🗂 Link: Pat Gelsinger and his calculated plan for VMware

“Three years ago, your biggest risk was cloud; six years ago, your biggest risk was Open Stack. If you look at it now, you can clearly say, ‘Hey, these next-generation applications, are you going to be the enterprise supplier of choice?’. So in that sense, I think we had a bit of defensive risk … our platform was at risk.

“At the same time, if you look at the dollars, the business value at play in the developer layer — a lot of money there. It’s a very rich, offensive opportunity as well — both defense and offense — and if we expand the value proposition for all of the VMware operators today, to be able to effectively reach the developers and the application in a much more effective way than they do today … if we can bring those worlds together, that’s a pretty huge benefit for our customers as well.”

Source: Pat Gelsinger and his calculated plan for VMware

What do developers need/want to hear?

  • How to use containers, even managing them.
  • Being more autonomous – developers love freedom.
  • Keeping up to date on skills (see containers).
  • Dealing with or hiding from stupid business culture in their org.
  • Getting permission to try new things.
  • Testing code, automation to avoid legacy traps.
  • More scalable architecture for distributed apps, new types of data stores for dealing with new types of apps. [Maybe Thought Works style radar thing]
  • Modernizing old core and frameworks that they’re stuck with.

What else do they like talking and learning about?

Link: The Cost of Developers

That’s a lot of money.

“on the other side of the spectrum, purely enterprise-focused companies like IBM or Oracle would be tempted to wring every possible bit of profit out of the company…. What Microsoft wants is much fuzzier: it wants to be developers’ friend, in large part because it has no other option.”
Original source: The Cost of Developers

Link: The Cost of Developers

That’s a lot of money.

“on the other side of the spectrum, purely enterprise-focused companies like IBM or Oracle would be tempted to wring every possible bit of profit out of the company…. What Microsoft wants is much fuzzier: it wants to be developers’ friend, in large part because it has no other option.”
Original source: The Cost of Developers

Link: Why Software Developers Should Take Ethics Into Consideration

“[Developers are ]not asking themselves, what are the ethical consequences of this? Who could get hurt by this? Who does this enable over another person? Who does this disadvantage or advantage? They’re not asking those questions. My goal is to have that part of the natural sequence of developing software.”
Original source: Why Software Developers Should Take Ethics Into Consideration

Link: Working remotely, 4 years in

Yup, this is the thing: “I think this is actually a really important point to understand about remote work – on the remote teams I’ve been on, the the whole team has adopted a working style where all important team communication happens over Slack / video calls / email. IMO if your team is mostly remote, you’re forced to adopt a remote-first working style.”
Original source: Working remotely, 4 years in

Link: Creative ways to encourage the integration of DevOps processes

‘Teams come into the dojo with a backlog of real work they are trying to deliver and are paired with DevOps coaches for six weeks. Some managers expect the teams to deliver these projects faster over the course over this period. Sometimes it happens, but Clanton explained it is really about building the skills that will allow them to deliver faster software and with better quality when they return to the office.’

Training by doing.
Original source: Creative ways to encourage the integration of DevOps processes

Keeping developer skills fresh

My co-worker Richard wrote up a laundry list of tactics to cultivate and maintain developer skills. It’s drawn from the tactics we’re seeing organizations put in place and a recent survey from the Cloud Foundry Foundation.

Internal events

While I used to scoff at internal brown bags and workshops, I’ve seen those be highly effective in organizations looking to buff up at their developer skills. It both transmits actually new information and shows developers that the company actually cares. Upping morale and skills is hard to beat.

Pairing

Also, it looks like the continual cross-training you get from pair programming is effective. Staff keeps up to date from the micro level of new keyboard short cuts to the big picture stuff like architectural patterns and domain knowledge. Plus, they learn and practice working together and trusting each other.

More survey findings

The developer survey that Richard kicks off with has some more interesting answers. Here’s some details from the survey:


– “By a nearly 2:1 margin, they are choosing training over hiring or outsourcing as the preferred method for addressing a shortage of skills in their own companies.”
– “We suspect that the companies further along in their cloud journey are doing more interesting things and are more risk tolerant; developers find those jobs more attractive. However, those companies that still primarily rely on legacy architectures, don’t push the envelope or are only very sluggishly making efforts toward digital transformation, struggle to hire and retain people that have the skills necessary.”
– “the majority of companies (62%) express confidence in the abilities of their developers to “keep current” with their IT knowledge and skills. At an individual level, however, only 47% of developers express confidence in their own ability to keep current.”
– “By a large percentage (60%), companies say they first adopt a technology—then upskill, train, or hire as necessary. This is preferred to selecting a new technology based on the skills already available in the company (40%).”
– “By and large, companies are addressing the shortage of skills by training or upskilling existing people rather than outsourcing (61% versus 39%) or hiring (62% versus 38%). They are making use of a variety of training methods from formal internal trainings, vendor-led trainings to informal trainings like ‘lunch-and-learns.'”
– It was done in 2016Q3, over 845 respondents in an online survey. “The survey divided respondents into four broad IT ‘roles’: Developer 30%, Operations 30%, Manager 20%, and Line of business leadership 20%.” And spread across geographies and industries.

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.