Adrian Cockcroft on Nexflix use of AWS

Small pieces, loosely joined” is making its mark in the cloud. Adrian Cockcroft on ZDNet UK:

“Everyone is sitting in the middle of a bunch of supplier and consumer relationships and every team is responsible for knowing what those relationships are and managing them. It’s completely devolved — we don’t have any centralised control…

“[We] got rid of the operations … and just have the developers, so you can’t depend on everybody and you have to assume that all the other developers are writing broken code that isn’t properly deployed. And when you write a REST call to them, you might get nothing back or broken code and you just have to deal with that.

“By making everyone responsible for the robustness of their code, we’ve ended up training a whole building full of developers to build their code very robustly…”

Cockcroft’s statements seem almost obvious to me as a platform guy, but it still amazes me how many complex and fragile interdependencies our industry is building. Sometimes it’s NIH at work, and sometimes there’s a perceived competitive advantage in building proprietary systems.

But I also have to wonder if a more general lack of experience isn’t also at play here. Taking a bet on a platform is hard even when you have all the information and understand why generalization is useful. It’s even harder when a substantial number of decision-makers don’t really understand what a platform actually is.

I heard a story recently about a Director of a small IT department (<100 people), who insisted that his team “had to move to The Cloud as soon as possible”. But it was clear to the person he was talking to, that he didn’t really understand what “The Cloud” was, much less how or why their organization should “move to it”.

I don’t know enough about their needs to say whether it’s the right thing for them or not, but it seems obvious to me that this type of infrastructural change needs to be managed carefully, and with as much information as possible.

The fundamental question that the Director never seemed to ask is, “What is a platform?”, and then “What is a cloud platform, and why might I want one?” — And not, “How fast can we switch to the latest [insert-buzzword-here]?”

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