👾 The Queue #25

Issue #25: The cloud, hype over low-code, and internal tools

// NOTE: I finally gave in and migrated from Mailchimp to Substack. If you’re receiving this email, it’s because you were part of the active audience on Mailchimp. I’m overdue on sending one of these out… I don’t know how it’s been for you, but quarantine squashes creative work for me.

Short reads ⚡️

Corey Quinn runs a brilliant and sarcastic AWS newsletter that’s worth reading and he recently published a post about competing against AWS. He nailed it. The short answer is: do what AWS is bad at… they are really good at running a data center, and still very good at adjacent layers of tech. But at higher levels of abstraction, their offerings tend to be substandard. It’s not their core competency and it shows.

Stitch Fix had a post on their engineering blog about how they run data science… It’s very interesting and reminds me of Conway’s Law (“you ship your org chart”).

Low code hype - I like this piece because it does a nice job of putting the low-code and no-code paradigms into the historical context of the narrative arc of computing and software development. It’s not new:

History shows that we’ve made impressive productivity gains by making it easier to code. Hopefully, some of these low-code development platforms will emerge with the right recipe to give us another boost.

We have just been using terms like ‘end user compute’ or ‘malleable systems’ to describe them for decades. The interesting question is whether there are ingredients bubbling in our present tech and market soup that make them more compelling

Long read ☁️

Bessemer’s annual State of the Cloud report landed last month, and it’s great as usual. I particularly liked this bit:

Aaron Levie, CEO of Box, a Bessemer portfolio company, recently said, “The cloud is becoming as fundamental to how the world runs as the electric grid, telecom network, or the railroad,” and we couldn’t agree more.

The question remains: Is this a good or bad thing for us as cloud investors and for cloud founders? For those of you starting today, did you just miss the single biggest enterprise tailwind of your lifetime? There’s still opportunity ahead for us all.

If the global economy has learned anything during this extreme public health crisis it’s that digital transformation, largely powered by the cloud, is no longer an option but an absolute imperative.

I spend my days with early-stage tech startups, so it’s always a struggle to remember that the cloud is still in its early innings of adoption. The places where cloud has already won are either in new projects (where cloud native is the obvious choice to start) or in the ‘low hanging fruit’ of projects (where cloud may not be a complicated implementation), but the remaining opportunity is so huge it may as well be monopoly money.

Graphic I love: Internal tools 📊

Retool is amazing, and their recent State of Internal Tools report was full of gems like this chart. One of my favorite things about software development is that, as a sweeping generalization, we end up continually solving the same problems in new (and hopefully more efficient) ways. If you were to remove military applications like calculating ballistics trajectories or yields from a nuclear weapon, then my guess is that this chart would look shockingly similar to a chart of internal use cases for computing in 1940, 1970, or 2000.

Wikipedia rabbit hole 📖

Purple prose, or: every essay I wrote in high school. Ran across this a few weeks ago and immediately adopted it into my mental models for describing poor writing.

Parting thought 🤔

Sometimes obscurity can be a source of alpha.