Pivotal’s Andrew Clay Shafer on operations, OpenStack and incubators

It seems like when it comes to big software projects, it’s the operations staff that often get short shrift compared to developers who have the skills to craft the architecture.

Agile-and-devops guru Andrew Clay Shafer joined the Structure Show podcast this week and attempted to dispel that notion as he discussed the importance of operations to these projects. He brought up how the OpenStack jigsaw puzzle can be attributed to the way the software was developed without much concern for how it functions.

“If you don’t build the software to be operated, if you don’t have the operational mindset when you’re building the applications, then the best abstractions, the best tooling isn’t going to fix that for you,” Shafer said.

Shafer, a co-founder of Puppet Labs (see disclosure), also talked about how the configuration management company came to be and how he and his team tried to build communities for IT operations staff as a way to empower them, similar to how agile developers have numerous communities and blogs.

Now at Pivotal, Shafer is advocating for Cloud Foundry and is explaining to operations folks how the PaaS can benefit them as well as developers.

Be sure to listen all the way to end of the interview where Shafer shares his thoughts on why startups considering work with incubators might be better off doing their own networking instead.

Andrew Clay Shafer
Andrew Clay Shafer

Before the interview starts, Barb Darrow and myself chat about former Bit.ly data scientist Hilary Mason starting an interesting new research and consulting lab called Fast Forward Labs. What makes Mason’s startup stand out from other consulting services like Forrester (S FORR) and Pricewaterhouse Coopers is that her team gathers research on high technology from groups that may never interact with each other — academia and hackers, for example — and turns those insights into readable reports for clients. In other words, if you dread reading another jargon-filled survey of anonymous executives, Mason’s got a consulting firm for you.

We also discussed EMC (S EMC) having a Barbarians at the Gate type of moment with activist investor Elliott Management, which is determined to split up EMC’s so-called “federation” of companies, including VMware, RSA and Pivotal. The reason? It’s the shareholders, of course, as Elliott Management believes that the companies are more valuable on their own.


Hosts: Barb Darrow and Jonathan Vanian

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Disclosure: Puppet Labs is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of Gigaom.