Donnie Berkholz's Story of Data

Technology adoption is a multidimensional spectrum

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Yesterday the Twitterverse was abuzz about a piece by Massimo Re Ferrè of VMware titled “Cloud and the Three IT Geographies (Silicon Valley, US and Rest of the World).” Everyone generally agreed that he nailed the geographic difference, and pretty much the only argument was that there were other Silicon-Valley-like hubs elsewhere in the US and the world.

But what I’ve been realizing more and more lately is that it’s not just geographical (true) or even between different sectors within the same geography (e.g., ISV versus manufacturer — a slight extension of his point). It’s also true even within a company! And that’s the multidimensional spectrum: geography, across business sectors, within each sector, and even internally inside each company. I spoke with folks from IBM Tivoli twice over the past week about SmartCloud, and the same point kept coming up over and over, which William Gibson put best:

“The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

Whether we’re talking about shadow IT or the difference between technologies used for systems of record and systems of engagement [RedMonk writeups here and here], we’re seeing an increasing diversity of technological maturity and class in use. The cloud has further accelerated this change as it’s no longer necessary to wait months for provisioning or even go through the IT department at all. This diversity ranges from IT-maintained mainframes running COBOL for processing bank transactions to marketing departments running initiatives without a datacenter or even dedicated ops staffing.

What’s the key point here? Even at the most conservative companies, there are pockets of corporate rebels and innovators trying new things. Today, Alcatel-Lucent open-sourced an API management platform called apiGrove in an attempt to do things differently at a famously conservative company. On the other hand, new, “hot” companies can easily be doing pretty old-school things in their infrastructures and development teams. In many Internet companies, you’ll find them running convergent infrastructure (a.k.a. Mainframe 2.0) in the IT department with heavy process overhead, or perhaps developers using the waterfall method. Earlier today, I found out from Zend that 1 in 5 corporate PHP developers doesn’t even use version control. If that doesn’t make the point that lots of us are effectively stuck in the Stone Age, I don’t know what will.

So no matter where you are in this multidimensional spectrum, whether you’re looking for the next thing past PaaS or you haven’t even heard of it yet, remember that lots of people are nowhere near you.

Disclosure: IBM, VMware, and Alcatel-Lucent are clients. Zend is not, but should be.


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