Don’t Let These Four Fears Keep You From the Cloud
“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” Babe Ruth’s famous quote reminds me of the advice I often give to clients who are considering a move to the Cloud. Some organizations let their fear of change guide future plans, despite the Cloud’s many benefits which include cost savings, higher velocity and more opportunity for innovation. That’s why I’ve assembled the five most common concerns, and why they shouldn’t stop you from moving to the Cloud.SecurityThere are numerous solutions to address this concern, but first and foremost it’s important to note that the public Cloud has had many years to mature and become battle tested; companies like Amazon and Google have spent a lot of money tackling security issues head-on. In fact, it’s more secure than your private server, which tends to be more vulnerable due to things like missed software updates, network compromise, or social exploits. However, if you’re still wary of keeping your company’s sensitive data on the Cloud, you can keep key data on a private server and move the less sensitive data to a serverless Cloud.2. Legacy application issuesClients often think they have an app or process that they think can’t move to the Cloud, whether that’s because it’s built on special architecture or maybe tied to a specific piece of hardware in their center. And while it may be true that your business is tied to a legacy application now, switching to the Cloud can provide you with a level of independence you couldn’t dream of with private servers.3. Organizational barriersHaving a diverse team with different viewpoints and areas of expertise is a wonderful thing, but when it comes to being ready to switch to the Cloud, others on your team may not be as ready as you are. Consider this the perfect opportunity to be your project’s evangelist. In the Cloud, you can try all the new projects you’ve dreamed up for less than the cost of doing three of them in a serverless environment. I’ve found that the difference between a growing business and a stagnant one is whether you’re willing to embrace change.4. Data handling concernsSometimes companies are bound by data use agreements or regulatory concerns that make hosting their data on a public or hybrid cloud much more difficult. Maybe that data is jointly owned with business partners, or was collected under a restrictive data use agreement. Often, the data itself has been aggregated over years or decades from all sorts of sources, and you’re just not sure what you have to do to untangle all these concerns. There’s almost always an answer involving the correct security or private cloud integration. Additionally, you can find well-informed attorneys to help you understand what your responsibilities are if you don’t have that expertise in-house.I understand that moving to the Cloud can be an intimidating process, especially if you or someone on your team has any of these concerns. However, the rewards that accompany a shift to the Cloud can help your organization save money, move your business forward, and make life a lot easier for your developers. Listen to Babe Ruth – don’t let fear stop you from reaping the benefits of moving to the Cloud.WATCH TECH IN 2: ARE YOU READY FOR THE CLOUD?About the Author:Originally a medical researcher, Hoke Currie has been leading data analytics consulting and crossover software development teams since 1994 for clients including the US Army, CMS, Sodexo, DuPont, the World Bank, UPS, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the International Monetary Fund. Formerly a managing partner at GraySail for more than sixteen years, he is currently a Principal Consultant at Rural Sourcing, and the Java practice lead in the Augusta Development Center. His specialties include Java, Agile development, Cloud adoption and migration, and large scale data analytics / machine learning.
The Need to Balance Work-from-Home and Work-from-Office
Work-from-Home (WFH) is here to stay. COVID-19 forced companies to adapt to the remote model or grind to a halt. Even companies that have previously resisted WFH have found most of their concerns to be unfounded. Some have even gone so far as to claim that the WFH/virtual model will be the dominant model going forward, and that offices are effectively ‘dead’.While there are significant benefits to a WFH model for many businesses, there are still potential downsides that technology alone can’t solve. After all, we as humans are social beings. There is a reason ‘solitary confinement’ is considered severe punishment! Human connection and interaction are essential to personal happiness. In-person team collaboration helps to build relationships, foster ideation and strengthen company culture. And there are ‘moments of serendipity’ that can only happen when working in an office environment.WFH Has Many BenefitsWorking independently from home provides numerous benefits for employees and businesses alike. These include:Employee flexibility and ‘spirit of freedom’, giving employees control over where and when they workHigher productivity. Although WFH has its distractions, this is likely outweighed by lower commuting times and a longer window for working hoursBroader ability to recruit talent from remote locations – not being restricted by commute times to local officesLower facilities cost due to less need for permanent space and related support systemsBut WFH Also Has its DownsidesWFH is not all ‘rainbows and unicorns’ – some of the challenges include:Employee burnout and disengagement due to longer hours, more time online and a feeling of monotony. In a recent study from DigitalOcean on remote work, 82 percent of U.S.-based remote-working professionals report feeling burnt out.Maintaining company culture and unity is challenging due to minimal personal interaction and connection, which in turn impacts consistency of performance and employee retention.Less in-person collaboration and interaction also reduces the opportunity for those ‘moments of serendipity’ where new ideas are generated, or problems handled quickly. According to a recent PWC survey on remote working, the number one reason employees say they go into the office is to collaborate with other team members (50 percent). Difficulty collaborating is also the number one reason people give for being unproductive at home (39 percent).Ongoing skills and career development, as well as apprenticeship of junior employees can be a challenge, although this can be mitigated with investments in new systems, processes and training (both for managers and colleagues).Rural Sourcing – Taking a Balanced ApproachThe office isn’t obsolete, but it is changing. While the COVID-19 crisis showed that staff can interact well when apart, people still cherish in-person engagement with colleagues. Having colleagues interact in-person yields strong benefits to culture, innovation and ongoing career development. We feel the best approach is to blend the freedom and flexibility of WFH, with the personal interaction and collaboration found in Work-from-Office (WFO).Our development centers, located in Middle America communities, provide great hubs to enable this balanced approach. We also feel there continues to be strong business benefits to our software development center-based model, including:Access to strong overlooked talent, and keeping IT jobs in the U.S.Lower cost of livingHigh quality of living compared to larger metropolitan areasA strong catalyst for bringing the innovation economy to Middle AmericaAs we at Rural Sourcing take steps toward moving colleagues back to development centers, our priority will be to maintain:Employee safety, well-being and satisfaction, and opportunities for in-person connection, relationship building and team collaborationProductivity and performance for our clientsEmployee skills and career development, including best-practice sharingCompany culture – preserving the ‘glue’ for retention, consistent performance and market differentiationOur focus on being part of, and giving back to, the local communities in which we operate – helping to build the technology hubs of the futureWe’ve always been intentional about creating ‘collision points’ for our colleagues to interact and work together. Now, we are rethinking how to do this safely. By strengthening the bonds our colleagues form in the development centers and across locations, we will drive greater collaboration and deliver even better results for our clients.Office space and its design are important pieces of creating a collaborative environment. That’s why we’re rethinking how best to use the space to create the type of location that fosters creativity and teamwork, rather than building just a heads down work environment. This will include more teaming areas and better pair-programming setups. Teams will be able to complete heads down work-from-home for part of the week and come into the office for sprint planning/grooming, difficult project points and greater innovation discussions.As we speak with our colleagues it’s very apparent that they want to return to the development centers. They don't necessarily want to come back to a ‘weird pandemic environment’ but do wish for the positive aspects of our pre-COVID environment and the ability to socialize/collaborate in person. While we have all benefited from some aspects from WFH, we'll take the learnings from this unique time and build an environment that brings the best of both worlds together to the greatest outcome.DISCOVER MOREAbout the AuthorAs COO for Rural Sourcing, Ingrid Miller Curtis is responsible for realizing Rural Sourcing's vision to provide US-based high quality IT outsourcing solutions through her management and oversight of all Rural Sourcing development centers. Her responsibilities include leading and developing Rural Sourcing talent, client relationship management, ensuring the scalability and reliability of Rural Sourcing's process and systems and strategically determining the next set of solutions for our clients. She is also responsible for establishing and ensuring consistency across the organization with respect to Rural Sourcing's processes, values, and methodologies. Ingrid brings an expansive knowledge of underlying computer systems and technologies, allowing her to contribute to all aspects of our application development and maintenance projects.Ingrid is a graduate of Babson College, where she earned a B.S. in Business Management.
Tech in 2: Are You Ready For the Cloud?
The Cloud positions organizations to grow at a quicker and more efficient pace, but in order to reap its benefits, it’s important to be sure you’re ready before you make the switch. Principal Consultant Hoke Currie shares a simple five-point test to help determine your readiness.READ THE BLOG POST "DON'T LET THESE FOUR FEARS KEEP YOU FROM THE CLOUD" BY HOKE CURRIE
No More Excuses: The Power of Code Review
Tech in 2: The Power of Code Review
While code review might be seen as a luxury due to time constraints, making sure it's part of the software development process is more critical than you think. Principal Consultant Wes Dollar shares why code review is so vital, and how it’s helpful for developers at any stage of their career.READ "NO MORE EXCUSES: THE POWER OF CODE REVIEW" BY WES DOLLAR
Oklahoma City Development Center Spotlight
Oklahoma City has seen a major tech resurgence in recent years, and our fifth development center is proud to be a part of it. With living costs as much as 40% lower than the national average and world-class workforce development programs, it’s no wonder that Oklahoma City has attracted some of the country’s best tech talent. We talked to our OKC colleagues to learn about what life is like in the Sooner State.Tech-focused environmentBusinesses in OKC are booming, and with a supportive environment for tech workers, this comes as no surprise. Rural Sourcing colleagues have attended many opportunities for networking and professional development in the tech space including Techlahoma, Infragard, and the OWASP Foundation. Our Development Center has also hosted State government officials, arts council members, and Oklahoma City Public Schools students.Taking in the sightsLiving in OKC means there’s plenty of opportunities for fun with your family and your colleagues, including visiting the Myriad Gardens Crystal Bridge, Bricktown and the Canal area, and the Oklahoma City Zoo. Past events at the Center have included a chili cook-off, cereal bar, scavenger hunts, and summer family nights.Putting clients firstJust as Oklahoma City is becoming a place where many different industries are thriving, our OKC Development Center keeps growing with diverse and talented tech professionals. As one of our colleagues puts it, Clients working with our OKC Development Center receive the “Oklahoma Standard of Service”; ensuring client success is at the forefront of everything they do. Learn more about Oklahoma City by reading up on our featured OKC colleagues Joan and Mitch.DISCOVER MORE
Why Now is the Time to Adopt Kubernetes
Kubernetes (K8s), an open source container-orchestration system for app deployment, has been in existence for six years. Over time, it’s developed a very loyal community of users (including myself) who have come to appreciate its many benefits, which include a high amount of fault tolerance and portability. So, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “If it’s been around for six years, why is now the time to adopt Kubernetes?” After working in Kubernetes on multiple client projects, I can honestly say that there’s never been a better time to develop on this platform. Here’s why.Tried and true stabilityThe open source community drives a lot of innovation, which has contributed to Kubernetes becoming an extremely stable platform. It’s also led to incredible tooling to accelerate cloud native development like Skaffold, KinD and Helm. Open source tools like FluxCD and Gatekeeper are used to enable companies to scale up multiple teams delivering to the same k8s cluster while enforcing custom security policies. Bitnami's Kubernetes Production Runtime suite is a collection of standard open source tools that cover the monitoring, logging and ingress needs of a typical production cluster.Write once, deploy anywhereA big payoff of this open source, cloud native development practice is that the same workload and infrastructure can be declared once and run across a variety of cloud vendors. AWS, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure, among others, all offer managed Kubernetes services, so deploying and scaling your workloads uses the same assets and tooling, no matter what cloud you're on. Developers and stakeholders alike enjoy this portability, which enables them to make decisions based more on application requirements rather than infrastructure limitations. Federated clustering and the Istio project even make it possible to coalesce multiple clusters running across different cloud vendors, geographic regions, and on-premises into a single unit.Big Tech has taken noticeOver the last year, some of the biggest names in technology have been making equally big investments in open source and Kubernetes-related projects and developers. In July 2019, IBM acquired Red Hat, the largest open source software designer on the market, for $34 billion. IBM previously stated that working in the Cloud was one of its four key growth drivers, so with the acquisition of Red Hat, they’re making themselves a more fearsome competitor in the cloud computing race.Earlier this year, there started to be some whispers about Apple hiring a number of well-known Kubernetes and open source software engineers. Insiders say that this can only mean that Apple is finally realizing the value of open source platforms like Kubernetes when it comes to tech infrastructure (an area where, like IBM, Apple has also lagged compared to its competitors).If you’ve considered making the switch to Kubernetes in the past, but haven’t made the jump just yet, I would argue that now, more than ever, is the best time to adopt K8s. With the open source community dedicating six years to stabilizing the platform and developing its consistency and portability, along with huge tech companies making investments in the technology, don’t wait any longer to adopt K8s.About the AuthorThomas Smith is a container evangelist and loves helping craft cloud native solutions. When not building containers, he can be found cycling the Bosque trails of Albuquerque or creating generative music.READ "KNATIVE: THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE KUBERNETES TOOLKIT" BY THOMAS SMITH
Making Sense of Microservices vs Serverless
Changing your architecture from a monolithic style to one encompassing microservices can have many benefits, but in a time when the tech community is still defining what microservices, serverless and even serverless microservices mean, understanding your options can get confusing.To put it in the simplest of terms, the concept of microservices is primarily concerned with the way in which applications are written, while serverless is chiefly interested in the way in which computing services are consumed. Companies are now using a blend of these two concepts, known as serverless microservices, to rapidly develop or refactor applications.To explore these somewhat abstract ideas, I thought it’d be helpful to think about something more concrete. Read on to see how microservices and serverless are just different aspects of transportation to help your application get where it needs to go.MicroservicesImagine your company wants to go to a team building activity that’s across town. The reasonable approach to getting there would be piling into a vehicle big enough for everyone going on the trip. Unfortunately, as your company grows increasing the size of this vehicle becomes more of a hassle. Do you buy a minivan or a school bus? What if you don’t plan properly and you’ve bought too much space, or too little? There are also challenges with scheduling and coordination. You need to take attendance and have an accurate projection of the number of people on the trip. You’re also stuck waiting for every single person in the group to be ready before you can make any progress. And should anyone need a potty break, the whole bus has to stop for them. It’s a strategy that starts out pretty simply, but gets complicated and inefficient as you grow.Microservices is the radical notion that instead of packing everyone into the same vehicle, you find logical groups to break travelers into and put them into appropriately sized modes of transportation. Minivans, SUVs, Bird Scooters… your employees take whatever means of convenience makes sense for them. Not everyone needs to be on strictly the same schedule anymore. If your accounts receivable team wants to walk, they can. If a team grows, just get them a bigger car or split them into smaller teams and let them find their way. As chaotic as this sounds, it matches the way most of us get to work, so we have some reason to believe in its success. Growth is now represented by many small increases in complexity and cost, rather than the large chunks of the monolithic motorhome. Communicating between teams is more difficult, but manageable with a plan. Orchestrating the whole trip creates new complexities, but a dedicated resource with a certain skillset is able to handle it.ServerlessServerless asks a different question. Who needs to own a car, anyway? Isn’t your problem really about moving people to different places? Sure, cars might help you do that, but do you really want to take care of putting gas in the tank, washing the windows, checking the oil, and parking? Serverless asks you to squint a little and ignore the passé notions of “cars” or “vehicles;” just tell us how many employees you have and where you’d like them to go: think of serverless as the Uber of cloud computing. Pay only when you need it for as much as you use it. If the trip is short enough, and you don’t need that many people moving together at the exact same time, just hit a button in an app and someone else will handle all of the details.So clearly, you could use Serverless to drive your microservices where they need to go; depending on the work they do and the distance they travel, (or more likely, depending on the amount of computing power they need) and the time the task takes to execute. Computers have marched steadily from being room sized artisanal creations, to a commodity abstracted away from even geography. Serverless is the latest phase of evolution in that process.Serverless MicroservicesAn extension of microservices and serverless is serverless microservices. It’s an architecture pattern that many companies are using to rapidly develop or refactor applications. Conversations around microservices inevitably reach the point of talking about how small “micro” is. In the wild we’ve seen companies go “micro” by bundling the smallest amount of functions that make sense. If the smallest sensible bundle is a single function (or a handful), a serverless approach would have you let someone else wrap that function and scale as needed. The resulting application would then be a symphony of serverless services being orchestrated behind an API Gateway or some type of queue. In exchange for trusting them with this process, public cloud providers agree to bill you for only the milliseconds that these services are actively running. A few keystrokes or clicks on a console can replace entire procurement processes of old. Developers and businesses have yet another tool to leverage in their quest to create value.If your organization or application could benefit from greater scalability, flexibility, or faster project development, utilizing microservices or serverless might be worth exploring. For an in-depth look at microservices, read our whitepaper “Microservices: Fast Path to Digital Modernization.”About the AuthorWhen not helping clients find their way to the Cloud, solution architect Jackson Stakeman can often be found drinking coffee or trying to raise a tiny human (preferably in that order).DISCOVER MORE
The Company We Keep
“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.” - Booker T. WashingtonI’ve never been shy about voicing my opinion when it comes to the importance of being a socially conscious company. Gordon Gekko’s “greed is good” mantra may have been the corporate world’s adage in the 80’s and 90’s, but “good” looks a lot different now, and at Rural Sourcing we’re only as good as the people, companies, and communities we surround ourselves with.Mission firstOur mission since Rural Sourcing was founded has always stayed the same: provide meaningful employment opportunities for marginalized communities by creating roles for software developers in mid-sized cities throughout Middle America, thereby closing the Digital Divide. By doing so, we provide a great value for our clients while our software developers enjoy the high quality of life they’ve come to expect by living outside of major tech centers like Silicon Valley. This mission went into overdrive when we received the support of Bain Capital’s Double Impact Fund.In good companyBain’s investment in Rural Sourcing is part of what they refer to as Double Bottom Line Investing (DBL2). In other words, there’s a focus on both the traditional bottom line of financial performance (there’s no mission without margin), but also an equal importance given to the positive social impact of a company. Other companies in the Double Impact portfolio include Broadstep, HealthDrive, Penn Foster, Rodeo Dental and Arosa. Whether it’s through affordable dental care for children living in low income communities, or affordable in-home care for the elderly, or accessible online education for any socio-economic demographic, the Double Impact companies all have one thing in common: they’re doing well by doing good.I encourage you to take a look at Bain Capital Double Impact’s Year in Review and see why we’re proud to associate ourselves with a group that takes giving back as seriously as they do their bottom line and why we believe in “No greatness without goodness.”DISCOVER MORE
Tech in 2: Lean Startup for Software Development
Principal Consultant John Nenninger discusses Lean Startup, a unique form of Agile methodology that gives product owners more freedom to innovate, while shortening development cycles. Learn all about this up-and-coming methodology, and how our teams have used it successfully.WATCH TECH IN 2: SHAPE UP METHOD WITH JOHN NENNINGER
Albuquerque Development Center Spotlight
Known for its beautiful scenery, Spanish history, and the International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque is home to our fourth development center and nearly 200 of our colleagues. Development Center Director Margret Bailey shares what makes ABQ so special.Always learningThe culture in our Albuquerque Development Center is “a crucible for leaders of all varieties,” and personal accountability combined with the Rural Sourcing focus on teamwork, collaboration, and collegiality produce an ownership approach to everything, “which is fantastic if you want a center full of smart, confident trust-but-questioners,” says Margret. In ABQ, everyone is encouraged to be themselves wholeheartedly, whether that’s by drawing comics, 3D modeling and printing, or sharing your passion for neurolinguistic programming. All of our colleagues truly enjoy learning from each other, which facilitated the creation of the Maker Space, where colleagues lead workshops including acrylic painting and tie-dying. Senior Consultant Mark Winchell even taught the center how to build a functional camp stove from aluminum cans!Trick or treatWithout a doubt, the most popular center holiday is Halloween (in fact, it sometimes involves a month of activities!) Horror movie lunch trivia, costume contests, and pumpkin decorating rounded out last year’s spooky season celebrations. ABQ also loves a little healthy competition, especially against colleagues in other centers, and had a great showing in the firmwide lip sync competition this year. Caring about the communityCommunity engagement is important to everyone in ABQ, especially when it promotes STEM education. CodeClubs.org is a non-profit organization founded by Paul Perez, a Principal Consultant in ABQ, which partners with Girls Who Code and local schools to bring coding classes to kids ages 11-18. Senior Consultant Bresdin O’Malley is now the Executive Director of the organization, and the entire center loves to get involved either through teaching or spreading the word at local events. Margret shares, “The scale to which our colleagues devote themselves to these activities is impressive. I’m very proud of our center’s involvement with the community.”To learn more about Albuquerque, read up on our featured ABQ colleagues Abdul and Brandy.
Need for Speed
2020 has set a new precedent for businesses across the world. The pandemic has thrown fuel onto what was already an increasingly cutthroat business climate, thanks to higher demands from customers, new entrants, and more competition than ever before. In order to meet these challenging circumstances, organizations need higher velocity in every area of their business. While many people view “speed” in the context of “speed to market” only, there are other aspects that are just as critical to business success. Having consulted with our clients during this extremely unprecedented time, here’s where I’m seeing the “need for speed” in action.Speed to MarketA big factor for success in the corporate world will always be speed to market. The first mover advantage is a luxury that not all businesses have, yet the majority will always strive for it. Whether that’s introducing a new product or service, or expanding into new markets, or simply adding new functionality, it’s a very common goal across industries. We’ve seen that the onset of the pandemic has escalated the need to rapidly address changing customer needs, preferences and market conditions. This has further accelerated an already heavy focus on the need for technology to respond and innovate quickly.Speed to SavingsIn the end, it’s all about the bottom line, which is why speed to savings is another crucial area in the need for speed. It can be achieved by lowering costs, doing more for the same investment or the same for lower spend, or through increased efficiency. Businesses have always sought improvements that boost the bottom line, but in the last quarter, we’ve seen expectations grow for that to happen even faster. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that companies are especially conscious of their bottom line right now, and seeking to avoid any waste that they can.Speed to ValueIn today’s economy and business environment, pivoting has become the name of the game. Whereas speed to savings is focused solely on cost containment, speed to value is about better leveraging capabilities and resources to drive new opportunities for growth. Due to the pandemic, we're seeing many clients looking for new ways to leverage their technology investments to create incremental revenue when possible. Take ParkMobile, for example: their popular mobile application helps customers find, reserve, and pay for parking, but with sports, concerts, and other special events canceled, they sought a way to offer the same level of usability to their customers on their existing platform, while helping out in a time of need. Customers were able to use the app to donate to one of a hand-selected group of non-profits located in the cities where ParkMobile operates. The company matched a portion of the funds, which came to a total of over $30,000 raised for charities. Customers utilized the new functionality that we helped bring to the market in just two weeks. The pace of business rarely slows down, and now more than ever, the need for speed is at an all-time high. With many businesses wanting to innovate and pivot while meeting customers’ rapidly changing needs, doing so as quickly as possible is essential to survive in this business climate.Learn more about how we’ve helped our clients achieve their “need for speed” by reading these results: Pharma Company Outsources Full Support to Rural Sourcing Saving 40% and Supporting Healthcare Clients During the Pandemic