Forget Rivalries, Pay Attention to the Developers
We can make the educated guess that open source developers are unfamiliar and not really interested in the “one stack fits all” approach that the enterprise giants still battle to control.
I was reminded of this in a post by Michael Cote, recapping his time last week at the Microsoft Management Summit. Microsoft sometimes seems obsessed with VMware. Cote argues that both companies have a different foe:
I’d say the real enemy of both of these companies is the vast, un-quantifiable mass of open source developers out there who don’t want allegiance to any vendor – not to mention the public cloud IaaS and PaaS options out there (how exactly “cloud development” plays out with the ages-old lockin/closed source/single vendor stack architectural decisions is incredibly murky at this point). Clearly, with moves like buying WaveMaker, you can see some pitched VMW v. MSFT battles involving Lightswitch and other post-VB RAD development. As I told one Microsoft executive, if VMWare buys into an entirely different, non-Java ecosystem (e.g., Engineyard for Ruby, Zend for PHP, etc.), then it’d be time to doff the foil-hats for the real helmets.
The citizen developer is not an enterprise creation. The platform providers understand this and are catering to this developer community in a wholly different manner than the large enterprise vendors. Granted, there is a greater push on the part of the enterprise to reach out to developers. Still, developers are autonomous and prefer the independent nature and the culture that comes with being part of a community that controls how they program.
This past week, a new startup called DotCloud, raised $10 million. Yahoo Co-Founder Jerry Yang participated in the funding. DotCloud is a platform that will compete against Windows Azure, Google App Engine and EngineYard.
In an interview this week, Solomon Hykes, Co-Founder and CEO of DotCloud talked about the issues that developers face. Often, developers are encumbered by systems administration issues such as monitoring, scaling, backups, redundancy and upgrade management. They are forced to choose one programming language. On DotCloud, the system adminstration work can be offloaded. The developers can choose to use Ruby for its Web-front end and Java on the back-end. That’s different than platforms such as Heroku, which is a Ruby-based and Google App Engine, which caters to people who are trained in Python.
Hykes says the target is the enterprise. And that shows something larger than just DotCloud. The demand in this world will be for platforms that gives developers the power to customize.
That’s the sea change. Its evidence is in the developer community and the DevOps movement. It’s what makes the latest round of innovation so compelling. It’s not the cloud. It’s the people who are innovating and developing on their own terms, with any stack they decide to choose.