DevOps Needs a Tsunami To Jump The Chasm

All start up business endeavors must go through the phase of crossing the chasm.  Most of those business endeavors usually fall prey to the chasm. The chasm is this black hole that everyone claims to understand but no one truly does. We have all seen businesses cross the chasm or fail to cross the chasm and fall into the black hole. But no one seems to understand why and how that crossing happens. The bestselling book by Geoffrey A. Moore titled “Crossing the Chasm,” is all about the heart and soul required to get early stage technology across the chasm, from early adopters to mainstream customers.

There is a big difference between people who are enthusiastic to try leading edge technologies and the rest of the inhabitants, who tend to be much more conservative. The reasons that people spend time trying to figure out how to cross or jump, if you will, the chasm is because that black hole is what stands between them and making their fortune. The early adopters are just a small sample of the market and there is no money in building a business or technology around them. To make real money, you need to cross over into the mainstream.

In Geoff’s model, the innovators are all about technology.  You know those people, when a new iphone is released, they spend days standing on line to get latest and greatest new technology.  The early adopters are the visionaries that are always on the bleeding edge. The mainstream are the pragmatists, the people who practice risk avoidance. These pragmatists are the key to jumping the black hole, they move the needle.

DevOps first order of business was getting on the curve and to that end DevOps has evangelists. But, understand that what worked in converting these early adopters probably won’t work for the pragmatists. These DevOps evangelists and visionaries want DevOps power tools, as opposed to the pragmatists who simply want to push the button and say “that was easy”.

By all appearances DevOps has been accepted by the early adoption set. Just how does DevOps cross the chasm? Jumping the black hole after all can be quite a daunting task. To do so DevOps has to create what I refer to as the tsunami effect.

The Tsunami effect is where DevOps gains acceptance in multiple industries or markets in what seems like a gold rush, it’s here that fortunes are made. More accurately, it’s where cult communities transform overnight into mainstream communities.  Many technologies simply create a single tornado which remains in a silo forever never gaining enough momentum to really emerge. Another common path what I call an earthquake, there is a lot of hype but it tends to fizzle out quickly, if not tended to properly. Right now DevOps has all the appearances of an earthquake, Devops evangelists have created a lot of buzz, but acceptance beyond a set of power tools is still a huge question.

Considering DevOps is in the earthquake phase, as opposed to the tornado phase, DevOps cannot be successful converting one group at a time. The strategy in the tornado phase is convert industries and markets one at a time, via tornados forming within industries or markets. The tactical execution is to get smaller industries or markets committed and therefore the larger industries or markets will then embrace the movement. That is simply crossing the chasm. DevOps has too many cultural implications to convert believers over a long period of time; DevOps requires reorganization, not a subtle shift.

Since I consider DevOps to be in the earthquake phase, crossing the chasm is not an option. DevOps must jump the chasm in a surge of overwhelming momentum, hence creating a tsunami. DevOps has created a very closely knit culture, DevOps needs to push hard to create a tsunami and flood the pragmatic population. But, be advised, DevOps has to be all but universally accepted, there is no almost in bringing together Dev and Ops. But if DevOps wins, it wins big, DevOps will go from being a niche culture to a truly mainstream practice.

So what’s the strategy to create a tsunami? And more importantly, how do you move beyond the earthquake phase? Here’s how I see it according to Geoff, with my DevOps spin: First, DevOps must clearly establish that the mission-critical software development process is broken and is causing management enough pain that it would gamble on unproven methodology that is populated with a bunch of prima donnas. I am not convinced the DevOps cult has clearly established this as fact. Is the development and operations process broken or have just new power tools been created to improve speed and accuracy? Second, DevOps needs to present the total solution, not just tools. Overwhelm the community; each new DevOps tool should leverage the success and technology of the last hence creating a methodology. Even more importantly, because the DevOps tools are closely related, credibility can cross industries and markets and create the momentum required for a tsunami.  Once Devops has reached critical mass by providing the total solution in a few industries or markets simultaneously the tsunami is created and DevOps has jumped the chasm.

The tsunami will emerge suddenly with everyone seeming to adopt DevOps all at once.  This will result in explosive growth and will pull, willingly or unwillingly, everyone into its path. It’s driven and sustained by the pragmatists.  Here, everybody has to get the latest thing all at once; the masses have been converted to DevOps. DevOps needs mass-market success, DevOps needs to become a tsunami and everyone will want to play DevOps.

Now that you know the formula, go forward and create the perfect storm.

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About the author  ⁄ Parker Yates

Parker Yates

Parker Yates is a serial entrepreneur with a long tech background including stints at: AT&T, IBM, Verizon, GE Information Systems, Interliant and a myriad of VC funded startups. Currently a Managing Partner at The CISO Group, Parker is responsible for driving the company’s revenue stream and profitability. He has also led the security surveillance company, Total Recall and served as CEO of Cellhire. Parker is an often-cited personality in the business community and is a sought-after speaker at sales and motivational conferences and events. His long view of life in the tech trenches allows him to see the big picture as new technologies come, grow and go. Parker is a graduate of State University of New York, with a Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies with a focus in Business Management and Information Technology