The music for this week’s soundbyte is a classic by Aphex Twin: Windowlicker. Why? Because I think it’s a cool song with a great video clip. This rendition on youtube is the extended version, which starts with a long intro story. And yes, it is a little weird. 🙂
Actually, the video of this clip is a very complex bridge towards the first topic. The car in the video is a Mazda MX-5, the original model A, a car I owned some time ago. A couple of weeks ago, my colleague Richard asked me if he could feature my current car in a video he was making. I of course agreed and in two days we shot all the footage that he needed. If you are interested in movie making, I can recommend you to go and hang out with Richard and his friends. They take this stuff very seriously and have some great equipment to make great looking videos. You also learn to appreciate the work that goes into preparing them. All in all I had a great time, and I would love to show you the end result, but it’s still in post-production.
Earlier this month, we had our first Apache Meetup of 2013. It was generously hosted by Be Informed, who also did a presentation about how they use various Apache projects in their enterprise product. More specifically, they built their whole architecture on OSGi and they model everything using services, which gives them a modular and very dynamic application. We also had a discussion on OSGi Remote Services and how to make them interoperable in different languages, comparing different ways of doing some kind of IDL and even considering using Corba for that. As always, such meetups are great places to meet and discuss various Apache related projects and topics, and we are already planning the next one. If your company is interested in hosting one in the future, feel free to get in touch, we are always looking for great venues!
At Luminis, we regularly get together with various groups of people that are considered to be the tastemakers on a certain subject. We sit down for a day and evening to discuss this subject, which can be anything from how to develop new propositions for our customers to the culture that defines us, or the craftsmanship we all care deeply about. This time, we talked about the “war for talent”.
There is no denying that the world of software development is changing rapidly around us. If you look back, in the last century software was mainly bought by big companies and run on big servers. It was a time when companies like IBM, Sun and Oracle sold their products to businesses. Deploying software was expensive, requiring pieces of hardware that were accessible to individuals. Even developing software was expensive, as IDE’s were typically not free. I remember buying my first SAS/C version 6 compiler for 600 guilders, which to me at that time was a lot of money as I was still going through University at that time.
Gradually, this has changed though. Open source started to get more and more traction, and pretty soon lots of businesses were using it, even if initially their CEOs were still unaware of that. Nowadays, most software is free, and the most successful companies in the industry are not making their money selling software, but using it to create some kind of competitive advantage (look at companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook, who open source most of the software they create). Consequently, it takes considerable less money to fund a startup that has a great idea for a piece of software, also because the cloud has made deploying software almost free as well, or rather, it requires very little upfront investment and you can scale easily with the number of customers you get.
These changes have also caused a changed role for developers, as they now tend to be in touch directly with the research and marketing departments of their customers, making IT decisions that are more suited to the problem and possibly less aligned to old-school policies like “we use Oracle to store all our data” or “any application you want to deploy, must run in Websphere”. On the other hand, we also see a rising demand for good developers, which is the “war for talent” we talked about. Again, looking at the Google’s of this world, they grow so rapidly that simply recruiting bright developers no longer allows them to grow fast enough. Instead they have now reverted to tactics where they simply buy whole companies for their developers. Usually you see them give away a product such a company made for free, which is a good indication that the buy was not about the product, but the developers.
In this changing landscape, Luminis also adopted a strategy to be successful in the upcoming years. Our hybrid strategy: we’re neither a consultancy company nor a product company, in fact we’re both, is specifically designed to give us an edge when doing projects and products for customers that allow them to make a difference. We’re not in the cost cutting business: we use IT to create a competitive advantage. For the people that work for us, developers and otherwise, that means we are involved in some great and inspiring projects. Our organisation is designed to give people the maximum amount of freedom and responsibility and we are convinced that this attracts great people and provides them with an environment to grow.
Discussing all of this at such a meetup was very inspiring for everybody that was involved, and probably the most important thing we learned is that we have some great stories to tell and we should do that even more often than we do now!