Mainlining on DevOps: Perforce intros Helix GitSwarm

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As readers of the Computer Weekly Developer Network blog will know, we don't appreciate firms who bolt on the term DevOps to a tangential function in order to try and spin some 'share of voice' in the media.

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No worries of this kind with Perforce Software though... the firm's understanding of developer workflow processes has led it to announce the general availability of Helix GitSwarm, a complete Git ecosystem integrated with Perforce Helix.

Based on the GitLab collaboration suite, GitSwarm is supposed to foster developer productivity through Git repo management, a pull-request workflow, issue tracking and an integrated wiki.

With GitSwarm, Perforce Helix integrates Git workflow used by development teams with mainline development preferred by DevOps teams responsible for releasing products quickly.

GitSwarm developers use "narrow cloning" from a Helix mainline to manage the distribution of intellectual property through Git.

At the same time, mirrored branches of code maintained in the Helix Versioning Engine protect enterprise IP from potential theft and loss that can take place with unmanaged code distribution.

By integrating Git workflow with a centralised workflow, Perforce Helix addresses the limitations of native Git and other Git management solutions in the enterprise.

It meets the scalability required by DevOps practices and supports enterprise-class digital asset management, global distribution, high performance at petabyte scale, quality, security, process management and governance.

"Helix GitSwarm allows developers to collaborate in their preferred workflow," said Sytse Sijbrandij, CEO of GitLab. "Backed by the scalability of the Helix mainline repository and the collaboration features of GitLab, GitSwarm is a powerful Git-powered enterprise platform."

According to Gartner, "Enterprise-grade management of Git that offers important aspects of a DVCS -- good merging, the ability to work offline and good collaboration -- along with the security and central repository of a CVCS, will resolve most remaining concerns about the use of the DVCS model."

"Popular Git repo hosting services are great for small open source projects but fall short when a company needs to scale, protect their IP, or work with more than plain text files," said Christopher Hoover, vice president of product strategy at Perforce. "With the addition of GitSwarm to our Helix platform, we've delivered a single-vendor, best-of-both-worlds solution that understands and respects development teams as well as the business, digital asset and security needs of a large enterprise."

Helix GitSwarm is available free of charge as part of Perforce Helix.

Microsoft developer chief 'Soma' Somasegar departs

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Microsoft developer division chief S. Somasegar (call me 'Soma') is to leave his post after 27 happy years of serving the firm.


Renowned and respected Microsoft-tracking journalist Mary Jo Foley has confirmed that the company's cloud and enterprise executive VP Scott Guthrie announced Somasegar's impending departure internally on October 8.

"Most recently, Somasegar has been in charge of Microsoft's developer tools and services, including programming languages and runtimes; the Visual Studio line of products and services; and the .Net Framework. Somasegar also was responsible for the Cloud and Enterprise business' Global Development Centers in China, India, and Israel, and was the executive sponsor for these centers for all of Microsoft," reports Foley.

Soma has lead a huge proportion of the development behind Microsoft Visual Studio and the firm's wider software application development tools and platform.

As he now moves on to new challenges, Soma's clarity, deep technical knowledge and genuine embrace of open source and overall affable and approachable demeanour will be sorely missed.

NetSuite: ecommerce is an omnichannel multi-modal many-layered thing

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Cloud-based financials and ERP company NetSuite held its Cloud Tour Europe 2015 this week in London.


Working to push forward its omnichannel software suite strategy, the firm announced the opening of two datacentre deployments: one in Amsterdam, Netherlands and the other in Dublin, Ireland.

These new EU datacentres are intended to enable companies to store their NetSuite business data physically in the European Union.

"This is especially significant given that the EU Court of Justice today declared the EU-US Safe Harbour framework invalid," said the company, in a press statement.

Infrastructure -- and then below infrastructure

"Our next challenge is [building a workforce and engendering an integrator community of] people who can help optimise NetSuite for specific business use cases," said CEO Zach Nelson, speaking at the event held at London's Emirates stadium.

Nelson was referring to the need for developers to help build out the NetSuite proposition at an explicit application implementation level... and at a wider and higher ecosystem level too.

As previously noted on Computer Weekly, the firm's approach to software application development is meant to mean that programmers have an opportunity to not only configure, but add on to the NetSuite software suite (in a unified way, obviously).

Extending the scope of the NetSuite suite

The company is partnering with Ultimate Software and Microsoft but it also underlines that it is really open to any developer (or ISV) that wants to extend the 'x-factor' (we would say 'technology proposition', the company would say 'value') of NetSuite.

"We're enabling third party ISVs to disrupt their model by using NetSuite to unlock even more potential with the NetSuite business cloud," said the company.

How easy is it to develop software for ecommerce?

Software application development for ecommerce presents what is perhaps a special challenge in that it has to be:

• Omnichannel (suitable for all different purchasing elements, behaviours, transaction types, before-purchase research browsing, different after sales elements etc.) - bricks and mortar shopping is still with us, but is kind of on the way out.
• Multi-currency,
• Multi-language (human world language)
• Multi-tax
• Any-device (well, all vendors say that don't they?)

"NetSuite demonstrated the importance of Europe to its growth strategy with the acquisition of UK cloud-based ecommerce pioneer Venda last year. Additionally, NetSuite's OneWorld and SuiteCommerce solutions are ideally suited to power organisations needing to successfully navigate the highly complex multi-currency, multi-language and multi-tax requirements of the European market," said the company, in a press statement.

Executing the accelerators

In break out sessions at this event we learnt more details relating the deployment and implementation of technology like NetSuite's...

... specifically, we can see that an ERP/financials firm like NetSuite will be specifically interested in how it can work with partner developer Systems Integrators (SIs) to tune at the front end.

It's all about how partners are 'executing with you' with accelerators that will sit on top of SuiteCloud -- and so use NetSuite as a platform upon which to build for:

• the specific needs of a customer
• the specific needs of a use case in an industry vertical
• the specific needs of a so-called 'micro-vertical'
• the specific needs of business model (a two-tier architecture model for example)

So then, we can see that building ecommerce software application extensions, optimisations, accelerators and enhancements is something that a firm like NetSuite will want to champion among its integrator community when it can identify what it calls: "a repeatable offering for a specific vertical" to be developed.

But though, we can also see that building ecommerce extras can be tough as each integrator will need to be able to create software that does not break each and every time NetSuite itself releases a new core version of its platform.

Well then, overall, we can see that ecommerce is a many splendored thing.

Editorial disclosure: Adrian Bridgwater has worked on NetSuite blogs at its annual SuiteWorld conference and exhibition.

Mainframe DevOps is here -- and it's called ManDops

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Mainframe DevOps isn't really a thing, is it?


As we know... if your DevOps capability toolset doesn't include quantifiable tasks metrics and call stack analysis technology, then it's probably spin, puff and fluff.

Compuware thinks Mainframe DevOps (ManDops, perhaps?) does exist and has spun the use of this term out to coincide with the release of this year's fourth major release of its Topaz software.

Mainframe mechanics

The new release features Topaz Runtime Visualizer (Topaz RV), which provides visibility into the complex interactions between mainframe programs.

This visibility makes it easier for developers to understand, modify and troubleshoot complex and/or poorly documented mainframe code.

Hmmm, that actually does sound like a process-centric runtime-level piece of operational analysis/management technology -- it's almost like DevOps for the mainframe.

According to Compuware, "Without Topaz RV, discovering and understanding the calls mainframe programs make to other applications and databases during runtime can be an extremely slow, difficult and error-prone process -- especially for inexperienced mainframe developers faced with applications that may have little or no documentation."

Mainframe mapping

With Topaz RV developers can generate an intuitive map of the external calls a program executes during any specified runtime minutes, without the need to refer to source code.

Topaz RV enables developers to drill down into a program's external calls to see how often programs call each other during a runtime and/or the specific datasets a program accesses at each point in its execution.

This insight helps pinpoint potential performance bottlenecks, inefficiencies and inter-program impacts.

"Topaz RV is an ideal complement to traditional source-code parsing, which itemizes all out-of-program calls written into an application's code. By discovering and mapping only the program-to-program calls that actually occur during a live runtime of any developer-specified task--such as placing an order or running a monthly report--Topaz RV gives developers a clear and accurate 'snapshot' of a program's real behaviour in the production environment under present conditions," said the company, in a press statement.

The firm insists that this release removes impediments that have historically prevented enterprises from reaping the full potential value of their mainframe applications, data and hardware.

These impediments include:

• Declining in-house mainframe programming expertise and experience
• Inadequate documentation of mainframe applications
• Uncertain reliability of available source code
• Slow change management processes that depend excessively on manual program analysis and/or idiosyncratic knowledge of key SMEs
• The high business risk associated with making changes in an environment of complex and inadequately understood dependencies/impacts
• Poor collaboration between mainframe and non-mainframe developers

DevopsGrader -- grades DevOps, not DevOps spin

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There's way too much PR spin in DevOps, it's a basic fact of life.

This week saw yet another example of a company (this time a security specialist) pitching for interviews with its DevOps security guru.

Next they'll start calling it, DevSecOps, just wait.

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NOTE: Even if that term were popularised, surely it would be DevOps with additional security layers (some baked-in to core architecture and so inside the DevOps process, yes) but not enough of a total reimagining of DevOps (which is laced with hyperbole anyway) to warrant the complete renaming of the function.

As this comment sums up, "There's an old saying in DevOps: if your DevOps capability toolset doesn't include quantifiable tasks metrics and call stack analysis technology, then it's probably spin, puff and fluff. Actually, they don't say that at all, but they should."

But... munch!

So what's next on the table? Well CloudMunch has to get some kudos, simply for naming itself CloudMunch.

The firm claims to be a DevOps platform provider.

An "innovative" one, obviously.

Its DevOps Grader is a tool designed to helps DevOps managers assess core competencies across the deployment environment and identify areas for improvement.

This is an interactive, self-administered questionnaire that objectively evaluates development function against industry best practices, then provides instant "grades" on development practices in five critical development areas:

• continuous delivery,
• continuous deployment,
• continuous insights,
• continuous integration and,
• governance.

Co-founder and CEO of CloudMunch Pradeep Prabhu insists that firms are under pressure to integrate multiple platforms and diverse toolsets while meeting increasing demands for speed and flexibility.

"Our new DevOps Grader helps these enterprises identify critical gaps in their infrastructure, processes and workflows so they will be more aligned with evolving best practices in the industry," said Prabhu.

Functions breakdown

Continuous delivery: Assesses an organisation's ability to manage and control application changes, as well as deployment of individual features to production and feature visibility.

Continuous deployment: Measures consistency in processes for deploying operating systems and application across all environments. Also, evaluates documentation of processes and ability to deploy changes with zero user-visible downtime.

Continuous insights: Identifies tracking metrics used to improve and innovate the process; build/deployment times; frequency and failure rates; and application and user behaviour

Continuous integration: Evaluates ability to manage version control, automated build process, testing procedures, execution of automated builds and responses to build failures.

Governance: Assesses role-based access control and implementation of segregation-of-duties (SoD) requirements, as well as ability to identify and implement improvements regularly and continuously.

"Today, DevOps needs to focus more on collaborative processes to increase agility and productivity across the enterprise," said Al Hilwa, program director for software development research at IDC. "Inconsistent configurations and errors occur in application development and modern developer tools can help to resolve these problems. Tracking and evaluating the stages of an application implementation is key for DevOps and enterprise developers."

The tool is now available free of charge to select beta customers.

Image credit:

Microsoft Azure: we're platform-agnostic, but we think you'll like our own special sauce

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Every cloud provider should have it's own exhibition, symposium, pow-wow and convention with the name of its product bolted onto or into the shortened "con" for conference, right?

So then, Microsoft Corp has AzureCon, obviously.

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NOTE: If you want to pronounce Azure correctly you have to adopt an American lilt -- so forget any use of "Az-you-rrr", you need to shorten to "Az-yer".

The firm hosted the event somewhere in North America (none of the website pages seem to say where it was) and this was a chance to focus on solutions spanning containers, security, infrastructure and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Yes and of course, Microsoft said transformation, transformation, transformation -- that's what everybody says today -- Microsoft also said "generational shift in computing", so that's a nice extra.

(Ed -- enough cheap jibes already, get on with it)

Microsoft cloud exec Veep Scott Guthrie (no smart remarks please, this man a true techie hero, make no mistake) spoke about the "vast opportunity" for businesses to tap into their data to make their software application development more intelligent.

So to the products...

Containerisation is an increasingly popular way to maximise application values said Guthrie.

That was a nice comment to segue to Microsoft's new Azure Container Service designed to combine the openness of Apache Mesos (that's a piece of open source cluster management software) and Docker with the hyper-scale of Azure for container orchestration and management.

Web-scale hyper-scale

Hang on, Nutanix talks about web-scale and Microsoft talks about hyper-scale, but they appear to be mostly the same thing i.e. large and connected.

With the new service, cloud developers using Azure are promised an easy route to easily deploy and configure Mesos to cluster and schedule Dockerized applications across multiple virtual hosts.

According to Microsoft, "Unlike many other container services in market today, this offering is based on open source to enable customer choice across the ecosystem and will support Windows Server containers in the future. The service will be available for preview by the end of the year."


A platform-agnostic Microsoft

IDC's Al Hilwa commented on some of the news released and said that, "I found it interesting that Microsoft is going to ship Linux cluster container management on Linux ahead of Windows."

"This is definitely the new Microsoft trying hard to be as platform-agnostic as it can in its cloud, in order not to be left behind. Mesos is a great open source solution that is getting a lot of traction. It is important today that the platform players are way ahead of real customers in terms of deployments, so I expect this space to remain in flux," added Hilwa, who is IDC's programme director for software development research.

Microsoft also announced that its Azure IoT Suite is now available -- this package is intended to be used to build and scale IoT projects using preconfigured solutions.

Microsoft also announced the expansion of Azure Data Lake -- this includes Azure Data Lake Analytics, Azure Data Lake Store, a new programming language U-SQL and Azure HDInsight general availability on Linux.

Azure Security Center was also in the group of announcements here. Plus also N-series, a new family of Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) powered by NVIDIA GPUs.

If you want to big picture on where Microsoft sits with cloud today, play to Guthrie's keynote and listen carefully at 2:47 -- Microsoft's claims its "total" offering in cloud is more comprehensive than any other competitor.

Very sneaky, very clever

The wider Microsoft strategy may yet prove more intelligent than at first glance i.e. the platform-agnosticism extends to mean that developers should be able to program for "any endpoint" -- it doesn't matter which device you use...

... but all the while, Microsoft is making the Surface running Windows 10 (for my money) a much better machine that the iPad for mobile computing, by far.

Go open, but then make your own products better anyway?

Damn! I wonder if Redmond realised that?

Artificial Intelligence platform with machine learning & implicit personalisation.

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You would have to be brave to call your company Artificial Solutions right?

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Well, either brave, foolhardy or specifically working in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) at least.

Artificial Solutions, it turns out, works in AI.

NOTE:Natural Language Interaction (NLI), a form of Artificial Intelligence that allows people to talk to applications and electronic devices in free-format, natural language, using speech, text, touch or gesture.

The company has just launched its Teneo 4 software -- a route for software application development pros to create so-called "natural language applications" that embrace artificial intelligence though the use of machine learning and implicit personalisation.

Key features of Teneo 4 include software that covers every aspect of natural language application development in 35 languages running on any operating system or device.

Also here you can find analytics designed to unlock the knowledge, sentiment and future trends held in natural language conversations.

Digital employees

The firm insists that Teneo 4 enables programmers to build a range of artificially intelligent natural language applications from digital employees and mobile personal assistants, to wearables and IoT interfaces.

"People's expectation of technology is changing rapidly. They no longer assume it will just respond to their commands, they anticipate an intelligent response," says Lawrence Flynn, CEO of Artificial Solutions.

"In the past, meeting those expectations was beyond the capabilities and resources of most companies, but with Teneo 4 we've simplified the process through machine learning and highly intelligent automation to enable enterprises to deliver what their customers want today."

NLI (Natural Language Interaction)

Real-time interpretation of natural language data and the ability to access individual specific information from other data sources, allows NLI (Natural Language Interaction) apps to automatically personalise their responses to an individual level and open up new marketing possibilities and revenue opportunities for enterprises.

What to expect from the NetSuite cloud summit London 2015

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What makes a Silicon Valley technology evangelist spokesperson -- and how do you spot one?

NetSuite's Fred Studer would argue that it comes down to having a Twitter profile that reads as follows:


"@fredstuder -- raconteur, amusement enhancer, diet atheist, wonderment seeker, constant disruptor, NetSuite marketer and father."

Ah-hem, did he just say 'wonderment seeker'? Yes we think he did.

Studer is in London town with the rest of the NetSuite glitterati for the firm's annual London cloud summit this October 2015.

For a Silicon Valley based company to spend an entire day focused on UK press and customers (with senior board figures present) is, arguably, somewhat unusual -- but NetSuite CEO Zach Nelson has spoken openly about his firm's concentrated focus on this part of Europe.

NetSuite will now hope to combine the strength of its board in a quest to beat off its rivals in the cloud based financials market. Specifically, the company now describes itself as an ERP and omnichannel commerce player.

All is fair in love, war & cloud ERP

Before we look at what's new, let's look at one foundational trend that isn't changing i.e. direct pot shots at the competition. The cloud ERP guys love this stuff and seem to positively thrive on it.

Whereas programming delivery tools specialists (for example) might talk about the competition in a comparatively polite fashion, in cloud ERP... its open season for blood all year round.

Take a look at NetSuite's July 2015 press release for example: "Slush Puppie Ltd., Europe's leading expert in iced drinks technology and the sole European distributor of the iconic soft drink, has selected NetSuite OneWorld to replace its ageing Sage Line 500 system and numerous Excel spreadsheets."

Yes, the comms team actually called out there competitors as "ageing" -- and this is nothing compared to a Zac Nelson keynote where you can expect at least one SAP joke per hour as standard operational practice.

NetSuite doesn't have it all its own way though -- competitor Financial Force takes the departure gate banner ad at San Jose airport with a suitable slur in an attempt to leave all departing NetSuite SuiteWorld attendees with a bad taste in their mouths.

Come on people, be a bit nicer and tell us about cloud ERP software application development issues!

So what's new at NetSuite?


Studer spoke to the Computer Weekly Developer Network blog in advance of his arrival in the Europe to tell us what he envisions for the firm, why developers matter and how important the UK is to the firm.

CWDN: What do you see for the future of development in business applications?

Studer: What we've seen that's impacted our approach to application development -- is the impact of digital transformation on the business. Users are now intolerant of differences between their business applications and their consumer apps.

Everyone wants to be B2C. From how a company adopts technology to how we download and install an app, NetSuite has to accommodate that. How we deploy and upgrade has to look more like a consumer app. The way companies use our technology needs to be consumer oriented as well. That's why we've spent so much time on simplifying adoption of technology as well as innovate around user experience and I think you're seeing that across all application development.

CWDN: When it comes specifically to developers, SuiteScript exist to to create flexible business logic within NetSuite tailored to specific business needs -- from sophisticated business processes to entirely new applications. But do you think you will be known as a 'developer' company any time soon?

Studer: Absolutely. Because of the way we built our platform in an open and straightforward way and the way we built in the ability to run our suite of apps for businesses, developers have an endless opportunity to not only configure but add on to this suite in a unified way. You've seen that with big partnerships we've announced with Ultimate Software and Microsoft but it really opens it to any developer or ISV that wants to extend the value of NetSuite. We're enabling third party ISVs to disrupt their model by using NetSuite to unlock even more potential with the NetSuite business cloud.

CWDN: What's the real drive behind having this event in London and why is the UK such an important market for you when you look at the whole of Europe?

Studer: Europe has always been extremely important for NetSuite. For a lot of innovative companies in North America this is their next natural market. It's English speaking but also has a sophisticated and strategic economy.

What NetSuite has also found is that start-up companies, private equity and venture investment here has been very strong. NetSuite has always done very well with start-ups and in fact NetSuite has been an important part of the so-called "unicorns," companies that have reached $1 billion valuations like FitBit, DocuSign and Zendesk. The major growth of the economy and the technological innovation that is happening in the UK compels us to accelerate our own go-to market in Europe and specifically the UK.

Besides, fish and chips is one of the most popular dishes at NetSuite. We've got an appetite for disruption and for fish and chips.

Editorial disclosure: Adrian Bridgwater has worked on NetSuite blogs at its annual SuiteWorld conference and exhibition.

It's conference season: please don't mention the Pope (or disruption)!

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Actually, the title of this piece should read -- it's conference season: so please don't mention the Pope, Uber, Amazon, Ali Baba, Facebook and if you can possibly manage not to to use the DISRUPTION word, that would be great.

Technology keynote speakers have a tough job to do...

... they have to be interesting and try and say something insightful as a prelude to the fact that their firm has updated its software and added another .dot x label to the 'platform' in question.

An inconvenient truth

You see, the inconvenient truth is that TechCrunch wrote a piece on customer interface challenges with the below opening paragraph:

"Uber, the world's largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world's most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world's largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate."

When keynote speakers do not opt for quoting this now very tired (but very clever) line, they opt for the old Pope progress picture as shown below.


Apart from one early adopter (can you spot him/her?), we do know that the smartphone and tablet have arrived, but thanks for reminding us.

It's 2015 autumn (we had better say 'fall') conference season, so let's leave this blog open in the hope that the current season of events will produce something more inspiring.

Salesforce Dreamforce just kicked off with an opening set from Stevie Wonder, that'll be tough to top really won't it?

VMware on digital skills: hidden truths & the millennial myth

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Like him (and his social network) or not, Mark 'Zuck' Zuckerberg has made with one arguably worthy comment, it appears.


"The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks," he said.

Staines, AIII

This quote was just one of the truths aired at a meeting of minds last week staged by VMware to celebrate the opening of its new Staines office premises.

Zut Alors! Le rosbif c'est incroyable

Currently braving the British food during his tenure at the top is Jean-Pierre Brulard, senior vice president general manager for EMEA at VMware.

Brulard commented that the UK is at important point in terms of digital skills... "Many new processes being brought forward with the rise of cloud and virtualisation," he said.

Matt Piercy, veep for Northern EMEA said that what we actually have to do is develop the skills that will drive this "disruption" that we talk about.

"The problem is that we have 'digital talent, that is stuck in an analogue world' - much legacy tech pervades," he said.

Digital reality

Customers are now actively seeking digital channels to engage with in terms of the purchases (goods and services) they make... what matters is that customers are actively seeking out these types of companies because these are the ones they want to do business with. The firms without these digital channels will fail to get the business -- so developing the digital skills across the workforce becomes even more of an imperative.

Multi-coloured Maggie

BBC TV favourite and all round tech champion Maggie Philbin was also part of this panel.

Philbin is CEO of TeenTech and is also involved with government's Digital Skills TaskForce and is of course a technology journalist/presenter in her own right.

"There's a major problem if we assess students' skills via exams where kids are sat on their own with a piece of paper," said Philbin. "When would we ever want them to work like that [in the real world]."

VMware CTO Joe Baguley dropped in one of the most impactful comments of the day when he explained that his 15-year old daughter has changed her bank account twice in the last 18 months based upon the kind of app the bank is prepared to give her...

... it's true, the digital world is changing.

As we move towards speaking to children and their digital upskilling... it is important to realise that some of the skills we are talking about developing may not even exist in 20 years time. But that's okay surely.

Baguley also said that people keep talking about enterprise grade, but this expression needs to be eradicated.

"What I say is how much worse than consumer grade could this product be? In terms of usability we should be talking about products that are just as intuitive (in terms of being able to learn how to use them) as your smartphone. If it takes half a day to train a new employee up on how to operate a particular part of an IT system, then this is too long," he said.

"Profoundly changing skillsets in today's digital age are transforming the way businesses are run, impacting how strategy, direction and decisions themselves are formulated," said Matt Crosby, head of expertise for UK and Ireland at global management consulting firm Hay Group.

"The challenge, and opportunity will be in aligning senior teams with years of experience of running businesses in a pre-digital age with younger talent who bring new expertise, expectations and motivations. Each company must work hard to find a system that brings this multi-generational workforce together, doing some of the 'old' things well, such as measuring accountability, performance and outcomes, whilst also making sure that ideas and new ways of working flourish."

VMware backed up its office opening and this discussion roundtable with some research that claims to debunk the millennial myth and reveals employees across all ages in the UK have significant influence within businesses to drive digital transformation.

From failsafe, to safe fail

It's all about moving from a system of failsafe, to a system of safe fail --- so that we can drive disruption.

Ali G image credit: Freemantle Media Ltd.

NGINX release 7: what is an application delivery platform anyway?

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Whether we list the firm as nginx or NGINX, it is neither an acronym, a portmanteau or a shortening.

The company nginx is pronounced "Engine-Ex" and the firm is a specialist in software engine deliver technology -- so, it's an application delivery platform.

So what is an application delivery platform anyway?

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The above graphic should give you a good head start on what kind of technologies are included in an application delivery platform -- i.e. essentially, it's a web server.

The update provides a fully supported implementation of the new HTTP/2 web standard.

NGINX Plus can be deployed as a front-end HTTP/2 gateway and accelerator for both new and existing web services.

"With HTTP/2 support, organisations can now adopt the latest web standard without having to change any of their existing applications," said the firm.

Users also now have an option to benefit from the security enhancements built into the new protocol, which was first made available in August as an early alpha-level patch enabling HTTP/2 support in NGINX.

NOTE: The final open source version will become available following the release of R7.

The latest update also adds enhancements to make application monitoring, management, and debugging easier.

CEO messages

"Our latest release is about providing even more tools to ensure the best possible experience for users," said Gus Robertson, CEO at NGINX, Inc.

"We are the fabric of our customer's infrastructure and that puts us in a place to be able to provide visibility and control over the applications they deploy."

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Four pillars of truth for microservices

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In case you hadn't noticed, microservices are big news.


As TechTarget devotees will know, the definition of a microservice is that thing which exists in a particular form of application development in which the application is built as a suite of services.

Microservice service

Each microservice service (or each microservice microservice) is independently deployable and scalable and, therefore, each microservice can be managed by different aspects of a development team.

Four pillars of truth

Here are four considerations, from Jinesh Parekh of Idyllic Software for developers to should consider when venturing into the world of microservices:

# 1. Currently there are not enough guidelines and documentation on how to build software using microservices.

#2. Getting it wrong is easy -- we must have the proper architecture and automation in place to ensure success and avoid failures.

#3. Switching back to monolithic architectures once microservices are introduced and deployed is very problematic.

#4. It takes an experienced leader to make microservices work and deliver value.

Why microservices happened

"There are several reasons for the rise in microservices adoption, starting with the increasing complexity of previously otherwise monolithic architectures that are very burdensome and which, in turn, stifle productivity and application deployment speed," said Parekh.

Parekh argues that building de-coupled apps in the microservices approach addresses the multifaceted dependency issues that affect core code, legacy teams, platforms and architectures.

He concludes, "Done right, and microservices are not entirely easy, software organization can innovate faster, build very resilient software and raise standards around quality and high availability.Microservices also removes long-term commitments to a single technology stack, eliminates the new for continuous stack upgrades, reduces dependency of long-time, legacy developers and removes the 'house of cards' failures that are far too common when new applications are released into production."

Image credit: How To Draw Funny Cartoons IoT integration x4-play: software, systems, sensors & devices

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The firm's rationale for updates to Flow are to give it more functionality and make it more accessible for developers (and non-developers too) now.

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But what is it?

This is integration software designed to make enterprise and Internet of Things (IoT) integration attainable i.e in other words, it connects software, systems, sensors and devices.

You could call it cloud-based Integration-as-a-Service, if you like.

According to the firm, anything with a digital heartbeat and an API can now participate in automating business processes, boost the capabilities of mobile applications and enable faster innovation across the business.

The release introduces enhancements including:

  • Triggers for applications initiate workflows across unlimited, connected systems.
  • Live Trigger Visualization allows developers to test, debug and run automated, realtime workflows.
  • Flow's Enterprise Gateway securely connects firewalled systems to cloud and web-based services, as well the burgeoning world of mobile and IoT.
  • A revamped visual designer instantly creates sophisticated workflows that orchestrate and automate complex business processes.
  • The Advanced API Builder allows developers to author, combine, wrap and abstract multiple API calls into one single call. Flow operates entirely in the cloud - from design to deployment - without requiring setup, installation or configuration of local software components.

VMs are now a commodity, service isn't

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This is a guest post for the Computer Weekly Developer Network by Nigel Shaw, chief operating officer at cloud hosting company Pulsant.

Pulsant (pron: pulse-unt) is one of the UK's largest providers of datacentres, cloud hosting services and managed networks.


Shaw speaketh

When considering who to partner with in the ever-expanding world of cloud providers, it soon becomes clear that in this sector, IT jargon is rife. If you believe the hype, it seems that everyone is offering great value, fantastic service, flexibility to expand and 'awesome' capability.

As this market matures, these kinds of capabilities are, and frankly should be, a 'given', the minimum level requirement to get you to start a conversation.

On the flip side, it is equally clear that some cloud providers are struggling to differentiate themselves and their products. So what do you want out of your IT provider?

Cloudy fine print

For any cloud consumer that is especially cost-conscious, and inevitably that includes most of them, my advice is always to check the fine print. While the big providers are in a headline race to zero, it's only true for certain products or features, other providers can offer better value in the right circumstance.

You then need to consider end to end service. How comforting will you find it being able to buy another virtual machine (VM) with just your credit card on a Sunday afternoon, when your application is running slowly, and the online portal tells you everything is running to plan? How much self-service do you really want?

When you do get through to someone (even if you have provided them with a credit card being billed by the minute), what attitude do you want them to have: one that looks at the technology and tells you everything is fine, so have a nice day: one that says we could help you - but it's not in the contract, or one that will help you identify that there's a problem with your SQL stored procedures and will make recommendations, or even email your application support team with a diagnostic tool and a description of the changes needed?

Solution resolution

Then, there is the solution. Today, you may well have one that is just the same as everyone else's, consisting of 'off the shelf' components that in theory will meet every need. What will happen if you need something ever so slightly different, something not run of the mill?

You'll need a provider that is able to consider your requests, make sensible recommendations, and work with you to create a solution that meets all your requirements rather than simply those they happen to sell.

Finally, ask yourself do you really want to be with a supplier who will provide you with more capacity only once you've signed a new contract, or one that will turn off your service at midnight at the contract end, even though it's not been fully migrated - just because they can. When you get under the hype, there really is a lot of difference in the cloud market today, so be sure to make the right choice.

About the author's stack

Pulsant designs, deploys and optimises technology solutions that deliver business-focused outcomes to a customer base of over 2,500 organisations active in the private and public sector.

An Internet of Health developer platform in iHealth

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We talk a lot about the so-called Internet of Things and now the Internet of Everything even... but the next wave of development will depend on actual devices and tangible platforms that software application developers can physically target.


If there is indeed an Internet of Health (really, it's just another part of the IoT with a close faily relationship to 'wearable' technologies of course), then we need more than just FitBits (as lovely as they are) to facilitate the next phase of growth.

The iHealth line of personal mobile blood pressure monitors is one of the higher quality new IoT devices to hit the market.

As I have written elsewhere, the build quality is high, the readout results are accurate and the user experience is good.

The devices come with a free mobile application and sync with iPod, iPhone and iPad - plus Android devices.

As already noted, we could perhaps suggest that the point of a product like this is its portability and ease of use -- essentially, it encourages the user to track personal blood pressure and start watching their health on the same device that they use to check Facebook.

According to the company, "The free iHealth MyVitals app automatically keeps a history of your data and gives you the option to share your information with your doctor or caregiver. Our devices work with both Apple and Android devices.

The system itself is as intuitive as any user would want and naturally expect in this age -- it's easy to set up a profile and the Bluetooth sync ability to iPad and iPhone is good (in fact it's so good that you don't need to fuss around pairing or even turning the armband device on again for subsequent uses - opening the app on the device is enough).


As stated by the devices top reviewer, "As a cardiologist, I have used this machine over the past five days, taking a manual blood pressure and then using the iHome blood pressure machine on my patients. I admit surprised in that the machine is very accurate. In one patient (with a thick shirt on) it was 10mmHg off, but otherwise, it is usually within 5mmHg of my independent reading."

Using the 'Trends' function a user can review your history in both a graph and list format.

The machine charges via a USB cable and battery life is said to be enough for 100 uses.

According to its makers, "In addition to keeping your data on your mobile device, you also receive a free and secure cloud account. Accessible from any computer, you can log on to view all of your vitals, as well as share readings with your healthcare provider."

What needs to happen next is third party application integration and this if anything is the only criticism levied at this product and the software presented here.

Third-party app integrations will be key to making the Internet of Health in the IoT actually work for all of us humans.

Devices in this category are becoming increasingly sophisticated and the iHealth line is worth tracking for wider developments.


Lytro light-field Power Tools (LPT) go beta for programmers

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Lytro, Inc. is giving users new access to its products with news of Lytro Power Tools (LPT) now going to be beta.


Lytro Power Tools are a set of Python camera, image control and web tools and support for Android Debug Bridge (ADB) command line interface.

The new tools are developed for programmers, developers and researchers, or anyone who is interested in experimenting with light field imagery using a Lytro camera.

A light field camera (also known as plenoptic camera) captures information about the intensity of light in a scene, and also captures information about the direction that the light rays are traveling in space.

The platform was developed for programmers, researchers and artists control with this technology from capture on the camera to post-processing light field data.

Light field exploration

"By taking the most advanced light field camera and turning it into a platform, we're giving our community the tools to explore the technology and pursue their creative vision in a way never before possible" said Sam Tellman, Lytro product manager. "This is something that no other camera company has done, and we will continue to push light field exploration, experimentation and creativity forward."

With LPT Beta, programmers can create new tools for camera control and light field image processing using the Python-based tools and Android Debug Bridge (ADB) command line interface.

These tools can be downloaded and shared via SD card - the real power of LPT Beta lies in the root level access to the camera's Android operating system - and the opportunity for users to create whatever tools they want, specific and unique to each project.

Alpha participants have created and shared tools to generatetime-lapse video as well as panoramic video that can be viewed with virtual reality headsets like Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR.

You can find a great demo of light-field images here

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Lenovo: a Legend New(ovo) in hyperconverged infrastructure?

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The dot com boom is over, so we no longer need to start spelling company names starting with lower case letters.


If anything, firms in this decade seem to think they can capitalise their entire moniker for extra (virtual) print points -- and yes Nvidia, we do mean you.

SimpliVity is aiming to establish a new trend: random capitalisation in the middle of a word if you can find a letter that looks best as a stand out character in a corporate designation.

Unnecessary grousing and faultfinding notwithstanding then, what has the company with the random V been up to?

PartNersHip timE!

It appears that the firm has announced a partnership with Lenovo to deliver hyperconverged infrastructure solutions based on their joint technologies.

SimpliVity comes forth with its OmniStack Data Virtualization Platform which will now be available as an integrated solution with Lenovo System x3650 servers.

Lenovo VP & GM Brian Hamel claims that, "These high-performance systems will exponentially reduce datacenter complexity and costs for cloud-based services and mission-critical transactional systems."

What's inside hyperconvergence?

The SimpliVity OmniStack Solution running on Lenovo System x3650 M5 is a hyperconverged IT platform that provides all IT services below the hypervisor, including compute, storage and networking, real-time data de-duplication, compression and optimization functions along with built-in backup, disaster recovery and WAN optimization capabilities -- in a single device.

Intel IDF: the human side of 'affective computing'

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The Computer Weekly Developer Network is fond of the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) show.


Reporting from afar this year we see that CEO Brian Krzanich has highlighted new products, tools and programmes that support the growing personalisation of computing.

The human side

Krzanich said computing has become increasingly personal, enhancing nearly all aspects of lives.

"Computers are on our desks, in our bags, in our clothes, in our homes and on our bodies. They are not only growing smarter and more connected, but gaining senses and becoming an extension of ourselves."

The firm says an ecosystem is emerging around Intel to address these growing opportunities for computing.

Affective computing, defined

Intel's comments lead us to consider what many are now calling affective computing.

According to MIT, "Affective Computing is computing that relates to, arises from, or deliberately influences emotion or other affective phenomena."

Back at Intel IDF... Krzanich unveiled a number of updates to Intel RealSense technology that the firm claims will bring depth sensing to more devices and applications.

It also announced new collaborations for securing the Internet of Things (IoT), in addition to programmes and toolkits for developers to help speed industrial IoT solutions to market.

For the highly personalized world of wearable computing, Krzanich provided updates on the Intel Curie module -- technology designed to provide a low-power solution designed for companies interested in developing wearable technology solutions.

CoreFit: a broadcast 4.0 application-inside-publishing model

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This is the age of the Internet of Things and the so-called 'wearable' technology device, this much we already know.

This is also the age of online news, the Amazon Kindle (other e-readers are also available) and a digital publishing shakeup that sees the old school 'Broadcast 1.0' model of media consigned to a quieter (but still appreciated by some) life. So just for the record:

• Broadcast 1.0 -- users consumed media (from TV to magazines to newspapers) when they were available at a time set by the networks and publishers.

• Broadcast 2.0 -- on demand programming and the Internet arrived; we could consume what media we wanted, whenever.

• Broadcast 3.0 -- in the third age of media we plugged in 'social' and this meant we could consume what we want, when we wanted it, but (and here's the crucial difference) we started to select media based upon the recommendations of others in our trusted personal circles.

Broadcast 4.0

If there is a fourth age of media -- or a broadcast 4.0 to extend the analogy -- then it could be the coming together of media channels with the software application development space.

Yes obviously publishers often have their own 'app', which individuals can use to access content (some on subscription, some not) and these can provide quite interactive experiences. But the next level is just one step further.

CoreFit is a venture capital stage startup based in the UK.

NOTE: The firm is currently actively seeking investment to expand the brand into the UK and America after launching in Spain in 2014.

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The firm's market proposition is intended to be seen as an advertising and publishing content integration platform -- and a software application in its own right. CoreFit describes a kind of broadcast 4.0 world where its technology is used to provide content targeted at male and female millennial sports and fitness enthusiasts -- but with additional 'application functionality' integrated into the content that is delivered.

So in terms of usage, how would software developers align application design to be empathic of the needs of an individual user?

"CoreFit integrates advertising from commercial vendors with what is relevant magazine-style health, sports, fitness and lifestyle content for its readers. What this means (and some of this technology is still in the embryonic stage) is that a user could access all of his/her favourite fitness content -- then, connect, integrate and cross-reference that content with data tracking their own physical wellbeing," said Nathan Berkley, director of strategic content for CoreFit. "The end result being content, advertising and even other application suggestions that correspond with not just who the user is, but how their body is performing as well."

How it works (out)

The application itself is free to download on the Google App Store for Android and the Apple Store for iOS, but the firm will (obviously) target other platforms in the long run.

As a company, CoreFit explains that it does not own the technology platform underlying its model -- what the firm brings forward is the integration, the upper presentation layers, the health & fitness publishing expertise (the team has a specific track record in print) and what is effectively an avenue to allow software developers to work with extracted user-generated data that is of personal importance.

"Technically speaking, CoreFit first looked for a platform that it didn't own in terms of IP ownership... but one that has the potential to finally close a gap and deliver what we call a pure-play digital magazine application experience that isn't tied down by the constraints of a big brand that is still following its print edition," explained Berkley.

The application itself features interactive content covering topics from fitness news and trends, sportswear and technology innovation to nutrition and diet plans. It also includes interactive workouts tailored to an individuals' activity types and goals. There are also sports, fitness and lifestyle articles.

What developers should think

"What we are saying to developers is that here is a platform to create a tailored interactive reader experience that can be fully enjoyed on both smartphones and tablets. There's a new 'intersection' point here where the Internet of Things, wearable fitness tracking technology and the ubiquity of connected devices can meet personalized content inside user applications. Programmers should think of a new breed of application that has arguably even greater device-to-user proximity than even email perhaps," said Berkley.

This is not a fitness application that you use alongside a fitness magazine; this is a fitness application bridging the divide between an app and a magazine, with enhancements for readers to interact with the content. CoreFit agrees that this a model that could suit some other industries, but personal health shares a special suitability here and is of course the fastest growing area when it comes to wearable technologies.

"Digital magazine publishers absolutely must move on from the print mindset and monthly format in order to create content-rich, engaging experiences in line with other app models - Spotify, iPlayer, YouTube, Pinterest and so on. Whether the user dips in for five minutes every day, or perhaps once a week for a longer form read - the experience must be fluid, customisable - to a point - and fresh," said David Hicks, digital product consultant at Hicks Digital.

The problem with a monthly digital publishing model is that in 99% of apps, the app 'library' or the first screen seen, never changes - and the lack of value that a digital subscription within this model provided to the customer. I've always thought that an 'aggregator' app experience free of pop-up advertising and consisting of a user-specified choice of publishers, brands or stories is the way forward - and one that crosses over subject matter and country boundaries - and consistent on all devices," added Hicks.

CoreFit is currently available in Spanish and is intending to launch in the English language inside of 2015.

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Thingsee One, an IoT developer device

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Thingsee is a manufacturer of developer devices and platforms from Oulu (yes, it's a real place) in Finland.

The firm has announced the commercial availability of its Thingsee One device -- a 'smart' developer device for Internet of Things (IoT) application development.

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The CEO speaketh

"Thingsee allows a new range of developers to start building IoT products & services.You don't need to know C or C++. Just get the data you need using Thingsee One and build your applications server side with PHP, NodeJS or any other programming language," claims Pasi Jokinen, Thingsee's CEO.


Unlike other developer devices on the market, such as Raspberry Pi and Arduino, Thingsee One is ready for immediate use and is both weatherproof and impact resistant.

The unit has fully programmable sensors - including:

  • accelerometer,
  • magnetometer
  • humidity,
  • temperature and.
  • pressure sensors - plus,
  • extensive cellular connectivity.

Battery life lasts up to one year, or so we are told.

Thingsee One was first introduced to the market via a successful Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign run in late 2014.

The manufacture of the device began in Finland in July this year.

Thingsee is also launching Thingsee Creator, a visual programming tool as a public beta -- Creator is supposed to enable the creation of prototypes and new practices in just minutes.

Thingsee One is currently used globally by multiple companies and project groups of differing sizes. For example, large companies like Cisco Systems are using Thingsee One for prototyping new IoT concepts, and smaller teams like have used the device to develop complex new applications.

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