Continuous Delivery Architecture, A Rainbow of Tools

The Age of Architecture

Architecture is one of those universal roles that no matter the job, its critical you have a good understanding of the architecture to be successful in both development and operations. As with any architectural role, there are so many moving parts that if you can’t see the machine for the cog you’ll never be able to master your craft. The problem seems that because of the siloed nature of business no one but those in architecture get the lay of the land, it is in this challenge, Continuous Delivery Architecture was created to help ALL practitioners understand not only the big picture but the why and how every component is vital to success.

What’s In The Toolbox

To help you get an idea of the sheer quantity of tools that will be at your disposal I’ll give you the highlights reel. It starts with what we call a collective body of knowledge. This is a collection of materials (books, blogs, websites, etc.) to help you on your journey to learn. Then comes a bevy of concepts from DevOps to Continuous Delivery to help drive some common language. We’ll kick things off on the strategic track to ensure we have a unified vision and goals. See what we did there? We’ll cover topics such as pipelines, the seven pillars, culture, strategy, approaches, and roles. Then we blend strategic and tactical considerations to ensure we have the right process wrapped around everything and some principles and methods we can apply to measure the effectiveness of your execution. You’ll see topics such as ChatOps, Retrospectives, Change Management, Pitfalls, Branching and Merging, Design Patterns, Microservices, Containers, CI/CD, Gating, Database, Scaling, Monitoring, Testing Strategies, Automation, Orchestration, Chaos Engineering, Release Strategies, and so much more. We walk you through every consideration from planning to production delivery and everything in between. Finally, we ask the important questions along the way, and leverage practical application to reinforce learning with exercises and capstone projects. In the next few minutes, I’ll attempt to elucidate in some of these areas.

Learning About The Usual Suspects

DevOps teaches us that we should strive to always create a culture of collaboration and trust in every activity. This often starts with understanding each other’s roles and challenges. A critical step in this is to start with a foundational understanding of all the practices at work in your organization. You know what approaches I’m talking about, Waterfall, Agile, ITIL, DevOps, Lean, and many others. When we understand the powers at work in our organization, we understand how we complement each other’s capabilities. Yes, even Waterfall can have a place in the organization. You’ll learn more around these roles and how they can interact and why they generally don’t work. The key here is to bring value to any approach.

Continuous Delivery Culture

Seven distinct pillars will outline the components in your journey to create a continuous delivery culture. Each will not only add value to the overall structure but provides multiplicative returns with their application in concert with each other. They are a lot like Power Rangers, pretty awesome by themselves but when you combine them, WOW! This course will cover each pillar in detail as well as guide you through the questions you’ll need to ask so you can integrate them into your current processes. The big takeaways here are how you can complement and enhance current operations, this will help you build towards a more successful transformation.

Back It Up With Best Practices

One of my favorite things about all ITSM Academy courses is that they focus on making sure we have best practices outlined and we show you how to execute what you’ve learned. It made such a difference for me in my career, it’s the reason I became an instructor for them. The best part is that those best practices are a combination of not only industry standards but tried and true methods from actual practitioners so you know what your learning will already resonate and be impactful in your organization. They even cover the wrong ways to do things so you will notice negative patterns and how to stop them before they take hold. Then we fold adoption challenges and quick wins into the equation so that you know what your getting into and how to effectively execute with a clear path to success. One last benefit I’ll mention which is invaluable is that in every class there is a mix of other practitioners. This means you’ll get the added benefit of thought diversity of others who may have the same questions or have overcome some of the challenges you have or will face so you’ll get genuine experiences, not just theory. That alone has been worth its weight in gold.

Double CDA Rainbow, What Does It Mean?

The breadth and depth of the content with Continuous Delivery Architecture is substantial. If you could only take one course after your DevOps foundation course, let it be this course. It will give you an end to end overview of the entire process and dive into each and every component that makes up continuous delivery. This course will give you the greatest bang for your buck. Architects, developers, engineers, and leaders alike will find this course a comprehensive and significant bolstering to their current skill set and will bring them up to speed on seeing the entire picture and how each part contributes to it’s operation. After all isn’t that one of your greatest challenges already?

 

 

 

An Apple A Day – Day 30

My Journey to Center of Apple

Due to not being able to use devices at the summit, I took the weekend to collate all the data about my experiences, pricing, and investments, etc. So that I could lay it all out for you. For those of you who are skipping to the end to see the results, your really shorting yourself and you’re going to be missing out on all the day to day challenges and solutions through the 30 days.

Products

First thing I thought may be important to know is the total investment and where to get everything, so I’ve made an itemized list below for your viewing pleasure:

Initial Apple Purchase
——————-
iPad Pro 12.9 Space Gray 256GB with Cellular – $1079 + tax
Logitech Slim Combo iPad Pro 12.9 Case – $119 + tax
iPad Cellular Sim + Data Plan – $10/mo.
Apple Pen – $99 + tax
AirPods – $159 + tax
Apple Watch 3 Space Gray (42mm) – $429 + tax
Apple Watch Sim + Data Plan – $10/mo.
——————
Total – $1885 + tax + $20/mo.

Additional Apple Accessories Bought Over Time
——————-
Lightning Cable To Ethernet Adapter – $26
Apple Lightning Digital AV Adapter – $30
Apple Watch, iPhone and AirPod Stand – $33
PowerAdd Pilot Pro 2 Power Pack – $90
Logitech Spotlight Presentation Remote – $130
——————-
Total – $309

Already Owned Apple Items
———————–
Kenwood Single DIN Stereo 7012BT – Already Owned ($599)
AppleTV 4K 64GB – Already Owned ($199)
———————-
Total – $798

GRAND TOTAL – $2992 + $20/mo.

So all in all, the all in investment price is just shy of $3K, definitely not for the faint of heart. Keep in mind this was the total price of everything mentioned in the blog that has been used, some of which I already have and some of which could be replaced with things you may already have.

EXPERIENCE OVERVIEW

Use Case
To see if I could use an iPad as a daily driver that could displace all or most of my current devices. This device would require a measured increase in productivity and an aggregation of as many of the day to day tasks into one place. A touchscreen device was the primary desire hence a MacBook was not considered.

Commitment
I will attempt to use native apps, tools, systems, process, and ecosystems before considering third-party assistance in any of the mentioned areas.

Conclusion
I found that the iPad provided a significant increase in productivity in some areas and a marked improvement in others, I only experienced a loss in productivity during the learning phases of using the new technologies. Once the learning curve was over I saw immediate returns on the time invested. In order to realize the full potential of productivity returns, I chose to invest in the entire ecosystem (AirPods, iPhone, and Apple Watch). I have provided a fair assessment of the top 10 in each of the following categories:

Good

  • User Experience was wonderful, it feels like things that should be no brains just work and how you would expect them
  • Phone / iPad setup amazing fast and simple by using on on the other to configure
  • Integration With Apple Devices and Even Non-Apple Devices Were Impressive
  • Information sharing between Apple devices was a welcome change and surprisingly impressive when I discovered them
  • AirPods with the ability to charge one at a time and they lasted over 4 hours straight talking on the phone and over 5 hours listening to an audiobook.
  • Apple Watch got me to start exercising daily and reading an average of 4 audiobooks a month. Up from no exercise and no books.
  • iPhone / iPad sync between themselves and my PC for native progress between the two.
  • Mobile and Remote uses provided a new level of productivity both in work and play
  • The handwriting recognition from the apps I used was first class.
  • The ability to backup several Apple devices from several people and even share purchases makes the ecosystem an awesome value proposition.

Bad

  • iPad Pro and iPhone need reboots every few days
  • iPhone had GPS and Data problems (believe I may have a bad phone)
  • GoToMeeting app doesn’t have feature parity with WebApp, so you are limited to 6 webcams for peers.
  • Pricing of accessories are high
  • No Mouse Compatibility
  • No Ability To Run VM’s or Visual Studio Software
  • No really engaging games other than some puzzlers and platformers. Everything feels almost like it’s locked to a certain pattern for most games with different content vs. a PC where you have a large variety of game types. Streaming games is also a no go on other than local LAN and it’s still lackluster at best with a controller.
  • iBooks prices are way too high when you look at alternative solutions like Audible.
  • Keynote doesn’t’ support or convert PowerPoint presentations.
  • Sideloading is restricted to 7 days if signed by a test cert, otherwise, you have to pay $100 yearly to sign.

Indifferent

  • Logitech case was the best case I ever purchased if the back hinge held up to use more, after the first week I found the hinge constantly sliding back and becoming loose. $120 is a steep price to pay for the quality of the hinge.
  • The Logitech remotes spotlight feature doesn’t work on iPad.
  • No Jailbreak out for 11.3.1 at this point.
  • The Apple Watch could have a little better battery life, but still impressive compared to my LG Sports Watch I used to have.
  • Touch interface takes getting used to after using a laptop for so long.
  • Have to tweak message and call settings to make sure they don’t interrupt your work if you use the iPad all the time.
  • Wish iMessage shows all messages and not just one from others with iPhone, I’d like to see all my text messages on both my phone and iPad.
  • I wish there was a better selection of iPad Pro 12.9 cases to pick from and one that included the pen holder.
  • Apple Pen requires an adapter to charge if you don’t plug it into the iPad to charge it. It was always a minor annoyance to have this long pen sticking out of the side of the iPad when I was using it.
  • I wish the cords were longer for the iPad Pro, you can’t plug it into a powerstrip and it is long enough to make it back to the iPad.

FINAL VERDICT

I found this to be a very successful experiment. I learned a lot in the process and became much more productive at some of the most remedial tasks. The iPad did not replace all of my laptops but was sufficient as a daily driver for over 85% of the work that I do. the only things I was unable to do was scripting in PowerShell, use Visual Studio, or build a local VM for testing. All of which I was able to do remotely using Parallels Access. If you’re a coach, consultant, or speaker who needs something simple, lightweight, and convenient; I highly recommend it. If your job leans more towards technical work, you may have to make some compromises to use this as a daily driver.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this series and I look forward to any feedback, question, comments, or concerns. Until next time!

Azure Service Bus

Azure Service Bus, Cheaper By The Hour

A new announcement from Microsoft shows how the billing for Azure Service Bus is changing from daily and monthly to hourly billing for standard and premium tiers; thus moving them closer to a usage model that closes the pricing gap between constantly used resources and rarely used resources. One thing I’ve always loved about Microsoft Azure is that as the application evolves Microsoft doesn’t shy away from making it more powerful and cost-effective at the same time. Generally, this is a sliding scale in which you have to compromise. But with Azure, you can have your cake and eat it too.

In case you haven’t had a chance to use Azure Service Bus yet, here’s the skinny. Azure Service Bus is a cloud-based messaging system that enables you to connect to other cloud and on-premise services simplifying integration between components. Azure’s Service Bus is one of the many Platform as a Service (PaaS) services and can be as simple as a single queue or highly complex message workflow with a nearly infinite number of interrelated queues, topics, and subscriptions.

The great news for those that have already been using Service Bus is starting May 1, 2018, you’ll be billed at an hourly rate for Service Bus standard base units and Service Bus premium messaging units. This means you only pay for the number of hours you use rather than being billed daily or monthly whether you use them or not. This equates to even more savings for zero effort.

There is one thing to note, as part of this change, they will be migrating to new GUIDS. If your not familiar with Azure Service Bus GUIDS or want more details on how this will impact your team or application, check out the GUID migration webpage.

For those new to Azure Service Bus, you can learn about this amazing cloud-based messaging service on the overview and pricing webpages.

An Apple A Day – Day 29

Summit Meeting!

Haven’t really gotten to put my iDevices through the paces on the road so this is exciting to be able to do before the end of the road (in the series) so to speak. I also picked up a couple of things off Amazon to make life a little easier. First, I bought a Lightning cable to Ethernet Adapter. This will keep those pesky wireless issues that happen with new venues at bay and give me an alternative method to connect. Plus it comes with a little built-in blue light so you know when it’s on. Best of all it’s plug and play, no app required. The other was a light but hefty battery pack to recharge my iPad vs. having to deal with the painfully short cord I was given at purchase. Finally, I bought a stand for all my stuff. My wife has a watch and phone charger combo and that thing cost $200. While I’ve pulled no punches for pricing in the past, I really wanted something that could handle my iPhone, AirPods and Watch all at once. Unfortunately, they don’t have a mainstream product to do this (someone quick jump on this idea), so I doled out $35 for this beast. I liked the way it looked but was not thrilled it required three cords as each is its own connection. I was already using three, so I figured this will reduce the clutter and at a price that doesn’t break the bank like Apple products usually do.

UPDATE – 5/25/2018: I’m happy to say after receiving all of these products and using them for about a month, I have had great experiences with them all!!!

So I’m on the open road and I plug my iPhone into the stereo as mentioned in earlier posts and listened to some music over plex and then listened to an audiobook on lean manufacturing techniques in a way even someone nontechnical could understand which I highly recommend to everyone. Once I arrive at my hotel I set up my iPad and knock out a few emails, go out to dinner with some colleagues and come back and hook up my iPad directly to the HDMI input to review a few docs and then watch some Plex. Works like a charm, and bonus no need for the AppleTV. The wired room connection makes it all the much easier with my new network adapter. Finally, it’s lights out and on to tomorrow.

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An Apple A Day – Day 28

Coming to the End of the Beginning of my Journey

Today was fun and interesting as I had to visit the Microsoft office and of course, I’m the only guy with an Apple. I’m asked repeatedly by everyone I encounter the question I always love answering. Why? I take pleasure in every interaction as one who has been on both sides of the fence and can clearly articulate not only your requirements but the benefits and downfalls of both sides. I believe you have a much more productive conversation and those who ask don’t feel like the answer is a superiority conversation.

A Few Things:

I’ve noticed a few things that are definitely a mainstay with Apple, I never had the issue when using Android or Windows.

1. First, oddly enough you have to reboot your Apple devices every few days or they start doing very odd things like not allowing me to send messages on LinkedIn, not rendering sites correctly, apps taking forever to load up or crashing more frequently.

2. I also notice some weird issue with my Apple Watch connectivity that basically notifies me every other day I have number sync setup and is configured for my watch. This seems to send me a text message every since the time I turn my watch on or shortly thereafter. Any ideas as to why would be appreciated.

3. Also, I have had issues of late with my Apple password constantly asking to be entered, at firs tI though my password was compromised the result is the same even after changing my password to a randomly generated 18 character string. Not sure why this happens, but my wife seems to have the same issue but not as frequently, so I’m going to chalk this up to and Apple problem.

Return to Microsoft

I also had some time today to go back and crack open my Surface Pro 3 again and try some of the things I learned from talking to someone at Mircosoft. Some were nice surprises such as the active pen support has gotten better and the app store has a better breadth and depth of software. Other things were still challenging, the Surface Pro is still very prone to overheating, and the integration of services aren’t as tight or intuitive. For example, logging on to something every time I need to do something. The TouchID login for virtually every important app is nice as I don’t have to give password access to everything, I just add my wife’s fingerprints and she can use those apps without remembering 100 passwords for each. The iPad, Watch, and iPhone do not come without their own nuances, but looking back thus far I find myself getting more done and getting things done faster with the exception of a few tasks and for me, that’s what has made all the difference.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback, leave them in the comments below! Until tomorrow…

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Open Source DevOps PowerShell Module

There’s a growing need for automation to implement skeleton projects for DevOps deployments and application migrations. It requires a fair amount of finesse and some scripting magic. So for this need, I created the start of a small PowerShell module to help solve that problem.

The Pledge

A colleague a while back contacted me and asked if there was anything in PowerShell that could do certain things in the VSTS stack. After some thought and a couple of hours, I’m proud to present an open source project of a simple set of commands that could be run from PowerShell to perform common VSTS related tasks to help set up your VSTS projects:

List / Create VSTS Projects
List / Create VSTS Service Endpoints
List / Create VSTS Code Repo
List / Create VSTS Work Items
List / Create VSTS Build Definitions
List / Create VSTS Release Definitions
List / Create VSTS Test Manager Cases

The Turn

I chose to use the API calls with Invoke-WebRequest as it would translate easily to Azure Functions at a later time and not knowing whether there is a similar set of PowerShell command lets already out there. This keeps it portable as well as modularized for several delivery methods like:

1. Chocolate
2. Nuget
3. PowerShell Repository via Install-Module
4. The age-old: iex (new-object net.webclient).downloadstring(‘https://your domain.com/codeurl.ps1′)

The Prestige

Here is my first pass at that attempt with the creation of the new modules below:

Get-VSTSProjects – Get A List of VSTS Projects You Have Access To
Get-VSTSRepositoryList – Get A List of VSTS Code Repositories You Have Access To
New-VSTSProject – Create a New VSTS Project
New-VSTSServiceEndPoint – Create A New VSTS Service Endpoint
New-VSTSRepoImportRequest – Import Code From External Resource (GitHub, TFS, etc.)

You can find the project source code on my GitHub located here. As always, pull requests are highly encouraged! Let me know if there are additional modules you’d like to see.

An Apple A Day – Day 27

Reflections

Today was a day of reflection of the journey and thinking back to some of the challenges I had when I began and some of the things I’ve discovered for better or for worse in the last few weeks using this new platform.

I wish I had been more understanding and open-minded about trying Apple but I was a super hardcore Android fan. There are still those nagging things I miss about Android like easier to root or the ability to root at all. SidSideloadings much easier, and the limits imposed on the App store and 3rd party apps was much more open on the Android platform. All that said, a lot of those issues also caused their fair share of issues as well. Non-performant apps increased the danger of malware, constant crashes, long complicated processes to jailbreak. So at the end of the day, I’ve found I’ve been willing to trade off all the hours of tweaking and tuning and all the open tools that are available vs. Apple fairly easy. The one sticking point I still can’t shake almost a month later is the lack of humble bundle for Apple, the inability for Apple to easily allow publishers to manage and distribute keys for apps. For all the ease of use, it is very apparent things are still very paid for everything centric standpoint.

I also scoff at a sad attempt to translate some of my favorite manga to eBook formats. Some manga, even after paying 7 dollars for it,  looked absolutely like someone wrote a conversion tool that didn’t care about image ratio or the fact that mange is read the opposite direction. I was hoping a could dump my whole book collection and move to digital so I could enjoy my books on the plane and anywhere else I may have wanted them. Alas, that’s not wholly possible yet.

Finally, games, not having a streaming platform that’s reliable or an ecosystem past just the app store which is not relegated to blockbuster games and then immediate 50 clones flood the market with different names graphics and slightly modified mechanics (literally just enough to dodge a lawsuit). For me, there’s not a lot of options or opportunities in that area or maybe just maybe Apple is not doing a great job of connecting me to the content I would love or want.

Out of everything I’ve used these devices for, these are the only real gripes I have. Feel free to share your experience or anything you think I may have missed. I look forward to reading your feedback!

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An Apple A Day – Day 26

Pokemon Go!

Spent most of the day Pokemon hunting with the wife accidentally as we had actually gone out to buy a large amount of copper pipe to build a closet shelving system for her.

The Apple watch experience, as always, was second to none for it’s Pokemon Go companion app that allows you to just walk around and not only get credit for exercise but hatch Pokemon eggs at the same time.

Siri

For those of you who are less inclined to play games, I have something for you as well. You can use Siri to do a wide range of things form setting timers for wives who say it’ll only take 30 minutes to creating lists that can be recalled later when you’re at the location and check this item off as you get them. It makes running errands much less complicated. Do a quick Google search for things Siri can do and you’ll find a wealth of information about things you would have never even thought to ask your digital assistant. The secret Siri commands were pretty cool to try as well!

EBooks

Lastly, for the day I went looking for how to create an eBook in efforts to see how hard it would be to publish an eBook in ePUB3 format. There’s a ton of choices and how to format the book, what type of book, how to make sure it’s split properly. This list goes on and on.  I found this little gem and it did a great job of explaining it in easy to understand terms. I would recommend if you’re looking to publish eBooks or if you just like to make little notebooks that can be ported to any eReader for free you will want to check these out.

That’s it for today, I look forward to what tomorrow holds, remember if you have questions or comments leave them below.

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Apple Electric

An Apple A Day – Day 25

iPad & Microsoft Global Azure Boot Camp

Today is the day! Time to go full on Live at a huge event and see how this new platform performs. Armed with an iPad, AppleTV, and Logitech Spotlight I am poised and ready to deliver an exceptional experience using my new tools of the trade and for a Microsoft only solution nonetheless. This folks is where the rubber really meets the road. How your platform or device performs with native and built-in tech is one thing but using it to demo another vendors platform and tools is a testament to how flexible something can really be.

The Presentation

A hush falls over the crowd, his Logitech remote at the ready. One click and we’re off to the races. Not only did the remote perform seamlessly, it lasted 2 hours without even putting a dent in the charge. The AppleTV and iPad also worked seamlessly. When I had spoken in my previous blog about the poor visibility of code and visual quality it was directly related to the projector, as this time things were crystal clear.

The iPad joined the network and sent my wireless info over to the AppleTV as soon as the wireless name was selected. One thing to note is I would put a password on the AppleTV ensuring someone doesn’t hijack your session with an airplay code and also turn on allow from any network. If you have a network that requires a browser to put information in or agree to ToS you would be out of luck on the Apple TV. However with this little magical setting, you can bypass that as a problem and presentations just work, with no problem.

Polling

Next, the integration of Poll Everywhere was seamless and worked amazingly. I did have one hitch where it took me a couple of tries to understand that only one survey can be active at a time, but I was actually prompted by several people about how they loved the survey so I could cater better to the audience’s experience vs. following a slide deck. For that reason I always post all of my introduction polls (short and simple) so that users can see the diverse audiences and engagement numbers. What a lot of people don’t see is how many participated vs how many were in the room. I would say the higher role of the audience member, the lower the chance they would engage. It’s just an observation and your mileage may vary.

Feedback

Finally, I had a few people give feedback about the fact I could be more interactive with the iPad and walk around and look at others and move through the presentation with more ease because I wasn’t tied behind a laptop. There is some truth to this but it’s not an all-inclusive statement, it’s fully possible to do the same with a laptop or other devices, but being wireless and having a small screen with touch controls definitely trumps a laptop with cables and a need for a mouse.

A special thank you goes out to all the wonderful organizers of the Global Azure Bootcamp and the speakers who came out with me today to share not only their expertise but a great deal of amazing insight with the end of the day panel. I highly recommend anyone who is interested in various technologies Microsoft has to offer in the cloud or some insight to how they are actually being used by business, this is time well spent and the event fills up insanely fast.

That’s it for today and I look forward to sharing what tomorrow holds.

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