Amnic’s monthly newsletter Building Blocks captures major news and trends in the developer community.
This month’s newsletter puts the spotlight on the debate over whether or not devs should do ops, Microsoft’s Dev Box and a mysterious bug that had stalled a software update to NASA’s Curiosity rover, for years. Plus, weekend recommendations and MemeOps. At 740 words, this newsletter is a 4-minute read.
Dev Minus Ops?
Do devs want to do ops? This question is at the heart of a raging Reddit debate on the role of a developer and if full-stack developer is a mythical creature. The demands of ‘you run it, you build it’ may have started taking a toll on developer productivity, argues Scott Carey, managing editor at InfoWorld, in his sharp piece on ‘Devs don’t want to do ops’. That developers, pulled into different directions, are spending less and less time on writing code is a trend we had highlighted in the August edition of Building Blocks.
What then can be a solution? The idea of an internal developer platform (IDP), maintained by a team of specialists or platform engineers, that helps developers with tools and support they need to get their code into production is gaining currency. Put simply, these platforms prioritize developer experience and reduce their cognitive load.
So, is it end of the road for DevOps? Puppet’s 2020 State of DevOps Report found that highly evolved DevOps firms are six times as likely to report high use of internal platforms than firms with low level of DevOps maturity. Perhaps, an evolved model/platform that balances developer’s need for self-service and support is the future.
To Cloud or Not
Last month, Microsoft announced the public preview of its Dev Box — a managed service that allows developers to create on-demand, ready to code, project-specific workstations in the cloud. Microsoft’s Dev Box joins a list of cloud-based platforms (or online IDEs) like AWS Cloud9, Eclipse Che, Gitpod, Github Codespaces.
Cloud migration is accelerating and so is in-the-cloud development. According to a McKinsey report, cloud adoption can unlock $1 trillion in business value for enterprises by 2030.
With architecture getting more complex and securing developer workspace now a priority, online IDEs (integrated development environments) offer huge promise. Reducing build time and hardware requirement, allowing devs to work remotely and with greater collaboration with teams are some other benefits that come with online IDEs.
But not every dev is lapping it up. Getting used to a new workflow, latency issues, relatively narrow room for customisation — and you have a divided lot. Further, when it comes to the development ecosystem, decades-old legacy software (think Vim, Emacs) have stuck and continue to find favour.
For now, online and local IDEs co-exist but with online IDEs set to improve and mature with time, they hold an edge.
Last month, NASA’s Curiosity rover completed a decade on Mars. Initially expected to last two years, the rover has not only outlived its lifespan but is now set to get a 50 per cent speed boost due to a software update, allowing it to cover greater distances. First planned in 2015, it took seven years to push through this update, all because of a mysterious bug. The bug which was first detected on an Earth-based rover could not be replicated in simulations. The problem was finally resolved in 2019 – what followed next was months and months of testing. The update is now ready to be transmitted via radio waves.
As they say, behind every successful rover, there is a team of hundreds of dedicated engineers.
One Event to Attend: SaaStr Annual
One of the largest non-vendor SaaS events in the industry, the SaaStr Annual will be held in the San Francisco Bay Area from September 13-15. In its 8th year, it is the ‘super bowl moment’ for SaaS companies — where VCs, investors and enterprise as well as startup founders drop by for a chat. In case you are planning to attend it, do say hello to Team Amnic there.
One Video to Watch: $9 Bn Reliability Lessons from James Webb Space Telescope
If space and engineering excite you, you may want to listen to Robert Barron, an SRE architect at IBM, talk about key reliability lessons from the James Webb Space Telescope – from aiming for 100 per cent availability to creating redundant systems, reducing technical debt and identifying as many points of failure (344 in this case) as possible and testing them.
One Long Read: How Kubernetes Reinvented Virtual Machines (in a good sense)
From virtual machines (VMs) to Docker containers to Kubernetes, software engineer Ivan Velichko (also ‘docker dude’ at slim.ai) traces the journey of deployment techniques in a decade. With fun and illustrative charts to explain the concepts, Velichko argues that the service architecture of Kubernetes is not very different from VMs. You can read the article here.