One of the perks of being editor in chief of DevOps.com is I get a chance to meet with so many leaders of the DevOps and IT industry. You can really learn a lot by listening to what these folks say. This DevOps Chat is a perfect example. I sat down with Flint Brenton, CEO of Collabnet. Collabnet is not some johnny-come-lately. The company has been helping developers and IT professionals for a long time. Flint talks about the fact that while DevOps is a great path for many organizations, it may not be the right way for every situation. Waterfall is not going away entirely.
Have a listen to my discussion with Flint and hear for yourself what he has to say on the subject. As usual, the streaming audio player is immediately below with the transcript below that. Enjoy!
Transcript of Audio
Alan Shimel: Hey, everyone. This is Alan Shimel, DevOps.com, here for another DevOps Chat. Happy to be joined in this DevOps Chat by Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet. Flint, welcome.
Flint Brenton: Hey, Alan. It’s great to see you again.
Shimel: Great to see and hear you again. Flint, the last time I think you and I talked was back at the DevOps Enterprise Summit in San Francisco. I guess that had to be October or November.
Brenton: November. Actually, it was the same week that our new president was elected, if you remember.
Shimel: Yes. Yeah, a red letter day.
Shimel: So, Flint, without getting any further into that, let’s turn the conversation to CollabNet. What—well, first of all, maybe some of our audience is not familiar with CollabNet in general, so why don’t we start with that? Can you give us a little CollabNet background?
Brenton: Yes, absolutely. So CollabNet is a SAS-based, cloud-enabled development platform focused exclusively on enterprise that delivers application lifecycle management capability for both Agile and waterfall development processes.
Brenton: The version technology to structure those builds and to maintain high quality and high quality control throughout the process. And then we also provide the DevOps infrastructure to build and deploy automatically whatever gets created in Azure or waterfall, with high quality, on time, and, to the extent we can help, under budget. So that’s really our focus.
Shimel: Sure. And you know what, Flint? I remember this about CollabNet. You guys have been in business now for a number of years, certainly before DevOps was what it is today, let’s call it, whatever it is today. How long have you been—
Brenton: Yeah, we’ve been in business—this is our 18th year.
Shimel: Absolutely. So, you know, DevOps is another technology innovation, if you will, that’s come down the road, but I think what—not unique, but what is one of the special qualities of CollabNet is is that you’re not out here saying that the whole world needs to go DevOps today, right, that everything—we should be all DevOps all the time. But you have customers who are still on waterfall and may very well remain on waterfall for the foreseeable future.
Brenton: Right. And we really invest very heavily in both waterfall and Agile development platforms and—although the growth rate for Agile’s higher than waterfall in enterprise, we still see roughly 70 [percent] to 75 percent of enterprises using a waterfall methodology. But the fastest growing segment in that area is clearly Agile.
Shimel: Sure. And I—obviously. But I think what’s important for our audience to recognize is even the biggest DevOps and Agile advocates or biggest—whatever you wanna call ’em, should recognize that there are still projects and places where waterfall might be the best way to skin the cat, to complete a project correctly. And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing type of environment, if you will.
Brenton: That’s exactly right. You know, the industries that tend to be highly regulated, with a high need for security, compliance, and scalability, tend to lean more towards waterfall development. And, of course, once you started a process where you’ve got an established team that’s been using waterfall for a long period of time, they tend to prefer to continue with that. But it’s new projects, new projects where maybe time to market outweighs the need for compliance and security and scale—those tend to go Agile in an enterprise. But, either way, regardless of development methodology, the things you need beyond the tool chain or the process of building software is fairly similar, right? The way you use version control is fairly similar. The way you use DevOps technologies is also very similar.
And what we found is customers who are well grounded in Agile and waterfall—typically, in enterprise, they have both—getting your act together in DevOps and making sure you have a strategy, you created a culture to embrace and execute that strategy, then having the processes and tools in place to bring it to reality is critical because you don’t really get the return on investment for anything you develop, regardless of the methodology, until you put the build into production. And that’s what DevOps, at the end of the day, is all about.
Shimel: Sure is. Excellent. Excellent point, Flint. Flint, let me turn things a little bit ’cause, as I mentioned to you off camera, off mic, 15 minutes here goes pretty quick. Want to talk about some recent news around CollabNet in the industry. I understand you guys were just included in a Gartner Magic Quadrant, correct?
Brenton: Yes. Yes, thank you for bringing that up. Yeah, we’re very excited about it. It’s always a reflection of the investment our team has made in Agile planning and execution. So we’ve always been considered a leader when it comes to waterfall development, but, as we just mentioned, for enterprise, our enterprise customers are really demanding that we provide both, both equal value in waterfall and Agile. So we invested heavily in the last few years in Agile, and, as a result, we were just included in their Magic Quadrant as a visionary for Agile planning and execution, and we’re very excited about it.
Shimel: That’s nice. That is great. And I know everyone always wants to be in the upper right, but, really, having my background, being entrepreneurial and having started businesses, I’d almost rather be in that visionary quadrant than the upper-right leader quadrant and certainly in the visionary quadrant over, let’s say, the challenger quadrant, which is the upper left, because I think, with visionary, I mean, the recognition is that you’re setting a—you’re pushing the envelope, right? You’re pushing the vision—hence, “visionary.”
Shimel: So congratulations to you guys. I know, in speaking with your team, you have rights for download of the quadrant, so what we’ll try to do is put into the show notes here a link to that where people can download the quadrant report and see if—check it out for themselves.
Brenton: Yeah, that’d be perfect and I’m sure that your listeners would very much appreciate that.
Shimel: Sure will. So, Flint, beyond the quadrant inclusion, though, what else do you see that’s happening with CollabNet or in the market in general?
Brenton: We’re starting now to get a number of customer wins that are embracing our motto of providing a cloud-based service where you can consume our integrated ALM, version control, and DevOps solution either in Amazon or on our own private cloud and, in many cases, a combination of on-prem and off-prem.
Brenton: So we now have a number of customers who have completely moved their development process into one of our cloud-enabled environments, and it’s very exciting.
Shimel: That is exciting.
Brenton: It’s very exciting. And the great (thing) about that is, if it’s in the cloud, it’s actually easier for us to include, Alan, both open-source and compare it to components that we don’t own or control because then the need to test to get everything in your data center is lessened and our ability to innovate to your advantage is much greater, so we’re very excited about that.
Shimel: Absolutely. So, Flint, interestingly enough, I was reading an article this morning—I forgot where I saw it but it was a recent survey where 65 percent of enterprises still keeping the majority of their infrastructure on their own data center, not on a public cloud, not a hybrid situation. Is that about what you guys are seeing but is the arrow pointing up to the cloud? What’s your take on that?
Brenton: Now that’s a great question, Alan, and it’s absolutely what we’re seeing. So a thing to keep in mind, though, is “What is the variable that’s changing and what is the velocity of that change?” Right? So I would say, two years ago, that 65 percent number was probably 90-plus, right? So, as enterprises get more and more comfortable with the security and compliance options in the cloud, whether it’s in a public cloud or private cloud, they can see the tremendous advantages of driving down the cost of development and actually increasing the speed of innovation by going to the cloud.
I’ll give you an example. U.S. government, we do a tremendous amount in federal, and so both the Obama administration and now it’s transitioned to the Trump administration has really been pushing the department of defense to do a couple things. One, innovate faster, and so, if you just think about the U.S. government is barraged by cyberattacks from all over the world. Right?
Brenton: And so your ability as a professional, in NSA or CIA or the FBI, to deal with that is you want a complete toolkit of things you can use, and you want to choose the tools you need to deal with those cyberattacks, but you also need to do it quickly. So if you can use open source, it helps. If you can deploy it in a cloud, it dramatically increase—or decreases the time to deployment. And, three, it also tremendously helps you on the economics side. So even something as highly regulated and structured as the US federal government, there are advantages sometimes in doing things in a public cloud to help, and so we’re starting to see variations of that theme also in industry, primarily around enterprise, where there’s flexibility, increased ability to innovate, and improved economics by moving workflow to the cloud.
Shimel: Yep. You know, Flint, living in the tech world and you lived the world—you live that life; I live that life—I think sometimes we get jaded in that we’re in this bubble of, “What’s the hot new thing?” and it’s DevOps and it’s whatever’s next after DevOps, and then sometimes you get a reminder—65 percent still not in the cloud. And you say, “But I thought everyone’s in the cloud.” And I think it does good for us to remember that there’s a big world out there that moves at their own pace and their own—
Shimel: Same thing with waterfall. Right? I think people would be—people in our audience from DevOps.com would probably be surprised to find out how many organizations still either haven’t adopted DevOps or are primarily waterfall shops.
Brenton: You know, the key, when you’re a solution provider like CollabNet, is you need to meet people where they are. Right? So, if they wanna be on-prem, you need to be able to deliver them superior value on-prem. If they want to move part of their workload to the cloud, you need to be able to help lead them and sponsor that transition at that pace by which they’re comfortable. Right? So I learned a long time ago the key to success in this business is to give people what they want, right? He who can do that best with a quality solution at a great price is gonna win. Right? So that’s just the way it works, right?
Shimel: Absolutely—and that hasn’t changed, by the way, through all of these innovations, and I think it was true 100 years ago and it’s true today. Or maybe even more than 100.
Brenton: You bet.
Shimel: Anyway, Flint, listen, I think we’re about out of time here. I wanna be respectful of your time, so what we will do is let’s have you on again soon when we have some more time and we can delve into this. Are you gonna be at DevOps Enterprise Summit maybe in London?
Brenton: You bet. Yeah.
Shimel: Or San Francisco?
Brenton: Well, I always enjoy speaking with you, Alan. You’re a great guy and you’re—
Brenton: —you’re a fun guy off camera too, I will add.
Brenton: So I look forward to our next adventure together. Thank you for the—
Shimel: Absolutely. Hey, Flint—
Brenton: All right.
Shimel: Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet, this week’s guest on DevOps Chat, thanks for joining us. This is Alan—
Brenton: My pleasure, Alan. Thank you.
Shimel: Thank you.
Brenton: All right. Buh-bye.
Shimel: This is Alan Shimel for DevOps Chat.