Blog post

Developer-driven cloud adoption?

By Lydia Leong | February 16, 2009 | 3 Comments


James Governor’s thoughtful blog post on finding the REST of cloud prompted me to think about developer-driven versus sysadmin-driven adoption of cloud. This is a fulcrum that’s separate from GUI vs. CLI vs. API tug-of-war, which in many ways is a sysadmin-driven debate.

The immediacy of cloud provisioning has instinctive appeal to developers who just want to get something up and running. Amazon’s choice to initially do API-based provisioning was a clear choice to favor developer thinking, and developers at vast numbers of start-ups rewarded them by adopting the platform. At Web 2.0 start-ups, the founders, who usually come out of some sort of dev background, get to hire the ops people and call the shots. And thus, direct appeal to developers has been very important to cloud success, up until this point.

But my observation from client interactions is that cloud adoption in established, larger organizations (my typical client is $100m+ in revenue) is, and will be, driven by Operations, and not by Development. The developers may be the business stakeholders, and they might be the engineers who first experiment with the cloud (in a “rogue” or ad-hoc way), but Operations has the budget and Operations is going to be managing the actual cloud deployment, and therefore Operations makes the decision about what cloud to go with in the end.

That assumes, of course, that the developers haven’t tied their code to a non-portable API. If the developers have, unbeknownst to the Ops folks, gone and tightly integrated their application with, say, Amazon S3 in a way that doesn’t readily allow portability between different cloud storage APIs, or built on top of Google App Engine, then Ops isn’t going to have much in the way of options.

Another way to think about this: Developer-driven adoption is bottom-up adoption, rather than top-down adoption. The early stages of cloud adoption have been bottom-up. But because of the economic climate, larger organizations are experiencing a radical acceleration of interest in cloud computing, and thus, the next stage of cloud infrastructure adoption is more likely to be driven top-down.

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  • Hey Lydia this is really great stuff – exactly the kind of dynamics we need to try and uncover to help our clients.

    Extending your arguments, it seems Ops staffs are likely to prefer instance-based clouds, like AWS, because they allow at least the potential to rehost/regrab/control.

    Fabric clouds, otoh, are potentally an operations staff’s worst nightmare.

  • Andy says:

    Great post. CloudBerry Explorer freeware is exactly an example of the tool the benefit from Amazon S3 open API. thanks!

  • Roger Sen says:

    Good insight!

    These apps. vs. Ops in the cloud war are an extension of the project vs. infrastructure wars.

    Today we can find two kind of IT philosophies in large organizations: the project oriented, where the apps/project guys lead and the Ops people manage the mess, and the Ops oriented, where the ops guys define the platform and anything out of it is not allowed.

    I don’t think the Cloud will radically change the situation.