Table stakes and cloud companies…

Some of the conversations on cloud innovation I’ve been having with folks in the devops community, employers, vendors, and customers go down the tooling, infrastructure and technology tracks. I suppose that’s right in many ways — in that if you can’t keep up with technology you’re going to struggle as a cloud company. I imagined this world looks something like the following picture. But to me there’s something more than just AWS, Kubernetes, Docker and so on.

Cloud Ops — Tools only view

I wanted to see what others in senior management and technology thought, so I went to an Austin Devops meetup that was, interestingly scheduled at the same time as ChefCon, called DevOps for Manager Types. I guess Boyd Hemphill played it pretty safe knowing that managers wouldn’t know the difference; and since it had the “Manager Types” in the title they’d show up maybe thinking it would be better than something to do with cooking. Well I went because I was looking for another view of the world that was manager and business focused.

The meet up was run lean coffee style which is a very democratic process that gives everyone a chance to submit topics and discuss the most interesting ones in 2-minute intervals through a continuous voting. The discussion was pretty lively with a lot of ground being covered on everything from culture (a big topic), recruiting and team building, toolset creep, to business alignment, transitioning management, and more. This is what I had been looking for — to speak with others seeking answers to questions on what it takes to be successful at the business of devops.

With this new information I reimagined the world with my new devops manager context which looks something like this. The topics we discussed are weaved into the center of the operations and goes far beyond the discussion of tooling and into other areas that are in direct alignment with the business and growth.

Now for the punch line. You might thought that I was going to say that the tools-only view first mentioned in this post is the entry-level to the cloud game — the proverbial table stakes. Not at all. I’m here to say that the tools and “manager” context is the new table stakes. Yes, sir. The bar is much higher if you want to ante up to the cloud players table.

A special thanks to Boyd Hemphill for putting together the meetup and to Heather Wilson and Bertold Kolics who shared their notes (here, and here, respectively). Please join the meetup group to keep informed and be part of the next generation of business leaders in the devops community.