Dream it, Build it, Fix It.

Apparently, “Dream it, Build it, Fix it”, was a slogan Bill Gates came up with while he was the CEO at Microsoft, now you know it came from one of the richest men on the planet. So what’s wrong with copying one of the most successful entrepreneurs. Luckily we can! We have the processes in software development like Scrum and Agile practices which help us to replicate his vision.

I was spurred on when I recently heard the words “Dream it, Build it, Fix it” and wanted to write a short article…

Today’s dreams are tomorrow’s reality.

While you don’t want to rush in, you shouldn’t spend more time than necessary, but get this wrong, and you’ll lose money. Mr Dan Peña, who you would be wise to listen too, might suggest – Do your due diligence, ensure it’s moral, ethical, legal and you either want to be first or doing something different to the competition.

Get your vision written down. What will it do for the customers, what it means or/and does for employees and is to you the product owner?

Build it

You’ll need your team for that. When starting out to write this article I didn’t plan for this to be a guide to finding the right people, but, now I’m considering this might be a substantial part for any want to be entrepreneur. So, how would I do it? The choices that come to my mind right now; get a company, find a team on a platform like upworks or build your own team. I would go for the first two options; getting them to provide a fixed quote for your project and take the cheapest.

Unless they can produce the product in 2 weeks, I would insist on using a Scrum based approach. If you don’t know how this works then get yourself onto YouTube (I also provided a link above) and take in a couple of 3-minute introductory videos, which is all you’ll probably need to understand the process. Don’t use a company that is not willing to work this way, because you can’t trust them to do this using telepathy. It’s like source control, you absolutely need it and because it’s your intellectual property, you’ll want to own the repository. A great analogy I’ve heard and love is that that a developer who doesn’t use it is like a surgeon who doesn’t use gloves (just picture that for a while).

Fix It

Nowadays even Microsoft realised they have to be faster. Since your using Scrum in your project, you should have the ability to release a new version of your product every iteration/sprint, which could be every 1, 2 or 3 weeks depending on the length you choose. Key here is ensuring the deployment process has been automated. Did you remember to add that to the contract? Checkout GitLab for inspiration on this matter.

Good luck with your projects and when in doubt follow the Agile Manifesto.


Heroku Wow!

In this blog, I want to discuss the cost of having services in the cloud. In particular, it’s about Platform as a Service (PaaS), because I only want to be able to deploy my service and don’t want to care about managing the servers. I’m going to use my page speed comparison app for this, which I recently moved to Heroku after my Google Cloud trial ran out.

Going from $130 per month to $27. Heroku, is that a play on words for Hero KO !?!

Usually, anyone interested in building an app is first concerned with what programming language or how do I find the right company or devlopers to build it, however, after the initial investment of building the software you are going to have to pay something, even if it’s just the electric for a server and the SSL certificate.

Let’s start with the architecture I opted for with Google. The web application is on Firebase which has been left there for the time being and the web services were consolidated during the move.


c4 diagram google cloud architecture

I’m going to look at this without too much regard for the best practices for production setup and concentrate on a just get the app into the cloud. The service on Google was High Availability (HA), so I will do same in the examples. Also, note there is hardly any traffic on my example app.

The cost for hosting my web services for one month could have been $130, but luckily Google is generous and provided a trial service.

google cloud platform bill

The following comparison is not completely fair because I am not showing the CPU or Memory being provided, but, actually I don’t care, I just want the lowest cheapest compute that was available. This is an estimate had I done a similar HA setup using an Amazon Linux nano instances and it might have been about $78. If you are in the first year (free tier) it would only have been only $38.

amazon cloud platform estimate

There is a big difference in the two platforms I’ve discussed so far. I did briefly look at Amazon’s container service, which might have been even cheaper, but got fed up with the complexity and tutorials.

On Google, I would be using Docker Containers and Kuberentes to deploy, with Amazon to automate I’d probably have to use Elastic Beanstalk. These cloud providers have many additional features and services that make them very relevant for small businesses when they need to do more than just hosting an app, for example running automated batch jobs on data. I’ve not investigated the data storage options on Heroku, which is the platform I’m about to cover, but, what makes it interesting is how easy it was to deploy and scale services.

I can’t remember how I came across Heroku which came up on my radar a couple of months ago. Their tutorials are easy to follow, and as I already said, the speed in which you can move a web service over is amazing – it only took me an afternoon. Keeping in line with the above example, the monthly cost for their standard plan would be $75 for three containers, called dyno’s (which is equivalent to the setup I had), and there is an additional $20 for managing the SSL endpoint.

heroku architecture

I actually signed up to using the Heroku hobby plan, so currently my costs are only $27 per month; 7$ for one dyno and $20 for SSL. I will have to upgrade to standard if I need more compute resources, but for the moment I am very satisfied. Only maybe a little happier if maybe I were still with the Amazon free tier, then this might only be about 5$. If you have come across a similar service, I can review, please do leave a comment below.