Decision Time w/ Tony Stafford: Effectiveness in an API-Driven Economy Part 1


Tony Stafford is a lifelong technologist.  

He got his first job in technology in high school. From there, he had stints in the military, government contracting, the Department of Defense, and at our company, Shadow-Soft . Currently, he’s a technology executive working with DOD customers. 

It’s that breadth of experience with technology that makes him the perfect person to talk with about technology trends. And that’s exactly what we do in this episode. 

We discuss:

  • How cloud is evolving into an API-driven economy
  • Overcoming the challenges of the Kubernetes transformation
  • 3 things to know about crypto   

Want to hear more stories from high growth software companies? Subscribe to Application Modernization on Apple Podcasts , Spotify , or check out our website. 

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You are listening to application modernization, a show that spotlights the forward thinking leaders of Highgro software companies. From scaling applications and accelerating time to market to avoiding expensive license and costs, we discuss how you can innovate with new technology and forward thinking processes and save some cash in the process. Let's get into it. Thanks for listening to the application modernization podcast, presented by Shat US soft on your host Nick Marcarelli. Today we spoke to Tony Stafford. He's a technology executive who we've known for many years. Actually spent some time at Shat US offt number of years ago. It's got a really interesting perspective on new technologies, things that are really on the brink of things that most of us have just never seen before. We had a great conversation abrown crypto. The metaverse was probably my favorite part of it, just diving into the edge the things that you know, not not the normal concepts that we would talk about on the podcast. So he's a little bit of my friend that I lean on for what's next, what's coming around the corner. So hope you enjoy. Thanks to red hat for continuing to sponsor this podcast. And we appreciate their support. Enjoy our talk with Tony Stafford. Tony, how we do today? Good? Well, thanks for having me. Thanks for coming on. Full disclosure for those listening to the pod, Tony of I have known each other a long time. We might even be friends. So this is going to look a little looking. Well, maybe not look, because we're not going to let you look at us, but this is going to sound a little different than maybe we've heard in the past. Hopefully like it. So anyway, let's get to Tony. Tony for the for the listening audience, would you like to give a little introduction, little bio? Tell us a little bit about you? Obviously know a lot about you, but our listeners may not sure. So. I've been in the technology space for a long time. I actually had my first technology job when I was still in high school. I was a systems administrator at a company called on cart, which was an ecommerce platform to back during the early days of the thecom boom in the S. and from their kind of continued working through I join the military and worked with technology pretty what, pretty significantly. Well, I was in the military, left the military and when the government contracting again, in the technology space, doing things like test automation and working on service oriented architectures early on, eventually kind of moving into web security, which is where really kind of got a significant amount of exposure and expertise. From there I started...

...working, eventually moving over into the government's sector as a government employee working for the Department of Defense, let the Dod, joined a commercial company called Shat Usoft, worked as the technical lead for that company for about four years and then departed shut us often returned back to the Department of Defense, currently as a technology executive at a fairly large navy organization that works primarily on building and fielding technology solutions to our war fighters. Quite a bio. Let's dig in. Just getting now. Well, we'll jump into some of that. So obviously that for years where you were with a commercial company that was with shadows off, or so for the listeners. That's where Tony and I met and developed friendship and a working relationship and that's how we know he'Sai each other so well, and we'll I think we might have a couple stories. Probably things not to do, things that probably aren't allowed anymore, but Um, they're good and they're safe for the POD. We'll have to worry about it. The kids can still listen. So the thing I like to spend the most time talking to you about, rather than the Chicago bears not being any good, is it's technology trends and what you're seeing. So you have a you have a unique perspective because you work in evaluating technologies and making recommendations that support the Department of Defense. So that's a that's a pretty interesting perspective. Now we won't get into the night details of that because that's not a good idea, but that you're obviously evaluating all the things that we're seen as trends and then you have to put it through your own aperture. So I like to run through some hot trends and get your personal opinion on what you think in the face of the space, where you think it might go, maybe how you see it in commercial industry, since you spent some time over on the side of the fence before and you know, just your general thoughts, because this is kind of what we do when we mean up anyway. So right, let's start with an easy one. Cloud. So clouds evolving right now, right, and so really the way that I've come to think about the cloud journey is we sort of had this first wave of cloud and it was really driven by Amazon web services and then later on by you know, Google and Microsoft getting into the infrastructure centric sort of approach. And then what we saw was really this second wave of cloud, which one might call cloud native applications, and we focused in a lot on containerization and application and portability and...

...the use of Apis. So we're other than lifting and shifting VM's from a data center to a cloud. You're now sort of refactoring your applications or doing green field development in new cloud space. Where we're entering into is what I refer to as the API driven economy, and what you're starting to see is software as a service is going to be the predominant trend in cloud consumption model in the near term, right, and you can kind of see this with, you know, even your tax software now, right, like you, it's tax season and you know tax, Turbo tax is now a cloud application. And so we're starting to see these, you know, traditional desktop applications turned into cloud cloud applications, adobe and things like that, and the API drive an economy is really the distillation of those things down to being build on an API by API call level, and so this is going to take a re architecture or reimagining of how we build applications actually, because it's going to go from a place of being extremely highly communicative to wine to be very, very efficient with how many things, how many API calls, your application is making at any given time, not not recalling redundant data when you don't have to, things like that, because when you're when you're being built on a network, you know, call level, all of the sudden the people that build inefficient network in efficient applications or API and efficient applications are going to get build orders magnitude more than somebody that's really streamlined and made efficient there their application, you know, software. And so I think we're going to see, you know, that trend kind of continuing to move, you know, software as a service being the predominant method and API economy, API management, those types of things being sort of the natural evolution of the function of it as a service model kind of going full to its full level of maturity. So basically, it's not just good enough to move it to the cloud. We're going to move it and we're going to look at it we're going to tinker with it, we're going to make it more efficient, we're going to cut off some of the fat, we're really going to dill that thing in. See you think that that perhaps that's the next phase of what public cloud consumption actually looks like today, opposed to just let's get to the cloud. It'll be great. Yeah, I mean pretty much right, because, I mean you're already seeing this with people that move in efficient applications already get these astronomical bills. Right, it's the lift and shift era is really come to a close, because it's just not efficient or cost effective to do it. And I think that as the cloud compact competition heats up, people are going to be looking for the the smallest computational unit that they can build a customer by, because that means that people that build very, very streamlined applications are going... have very, very thin, thin bill, you know billing to go with it. But at the same time it's also going to kind of lock you into an ecosystem, right, because once you've built application for these really specific Apis, it's going to vendor lock you to a degree, and I think that's a that's sort of a competitive advantage and in a competitive approach from a cold vendor perspective as well. So you know, you can kind of see inklings of this with things like, you know, sales force and service. Now, you know, if you look at those kind of application providers there they're starting to move that direction where they're like, integrate your stuff in our stuff and we're going to build you by how much data you're calling at any given time. And once you're locked into our ecosystem it's really hard to sort of untangle the web. And so I think that you're going to have to organizations are going to need to be very intentional and smart about what they integrate to what level to get maximum cost effectiveness, while also doing what we call, what we say in the DOD is preserving decision space, which basically means you've got, you know, control, you've got decision control over your future because you haven't locked yourself into a single approach that's kind of tying your hands from a from a decision perspective. Gosh. So we unintentionally see a lot of that, I think in industry, I would imagine in the government space, to where you go, okay, here's the technology that works. We've seen someone to do this, so we're going to do exactly that. And then the world changes. Pivotal comes to mind, HMM. Commercially, probably in the government as well, you know. You know pivotles, not Couperneti spased. So when the war around container orchestration was going on a couple of years ago, I guess some people thought Google wouldn't win. I don't know if that was a good bet. That was probably a you know, probably take the leader in the clubhouse there. So you know, you've probably seen some of that. I've seen some of that. And you know, pivotal has become a wasteland this point. And you know now we're getting into a cubernetties based orchestration, you know, with Tanzoo. Seen. Have you seen anything interesting with any of that? So, yes, I mean clearly. So. I mean just to maybe push back a little bit on the on the pivotal front, Right, oh, please do so. So pivotal, pivotal labs really started out more as a consultancy organization. Right. The tools that they were building we're not really initially intended for, you know, the running of long term production workloads. It was really about teaching people to fish in this Dev ops, agile software development, lean, lean item management ecosystem, and the tools sort of came after the fact to the sillitate the... that pivotal labs was trying to, you know, communicate to their to their customers. They built out their own like effectively their platforms a service, but they've kind of moved away as well, and I think the real, you know, the challenge that pivotal has right now is more of a messaging challenge than almost anything else, because they do have a you know, a pivotal application platform that does run on Coubernetti's right now today, but it's got a different branding. Right. So you've got your tas and things like that that, you know, the Tansu Application Server and some of the you know what you might might call like legacy pivotal offerings, you know, which are now Tansu offerings, and then also got this new line that's really more Cubernetti's centric, and so they've got this messaging kind of challenge because not many people understand that, you know, they've got these two different offerings in their two different orchestration engines and requires two different lines of effort and work to to move things between them. And you know, so I think they've kind of seeded ground to some degree to say okay, yet CUBERNETTI's. The industries rallied around Cubernetti's and they're moving that direction. But they've all got this challenge of defeating legacy communication and helping legacy pivotal consumers make that transformation into Kubernetti space as cleanly as possible, minimal rework, a maximum audomation, of really streamlining that approach. I haven't seen that personally yet, but ultimately that's where they you know, that's where they need to go in order to be successful in that sort of Cubarnetti's centric space. And then I think you can also see with the the Tan Zoo Cubarnetis integrations that are going into vmwhere right now, where, if you're using, you know, v Sphere and V Center, you know you can, you can spin up and manage coubarnetti's, Tansa, coubernetti's instances essentially directly out of vmwhere. And so they've got a plan there of some sort where they're trying to run like traditional VM's beside, like directly alongside this new Cubarnetti's containersation stuff out of a single management platform, with with single you know, painted glass kind of approach. But they're in the middle of that transformation and there's going to be some growing pains and struggles that come with that, for sure, like deliney, delineating the difference between a VM and a container. That that's that's going to be an education that will be going on for a long time, because I think even even organizations are like we're we think we're into Cubernetti's. They go, well, it's you know, this is how I treat this is if this was a VM, like no, no, it's different. We've been talking about it for a decade. And then now everybody wants to do containers and they're like it's you know. I mean you were around for for this one when we, you know, I...

...sold our first CUPAR NADIES consulting engagement. So you know this. This customer wanted to install a cessation and container. You know the story. Yeah, and we were like now, we don't think that's a good idea. That's that's not really the point, and we just kept going over, you know, and it's just an education thing. I mean the poor guy was just, you know, he's trying to wrap his wrap his you know, arms around this new way of doing things. You got some pilot money to do it. You know, he didn't want to use automation tools. He wanted to construct everything from the ground up, you know, just getting getting in there and doing it. You're like no, there's a fast way to do this because you're gonna have to learn this platform. And you know, he just couldn't, couldn't do it. You know, just had to have sessation the container and I was probably my favorite meaning I had with a customer where I got to go. You know, there's best practice and then there's things like this which you know just aren't aren't practice, like you don't do that. And the senior guy got it. The Middle Guy kind of struggled with this, but you know, he's always education. Yeah, and you know, I think that we're still dealing with that to some degree. Like just earlier today I was in it. I was having a conversation about stateless versus state full applications and where they belong. And you know, I will I will state that. I will state that stateful applications, yeah, exactly stateful applications in in a containerized ecosystem have come a long way, but in my personal opinion they are still not ready for primetime. That's not where I would be running super stateful. You know, your your production database out of a container. That's that's not where I would be running things. And regardless that education deficit there because people, people are seeing the guys that were running the VM's are now the guys that are being asked to run the Cubarnetti's infrastructure and they're applying the same patterns and practices that they had for vm's Tokubernetti's and that is breeding a lot of non best practices, right, like a lot of things that you're generally wouldn't recommend, anti patterns, right. We're breeding anti patterns because we're applying vm constructs to a Cubernetti's ecosystem and they are architecturally different, they are functionally different and they are from a purpose perspective also, were built in and constructed for a different purpose, and so it's driving some of the learning curve challenges that you're describing. Yeah, that makes sense, I mean it's it's a new things are hard, right, and we're going to... about a couple more new things that I think the general public probably struggles with, and you and I happen to be hobbyist in this. So I know nothing. You know more, but I've got some opinions that need to be shaped constantly. So crypto, or crypto currency, as the Wall Street Journal would say. Yeah, so you got me into crypto. It's your fault. You can thank me later and I've never made a dollar, I swear. So it's you know, it's a thing that's become very, very public. You know, five, six years ago, this was this underground movement of like there's these things that are have some type of arbitrary how you assigned to them and if you have them, they make them up and down and like it's more volable than a stock and there's no rhymer reason other than there probably is a rhymer reason, but you can't see the rhymer reason. So maybe give us ninety seconds on like Tony Stafford's, you know, quick education in Crypto. What you should know if you know nothing, ninety seconds. Um, I'll try my best. So I think the first misconception that you need to think about is there's crypto currency, right, with currency being a store of value and and so when you're talking about cryptocurrency, you should think about sort of the financial replacement tools like bitcoin or lightcoin similar, you know, they're designed to be used as a way to store and spend value. And then there are crypto tokens, and crypto tokens are similar to a currency, but rather than being used to buy and sell things like items in the physical world, really those are used as a ticket to ride on a network that exists in an example of a cryptotoken is like atherium, right, when you have in thetherium token that enables you to transact on the etherium network, whereas in Bitcoin, Bitcoin is really designed to be like a replacement for a dollar bill. And so those are two different things, which means they're two different investment vehicles and they're two different sort of value propositions, if you will. The second thing to understand about cryptos that from a technology perspective, is there were a handful of innovations that came out of it that really combined into what made bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies sort of fly right. Number one was consensus computing, which is really the whole, you know, breaking of the cryptologic work on the blockchain in order to transact on the blockchain. So getting,... know, a fifty one percent computer consensus that a that a transaction is correct and should take place. That was unique. That had not really been done before. It was almost like a an extension of like folding at home and things like that back from, you know, the early Internet days. But it was, you know, consensus computing. Both thing is the blockchain itself, which is the immutable ledger, right, the encryption, decryption validation method. That comes with a basically an infinitely increasing, you know, database of transactions that can't be can't be corrupted. So the Ledger is ideally in immutable ledger. And then the third thing was this whole idea of tokenization or or or currency, which was paying somebody in some form, in a digital form, for the work that their computational capacity is providing. So it wasn't that was really an incentive thing, like how do we digitally incentivized people to join our network, to contribute their computational power to the consensus computer compute engine so that we can maintain this infinitely increasing ledger of transactions. So it's like those three things together got mashed together into Bitcoin, and then all other cryptocurrencies, for the most part, have kind of spawned off of that, with some you know, notable except with like things like proof of work versus proof of steak and some of those sort of innovations that are coming out because of the worries about, you know, power efficiency and the impact on the environment that things like crypto mining are having. Right. So that last that last examples the mining effort. Is that where you're describing? Yeah, so, you know, being part of the network, right, your consensus computer network is the ability to mine coins. But really mining is just a you know, simple way of saying, you know, breaking complex computational algorithms to validate database entries that are going into this ledger, right, right, but that takes a lot of juice, right. It's like the bitcoin mining globally uses more power than like Norway or something like that. Right, like it's it's a huge amount of power, which has a huge carbon footprint. Right. So because of that, people have been looking at alternative means to getting the same outcome with less computational power, to ideally lower the carbon footprint impact of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and Crypto crypto assets. Can wait to see that change dot org passed around. It's probably only happened. Okay, well, that's I mean, that's a quick education for the listeners. Probably a little little logger, longer than ninety seconds, I guess, but now, but that's okay. It was so good I was like, let's just keep going.

Application modernization is sponsored by Red Hat, the world's leading provider of enterprise open source solutions, including high performing Linux, cloud, container and COUBERNETTI's technologies. Thanks for listening to application modernization, a podcast for high growth software companies. Don't forget to subscribe to the show on your favorite podcast player so you never miss an episode, and if you use apple podcasts, do us a favor and leave a quick rating by tapping the stars. Join US on the next episode to learn more about modernizing your infrastructure and applications for growth. Until next time,.

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