Monthly Archives: June 2017

Why working at night doesn’t work

Lots of programmers insist on working late. That’s a bad idea. For every one time a programmer reaches “flow” state and effortlessly produce reams of brilliant code late at night, there are a hundred inefficient programming sessions with low productivity and high error rates.

In most organizations, it is a near certainty that you will be spending most of your day doing something other than what you had planned. Most solutions involve company culture, managers, scrum masters, and colleagues. But there is one solution that is completely within your control: Show up early and complete one important task.

If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.
Mark Twain

If you are a night owl like me, that might be a significant change to your life. But it pays off handsomely in more happiness and less stress. Stress is caused by a feeling that you are not in control of your situation; starting early and actually getting a task of your own choosing done each day defeats this feeling.

Try starting work two hours earlier than everybody else for two weeks and see how much more you get done.

Why Outsourcing Doesn’t Work

40 years ago, Fred Brooks told us in his book The Mythical Man-Month why full outsourcing couldn’t work. Since outsourcing was rare and difficult back then, nobody took note. Today, advances in communications and technology make outsourcing much easier. That doesn’t mean it will work.

The reason is that IT work is not uniform. There are some easy tasks (rapidly getting automated) and some hard tasks that take expertise and judgment. And most organizations are outsourcing their work to regions where IT professionals haven’t had the time yet to develop expertise and judgment.

Cost vs CompetencyIn a mature IT market, a wide range of skills exists, from basic to very advanced. As you need more advanced skills, the cost goes up, because there are fewer IT professionals with the requisite number of years of learning and experience.

In a new IT market, you can get basic competency cheaper. But because most IT professionals in these markets are relatively inexperienced, advanced skills are very rare, very expensive, and might not even exist.

The outsourcing fallacy is to think that you can move an entire, complex IT operation offshore. You can save money on moving simple tasks to regions with lots of competent but inexperienced IT people. But advanced skills won’t be available. So unless you can very cleanly separate simple tasks from advanced tasks, the communication overhead necessary to ensure that the right people get the right task will eat up any saving.

Think you can save money by outsourcing? Maybe you can. But many IT organizations have found they couldn’t. Get in touch if you need help figuring out the right level of outsourcing for your tasks and your organization.

Oracle Cloud Strategy Fail

Oracle rose to database dominance by making their software freely available. Anybody can download a $100K+ enterprise edition database and use it for personal learning as long as he likes.

The Oracle Cloud offerings, on the other hand, are strictly limited. You need to provide both a mobile phone number and a credit card number in order to get a miserly 30-day trial. Once you’ve spent your 30 days, you’ve used the one chance you get in this lifetime to learn Oracle’s 50+ cloud offerings.

Reality Distortion Field - Steve Jobs had it...

Contrast this with the approach taken by Amazon: A free tier without time limitation, and a generous 12-month trial for many of the other services. They took a page from Oracle’s playbook, offered free access and became dominant in the cloud space.

Oracle defends their stinginess by saying that it’s too expensive for them to offer free trials. And apparently, they believe they don’t need to offer good trials because their cloud is faster and cheaper.

Unfortunately, the ability of Larry Ellison to distort reality is limited. Oracle has a negligible market share in IaaS and PaaS and since they won’t invest a smidgen of their $60 billion cash hoard in better trials, they are unfortunately likely to remain a bit player in this space.

I’ve used my own phone number and credit card, and my wife’s phone number and credit card, so I’m now out of options for learning more about the Oracle cloud. But I’m learning AWS.


This is a post from the OraToolWatch newsletter. Don’t miss the next one, sign up