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When not to use Docker containers

One of the major innovations to hit the IT landscape alongside the cloud, Infrastructure as Code and other DevOps techniques in the past couple of years is the popularity of containers. Docker containers evolved from an experiment to a core aspect of the corporate IT culture. These days we have entire environments running on top of Kubernetes deployments, with containers being provisioned and destroyed in real time as needed. The beauty of a setup like this is that it makes scaling very easy, with new containers being made available on demand, while maintenance is also much easier since containers can be recreated from scratch using a template. Fans of the concept may be forgiven to think every situation can be made to fit into a container, but is that really the case? Are there cases when containers shouldn't be used? First, containers can be adapted to most situations. With the freely available templates and images, it's probably the easiest way to build a simple Nginx web se
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Use case: Synchronizing Active Directory users and groups with AWS

This series covers various use cases that I've had to implement throughout the various contracts I was a part of. Dendory Capital, my firm, offers all sorts of cloud and DevOps services to organizations from around the world, and sometimes we come up with unusual challenges. I document the challenges in these blog posts to show some of the solutions we came up with. This week, I'm going to describe a use case where a client wanted to synchronize their employee directory from on-premise to the AWS cloud and assign specific permissions to groups of users. A lot of companies use Active Directory as their source of truth for users and group membership. It's a popular system, and one that most organizations use. It makes sense that, if you're already setup with AD as your core directory, you don't want to start managing users and groups in all sorts of cloud apps on top of your own network. This is where single sign-on or SSO comes in. With SSO, you can easily link your

Why NFTs are more than pretty jpegs

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, is a term that's been on the news a lot lately. If you're in finance, or interested in crypto currencies at all, you most likely heard about NFTs already. The point of an NFT is to have a digital asset which is uniquely identifiable and can be bought or sold with crypto currency. Most of them so far have been images, and some of them have been sold for ridiculous amounts, sometimes in the millions of dollars. For anyone not deeply embedded in the crypto movement, it can seem very weird and possibly even ridiculous that someone would spend $68 millions to buy what amounts to a JPG file, an image which can be copied and duplicated endlessly. In fact the saying that "NFTs are just pretty jpegs" is a common critique of NFTs, and not a completely unwarranted one. However, it would be short sighted to dismiss the entire movement just because of that. The first thing to understand is what makes an NFT different from a regular file on your comput

Automation pipelines for everything

When most developers or even DevOps engineers think of automation pipelines, the first thing that comes to mind is a traditional CI/CD pipeline, one that gets triggered by a code push, which builds a piece of software, and then deploys it in a test or production environment. It's perhaps the quintessential idea of the pipeline, and as a result most DevOps tools are built around that workflow. There's nothing wrong with that, and in fact that process is likely to remain the most popular type of pipeline to be used in any organization. But pipelines, and automation in general, is much more powerful than just a way to speed up software development. Someone once said that any task which needs to be done more than twice should be automated. In the analog world, there are ways to automate tedious processes, but these ways tend to be costly. You need motors, cameras, robots and so on. Thankfully, in the digital world you can automate almost any repetitive process. In this post I'l

New IT trends of 2022

As 2022 begins, it's normal to think about changes and trends. Technology moves fast, so change may seem inevitable. Gone are the days where your entire organization ran on a series of servers in a back room, with your entire IT department making changes directly in production. Now we have the cloud, CI/CD pipelines, red/green deployments, DevOps workflows, agile methods, SaaS services and all those new paradigms. Worse still, it seems like every few months there's new tools coming out to do each of these things in a slightly more efficient way, and of course your employees may be clamoring to get access to these latest tools. So what are the trends we'll see in 2022? What should you prepare for, and is there a good reason to embrace those trends? There's an old saying of "don't fix what isn't broken" which basically means not to embrace change for change sake. The first thing to keep in mind is that a new trend, a new paradigm or tool, doesn't nec

The concept of Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in the cloud

The concept of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a fairly common concept in business. The whole idea is that you want to build fast, ship as soon as you have a working prototype, and then iterate quickly as you get customer feedback. It greatly reduces your initial ramp up cost, allows you to get to market quicker, and improves the final product since you get feedback earlier in the process. This type of methodology is used in every industry, both for physical products and for digital ones such as web apps and software development. The hard part tends to be defining what your MVP will be. You want your product or service to be fully functional, meaning that your users will be able to do anything that was advertised as being a core functionality of the item, but with none of the additional bells and whistles that you may add over time. As expected, this concept also works within the cloud. Whether you're working on new software, a web site, or anything else that runs digitally, it&#

The risks of physical assets vs virtual assets

In this post I wanted to explore some of the risks that people and businesses who invest in virtual assets face, and how this compares with what traditionally is thought more as physical assets. As the world moves more into the digital age, virtual assets are becoming more common and more popular, and with good reason. Understanding the risks is therefore very important. Before I cover the 5 types of risks and how they apply, let's first make sure we all understand what are physical assets and what are virtual assets. Note that those lists aren't meant to be exhaustive. Physical assets are things that you can hold in your hand, or see in the real world. Value is tied to that object. Here are some popular examples: Real estate - There's no question that for most people, their home will be their most valuable physical asset. Art - Even though the art world is concentrated at the top 1%, it's still a vast and very valuable class of assets. Antique cars - Car buffs that a