Are You Turning Into a Feature Creep?

As tax season approaches, a lot of people wish they had a system that could do literally everything for them. Of course that option exists, but you’d have to hire an accountant. Professionals can tailor a system precisely to your exact needs, but they set their prices accordingly.

The fault is in thinking that your business will always need that level of customization when it usually doesn’t, and you weren’t willing to pay for it anyway. The point of an agile system is that it can solve most needs, but feature the kind of adaptability that allows people to grow. It’s not an answer for a lousy workflow.

Most people understand the true nightmare of feature creep. Someone in a focus group mentioned that their business needs this function, so it gets added. Multiply that by a million focus groups over several years, and you could have a real problem. It creates a system on which millions of people are truly dependent but has become so outsized and clunky that it is genuinely difficult to use. Case in point: When was the last time you enjoyed using iTunes?

So, when you’re considering options like AWS CloudWatch or GCP Stackdriver for your monitoring services, it’s tempting to select the one that checks the most feature boxes. But why? Looking at the list and waiting for the day that you read, “Will overcome bad company processes” isn’t it. Stacking features one after the other often results in software that slows your workflow as you attempt to configure it. Which is the exact opposite of the reason you bought it in the first place.

When You Steal Someone’s Work, Who Gets Hurt?

In today’s economic climate, stealing might seem like the best approach to a bad situation. Except you don’t realize who you’re hurting. The way a lot of fields are shifting to gig work offers a lot of potential, but also liability. If you’re getting for free things that you should pay for, there’s someone on the other end who isn’t getting paid. And if you’re looking to break into an industry with people working primarily as consultants or contract workers, the person who isn’t getting paid might be you.

Everyone knows the process of getting an education is expensive. You rack up maybe $30K just to get a degree at the entry level. Instead of grad school, you can target your skillset by taking advantage of all the options you can find online. It’s hard to pay $100 or more for a short class or tutorial when there’s a download site that allows you to get it for free. But before you click, it’s important to think about who benefits and who takes the hit.

If you still believe that big businesses protect all their employees and provide well-paying, secure jobs that aren’t based on profits, you might be Ronald Reagan. But you’d also be incredibly naïve about the way corporations protect their bottom lines. If you screw over your Uber driver, it’s not Uber that suffers.

When you opt to take the free download, it’s generally the content creator who loses out. You saved $100 or $150, but the person who did the work misses that payment and maybe dozens of others. You provide economic viability for a shadow industry that undermines your own future.

You might think, so what? If you’re not going into content creation, maybe you don’t have to protect the livelihood of content creators. But you have to keep in mind that IT is a ruthless field that is only as good as its lowest common denominator. When theft from contractors is the basis of the education you use to get a contract job, you legitimize the practice of taking money out of your own pocket. Perhaps you have enough scruples to avoid damaging the market for your own services. But others won’t.

When Cloud Providers Use Open Source, Who Benefits?

The open source community began with a premise that working together makes software better for everyone. When big businesses with huge teams and tons of resources join in, it isn’t that simple. There’s a lot of money to be made in refining a free product to beat your competition, but is it the ethical choice? Should major Cloud providers like Amazon or Google be able to repackage and sell open source software without compensation? And, how does this practice affect the open source ecosystem?

The whole point of open source is collaboration, and this is still generally true regardless of who’s using it. Although Amazon might use MySQL for AWS RDS or Google for its GCP CloudSQL, it usually isn’t a one-way street. The people using open source software to develop native offerings for these large organizations also may contribute to patches, security or new features back to the core of the applications.

Conversely, taking advantage of open source tools to bring services in-house can have an opportunity cost in development and competition. If AWS continues to expand its native options, it might render some third-party competitors obsolete. When you consider how a wide selection of potential add-ons affects a customer’s decision-making process (i.e. lots of options vs. choice paralysis), lack of competition might be a bug or a feature.

Allowing big companies to adapt open source software for private services could narrow the competitive field. But if it translates into better software, that might not be as bad as it sounds.

AWS Expands Hybrid Services, Aims to Meet All Hosting Environments

Until recently, organizations that wanted to host some data on-premises and the rest in the Cloud had few options that are truly seamless. Microsoft’s Azure has dominated the market for hybrid data management, but that’s changing. AWS now offers choices such as Outposts to make migrating to a AWS environment faster and smoother.

Although many businesses are looking to move all their data to the Cloud, there are reasons this isn’t always possible. Latency, security and regional data storage standards sometimes demand local hosting. To try to route around this, some companies have used Amazon’s Snowball Edge data migration hardware as a semi-permanent storage device.

Outposts, set to be available later this year, aims to provide a permanent environment to address these needs. Customers can choose to use their familiar VMWare environment, or use a native variant that offers the same operation as AWS Cloud services.

The trend toward seamless data migration and management moves forward, and the extra competition may yield even more options to come.

Cloud Migration: Your Options Are Heating Up

In 2019, there are plenty of reasons for organizations to start migrating their data from local servers to the Cloud. Less than a year from now, Microsoft will end support for any server running Windows 7. The federal government’s recent adoption of the “Cloud Smart” strategy provides better guidance to allow major agencies to finally move their data to a format with better efficiency and security.

This means that cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft’s Azure are pushing to meet the needs of even the most complicated migrations. Each has its own benefits, and the right one may depend on what you have now.

Cloud Migration Tools

When you decide to migrate, you need to choose a platform that will complete the migration and host your data. The most popular options offer many features in common, such as:

  • Standardized tools for provisioning and management

  • Seamless transition with little or no downtime

  • Options to migrate from one database environment to another

  • Geographic redundancy without the work of a DIY solution

From there, the individual benefits of each platform can vary significantly. Be sure to explore each one before making a choice.

AWS

Migrating using AWS is designed to be quick and simple. One of its major advantages is the number of native tools available. This means that you don’t need to install drivers or special plug-ins to begin. Amazon has cultivated a partnership with VMware and RackSpace to assist with migration from these popular source platforms.

GCP

At this point, the GCP environment for migration is notably a collaborative effort with a variety of migration partners. In its effort to catch up to Amazon and Microsoft, Google is acquiring third-party companies offering solutions that help them compete. This could mean that their services will expand more dramatically over time. It might also require additional work to set up certain environments.

Microsoft’s Azure

Azure aims to make migration easy to get up to speed, particularly if you want to keep some of your data local. With Azure, businesses can expect to see an environment similar to what they already have, which means less training needed to use the new tools.

If you are running Windows 7 at your local data center, you know it is time to migrate. Otherwise, you can look to the innovation and competition between these platforms as a reason to investigate your options and make the choice that works best for you.

Vendor-Neutral or Vendor-Specific Certs? Here’s How to Choose.

With dozens of certifications available for the Cloud, it can be difficult for people to know where to start. Many platforms like AWS offer their own vendor-specific courses, such as AWS Certified Security Specialty. These qualifications prove that successful applicants have the relevant skills to maintain and secure data systems on the platform.

Vendor-neutral organizations, such as (ISC)², offer certifications like the CCSP to establish a professional’s skills that could apply to a variety of platforms. While either path can be beneficial, people newer to the field often have to select which one to do first.

Vendor-Neutral

  • Pros: More applicable to different platforms, which is good for people still settling on a specific career path

  • Cons: May not offer the kind of in-depth knowledge needed to do higher-level work on certain platforms

Vendor-Specific

  • Pros: Establishes deeper understanding of an individual platform, and may meet more requirements for jobs in that niche

  • Cons: May narrow your focus and available jobs, especially if the technology becomes obsolete

As a general rule, technology professionals are not limited to a particular path once they begin. Most people find that it is best to get certifications in both categories, especially in the first few years. They can decide later on if they want to maintain a particular certification as it applies to their career path.

AWS Rolls Out Solutions Architect Pro Exam, Surprising Changes to Recert Program

With the release of the latest updated exam, AWS Certified Solutions Architect – Professional, AWS is continuing the trend established last year, changing the ways individuals take and score exams. The recertification program is also receiving an overhaul you will be sure to notice.

In line with updates to a few other exams in the past year, the Arch Pro certification features radically different question domain percentages and a new scoring model. Specifically, AWS no longer publishes the number of unscored questions in each section, which may make it harder to game the exam. Test results will not indicate scores in each area, instead simply showing a pass or fail.

The new recertification policies apply to all current and incoming AWS Certified Individuals. Instead of two years, you now have three before you need to recertify. Rather than sit a recertification test tailored to people who have already passed, you will take the latest version of the full exam. AWS offers discounts to qualified applicants. The standalone recert versions are set to retire March 3, 2019.

AWS 2018 Growth Blows Away the Competition

In business, we all know that it’s easy to hate the big guns, especially when they’re doing so well. Microsoft had a turn, and so did Google. When you look at the numbers, you see that 2018 was definitely Amazon’s time to shine.

But as much as you’d assume that Alexa and her suite of services became the bell of Bezos’ ballroom, you’d be wrong. In fact, it was the shocking quarter-after-quarter growth of AWS that took the limelight. Here’s why you can be confident that this is not a fluke.

In the fourth quarter of 2018, Amazon noted that AWS services expanded by 45%. That alone is pretty impressive, but then add this in. AWS grew 46% in q3, 49% in q2, and 49% in q1. All proving that it’s OK to back a winner if you can see they’re going to keep winning.

Microsoft and Google, Amazon’s major competitors for the Cloud, often tout their services as equal. But when you start following the money, you see that they’re padded with revenues from products like Google Docs or Office 365. Amazon invests much of its profits back into the business, providing the support needed to keep making AWS the best choice.