Pushing technology the hard way (Part1)
This blog is for employees who want to help their organizations moving forward with the latest and greatest technology. Follow us on a bold journey close to the action with real-world examples. In this blog, we will explain how to innovate in big companies and provide a step by step guidance. The real-world examples are from an undisclosed IT service provider hosting over 2000 servers and 16000 virtual machines and the innovative project is about introducing immudb, the world’s fastest immutable database.
Why is it important but so difficult?
The C-Suite loves innovation, they want new ideas and the fruits of the latest and greatest technologies. They are openly communicating that. Innovation is vital to keep an organization relevant. Unfortunately adopting new technologies is very hard, especially for big enterprises. The reasons are plentiful. The communication overhead can be massive. Headcount is always slowing down organizations. Inflexible processes are a challenge for every new approach. Legacy-IT and day-to-day business are holding back employees from innovative projects. Those projects are so fragile that some companies even put them in technology incubators. It is a challenge but a rewarding one as innovation can increase competitiveness, productivity and lead to new collaborations. The executives obviously want to encourage employees to innovate, asking for creativity and openness. Attributes that are not positively correlated to most of the actual work that has to be done in businesses. That’s why only a few people are taking up on that call and do it.
How can it be done?
There is always a silver lining: huge organizations also have some advantages on their side. They have a lot of resources and many employees. Use these resources whenever possible. Adapt to the speed of the company. If things are going slow, turn it in your favor instead of fighting it. Do many small steps instead of chasing major progress. That way your colleagues will keep up with you. Don’t be scared by negative feedback. Every executive loves innovative employees so there is nothing wrong with you. Last but not least: big businesses can provide many potential use-cases. Go for the niche use cases that really work well for your project. Thinking too big is adding additional risks.
What needs to be done?
Find the lab! Set up your technology in a lab environment to easily share and to learn about it. This will make it visible and is already a small success. Create an info page about your project. Explain why, how, and what you want to achieve to make it well comprehensible. Identify use-cases for the technology inside your organization and find companions for your project.
How do the actions described above apply in reality? The following examples are from a project that introduces immudb to a huge IT company.
- setting up immudb in a lab environment
- creating an info/home page for the project
- identifying use cases
1. Setting up the lab environment
There were two lab environments found in the company of this example. One was outside the internal network and manually managed. The other one was the lab of a cloud platform Cloud Foundry with a self-service. The lab of the cloud platform was better suited because every employee can reach it from the internal network and it was provided quickly via self-service.
Setting up immudb in cloud foundry:
#create an org and a Space for immudb cf create-org YOURLAB cf create-space IMMUDB -o YOURLAB -q SPACE_QUOTA
Open the Ports. Immudbs standard ports are 8080 for the web interface and 3322 for gRPC. Add persistent storage to your ORG using volume services. Without persistent storage, your immudb app will always be wiped if the org is reinitialized. In that case, it is also a good idea to change the initial password.
Prepare your immudb installation:
#immudb/configs/immudb.toml dir = "./<path to volume>" network = "tcp" address = "0.0.0.0" port = 3322 dbname = "immudb" admin-password = "XXXXXXX"
immudb can be compiled on the personal computer or with a golang buildpack of cloud foundry. In this case, it was built with immudb’s web interface and customized config. The executable was pushed using a binary build pack and executed by the command: ./immudb
$ cf push IMMUDB -c './immudb' -b binary_buildpack
#minimal manifest for testing applications: - name: immudb instances: 1 memory: 1024M disk_quota: 400M path: ./target/immudb
You app can now be seen in the Apps Manager
Anyone in the company can now try out immudb via the webinterface. Simply create a user and a database for them. This can also be done in the webinterface using the initial user & password combination.
2. Setting up an info page
Info pages were found on Confluence and SharePoint. The info page about immudb was created on Confluence because it is more future proof. It is structured by the why, how, and what method summing up the key information from the official immudb documentation. It was also translated into the official language of the company. Potential use cases will be added to the page.
3. Identifying use cases
Looking up the known use cases of immudb is a great inspiration for finding one yourself. The use case chosen in this example is about receipt attestation. Tax consultants are transfering receipts for financial accounting. Financial accounting has to be transparant and verifiable. The accounting service provider has to store the data over years and provide it schedule to meet the strict requirements of the tax office. With immudb, receipts can be attested and information are stored veriviable and tamperproof. Immudb is highly scalabale and can easily attest huge numbers of receipts. Using immudb the accounting service provider can proof that the receipts were processed at a certain time and weren’t tampered during their long retention time.
Now the software for the project is visible and can be demonstrated in the lab. Convincing colleagues is key to get a foot in the door. The next step is to work out the use-case to create value no matter how niche it is. For that, we have to outgrow the lab environment and set a proper foundation.