ScaleScale on the stack behind Netflix scaling

Over at ScaleScale, a blog about all the good stuff when it comes to scaling, an interesting post was published on the stack behind Netflix scaling. Since Netflix is quite public about how they operate, the post put was together with stuff from around the internet.

Stack Behind Netflix Scaling Like Spotify Netflix is kind of famous for creating and scaling their culture. This gives some important context to the culture to understand how they scale their software stack and why it works. If you are interested in scaleable platforms and full stack development check it out.

A business that can endure the future

Even if your business can sort of escape competition by crafting a monopoly, it is only a great business if it can endure the future. Is one of the statements in the book Zero to One by Peter Thiel and Blake Masters.
A great business is defined by it’s ability to create cash flow in the future. In other words, the value of a business today is the sum of all the money it will make in the future.

Most value of low-growth businesses is in the near term. Valuation of technology companies follows another trajectory. They often lose money in the first years: it takes time to build a valuable thing. This means delayed revenue. For this to happen a company mustn’t just grow it most also endure. In other words, will this business still be around a decade from now?

Characteristics of a business that can endure the future

Companies with a large cash flow far into the future usually share a combination of the following characteristics:

  1. Proprietary technology
  2. Network effect
  3. Economies of scale
  4. Branding

Proprietary technology

Proprietary technology is the most substantive advantage a company can have. It makes it difficult or impossible to replicate the product. As a rule of thumb proprietary technology must be at least 10 times better than its closest substitute in some important dimension. If it is perceived lower it is harder to sell the product especially in a crowded market.

The clearest way to a 10 times improvement is to invent something completely new. In that case the increase in value is theoretically infinite.

Amazon made a 10 times improvement by offering at least 10 times as many books as any other bookstore. The Apple iPad made the tablet go from almost unusable to useful.

Network effect

The network effect make a product more useful as more people are using it. However this will only work if the product has value for the first customers. Paradoxically businesses based on the network effect must start in small markets. Facebook started with just Harvard students.

In general network effects businesses aren’t started by MBA types, since the initial markets are too small to appear as a business opportunity at all.

Economies of scale

With economies of scale the fixed cost (engineering, management, office space) of creating a product can be spread out over greater quantities of sales. Software startups enjoy an hughe economies of scale because the marginal cost of producing another copy of the product is close to zero. Service businesses, like consultancies, yoga studios, etc, gain limited advantages as they grow.


Creating a strong brand is a powerful way to create a business that can endure. However techniques for polishing the surface don’t work without strong underlying substance. Starting with a brand without substance is dangerous. Coolness is interesting bus what products and value will the business create?

Velocity 2015 Amsterdam

Thursday was a very interesting day for me at Velocity 2015 Amsterdam, build resilient systems at scale. It is one of the best conferences I attended in the last years. Using some quote’s and bullets I’ll give a little insight.

On retro’s, post mortems, etc

Lindsay Holmwood showed that what goes wrong in retrospectives, post mortems and the like is mostly based on:

  • Confirmation bias – aka ignore alternatives
  • Hindsight bias – aka – alter memories to fit a narrative. Talk about events with the knowledge of the outcome.

To overcome these we could use techniques like: Take opposing viewpoints (on purpose, to investigate things), contrarian thinking, let people explain stuff in terms of foresight and all kinds of sharing information.
In short for this to work we need a safe environment where people can speak up. Starting from the believe that everyone did the best they could. And always keep in mind that there is a difference between work as imagined and works as done.

Optimizing teams in a distributed world – Conway’s 3 other laws

Conway’s Law stems fro the greater part from his 1967 paper: How do committees invent.
The slides and all references mentioned in the presentation.

  1. Whose structure is a copy of the organisation’s structures. To put it different: Communication dictates design. Also check The Mythical Man Month and Dunbar’s number. So manage communication between teams.
  2. – Doing it over – There is never enough time to do something right, but there is always enough time to do it over. Engineering and architecture are always about: Trade offs. Also check: Satisfying vs Sacrificing. So remember it is a continuous process.
  3. If you or your team cannot explain all the code in your release package your release is too large.

  4. Homomorphism – If you have 4 groups working on a compiler, you’ll get a 4-pass compiler. So organise teams in order to achieve what you want (around business capabilities).
  5. Disintegration – The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Time is against large projects and teams. Aim for a scope that supports a release cycle of two weeks or less. So keep your teams as small as necessary.

It is better to be too small than too big.

We are all DevOps

One of the best talks on DevOps in the Etsy world by Katherine Daniels.

On hiring:

It is easier to teach someone a new technology skill, than to teach someone not to be an asshole.

Innovation – Horizontal and Vertical Progress

In the book Zero to One Peter Thiel (member of the PayPal mafia) distinguishes between two types of progress:

  • Horizontal or extensive progress
  • Vertical or intensive progress

Horizontal or extensive progress

Horizontal or extensive progress means copying things that work. It is going from 1 to N. It isn’t to hard to imagine horizontal progress. We already know what the base looks like.

From another level horizontal progress is globalisation. It is taking things that work somewhere and making them work everywhere.

Vertical or intensive progress

Vertical or intensive progress means doing new things. It is going from 0 to 1. Vertical progress is harder to imagine because it requires doing something that nobody else has ever done.

The single word for vertical progress is technology. However there is no reason that technology is limited to computers! Any new of better way to do things is considered technology.

Technology matters more that globalisation

Thiel states that if the future would be just about globalisation it would be catastrophic. If without any technological advancement just China and India would copy the way we live in Europe and North America, we would need to scale energy production and utility of scarce resources to such an extend that would devastate our planet. Spreading (copying) old or even current ways to create wealth are not sustainable. We need technology to advance our ways to create wealth in a sustainable way.

The thing is that although since the invention of the steam engine around 1760 up to around the 1970 there has been a tremendous technological progress. Creating more wealth and well-being for each generation. And we expected this to continue. But did it? But a better future doesn’t come automatic. Since the late 1960’s only computers and communications have improved dramatically.

Just think of Eroom’s Law: the observation that drug discovery is becoming slower and more expensive over time. This isn’t a new trend. It was first discovered in the 1980’s.

Continuous Delivery at

Last month two of our software engineers Mihaela Tunaru and Mary Gouseti were invited to give a presentation of how continuous delivery is done at The presentation gives a good insight in the state of continuous delivery at from a software engineering perspective.

In case you want to know more from the operations perspective check Mayfly on GitHub and the presentation below. Maarten Dirkse gave a talk Docker your user stories using Mayfly.

Mayfly is a development platform built by Mayfly speeds up your service development by wrapping your scrum user story code in containers, testing it in an isolated, production-like environment and automatically enforcing your Definition of Done.

European Digital City Index 2015

European Digital City Index 2015The European Digital City Index 2015 describes how well different cities across Europe support digital entrepreneurs. The aim of in the index is to support digital entrepreneurship across Europe and for policy makers, the index provides a tool to benchmark cities and decide where they may need to devote more resources.

The EDCI is a composite index based on the following factors:

  • Access to capital
  • Business environment
  • Digital environment
  • Skills
  • Entrepeneurial culture
  • Knowledge spillovers
  • Lifestyle
  • Market
  • Mentoring & managerial assistance
  • Non-digital infrastructure

The data for the European Digital City Index stems from among others Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI).

It should be no surprise that access to capital is by far the best in London, followed by Paris and basically all the others are really small compared to these.

Mapping to other indexes

First of all it is interesting to compare this map to the Global Startup Map. The number 1, London, in the EDCI has tentimes the number of startups in the global startup map compared to the number 2, Amsterdam.

The European Digital City Index maps really well to the Digital Evolution Index (DEI). However we should note that the DEI is not as optimistic about the growth of the digital capabilities of most of the countries where the top-10 cities are located.

Support doesn’t equal results

The European Digital City Index looks at support of digital entrepreneurs in Europe. This doesn’t equal results! If we look at global list of unicorns (in short billion dollar startups) both compiled by WSJ and TechCrunch results differ. There is just one unicorn in Amsterdam (Adyen), the number 2 on the EDCI, where both Berlin (number 7) and Stockholm (number3) have more.

Bloomberg Innovation Index

bloomberg innovation index logoBesides the Global Innovation Index there are other indexes measuring and comparing innovation around the globe. Another interesting index is the Bloomberg Innovation Index.

Bloomberg’s innovation index is based on six equally weighted metrics. Their scores are combined to provide an overall score for each country from zero to 100.

  • Research and development – Research and development expenditure as a percentage of GDP.
  • Manufacturing – since it takes a lot of knowledge and know-how to stay at the leading edge of making things. Manufacturing value-added per capita.
  • High-Tech companies – Number of domestically domiciled high-tech public companies as a share of world’s total high-tech public companies.
  • Postsecondary education – Number of secondary graduates enrolled in postsecondary institutions as a percentage of cohort; percentage of labor force with tertiary degrees; annual science and engineering graduates as a percentage of the labor force and as a percentage of total tertiary graduates.
  • Research personnel – Professionals, including Ph.D. students, engaged in R&D per 1 million population.
  • Patents – Resident utility patent filings per 1 million population and per $1 million of R&D spent; utility patents granted as a percentage of world total.

bloomberg innovation index  2015

The Bloomberg Innovation Index takes less factors into account compared to the Global Innovation Index (GII). The GII gives more attention to context. It includes political and regulation environment, infrastructure, market sophistication and creativity.

Other innovation lists

There is a more extensive list of innovation indexes.

Presentatie op LAC congres – De architect tussen 35 scrum teams in de 90e sprint…

Op woensdag 25 en donderdag 26 november is de 17e editie Landelijk Architectuur Congres. Net als vorig jaar ga ik in de track Agile Architecting een presentatie geven over architectuur en architecten in een Agile omgeving. De titel van de presentatie dit jaar is: De architect tussen 35 scrum teams in de 90e sprint…

De realisatie van software gebeurt steeds vaker agile. Dit vraagt ook iets van de architect en de architectuur. Software wordt steeds sneller en frequenter naar productie gebracht. Wat betekent dit voor de architect? De hoeveelheid data die verwerkt moet worden door de IT systemen blijft groeien. En nu? Bij zijn we op weg naar de 100e sprint met inmiddels zo’n 35 scrum teams. Aan de hand van voorbeelden laten we zien hoe we hier bij mee omgaan en hoe de architect en de architectuur steeds meer volwassen worden.

Bij hebben we inmiddels heel wat ervaring opgedaan met scrum, Agile architectuur en het schalen van scrum en Agile. In de presentatie zal ik ervaringen delen uit de realisatie van een nieuwe voorraadservice, Logistiek via, Vandaag Ophalen en de lopende realisatie van ons nieuwe fulfillment center.

Business Intelligence en Big Data bij

Naast mijn presentatie over Agile architectuur, verzorgt mijn collega Wieneke Keller een presentatie over Business Intelligence en Big Data bij in de track data science voor architecten: groeit stevig door. In onze (micro) service architectuur proberen we deze groei te faciliteren. Belangrijk is dat we inzicht houden in de kwaliteit van onze processen. Bij doen we dit door big data technologieën in te zetten binnen het BI domein. Zo kunnen we de groeiende hoeveelheden data en databronnen eenvoudig toegankelijk en beheersbaar houden. In deze presentatie wordt toegelicht hoe we dit doen. Ook zullen andere toepassingen van big data bij worden besproken.

Global Innovation Index 2015

The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2015 is an annual publication which features a composite indicator that ranks countries/economies in terms of their enabling environment to innovation and their innovation outputs. The GII covers 141 economies around the world and uses 79 indicators across a range of themes. The Global Innovation Index 2015 was created by Cornell University, INSEAD, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).

Here is an overview of the indicators that are used to create the innovation index and how they are related:
Global Innovation Index factors

And this is how the measures are calculated:

  • The Global Innovation Index is the simple average of the Input and Output Sub-Indices.
  • The Innovation Efficiency Ratio is the ratio of the Output Sub-Index over the Input Sub-Index.
  • The Innovation Input Sub-Index is the simple average of the first five pillar scores.
  • The Innovation Output Sub-Index is the simple average of the last two pillar scores.

Global Innovation Index Ranking

Here is the 2015 ranking for the Global Innovation Index. Switzerland, the United Kingdom (UK), Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United States of America (USA) are the world’s five most-innovative nations; at the same time, China, Malaysia, Viet Nam, India, Jordan, Kenya, Uganda, and a group of other countries are outpacing their economic peers in 2015. Global Innovation Index Ranking

The top 25 countries in the GII consistently score well in most indicators and have strengths in areas such as information and communication technologies and business sophistication, which includes knowledge workers, innovation linkages, and knowledge absorption; they also create high levels of measurable outputs including creative goods and services.

Technology Gap

On average, the technology gap between developing and developed countries is narrowing. One explanation for this phenomenon is that more and more developing countries outperform in innovation inputs and outputs relative to their level of development.

By tracking global progress in innovation and focusing on those developing countries that out- perform in innovation compared to countries at similar levels of development, the GII can be used to monitor progress in innovation and identify areas of strengths and weaknesses in innovation efforts.

At low income levels, countries that outperform their peers focus on removing structural obstacles to innovation, such as poor access to finance and poor linkages within the innovation systems. At higher income levels, efforts concentrate on increasing investments, spurring growth in innovation outputs, and improving human capital.

Research and development (R&D) is one of the key policy areas that can secure technological potential and, therefore, innovation and economic growth. In order to reach the income levels of high-income countries, low- and middle-income countries need to expand their access to technology and their capacity to use it.

And digital?

Given the importance of strengths in areas such as information and communication technologies (ICT) for leading countries in innovation, it should be no surprise that the top 10 shares a lot of countries with the leader in the Digital Evolution Index. Especially since innovation is one of the underlaying drivers in the DEI.

Same remarks hold for the Digital Economy and Society Index. Only the latter is just focussed on Europe.