One of the more memorable phrases of the DevOps movement is Amazon CTO Werner Vogel’s 2006 statement: ‘You build it, you run it’. As definitions of DevOps go, its clarity and measurability have made it foundational to DevOps transformations ever since. Like many DevOps principles it emphasises decentralisation and autonomy, favouring cross-functional teams owning a solution end-to-end over the choreographed dance of functional teams. But how much can a team really ‘run it’ given the cognitive load on a typical engineering team?

Often, the reality is that no matter how thinly we slice a modern product, that slice turns out…

While many may proclaim that there’s one true way to distribute modern software, the reality is there is no single distribution model that suits every need. You may decide to ship software appliances in VMs and containers, utilise mobile app stores, build multi-tenant SaaS, open source your product, or provide on-prem downloadable airgapped installs. In the real world, software distribution models vary significantly according to the needs of go-to-market strategies.

Although a lot of the discussion about distribution focuses on which approach has the lowest unit economics, this isn’t the only constraint for most businesses. …

Every year businesses across the UK refresh huge numbers of laptops for their employees. I’m calling on CIOs and CTOs across those businesses to take the following actions:

1. If you have any end-of-life laptops hanging around, clean them up and give them away to your local schools.

2. Take this year’s laptop refresh budget, buy the laptops now, and loan them to any employee’s children who need them.

3. If you have any laptops left from #2 then don’t wait, do the refresh now and give the old laptop to a school.

As our children once again face learning…

Photo by Kecko on Flickr

In my formative years as a CTO, back when Basecamp was called 37 signals, I was hugely influenced by their 2006 book Getting Real which professed the then radical idea that the best products have a clear identity and concept of who they’re designed for, rather than the most voluminous features or performant specs. It was full of phrases like ‘build less’, ‘underdo your competition’, ‘make opinionated software’, ‘forget feature requests’. It was at heart a radical manifesto against software bloat. At that time most business software inevitably evolved into feature-laden beasts like Word, but we were about to enter…

Photo by John Barkiple on Unsplash

CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos famously once stood up to the suggestion that employees should communicate more with his retort “No, communication is terrible!”.

I was reminded of this recently while reading the book Team Topologies which recommends that architectural and organisational designs should leverage the high-bandwidth communication that is natural within teams and minimise the low-bandwidth communication between teams. Jeff Bezo’s sentiment was similar — he recognised that organisations often find themselves bogged down in cross-team communication to co-ordinate complex work. …

All product engineering is not the same.

That may seem like a simple statement, but software engineering is often equated to churning out lines of code, and if that’s the case why does it matter whether that code is for a mature product like SQL Monitor or our latest innovation like Spawn — it’s all just development isn’t it? Well, as you might expect the answer is that it’s not that simple. Back in the 90’s Geoffrey Moore wrote a game changing book for the software industry called Crossing the Chasm in which he describes how products, and categories of…

Mark Cheverton

Geek, maker, artist, and entrepreneur. CTO at Redgate Software

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