When I attended the DevOpsDays event in Mountain View (well, Santa Clara really) a couple of months ago I started writing a blog post on my impressions. I was a bit distracted at the time though after having had a minor twitter spat with a well known DevOps proponent on the first morning. I won't go into any detail here other than to say that it was sparked after I made a comment that I felt "DevOps" vendors need to be doing more to ease the transition for large Enterprises.
The fact is that, and I've seen this first hand again and again while selling to the Enterprise here at UpGuard, from a tooling perspective "implementing" DevOps is a daunting proposition for more traditional businesses. Now I know full well that a DevOps strategy for any business that is purely tool driven is misguided. Tools are an important part of the puzzle though so they merit analysis.
There is a risk that the gap between their capabilities and the requirements to use these tools is becoming too wide, that they are being left behind.
So what characteristics do the tools most commonly associated with the DevOps movement share? Open source, powerful, steep learning curves. They've been grown and developed by the bleeding edge, for the bleeding edge. Don't get me wrong. This is a good thing for the movement, and indeed IT in general in the longer term. What does it mean for the Enterprise though? There is a risk that the gap between their capabilities and the requirements to use these tools is becoming too wide, that they are being left behind.
Cutting edge, powerful tools combine well with the notion of DevOps professionals as heroes, a theme pushed early on in the DevOps Days keynote. It plays well in Silicon Valley too. Hearing how Facebook use Chef, or Netflix manage their infrastructure, is fascinating. How relevant is it though to Enterprises who are not only in a different ballpark, but which exist in a different galaxy altogether?
Enterprises aren't averse to having IT heroes on deck. They can't rely on them though. If their infrastructure is managed using scripts no one else can understand or platforms only their best and brightest know how to use it is a problem.
IT heroes can save the day but they have tactical, not strategic, value.
What they need is collaboration. Consistency. They need tools with low barriers to entry. They can't afford cutting edge implementations that represent risk as much as they do progress. IT heroes can save the day but they have tactical, not strategic, value.
I know I'm not alone in this opinion. Donnie Berkholz commented far more eloquently than I have here in this post on his observations from inside and outside the Silicon Valley bubble. Don't get me wrong, I want the best of breed tools and the tech elite to continue to blaze a trail, to continue to push the limits of what is possible. Perhaps using medicine as an analogy would better illustrate my point though. It's one thing to develop a new technique for saving lives that is only available to the privileged few due to factors such as complexity, cost and location. You can feel clever and proud for inventing it but finding a way to make that same technique available to everyone is the only way to change the world.