Tag Archive for DevOps

Technical Books I’m Reading

A Shelf of Technical Books

I try to keep current on technology. As weird as it may seem, to be an IT industry analyst, you don’t have to know much about technology. You can understand the market without knowing the technology that drives it. It’s limiting but possible.

To really understand IT customers – truly grok them – you need to live a bit in their world. It is my belief that understanding technology provides insights into the market.

More importantly, I like information technology, programming, and and all things geeky. It was my profession for many years before moving to the business side and my heart is still there. So, it is for myself as much as my clients and audience that I continue to go deep in technology.

I have also recently discovered Humble Bundle. They make collections of e-books, comics, and games available for a very low price and donate much of the proceeds to various charities. You can donate as little as US$1.00 and get four or five books. Check them out. They’re awesome.

Subsequently, I have been feasting on technical books on a variety of subjects. Besides my usual array of technology sites and news, here’s what I have been reading.

  • Head First Data Analysis, Michael Milton, O’Reilly – Semi-technical, accessible, introduction to the concepts of data science.
  • Doing Data Science, Cathy O’Neil and Rachel Schutt, O’Reilly – A more in-depth exploration of the process of data science.
  • Think Bayes, Allen B. Downey, O’Reilly – Tutorial on Bayesian statistics.
  • Think Stats, Allen B. Downey, O’Reilly – Tutorial on classical statistics.
  • Mastering Docker 2nd edition, Russ McKendrick and Scott Gallagher, Packt – Both introductory and advanced Docker concepts. Good starter for the budding container enthusiast.
  • Getting Started with Kubernetes, Jonathan Baier, Packt – Introduction and tutorial for Kubernetes.
  • Blockchain Basics: A Non-Technical Introduction in 25 Steps, Daniel Drescher, Packt – ntroduction to Blockchain. The non-traditional style was hard for me to get used to.
  • Mastering Blockchain, Imran Bashir, Packt – More traditional and in-depth introduction to Blockchain and major implementations of it such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. I’m reading this now.

I’ve got a lot of books coming up – I bought 41 of them for something like US$35 – including a set of Java books, and more on Cloud, Data Science, and Blockchain/Bitcoin. There’s a book on OpenStack that looks interesting. R in a Nutshell, Thoughtful Machine Learning with Python, and Java 8 Lambdas are all possibilities too. That assumes that Humble Bundle doesn’t wave something interesting in my face. I almost bought the last Python bundle but resisted. Oh, and I have a ton of Linux books waiting in the wings too.

Of course, the group above tracks my current interests. I’ve been writing code in Java since the 1990s when Java v1.0 was mostly a associated with adding applets to websites. Cloud, Containers, DevOps, Blockchain, and Data Science are top of mind for me professionally and the IT community as a whole. These books talk to the everyday work of developers which is what interests me the most.

So, I’m more than happy to settle in with a good book so long as it’s techy.

Docked!

I admit, I sometimes have weird vacations. I’ve had a few weeks off from work while awaiting the start of my new job. There was a trip to New Orleans (in the summer!) but also time spent watching the livestreams of two tech conferences. A little while back I watched and commented on Apple’s WWDC and, before heading off to NOLA, I tuned into DockerCon. I’m truly a geek. DockerCon is the conference for Docker users. In case you are unaware, Docker is arguably the most used (or at least well known) container technology. Containers are a type of virtualization. There’s plenty of places to look up containers so go do that now if you are ill informed about them.

DockerCon, unlike most conferences I have attended or viewed, is entirely oriented toward technology professionals. Even Microsoft Build and WWDC have more business influence than DockerCon. That’s not unexpected given that Docker’s whole business is centered around developers and sysadmins, It does, however, does add a certain flavor to the proceedings. For instance, the speakers seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time talking about why one would use a container. I would have thought that anyone who was at DockerCon was there to understand the “how” and had already figured out the “why”. It was whipped cream on ice cream – generally unnecessary and in the way of the good stuff.

The most interesting part of DockerCon was seeing how far the technology has come in such a short period of time. It’s not just the growth numbers – though there has been phenomenal uptake in Docker container usage – but the rate of evolution of the product itself that is so startling. In two years, Docker has gone from having only the basic container engine to networking and security upgrades along with the addition of plugins and orchestration. The platform choices have also expanded, though much of it is still in BETA. Whereas Docker, like most containers, has been based on LXC and limited to 64-bit Linux, they are now expanding into Windows and MacOS as well as various cloud platforms such as Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure.

The upshot is that Docker is making itself more attractive for large scale production environments. Docker 1.12 adds features that are important to deploying containers in production, as opposed to developer, environments. For example, orchestration will be part of the 1.12 release. Called Swarm, this feature allows large numbers of containers to be instantiated easily and then managed effectively. Manual tools are fine for individual developers but not for production environments. Swarm, which is similar to Google Kubernates, does all this. The upgrades to security are also important to expanding the use of containers into more robust environments. The addition of key management, while mundane, is very important to maintaining secure environments and Docker 1.12 has it.

Docker is also introducing a new container format. Typically, containers have encapsulated one piece of processing. What the Distributed Application Bundle or (terribly nicknamed) DAB does is package many containers together so that a sysadmin can deploy the entire application at once. Not only does this make it easier to deploy a new application but makes it much easier to migrate or move whole applications. Coupled with Swarm, this is a big time saver for the OPS crowd. DAB is still experimental so it isn’t certain if it will become a feature but it shows that Docker is thinking the right way.

The big takeaway from DockerCon is that Docker containers are now ready for the big time. The ecosystem is growing and the product itself has evolved into something that is useful to production environments. Our little container tech has grown up and is ready to wear big boy pants.