23 February 2023
Code red for Google, chatGPT threatens Google's business model
Since the launch of chatGPT, it’s been DEFCON 1 at Google HQ. ChatGPT could easily lead to a golden-egg-laying-goose killer for Google: Google’s Search Ads business. Basically, Google has been printing money since their invention of Google Search Ads, and their top-dog position has been unchallenged for ever so long; this may all change now.
6 February 2023
Agile doesn't work...
Agile doesn't work...
I hear it more and more. When I use root cause analysis to find out what the problem is, it's usually due to a combination of:
- An Agile implementation that's not very agile.
- No metrics in place to measure success or improvements.
3 February 2023
Remote Coding Job Interviews are DEAD because of Nvidia and ChatGPT
With the rise of remote work, remote coding job interviews have become increasingly popular. However, this shift has brought new challenges. Particularly concerning are the new possibilities for cheating and fakery during the interview process.
1 February 2023
Embracing Error Budgets: A Guide to Implementing SRE in Your Organisation
Error budgets are an essential tool for Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) that allow organisations to balance reliability and innovation. In this post, we will discuss how to introduce the practice of Error Budgets in your organisation and make the necessary changes to support it.
12 January 2023
At least 30 WordPress plugins infected with malware; more sites are considering migration
In recent years, the security of WordPress has come under scrutiny due to several high-profile vulnerabilities and attacks. In a recent attack, at least 30 WordPress plugins were infected, causing more than 1000 sites to be vulnerable. These security flaws have caused many businesses and organizations to consider migrating away from WordPress and towards more scalable and secure solutions like ReactJS hosted on Google Cloud.
3 January 2023
'The End of Programming' is silly sales nonsense
With the recent rise of Github’s CoPilot and ChatGPT you can see the technology for code generation is ‘hot’. (Side note: which is better? find out in ZEN Software’s Ilya Grishkov’s excellent article here). AI assistance for programming can enable junior engineers from ‘being junior less long’ while seniors are helped by not being bogged down with all the details of programming.
But: could these new tools end the field of programming as we know it? Some people think writing a program will become a thing of the past.
16 November 2022
Twitter fires developers who don't produce enough lines of code?
With Big Tech becoming just a bit less Big these weeks: Facebook firing 10k employees, Twitter halving its workforce on Twitter HQ and Google is likely to follow.
The question of the moment is: “how do you determine engineers to let go?”. At Twitter HQ, the answer appears to have been lines of code. 😳
11 November 2022
Thoughtworks Tech Radar promotes Backstage.io to 'Adopt'
Thoughtworks is a publicly owned, global technology company with 49 offices in 18 countries and around 10.000 employees. It provides software tools and consulting services. The Thoughtworks Technology Radar is a document that sets out the changes that the company thinks are currently interesting in software development.
8 November 2022
3 Ways Technical Debt Impacts Your Business
When a software project has to be quickly completed and delivered, despite the code not being perfect, your team is assuming technical debt to meet the deadline. In their haste to deliver software capabilities, developers sometimes engage in less-than-optimal coding practices, or ‘forget’ to test or document parts of the software.
27 October 2022
We are not the same - Managing Developer eXperience (DX)
If you have any internal development tools, platforms or services in your organisation that you found super easy and pain-free to onboard, then you are lucky! Put yourselves in your users' shoes.
PostgreSQL vulnerabilities in cloud-managed databases
Based on research by Wiz.io: The uncovered vulnerabilities by Wiz were the result of a bug in the code that cloud vendors introduced to the Postgress to make it fit their Clouds, not in the core of the PostgreSQL codebase. These vulnerabilities could be used as the initial stepping stone required for more complex attacks, such as in cross-tenant vulnerabilities like ExtraReplica.
Use DORA metrics to support working remote
When teams are not co-located engagement and performance issues can easily spin out of control. DORA metrics are critical when working in a hybrid or fully remote work model. Whether you’re ready to move past the hybrid midpoint or are taking the direct leap to remote, here’s why you need DORA metrics at your side.
16 August 2022
ZEN Software’s Agile Analytics available in Atlassian Marketplace
ZEN Software proudly announces that we are accepted as Atlassian Partner for our flagship product. Agile Analytics is a time-saving analytics platform for Development Managers, Agile Coaches and Project Managers.
Agile Analytics is a comprehensive data analytics and reporting tool based on the data from Atlassian Jira Cloud.
Know everything about your projects:
- Use Agile Analytics to see how each team is spending their time.
- Know the status of all your tasks.
- Understand which skills you need to hire or train.
16 August 2022
Azure data centre Wieringermeer turns out to be much thirstier than thought
The “air-cooled” Azure data centre in Wieringermeer, the Netherlands (Azure region “West Europe”) absorbed a whopping 84 million litres of drinking water last year. That is much more than Microsoft’s stated consumption of 12 to 20 million litres in June last year.
5 August 2022
What is a Developer Portal?
28 June 2022
Team Topologies - The Reverse Conway Manoeuvre
From the book “Team Topologies” by Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais comes an interesting fix to Conway’s Law:
20 June 2022
What are DORA Metrics, and why should I care
How do you know what performance of your software development organisation is? How do you prevent your engineers from getting frustrated, leaving, overworked or burnt out while at the same time get fair metrics on the performance of the team(s)?
17 June 2022
Pool side non-fiction reading about Silicon Valley
The founder and driving force behind Uber is Travis Kalanick. Travis never outgrew the frat-boy phase but starts a company nonetheless. He ensures to be at the helm whatever happens. This fear is a legacy from the company before Uber, where he was successfully screwed over and ousted by a Hollywood investor.
How to setup a successful Cloud Platform Team
Most organisations have centralised (Cloud) platform teams (or they should). Setting up these teams is a fun challenge but a challenge nonetheless. In 2019 Matthew Skelton and Manuel Pais published their book “Team Topologies”. They share the secrets of successful team patterns and interactions to help readers choose and evolve the correct team patterns for their organisation, ensuring that the software is healthy and optimises value streams.
Linking Google Ads and Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to your Next.js site
When releasing Agile Analytics we struggled linking Google Ads to Google Analytics v4 to our fine ReactJS site. Here is a small step-by-step guide on how to achieve this:
- Connect your Google Ads to your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) account
- Connect your Google Ads account to your website
- Add and set up Google Ads conversions
In our examples we will connect Google Ads to our Next.js website in vanilla way (without any additional plugins). Please note that we have GA4 account already connected.
Migrate from WordPress to a new CMS
WordPress has been our Content Management System (CMS) since forever at ZEN Software. Why would we ever change a winning combination? We started to reconsider our position on WordPress after the founding and discontinuation of WaveScale in 2021.
Atlassian Cloud Outage
An estimated 400 Atlassian customers have had access cut for up to a week in an ongoing problem the company has blamed on a maintenance script.
The incident first occurred around April 5, with the company acknowledging the problem on Twitter two days later.
Several cloud services have now been down for a week for those customers, meaning they’ve lost access to Jira Software, Jira Work Management, Jira Service Management, Confluence, Opsgenie Cloud, Statuspage, and Atlassian Access.
What are Error Budgets?
Error Budgets enable a large amount of autonomy for your software teams. these feature teams can steer priority based on the level of service that is currently being offered to stakeholders. This article will explain the basics of the concepts that enable Error Budgets. Furthermore it will demonstrate how to implement it using ZEN Software’s Agile Analytics.
When implementing Error Budgets for your teams a number of things needs to be setup up in both the team culture as well as in the tools.
Is it Cloud Native or Native Cloud?
Is there a difference?
While it looks like the terms are identical, at ZEN Software we make a distinction between the two terms. Googling for ‘Cloud Native’ returns the same result as for ‘Native Cloud’. Let’s just imagine that Google cares more about keywords than keyword order. Even so: there is a difference when using the words in a specific order.
Kubernetes is no Silver Bullet
At ZEN Software we see docker as a Configuration Management innovation. Docker solves a number of frustrating developer problems. Docker improves both the productivity and reliability of a software system.
Docker does this by:
- Removing all the dependency nightmares that cause production environments to be different from development environments.
- Increasing the efficiency of packaging and deployment (both in terms of size and time)
- Improves developer productivity — especially the inner loop of Edit -> Build -> Debug
All excellent goals to achieve, and largely accomplished.
ZEN Software releases Agile Analytics Cloud
After 30 months of coding, designing, debating and bugfixing we’re proud and happy to announce we are releasing Agile Analytics to the general public!
Agile Analytics is now GA Why should your organisation use Agile Analytics?
For Development Managers
- Match or challenge gut feeling with real data
- Reward collaborative behaviour
- Manage Developer Experience (DX)
For Teams & Agile Coaches
- Improve autonomy: Make decisions for yourselves
- OKR / SLA : promise vs reality
- Actionable & real-time performance data: ‘how are we really doing?’
The 10x Developer
Meet ‘Gilfoyle’; Gilfoyle lives inside HBO’s comedy series ‘Silicon Valley’. This series portrays a number of fictional silicon valley companies and mainly: Pied Piper. Pied Piper is the startup company where the main characters of the show (Richard, Gilfoyle, Dinesh and Jared) strive for world dominance with their new products.
Gilfoyle and Dinesh are developers. The way they are portrayed in the series is spot on if you consider the 3 virtues of a programmer:
For Google Recertification assignment nr 1 is to scan your workplace to see if there are any hidden devices that could influence the exam.
All was fine and the exam was a PASS! I’ll be a certified Solution Architect for another 2 years.
Switching off a legacy system
'Decommissioning legacy systems is an art'. a wise architect once told me. He was right.
We’re happy and proud that the #Maxeda Team (in the picture) finished what we started 'back in the day'. We planned to remove the legacy system 1 year go-live of the new platform but it did not take 'only 1 year' like I predicted.. much longer indeed 😇
Agile Analytics now support AWS Cloud Watch
- Choose AWS Cloud Watch
- Configure the details and press ‘test’
- Then under ‘SRE & Error Budget’ you can add a feature to a service and configure the cloud watch metrics copied from the Cloud Watch Console
ZEN Gathering Alkmaar
In October 2021 the whole team of Agile Analytics descended upon Alkmaar to.
There was cake, workshops and demos.
For hosting the ZEN Gathering in Alkmaar, Zoia & Dasha presented me with a classic Cossack shirt.
New Offices for ZEN Software
Move 7 meters, get 20 square meters more office space.
With Dreamlab moving offices to Pieter Zeemanstraat 13A in Alkmaar. Their offices were available to us. so we moved shop from Oosterweezenstraat 6G to Oosterweezenstraat 6E, a whole 7 meters.
We gained 20 square meters so are now able to comfortably provide 5 desks and a bigger corner for demo and standups
Agile Analytics now supports Sprint Insights
Agile Analytics allows you to integrate Jira project management to determine what of the completed (or created) tasks qualify as
ZEN Software created a machine learning classification algorithm to teach Agile Analytics what is a ‘feature’ and what not. To help improve the accuracy you as user of Agile Analytics can train the model for your organisation.
This great new innovation allows Development Manager and Agile Coaches everywhere to see how the pace of feature dev is!
Lucky for us I managed to get a paint cover in under 5 minutes from the shops across the street before ‘the pouring' 🙂 preventing worse….
The construction upstairs reached the concrete stage…. glad it is over now and the rain stopped.
How Do I Get Started With SRE?
Perhaps you’ve now implemented some of the DevOps principles and processes. The next step is to make it work at scale by implementing SRE. Here are some methods that have proven effective in getting teams off the ground with SRE principles:
In September 2020 Bulent Yokus, Wout Smelt and Arjan Franzen started talks to disrupt the VPS-dominated hosting market by leveraging Cloud infrastructure. This way we should be able to provide a highly scalable alternative to server-oriented based e-commerce hosting.
We founded WaveScale and set out to develop the WaveScale platform and start the WaveScale Portal. We recruited the team in the winter of 2020/21 and onboarded the first customer on the platform in mid-2021. The portal development had trouble getting off the ground and we struggled to get the base load standardised.
What is Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and is it different from DevOps
Both DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) promise to improve integration between Development and Operations (DevOps) and resiliency in organisations. However, many in our field remain unfamiliar with DevOps and SRE concepts, making it difficult to implement these methods, hire or train for DevOps and SRE roles.
SRE and DevOps are very complementary practices. When implementing both, they accelerate the movement toward continuous delivery.
Strategy & OKR at home
With the first wave of COVID-19 behind us and offices still not completely available we decided to meet in person, at 1,5 mtr distance for a strategy workshop with OKR as theme.
The session was very engaging, we set new goals and plotted a course for the months to come.
Implementing Lean & DevOps using business fiction literature?
In 1984 Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Cox innovated the world of business books by writing an implementation guide to Lean as a novel. Previously this had not been done successfully. Since the success of ‘The Goal’ there have been 2 successful attempts to recreate Business Novels for IT and Software Development. Gene Kim wrote ‘The Phoenix Project’ in 2013 and the companion book ‘The Unicorn Project’ in 2019 as a hommage to ‘The Goal’ and as a way to use business fiction to implement DevOps. These books try to be a novel/story and “best practices” business book while also showing some key issues and problems with large corporations.
The Kanban game at Crunchr
The Kanban is a game for professional software organisations that teaches your teams how to work in a kanban workflow. It takes a fictional software company and puts the team at the helm of the organisation.
Winning CDO of the Year Award, Belgium
On 7 November 2019 the Maxeda DIY Digital management (NL/BE) team set off to Brussels because Erik Cuypers was nominated CDO of the year 2019 in Belgium. We were confident he’d win the prize and were not disappointed. Erik won the award for CDO of the Year 2019! Since this is Belgium, there are 2 awards for CDO of the year:
- Dutch speaking CDO of the year and
- French speaking CDO of the year.
Erik won the Dutch speaking CDO of the year award. 🥳 well deserved Erik!
Recruitment event at Praxis
For Maxeda, together with our recruitment partners, we celebrated the fact that we hired 12 people to our digital team in NL & BE. We celebrated this by showing the world what we have achieved and what our plans are for the future. Want to work in a great and innovative digital e-commerce team? We’re hiring!
Guest trainer multi-cloud at Young Mavericks
As part of the Data Science trajectory at Young Mavericks, ZEN Software provided an introduction to Multi-Cloud. How can you use cloud in Data Science and what choices are there in the field of Cloud as a toolset.
Coding on Holiday - Hacking Huawei MiFi
Back in 2014 i bought a Huawei B593s-22 which would allow me to be able to work non office locations using WiFi.
So using the router for a while all was fine and I had the option, when I ran out of my ‘daily allowance' of 5GB to add extra allowance with the push of a button inside the telco’s app. How happy everything was!
Then, for boring reasons: I switched to a provider with much better reception ✔️ however I lost the ability to push a button for extra GBs ❌
I arrogantly thought to simply put on my coding gloves and fix a little script in 1 evening to send out a SMS (cute!) for my extra allowance.
Our Maxeda team decided that we needed to improve our Application Performance Monitoring. We needed to develop the capability for distributed tracing and ended up having found SignalFX to be up for the job. Part of the introduction was a number of trainings to get the department familiar and all links to systems setup.
The effects of Machine Learning on your site's search bar
Personally, I don’t like the so-called “Silicon Valley Inspirational trips”. Don’t get me wrong: they sound like fun but going there just for inspiration seems a bit forced. Then: what do you call it when you happen to be in San Francisco, you are in the software business and you get ‘inspired’? 😉
This is what happened to me when I was in San Francisco in April 2019 to give a talk about Maxeda, Cloud Transformation and all the cool things we did there. “Since we’re already in SF” we decided to meet up with the cool team from Constructor.io. (see photo)
Kyiv Epicenter visit
The Maxeda Digital team set out to experience ‘Epicenter’ in Kyiv. This massive DIY retailer was a good study object for our trip. In addition to the study-trip we made good progress on architectural improvements for frontend distribution and microservices implementation.
Launch Darkly Trajectory, Oakland
Arjan was invited to speak at Launch Darkly’s trajectory conference. Reason for the invitation was the match between Launch Darkly’s feature management platform and the introduction of A/B Tests and Feature Management at Maxeda in 2018.
Arjan detailed how the team got to the conclusion that Launch Darkly and Feature Management were needed and how it will be an important tool for the future to work like Lean Startup. Based on proving hypothesis and not gut feeling.
Visiting Google Cloud Next '19, San Francisco
ZEN Software and Mirabeau teamed to facilitate a trip to San Francisco. We visited Google Cloud Next, negotiated with a number of (prospect) suppliers and Arjan gave a talk about Feature flags and Cloud implementation at Launch Darkly.
The team headed to the Moscone Center and visited a large number of talks on varying topics like:
- (Management of) Service Mesh
- How AI is transforming the Enterprise
- Kelsey Hightower on Container panel
An Office for ZEN Software
After a number of years working from a home office, 2019 is the year ZEN Software will have its own place. We are located just outside of the historic city centre of Alkmaar, The Netherlands.
ZEN Software is now Google Cloud Partner!
As Hyperscale clouds are concerned: Google is a top-tier cloud provider. With its launch in 2011, thus the newest player in the market, GCP has quickly secured a stable market position with a unique offering in Big Data and AI services.
Year start with Kyiv Team
To start the Year 2019 off well, a team from the Amsterdam office flew to Kyiv to start the year. Celebrate past successes and plan for the coming year. Ukraine in winter is great, we were not disappointed with -12c.
Challenges for 2019 were to be as successful as 2018 when the team delivered a new e-commerce platform and finished the majority of the cloud transformation.
New Relic event in Amsterdam
New Relic hosted an event in Amsterdam and I was happy to provide their customers about the use of New Relic and how to integrate their Application Performance Management tools into a large e-commerce platform.
New Relic provides key insights into both performance and stability of the platform, both microservices and the monolith backend.
At ZEN Software we’re able to help your organisation implement Application Performance Monitoring and provide your teams valuable insights into the software the teams are building and deploying
Go live new Praxis.nl & Brico.be
This July the teams in Brussels, Kyiv, Odessa and Amsterdam completed the main stage of the Cloud Transformation and we are ready for LAUNCH! 🚀
Team update in Odessa
For technical and design workshops we set off to Odessa. We had a successful collaboration and solved a number of interesting digital puzzles. In good spirits we set off to have dinner outside in Odessa’s beautiful historic city center.
Some of the Amsterdam gang went for a run and sightseeing at once.
After the workshops were finished the team enjoyed the nightlife in Odessa, Club Ibiza.
New Relic event at Okura Amsterdam
When New Relic hosted an event, I was happy to share with their customers what we were up to at Maxeda. Our Cloud Transformation is in progress and our first phase of architecture design is complete.
After the talk the team went for a drink in the Okura bar. This was the exact moment that the platform started to bork. Luckily we were able to use New Relic and the present cloud team to debug the site and get it up and running in no time flat.
Enjoy Gitflow, responsibly
Version control was and perhaps always will be a subject of debate. It seems at times we are in a search for a singular "best' way to manage versions of code under all circumstances. Since about 2008 git has increased popularity significantly and is the most popular version control system since 2012. This meant a new round of debate on how to use the most popular version control system at the time: git. Since it is 2017 now, has the dust settled, and are there any conclusions?
Continuous Delivery 3.0 training
For the 6 week long NISI training Continuous Delivery 3.0 hosted at the Universiteit Utrecht I was guest trainer for the part of Continuous Integration.
Source: Continuous Delivery - Course — NISI - Nederlands Instituut voor de Software Industrie
Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) Event, Rode Hoed, Amsterdam
We joined a nice group of people in De Rode Hoed in Amsterdam to talk about how LeSS, Large Scale Scrum can help organisation scale their team based processes.
Large Scale Scrum is heavily influenced by Lean and can make what works great for teams work great for entire organisations. There are some challenges when implementing LeSS, mainly around knowledge and coordination of implementation of LeSS.
The discussions were interesting, definitely something we’ll be researching more the coming months!
Update 2017-05: Being certified LeSS practitioners, ZEN Software can help your organisation scale Agile too! Lear now? let’s get in touch!
Scrum Training at TextKernel
Happy to kick start the software development teams at TextKernel with an introduction training Scrum. The training was interactive and we practiced a number of sprints, how to collaborate and estimate
Want to know more how your organisation can benefit from using Scrum or Agile? Contact us at ZEN Software and we’ll kick start your organisation too!
Obeya, Cloud transformation Start
“Obeya” or ‘big room’ is what we used at Maxeda to jump start our Cloud Transformation and implementation of new cloud based e-commerce platform. The visuals, new design and flow of the new platform generated a number of very useful and interactive sessions with all digital stakeholders.
Team Start and Global Gathering, Odessa
For the Maxeda Cloud Transformation and new e-commerce platform we scaled up our Software operation and setup new teams of experts at HYS Enterprise in Odessa.
This means introducing the teams into the ways of Maxeda, the systems and the plans for the near future. In 1 week we gave a number trainings and started to co-develop software straight away.
ZEN Training - Crash Course Scrum
Together with Bridge Solutions founder and co-trainer Hugo Messer we provided a crash course Scrum.
Improve the team collaboration and production deployment of changes in your software with an Introduction training Scrum & Lean. In addition, ZEN Software can help teams with Continuous Delivery and provide or guide the necessary training with a Cloud-based CI/CD pipeline as Workshop
Find the training material here: Crash Course Scrum - handout
Inspired by Spotify: Team Rooms
Most organisations that develop software use some form of Agile Software Development. Spotify became famous for its own model: The Spotify model. This model is organised around teams called ‘squads’. While this organisational model is fairly well known, what’s less known is the office planning of the Spotify model. Just like the responsibilities and autonomy center around the team (squad), so do the facilities inside the office. each squad space has:
- 7 +/- 2 desks
- Meeting room
- Standup meeting facilities
- Relax/meet area
At Bank Mendes Gans, our System Team introduced Containers to the large and international team of developers. We tried to help our introduction to containers by explaining a very Dutch phenomenon: Summer Holiday Caravanning (to France) and bringing all food and supplies with you for the holiday. You could basically survive on the camp site, never needing to go to a local supermarket. With only a bit of electricity and a lavatory close by for 3 weeks. Growing up in a middle class family in The Netherlands this way of ‘celebrating holidays' was very well known to most Dutchies in the room.
Incorporating ZEN Software
As of today, the ZEN Software legal entity exists. As a one-man-army, I’ll be doing consultancy for all organisations wanting to improve their software development. “Purposeful Software Delivery” as motto for ZEN Software.
Introducing Improvement Days
Inspired by Dan Pink’s TED talk about motivation and team work we set off to implement ‘Ship it/Fed ex days’ like Atlassian did.
Our version is called ‘Improvement Days’ and has the same goal, but different rules. All engineers and non-engineers were invited to join the improvement days.
Security Awareness training
Security awareness is very important when safeguarding the data of your customers. To improve the security awareness and have some fun at the same time we decided to hold a recurring training for all engineers and combine this with a shared hacking session.
Learn how to secure your software, learn how to program with security in mind and:
Visiting NICE HQ
Last Year (2011) CyberTech was acquired by NICE Systems. So this year we started up the collaboration between the Development Office in Alkmaar, The Netherlands and Corporate HQ in Ra'anana, Israel.
I was part of a 4 person delegation from the Alkmaar office tasked to find out how to best work together and do a ‘show and tell’ about the Alkmaar products, architecture and processes.
We left Amsterdam late in the evening and landed in Tel Aviv early in the night. After waiting patiently for the security checks to be done, the four of us crammed ourselves in a small taxi near the airport.
23 August 2007
Torvalds rants about SVN
Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux and Git, talks about version controlling the Linux kernel. He harps about the benefits of fully distributed version control with Git in particular. Torvalds has written Git himself after he received a fair bit of criticism for using the commercial BitKeeper (The Horror! 😉 ) to manage the Linux Kernel project for some time. At this moment there are very few version control systems that can operate fully distributed: CVS and SVN are specifically NOT suited for this task.