Developers and Buying DecisionsBy Adrian Lane
Matt Asay wrote a very though provoking piece on Oracle’s Big Miss: The End Of The Enterprise Era. While this blog does not deal with security directly, it does highlight a couple of important trends that effect both what customers are buying, and who is making the decisions.
Oracle’s miss suggests that the legacy vendors may struggle to adapt to the world of open-source software and Software as a Service (SaaS) and, in particular, the subscription revenue models that drive both.
No. Oracle’s miss is not a failure to embrace open source, and it’s not a failure to embrace SaaS; it’s a failure they have not embraced and flat out owned PaaS. Oracle limiting itself to just software would be a failure. A Platform as a Service model would give them the capability of owning all of the data center, and still offering lower cost to customers. And they have the capability to address the compliance and governance issues that slow enterprise adoption of cloud services. That’s the opposite of the ‘cloud in a box’ model being sold. Service fees and burdensome cost structures are driving customers to look for cheaper alternatives. This is not news as Postgres and MySQL, before the dawn of Big Data, were already making significant market gains for test/dev/non-critical applications. It takes years for these manifestations to fully hit home, but I agree with Mr. Asay that this is what is happening. But it’s Big Data – and perhaps because Mr. Asay works for a Big Data firm he felt he could not come out an say it – that shows us commodity computing and virtually free analytics tools provide a very attractive alternative. One which does not require millions in up front investment. Don’t think the irony of this is lost on Google.
I believe this so strongly that I divested myself all Oracle stock - a position I’d held for almost 20 years - because they are missing too many opportunities.
But while I find all of that interesting as it mirrors the cloud and big data adoption trends I’ve been seeing, it’s a sideline to what I think is most interesting in the article. Redmonk analyst Stephen O’Grady argues:
With the rise of open source…developers could for the first time assemble an infrastructure from the same pieces that industry titans like Google used to build their businesses – only at no cost, without seeking permission from anyone. For the first time, developers could route around traditional procurement with ease. With usage thus effectively decoupled from commercial licensing, patterns of technology adoption began to shift….
Open source is increasingly the default mode of software development….In new market categories, open source is the rule, proprietary software the exception.
I’m seeing buying decisions coming from development with increasing regularity. In part it’s because developers are selecting agile and open source web technologies for application development. In part it’s that they have stopped relying upon relational concepts to support applications – to tie back to the Oracle issue. But more importantly it’s the way products and service fit within the framework of how they want them to work; both in the sense they have to meld with their application architecture, and because they don’t put up with sales cycle B.S. for enterprise products. They select what’s easy to get access to. Freemium models or cloud services, that you can sample for a few weeks just by supplying a credit card. No sales droid hassles, no contracts to send to legal, no waiting for ‘purchasing cycles. This is not an open-source vs. commercial argument, it’s an ease of use/integration/availability argument. What developers want right now vs. lots of stuff they don’t want with lots of cost and hassles: When you’re trying to ship code, which do you choose?
As it pertains to security, development teams play an increasing role in product selection. Development has become the catalyst when deciding between source code analysis tools and DAST. They choose REST-ful APIs over SOAP, which completely alters the application security model. And on more than a few occasions I’ve seen WAF relegated to being a ‘compliance box’ simply because it could not be effective and efficiently integrated into the development-operations (dev-ops) process. Traditionally there has been very little overlap between security, identity and development cultures. But those boundaries thaw when a simple API set can link cloud and on-prem systems, manage clients and employees, accommodate mobile and desktop. Look at how many key management systems are fully based upon identity, and how identity and security meld on mobile platforms. Open source may increasingly be the default model for adoption, but not because it’s lacks licensing issues; it’s because of ease of availability (less hassles) and architectural synergy more than straight cost.