OpenCrowbar: ready to fly as OpenOps neutral platform – Dell stepping back

greg and rob

Two of Crowbar Founders: me with Greg Althaus [taken Jan 2013]

With the Anvil release in the bag, Dell announced on the community list yesterday that it has stopped active contribution on the Crowbar project.  This effectively relaunches Crowbar as a truly vendor-neutral physical infrastructure provisioning tool.

While I cannot speak for my employer, Dell, about Crowbar; I continue serve in my role as a founder of the Crowbar Project.  I agree with Eric S Raymond that founders of open source projects have a responsibility to sustain their community and ensure its longevity.

In the open DevOps bare metal provisioning market, there is nothing that matches the capabilities developed in either Crowbar v1 or OpenCrowbar.  The operations model and system focused approach is truly differentiated because no other open framework has been able to integrate networking, orchestration, discovery, provisioning and configuration management like Crowbar.

It is time for the community to take Crowbar beyond the leadership of a single hardware vendor, OS vendor, workload or CMDB tool.  OpenCrowbar offers operations freedom and flexibility to build upon an abstracted physical infrastructure (what I’ve called “ready state“).

We have the opportunity to make open operations a reality together.

As a Crowbar founder and its acting community leader, you are welcome to contact me directly or through the crowbar list about how to get engaged in the Crowbar community or help get connected to like-minded Crowbar resources.

my lean & open source reading list – recommendations welcome!

Cube Seat

I think it’s worth pulling together a list of essential books that I think should be required reading for people on Lean & open source teams (like mine):

  • Basis for the team values that we practice: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable Patrick Lencioni (amazon)
  • This is a foundational classic for team building:  Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams (Second Edition) Tom DeMarco (amazon)
  • This novel is good primer for lean and devops The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win Gene Kim and George Spafford & Kevin Behr (amazon)
  • Business Focus on Lean: The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses Eric Ries (amazon)
  • Foundational (and easy) reading about Lean: The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement Eliyahu M. Goldratt (amazon)
  • One of my favorites on Lean / Agile: Implementing Lean Software Development: From Concept to Cash Mary Poppendieck (amazon)
  • Should be required reading for open source (as close to “Open Source for Dummies as you can get): The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary Eric S. Raymond (amazon)
  • Culture Change Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia–Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing the Way We Run Things Brad Szollose (amazon)
  • More Team Building – this one is INTERACTIVE! http://www.strengthsfinder.com/home.aspx

There are some notable additions, but I think this is enough for now.  I’m always looking for recommendations!  Please post your favorites in the comments!

7 takeaways from DevOps Days Austin

Block Tables

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at DevOpsDays Austin and continue to be impressed with the enthusiasm and collaborative nature of the DOD events.  We also managed to have a very robust and engaged twitter backchannel thanks to an impressive pace set by Gene Kim!

I’ve still got a 5+ post backlog from the OpenStack summit, but wanted to do a quick post while it’s top of mind.

My takeaways from DevOpsDays Austin:

  1. DevOpsDays spends a lot of time talking about culture.  I’m a huge believer on the importance of culture as the foundation for the type of fundamental changes that we’re making in the IT industry; however, it’s also a sign that we’re still in the minority if we have to talk about culture evangelism.
  2. Process and DevOps are tightly coupled.  It’s very clear that Lean/Agile/Kanban are essential for DevOps success (nice job by Dominica DeGrandis).  No one even suggested DevOps+Waterfall as a joke (but Patrick Debois had a picture of a xeroxed butt in his preso which is pretty close).
  3. Still need more Devs people to show up!  My feeling is that we’ve got a lot of operators who are engaging with developers and fewer developers who are engaging with operators (the “opsdev” people).
  4. Chef Omnibus installer is very compelling.  This approach addresses issues with packaging that were created because we did not have configuration management.  Now that we have good tooling we separate the concerns between bits, configuration, services and dependencies.  This is one thing to watch and something I expect to see in Crowbar.
  5. The old mantra still holds: If something is hard, do it more often.
  6. Eli Goldratt’s The Goal is alive again thanks to Gene Kims’s smart new novel, The Phoenix project, about DevOps and IT  (I highly recommend both, start with Kim).
  7. Not DevOps, but 3D printing is awesome.  This is clearly a game changing technology; however, it takes some effort to get right.  Dell brought a Solidoodle 3D printer to the event to try and print OpenStack & Crowbar logos (watch for this in the future).

I’d be interested in hearing what other people found interesting!  Please comment here and let me know.

Rethinking Play and Work: gaming is good for us (discuss in ATX, Dell, Twitter?)

Brad Szollose’s Liquid Leadership piqued my interest in the idea that gaming teaches critical job skills for the information age.  This is a significant paradigm shift in how we learn, share and collaborate to solve problems together.

At first, I thought “games = skillz” was nonsense until I looked more carefully at what my kids are doing in games.

When my kids are gaming they are doing things that adults would classify as serious work:

  • Designing buildings and creating machines that work within their environment
  • Hosting communities and enforcing discipline within the group
  • Recruiting talent to collaborate on shared projects
  • Writing programs that improve their productivity
  • Solving challenging problems under demanding time pressures
  • Learning to perseverance through multiple trials and iterative learning
  • Memorizing complex sequences and facts

They seek out these challenges because they are interesting, social and fun.

Is playing collaborative Portal 2 (which totally rocks) with my 13 year old worse than a nice game of chess?  I think it may be better!  We worked side-by-side on puzzles, enjoyed victories together, and left with a shared experience.

On the flip side, I’ve observed that it takes my kids a while to “come back down” after they play games.  They seem more likely to be impatient, rude and argumentative immediately after playing.  This effect definitely varies depending on the game.

I don’t pretend that all games and gaming has medicinal benefits; rather that we need to rethink how we look at games.  This is the main theme from McGonigal’s Reality is Broken (link below).  I’m just at the beginning and my virtual high lighter is running out of ink!  Here are some of her observations that she supports with research and data:

  • Gaming provides an evolutionary advantage
  • The majority of US citizens are gamers
  • Gaming teaches flow (state of heightened awareness that is essential to creativity and health)
  • Gaming drives UI innovation (really from Szollose) (yeah, and so does the porn industry)

If you’re interested in discussing this more, then please read one of the books listed below and choose another in the field.

Please feel free to post additional suggestions for titles as comments!

If you’re interested, let me know by commenting to tweeting – I’ll post our meeting times here in the future.

Note: I do not consider myself to be a “gamer.”  Although I greatly enjoy games, my play is irregular.  I suspect this is because I can achieve flow from my normal daily activities (programming, writing, running).

Go read “Liquid Leadership” (@bradszollose, http://bit.ly/eaTWa6): gaming=job skillz, teams=privilege & coopetition

I like slow media that takes time to build and explain a point (aka books) and I have read plenty of business media that I think are important (Starfish & Spider, Peopleware, Coders At Work, Predictably Irrational) and fun to discuss; however, few have been as immediately practical as Brad Szollose’s Liquid Leadership.

On the surface, Liquid Leadership is about helping Boomers work better with Digital Natives (netizens).  Just below that surface, the book hits at the intersection of our brave new digital world and the workplace.  Szollose’s insights are smart, well supported and relevant.  Even better, I found that the deeper I penetrated into this ocean of insight, the more I got from it.

If you want to transform (or save) your company, read this book.

To whet your appetite, I will share the conversational points that have interested my peers at work, wife, friends and mother-in-law.

  • Membership on a team is a privilege: you have to earn it.  Not everyone shows up with trust, enthusiasm, humility and leadership needed.
  • Video games position digital natives for success.  It teaches risk taking, iterative attempts, remote social teaming and digital pacing.
  • Netizens leave organizations with hierarchal management.  Management in 2010 is about team leadership and facilitation.
  • Smart people are motivated by trust and autonomy not as much pay and status.
  • Relationship and social marketing puts to focus back on quality and innovation, not messaging and glossies.  Broadcast (uni-directional) marketing is dead.
  • Using speed of execution to manage risk. Szollose loves Agile (does not call it that) and mirrors the same concepts that I expound about Lean.
  • Being creative in business means working with your competitors.  My #1 project at Dell right now, OpenStack, requires this and it’s the best way to drive customer value.  The customers don’t care about your competitor – they just want good solutions.

PS: If you like reading books like this and are interested in a discussion group in Austin, please comment on this post.