Software development technology is so frothy that we’re developing collective immunity to constant churn and hype cycles. Lately, every time someone tells me that they have hot “picked technology Foo” they also explain how they are also planning contingencies for when Foo fails. Not if, when.
Required contingency? That’s why I believe 2017 is the year of the IT Escape Clause, or, more colorfully, the IT Crawfish.
When I lived in New Orleans, I learned that crawfish are anxious creatures (basically tiny lobsters) with powerful (and delicious) tails that propel them backward at any hint of any danger. Their ability to instantly back out of any situation has turned their name into a common use verb: crawfish means to back out or quickly retreat.
In IT terms, it means that your go-forward plans always include a quick escape hatch if there’s some problem. I like Subbu Allamaraju’s description of this as Change Agility. I’ve also seen this called lock-in prevention or contingency planning. Both are important; however, we’re reaching new levels for 2017 because we can’t predict which technology stacks are robust and complete.
The fact is the none of them are robust or complete compared to historical platforms. So we go forward with an eye on alternatives.
How did we get to this state? I blame the 2016 Infrastructure Revolt.
Way, way, way back in 2010 (that’s about bronze age in the Cloud era), we started talking about developers helping automate infrastructure as part of deploying their code. We created some great tools for this and co-opted the term DevOps to describe provisioning automation. Compared to the part, it was glorious with glittering self-service rebellions and API-driven enlightenment.
In reality, DevOps was really painful because most developers felt that time fixing infrastructure was a distraction from coding features.
In 2016, we finally reached a sufficient platform capability set in tools like CI/CD pipelines, Docker Containers, Kubernetes, Serverless/Lambda and others that Developers had real alternatives to dealing with infrastructure directly. Once we reached this tipping point, the idea of coding against infrastructure directly become unattractive. In fact, the world’s largest infrastructure company, Amazon, is actively repositioning as a platform services company. Their re:Invent message was very clear: if you want to get the most from AWS, use our services instead of the servers.
For most users, using platform services instead of infrastructure is excellent advice to save cost and time.
The dilemma is that platforms are still evolving rapidly. So rapidly that adopters cannot count of the services to exist in their current form for multiple generations. However, the real benefits drive aggressive adoption. They also drive the rise of Crawfish IT.
As they say in N’Awlins, laissez les bon temps rouler!
Related Reading on the Doppler: Your Cloud Strategy Must Include No-Cloud Options