Where I work, I used to spend most of my time with system administrators and IT Managers. It was a comfortable life where we could indulge in talk of Gigabits and Megabytes, Opterons and Sandy Bridges… Our customers wanted to talk to us about device specifications and getting deep on how the hardware met their business requirements.
Then cloud happened, and it all changed. Not overnight, but gradually our conversations about hardware architectures got slightly more rare and we started to have this new conversation. A talk about APIs and SDKs. Fortunately, my employer is pretty good at that as well, so we clicked into gear and started to have these new conversations. I skilled up and became useful to these clients again.
What this story highlights though, is the mind shift that is happening behind the scenes in the cloud revolution. The prominence of the developer as a decision maker, strategist and consultant all in one. The developer is the edge of the sword in a company, they are the first to put a marker down in new ground and they started to see a world of infrastructure that was accessible and interesting to them, so they picked up their credit card and they used it.
Fast forward 6 months and that same developer is about to perform a production release of their new application. No RFP happened, there wasn’t an infrastructure consultation or steering group and the incumbent provider of hosting (internal or external) knows nothing about it. The result? Success! The application performs at cost and performance points never seen before and they get changes to market in half the time. Knowingly or not, that developer has just changed his or her company’s strategy.
Fast forward another 6 months and the 300-page RFP for Cloud Services hits most sales desks, its not come from the developer, its come from the IT team, the team who only last month were still talking about Gigabits and Megabytes. They’ve been told that they need to get a cloud offering so the developers can use the company’s own service and not these uncontrollable public cloud beasts. Millions are spent, most are wasted, the developer keeps doing what they did before…
The world changed, no shots were fired but the ramifications will be felt for another 5 years.
If you are a developer, remember Uncle Ben (from spiderman, not the rice guy) – “With great power, comes great responsibility.” You have the power to change the direction of your company, when you do it make sure you’re setting yourself and your employers up for long term success.
If you are an ops guy, remember Nietzsche – “The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” In other words, this stuff is going to happen, it can happen with you, or it can happen without you. But you’ll be better off if your talents are part of the solution.