March 2013 Archives

The push for IPv6


This is inspired from last night's LOPSA DC meeting. The topic was IPv6 and we had a round-table.

One of the big questions brought up was, "What's making me go IPv6?"

The stock answer to that is, "IPv4 addresses are running out, we'll have to learn at some point or be left behind."

That's all well and good, but for us? Most of us are working in, for, or with the US Government, an entity that is not going to be experiencing v4 address scarcity any time soon. What is going to push us to go v6 (other than the already existing mandate to have support that is)?

In my opinion, it'll come from the edges. IPv6 is a natural choice for rapidly expanding networks such as wireless networks, and extremely large networks like Comcast/Verizon run for their kit. These are two areas where sysadmins in general don't deal with much at all (VPN and mobile-access being the two major exceptions).

If your phone has an IPv6 address and accesses the IPv4 internet through a carrier-grade NAT device, you may never notice. Joe Average User is going to be even less likely to notice so long as that widget just works. Once v6 is in the hands of the "I don't care how it works so long as it works" masses, it'll start becoming our problem.

Once having a native v6 site means slightly better perceived mobile performance (those DNS lookups do cause a bit of latency you know), you can guarantee that hungry startups are going to start pushing v6 from launch. Once that ecosystem develops it'll start dragging the entrenched legacy stuff (the, er, government) along with it.  Some agency sites are very sensitive to performance perception and will adapt early. Others only put their data online because they were told to and will only move when the pain gets to be too much.

Business-to-business links (or those between .gov agencies, and their .com suppliers) will likely stay v4 for a very, very long time. Those will also be subject to pain-based mitigation strategies.

But the emergence of v6 on mobile will likely push a lot of us to get v6 to at least our edges. Internal use may be long time coming, but it'll show up at all because of the need to connect with others.



This is why you see outage notices like:

Things broke. We fixed it. Carry on.

And security bulletins like:

This patch fixes a remote access vulnerability in Windows.

Which tends to inflame our detail-oriented sysadminny sensibilities. Our whole world is complexity, we like to see it. Lets us know that things are normal.

Well, that'll be fun to watch

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With Google shutting down Google Reader, how about 87% of my subscribers read my blog, it's going to be fun to watch how the reader percentages shift over the next four months. Back when I started tracking what's consuming the feed Google Reader wasn't around, Bloglines was the over-50% leader. That's since changed.

As of right now, the #2 reader is 'unknown' at 3.4%. Mozilla's built-in reader is in the #3 spot at 1.9%.

In four months time, when Google shuts off Google Reader I'm sure those numbers will be radically different. I'll probably lose a very large number of subscribers from simple inertia. Hey, that happens. I'm interested to see how the feed-reading market solidifies in a post-GReader world.

Interestingly, they're not shutting down Feed Burner. Considering that the vast majority of the readers hitting Feed Burner are, well, Google Reader, I wouldn't be surprised if that also goes in the next round of Spring Cleaning.

Incubating culture

This article drifted across my social-sphere in the last couple days:

It's a critique of startup-culture, especially agile culture. But what do we all mean by culture?

Culture: It's the unwritten rules and expectations governing interpersonal relationships.

Culture is the expectation that the Owner shall never be talked to except through a manager (jumping the line is really frowned on).

Culture tells you never to leave for home until your manager has left (don't get to the office at 7am, leave at 7pm).

Culture is what keeps the newest-hire from taking more than a single day vacation near Christmas/New Years (we were all in that barrel, now it's your turn).

Culture is the expectation that you're not really working unless you are seen to be in the office with your butt in a chair (don't be the first one in the office, never leave first).

Culture is what forces you to go to after-work outings with your co-workers when it is the owner organizing it, no matter how 'optional' they say it is. (when the boss says 'optional' what he really means is he'll be very disappointed in you but won't fire you).

Culture is what causes all of your coworkers ask you where your job-interview is when you show up to work in a button-up and tie (the only reason a dev wears a tie is to get a job).

Culture is not having a beer fridge in the office. Culture is being thought Not A Team Player if you don't drink.

Culture is not having ping-pong tournaments. Culture is being unable to get in the In Crowd if you have all the hand/eye coordination of a gerbil.

Having lived in startup-land for a while now, rubbed shoulders with the residents, chatted about work/life balance around the free meals at conferences, and all in all been more aware of people talking about startup culture, this article makes a lot of good points.

One friend of mine called out a specific line in this article, the We don't have managers, and the company is managed without a hierarchy one. That's one I hadn't heard of before, but apparently it's a thing. My job isn't like that. We have managers, they... manage. Like they should. Go, team!

A couple of the others are great ideas for smaller companies but completely fail to scale to larger sizes. I'm thinking of, meetings are evil, we have as few of them as possible. Culturally speaking, the failure-mode of no meetings is siloization. If you're small enough everyone is in the same silo, it works. If you're not... problems. This is line is pushed in job-adverts to attract creators, but their managers most definitely have meetings. And sometimes those meetings are sneaky, they're one-on-ones at your desk.

The we don't have a vacation policy thing is spot on. Without that little tickle of, "You have 12 days of vacation left, you're going to lose them if you don't use them by the end of the year," you don't actually take them. At both prior jobs, both with vacation carry-over limits, once most people got enough time on the job to actually hit those limits they actually did hit them. Especially at WWU where I had 4 or 5 weeks of vacation; one co-worker took Fridays off for two months as a way to burn his back. If left to our own devices we'd probably take 2-3 weeks a year.

My current employer is one of the "don't have a vacation policy" places, and people do not take as much vacation as they would if it was being accounted. Due to the gobs of it I got at WWU I'm already used to just taking time off when I need it, but I am missing the 'vacation at home for a week' I ended up taking once in a while to make the books balance.

The we have a team of people who are responsible for organizing frequent employee social events item is not one we have (1: not VC funded, 2: not big enough yet) but I know people who work at such places. And yes, the person in charge of this is a woman, or if it's a team it's mostly women on it. The critique on diversity is very much valid.