We have come a long way in a short time in IT, and are currently in a ‘digestive’ state, where we take a bit of a break and prepare for the next wave of changes. Okay, not really a break, just a change in what we’re looking at.
In the old days, CPU, memory speed, network throughput and disk access times would be in constant flux; one would be the server performance bottleneck and, when that was resolved, another would be the bottleneck. We’re in that kind of relationship right now. The majority of organizations are now using DevOps and our focus is currently on DevSecOps along with multi-cloud. Along the way, by unwritten consent, vendors have started calling Kubernetes “cloud.” This is totally amusing to me as a pundit, because Kubernetes is really a “cloud killer.”
All public clouds are based upon the premise that they will have massive lock-in. And Kubernetes breaks that premise—unless an organization uses a cloud vendor’s customized version of Kubernetes; then they have other issues. No, I’m not blind, I am well aware that there are other reasons that cloud lock-in occurs, but there is a difference between “We chose this bit of custom functionality, well aware it locked us into our chosen vendor,” and “The act of using this vendor locks us in.” Multi-cloud and repatriation are things that would not be popular enough to talk about if not for tools like Kubernetes.
So the next bit, IMO, is that once cloud portability is an established fact at most organizations, we’ll circle back to another iteration of build management. Many organizations are still on CI/CD iteration 1.0 and using Jenkins to manage their build process. While companies like GitLab and Atlassian have taken a bite out of the Jenkins-as-build-management phenomenon, they are also solid lock-ins through value add, and both of these vendors (plus most others in wave 2.0 of DevOps-centric build management) are heavily invested in the cloud. While the ability to build in the cloud is a very good thing, the requirement that a tool which is central to your toolchain be run from the cloud is not.
That means we’ll be circling back to visit this issue again. And probably sooner rather than later. There is no denying that budgets are going to decrease for the bulk of us in the coming months, and I have no idea when they’ll rebound. That means that recurring expenses—like mandatory monthly subscription fees—will take a hit in B2B the same as they are in B2C. Don’t shy away from those assessments. Actually look objectively at your monthly payment plans and determine the ROI of each subscription your organization uses. Years ago, organizations centralized and reduced the number of development tool subscriptions they managed; this is just a continuation of that process in modern times. Spend your organization’s money where it will reap the most rewards instead of “where we always have.”
You also want to make sure that you trust the company in charge of your builds, and that you believe they are stable. Over the years, we’ve seen several examples of companies that appeared stable when they were not; actually making the assessment is important.
You’re building and maintaining the systems that keep the organization online and productive. Don’t hesitate to cut the fat. And don’t hesitate to maintain control. If the tool and its lock-in are forcing the org to work in ways that don’t fit the culture, look at alternatives.
In short: Keep your options open. We know that money will be tighter in the near future, so let’s be sure we’re set up for that and retaining control of our build process. And keep rocking it.