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.