Eventually, to do a developer strategy your execs have to take a leap of faith

I've talking with an old collegue about pitching a developer-based strategy recently. They're tryin to convince their management chain to pay attention to developers to move their infrastructure sales. There's a huge amount of "proof" an arguments you can make to do this, but my experience in these kinds of projects had taught me that, eventually, the executive in charge just has to take a leap of faith. There's no perfect slide that proves developers matter. As with all great strategies, there's a stack of work, but the final call has to be pure judgement, a leap of faith.

"Why are they using Amazon instead of our multi-billion dollar suite?"

You know the story. Many of the folks in the IT vendor world have had a great, multi-decade run in selling infrastructure (hardware and software). All the sudden (well, starting about ten years ago), this cloud stuff comes along, and then things look weird. Why aren't they just using our products? To cap it off, you have Apple in mobile just screwing the crap out of the analagous incumbants there.

But, in cloud, if you're not the leaders, you're obsssed with appealing to developers and operators. You know you can have a "go up the elevator" sale (sell to executives who mandate the use of technology), but you also see "down the elevator" people helping or hendering here. People complain about that SOAP interface, for some reason they like Docker before it's even GA'ed, and they keep using these free tools instead of buying yours.

It's not always the case that appealing to the "coal-facers" (developers and operators) is helpful, but chances are high that if you're in the infrastructure part of the IT vendor world, you should think about it.

So, you have The Big Meeting. You lay out some charts, probably reference RedMonk here and there. And then the executive(s) still isn't convinced. "Eh," as one systems management vendor exec said to me most recently, "everyone knows developers don't pay for anything." And then, that's the end.

There is no smoking gun

If you can't use Microsoft, IBM, Apple, and open source itself (developers like it not just because it's free, but because they actually like the tools!) as historic proof, you're sort of lost. Perhaps someone has worked our a good, management consultant strategy-toned "lessons learned" from those companies, but I've never seen it. And belive me, I've spent months looking when I was at Dell working on strategy. Stephen O'Grady's The New Kingmakers is great and has all the material, but it's not in that much needed management consulting tone/style - maybe his upcoming book on Oracle will add to it.

Of course, if Microsoft and Apple don't work out, don't even think of deploying all the whacky consumer-space folks out like Twitter and Facebook, or something as detailed as Hudson/Jenkins or Oracle DB/MySQL/MariaDB.

I think SolarWinds might be an interesting example, and if Dell can figure out applying that model to their Software Group, it'd make a good case study. Both of these are not "developer" stories, but "operator" ones; same structural strategy.

Eventually, they just have to "get it"

All of this has lead me to believe that, eventually, the executives have to just take a leap of faith and "get it." There's only so much work you can do - slides and meetings - before you're wasting your time if that epiphany doesn't happen.

Enterprise Golf, or, you get what you pay for, Software Defined Talk #27

Summary

Do you really need to play golf to make enterprise software sales? We explore that and other topics like FoundationDB shutting off it's GitHub taps, GigaOm suddently shutting down, and tipcs on how to become a software company.

With Brandon Whichard, Matt Ray, and Coté.

SPONSOR: Pivotal has is releasing a new version of Pivotal Cloud Foundry and you can now run your platform in AWS. Also, check out why we like to say "platform" instead of "PaaS." See details at http://cote.io/pivotal

SPONSOR: ChefCon, from Matt: Come check out ChefConf! March 31st to April 2nd. DevOps, configuration management, and the little dog. Get a nice discount with when you register with the code BETTERTOGETHER.

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Show notes

BONUS LINKS! Not covered in show

We collect up links to talk about during the week but rarely get to all of them. Here's the ones we neglected.

Recommendations

Beyond PaaS, Pivotal Conversations #001

I've finally started up podcasting at Pivotal - it took me long enough! The first episode of my sub-series, Pivotal Conversations, is up. It's me and Andrew Shafer talking about "PaaS" vs. "cloud platform."

There's a full on transcript, use the player above to hear it or download it directly, and check out the full-show notes over on the Pivotal blog.

And, of course: you should subscribe to the podcast feed!

More on GigaOm's demise from the former head of the analyst side of the house

Commentary on GigaOm shutting own from the analyst/research perspective:

We thought, what if we could provide a platform for some of these independents to reach a wider audience through a research service from Gigaom? We believed that if we could pay these independents to write reports on a freelance basis, they would get the exposure of being part of a ‘virtual analyst network’ at Gigaom and we would get to tap into their expertise without having to pay the high salaries that often come with such knowledge and backgrounds. Win-win.

Including pricing, an aspect of the analyst business that I think will is key, esp. for new ventures there

We made a decision to launch at what seemed to many a ridiculously low price of $79 per year. But because we were doing something that we believe had largely never been done before, we were trying to gain significant conversion of our readership — probably around 2–3 million monthly uniques at the time — to the research product. We thought if we could make the price so low, it would enable the ‘true fans’ of Gigaom to subscribe and support while providing immense value in the form of research.

Also, this on revenue estimates:

Over time, increasing the sales and marketing mix towards research did make sense. According to an interview made by Paul, he said that research made up 60% of the company’s revenue. In the same article, revenue were estimated to be $15 million, so that translates to about a $9 million research business.

Anyhow, if you like the inside baseball of analyzing the analysts, this one's got some.