Adriaan Pelzer

Adriaan, you are Chief Architect at Clause. What attracted you to Clause?

From a very young age, I’ve been attracted to Innovation in technology. I’ve adorned my bedroom walls with schematics of early hydrogen engines, flying car prototypes (yes, they’re nothing new!), and the like. Growing up, I’ve found, however, that large Innovations, the types ten-year-old me would cut out and paste on his wall, is really rare, and subsequently, wherever I worked, involved myself in more subtle forms of Innovation, often bringing to companies something new to them, that is already well understood elsewhere.

Clause, however, falls in the “big Innovation” category. The proposition becomes obvious to most people when explained with a few use cases, and it has potential to trigger radical, history-defining cross-Industry change. I count myself very lucky to be a part of this!

I’m curious about your previous role in publishing. Do you see any potential synergies with Clause?

One hard thing we learn in publishing is dealing with consumption scale. As a result of this particular synergy, we will have far fewer growing pains when the hockey-stick moment comes.

Dealing with scale is not only about making sure throughput can be maintained. It is about what happens to your teams and infrastructure when everyone is entirely focused on fighting fires for months on end. Most infrastructure designs diverge under these conditions, and the scaling exercise becomes a tug-of-war of Entropy. A robust infrastructure approach maintains integrity during prolonged periods of chaos.

Likewise, teams that were designed and built around peace-time process, which invariably involves lots of unnecessary daily box-ticking and hoop-jumping (unfortunately, this is what Agile has become in many organisations), completely fail in war-time conditions. Self-managed, zero-overhead teams, structured around principles rather than process (remember the original agile manifesto?), survive, and often thrive, in these conditions.

You are an expert in Amazon Web Services. Why do you think AWS has become such a widely used Cloud platform? How are AWS competitors fairing and how do you think the market will change in the coming years?

Infrastructure as a service has become the domain of the largest players. Having seen a bit of the inside workings of Amazon, I think they are the most nimble of all the giants they compete against. They are surprisingly sensitive to their massive client network, and the feedback loop from how clients are using their services to alterations they make to those services are extremely tight, sometimes measured in weeks! I think they are best equipped to react to unexpected changes, which is the determining factor in this market today.

Something to keep an eye on, however, is Kubernetes. Google, by defining and open-sourcing Kubernetes, has demonstrated an approach which, if taken to its furthest, can disrupt the IaaS market. That is, to narrow the complexity of the cloud by defining everything in terms of containers, then think of the cloud as a compiler target — a virtual machine of sorts, and focus all thought on orchestration languages that “compile” to the cloud as a target. This is an area where Amazon is lacking, and Google is leading. (Amazon has already acknowledged this by creating EKS, a Kubernetes-based service, as an alternative to its own ECS service)

I do not think Amazon has the DNA to compete with Google at this level today, but it remains to be seen if they can, through their reactive nature, escape their own local maximum.

What do you like to do when you aren’t programming?

I do like to get out of the city often — I’m quite a keen but casual hiker, the hiking-with-family type.

I also have a pilot license and a share in a small plane (Piper Arrow) parked at North Weald — a short cycle from Epping, the last stop on the Central line. This really helps getting to countryside hiking spots quickly, and also satisfies my love for engines and technology.

There are few modes of transport (except for instance the steam locomotive!), where you’re as exposed to the inner workings of an engine as in the cockpit of a small plane.