Udi Dahan   Udi Dahan – The Software Simplist
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Leveraging irrationality towards success

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

irrationalWe’ve all seen good ideas emerge in the software space – from objects, to components, to services, to domain models, and the *DD approaches. Yet, in most organizations, it is very hard for these ideas to get traction.

I’ve heard from countless developers and architects over the years about their frustration in getting everybody else to go along with them. “Can’t they see how much better [new approach] is over what we’re doing now?!” they ask, believing that things could and actually would be evaluated on their merits, especially in a rational field like IT.

The usual explanation I give has a couple of parts.

Conway’s Law

In 1968 Melvin Conway penned what later became known as Conway’s Law which stated:

“organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.”

An important corollary of that law is that if you wish to have a significant impact on the design of a system, you would need to have a similarly significant impact on the communication structure of the organization making that system.

The main problem is that the people that tend to be pushing for DDD, IoC, CQRS, SOA, etc are usually not as strong when it comes to the soft skills that are so necessary for bringing about organizational change. The thing is that, at a minimum, these types of changes take 3 to 5 years so it really takes a long-term commitment, both from the individual and the organization.

On the rationality of people in IT

First of all, people are a whole lot less rational than they’d like to believe – or that they’d like other people to notice. In fact, people will go to great lengths to maintain the appearance of consistency and rationality, even at the cost of harm to themselves. How’s that for irrational?

Don’t take my word for it – there’s a great book on the topic: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions. The somewhat scary thing about it is that not only are we irrational beings, but that that irrationality can be predicted and, yes, even manipulated.

Once you can understand that the people you’re trying to convince aren’t Vulcan, you have a much better chance of being effective. I’d say that, for myself, understanding my own modes of irrationality increased my effectiveness as well, and made me quite a bit happier in life too.

Why you need to bring in a consultant

This isn’t me hawking my wares – believe me, I’m busy enough as it is, but let me know when this starts to sound familiar to you.

There’s a problem in your organization – could be that you’re not delivering software fast enough, high enough quality, whatever. Suffice it to say that Management isn’t happy. You’ve been living this pain for a while and know exactly what the source of the problem is (more often than not, management has at least a hand if not a whole arm in it). You come up with some recommendations, bring them to the higher-ups, but ultimately are ignored, dismissed, or don’t even get into the room.

Some time later, management brings in a Consultant (that’s right, with a capital ‘C’) who is there to figure out what’s wrong and come up with recommendations. In some cases, especially in larger organizations, they bring in a whole bunch of them from a brand name like McKinsey or Ernst & Young.

If these guys are smart, they listen to you, ultimately presenting your analysis and recommendations to management. Of course, those higher-ups are in awe of how quickly these guys were able to understand the inner workings of their organization. That awe lends instant credibility to their recommendations which are then adopted and given powerful political backing.

And you’re sitting there thinking, “but… but… but that’s what I was saying!!”.

It’s not the message – it’s the messenger.

Let me put it another way, explained from the perspective of management – we’re having problems, you work here, ergo you’re part of the problem. Also, you don’t make that much money (compared to management), so how smart could you be? Those brand-name consultants, well, they cost a LOT, so they MUST be good (good enough to know not to work here too).

Therefore the more the consultant costs, the more likely management is to listen, which ultimately creates the conditions for success, which makes the change happen, which proves to management that they were right to bring in an expensive consultant. A vicious (or virtuous) cycle – depending on how you look at it.

Now, it doesn’t always work this way, but it does often enough to perpetuate management’s world view.

In Closing

I do hope your organization and its leaders aren’t trapped in this kind of dysfunction, but if they are, know that you’re not alone and that you can get help – either via consulting or in some books:

Some good books include Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and the grandfather of the field: How to Win Friends & Influence People. There are countless others and there isn’t any right place to start – the most important thing to do is to start.

It’s been over 40 years since Melvin Conway’s observation and, as an industry, we’re still relearning these things – usually through the school of hard knocks. But there is an upside here – I’m pretty sure that, knowing these patterns, you could pick up on some signals during the interviewing process and find a company that’s outgrown many of these issues – one that would be able to have more meritocratic discussions on technical choices.

In the worst case, you could become a consultant and make a living off of all this irrationality :-)



Change is hard

Sunday, January 8th, 2012

diamondOrganizational change is hard – like the way a diamond is hard.

So, don’t try to change the organization. It’s too big anyway.
Instead, focus on changing one person at a time – that’s hard enough.

Don’t necessarily take the “one person as a time” too literally, though.
You don’t need to completely and utterly have one person won over before starting on the next.

Understand that for someone to change, that may require them admitting (either implicitly or explicitly) that the way they were doing things before was wrong. In some organizations, this can be suicide. Even if it isn’t, psychologically speaking, there are a huge number of barriers to overcome.

So, if at all possible, massage the situation in such a way that it’ll sound like they were right all along, and no-one really understood. It’s easy for someone to play along with the “misunderstood genius” story.

Next time – how to do just that.

Stay tuned.



Upcoming conferences and courses

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Seeing as several hundred new subscribers have joined since my last post, I wanted to give a quick update on the courses I’m teaching (Advanced Distributed Systems Design and Enterprise Development with NServiceBus) as well as the conferences at which I’m presenting.

Hands-on

The NServiceBus course is actually different from what I previously delivered – the course has been extended from 2 days to 3 days and now has a much larger hands-on component for attendees.

The idea is that team leads and architects will likely be going to the 5-day distributed systems course, and then that the members of their teams go to this one. This 3-day course will have enough theory that attendees will know what the terms AC, BC, and Service mean, but the main focus will be on the concrete implementation of these concepts using NServiceBus – the actual building of reliable and scalable systems.

The next delivery planned for this course will be in London on Nov 8-10 – register here.

Upcoming Advanced Distributed Systems Design

Oct 11-15: Johannesburg, South Africa

Oct 24-28: Israel

Nov 1-5: London, UK

Nov 22-26: Sydney, Australia

Dec 13-17: Seattle WA, USA

Information on the Advanced Distributed Systems Design course can be found here.

Upcoming conferences

Oct 19-20: Prio Conference – Nurnberg, Germany

I’m also giving a post-conference workshop on NServiceBus – details here.

YOW Australia – Melbourne, Dec 2-3

* I have one free day of consulting left between my course and the conference – if you’re interested, and the beginning of December in Sydney or Melbourne works for you, contact me at consult@udidahan.com



Now a member of the Cutter Consortium

Thursday, October 9th, 2008

While I usually take the Groucho Marx approach about groups that would have me as a member, this is different.

With members including Scott Ambler, James Bach, Kent Beck, Alistair Cockburn, Ward Cunningham, Tom DeMarco, Jim Highsmith, Ron Jeffries, Tim Lister, Michael Rosen, Johanna Rothman, and Ed Yourdon (to name not so few), I am honoured to be welcomed as a peer.

I’ve written an Executive Update as a part of the Enterprise Architecture Advisory Service available to Cutter clients which can be found here:

The Logging Service: Fallacy or Feature?



Successfully Applying Agile to Fixed-Bid Projects

Saturday, September 1st, 2007

Jeremy’s trying to answer some hard questions about agile. I wanted to tackle the issue of fixed-bids, since most of my clients work on those kinds of projects and I managed those projects full-time before becoming a consultant.

So, here’s the thing.

The only way to win on fixed-bid projects, is to bid low, and then rack up the change-requests. This is why people spend so much time documenting requirements, and then getting the client to sign off. It’s so they can prove that something is an actual change request, and thus they don’t have to do it. So, if the client wants to do whatever, they have to pay more money.

The problem is that it pisses off the client.

There’s another, subtler problem. It’s that clients get wise to this game, and front-load every possible requirement requesting total flexibility in everything.

This leads to another problem. We can’t bid low anymore.

Which leads to another problem. The client doesn’t have the budget to pay for the longer list of requirements.

Which leads us back to square one.

Fixed bids are a lose-lose proposition.

You see, if you bid rationally, taking into account the fact that some requirements will change, others will appear mid-way through, and so on, you’re bid will be significantly higher than the other guy who low-balled it. That means that the client will have a very hard time explaining to his management why he wants you to do the project.

So, the only way to win is for the client to realize this and game the system. This is sometimes a fine-line, possibly bordering on illegal when it comes to government contracts.

Once you have a client who understands that the fixed-bid is not in their interest, they will work collaboratively with you to get a reasonable system out the door within the given budget. There will be a lot of give-and-take but it can work. After a system goes into production successfully, it’s a lot easier to get management buy-in for the next version.

Fact is, upper management doesn’t really know all the specific requirements. So, if you don’t do them all, you’re OK, and so is your client.

In these circumstances, agile development is not only possible, but likely.

I know that it’s not really fixed-price, fixed-time, fixed-scope this way. But that’s what makes it successful :)



6 simple steps to becoming a top IT consultant

Thursday, July 19th, 2007
The other day I met a consultant that I had recently befriended at a conference I was speaking at. After some chit-chat, he asked me how he could become a top consultant like me. I was a bit taken aback. I didn’t remember becoming a top consultant. I mean, I’m doing alright for myself, but there’s definitely room to grow. Anyway, he pressed me for an answer, and here’s what I came up with. Be aware that this is only based on my experience and the stories I’ve picked up from my betters over the years. I hope that this may be helpful for other consultants or people considering getting into consulting.
 
I started thinking what characterizes many of the top IT consultants, and I came up with these 4 main points.
 
1.       They are well known in their field/niche
2.       They are considered experts in their field/niche
3.       They speak at conferences
4.       They are published authors
 
There’s more but that’s enough to get us started.
 
So, it’s reasonable to assume that if I were to do these things as well, I’d be climbing my way up to being a top-tier consultant. But, like so many things in life, this is easier said than done. So here’s my 6 step process to becoming a top IT consultant.
  

1. Have a niche

 

Since IT is so broad, there is really no way anyone can master it all. This means we’re left to choose between being a “jack of all trades and master of none” or specializing. All the top consultants I know specialize. However, they still have a working knowledge of many fields and are able to move with the times. My niche is Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) on the Microsoft platform. This is backed by my consulting practice working on very-large-scale distributed systems with the most stringent throughput, latency, and security requirements.
 
Choosing a niche isn’t easy if you’re just starting out. I suggest looking for something new in an area already familiar to you. New doesn’t mean small. Mastering some insignificant niche that no one in the industry cares about isn’t going to do you much good. One way to know that a niche will have enough meat in it is that similar niches are gaining ground. In my case, I had been working on the Microsoft platform for a while and had a good handle on the technologies. Architecture was beginning to gain broad traction with the rise of the Patterns & Practices group and SOA was on its way up the hype curve on the Java platform. That was the moment I recognized my niche .
 

2. Get to be Well-Known in your niche

 

All the top consultants that I know are not loners. They know and socialize with many of the people in their niche. This includes conference organizers, speakers at conferences, journalists of trade magazines, user group leaders, and bloggers.
 
If you don’t know what bloggers write about topics in your niche, do a Google Blog Search on it. Check out Technorati. If you have a blog, start interacting with those other bloggers. Comment on their posts. Link to them. They’ll start doing the same to you.
 
Also, after attending a good presentation go up to the presenter, introduce yourself, and say how much you enjoyed the session. Ask them if they wouldn’t mind if you emailed them some questions about their presentation. As a presenter I can tell you there’s nothing I enjoy more at the end of a presentation. Once the conversation starts up, don’t be surprised if they point you at some books, articles, or even suggest you go see another presenter speak. Rinse and repeat.
 

3. Get Published

 

While many of the industry’s leading consultants have several books under their belt, this is not something that easy duplicate. Writing a book is hard work, let alone getting a publisher to back it. Luckily, there’s a simple on-ramp for getting published.
 
First of all, start blogging. This kind of self-publishing will both improve your writing and help you make connections. When reading other blogs, articles, and books pay attention to how your writing differs from theirs. After you have a number of high quality posts on your blog, contact an online magazine in your niche. Offer yourself as a writer. Showcase your skills by pointing out your blog’s high quality posts. Don’t stop writing in your blog though. Reach out to other magazines – both online and print.
 
If the conference presenters you’ve been talking to are writing a book, offer yourself as a technical reviewer. Once you have enough material to back it up, consider offering to write a chapter in the book. This is a lot of work, but well worth the effort. All of this leads up to the point where you’ll be able to write a book that a publisher will want.
 

4. Speak at conferences

 

For most of us in the IT industry, public speaking is as pleasurable as a visit to the dentist. However, there’s almost nothing that compares to it when it comes to being recognized as an expert. Like writing, getting to be good at public speaking takes practice. Although some conference presenters got there either by being an employee of the vendor sponsoring the conference or have released some wildly popular open-source library, that isn’t enough to maintain it over time. Practice makes perfect. Also similar to writing, there’s a low-risk on-ramp to conference speaking too.
 
User groups have been the launch pad of many a successful speaker. With more user groups with more meetings than available speakers, user group leaders are always on the lookout for someone who can come speak to their group. If you’re already a member of their group (as mentioned in the getting known section) they’re all the more likely to give you a chance. After one successful user group presentation, don’t be surprised if you get invited to a couple more from other user groups. Even after you’ve moved up the food chain and are speaking at international events, keep a connection to your local user groups. I’ve found them to be a great place to try out new content and other speakers say the same. Don’t forget where you came from.
 
When you hear about a larger conference that will be taking place in your area, contact the presenters you’ve been emailing questions back-and-forth to. Ask them if they can put you in contact with the conference organizer. Refer that organizer to the user group leaders and the successful presentations you gave there. From there, onwards and upwards.
 

5. Get your expertise recognized

 

If I hadn’t mentioned it up to this point, it bears stating. You have to be good, if not great, at what you do. Reading about new techniques and technologies and trying them out. Deepening your knowledge of your current tool set. Running performance tests and benchmarks against products and solutions. You’ve got to have the meat. The last thing you want is to employ all the above techniques to shine a bright spotlight on barely any substance.
 
If you do have the substance though, all that writing, speaking, and networking will have done it all for you. This will, of course, create a positive feedback loop. You’ll get invited to speak at more conferences. You’ll get paid to write articles for leading magazines. With more people who know of you, book sales will increase. And on, and on.
 

6. Make it billable

 

At the end of the day, we consultants measure ourselves primarily by our hourly/daily/weekly rate. It’s clear that in terms of just filling up hours, clients would prefer to take a published, well-known, expert consultant that speaks at conferences all over the world over a “plain-old” consultant. This increase in demand quite simply leads to an increase in price. Also, you’ll find that you get quite a lot more clients and leads coming your way and clients who come to you invariably pay more than those you have to run after.
 
 

Simple, but not easy

 

I know that everything I’ve just outlined sounds simple, and it is. There’s no complicated formula that will promise success I know of. So you don’t have to worry if you forget. But let me tell you that the road is neither quick nor easy. This is a multi-year long journey that requires discipline. It’s a whole lot more work than “just” being a consultant.
 
Just to spice it up, keep in mind that you’re not the only one doing this. There are already established experts out there. Others have already been on this path for a year or two. Any good sized niche will already have some incumbents in there. In that respect, I was lucky jumping on my niche when I did but that made it a much smaller niche when I was just starting out. You have to think about how you differentiate yourself, both as a speaker and as a consultant. And try to keep that consistent across the board. Most consultants on the Microsoft platform are technology and products focused. I came in waving the technology-agnostic architecture flag. Look for something that sets you apart. Also, be aware of the shifts occurring in the industry so that you don’t find your differentiating factor’s importance disappearing out from under you.
 

And in closing…

 

Take this for what it’s worth. I’ve walked this path myself and have seen that it works for me. I’ve seen others walking this path and have seen it work for them. It also fits quite well with the stories I’ve heard from the top IT consultants I’ve talked to. I’m no top IT consultant. I’m just a guy, like you, trying to get there. But I’m having a great time while I’m at it. So should you.
 
You might also want to check out TopITconsultant.com for more tips.



Twas a good day

Tuesday, February 10th, 2004

Today I was at the Israel DevDays conference. As I sat down for the first presentation, somebody came up to me. It was one of the people who was at my VB User Group presentation. I remember him asking me about consulting/contracting.

His question was this: My first customer pretty much came to me, and I built him a custom system. Now, I want to get more customers, how do I do that ?

My reply was as follows – after finding out that the client was a “low-tech” proprietership – I think it was a jewlery shop or something – I suggested this:

1. Marketing is everything

2. Know what you’re marketing

3. If your clients don’t understand what value your marketing message brings them, you’re toast

4. Combining the proprietership with a beginning contractor means that you can’t/shouldn’t market yourself – “who the hell are you, and what can you do for me”, said the potential client.

5. Find out what your niche is – small to medium shops in the jewlery industry is good. small grocery shops is bad. Big jewlery heavyweights is bad. Big grocery chains is just stupid.

6. Market to your niche – that “custom development” you did – it ain’t custom – that’s your product, that’s what you market. Doesn’t matter if for the next customer you’ll have to rewrite it from scratch, its the only thing of value you have to offer your niche, so do that.

That was the main, censored – and therefore more clear – message.

Anyway … back to DevDays ( today, one week after the VB User group ). He comes up to me, after a short exchange of pleasantries, he excitedly blurts out that thanks to my advice, he got 2 more customers !

Well, doesn’t it just make you feel all warm and cuddly inside helping people like that ?



Free ?! I'll take two !

Saturday, January 31st, 2004

After almost every presentation I give, I get people coming up to me from the audience and asking me about my experiences as a consultant/contractor. Many are considering making the jump from employee to something better – they hope. The reason is nearly identical every time – they’re dissatisfied with their current employer, and keeping with the timeless adage of the grass being greener on the other side, think that everything will be that much better when on their own.

Now, these people are not naive. They know that this move would entail taking certain financial risks. The most common question I get is how to get gigs. This goes directly to revenue. Without revenue, any business isn’t viable. However, revenue isn’t the entire equation. There are expenses. I believe that everybody who asks me about consulting/contracting is aware about expenses – but for some reason, I never get a single question about them.

I’ll be starting a series for the budding contractor/consultant or anyone who’s thinking about taking the plunge. It’ll cover ( I hope ) all parts of the business. For example, as a part of minimizing expenses, look for all sorts of campaigns that other companies push, that may give you quality products at a significant discount ( or even free ) for a mention on your site.

Note: If you are a consultant/contractor that is just starting out, I’m not sure that I’d suggest such a marketing tactic to get going.

One company that has put such an offering forward is Axosoft. Axosoft is offering bloggers a free 3-user version of their .NET & SQL based OnTime defect tracking software (bug tracking software).  For more information, visit http://www.axosoft.com/Free3UserOffer.htm.

Now, I haven’t tried out their product yet, and I can’t vouch for its quality, however – for all you contractors out there, those that are just starting out in particular, you must have a defect tracking system. You must use it for every product you sell, or system that you build specifically for a client. I can’t stress this enough. You have enough on your mind to deal with besides having to remember what defects exist in which system/product.

So, if you need such a defect tracking system – and someone’s offering you one free ( some defect tracking systems can be quite pricy ), I’d say don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Start using it right away. Should something better come along later, well, you can always change. But, I guarantee you, the quality of software you put out when using any defect tracking system, as opposed to not using one, will be much higher.

Update: Just thought that I’d mention that bug tracking software appears on “The Joel Test: 12 Steps to Better Code” as number 4.



This Consulting Business

Monday, December 15th, 2003

Several times in the career of a “programmer” one considers opening up shop and becoming his own boss – becoming a Consultant ( the capital C stands for the extra money consultants demand ). Brady brings up some interesting issues budding consultants often encounter. Robert offers some really great advice from his own consulting process. I especially appreciate the value of using escrow services. (Update: Robert adds some more advice here ) I’d like to share what little experience I’ve gained over the years in the hope that some other consultant just starting out may save himself some grief.

From my experience, the main skills area that needs improvement in programmer-turned-consultants is project management. This area deals with everything around the actual product/system developed. Development really isn’t the problem. Bottom line – first and foremost, READ ! Anything and everything about project management, contracts, RFPs, and all other things relevant in some way to the project. The hard part is always implementing all the great accumulated wisdom out there.

The most critical thing to remember is: It Takes Time.

Not pure programming, in the zone, 100% productivity time. Time to develop relationships with stakeholders. Time to go through the RFP/RFI process. Time to negotiate. Time to travel ( a lot of people when starting out forget to take this into account when budgeting – it IS time spent on the project, and should be measured – at the very least). Time to meet with users. Time to learn the terrain. Time to reconcile differing views. Time to play politics. … Time.

Obviously there isn’t enough room here to go over all the skills and techniques of project management and consulting, however, I would be remiss if I didn’t come full circle from time to money.

First of all, unless you have a signed contract, signed detailed project description document, etc… no project will be done in 2 months. Once you have all those things, AND there are NO mid-project changes, then you have a case of “contract programming” mentioned in the comments of Brady’s entry, which has a chance of being done in 2 months.

However, there are end-project activities which have to take place, installation, training, support ( yes, even if you didn’t include it in your offer, if you don’t give some support for the bugs that will doubtlessly come up, the project will be labeled a failure. ), meeting with the major stakeholders to see that they’re happy, … you might as well not have done the project.

So, in essence, once you’re a consultant, work != programming. In the vast majority of cases non-programming.Time > programming.Time. Its this mindset that has to take hold. This particularly becomes difficult when a potential client comes to you with a project that sounds exactly like something you just did. It happened to me recently. A client asked for a system that I just finished rolling out at a different client, and I thought: Easy money. Well, the politics there were like nothing I’d ever seen. The project took even longer than at the first client, even though the code had already been written !

Bottom line: Everything is a project, and must be treated as such.

Now, getting to money. Money is important, and so is when you get it ( see Robert first post about milestones ) and making sure that you get it ( Escrow a la Robert ). And, don’t forget taxes. For one-person shops that aren’t overflowing with projects, deferring a payment to a new fiscal year can make a big difference to your net income, and may buy you a favor with the client if you play your cards right.

Of course, no discussion about money and consulting would be complete without raising the issue of hourly vs flat-fee pricing. Most clients prefer fixed price offers, since they fit with their yearly budget planning.

Many consultants I’ve met use hourly fees, but billable hours is a fickle measure that varies from project to project. Personally, I have certain issues with the hourly pricing model – note that I’m referring to the invoice the client receives. When charging hourly, the client will obviously want to know what you did on an hourly basis. Try explaining to the client to pay you $X/hour for having lunch with the head of computing services to make sure that he was pleased with the effect the project had on his department.

Fixed price offers allow a consultant to roll up many project expenses that are often difficult to collect from clients in an hourly model. For those who are skilled in project management, this model often works well. However, the risk involved in under-estimating scope, or time required, may adversely impact the bottom line.

Recently, after reading this great article on Value-Based fees, I’ve had great success in this model. In a nutshell, you, in cooperation with the client, assign value to each deliverable, and price it. This model handles scope creep very elegantly. For lack of space, I suggest you go read the entire article. Moreso, the “Million Dollar Consultant” has a whole page of tips for those going the consulting route. Highly recommended.

To sum up, to succeed in consulting one has to treat it as a whole different career path to be learned and lived. Think “Career Calculus” by Eric Sink. More importantly, consultants are PEOPLE people, not computer people. Soft skills rule.



   


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Recommendations

Bryan Wheeler, Director Platform Development at msnbc.com
Udi Dahan is the real deal.

We brought him on site to give our development staff the 5-day “Advanced Distributed System Design” training. The course profoundly changed our understanding and approach to SOA and distributed systems.

Consider some of the evidence: 1. Months later, developers still make allusions to concepts learned in the course nearly every day 2. One of our developers went home and made her husband (a developer at another company) sign up for the course at a subsequent date/venue 3. Based on what we learned, we’ve made constant improvements to our architecture that have helped us to adapt to our ever changing business domain at scale and speed If you have the opportunity to receive the training, you will make a substantial paradigm shift.

If I were to do the whole thing over again, I’d start the week by playing the clip from the Matrix where Morpheus offers Neo the choice between the red and blue pills. Once you make the intellectual leap, you’ll never look at distributed systems the same way.

Beyond the training, we were able to spend some time with Udi discussing issues unique to our business domain. Because Udi is a rare combination of a big picture thinker and a low level doer, he can quickly hone in on various issues and quickly make good (if not startling) recommendations to help solve tough technical issues.” November 11, 2010

Sam Gentile Sam Gentile, Independent WCF & SOA Expert
“Udi, one of the great minds in this area.
A man I respect immensely.”





Ian Robinson Ian Robinson, Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks
"Your blog and articles have been enormously useful in shaping, testing and refining my own approach to delivering on SOA initiatives over the last few years. Over and against a certain 3-layer-application-architecture-blown-out-to- distributed-proportions school of SOA, your writing, steers a far more valuable course."

Shy Cohen Shy Cohen, Senior Program Manager at Microsoft
“Udi is a world renowned software architect and speaker. I met Udi at a conference that we were both speaking at, and immediately recognized his keen insight and razor-sharp intellect. Our shared passion for SOA and the advancement of its practice launched a discussion that lasted into the small hours of the night.
It was evident through that discussion that Udi is one of the most knowledgeable people in the SOA space. It was also clear why – Udi does not settle for mediocrity, and seeks to fully understand (or define) the logic and principles behind things.
Humble yet uncompromising, Udi is a pleasure to interact with.”

Glenn Block Glenn Block, Senior Program Manager - WCF at Microsoft
“I have known Udi for many years having attended his workshops and having several personal interactions including working with him when we were building our Composite Application Guidance in patterns & practices. What impresses me about Udi is his deep insight into how to address business problems through sound architecture. Backed by many years of building mission critical real world distributed systems it is no wonder that Udi is the best at what he does. When customers have deep issues with their system design, I point them Udi's way.”

Karl Wannenmacher Karl Wannenmacher, Senior Lead Expert at Frequentis AG
“I have been following Udi’s blog and podcasts since 2007. I’m convinced that he is one of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in the field of SOA, EDA and large scale systems.
Udi helped Frequentis to design a major subsystem of a large mission critical system with a nationwide deployment based on NServiceBus. It was impressive to see how he took the initial architecture and turned it upside down leading to a very flexible and scalable yet simple system without knowing the details of the business domain. I highly recommend consulting with Udi when it comes to large scale mission critical systems in any domain.”

Simon Segal Simon Segal, Independent Consultant
“Udi is one of the outstanding software development minds in the world today, his vast insights into Service Oriented Architectures and Smart Clients in particular are indeed a rare commodity. Udi is also an exceptional teacher and can help lead teams to fall into the pit of success. I would recommend Udi to anyone considering some Architecural guidance and support in their next project.”

Ohad Israeli Ohad Israeli, Chief Architect at Hewlett-Packard, Indigo Division
“When you need a man to do the job Udi is your man! No matter if you are facing near deadline deadlock or at the early stages of your development, if you have a problem Udi is the one who will probably be able to solve it, with his large experience at the industry and his widely horizons of thinking , he is always full of just in place great architectural ideas.
I am honored to have Udi as a colleague and a friend (plus having his cell phone on my speed dial).”

Ward Bell Ward Bell, VP Product Development at IdeaBlade
“Everyone will tell you how smart and knowledgable Udi is ... and they are oh-so-right. Let me add that Udi is a smart LISTENER. He's always calibrating what he has to offer with your needs and your experience ... looking for the fit. He has strongly held views ... and the ability to temper them with the nuances of the situation.
I trust Udi to tell me what I need to hear, even if I don't want to hear it, ... in a way that I can hear it. That's a rare skill to go along with his command and intelligence.”

Eli Brin, Program Manager at RISCO Group
“We hired Udi as a SOA specialist for a large scale project. The development is outsourced to India. SOA is a buzzword used almost for anything today. We wanted to understand what SOA really is, and what is the meaning and practice to develop a SOA based system.
We identified Udi as the one that can put some sense and order in our minds. We started with a private customized SOA training for the entire team in Israel. After that I had several focused sessions regarding our architecture and design.
I will summarize it simply (as he is the software simplist): We are very happy to have Udi in our project. It has a great benefit. We feel good and assured with the knowledge and practice he brings. He doesn’t talk over our heads. We assimilated nServicebus as the ESB of the project. I highly recommend you to bring Udi into your project.”

Catherine Hole Catherine Hole, Senior Project Manager at the Norwegian Health Network
“My colleagues and I have spent five interesting days with Udi - diving into the many aspects of SOA. Udi has shown impressive abilities of understanding organizational challenges, and has brought the business perspective into our way of looking at services. He has an excellent understanding of the many layers from business at the top to the technical infrstructure at the bottom. He is a great listener, and manages to simplify challenges in a way that is understandable both for developers and CEOs, and all the specialists in between.”

Yoel Arnon Yoel Arnon, MSMQ Expert
“Udi has a unique, in depth understanding of service oriented architecture and how it should be used in the real world, combined with excellent presentation skills. I think Udi should be a premier choice for a consultant or architect of distributed systems.”

Vadim Mesonzhnik, Development Project Lead at Polycom
“When we were faced with a task of creating a high performance server for a video-tele conferencing domain we decided to opt for a stateless cluster with SQL server approach. In order to confirm our decision we invited Udi.

After carefully listening for 2 hours he said: "With your kind of high availability and performance requirements you don’t want to go with stateless architecture."

One simple sentence saved us from implementing a wrong product and finding that out after years of development. No matter whether our former decisions were confirmed or altered, it gave us great confidence to move forward relying on the experience, industry best-practices and time-proven techniques that Udi shared with us.
It was a distinct pleasure and a unique opportunity to learn from someone who is among the best at what he does.”

Jack Van Hoof Jack Van Hoof, Enterprise Integration Architect at Dutch Railways
“Udi is a respected visionary on SOA and EDA, whose opinion I most of the time (if not always) highly agree with. The nice thing about Udi is that he is able to explain architectural concepts in terms of practical code-level examples.”

Neil Robbins Neil Robbins, Applications Architect at Brit Insurance
“Having followed Udi's blog and other writings for a number of years I attended Udi's two day course on 'Loosely Coupled Messaging with NServiceBus' at SkillsMatter, London.

I would strongly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in how to develop IT systems which provide immediate and future fitness for purpose. An influential and innovative thought leader and practitioner in his field, Udi demonstrates and shares a phenomenally in depth knowledge that proves his position as one of the premier experts in his field globally.

The course has enhanced my knowledge and skills in ways that I am able to immediately apply to provide benefits to my employer. Additionally though I will be able to build upon what I learned in my 2 days with Udi and have no doubt that it will only enhance my future career.

I cannot recommend Udi, and his courses, highly enough.”

Nick Malik Nick Malik, Enterprise Architect at Microsoft Corporation
You are an excellent speaker and trainer, Udi, and I've had the fortunate experience of having attended one of your presentations. I believe that you are a knowledgable and intelligent man.”

Sean Farmar Sean Farmar, Chief Technical Architect at Candidate Manager Ltd
“Udi has provided us with guidance in system architecture and supports our implementation of NServiceBus in our core business application.

He accompanied us in all stages of our development cycle and helped us put vision into real life distributed scalable software. He brought fresh thinking, great in depth of understanding software, and ongoing support that proved as valuable and cost effective.

Udi has the unique ability to analyze the business problem and come up with a simple and elegant solution for the code and the business alike.
With Udi's attention to details, and knowledge we avoided pit falls that would cost us dearly.”

Børge Hansen Børge Hansen, Architect Advisor at Microsoft
“Udi delivered a 5 hour long workshop on SOA for aspiring architects in Norway. While keeping everyone awake and excited Udi gave us some great insights and really delivered on making complex software challenges simple. Truly the software simplist.”

Motty Cohen, SW Manager at KorenTec Technologies
“I know Udi very well from our mutual work at KorenTec. During the analysis and design of a complex, distributed C4I system - where the basic concepts of NServiceBus start to emerge - I gained a lot of "Udi's hours" so I can surely say that he is a professional, skilled architect with fresh ideas and unique perspective for solving complex architecture challenges. His ideas, concepts and parts of the artifacts are the basis of several state-of-the-art C4I systems that I was involved in their architecture design.”

Aaron Jensen Aaron Jensen, VP of Engineering at Eleutian Technology
Awesome. Just awesome.

We’d been meaning to delve into messaging at Eleutian after multiple discussions with and blog posts from Greg Young and Udi Dahan in the past. We weren’t entirely sure where to start, how to start, what tools to use, how to use them, etc. Being able to sit in a room with Udi for an entire week while he described exactly how, why and what he does to tackle a massive enterprise system was invaluable to say the least.

We now have a much better direction and, more importantly, have the confidence we need to start introducing these powerful concepts into production at Eleutian.”

Gad Rosenthal Gad Rosenthal, Department Manager at Retalix
“A thinking person. Brought fresh and valuable ideas that helped us in architecting our product. When recommending a solution he supports it with evidence and detail so you can successfully act based on it. Udi's support "comes on all levels" - As the solution architect through to the detailed class design. Trustworthy!”

Chris Bilson Chris Bilson, Developer at Russell Investment Group
“I had the pleasure of attending a workshop Udi led at the Seattle ALT.NET conference in February 2009. I have been reading Udi's articles and listening to his podcasts for a long time and have always looked to him as a source of advice on software architecture.
When I actually met him and talked to him I was even more impressed. Not only is Udi an extremely likable person, he's got that rare gift of being able to explain complex concepts and ideas in a way that is easy to understand.
All the attendees of the workshop greatly appreciate the time he spent with us and the amazing insights into service oriented architecture he shared with us.”

Alexey Shestialtynov Alexey Shestialtynov, Senior .Net Developer at Candidate Manager
“I met Udi at Candidate Manager where he was brought in part-time as a consultant to help the company make its flagship product more scalable. For me, even after 30 years in software development, working with Udi was a great learning experience. I simply love his fresh ideas and architecture insights.
As we all know it is not enough to be armed with best tools and technologies to be successful in software - there is still human factor involved. When, as it happens, the project got in trouble, management asked Udi to step into a leadership role and bring it back on track. This he did in the span of a month. I can only wish that things had been done this way from the very beginning.
I look forward to working with Udi again in the future.”

Christopher Bennage Christopher Bennage, President at Blue Spire Consulting, Inc.
“My company was hired to be the primary development team for a large scale and highly distributed application. Since these are not necessarily everyday requirements, we wanted to bring in some additional expertise. We chose Udi because of his blogging, podcasting, and speaking. We asked him to to review our architectural strategy as well as the overall viability of project.
I was very impressed, as Udi demonstrated a broad understanding of the sorts of problems we would face. His advice was honest and unbiased and very pragmatic. Whenever I questioned him on particular points, he was able to backup his opinion with real life examples. I was also impressed with his clarity and precision. He was very careful to untangle the meaning of words that might be overloaded or otherwise confusing. While Udi's hourly rate may not be the cheapest, the ROI is undoubtedly a deal. I would highly recommend consulting with Udi.”

Robert Lewkovich, Product / Development Manager at Eggs Overnight
“Udi's advice and consulting were a huge time saver for the project I'm responsible for. The $ spent were well worth it and provided me with a more complete understanding of nServiceBus and most importantly in helping make the correct architectural decisions earlier thereby reducing later, and more expensive, rework.”

Ray Houston Ray Houston, Director of Development at TOPAZ Technologies
“Udi's SOA class made me smart - it was awesome.

The class was very well put together. The materials were clear and concise and Udi did a fantastic job presenting it. It was a good mixture of lecture, coding, and question and answer. I fully expected that I would be taking notes like crazy, but it was so well laid out that the only thing I wrote down the entire course was what I wanted for lunch. Udi provided us with all the lecture materials and everyone has access to all of the samples which are in the nServiceBus trunk.

Now I know why Udi is the "Software Simplist." I was amazed to find that all the code and solutions were indeed very simple. The patterns that Udi presented keep things simple by isolating complexity so that it doesn't creep into your day to day code. The domain code looks the same if it's running in a single process or if it's running in 100 processes.”

Ian Cooper Ian Cooper, Team Lead at Beazley
“Udi is one of the leaders in the .Net development community, one of the truly smart guys who do not just get best architectural practice well enough to educate others but drives innovation. Udi consistently challenges my thinking in ways that make me better at what I do.”

Liron Levy, Team Leader at Rafael
“I've met Udi when I worked as a team leader in Rafael. One of the most senior managers there knew Udi because he was doing superb architecture job in another Rafael project and he recommended bringing him on board to help the project I was leading.
Udi brought with him fresh solutions and invaluable deep architecture insights. He is an authority on SOA (service oriented architecture) and this was a tremendous help in our project.
On the personal level - Udi is a great communicator and can persuade even the most difficult audiences (I was part of such an audience myself..) by bringing sound explanations that draw on his extensive knowledge in the software business. Working with Udi was a great learning experience for me, and I'll be happy to work with him again in the future.”

Adam Dymitruk Adam Dymitruk, Director of IT at Apara Systems
“I met Udi for the first time at DevTeach in Montreal back in early 2007. While Udi is usually involved in SOA subjects, his knowledge spans all of a software development company's concerns. I would not hesitate to recommend Udi for any company that needs excellent leadership, mentoring, problem solving, application of patterns, implementation of methodologies and straight out solution development.
There are very few people in the world that are as dedicated to their craft as Udi is to his. At ALT.NET Seattle, Udi explained many core ideas about SOA. The team that I brought with me found his workshop and other talks the highlight of the event and provided the most value to us and our organization. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to recommend him.”

Eytan Michaeli Eytan Michaeli, CTO Korentec
“Udi was responsible for a major project in the company, and as a chief architect designed a complex multi server C4I system with many innovations and excellent performance.”


Carl Kenne Carl Kenne, .Net Consultant at Dotway AB
“Udi's session "DDD in Enterprise apps" was truly an eye opener. Udi has a great ability to explain complex enterprise designs in a very comprehensive and inspiring way. I've seen several sessions on both DDD and SOA in the past, but Udi puts it in a completly new perspective and makes us understand what it's all really about. If you ever have a chance to see any of Udi's sessions in the future, take it!”

Avi Nehama, R&D Project Manager at Retalix
“Not only that Udi is a briliant software architecture consultant, he also has remarkable abilities to present complex ideas in a simple and concise manner, and...
always with a smile. Udi is indeed a top-league professional!”

Ben Scheirman Ben Scheirman, Lead Developer at CenterPoint Energy
“Udi is one of those rare people who not only deeply understands SOA and domain driven design, but also eloquently conveys that in an easy to grasp way. He is patient, polite, and easy to talk to. I'm extremely glad I came to his workshop on SOA.”

Scott C. Reynolds Scott C. Reynolds, Director of Software Engineering at CBLPath
“Udi is consistently advancing the state of thought in software architecture, service orientation, and domain modeling.
His mastery of the technologies and techniques is second to none, but he pairs that with a singular ability to listen and communicate effectively with all parties, technical and non, to help people arrive at context-appropriate solutions. Every time I have worked with Udi, or attended a talk of his, or just had a conversation with him I have come away from it enriched with new understanding about the ideas discussed.”

Evgeny-Hen Osipow, Head of R&D at PCLine
“Udi has helped PCLine on projects by implementing architectural blueprints demonstrating the value of simple design and code.”

Rhys Campbell Rhys Campbell, Owner at Artemis West
“For many years I have been following the works of Udi. His explanation of often complex design and architectural concepts are so cleanly broken down that even the most junior of architects can begin to understand these concepts. These concepts however tend to typify the "real world" problems we face daily so even the most experienced software expert will find himself in an "Aha!" moment when following Udi teachings.
It was a pleasure to finally meet Udi in Seattle Alt.Net OpenSpaces 2008, where I was pleasantly surprised at how down-to-earth and approachable he was. His depth and breadth of software knowledge also became apparent when discussion with his peers quickly dove deep in to the problems we current face. If given the opportunity to work with or recommend Udi I would quickly take that chance. When I think .Net Architecture, I think Udi.”

Sverre Hundeide Sverre Hundeide, Senior Consultant at Objectware
“Udi had been hired to present the third LEAP master class in Oslo. He is an well known international expert on enterprise software architecture and design, and is the author of the open source messaging framework nServiceBus. The entire class was based on discussion and interaction with the audience, and the only Power Point slide used was the one showing the agenda.
He started out with sketching a naive traditional n-tier application (big ball of mud), and based on suggestions from the audience we explored different solutions which might improve the solution. Whatever suggestions we threw at him, he always had a thoroughly considered answer describing pros and cons with the suggested solution. He obviously has a lot of experience with real world enterprise SOA applications.”

Raphaël Wouters Raphaël Wouters, Owner/Managing Partner at Medinternals
“I attended Udi's excellent course 'Advanced Distributed System Design with SOA and DDD' at Skillsmatter. Few people can truly claim such a high skill and expertise level, present it using a pragmatic, concrete no-nonsense approach and still stay reachable.”

Nimrod Peleg Nimrod Peleg, Lab Engineer at Technion IIT
“One of the best programmers and software engineer I've ever met, creative, knows how to design and implemet, very collaborative and finally - the applications he designed implemeted work for many years without any problems!

Jose Manuel Beas
“When I attended Udi's SOA Workshop, then it suddenly changed my view of what Service Oriented Architectures were all about. Udi explained complex concepts very clearly and created a very productive discussion environment where all the attendees could learn a lot. I strongly recommend hiring Udi.”

Daniel Jin Daniel Jin, Senior Lead Developer at PJM Interconnection
“Udi is one of the top SOA guru in the .NET space. He is always eager to help others by sharing his knowledge and experiences. His blog articles often offer deep insights and is a invaluable resource. I highly recommend him.”

Pasi Taive Pasi Taive, Chief Architect at Tieto
“I attended both of Udi's "UI Composition Key to SOA Success" and "DDD in Enterprise Apps" sessions and they were exceptionally good. I will definitely participate in his sessions again. Udi is a great presenter and has the ability to explain complex issues in a manner that everyone understands.”

Eran Sagi, Software Architect at HP
“So far, I heard about Service Oriented architecture all over. Everyone mentions it – the big buzz word. But, when I actually asked someone for what does it really mean, no one managed to give me a complete satisfied answer. Finally in his excellent course “Advanced Distributed Systems”, I got the answers I was looking for. Udi went over the different motivations (principles) of Services Oriented, explained them well one by one, and showed how each one could be technically addressed using NService bus. In his course, Udi also explain the way of thinking when coming to design a Service Oriented system. What are the questions you need to ask yourself in order to shape your system, place the logic in the right places for best Service Oriented system.

I would recommend this course for any architect or developer who deals with distributed system, but not only. In my work we do not have a real distributed system, but one PC which host both the UI application and the different services inside, all communicating via WCF. I found that many of the architecture principles and motivations of SOA apply for our system as well. Enough that you have SW partitioned into components and most of the principles becomes relevant to you as well. Bottom line – an excellent course recommended to any SW Architect, or any developer dealing with distributed system.”

Consult with Udi

Guest Authored Books
Chapter: Introduction to SOA    Article: The Enterprise Service Bus and Your SOA

97 Things Every Software Architect Should Know



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