Amazon DocumentDB vs. MongoDB – Simplicity vs. Complexity

Amazon Web Services is making a habit of disrupting smaller enterprise software vendors. At its re:Invent conference, AWS caused quite a bit of pearl-clutching in various open source communities for its managed Apache Kafka service. The company was accused of strip-mining open source while failing to contribute back to the communities it was appropriating software from.

Last week, AWS went further by announcing a new DBMS with a MongoDB-compatible API (based on the 3.6 version). MongoDB responded predictably, but the Amazon DocumentDB announcement didn’t trigger the same reaction from the OSS community. I imagine there’s far less sympathy for MongoDB after it relicensed as a proprietary product. There have been several takes about what AWS’ announcement means for open source software, but I believe those miss the point. The point isn’t about open source. The point is about delivering what customers value and what they don’t.

The majority simply don’t value open source. In certain cases, customers value their relationships with the vendor, but only when the vendor is an engineering partner instead of merely a rent-seeker. However, those instances are exceedingly rare. Customers don’t value operational opacity and complexity, especially for technologies with extremely limited skills available in the market.

Amazon Web Services hasn’t capitalized on open source software. It has capitalized on customer demand for removing complexity. Kafka and MongoDB won’t be the last OSS projects to get blindsided by the cloud providers. I can think of at least two other “open core” enterprise software companies with overly complex products that end users would love to have someone else manage.

An Unconventional Strategy for Career Reinvention

The beginning of the year often has people thinking about not just changing jobs, but making a more radical change to a new career. The challenge is how to successfully make that change. Jump too quickly or to the wrong thing and you may be unsatisfied. Or the number of choices or fear of change may keep you locked into your unsatisfying career. What’s needed is an intermediate step – kind of Minimum Viable Career Reinvention – to test the waters in a new professional domain.

This is what Herminia Ibarra offers in her excellent book, ‘Working Identity.

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Open Source Software from the Enterprise End User Perspective

When I’m talking with clients in my day job as an industry analyst about open source core products, price always comes up. The question is the same: “If this is open source, why’s it so expensive?” Every time. And it’s not a fair question. If companies are delivering value, they deserve to get paid for that. But the reason the question is asked is the fault of vendors selling products based on open source.

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United Polaris Leads Business Class Service in… Pillows?

American Airlines is my preferred US-based airline, especially for Asia-Pacific and Oceania travel. I’m fortunate that my day job as an analyst pays for business-class travel for flights over 8 hours. But one area that American’s business-class service lags, and this is going to sound petty, is amenities. Namely, the pillows are useless. The stuffing is so loose that your head sinks through the pillow and into the seat/bed.

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How to Structure Your Task List

I saw a few tweets this week about how people use task lists and I thought I’d share my method. Over the last nine years or so, I’ve finally refined how I structure my daily task list. When I was a software engineering manager, I developed what I later discoved was simplified bullet journaling. This method also works with the Pomodoro Technique, which is working on a task for 25 minutes, then taking 5 minutes off.

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IBM’s TradeLens Highlights Blockchain Ecosystem Challenges

In the early 2000s, there was a lot of hype around B2B portals that would replace expensive EDI (electronic data interchange) infrastructure. I worked on three of them: one in aerospace, another for a specific airline and a third that was meant to be general purpose. The idea was the same: a centralized platform, owned either by a consortium of participants or operated by some third party, would replace EDI with a bunch of XML messages. Sprinkle in some Enterprise Java Beans and let the cash roll in.

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Hi-Tech Sleep with the Bose Sleepbuds

The Bose Sleepbuds had an interesting development cycle. Instead of creating something entirely in-house, Bose turned to crowdfunding to figure out the interest level of a high-tech audio sleep aid. The experiment was a success and the product quickly sold out on Indiegogo. I recently received a pair as a gift and, after using them for a few nights, have some initial impressions.

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