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Cloud Businesses Java

Is Amazon's AWS Hiring 'Demolishing The Cult Of Youth'? (redmonk.com) 173

Tech analyst James Governor argues that Amazon's cloud business is "demolishing the cult of youth." It just announced it is hiring James Gosling, one of the original inventors of Java... Meanwhile James Hamilton continues to completely kick ass in compute, network, and data center design for AWS... He's in his 50s. Tim Bray, one of the inventors of XML, joined Amazon in 2014. He's another Sun alumni. He's 61 now. He still codes. When you sit down with one of the AWS engineering teams you're sitting down with grownups... Adrian Cockcroft joined AWS in October 2016. He graduated in 1982, not 2002. He is VP Cloud Architecture Strategy at AWS, a perfect role for someone that helped drive Netflix's transition from on-prem Java hairball to serious cloud leadership.

Great engineering is not maths -- it involves tradeoffs, wisdom and experience... The company puts such a premium on independent groups working fast and making their own decisions it requires a particular skillset, which generally involves a great deal of field experience. A related trend is hiring seasoned marketing talent from the likes of IBM. Some other older companies have older distinguished engineers because they grew up with the company. AWS is explicitly bringing that experience in. It's refreshing to the see a different perspective on value.

In a later post the analyst acknowledges engineering managers are generally older than their reports, but adds that "If AWS sees value in hiring engineering leadership from folks that are frankly a bit older than the norm in the industry, isn't that worth shining a light on?" In response to the article, XML inventor Tim Bray suggested a new acronym: GaaS. "Geezers as a service," while Amazon CTO Werner Vogels tweeted "There is no compression algorithm for experience."
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Is Amazon's AWS Hiring 'Demolishing The Cult Of Youth'?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not age discriminating is bad now?
    • Yep. Apparently not hiring the entitled kids is wrong.
    • Ambition and Vigor vs. Strategy and Experience. A large tech company really should have a good balance across experience levels for tech workers.

      Having an nearly all older workforce is
      1. Expensive
      2. Often closed to new ideas and methods.
      3. More effort to retrain.

      Having a nearly all young workforce
      1. A lot of rebuilding old tech that they think is new.
      2. A lot of trying to outdo each other
      3. Lacks long term vision and support.

      A proper balance. Is where the older people are invigorated by the newer envelopes

      • Tons of counter examples, so many that you can't even make a good stereotype out of it. Young kids who refuse to learn anything new, or who can't, outnumber those who can in my experience. They don't have the experience necessary to learn something new, they only know what they learned in class, if you're lucky enough to not get someone special who decided education was optional. The younger workers are demanding higher salaries too, especially if they came from an overfunded started. They all need train

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Not hearing the young workers being hired though. The Silicon Valley is largely devoid of under-40 US citizen workers. Large chunks of graduating classes from the nations top universities in STEM fields can't find jobs.

      • Something I've noticed is that many companies don't train from within their company. The company I work for, I rarely see any entry level positions in any area unless it's helpdesk. Most positions that are in other areas are tier 2 or tier 3 which are considered more "senior" type positions where I'm at. Just seems like a gap between the young and the experienced.
    • by hupa ( 4794815 )
      I didn't see anything in the article saying it was a bad thing...

      Some other older companies have older distinguished engineers because they grew up with the company. AWS is explicitly bringing that experience in. It’s refreshing to the see a different perspective on value.

  • by Glasswire ( 302197 ) <(glasswire) (at) (gmail.com)> on Sunday May 28, 2017 @12:35PM (#54501843) Homepage

    There's a debate about hiring JAMES GOSLING because he's too old? Seriously?

    • Notice that he doesn't work for Google.

      Yes, Google has hired some people over 40, but demographically speaking (number hired vs number available in the job seeking pool) they are heavily slanted toward the younger generation.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 28, 2017 @01:47PM (#54502175)

        Notice that he doesn't work for Google.

        Yes, Google has hired some people over 40, but demographically speaking (number hired vs number available in the job seeking pool) they are heavily slanted toward the younger generation.

        Over 40 here and I won't even submit my resume. Not because I don't think I can get hired, that's not even a consideration, but because I just don't give a fuck about working in the SV culture. Been there's done that; let some other poor bastards do that and participate in the agile drama and all night coding marathons--fuck that shit, I have better things to do with my time.

      • The over 40 people that worked for Google were on contract when I worked on a google project as a contractor. The youngest person, a woman in her 30's, was clearly overwhelmed by various things that typically happen to cutting edge tech projects. She was an employee and was let go at the end of the program. The boss I work for is in his 50's and experienced and dedicated. He would have done a way better job in her position. He is so good at his job a large part from his 30 years experience.
      • He left Google a year ago to join Liquid Robotics, and just last week, joined AWS. He's already been in Google. Both he & Eric Schmidt worked @ Sun, so he'd have had no problems getting a job in Google, which he actually did.
    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @12:49PM (#54501925) Journal
      Exactly. Hiring older superstars who are well established and widely recognized in their field is hardly breaking a lance for the fight against age discrimination or the "cult of youth". Let us know when they start hiring coders in their 40s or 50s who are not superstars but regular joes who are nevertheless competent, with up to date skills, and who come with a lot of experience.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        That time is now. If you have the skills, youll get in. Worked for me!

        • Well, my last gig was one where I got to combine project management, business analysis, architecture with coding and tinkering. And my current gig is shaping up to be the same, so it's all good. At my current client there are actually a ton of older and very knowledgable techies around, which is great but it's also the exception in my experience. A lot of employers (and people in general) look at you funny if you're over 40 and still a techie. They don't see experience, they see a loser, because if you
        • If by skills you mean being a 20-something Indian non-citizen, sure. I've interviewed with Amazon and Google three times each. It was clear each time that I never had a chance, that they were going out of their way to disqualify me.
    • says no. Gosling is the hood ornament. They still need lots of young squirrels run in their cage to make the car go.

    • There's a debate about hiring JAMES GOSLING because he's too old? Seriously?

      Was that the issue? Last I read, Gosling was starting up his own company - that story was here in /. [slashdot.org] A week ago, he joined AWS. But legends like him are not the people who either risk age discrimination, or can't have successful businesses of their own. That issue is germane to the vast majority of Baby Boomers & Gen X'ers who are still in tech today.

      I do think it's a welcome trend. That way, both age groups (Baby Boomers/Gen X'ers and Gen Y'ers/Millenials) have their own niches in the market

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @12:38PM (#54501865)
    Soon the only people you'll be allowed to hire without being acused of discrimination is anyone who is exactly 32.54 years old.
    • Think of an oared slave galley. The age of the guy pounding the drum to keep the tempo is irrelevant. It's still the young and strong who are chained to the oars.
    • It has been discrimination against young people since times long forgotten.

      Outside of tech hiring, the young are still on the short end of the opportunities. There was a brief period in the late 60s / early 70s where that changed for a bit - the WWII vets doting on their kids, I suspect. Seems that little anomaly has passed and we're back to using kids as grist for the mill again.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 )

      Your definition of young is so funny.

      Age discrimination starts around 40 in the top of the field and is in full strength by 50 even in small shops.

      The supreme court gutted protection against age discrimination in 2009.

      Everyone gets old. Only the geniuses and the lucky won't be discriminated against.

      And it's dumb. Because young people make the same mistakes, are much more likely to leave sooner (no roots, building their resume), have less loyalty than the current older people all did themselves only 15 to

      • Which results in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars for companies. Over and over.

        The solution is simple then. Start a company, hire a bunch of old folks, and become a billionaire.

        • My solution was to save hard and retire at 51.

          I never got any emotional value out of working. I realized that at 30 and I saw 45 - 50 year olds being discriminated against way back then (when they had stronger protections too) so I knew what to expect.

    • by doom ( 14564 )

      Soon the only people you'll be allowed to hire without being acused of discrimination is anyone who is exactly 32.54 years old.

      I would like to take this opportunity to thank our conservative friends for volunteering to wear flashing lights and a sign stating "I am a conservative idiot.". It makes it much easier to identify who is worth talking to.

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @12:42PM (#54501883)
    I get the SV mentality that old people aren't good fits. They don't want to work 90 hours a week for the hope of future stock which will more than likely be worthless. Older people will work hard and smarter, but not for peanuts and insane work weeks. If you are building a real company - older people have experience and value that come with having seen a slew of different scenarios.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      AWS is a real business with paying customers. Most social media startup are hobbies that dream of getting bought by facebook.

      Real businesses need real engineers.

      For your hobbies you want to hang out with your friends, not some people that constantly tell you your idea is full of shit and your code base is unscaleable and unmaintainable. That's too depressing even if it is true.

      • For your hobbies you want to hang out with your friends, not some people that constantly tell you your idea is full of shit and your code base is unscaleable and unmaintainable.

        Too often your friends won't provide feedback. If you're screwing up, they will sit back and watch the inevitable train wreck. If you ask them why they didn't say anything, they will claim that someone else should have told you.

        • Find better friends. People who have grown past middle school thinking.

        • Too often your friends won't provide feedback.

          You just need to understand what the feedback means.

          Feedback 1: That is a fantastic idea. You will make millions.

          Meaning: Your idea stinks.

          Feedback 2: That is a good idea. When will it be available? Can I buy one?

          Meaning: You idea is good, and with proper execution you will be successful.

    • Except that this isn't SV culture per se. It may be Google culture, but if you did a survey you'd find that the 90 hour job is rare outside of startups, and startups are only a small fraction of technical and engineering companies. Nobody who works for a living hangs out at cocktail parties exchanging idea about the next big thing. Media focuses on stereotypes because it fits the narrative.

    • Not all old people are equal. One guy in his 60's I worked with would talk and talk and talk and wouldn't take the hint I was busy working. He wasn't fast, but he was thorough, reliable, knew his job, and eagerly helped out where he could. I would rate him a good employee for the long run. However, his back and knees were always hurting. He barely complained, but it's hard to ask someone to do various work and watch them in pain. Another experienced developer in his 60's would take half a dozen pipe smoke
  • So they want good engineers who can make the damn think work, not noobs they can brainwash as they underpay them?

    Good for Amazon.

  • Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @12:58PM (#54501957)
    From TFA:

    Younger founders and employees are willing and able to work longer hours, and really grind it out. They have higher stamina, and generally don’t have families they want to spend time with. They can completely commit to the job at hand.

    That may be specifically true, but probably not universally.

    I'm 54 and can still crank out a productive 36 hour work day (yes, seriously) at crunch time, but that's me; I've always been able to stay up and be productive for long, long periods of time - showering and eating to get refreshed. But when it's over, I need 10 solid hours of sleep. It probably started when I was a college research assistant programming LISP and Prolog at 3am (as it was the only time I could get serious computing time on the VAX 785 (running 4.3 BSD) and/or our Xerox LISP system.

    In addition, I had a wife, who was a teacher, who understood being professional and committed to a task and didn't complain about any long work hours, as she often put in some serious hours to teach her Gifted students. (She died in 2006, so now I'm single: Remember Sue... [tumblr.com]) We had no kids -- we met in 1985 when I was 22 and she was 41 -- so we were able to dedicate our down time to each other.

    I imagine my stamina -- and 30+ years of experience, programming in many languages and administrating Windows, Linux and Unix on everything from PCs to Cray systems -- would still fair well against most youngsters now.

    I thing the main thing is that older people have a greater sense of perspective, perhaps not shared with their younger managers, that there are actually more important things in life than whatever is going on at work or even work itself. Case in point, I'd give everything to have Sue back.

    • Re:Maybe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by doom ( 14564 ) <doom@kzsu.stanford.edu> on Sunday May 28, 2017 @01:12PM (#54502021) Homepage Journal

      I'm 54 and can still crank out a productive 36 hour work day (yes, seriously) at crunch time, but that's me; I've always been able to stay up and be productive for long, long periods of time - showering and eating to get refreshed.

      Let me guess: you don't drink.

      A lot of what we've traditionally thought of as "the natural effects of age" were really the natural effects of lots of booze.

      • A lot of what we've traditionally thought of as "the natural effects of age" were really the natural effects of lots of booze.

        Nothing is more fun than coming into work on a Monday morning, finding out that your coworkers are being bailed out of jail for fighting at the strip joint down the street, and HR issuing a memo in the afternoon that getting busted at the strip joint is grounds for termination.

        • We had a strip joint that served 'free lunch'.

          Common discussion in the halls: 'Free lunch today?'...'Can't afford it.'

          A year later, one of the lesbians figured out what we were talking about.

        • Strange - I've never had this problem. Maybe it's because my coworkers are in my social stratum, and yours are in yours. Slashdot: news for lower middle class white trash. Oh wait - no it's not.
      • Nonsense. I'm 53, still outwork kids and love a drink. The trick is not to be an idiotic, drunken sot OR a self righteous idiotic thumper.

        • Nonsense. I'm 53, still outwork kids and love a drink. The trick is not to be an idiotic, drunken sot OR a self righteous idiotic thumper.

          I don't think that a drink or two is what the OP was referring to.

          Personally, I think that people being "younger" in their 40's and 50's has just as much to do with less wear-n-tear physically as it does to not smoking and not drinking to excess. A high amount of physical work and poor environmental standards ages people more quickly. In addition, having access to better foods when young makes a huge difference as well.

          • I'm not talking about 'a drink or two' either. But I'm also not talking about constantly drinking like a Baptist. (Who are sots if they drink at all, having convinced themselves that booze is that powerful.)

            People don't typically wear out, they rust. The right amount of exercise is an important part of taking care of yourself. Your liver is no different, take it out for a jog once in awhile.

      • I'm 54 and can still crank out a productive 36 hour work day (yes, seriously) at crunch time, but that's me; I've always been able to stay up and be productive for long, long periods of time - showering and eating to get refreshed.

        Let me guess: you don't drink.

        Not really. Maybe one or two drinks a week. I also don't smoke. For completeness, I also don't watch NASCAR, Football, Basketball, Hockey, etc... My wife liked all that - 'cause I paid attention to her and us instead.

        A lot of what we've traditionally thought of as "the natural effects of age" were really the natural effects of lots of booze.

        And smoking. And, perhaps, stress and lack of sleep.

      • I don't drink, still feel the age.

      • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

        You prudish Americans. Actually its the opposite.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new... [telegraph.co.uk]

        https://www.bustle.com/article... [bustle.com]

        http://www.webmd.com/food-reci... [webmd.com]

    • a productive 36 hour work day

      Maybe .... once.

      But that is only in response to a crisis. You cannot do that every day (apart from for the obvious reason) and neither can anybody else, irrespective of age. My personal experience has taught me that these long sessions are far less productive than they appear, when you take into account the number of errors introduced. And when you further consider the "recovery time" after a spurt like that, the actual productivity over a longer period is no better than someone working regular hours.

      Wh

      • a productive 36 hour work day

        Maybe .... once.

        But that is only in response to a crisis. You cannot do that every day (apart from for the obvious reason) and neither can anybody else, irrespective of age. My personal experience has taught me that these long sessions are far less productive than they appear, when you take into account the number of errors introduced. And when you further consider the "recovery time" after a spurt like that, the actual productivity over a longer period is no better than someone working regular hours.

        While it is occasionally necessary to do a long shift to meet a deadline - indicating that the manager who set the deadline made a mistake - or to resolve a crisis, they are not a badge of honour. At best they mean that someone messed up, at worst they are simply just a waste of everyone's time.

        All true. I've only really worked that long a few times a year, usually in response to (a) a problem discovered just prior to a release, (b) a hardware problem that involved working w a vendor to get something fixed on a production system. One of the type (a) problems required a 9-hour three-way conference call - that was fun (he said very sarcastically). I do have the physical benefit of not fading out as the hour get late, so that helps.

        In the long run, though, I think experience generally beats energ

        • Tesla talking shit about clear thinking...LOL.

          You realize that Tesla and Edison were both very accomplished _tinkerers_. Neither understood electric fields, Tesla demonstrated just how poorly he understood electric fields in his later years with his unworkable suggestions for wireless power.

          They both had to work their asses off as they were 'trial and error' inventors.

    • I'm 61 and consistently crank out code around 50-60 hours per week.

      Most weekdays, I work a regular workday, sleep for around four hours (bladder won't allow longer), then get up and work another 3 to 5 hours, then crash for another 2 hours before getting back up for work. Then I usually turn in another 4 hours or sometime over the weekend.

      Not to be self-aggrandizing; but I have about a 95% "works first time" rate, in case you think I just stumble around for 60 hours a week. And I'm the guy that tends to get

    • 36 work day? Mental issue red flag. I was first believing you meant 16 hour work day, which is possible. My opinion is that people who continually work long hours outside of specific deadlines are incompetent and over their head for their job.
      • 36 work day? Mental issue red flag. I was first believing you meant 16 hour work day, which is possible. My opinion is that people who continually work long hours outside of specific deadlines are incompetent and over their head for their job.

        Nope. I meant that I have, a few times, worked (productively) for 36 hours straight. There have been a few 30 hour and many 24 hour stints over my 30+ years of school and professional experience. Though, I guess that's all chump hours for a medical student/intern/resident - which I not sure is a good thing.

    • I'm 54 and can still crank out a productive 36 hour work day (yes, seriously) at crunch time, but that's me;

      Dr. Steven Strange??

      It'd take me good part of a week to do that...

  • You need to hire older workers when the younger workers are too busy re-inventing the wheel without the experience to know how to build a better wheel.
  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @01:10PM (#54502007)
    Sure the "kiddies" are good for pulling all-nighters. But the "grownups" use their experience to avoid having to.

    The biggest problem with IT - not just the tiny part that involves coding - is that it values quantity over quality. "Move fast and break things" being the prime example of this dumb idea. So while the fresh, new, intake of IT people work with gusto, many of them spend a large amount of time reinventing the mistakes of the past.

    However, when your management team rewards "presentee-ism" and "heroic" efforts, rather than dull, predictable, progress: what should you expect?

    Maybe this is the start of the IT industry getting just a little maturity. If it keeps it up, it might actually get to be a profession, one day.

    • Outside of Silicon Valley, IT is already a profession. Houston, for example, is not known for high tech. But plenty of businesses of all types do need IT staff. They aren't looking for insane hours or "heroic" efforts. Instead, they are looking for stable people who get things done. I'm 50, and so far, I haven't felt this bias against older programmers.

    • by rastos1 ( 601318 )

      However, when your management team rewards "presentee-ism" and "heroic" efforts, rather than dull, predictable, progress: what should you expect?

      Dunno. Perhaps that the grownups adapt to the rules of the game - no matter how silly they are - instead of waiting that the PHBs wise up?

      Note: I do not advocate that. I'm just providing a possible answer to your question.

  • My Experience (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tylersoze ( 789256 ) on Sunday May 28, 2017 @01:11PM (#54502015)

    I'm a contract programmer and usually work with a loose collection of older-ish programmers like myself (mid-40's) on various contract projects, all remotely. We all get along well, we're professional, no-nonsense, 40 hour work week kind of guys that just get the job done. Lately during a little slow work spell, I took some work with one of these young hipster-ish development firms. The code they were writing was just total garbage, I couldn't wait to be done with the contract. Lots of that off putting company enthusiasm, dude it's just a job not a lifestyle. I came into their office a couple of times, total hipster open plan style, I don't see how they get any work on done.

    • They don't, that's why they contracted you :)
    • Mostly they don't get work done. They sit around in their company-branded t-shirts and company-branded hoodies, drinking company-supplied beer as long as the VC money lasts, and then it's on to the next startup that's also doomed because it's run like a frat house by people who have never held down a real job .
  • 63, just started a Mac project in Swift.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a 49 year old chief architect of a pretty prominent $10bn+ company. Age has both pros and cons, and I hope that my value equation carries on until i'm 70. Who knows... I think a key part of my view is colored by the fact I'm an engineer at heart and hope to be until I die. I'm currently at home experimenting with some newer Go web frameworks to find a good match for the tool I want to build.

    Pros of age:

    Experience springs straight to mind. I see the code written by younger engineers and I'm amazed in par

  • "Great engineering is not maths".

    Great engineering is not only maths.

    Most engineering usually involves a metric shit-ton of maths.

    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

      Unless you're doing some sort of signal processing, software engineering usually requires no maths at all (unless you count logic as maths).

      • The question is: is software engineering really an engineering discipline...? I say no.

        That said, and assuming it is engineering (noooooo, simply calling yourself an engineer doesn't make you one!!!), doesn't signal processing use Fourier series, Fourier transforms, etc? I'd call that pretty heavy maths.

        Isn't programming a mix of logic and maths?

        I'm going to guess that most programming degrees have at least a year of maths.

        • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

          >> "doesn't signal processing use.."

          Yes, that's why i wrote "Unless you're doing signal processing".

          That said, Signal Processing is a quite small field of all software development, and even then, its most usually done on DSPs that also come with libraries containing everything you need such as FFTs etc, so you rarely if ever actually code them yourself any more.

        • by JustNiz ( 692889 )

          >> The question is: is software engineering really an engineering discipline...? I say no.

          They you're clearly one of the many people that incorrectly think that being a good Software Engineer just means being good at "coding".

          >> Isn't programming a mix of logic and maths?
          yes, but honestly most programming jobs (at least that I've had in my 35 years as a Software Engineer) only require very basic maths. Even those jobs including signal processing.

          >> I'm going to guess that most programming

          • "They you're clearly one of the many people that incorrectly think that being a good Software Engineer just means being good at "coding"."

            Don't make dumb assumptions. No, I know what a software engineer does. They aren't engineers because they don't design physical objects. That's my differentiation - and it's the obvious one. I wouldn't let you touch the designs of anything that a structural, hydraulic, mechanical, electrical, electronic, biomedical, etc. engineer has made - because you're not an engineer.

  • ...about 2 years ago, 2x face to face. It was challenging. But man did I feel out of place and I was 35 at the time. I would say 7/10 people I interviewed with we're mid 20s males. No female interviewers. I got a distinct "out of place" feeling more than a few times. I felt like I had a rapport with my interviewers but that they were going through the motions, like they had made up their minds in the first few mins. "Hey cool man but it just isn't going to happen."
  • Does anyone know if AWS practices the Agile Scum micromanagement methodology? I doubt it, since they seem competent and their software actually works right. But it would be nice to know for sure. And if not Agile Scum, what development methodology do they use?
  • Bezos is getting older.

  • The Cult of Youth sounds 'idealogically driven' with a 'strong religious component'.

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