Why the developer is so important in 2021

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Software is eating the world! This phrase was coined back in 2011 and popularized throughout the next decade as we saw more and more businesses being disrupted by software. When you stop to consider the factors that made this possible, it helps to think about the constraints that had previously prevented it from always being this way.

If we look briefly at history, you will see most focus in the data center spent on removing or abstracting infrastructure-related constraints, such as hardware and software lifecycle management, resource utilization and bin packing, data accessibility and protection, resource provisioning and tracking, and multi-directional network traffic management, among others. The public cloud is a perfect example, as it could not exist in its current form if those constraints were not alleviated.

With the rise of the software-defined data center and the public cloud we began to see different operating models emerge, and new constraints higher up the IT stack began taking focus.

The importance of your developers in 2021

In the battle of innovation and software-based digital transformation, the software developer is the primary weapon. Businesses that are digitally transforming are integrating software into their unique value propositions. This integration begins to shift the organization to become technology led. Long gone are the days of developers solely owning a project and receiving feature requests from product managers, writing good code, and then handing off to QA testers while they move onto the next requested feature.

Today software is so incredibly ingrained in our day-to-day lives that the relationship with the user often directly correlates to either the efficiency of your business operations or, more importantly, to the experience that your customer ultimately receives. This means that developers need to be given the ability to experiment, fail fast, and push the boundaries of what they think can be done. It means they need to work in teams, be involved with the business, and understand the desired outcomes that are necessary for growth and success. It means that we can no longer put so many restrictions on their abilities. We need to enable a better developer experience.

This focus on the developer also means more responsibility for software quality and the deployment as well. Modern operating models that include automated building and testing to enable shorter feedback loops, like we see with continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD), make software more resilient, more feature rich, and more valuable for businesses all over the world. The ability to respond quickly to market changes within days or hours, instead of weeks, months, or even years is becoming the new normal. Removing developer constraints is the next step to deliver that outcome.

State of the market

The IT landscape is ever evolving and not everyone moves at the same pace. While it is true that infrastructure constraints have largely been removed, not every business has removed them. Now more than ever we see well-established companies going through a transition period, and with that comes a significant number of moving parts to manage.

A few jumped headfirst into agile operating frameworks, moved into CI/CD, and fully embraced the cloud for everything. Today those organizations are focusing their time on optimization and security, while others are focusing on moving what makes sense to a public cloud, learning a new operating model, and modernizing any legacy workloads on-premises that didn’t make sense to migrate for one reason or another.

SHI has the pleasure of working with and aiding organizations regardless of where they are on this journey. That can mean a wide range of things, from deciding between tools for integration, delivery, orchestration, source code management, or the hardware underneath them to consultative engagements discussing people, process, and team structure. All of these factors and more are needed to successfully move to more modern operating models that allow you to make changes and updates to the applications that drive your business at any time they’re needed.

What now?

Start by understanding the constraints your developers are experiencing and what issues extend to your operations teams as well. Ask them questions around what responsibilities they feel would improve their development process and shorten their feedback loops.

This conversation could include questions from ops to dev, like:

  • Are there KPIs that you are managed to that we are preventing you from hitting? If so, what are they and what’s the constraint?
  • What benefits would the organization expect by changing our current processes?

On the other hand, dev could ask ops:

  • What concerns do you have about creating more automation for testing and deployment?
  • What technical constraints prevent us from being able to manage our own development pipelines?

Explain to your developers your own concerns, but with an open mind toward change. Get everyone to the table and consider the impact you are making to the business versus the impact you could be making, and accept that cultural change may be necessary to get there.

Once you’ve completed this introspection, we recommend executing on your learning with a team of experts that have done this repeatedly for other businesses. Your SHI account team can help turn the feedback from your team and your goals into successful outcomes.