Rearchitect your employer’s monolithic software into a robust conglomeration of cross-transactional microservices

Decentralization is about more than just improving Political Economy.

Monolithic client-server software architecture is analogous with socialism itself. For any typical networked computer program from the late 20th Century, a control freak such as int main(); initialized a core set of server functionality which in turn conscripted routines within the same runtime instance to perform auxiliary duties. At no time did the algorithmic tyrant permit autonomy, and problems within even one auxiliary unit often caused the entire binary society to crash domino-style into operational ruin — even if users were not experiencing problems with the client app on their end, no user would be able to access the monolithic service experiencing downtime on the server end.

Like a great escape from a German prison camp, microservices offer the software equipment your employer needs to guarantee that its net-enabled application’s Tom tunnel will stay operational even if both Dick and Harry experience digital cave ins. The decentralization of business logic duties among numerous separate-but-interconnected software services facilitates robust development and deployment opportunities, at the expense of some additional processing overhead from the APIs which allow such microservices to speak to one another, so to speak. Advantages include:

  1. Scalability — a microservices architecture allows development teams to pick and choose which services will receive the most runtime attention from clients and will therefore need more processing power to cope with the demand of ever-increasing numbers of users
  2. Enhanced bug hunting — this is simple math: a large, monolithic arthitecture will be a bigger haystack to hide bug-needles than an architecture of microservices within which a process of this-one-is-still-running elimination minimizes the overall amount of hay that needs to be searched
  3. Distributed development teams — this one is simple Political Economy: segregation of duties and comparative advantage increase profitable efficiency (note that initial investments of additional resources might not be cost-effective for smaller organizations)

Note that some software vendors are approaching microservice architecture with the same weaselly dismissal of open standards as so many of them did previously at the monolithic expense of consumers. They market themselves as a special brand providing exclusive products, but they are in actuality trying to lock in repeat business by offering only a my-way-or-the-highway set of options.

Don’t work for one of those weaselly companies. Each consumer is at all times in the driver’s seat of production amid any healthy economy (as opposed to Keynesian duplicity regarding consumers having some kind of spend-spend-spend obligation toward producers as a collective engine of production). Remember always that the vast majority of everyone’s life, even while at work producing things for market, entails consuming things which are already available from various markets — kind of like the way that microservices improve the algorithmic markets of networked computing.

Will the marketing buzzword “smart” doom Smart Contracts?

A corollary to bureaucracy dumbing down generation after generation is that many other things — even inanimate things — start to appear smarter in comparison.

Don’t bet on your smartphone or your smart home or your smart appliance or your smart vehicle achieving sentience anytime soon. AI will never offer anything other than a facsimile of intelligence (i.e. artificial intelligence). Sure, machines will continue to increase the speed with which they can perform the calculations which go into approximating human cognition, but approximations they will remain.

Consider the typical private sector bureaucrat pretending to be a big shot business management deciderer. They want everyone around them to act like servile bureaucrats by pretending that everything the Big Boss Bureaucrat says is genius. Such narcissists are often quick to demand so-called smart technologies, which they hope will automate the lickspittle process of personal coercion and professional misconduct.

Enter into the scene Smart Contracts, a mashup of algorithms and processing code which addresses the creation and execution of standard contracts. While the qualifier “smart” might be a catchy marketing phrase (especially to narcissistic bureaucrats who are desperate to present themselves as being smart), actual business managers might want to refer instead to Automated Contracts or Self-Executing Contracts to emphasize that the blockchain underlying each could not possibly be as smart as the parties to that contract.

Blockchain technology is, of course, a distributed ledger system which enables the crypto part of many cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. While Aleph Infotinuum Services has a low opinion of any putative currency — digital or otherwise — which lacks a tangible commodity (e.g. gold) as its real-wealth backing, the concept of blockchain-based cryptography is itself as promising as any alternatives for securing the storage and transfer of sensitive data.

Follow the link below to learn more about the way that blockchain platforms can streamline the contract lifecycle (just try to refrain from calling such contracts smart).

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In the Information Age, competent business managers don’t neglect the information

Data are informational, and information is comprised of data, and The Cloud represents the same old system of networked computers rebranded as a mysterious new trend.

If it seems trendy & mysterious, bureaucrats pretending to be important management deciderers will become motivated to fixate on the trendy mystery instead of on the business imperative. Vendors that market something old as something new bank on personal insecurity to act as incentive for such disguised bureaucrats to commit their employer to procuring that which becomes a sunk cost before anyone gets a chance to perform an adequate cost-benefit analysis. Many storage room shelves become IT graveyards for what amounts to vaporware.

When bureaucrats insist that other employees recognize their deciderer influence above all other considerations, information & data often become neglected vapor in their own right. Make no mistake: The Cloud will not “take care of it.” Indeed, at its core, The Cloud represents a hopeful revisitation of the 1980s-era “thin client” attempt to swindle computer users into allowing third parties to be caretakers of all their data.

What, then can a competent business manager do to differentiate themselves from those who merely pretend to be business managers while demonstrating decidedly bureaucratic behavior? Information is the key, and that doesn’t mean hoarding information for purposes of appearing indispensable to the enterprise. Business managers are obligated to lead by example, which for information means sharing everything that isn’t an explicit element of organizational confidentiality. Processes for sharing information range from email attachments (risky and unprofessional) to formal collaboration workflows. As always, you’ll get what you pay for — so don’t skimp on the investment simply because everyone already has a hard drive and an email/IM client, because that way leads toward insolvency.

Bottom line: far too many businesses neglect information management, to the detriment of their bottom line.

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What’s the difference between learning and knowledge?

Confusion over the definition of these two concepts explains why most corporate training programs fail to achieve their business outcomes.

Put simply, learning is the process and knowledge is the outcome. And instructional designers are responsible for designing the learning process by:

  • ensuring learning outcomes meet business goals
  • designing appropriate learning strategies and materials
  • selecting the required content necessary to achieve learning outcomes
  • identifying how to deliver the content
  • ensuring users have adequate opportunity for practice, application, and failure

The last point is key to ensuring learning sticks. The process of practice-application-failure makes the learning content meaningful and memorable to users. That’s the acquisition of knowledge. And that’s why businesses invest in training programs. Sustaining and growing corporate knowledge helps drive businesses forward. Learning is what happens behind the scenes.

Learn to recognize the signs of individual knowledge & expertise encountering the destructive force that is bureaucracy

Artificial hierarchies, which business owners and business school graduates often implement as personal fiefdom enablers, become the riskiest set of organizational silos.

Amid human society, no hierarchy is natural. There are no natural-born leaders, because the term leader is merely a temporal metaphor. The very concept of vertical subordination within an enterprise is tantamount to fraud — at the very least, it is an example of bullies pretending to be important deciderers by way of rigging things in their favor.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that any employee or contracted consultant can do their own thing without regard to satisfying the obligations of the role for which they are expecting to receive remuneration in the form of a wage or a salary or a chart-of-accounts transfer from AR (Accounts Receivable) to some or other bookkeeping revenue account (e.g. a checking account at a bank). Neither business line managers nor non-managers get to behave like they’re more important than their coworkers.

Growing a business is difficult. That’s why so many people who call themselves a business manager end up behaving like a bureaucrat. That’s also why so many people choose to join guilds. The imagined outcome is unquestioning obedience and exclusivity of opportunity. The actual outcome is economic stagnation, which sometimes compels those with a bureaucratic mindset to seek the protection of a larger bureaucracy called government, which sometimes leads to trade wars, which sometimes lead to shooting wars. Who’s kidding whom: more than sometimes.

How, then, can a professional help to minimize the risk of warfare? Knowing that political activism is inherently immoral, the answer becomes obvious: economic activism. Include as part of your employer’s value stream map a knowledge mapping process designed to guide employees and likewise authorized contractors toward the resources they need — all without them ever feeling obligated to approach someone who believes themselves to be hierarchically entrenched in order to beg for entrance into that person’s specific information silo.

If you hear a manager at your place of employment claim to be a big shot deciderer, start looking for different employment

Such claims always have an unspoken corollary: “… and you lot are my serfs/soldiers.”

It’s time to face up to the reality that business schools do little other than defraud society, students and non-students alike. As with members of any guild (e.g. attorneys), business school graduates take to heart the nonsense they hear from professors about becoming more special somehow than others, after which they too start insisting that those outside the guild have all the obligations toward guild members.

Such self-styled heroes don’t enjoy looking weak. Indeed, perceiving themselves as weak is the very reason why most of them seek the artificial gang-banger protection of a guild (the worse conceivable assortment of insecure gang-bangers being any government ever). When the weak-minded gang up, each of the individual members starts demonstrating a likewise artificiality of assuredness, which obligates them from a psychological standpoint to rearrange an otherwise functional enterprise into a morass of do-as-I-say hierarchical bureaucracy … also artificial.

Bureaucracies tend to feature quick decisions that all too often are the wrong decisions (the everything-stuck-forever-in-committee lamentation representing just the most visible aspect of an otherwise fraudulent imperative to shove things down throats before anyone suspects that incompetence or corruption is inspiring all the bureaucratic dictates). Bureaucrats pretending to be business managers tend to make those kinds of quick decisions because they are insecure about their qualifications and therefore remain anxious at all times to issue commands before anyone else can present thoughtful counterpoints. Then it becomes all about the do-as-I-say. Then it becomes all about the insolvency.

Perhaps an example would help. Have you heard of The Cloud? Have you heard the common sense explanation that The Cloud is a mere marketing campaign from companies hoping to sexy up the boring old market for servers and their complementary support services? Have you, then, heard of self-styled deciderers insisting that their supply chain must include adequate budgeting for The Cloud because the manager in question has heard all the buzz surrounding the marketing campaign? Due diligence goes out the figurative window, all because a bureaucrat disguising themselves as a business manager tries to appear quick-minded by way of pointing toward a fabricated fad.

Be more thoughtful.

When it comes to developing software with a goal of maximized CX (Customer eXperience), leave economic specialization to the actual coders

Business management is never a specialized vocation, although peddlers of business school tickets to careers of artificial exclusivity centered around guild membership comradery tend to claim that entrepreneurship is somehow teachable.

Entrepreneurship is one of the Fine Arts. None of the Fine Arts is teachable because creative talent is itself unteachable. The best that art schools can do is provide a consistent environment of self-exploration as well as feedback from faculty who have been around the figurative block a few times. Such an environment is more cost-effective for painters or writers than it is for entrepreneurs (whose typical creative process necessitates greater amounts of capital and labor for each finished work of art called an innovative business).

If you want to help your employer remain agile and responsive amid ever-changing consumer demand, take exclusive heed of neither the dialecticians nor the grammarians among your coworkers. Instead of looking toward only the Vocational Arts (e.g. a developer) or the Fine Arts (e.g. a company founder), consider paying more attention to Liberal Arts graduates who bring to the workplace a better mixture of instruction-following dialectics and analogy-comprehending grammar.

Remember: as a competent manager of a slice of your employer’s slice of the eternal infotinuum, you are required to resist bureaucratic urges. That means you must never expect anyone to mindlessly follow orders as though they are divine commandments handed down from on high, and you must also never rely on everyone else’s suggestions as a way to simultaneously guard against criticism of your own ideas (e.g. “That was all them”) and set up an opportunity to claim credit for successful outcomes (e.g. “My team really came through for me”).

Consumers are at all times in charge of any healthy economy. Producers wish that such a fundamental economic principle was not true (even though they along with everyone else spend the vast majority of their life — even while at work producing goods & services for market — consuming things that are already available from the market). Where some producers end up sabotaging their employer is at that crossroad of personal insecurity known as the impulse to bark out bureaucratic orders toward both colleagues (e.g. “You’re beneath me, so just do as I say”) and customers (e.g. “There’s nothing wrong with the smartphone, you’re just holding it wrong”).

Producers hoping to supplant consumers as the ones in the economic driver’s seat often turn toward socialism of a corporatist variety, such as the toxic environment under which Mussolini purported to be reclaiming Roman glory by way of guild-based State production goals. Strive to be more liberal than bureaucrats pretending to be business managers.

Alephnote: Aleph Infotinuum Services avoids the mistaken definition of the term liberal, which FDR deliberately tricked Americans into adopting (aside: during the 1930s both Mussolini and Hitler praised FDR for his efforts to centralize economic control). AIS prefers instead to help sustain the term’s accurate, classical definition — indeed PC stands not for Politically Correct but rather for Programmed Conservatism.

Apparently, the hippest CIOs are balancing opportunity with risk

There is, of course, no such thing as a competent employee who does anything else.

Bureaucrats demand obsequious obedience while kowtowing before those whom they consider to be bigger, badder bureaucrats. Business managers who behave like bureaucrats are unqualified for positions within free enterprise. As the latter (i.e. the bureaucrats) become more indistinguishable from the former amid this supposed modern age, consumer freedom perishes just as economist Friedrich von Hayek explained will always happen under such coerced circumstances: “We have progressively abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed in the past.”

That might seem like a fair tradeoff for those who either are bureaucrats or are falling into the fake-it-until-you-make-it habit of behaving like bureaucrats, but focusing on the demands of producers instead of the demands of consumers represents the major factor leading toward chronic bankruptcies & recessions & depressions & totalitarian regimes & genocide. Even while at work producing things for market, each person spends the vast majority of their time consuming things which others produced earlier (e.g. electricity, vehicles, furniture, lunches, uniforms, etc.). As opposed to Keynesian duplicity regarding consumers being some kind of engine of economic production, any healthy economy features consumers at all times in the economic driver’s seat.

Still, those business managers whose fake-it-until-you-make-it insecurity compels them to take on more bureaucratic characteristics end up more often than not establishing a kind of vassal fiefdom within their place of employment, whereby they pretend to be large-and-in-charge deciderers while merely making snap decisions based on whether or not they heard about a particular stratagem while watching a TED Talk or a potential supply-chain vendor by keeping in close contact with one of their fraternity buddies who happens to work there. What suffers is the employer’s ability to meet its ultimate goal: making the business development decisions which maximize consumer satisfaction (while demanding maximized satisfaction as a consumer of other goods & services).

Go ahead and blame so-called business schools, whose instructors are utterly incapable — as are all people — of teaching others how to be entrepreneurial, choosing instead to emphasize bureaucratic administration. MBAs are actually MBBs (Masters of Business Bureaucracy), who learn little other than glad-handing tactics to exclude those who have not paid for membership into the guild.

So what’s a genuine entrepreneur to do? Simple: make sure to hire CIOs (and other top management) from the field of candidates who do not list “MBA” as one of their on-paper qualifications. Since it is no longer possible to escape to a relatively newer continent of freer markets (as Europeans did during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries), it’s time once and for all to starting killing off guilds by way of deciderer boycott.

Has gamification in learning lived up to the hype?

Like other much-discussed trends touted to revolutionize learning, the answer is No.

The term “gamification” was born out of the ashes of attempts to develop serious games and use virtual environments like Second Life for learning. Funding agencies dolled out millions of dollars to academics to research and develop learning environments based on then-popular games like World of Warcraft. It produced a lot of research, speculation, and hype. And not much else.

Most gamification proponents define it as taking game-like elements like scoring, badges, and rewards, and applying them to non-game contexts. The fun and challenge of achieving higher levels and status will make learning content — anything from corporate HR principles, web development, or molecular biology — more engaging.

But gamification is just extrinsic motivation and behaviorism wrapped up in marketing spin. It’s based on dangling rewards (badges, gold stars, prizes, recognition) in front of users for following dialectical instruction like good little gamers soldiers. And the problem with learning design based on extrinsic motivation is that the learning content itself becomes secondary to the reward. Rewarding users able to click the fastest and navigate the system fastest doesn’t lead to better learning, and actually inhibits users’ motivation and engagement with the learning content.

“Who are you and how are you going to help my employer maintain the ability to pay my salary?”

When evaluating technology vendors for possible B2B supply chain relationships, don’t shy away from directing questions toward those who create the product that is under procurement consideration.

Perhaps, during the course of your day-to-day nine-to-five, you’ve created or helped to create some of the RFI (Request For Information) or RFP (Request For Proposal) communications that enterprises need for comparing & contrasting the sources of potential production inputs. Such documented requests are important elements of maximizing employer value and, consequently, profits and, consequently-consequently, your sustained income from whichever role you occupy within the organization.

The product itself, though, represents only a part of the relationship that your employer has with its supply-side stakeholders. The people who make the product are just as important to both their employer’s success and yours, so suss out information like the vendor’s HR turnover rate (churn) as well as how closely its various departments work together (e.g. do they have a workforce that is geographically distributed and do they do much outsourcing of their own production needs?).

Such questions need not be of a personal nature. Instead of asking someone where they went to school, try asking them what their process is for resolving bugs or similar product defects. Instead of listening to a sales pitch as a captured audience, find out whether a potential supplier’s engineering staff — or whoever creates their employer’s product — would be willing to sit in on one of your employer’s sales meetings (assuming your employer approves).

The key is to build a trustful and mutually beneficial relationship based not on the product alone or the first impression you get regarding specific personalities, but rather on the way that potential vendors work together to add value to your employer’s roadmap achievements. It’s the business management equivalent of “Measure twice, cut once.”