Who run IT-town? Ops or Dev?

At container-oriented conferences, whenever a vendor or an open source contributor demonstrates the ease with which developers deploy containers to production, usually there are cheers. But in large enterprises, especially those that maintain strict compliance guidelines, it’s IT that makes the decisions about what gets moved from development to production, and how it is done.

This is what you might call the anti-RedMonk stance. In reality, nothing is as cut and dry as developers XOR operators being king. I’ve been in many strategy discussions over the past 5 years where the people involved would love for just one of them to be rulers of the roost. It’s make setting strategy so much easier than catering to both.

In my experience, it’s more like this: developers have a tremendous amount of influence and devilish-steering over long-term IT department purchases, while IT people control the gates and money.

  • Developers can also just subvert IT and totally ignore them. You get speed and flexiblity, but the trade-off is inefficiencies in the long-term: everyone is doing something slightly different so there’s no economies of scale with respect to knowledge, culture, or costs. (There’s a loop-hole where you all decide, for example, to run on AWS and “bottoms-up” decide to start collaborating and “work together” and all that – I’m not sure that pans out in donkey-land without a lot of centralized change management, though see below on DevOps.)
  • Operators can set orginization wide standards but have to “force” developers to follow their dictates. So, if you want orginization-wide standardization and “someone else” to pay the bill and help run it, you have to go through IT. Here, you have ultimate control and “governance”, but you sacrifice flexiblity and speed. (There’s a loop-hole here where IT establishes a centralized “cloud platform” [to use my work’s parlance] and lets the developers do whatever they want in the confines/contract on that box/platform.)

Of course, many of us have been trying to reuinite this “house divided” for several years, cf. DevOps. Hopefully that’ll pan out because what we really need are both those functions working together to not build boxes or subvert corporate best practices, but to focus on building good products and IT services. Good luck!

Coté Memo #078: Spiceworld 2015, Spiceworks Momentum, Enterprise Use, and DevOps

Tech & Work World

I was at Spiceworld, briefly, last week. This is Spiceworks’ big user, annual conference in Austin; they have one in London as well. I’ve followed Spiceworks for many years (from RedMonk to 451 Research) and have always liked their IT management approach: their business model is to be the Facebook of IT by giving away the systems management software for free and then selling access to the users to advertisers, vendors, and others. They also have a data practice which has some interesting, deep pools of data.

Last week they announced several new services and features, and also made some exiting ones free. They have a hosted (cloud!) offering that I’d missed seeing; that’s one of the things they made free (down from $10/month). As ever, I think their ambition is to monitor and manage as much IT as their user base wants. They don’t always provide the deepest functionality (saving that for their “real” customers who can sell more sophisticated tools into the user base), but they balance the “you get what you pay for” product management track well as their user momentum shows:

Spiceworks momentum, as of 2015//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

The numbers from there are not entirely consistent as they’re a mix of “users,” “monthly unique page views,” and whatever Spiceworks told me in briefings. That is, the thing counted has likely changed over time. I feel like getting a million “users” over a year is high (from 5m to 6m), but, whatever: just check out the general shape of the thing and you realize there’s something going on there.

Some other momentum figures:

  • One good, recent figure is “2,000 new members a day.”
  • Another one from Sep, 2014: Spiceworks being used by 1.8m organizations.
  • Spiceworks currently has “over 400” employees, up from 225 in Nov 2013.

One theme this year was the expansion, up-market into “enterprise.” If I recall, Spiceworks considers “enterprise” to be 500+ employees, and the rest is “SMB.” For them, that’s fair, but be warned if you think of enterprise as something more like 10,000+ employees.

Over time, the share between “small” and enterprise has been growing:

  • 2009: 13% enterprise, 87% small (from my notes)
  • 201?: 20% enterprise, 80% small (“previous to 2015”)
  • 2015: 40% enterprise, 60% small (from SpiceWorld 2015)

This year, they reported 71% penetration into F500 accounts.

The phrase “DevOps” was flashed up on the screen a few times and mentioned in meetings. In general, I see “DevOps” as only being applicable to organizations who are working on and deploying custom written software, their own software. (Sure, you could adopt the same principals for packaged software, SaaS, etc….but would you?). As it expands more, Spiceworks could concern itself with managing custom written software – somehow – which would be interesting and consistent with their general strategy of grabbing as much IT department land as possible.

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