All Things Pivotal (pivotal conversations)


Pivotal Conversations
Pivotal Perspectives





July 2018
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031: Stories, points, and backlogs with Pivotal Tracker, guest Ronan Dunlop

Continuing our Circle of Code agenda, we talk with Ronan Dunlop of Pivotal Tracker. Tracker was developed over ten years ago as the in-house project management software used by Pivotal Labs and has since then become a product in its own right used by many teams. We discuss what Tracker's history, what it does, and most importantly the philosophy behind tracker.

We also discuss some recent news about the Gartner IaaS Magic Quadrant (see free reprint and Coté's highlights), SQL Server support in the Google Cloud, and the wrap of SpringOne Platform, including just released videos of many of the talks.

See for full show notes.

Direct download: PivotalConversations031.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 3:20pm PDT

030: Platforms as Contracts with John Feminella

While at SpringOne Platform I talked with John Feminella about his talk on platforms and contracts. He uses the legal metaphor of contracts to describe the beneficial trade-offs between things like 12 factor coding and continuous delivery. As the abstract for his talks puts it:

Platforms like Pivotal Cloud Foundry (PCF) can be viewed as contracts between applications and the people who build, operate, and deploy them. At the root of these contracts is a core premise: if your application checks off a few boxes, the platform can provide enormous amounts of power and enable capabilities that wouldn't otherwise be possible.

Check back from the video recording of the talk and find John in Twitter at @jxxf.



Direct download: PivotalConversations030.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 4:17pm PDT

029: Monitoring microservices and applications with Spring Sleuth, an interview with Marcin Grzejszczak

While at SpringOne Platform 2016 I, Coté talks with Marcin about one of the projects he works on, Spring Sleuth. There's plenty of technical overviews of Sleuth out there, but I wanted to talk with Marcin about the "why" of Sleuth, how he came to use, and get a high-level overview of how it works. Sleuth, based on Zipkin, is a framework for distributed tracing which turns out to be handy for the types of architectures we see in cloud native applications, particularly microservices. Monitoring a single user interaction across a mutli-service, composed application has historically been difficult: you can lose track of what code and service is participating and doing what, ending up in a lot of log salad and correlation hacks after the fact to diagnose problems and monitor for overall performance.

Check out Marcin's blog at and find him in Twitter at @MGrzejszczak.



Direct download: PivotalConversations029.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 6:59am PDT

028: Partnering in the cloud native ecosystem, guest Josh McKenty

This week, while at SpringOne Platform, Richard and I talk with Josh McKenty, head of the partnering engineering team. With a general purpose application stack like Pivotal Cloud Foundry there's a lot of partner applications, services, and consulting that typically gets used beyond what Pivotal provides out of the box. Josh's team does the implementation with partners around these extensions and service integrator partnerships. We discuss how the program works, why it's needed, different modes of operating with partners (from agile to Gnatt-planned out waterfall style), why an ecosystem is needed, and how service integrators fit in. Since Josh has worked on OpenControl we slip in an overview and update of that compliance automation framework. Josh in Twitter: @jmckenty.



Direct download: PivotalConversations028.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 7:51am PDT

027: The Circle of Software

When you put all of the step needed to create good software up on the board, there's a lot of them. It's a lot more than just writing code, or even writing requirements and stories. Around Pivotal, we think of this full, end-to-end process as the circle of code: Ideas → prioritization / planning → coding → deployment → runtime → monitoring → feedback, and back again. Richard and Coté discuss these steps and how organizations are starting to appreciate "the big picture."

They also cover some cloud native news: Amazon buying a browser-based IDE, Cloud9; Google expanding their cloud; and Verizon's purchase of Yahoo!


Main Topic

  • "Circle of Software," Onsi’s talk where he outlines this concept:
  • Ideas → prioritization / planning → coding → deployment → runtime → monitoring → feedback, and back again
  • What do Coté and Richard think of this model?
  • Lots of individually popular tools at each stage of the circle …
    • Prioritization: Jira, Pivotal Tracker, Trello, and more
    • Coding → Java/Spring, Node, .NET, Ruby, and more. Plus countless IDEs from IntelliJ to Visual Studio Code to Spring Tool Suite. Not to mention web IDEs.
    • Deployment → Jenkins, Concourse, GoCD, TravisCI, and more.
    • Platform → Pivotal Cloud Foundry, cloud IaaS, containery stuff
    • Monitoring → Datadog, New Relic, Dynatrace, and more. Log storage in Splunk and others.
    • Feedback → Tools like UserVoice
  • Where does friction arise in the handoffs between those stages?
  • Damon Edwards value-stream talk from DevOpsDays Austin 2015.
  • Is anyone currently trying to bridge the gaps? Between which stages?
  • The marriage of tools and culture in making this work
    • If you aren’t committed to continuously delivery and using feedback to fuel the next iteration, don’t waste your time setting up this machinery
  • Also: SpringOne Platform! Aug 1st to 4th. Use the code pivotal-cote-300 for $300 off registration.
Direct download: PivotalConversations027.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 1:22pm PDT

026: SpringOne Platform Preview, Pokémon Go, will Azure win against AWS?

The biggest, best cloud native conference around is just around the corner, SpringOne Platform, this August 1st to 4th. This week we talk about the sessions we're looking forward to: Richard has his top five and Coté has a longer write-up. As both a technical and "meatware" conference, there's a whole lot to like, spanning the broad category of better ways of doing software. There are some great case study talks from the likes of Home Depot, ExpressScripts, Allstate, and Dish. In the technical buckey, there's all sorts of talks going over cloud native style development and several on handling data as well. Of course there's a lot on microservices! If you haven't registered yet, use the code pivotal-cote-300 to get $300!.

In addition to talking about SpringOne Platform, we cover some recent cloud native news like the prediction that Azure will overtake AWS and, of course, Pokémon Go.

Full show notes:

Feeds, archives, etc:


  • Old Man Coté asks: What's this Pokemon Go stuff?
  • Morgan Stanley survey on Azure rise, and responses to it. And what's up with Microsoft cloud-land? Richard knows!
  • Pivotal and Ubuntu announce close partnership

Our favorite SpringOne Platform sessions

See also the Ignite talks and the unconference.

Direct download: PivotalConversations026.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 3:01pm PDT

025: .NET and Beyond 12 Factors with Kevin Hoffman

We've seen a goodly spate of news in the container space recently which we cover in the episode. In the second half, we talk with Kevin Hoffman about the .NET world, Steel Toe, and his book, Beyond the Twelve-Factor App. A recent survey from the Cloud Foundry Foundation is widening the framing around container management, adding in the use of Platform-as-a-Service into the usual container orchestration mix. The survey also shows some interesting results around adoption, e.g., managing containers in production ends up being more difficult than people predict during evaluations. Also since our last episode, DockerCon brought a bevy of announcements in the container ecosystem which we cover briefly. And highly relevant to our guest, Kevin Hoffman, .NET Core 1.0 was officially released, as open source. In the second half we talk about the recent history of .NET and how it's being used to create microservices. We also talk about the three extra "factors" Kevin's book adds to the 12 factor app and typical experiences when migrating to 12 factor apps.

Full show notes:

Feeds, archives, etc:

Direct download: PivotalConversations025.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 1:36pm PDT

021: Cloud Native Transformation at the CF Summit, compiling code is now legal again, and other cloud news

Last week’s Cloud Foundry Summit was full of large organizations talking about revamping their IT strategy to be cloud native. We heard from the likes of Comcast, Allstate, Daimler, and ExpressScripts who each have been using Pivotal Cloud Foundry as the central enabler of their cloud strategies. These companies are modernizing how they create and deliver software, well on the journey to becoming software defined businesses. As Greg Otto from Comcast said, “We placed a bet on Cloud Foundry. We get features in days, not weeks, and scale takes minutes, not months.”

In this new format for Pivotal Conversations, Richard Seroter and Coté talk about these stories and other happenings from the Cloud Foundry Summit. We also cover some recent news like the Serverless Summit and the the ruling in Google/Oracle case over APIs.


Show Notes


Cloud Foundry Summit


Direct download: PivotalConversations021.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 8:01am PDT

We're always espousing how much cultural change is needed to realize all the benefits of "cloud native," so I thought it'd be interesting to talk about how HR helps out with that change by talking with Pivotal's head of HR, Joe Militello.

One of the key principles of his approach is to remove complexity: from process to paperwork. Later in the episode, we talk about the leaning up of the annual performance review as an example of removing that complexity: at Pivotal, it's a totally optional process, which boggles some HR folks' minds. However, in looking at all of the effort that goes into annual reviews - employees establishing goals, managers reviewing them, and all the proces around it - Joe's team found that it was an alarming huge amount of work for something that very few people - if any! - liked. Instead, they've been instilling the idea of continuous feedback into the company's process. And, for those who still want them, there's tools and process available for full on annual reviews.

We talk about simplifying the recruiting process too. In an example that sounds a lot like the old "how long does it take you to deploy a line of code" trick, Joe goes over Pivotal's goal of putting an offer out 24 hours after an interview (assuming the candidate warrants one). The back-end for most HR systems and the approval process wouldn't allow for such a quick offer letter, but after applying that de-complexifying lense, it's possible to get there. Just like focusing on all the effort, end-to-end, it takes to deploy one line of code to fine "waste," this 24 hour goal helps lean up the HR process.

Another topic we discuss is the ongoing experiment of including work simulations in the interview process. Having a programmer do a small coding and design task is nothing new, but applying that to sales, marketing, and other roles is interesting and novel. Joe goes over how they've been doing "stand and deliver" components for sales interviews, and discusses how they're rolling such simulations into interviews for all roles.

See more at

Direct download: PivotalConversations020.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 12:46pm PDT

Community, conferences, unconferences, and Platform SpringOne

Even the cloud natives get sick from time to time, which is how Andrew and I start this Pivotal Conversations episode out, talking about how we deal with decreasing status bars while we're sick. We spend the bulk of our time discussing what you can expect to get out of conferences and unconferences.


Coming this fall, August 1st to 4th, we have a new conference, Platform SpringOne coming up that launches this discussing. We talk about what we're planning for this conference: a good mix of all the roles, technical and business facing that make up cloud native culture. In bringing these roles together, one of the things we're looking to do is help people cross the "silos" they normally operate in and try to get to that "integrated team" effect that cloud native approaches espouse so much. I comment that this seems like a continuation of Andrew's talk from AgileRoots 2009 where he pitches agile-minded developers to start paying attention to operations more.


Also, having recently run an unconference at an internal, Pivotal conference, we discuss how unconferences function. That discussion provides a good example of how building trust and rapport with your co-workers can make things are mundane as "meetings" more productive and useful. I liked the mechanics of the unconference, in particular that Andrew went over the "rules" of OpenSpaces style conferences, which encourage people to find conversations they like and feel free to move get up and find another talk if they're looking for different topics.


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Direct download: PivotalConversations019.mp3
Category:Pivotal Conversations -- posted at: 2:36pm PDT