Buzzword: DevOps

Liam: DevOps does get thrown around a lot, and I think there's an aspect is actually one of the phrases in modern-day IT that does get misused or probably misappropriated in terms of everyone has their own opinion on it.

And when we think about it, people define it as a job title. So for example, site reliability engineering, or even traditional operations is literally just going, "You're a DevOps engineer," when it's like, " Mm, not really." It's meant to be an ethos around development and operation collaborating.

Allan: Collaborating. Culture.

Liam: And again, if you can go folding into the security space, where DevSecOps is a role. How do you feel about this? I mean, you've sort of gone into more DevSecOps space...

Marley: Look, it definitely is just a, a chaining of words together, like you said. I mean DevOps, have that, that crossover between developers and operators working closer together, but then you could also take it as, say, operations done through development, where you're just talking about infrastructural automation and not even talking about cross-team cooperation. I mean, look, it is relevant in the security space.

Allan: Mm-hmm. I think it's relevant in the transformation space. And transformation is probably another word, but for an organization that doesn't blend those teams and still have really rigid silos, it doesn't make sense to say DevOps as a center of excellence or, as what AWS would call it. Which obviously it never is in the first go, center of excellence, but there it kind of makes sense, but it's become not a culture word. It's become a role, a DevOps person, which almost in of itself defeats the purpose of why DevOps was created.  You're meant to have the culture of DevOps across your business, not be a DevOps person.

Liam: It’s not hire the DevOps, and then that problem is solved.  

Marley: Yeah, I feel like automation engineer is a better term. Because no matter whether you're doing software development or infrastructure or security...automating any of those workflows is what you're trying to choose as an outcome, right?


DevOps is overused.



What does it really mean, and what's a better word for it?




Read or listen here: 


PODCAST: Allan on Walk the Tech Talk

Kablamo's Allan Waddell recently appeared on industry podcast Walk the Tech Talk.  He was grateful for the opportunity and was especially grateful that the host, Harvey Nash's Anna Frazzetto, was just as interested in tackling some of the biggest ideas in tech as he was.  Here's the blurb from the show and audio below.  Enjoy!  If the button below doesn't work, please click here.

On this episode of Walk The Tech Talk, Anna interviews Allan Waddell, Founder of Kablamo, a human-centered, cloud-based software to make efficient end-to-end use of the cloud. Anna and Allan discuss how AI is becoming a key factor in digital transformation and break down what AI initiatives are having an impact and what are just hype. Allan also discusses the main drivers pushing businesses towards AI, his thoughts on AI actually affecting jobs, how AI, machine learning and neural networks all fit together and so much more. Join Anna and learn from the strategies and accomplishments of this episode’s tech trailblazer.

Buzzword: AI

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In this week's buzzword chat the team tackles how machine learning & AI aren't going to solve your IT woes -- robust discussion ensues.

Ben: Artificial intelligence, yeah?

Liam: Yeah, that and machine learning probably. The coupling of those two as a discrete entity. I need to do the AI.

Marley: A lot of businesses seem to wrap up that they need AI and machine learning when it’s really just about a bad process issue.

Liam: The amount of times we have companies that have a ridiculous amount of data, we've got so much data we don't know roughly how to use it.  And again, they look at some of the technologies that people are doing around machine learning models and sort of the idea of artificial intelligence... again because there are a lot of groups publishing it. When realistically what they really need to do is just start performing data transformation over the top of it and standard data science pieces on it.

Not every solution needs to be in the machine-learning model. A lot of the data points in terms of what they're actually looking to address and find in terms of the data and about their audience, or looking at some of their outcomes in terms of what they're not doing in terms of their product or in their marketing or in their don't need to necessarily put that through copious amounts of machine learning or even the idea of creating an AI engine or compute layer to do that. They are probably the two words that get misused the most if we're honest.

Ben: It's not the future everyone thinks it is. Everyone thinks that you're going to ask AI "How do I..." I don't know, "talk to me in a natural way." And every chatbot that I've ever seen is, is utterly terrible. They're not very intuitive. And everyone's going, "Oh, we want that fantastic chatbot experience," but what they really should be aiming for in AI is something that's, you know, solving the customer problem. And yeah, I think it's just been oversold. It's really, really oversold.

Allan: Yeah, but it's rapidly changing. I mean, I think, I think we're rapidly moving towards a place where the Turing test is going to hold. And I think that is, we're talking about 44% of job replacement by, by AI in the next 20 years across Australia.

Liam: That’s more around robotics and machine learning…

Allan: Actually, no. It’s actually not.

Liam: Okay.

Allan: That's not the physical, it's not the white collar, sorry, it's not the blue collar workers that are going to get hit by AI role-replacement first, it's going to be all the white collar. It’s going to be banking, finance in general, and legal.

Liam: What, accountants, really?

Allan: Yes, effectively.  And software developers. Software development as the processes today is going to change rapidly. We deal a lot with the chat services that would apply at a call center or contact center. And I think you're right. It does need to solve the customer problem first, and I think that's where most companies are really behind is the detailed workflows, you know, consistent form that AI would need in order to be effective. And that's going to take some time just to map it out. To be fair, it's like training your replacement. People are going to resist that change. But yeah, in the background it's really that evolution as well of the humanization of those technologies. I can imagine a time, and it's inside our lifetimes, that you're going to pick up the phone and speak to someone and think you're speaking to somebody, and if it doesn't solve the problem it's moot. So yeah, I completely agree.

Ben: The classic example is I know a guy whose name is Paris, and the chatbot says, "What's your name?" He types in "Paris" and then it goes, "Oh, you want to go to France?" And he's like, "No, my name is Paris. You just asked me that." They can’t even do that right so I’m very skeptical.

Allan: It’s got a way to go.

Liam: I think that’s more an implementation issue there. In terms of the context of what it’s capturing or otherwise.

Ben: Ah, maybe. Maybe...

Liam: If you take Alexa and Google Home, I think there’s an element of their chatbot integration, and again some of their machine learning aspects in terms of NLP space. It has done reasonably well, not to say they’re like the be-all end-all.

Ben: Just saying, I’m yet to see any chatbot that impresses me. And I’ve tried them all.

You Talkin' To Me? Chatbots might not be here yet.


Science fiction has had mixed results predicting the future. Star Trek called the smart phone (sort of), and Jules Verne hit a few targets with the submarine, helicopter, and moon landing (although his steampunk aesthetic predicted your laptop would probably have a chimney).

But recently, we’ve really dropped the ball. We’re only now unlocking our phones with our faces, we’re yet to send a single tourist to space, and we're still waiting for our hoverboards, jet packs and flying cars (the "flying cars" making the rounds now look like no one ever thought an open propeller at head height might be dangerous)

As if we didn’t have enough to mope about, another sci-fi disappointment arrived on our doorstep in mid-2016 - the chatbot. This time, it was silicon valley billionaires, not TV writers, making the promises, so consumers sat up and paid attention.

But instead of ushering-in a new era by simulating the elation of a great conversation (either auditory or textual), they only mimicked the disappointment of a New Year’s Eve party - we got all dressed up for a night of adventure only to end up crying in the bathroom.

The Fiction - 2018: A Chatbot Odyssey

There was a great big beautiful tomorrow, and it was just a chatbot away! 2018 really was supposed to be the golden age of chatbots - here’s how it was supposed to look.

The Turing test defeated, our mornings would start with a kind voice welcoming us to the day (the specific tone would be matched to our search history). If your hair was shabby, you’d ask her to book a haircut. She’d make the booking, then put it in your calendar, (she’d leave time to walk from the lunch date she booked you yesterday).

At work you’d get more done after welcoming our chatbot overlords, with customers looked after by Kelly, the customer service bot. She’d take no breaks, and expect no raises. She’ll also send your mum flowers, but remind you to take credit for it.

The Reality - Episode 1: The Chatbot Menace

Despite years of hype and a venture capital fuelled budget, the reality of chatbots hit us like a pile of midichlorian flavoured mud from a Naboo swamp.

Admittedly, that might be a little unfair to chatbots. But our Ben Boyter says most have failed to live up to expectations.  

“I find most chatbots to be fairly dumb”, Boyter says.

“The experience is so poor that a well designed web page could achieve the same result, for a fraction of the cost and frustration.”

Chatbots were promised to be the next big thing in tech, replacing sales teams, apps, and websites. But instead of iRobot, we got iNobot.

Here are a couple of reasons for that.

Chatbots aren’t different enough

When computers switched from text-based input to Graphic User Interfaces (or GUIs, those pretty clickable pictures), the way humans interacted with computers fundamentally changed.

We’re visual creatures, and seeing our options visually suits the way we work. In solving a basic problem, GUIs made computers at least ten times easier to use.

Chatbots don’t offer the same value proposition yet. As Ben explains, chatbots are usually just an alternative to a search engine. A worse one, mostly.

“Chatbots generally want you to follow a clear flowchart of question actions. A good search engine is still a better option,” Ben says.

“At least if I search for the wrong thing I’ll get no results rather than ‘I don't understand’. Or I might get a page of results to work through. There’s just more information and it lets me reach my goals faster.  Considering how far ahead of chatbots search engines are, I think this is a better use case for every chatbot I’ve ever seen.”

Chatbots didn’t get good enough fast enough

There might be a parallel dimension where chatbots did live up to the hype. There, they quickly improved enough to be genuinely useful, even if only for a few basic tasks.

But Ben says our universe wasn’t so lucky --at least not yet.

“The biggest heartbreak is that chatbots are mostly just a flow diagram with a horrible user interface”, he says.

“It’s frustrating for those who aren’t tech savvy - you should see my Dad two-finger-typing his questions. They’re also annoying for those who work with tech, because we know it’s a waste of time.

“I mean, some bots can’t even cope with spelling errors. What chance do they have with slang, or other technical questions? The technology just isn't there.”

Back to the future: Is there a sequel for the chatbot?

Chatbots aren’t going the way of Betamax or Google Glass just yet. The early success of voice assistance like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, which are essentially voice-chatbots, have given consumers and developers proof of worthy applications.

For a chatbot to be useful it needs to offer something more than we get from a webpage, search, or app - or something different at least. Natural Language Processing also has to be good enough not to frustrate users before resolving their query.

Machine Learning will help. Instead of building basic flowchart chatbots, developers will need to create bots that use the inputs of users to improve itself.

But the biggest wins will come from personalisation. A bot answering a question is great, but to be as game changing as the GUI, chatbots should know what you want before you realised you want it.

Chatbots might still be late-bloomers in the imagination-to-innovation product cycle. If so, they could still be a genuine game-changer.

They’d be the first interaction most consumers would have with advanced artificial intelligence. And that’s where some of the greatest potential for our society’s future is held.

I mean, that or Skynet.


Buzzword: Blockchain


Listen to the team tackle Blockchain as a buzzword,  current industry uses, what blockchain might look like in the future and the effectiveness of distributed systems (or read the transcript)

Liam: I feel like we’ve missed the absolute elephant in the corner here, which is blockchain.

Allan: Ha. Yeah.

Liam: Let’s try and find something else we can use blockchain to solve...

Marley: I just get sick of seeing LinkedIn profiles that say "I'm a blockchain advocate".

Ben: Or a "blockchain expert." Like really? Did you invent blockchain?

Liam: I sort of feel like it's the thing that everyone attempts to try and find a problem to try and solve with it.

Ben: Solution looking for a problem.

Liam: Yeah. It's one of those things, like it works quite well in the cryptocurrency space, right? In terms of that transaction holding the ledger context of it, I think there's a real essence where banks have attempted to look at it for quite some time. You've got the ASX and a couple other organizations that are looking at how that fits in their platform space. You've got groups like VISA or MasterCard that have come out and been very anti-blockchain in terms of going from a power consumption space. .

Ben: It's one of the three big advancements that we've ever had in accounting. There was single-ledger accounting, a double-ledger, and then there’s blockchain. I think that’s going to have a big impact eventually.

Liam: The question I always wonder is, “Is this like the internet?” Is this the early days of the internet when people are just saying, "They can't necessarily see that far ahead". The idea of going, "Okay, if we could tell the future then we'd all be millionaires in certain aspects." But is it like the internet where it existed in like '98, to what it is today and what we do over it today? Were there that many people back in the '90s talking about eCommerce and web platforms and API-driven aspects? 

Allan: I’ve got very strong feelings about this…

Marley: If you follow the analogy, it's kind of concerning for the future of blockchain, right, because you're going to go again from a distributed system to things like siloed, walled gardens we have today on the internet, right?

Liam: Roughly speaking, yeah?

Marley: I mean it kind of defeats the purpose of technology in the first place.

Liam: How distributed does a distributed system need to be to still be effective? So if you treat the idea of a monopoly as a single ledger, and you say oligopoly is a controlled network. So let's say the banks all start to do blockchain between themselves as they're all the trusted ledgers. But they don't have untrusted ledgers in terms of, "Hey, you could just go and run the blockchain for the bank or be a node within the blockchain of the bank."

Ben: I might be okay with it if I could read the blockchain. At least to PenSpec what’s going on.

Liam: Yeah, you could still inspect it and look for fraud. Maybe with the Royal Commission that’s happening right now, maybe that’s one way to at least get visibility into a banking institution. But does blockchain always have to public? How distributed does a distributed network need to be?

Ben: Well, considering what Facebook's going through, I'd say distributed is a good thing.

Liam: sharing.


Architecting Culture at Scale

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Last week, we proudly welcomed Angus Dorney to the Kablamo family.  In his blog post, Angus did an awesome job expressing the significance of his joining, and the much-needed step-change that Kablamo brings to enterprise. We're on the precipice of something new, something great, it's a very exciting time for us.

But thanks to his inherent humility, Angus did a pretty darn average job of expressing one of the more outstanding gifts he brings to us.  Please allow me to explain. 

Angus is known industry-wide for his effectiveness as a tech leader, but what truly distinguishes him in my opinion is his ability to maintain culture at scale.  Angus knows how to grow a business, just Google his name to see a shopping list of distinguished achievements. But he also knows a much more profound thing, how to grow a great culture that matches business growth.  

"Company Culture” these days is 101 level HR marketing fodder, an afterthought. The ideal of company culture is too often tossed around as a concept that sounds great but doesn’t necessarily mean much. 

Kablamo is built around our humans.  We didn’t buy them.  We gravitated together because we share a single vision, we have a single purpose: Deliver cloud software in a way that absolutely knocks the socks off our loyal enterprise customers.  We don’t have dispensable people any more than we have dispensable ethics or values.  Our humans are exceptionally bright and deliver outcomes with unwavering humility. We don’t need or want undeserved monikers like “we’re the best”, “the biggest”, “the fastest”, “the most cloudiest/devopsiest/secopsiest” — we just get on with it. Our team builds really valuable software, we solve problems.  We work really hard, but we maintain balance —and we don’t just say it, we do it. And we enjoy it. 

Our new Co-CEO embodies the ideal of servant leadership. Angus is the safe pair of hands to grow something culturally unique like Kablamo into something much bigger. What’s so critical here is that scaling the Kablamo culture will mean huge benefits for organisations looking for a trusted accountable partner to drive truly valuable enterprise solutions at scale. (Just for fun , try saying that 5 x with a mouth full of marbles)

So, welcome, Angus.  Kablamo’s culture is on the launch pad for the next stage of our journey and the mission is clear.

— Allan Waddell, Co-CEO (Proudly) and Founder Kablamo

Why The Technology Behind Bitcoin May Someday Save Your Life


Allan wrote the following piece for CSO.  You can also read it there.

It’s time to chin up and stop grousing that we’re all late to the crypto-currency party. Most of us may have missed our moment to make millions off of Bitcoin, but the technology behind it could eventually save our lives. 

This potential is likely behind the government’s recent decision to use the budget to set aside $700,000 for the Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) to “investigate areas where blockchain technology could offer the most value for government services.” It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a start that other many other nations haven’t made.

While the early arrivals to Bitcoin may be having more fun financially than the rest of us, the cryptocurrency frenzy is rapidly changing from a gold rush-themed greed-fest to a surprise party: turns out that blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin and dozens of other cryptocurrencies, has untold practical and even altruistic uses, from making food safer to boosting humanitarian aid; from improving electric grids to safeguarding workers’ rights.

Blockchain creates a shared digital ledger, an open book whose decentralised information can’t be altered or hacked.  This transparency and stability is where the potential lies.

In April, Blackmores, the natural food company, and Australia Post announced that they are teaming up with China’s Alibaba in a new Food Trust Network to develop a food tracing technology using blockchain. The world’s largest dairy exporter, New Zealand’s Fonterra, will also participate in the network, as will that country’s postal system. The project will start with Blackmores’ fish oil and Fonterra’s Anchor products.

In mere seconds, their system will be able to track food from the store shelf to the farm and shipment it came from, thanks to special codes on the food’s packaging.

The system has enormous potential to address health threats in our food supply in ways that could actually save lives.

For example, seven deaths and a miscarriage were linked in recent months to listeria-tainted rockmelon grown in New South Wales. After the first death, in mid-January, it took authorities working without benefit of blockchain about 40 days to find and contain the source; by then a total of 19 people would be affected.

Granted, even with blockchain, this particular outbreak would have been hard to trace. That’s because listeria symptoms can take months to emerge, shrinking the likelihood that victims will remember what they ate or where they bought it. Blockchain can’t work its rapid magic, remember, if the label is long gone or the store is forgotten.

 Even so, once the grower was known, the technology would have helped authorities instantly pinpoint which stores sold the grower’s melons and when; possibly even to whom. Given that the melons were sold throughout Australia and exported to nine  countries, that would have been a good thing.

The U.S. is experiencing a similar food health crisis with romaine lettuce. Dozens of  people have developed kidney failure from an E. coli outbreak tied to romaine lettuce. Authorities still haven’t found the source and are warning people against eating any romaine lettuce until they do. Twelve years ago, spinach with E. coli killed three Americans outright and authorities spent weeks afterward trying to figure out where the deadly stuff was grown and packed.

The technology has already proven to have profound benefits in humanitarian ways. The World Food Programme recently began using it to distribute food aid to Syrian refugees in a Jordan refugee camp.No digital middleman is needed to broker transactions, and there are no fees. For that reason, refugees shop at the camp’s ‘food market’ and at checkout, a biometric scanner charges the WFP for their selections. Meanwhile, the blockchain safeguards the refugees’ identities, eliminating paperwork. The Danish Foreign Ministry says it might soon disburse all of its humanitarian aid in this way. And when a British charity recently used blockchain to send aid to some Swaziland schools, Reuters reported that the savings paid a year’s tuition for three additional students.

It’s the decentralised and transparent aspect of the technology that has the potential to make power grids ‘smarter.’ By eliminating the need for a single centralised server, everyone on a network can share information simultaneously, which will make it possible to detect problems faster when power grids fail. One day blockchain may also be able to distinguish clean energy in the grid from that derived from fossil fuels. This will make it easy for governments to track how much of it is generated and used. And Western Australia’s PowerLedger is trying to use blockchain to disrupt energy retailing and permit the rise of the “prosumer” (the energy producer/consumer) by giving them the tools to trade power.

And just last month, the U.S. State Department and Coca-Cola Co. announced a plan to fight hidden forced labor in countries where the beverage giant gets its sugar cane. The notion is to rely on the tamper-proof aspect of blockchain to create a workers’ registry that also tracks workers’ contracts with employers. Such a registry can’t force companies to honour their promises, but at least there’d be evidence of what those promises were.

To be sure, there’s a downside to the technology, which is that it requires massive amounts of energy to work its magic. But computer scientists from the MIT and other universities are racing to develop greener varieties.

Too bad all this potential for good is so often obscured by all the hoopla over blockchain’s profit-making potential. As one U.S. enthusiast, Naval Ravikant, said, it’s truly a shame that this technology of trust burst on the scene “dressed up as a get-rich-quick scheme.”

So relax. You’re not late to the most important party. It’s only just getting started, and with the right initiatives and policy, it will benefit everyone in ways we can’t even imagine yet. 

Why I’m joining Kablamo

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Today, I join a special group of people who are creating a truly amazing company. In a short period of time, Allan Waddell and his team at Kablamo have built a strong reputation in the Australian cloud marketplace – they’re known for delivering high impact customer outcomes, making Agile more than just a buzzword, and for being some of Australia’s smartest cloud and application engineers.

In short, Kablamo is a leader in  a new generation of cloud application partners.

Most enterprise IT service providers say people are their most important asset, but very few practice what they preach. They talk about delivering outcomes for customers but end up only delivering big invoices. They claim to put the customer at the core of their delivery, but don’t take time to really understand their customers’ needs and match these needs with relevant and modern service offerings. In every case, Kablamo is different.

And people are taking notice.

It isn’t often that you get a chance to be a part of the next big thing. I believe Kablamo is that next big thing.  In less than two years, Kablamo already counts some of Australia’s largest organisations as customers. Kablamo’s team are execution engineers, “black ops” code warriors who deliver and educate, working on site with customers and enabling their organisations to move faster via the speed and quality of delivery.  This combination of getting important things done securely and rapidly, whilst investing their customers with lasting cloud knowledge, means  customer teams inherit the capabilities they need to make the most of cloud.  The reputation for delivering, for guiding customers along their cloud journey, is the reason such an impressive list of enterprises already work with Kablamo. 

When I spend time with Kablamo people, I see common traits of humility, accountability, curiosity, creativity and bravery. I see values that align with my own and values upon which we can build a truly world class business.

Today is another step forward in Kablamo’s journey to reshape what customers expect from their technology and cloud partners.  

I am honoured and grateful for the opportunity to partner with Allan, as Co-Chief Executive Officers of Kablamo, and to take this young organisation forward on an exciting mission. I look forward to working with many of the people I have met on my journey so far and I equally look forward to meeting new people and organisations. I have no doubt that today marks the beginning of a fulfilling new chapter in my story, and I look forward to sharing the ride with you all.

-- Angus Dorney, Co-CEO Kablamo

Is your computer a racist? We know AI’s ‘how’ but we need ‘why’

Is your computer a racist? We know AI’s ‘how’ but we need ‘why’

As more decisions are handed over to AI, regulating their behaviour could become increasingly important. Part of the challenge stems from the fact that while we can understand “how” an AI has reached a certain conclusion, discovering the “why” is much more problematic.