Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Focus and innovation - recap of the last 2 years

It's been a long time since my last post.

Hereby a partial explanation for that, with the note that this blog will remain active for the purpose of being a resource for historical references.

My IT career started with programming, and adventures within holland, as well as overseas. When I realised programming is something you can specify, I figured that providing added value is crucial for a long term career and decided to focus on process centric roles.

I started with webservice integration and eventually from that to process integration using BizTalk. The great feeling when discussing high level processes and implementing solutions within days, even highly scalable and interfacing with LOB systems is great.

After several years of implementing solutions like these, I started questioning if all of this work was justified by the business case, if the solution was actually contributing, if the choices had been valid. In other words, I needed to understand the choices made.

When you are hired to do a job, a lot of stuff has been done. If that job is to implement a product, chances are, questioning if that product is the best product for the long term strategic goals is not a great question if this isn't the best product.

I decided I should be able to make decisions based on the business case, before a product is chosen, and be able to facilitate the proces when tese choices are made. To do this, I made some career choices 2 years ago;
- work for a company with a broad portfolio
- work in a role where I'm able to be a customer advocate
- learn about techniques such as lean, theory of constraints to digg deeper, optimize processes, analyse problems
- create and validate business cases
which are product agnostic
- work on cloud computing projects
- work for a startup and create an integration based platform leveraging and evaluating vendors and technologies (amqp, rabbitmq, zeromq, mule, neuronesb, jitterbit, azure sb, wssb, ensemble, postgresql, mongodb, and more)
- start an integration team, not focusing on a product, but on how we can leverage capabilities
- expand my horizon

My goal was to do this during the next few years, I got the freedom to do this all within months. 2 years ago, I worked on BizTalk in an Azure VM, a platform supporting deployment on premises and Azure code, create an Azure service bus extension for a client to have a internal messaging solution,  alot of exciting stuff. Blogging this here didn't felt like a good fit, and as this knowledge isn't as static as with BizTalk, it would have been outdated within months, so I shared this to our customers and internally. As alot of companies already said that they're doing this stuff, what's the added value of telling how to do this...another reason is that  sometimes a competitive advantage is nice.

Having done all of this allowed me to look at the bigger picture, generate ideas, try out concepts.

It allowed me to go through this process again, even faster, broader. The last 8 months I've been side tracked, and worked on Internet of things projects and ideas even more out of my comfort zone. A colleague was fiddling with a Raspberry Pi, and we liked chatting about cool things we could do...someday. Within our BI team, a case was spotted where measuring data with sensors, would provide insights in a process which could then be optimized. They found an Excellent intern, who worked already with Arduino's and gave him the assignment to create a POC.

We were interested and offered to help. No help was needed we got in response. We wanted to do something with our ideas, and organized an internal hackathon, just having fun. We used Cloud9 to host a NodeJs chat application (i created this while waiting for new tires in the garage), I created Azure topics and my colleague used python/Nodejs on his Pi to subscribe to a message with a magic keyword which switched on a lamp.

Only a month later the intern asked if we could help, the next day a demo was due, and communication between the Arduino and Sql wasn't working. I created an API using NodeJs in 2 hours as I had no clue what an Arduino was. However, it worked like a charm.

I later took an Arduino with me to test some more. It started with the Arduino and added a messaging layer (service bus) In between to be able to scale the solution. I learned how the Arduino worked and wanted to know about other platforms....I've now worked with a lot of devices, platforms, and a sense of what options are out there, and how to scale and choose the right solution.

How, because I start with the business case, the need to be able to scale, the talk before the walk. As cloud computing is here to stay a logical fit is to leverage this in the IoT space, messaging, analytics, realtime dashboarding etc, all very much required in good solutions. What is the best product, platform, communication method, when to choose what and why? Almost the same method of thinking I learned 2 years ago helps me to make the right choices. Based on simple criteria, product independent, based on support, skillset, costs etc.

We're excited on working with cloud, it's a way to be cost effective, we're excited to work with devices, also because they are cost effective. But we're making the choices not because it is the coolest way, because it's the best solution that provides the added value for our customers.

So i'm really glad I'm able to think outside the box, and I couldn't have without having learned to think in terms of goals, long term solutions, added value and the question what the best solution would be. Without automatically thinking with a product hat on. BizTalk is a great product, I still use it sometimes, but I've also advised customers to go for a different vendor, the customer needs advice which helps him in the long term.

My journey to go from a technical guy with vision on integration to a guy with focus on strategy and IT was a journey I made and is difficult to explain without all of this background stuff.

So I'm going to be silent, at least, blogging wise on this blog.

My suggestion to anyone, who faced the struggle of wanting to know what's out there, realize that there are ways to expand the horizon, and hypes are not perse the way to do this.

I have learned more in the last to years than I thought I would, all by taking control and listening to myself and my gut feeling.

Hopefully this explains a little why this blog is not being updated, what I've been working on, my interests, and why I'm so active on so many different subjects on twitter and yammer...I'm not thinking in boxes, but in means to solve a business case. Technology is great, solving the real problem is even better.

I feel that this blog isn't the right place to describe what I'm working on, most of it is NDA, or rocket science 😉. Follow my twitter to get an idea of stuff I'm working on (snefs)

Cheers,

Sander

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