Here at The New Stack, we focus on cutting, if not actual bleeding, edge
technologies. We hang on the ascending side of the Gartner Hype Curve, with all the other cool kids, obvs.
So we sometimes forget that not all organizations can freely adopt all the shiny new toys whose possibilities we extoll. Most company IT systems are stratas of technology built on top of one another, much of it already dangerously out of date if not outright obsolete. Even the newer stuff is old in our industry. As VMware’s Mandy Stor pointed out in a recent TNS livecast, "When we talk about 'legacy,' really what we're really talking about is everything that is in production."
This point was emphasized again recently on Twitter, by Jean Yang, who is the founder and CEO of Akita Software. As someone who has met with hundreds, if not thousands of software developers, Yang noted that “there's a HUGE gap between what developer-influencers are writing about, versus the daily reality of most developers.” In other words, the trade pubs, such as TNS, don’t typically cover all the day-to-day issues developers have to deal with as they keep all the old bits running.
Adapting the new can be difficult, especially the open source software. A lot of the open source technologies that we write about come from the web-scale behemoths, such as Facebook (React), Netflix (Spinnaker), and Google (Kubernetes).
Some of this technology will make it into everyday use, some will not.
“The solutions that engineers at a Netflix or LinkedIn or Facebook come up with aren't for the vast majority of software shops: they're often best for big companies that can afford to set a high engineering bar, that can afford large infrastructure teams and ops teams,” Yang writes.
Amazon Web Services Principal Engineer Jaana Dogan affirmed these points in her own illuminating Tweet thread. She has worked on both cutting edge web-scale technology and for the big cloud providers that serve the enterprise. And the difference between the two is telling, she writes. The big edgy tech companies can have their engineers feeling like they “are only bounded by the speed of the light,” whereas the cloud providers have to work backwards to meet customer bases, usually situated somewhere in legacy-land.
“It's sometimes a challenge to balance to keep inventing and ensure what we invent is not alienating the industry,” she writes.