While there’s no doubt that the influence of developers has never been greater, a debate is starting to emerge concerning how much power developers now wield across the enterprise. At the Red Hat 2014 Summit last week, Deepak Advani, IBM general manager for cloud and smarter infrastructure, told attendees that developers are now the kingmakers of enterprise IT. To back up that claim Advani noted that not only do developers today decide what APIs will be published, but increasingly they determine what technologies are actually deployed.
Because developers are increasingly invoking IT resources directly in the cloud, Advani says developers are essentially deciding what technologies will be used by any given organization. With 85 percent of new applications being developed in the cloud, Advani says it is little wonder vendors are battling for the hearts and minds of developers.
In the case of IBM, competition for developers in the cloud was one of the primary reasons they spent $2 billion to acquire SoftLayer, which in addition to supporting OpenStack exposes over 2,000 APIs to developers.
Rather than developing applications from the ground up, Advani says developers will increasingly be composing applications using APIs. Driving that shift, says Advani, is the need to respond to rapidly changing business conditions that are creating more demand than ever for innovative applications. Where developers once had months to build an application, Advani says they are now being routinely asked to compose new applications in days and months. Most of those applications, says Advani, will be invoking application patterns defined in the cloud that will be exposed via APIs. The end result, says Advani, is a once in a generation opportunity to create economic value around dynamic cloud services that are truly open.
There is, of course, a fine line between being the kingmaker and wielding actual power. As enterprise IT evolves in the cloud, developers will clearly specify what software and hardware resources will be used across the enterprise. Of course, the decision of what resources are made available to the developer is likely to be made by either the CIO or provider of the cloud service. Naturally, developers can vote with their feet by opting to go to work on another platform, which essentially would force builders and providers of cloud computing services to bend to their collective will.
Having power is one thing; learning to effectively wield power is quite another. Historically many developers have indirectly influenced decisions simply by the way they write or compose an application. Many of them may continue to indirectly exercise that influence in the age of the cloud. However, no matter how enterprise IT evolves, going forward the one thing that is for certain is that not much is likely to be accomplished without at least the consent of the developer community.