Archive for November, 2014

User Story Mapping by Jeff Patton

November 28th, 2014


User Story Mapping. For someone who is not familiar with agile software development, one might wonder what story book this is.

In software development and product management, a user story is one or more sentences in the everyday or business language of the end user or user of a system that captures what a user does or needs to do as part of his or her job function.

User Story can be loosely called User Requirement in the traditional way of software development.

“User Story Mapping” is thus “User Requirement Gathering” that everyone in software development will understand.

Agile software development is the newer method in software development. Introduced over a decade ago, it has now gained much popularity and most if not all software companies that build software uses this method to build products. Agile methodology enable products to be delivered in a rapid and iterative manner and matches what the user would need and be able to use in a gradually improved pace.

The author, Jeff Patton has over 15 years experience with a wide variety of products from on-line aircraft parts ordering to electronic medical records to help organizations improve the way they work.  Jeff has focused on Agile approaches since working on an early Extreme Programming team in 2000. In particular he specializes in integrating effective user experience design and product management practice with strong engineering practice.Jeff currently works as an independent consultant, agile process coach, product design process coach, and instructor.

In User Story Mapping, Jeff has forewords by Martin Fowler, Alan Cooper, Marty Cagan – all three who are reputable persons in the software world.  In the many chapters of this book, Jeff also gets into successful software companies such as ThoughtWorks and Atlassian to demonstrate how User Story Mapping is done.

This book is for Product Owners, Product Managers, Project Managers, and Agile or Lean methods practitioners.


  • 1 The Big Picture
  • 2 Plan to Build Less
  • 3 Plan to Learn Faster
  • 4 Plan to Finish on Time
  • 5 You Already Know How
  • 6 The Real Story About Stories
  • 7 Telling Better Stories
  • 8 It’s Not All on the Card
  • 9 The Card Is Just the Beginning
  • 10 Bake Stories Like Cake
  • 11 Rock Breaking
  • 12 Rock Breakers
  • 13 Start with Opportunities
  • 14 Using Discovery to Build Shared Understanding
  • 15 Using Discovery for Validated Learning
  • 16 Refine, Define, and Build
  • 17 Stories Are Actually Like Asteroids
  • 18 Learn from Everything You Build


From the beginning of the book, right until the last chapter, there is nothing else but User Story Mapping in a very frank, visual and easy to understand kind of story-telling.

User Story Mapping in summary is all about shared understanding of the requirement (or not) and about running agile development with many many Post-It notes. 🙂

Being agile, means it is important to  start building a MVP – Minimum Viable Product because the goal is prioritizing outcomes and not features, a term popularized by Eric Ries with The Lean Startup.

All along the chapters there are many useful pictorials to portray the concepts being highlighted especially in explaining the problems and their solutions by mapping user stories.

My personal favorites are the chapters about how to write good stories and to plan to finish on time. A great example is building the websites or web app for Olympics and the Elections. There are no delays to the date and the plan need to be executed fast with the least to be built and absolutely on time.

I also liked the chapters where it guides the readers to breaking up Epics or large user stories to the right sizes for business teams, users, and development teams.

Definitely a recommended book for anyone who have interests in building quality software to solve real world problems, developers especially!

Books, Software

Amazon Web Services is taking over the cloud computing world

November 23rd, 2014


When Amazon launched Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006, it made sense to provide computing services because there are always Amazon servers idling, until Thanksgiving or Black Friday comes along.
Little did people know that the AWS is now the leader in the Cloud Computing and I for one think that AWS will be at the top spot for few more years to come.
In the 2014 Cloud Infrastructure as a Service Magic Quadrant, Gartner placed Amazon Web Services in the “Leaders” quadrant and rated AWS as having the furthest completeness of vision and highest ability to execute.
Amazon is clearly the winner at the fore leaving the competition far away.


If the AWS used to be the hardware infrastructure in Cloud Computing, Amazon has made it clear that AWS is going to be the entire ecosystem of cloud computing – that includes software as well.
The long list of its partners and customers – including agencies that requires top-notch security clearly states that AWS is the leading choice for your data center, infrastructure, and now even software development.

AWS re:Invent 2014, its third year running annual conference, shows that AWS is not going to be only an infrastructure provider.

AWS re:Invent 2014 | Day 1 Keynote with Andy Jassy – Sr. Vice President, Amazon Web Services

AWS re:Invent 2014 | Day 2 Keynote with Werner Vogels – CTO,



Here’s a summary of the existing Amazon Web Services products:


>>Storage and Content Delivery

Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) provides a fully redundant data storage infrastructure for storing and retrieving any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the Web.

Amazon Glacier is an extremely low-cost storage service that provides secure and durable storage for data archiving and backup.

Amazon EBS (Elastic Block Store) provides block level storage volumes for use with Amazon EC2 instances. Amazon EBS volumes are off-instance storage that persists independently from the life of an instance.

AWS Storage Gateway is a service connecting an on-premises software appliance with cloud-based storage to provide seamless and secure integration between an organization’s on-premises IT environment and AWS’s storage infrastructure.

AWS Import/Export accelerates moving large amounts of data into and out of AWS using portable storage devices for transport.

Amazon CloudFront is a content delivery web service. It integrates with other Amazon Web Services to give developers and businesses an easy way to distribute content to end users with low latency, high data transfer speeds, and no commitments.


>>Compute Products

Amazon EC2 provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers and system administrators.

Auto Scaling allows you to automatically scale your Amazon EC2 capacity up or down according to conditions that you define.

>>Networking Products

Amazon VPC (Virtual Private Cloud) lets you provision a private, isolated section of the AWS Cloud where you can launch AWS resources in a virtual network that you define. With Amazon VPC, you can define a virtual network topology that closely resembles a traditional network that you might operate in your own datacenter.

Amazon Route 53 is a highly available and scalable Domain Name System (DNS) web service.

AWS Direct Connect

AWS Direct Connect is a network service that provides an alternative to using the Internet to utilize AWS cloud services.

Elastic Load Balancing automatically distributes incoming application traffic across multiple Amazon EC2 instances.


>>Database Products

Amazon RDS (Relational Database Service) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, or PostgreSQL database in the cloud. It provides cost-efficient and resizable capacity while managing time-consuming database administration tasks. Currently in preview, Amazon Aurora is a MySQL-compatible, relational database engine that combines the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.

DynamoDB is a highly scalable, fully managed NoSQL database service. Its seamless throughput and storage scaling, as well as automatic 3-way replication frees you from time-consuming database administration tasks and allows you to focus on your application and business.

Amazon Redshift is a fully managed, easily scalable petabyte-scale data warehouse service that works with your existing business intelligence tools. It delivers fast query performance by using columnar storage technology and by parallelizing queries across multiple nodes.

Amazon ElastiCache is a web service that makes it easy to deploy, operate, and scale an in-memory cache in the cloud.


>>Deployment and Management

AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) enables you to securely control access to AWS services and resources for your user. With AWS IAM, you can create and manage users in AWS, and grant access to AWS resources for users managed outside of AWS in your corporate directory.

Amazon CloudWatch is a web service that provides monitoring for AWS cloud resources, starting with Amazon EC2.

AWS Elastic Beanstalk is an easy-to-use service for deploying and scaling web applications and services developed with
popular programming languages such as Java, .NET, PHP, Node.js, Python and Ruby.

AWS CloudFormation is a service that gives developers and businesses an easy way to create a collection of related AWS resources and provision them in an orderly and predictable fashion.

AWS OpsWorks AWS OpsWorks is an application management service that makes it easy for DevOps users to model and manage the entire application from load balancers to databases.

The AWS CloudHSM service helps you meet corporate, contractual and regulatory compliance requirements for data security by using dedicated Hardware Security Module (HSM) appliances within the AWS cloud.

AWS CloudTrail is a web service that records AWS API calls for your account and delivers log files to you.


The new products announced in re:Invent 2014


>> Compute

Amazon EC2 Container Service is a highly scalable, high performance container management service that supports Docker containers and allows you to easily run distributed applications on a managed cluster of Amazon EC2 instances.

AWS Lambda is a compute service that runs your code in response to events and automatically manages the compute resources for you, making it easy to build applications that respond quickly to new information.


>> Database

Amazon RDS for Aurora

Amazon Aurora is a MySQL-compatible, relational database engine that combines the speed and availability of high-end commercial databases with the simplicity and cost-effectiveness of open source databases.


>>Deployment and Management

AWS CodeDeploy is a service that automates code deployments to Amazon EC2 instances

AWS CodeCommit is a secure, highly scalable, managed source control service that hosts private Git repositories.

AWS Data Pipeline is a service that helps you reliably process and move data between different AWS compute and storage services as well as on-premise data sources at specified intervals.

AWS Config provides you with a detailed inventory of your AWS resources and their current configuration, and continuously records configuration changes.

AWS Key Management Service (KMS) is a managed service that makes it easy for you to create and control the encryption keys used to encrypt your data.

Marvin’s Summary
The existing list of AWS Products and Services is already intimidating, especially for anyone who have some interests in getting to know more about AWS.
Topping that with more new features simply overwhelms an already overwhelmed list of products.
However, it is worth to note that the Free Tier given by AWS for a free trial of all the paid services at a lower specification is a very good deal to go dive right into AWS and take a short swim.
AWS has amazing products and features that it is definitely worth investing time in, considering that for any such services, there were never a pay-per-use pricing to go along.
Knowledge and experience in AWS is going to be pretty valuable, because AWS is taking over the cloud computing world.

Hardware, Internet, Software, Technology