It started with Dev-ended vendors shifting right into Ops and Ops-ended vendors shifting leftward towards Dev — want dashboards of the “DORA four” metrics, anyone? — but now it’s a free-for-all. Recent acquisitions highlight the awareness in the market that it’s the overall toolchain, the system level of the thing, that matters to end users and executives (that is, customers).
Anyone watching the ARA, ARO, CICD, PaaS, Serverless, microservices, orchestrator, etc., markets is aware there is a coming collision which will disrupt the markets all the way down to their fundamental definitions. Everything is headed to enable businesses to deliver application functionality to their customers faster and more reliably. And it is doing that from all directions.
As William Gibson so famously observed, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet. And these markets are all about how to get application functions into customer hands faster and more consistently, present and future. Well, from the customer point of view, that’s fine. Customers don’t care if your app was delivered via ARO, on-prem, cloud, serverless, … or via a copious sprinkle of magic faery dust. It doesn’t matter.
And therein lies the issue for understanding the markets at work here. All of these technologies and technological approaches place product applications at the same business exit door: where the customer is using them. But customers don’t care about stacks, platforms, architectures, or APIs. They care about doing what they want to do, getting what they want done, and learning what they want to learn. As Deming put it (in his usual odd English style): “the customer is a rapid learner.” They want what they want when they want it.
We forget that when we focus on the technologies of delivering applications — the how of making the feature or application. That’s not the point. The point is the delivered application in production, in use by a paying (or otherwise business-engaged) customer — the what the feature or application does for someone.
And there’s another problem. It’s not just release technologies that are altering the reality of the experience of what delivery means, the participants in capturing and displaying the release info are merging as well. For example, traditional ticketing systems are starting to becomes repositories of the very processes they document for the business’ application development (i.e., open a ticket to document a new feature, create feature and release, close ticket) by becoming systems of record for the entire process. This organically creates an outer (organizational) support loop.
Things will be getting intensely disrupted and yet intimately conjoined! Grab some popcorn and pull up a seat.