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Books in 2017: Part 2

Gazettabyte has asked various industry executives to discuss the books they enjoyed in 2017. Here, Infinera's Dave Welch and Deutche Telekom's Yuriy Babenko provide their highlights.


Dave Welch, founder and chief strategy and technology officer at Infinera

One favourite book I read this year was Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. Great history about the makings of the US government and financial systems as well as a great biography. Another is The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee, a wonderful discussion about the science and history of genetics.


Yuriy Babenko, senior expert NGN, Deutsche Telekom

As part of my reading in 2017 I selected two technical books, one general life-philosophy title and one strategy book.

Today’s internet infrastructure design is hardly possible without what we refer to as the cloud. Cloud is a very general term but I really like the definition of NIST: Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

Cloud Native Infrastructure: Patterns for scalable infrastructure and applications in a dynamic environment by Kris Nova and Justin Garrison helps you understand the necessary characteristics of such cloud infrastructure and defines the capabilities of the service architecture that fits this model. The Cloud Native architecture is not just about ‘lift and shift’ into the cloud, it is the redesign of your services focusing on cloud elasticity, scalability, and security as well as operational models including but not limited to infrastructure as code. If you already heard about Kubernetes, Terraform and Cloud Native Foundation but want to understand how various technologies and frameworks fit together, this is a great and easy read.

High Performnce Browser Networking: What Every Web Developer Should Know About Networking and Web Performance by Ilya Grigorik provides a thorough look into the peculiarities of modern browser networking protocols, their foundation, methods and tools that help to optimise and increase the performance of internet sites.

Every serious business today has a web presence. Many services and processes are consumed through the browser, so a look behind the curtains of these infrastructure is informative and useful.

Probably one of the more interesting conclusions is that is not always the bandwidth which is necessary for a site’s successful operation but rather the end-to-end latency. The book discusses HTTP, HTTP2 and SPDY and will be of great interest to anyone who wants to refresh their knowledge of the history of the internet as well as to understand the peculiarities of performance optimisation of (big) internet sites.

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio is probably one of the most discussed books of 2017. Mr Dalio is one of the most successful hedge-fund investors of our generation. In this book, he decided to share the main life and business principles that have guided his decisions during the course of his life. The main message which Dalio shares is not to copy or use his particular principles, although you are likely to adopt several of them, but to have your own.

One of Dalio’s key ideas is that everything works as a machine so if you define the general rules of how the machine (i.e. life in general) works, it will be significantly easier to follow the ups and downs and apply clear thinking in case of difficulties and challenges. He sums it up in an easy-to-comprehend approach which goes like the following: you try things out, reflect on them if something goes well or wrong, log all problems you face along the way, reflect on them and formulate and write down the principles. In due course, you will end up with your own version of Principles. Sounds easy but doing it is the key.

Edge Strategy: A New Mindset for Profitable Growth by Dan McKone and Alan Lewis is about the edges of a business, opportunities sitting comfortably in front of you and your business and which can be 'easily’ tackled and addressed.

Why would you go for a crazy new and risky business idea when there is a bunch of market opportunities just outside of the main door of your core business?

This sounds like “focus and expand” to me and makes a lot of sense. The authors identify three main “edges” which a business can address: product edge, journey edge and enterprise edge.

The book goes into detail about how product edge can be expanded (remember your shiny new iPhone leather case?); a firm can focus more on the complete customer journey (What are the jobs to be done? What problem is the customer really trying to solve? Airbnb service can be a great example); and finally leveraging the enterprise edge (like Amazon renting and selling unused server capacity via its AWS services).

Edge strategies are not new per se, but this book helps to formulate and structure the discussion in an understandable and comprehensive framework.

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