Oil and water. Yankees and Red Sox. Beliebers and Directioners. Some things just don’t mix.
And yet, success in business technology circa 2015 means getting two opposing forces to work together: the Silicon Valley kind of developers, who like to move fast and break things, and the vast majority of developers and sysadmins who just want to build things that work, even if it takes a while, and why are we breaking things anyway?
“It’s the elemental challenge of enterprise software,” says Steve O’Keefe, in charge of mobile at Red Hat.
Now Red Hat is looking to resolve that challenge with its new company vision. On Tuesday, the company announced a new initiative for the mobile enterprise, focusing heavily on helping developers from across both ways of thinking talk to and work with each other, with better tools for building slick mobile software that also meets the needs of the business.
All of the Ubers and Airbnbs and Tinders of the world work so well because the developers were able to quickly build and improve on their mobile apps, using cutting-edge programming languages and techniques to skirt the amount of development time a more established company would have.
You may lose stability (app crashes!) as you introduce new features, but there’s the potential for building something really cool that users love.
But that attitude is an absolute no-no for developers in many industries. You wouldn’t want developers who run the internal systems at your bank to move fast and break things. Or the ones building software for medical devices used in operating rooms. Or the ones who create safety systems for oil rigs or nuclear power plants.
Even with consumer software, that attitude doesn’t scale as companies get larger. Rolling out software has to be a more considered process at some point in a company’s lifespan, since any outages or inconsistencies would result in lots of angry phone calls and, probably, missed revenue.
What happens, often, is that businesses decide they want all the benefits of the Silicon Valley way, with pretty apps that get built quickly. But they don’t take into consideration all the needs of the business, like connecting up to existing data or how well they work on every device.
“The end result is chaos,” says O’Keefe.
Red Hat is in a unique place because it sits in the middle of these two ways, O’Keefe says.
As an open source company that built its fortunes on the hugely popular Linux free operating system, it appeals to the Silicon Valley set. And because those same fortunes came from adding its own secret sauce to make Linux a viable (and cheaper) alternative to Microsoft Windows on servers, it’s gotten pretty good at working with businesses, too.
Now, with its new vision, Red Hat is helping developers from both ways of thinking work together more easily. This means a better platform for developers to build apps using all the new, shiny tools they love, and put it in the cloud, but also an enhanced bunch of connectors for hooking it up to existing systems — and a focus on helping developers from both sides of the divide understand each other with better ways to just talk.
Who knows? Maybe they will learn to get along.
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