Monday, October 4, 2010

Are You Ready to Put your Source Code “in the Cloud?"

One question that comes up frequently when I introduce CloudBees is whether companies are actually OK to host their code “in the cloud” (or at least build/test it over there). 

Up to now, companies I’ve met split in three main categories (non-scientific poll).

1) No way: some companies just do not want to put their code somewhere else than on-premise. When companies have a strong opinion about it, it usually means they have already thought about it and cannot for a variety of reasons (legal, contractual, etc.) While this seems like the most logical bucket, interestingly enough - based on the interactions I’ve had - this is not the largest one.

2) Yes, we can: a decent number of companies already leverage the cloud for development related work and already made that transition. Consequently, their code, in some way, shape or form already travels “on the cloud”. To them, this is very natural and the move to something like CloudBees is very appealing. And do not think this category only applies to start-up and one-man-companies; I’ve actually met with large organizations for which IP is king and which are willing to move their code to the cloud as long as they have the insurance that some well-defined security rules are enforced. 

3) Let me think about it: the last bucket is very interesting. It concerns people who actually never really thought about it. Their first reaction is “probably not” but then, they mentally list what assets they already have in the cloud and realize … they already have quite a few. For instance, most of them leverage salesforce.com - and so, why would putting your entire pipeline, list of customers and prospects, information about your existing revenue be less sensitive than putting your code online? (especially for a public company!) Why would it be less sensitive to put all of your e-mail communications (Google Apps for example)? And pretty quickly, developers realize the decision is not that obvious, that they already put a good chunk of their key assets in the cloud (and some of the most critical and sensitive ones for that matter…) and their company seems to just be fine with it. 

This is why I think the cloud will accelerate thanks to DEVELOPERS and grow BOTTOM-UP. Much like with Open Source, developers will use the cloud because it helps them solve a pain point, because it is easier, more elegant and because their relationship with IT remains a love/hate one. I remember the good old days at JBoss when CIOs would tell us they weren’t using JBoss AS (and couldn’t use it) because it was Open Source and because they have policies restricting the kind of IP they can consume and very restrictive “approved vendors lists”, etc. and then have a bunch of architects at the back of the room raise their hands and start listing all of the projects that were deployed on JBoss in production. There was such an obscurantism wall between the top of the hierarchy and the trenches. 

It is very hard to fight the obvious, especially with developers. Consequently, I find it much more constructive to EMBRACE new technologies, define what’s OK for you and avoid any religious stance or over-simplification. Developers are smart dudes, anytime you fail to justify why they cannot do something they think would bring increased value and productivity, you can be sure it will happen anyway, one day, in an non-controlled fashion.

Onward,
Sacha

Sacha Labourey, CEO
CloudBees
www.cloudbees.com
 
Follow CloudBees:
Facebook Twitter

2 comments:

  1. Actually if you set the "cloud" word aside for a moment we'll realize that we've doing this in different capacities for years.

    In some instances we were required to keep regular snapshots in ESCROW as an insurance mechanism. In other instances code was sent off site as a backup or part of a disaster recovery plan.

    Also when you look at the open source movement there's no notion of ON-SITE. It's all "in the cloud" in one form or another.

    But for me the it's really a question of perception, which typically changes over time.

    Just consider how many of the traditional business operations were once regarded as critical data center functions. We had:
    - 401k
    - benefits administration
    - payroll
    - stock plans
    - ERP and CRM.

    All residing behind closed doors. However today most, if not all, are exclusively operated as outsourced "cloud" services.

    So in conclusion, as we experience more of the development model moving to the cloud, we will see the tool set morphing to accommodate the change. And the source code which we once regarded as sacrosanct intellectual property, will inevitably migrate there too.

    ReplyDelete