In its recent report, Tech Go-to-Market: How to Win With DevOps Buyers, Gartner Research looks at the buying process of DevOps-centered organizations. And Gartner makes an important point. For technology providers to sell to organizations with a DevOps culture, traditional sales approaches don’t fly. In fact, developers and operations teams—whose synergy we collectively call DevOps—eschew traditional marketing and sales pitches. They are so technically discerning that they sniff out marketing lingo from a real product offering. The real danger is they can shun a product forever when it comes from marketing or sales channels. So what’s the best way to win over DevOps teams?
Technology providers familiar with selling to traditional I&O (infrastructure and operations) teams find themselves on unfamiliar ground in a DevOps driven culture. A big change Gartner notes is that workloads increasingly migrate from the traditional datacenter to public or multi-cloud infrastructure like AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, vSphere.
Gartner found that migrating workloads to the public cloud shifts decision-making power away from the traditional IT buyers to DevOps and agile practitioners. These personas include developers, DevOps managers, release managers, build/automation managers, and architects who influence buying decisions bottom-up. Moreover, DevOps philosophies and practices vary so much from one organization to the next that IT providers are at a loss to clearly chart the buying process.
Three ways to engage with DevOps teams
What’s the best way to influence DevOps teams? Gartner explains that for marketers and sales teams to build credibility, they must show that the product increases business value. For DevOps teams to embrace a product, Gartner lists three requirements.
- Easy product access. Give DevOps teams wide access to your product functionality upfront. They must experience to believe its value, so give them full or close to full functionality in SaaS or on-premises via freemium, open-source, or a free trial.
- Robust API capabilities. A robust API addresses these questions: Is it public, easy, RESTful, well-documented? Does it have an active or growing community of users? Are there samples to get started? Are most of the features exposed via API? Finally, are the latest and future API backward-compatible?
- Key tool integration. According to Gartner, DevOps teams use a spectrum of tools to automate the full lifecycle of developing, delivering, and maintaining software whether in the cloud or on-premise. The product must, therefore, integrate with a variety of popular and open source DevOps tools like Chef, Puppet, SaltStack, Ansible, Docker, Jenkins. It is in this light that Gartner credits ElasticBox as a strategic partner for DevOps focused organizations.
Above all, the product must enable the DevOps transformation of the enterprise. Take DeNA, a Japanese gaming company for example. Game development teams across geographies need build environments for new games. Typically, they opened a ticket with the operations team in San Francisco and waited. It’s not that the operations team couldn’t service them quicker, it’s just that they prioritized maintaining a stable, secure production environment and justly so. DeNA today automates its software development lifecycle using the ElasticBox platform. IT operations decentralize build requests and empower developers to self-service environment provisioning through our solution. Development teams pay as they use cloud resources to launch game environments on-demand for development, test, staging, and production. As one developer put it, we were able to dramatically increase the build efficiency from 2 weeks to 5 or 10 minutes.
All told, DevOps tools must help organizations increase business value by innovating faster and accelerating software delivery. It is for this reason that organizations practice Agile and DevOps methods in the first place. To appeal to the DevOps teams, Gartner says non-traditional methods help. That means being present and engaging in DevOps communities, with peers, and independent experts to influence buying decisions. To read Gartner’s full report and get insights into the DevOps buyer’s mindset, see Tech Go-to-Market: How to Win With DevOps Buyers.
(This editorial first appeared on Devops.com.)