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Q&A with Eric Schabell

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Eric Schabell, Director Technical Marketing & Evangelism

How could you describe your career path in a few words?

I would say I took the long way around to getting into IT. Was late in discovering the world of computer science, picking up my Masters in 2002 at the age of34. I dove into open source from 1996 and that has been the centerpiece in my entire IT career. Developers, Architect, Technical Marketing, Developer Advocacy, Director, and now in the cloud native observability domain. I’m a teacher at my core, sharing code, knowledge, best practices, and experiences with customers, partners, and the general public through workshops, publishing, socializing, and speaking

How do you think agile practices have transformed companies over the past two years?

The term agile practices paints with the widest of brushes, so first setting a bit of a baseline on what this means for me is where I’ll start in answering this question. I consider this to be all the activities and processes that have been attempted or put intoplace in assisting organizations with their transition to leveraging cloud native solutions. With that in mind, I think over the last few years many organizations have either been born in the cloud due to unforeseen pandemic circumstances, or have accelerated their transitions. This has led to the discovery that cloud native landscapes and cloud native solutions need effective observability to keep them competitive in their markets. It’s no longer a simple add on, but a key factor to success and a core business advantage to be able to manage your cloud native environments.

In the last year, many organizations have been hit by macro economic realities of having to search for cost savings while still delivering on their promises to customers. This reality is playing out right now and the leaders are the ones that understand the massive influx of data that cloud native environments generate is the key to survival. How to manage this data, analyzing what data is needed, and more importantly what data is of no use to them. If you can gain control over your cloud native data and pay only for what you use, you are going to be leading in your industry.

This realization has put the focus on cloud native observability as a crucial architectural component in every organization where great advances can be made in cost savings, clarity of business goals, and efficiency gains in monitoring your solutions, infrastructure, and service agreements.

What successful cases of agile transformations have you had the opportunity to observe that have particularly stood out to you?

The companies I’ve seen successfully transforming into the cloud native world are those that manage the observability data influx without being buried by the costs. They are able to determine, using effective observability solutions, how to leverage the data they determine is useful, identify the data that is not, and ensure that they are not keeping anything that is of no use.

The key is focusing on what is essential to their business needs, they are able to reduce the cognitive load on their staff, reduce incidents affecting customers, reduce the stress involved in solving incidents that do happen, and retain resources that focus on business goals instead of fire fighting problems.

In the article "The Growth of Observability Data is out of Control", this statement sums it up nicely.“It’s remarkable how common this situation is, where an organization is paying more for their observability data, than they do for their production infrastructure.” On top of that, "research shows" that engineers in these organizations spend 10 hours on average, per week, trying to triage and understand incidents -a quarter of a 40 hour work week.

Success is only achieved in agile transformations when you keep control of your cloud native data, achieving positive business outcomes, retaining happy customers, and reducing the load on your internal resources.

Will agile practices continue to generate interest? What challenges do you see in the context of deploying these practices?

Agile practices are not new and are here to stay as they continue to generate interest when transitioning to cloud native environments where you must deliver more, faster, and scale quicker. The challenges in deploying these practices as organizations transition to cloud native environments are many, none as important as retaining the focus of delivering on your customer promise. The auto-scaling nature of cloud native environments often overwhelms users when they yet lack the insights as to the amount of data being collected, what is needed to maintain control of their solutions, and how to simplify their usage into processes and information streams that their teams can process with a minimal amount of cognitive load.

The bottom lineis that while there is no single agile practice that will solve all your challenges in transitioning to cloud native environments, that does not mean success is impossible. You will have to invest, research, and build out your transformational journey step-by-step and keep the focus on your customer experience along that journey.

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