing to git. We can also update and configure the application directly through a UI included in our environment. This means changing something we forgot to put in our three-four deployment commands doesn’t warrant another deployment. As far as firewalls go, using the proper security groups to avoid exposing secretive endpoints is a few minutes behind the scenes of a UI, or a couple commands in a terminal.

Alright, so our development roadblocks are covered. What does all this mean for our Customers?

Rapid Integration and Feedback Loops

With our Test Driven Development and Continuous Integration mantras, we can rapidly iterate on our products. With Cloud Foundry, those rapid iterations allow us to take customer feedback. Using our real product on something as quick to set up and easily accessible as CF platform is, we can respond to our customer’s concerns much more efficiently.

Allowing our customers a way to directly interact with our product in this way is not only helpful for them, but for us, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, we’re able to get valuable feedback from them in a timely fashion, not when a feature has been done and untouched for two months (less old code touching, the better). Additionally, we can test what our real runtime environment will be like for our production level product, which means faster satisfaction for customers.

Screen Shot 2016-08-31 at 12.48.14 PM

Our development cycle. Made simple with less setup behind the scenes

Finally, we don’t have to worry about maintaining servers and VMS when they may go down. Cloud Foundry can sense when an app crashes, and restart it for us. Same database, same DNS, and limited downtime. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

Final thoughts

Using Cloud Foundry also means we can simplify our development process by having a consistent API and well-documented environment surrounding our application. When we rotate around our projects, people coming into our web application are using similar knowledge and practices they might use when deploying our Minecraft Docker Containers.

It’s for the reasons in this article, and I’m sure for many more to come, that the cloud platform and Cloud Foundry has made development easier for us. It allows us to create better products, faster. We can get immediate feedback from customers and get stories accepted faster. For most developers, that’s a no brainer.

Retrospectives Rock! Our way of ensuring continuous improvement: personally, as a team, and in the industry

Our way of ensuring continuous improvement: personally, as a team, and in the industry

There is great philosophical and factual validity behind the concept of empathetic reflection affecting positively people’s lives and interactions with others. Throughout history, people have focused their actions and reactions around this idea both subconsciously and consciously. A famous and often used example of this is the Examen as originally defined by St. Ignatius; the concept of through thoughts, words and deeds, reflecting on where you have been (further what brought you elation, sadness, stress, confusion, etc.), where you are, and aligning these things with where you want to go; continuous improvement of the self.

Here at the EMC Dojo, as our name literally implies, we practice “the way.” A large portion of this form of enlightenment is no doubt found in reflection as practiced through Retrospective, or an exercise our team knows as Retro. The exercise is practiced as explained in the aforementioned example as a form of continuous improvement of our methodology. We use the time to align everyone’s perspective and to ensure we are on the same page in terms of action items and overall goals.

Retro is done every Friday without failure. It is about an hour long and is attended by everyone who plays a role in the Dojo’s operations. Even when members of our Dojo family are working off-site, we ensure that a Google Hangout session is available so that they are virtually in attendance, as this is arguably the most important “meeting” all week. It is the time and space for every employee to speak his/her mind and do so with assumed positive intent, so that feedback can constructively be given and received.

The concept is simple: as a whole team, we are living out the mantra we preach. We are learning by doing; generating weekly action and reaction to our development process through empathetic honesty.    

The person running the exercise for the week (this is not assigned per week, but rather a spur of the moment volunteer) will draw on a white board three columns signified by a smiley face (things that went swimmingly), a neutral face (the so-so items), and a sad face (as your teacher used to proclaim “areas for improvement”). Then all members will add topics/items for discussion from the week to each of these columns as he/she sees fit. These items do not need to be evenly distributed by any stretch of the imagination. That is, no person or team collectively must add the same number of items to the smiley face column as they do to the neutral face column and/or the sad face column (this is part of the honesty piece).

The leader of the exercise will then address each topic/item on the board one item at a time from left to right or right to left (we do this to ensure that we are not making the retro top heavy in any one of the columns). By addressing the topic/item, we mean that the leader will ask the team who wrote the item on the board and why. This is where the importance of this exercise comes to play.

No matter the topic of discussion, in order for the exercise to work and for the team to reap all of its benefits, team members must be completely and empathetically honest about his/her contribution. By doing so, the team learns to navigate conflict by having uncomfortable, but necessary discussions. As with anything, with practice comes perfection. And by perfection, I mean the unattainable kind; something that we are still reaching for 🙂 All kidding aside, it’s true – with every week there are steps back that we learn from paired with giant steps toward our overall goals and methodology.

With the addressing of each topic, the team decides action items that are recorded on the spot. This allows us to ensure that we are offering more than an end of iteration wrap-up, and instead generating real actions and change to ourselves, our team and our organization. We are assessing our ability to break down and solve problems and make improvements –measuring, building and learning constantly in our development process (sound familiar?).

While the exercise was nearly impossible to complete during the birth of our DevOps culture, it is now something that we could not live without. Team issues are no doubt as challenging, if not more, than the technical issues we face. Luckily this exercise allows us to face both and do so with our core value of empathy at its center. We not only are then able to end the week (and iteration) on a high note, but also go into our weekend and following iteration rejuvenated. Retros Rock!

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