Archive for marketing

Slicing GitOps Baloney Thin

During much of my tech career, I dealt in precision. Precision tolerances for hardware products. Precise specifications for software. marketing language that favored exactitude.

Oh wait. That last one is not entirely true. In fact, even in technical marketing where precise language would seem to be appreciated, vague and even obtuse language is often rewarded. This drives plausible deniability which, in turn, benefits companies when products don’t work as advertised. It’s true across all products, even IT ones. More importantly, it allows marketers to set their products apart from otherwise similar ones.

That brings me to my latest pet peeve – the term GitOps. This particular rant started on Mastodon after a tech journalist I respect a lot (one of the few that grok the technical stuff) wrote an article referencing the term. The article was, as usual, excellent. The title, however, lit my fuse about GitOps.

My complaint is that GitOps is just another name for Continuous Integration (CI) or maybe Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment(CI/CD). To be more charitable, it was CI using some variant of the open source git (and yes it’s lower case) project. GitOps is, in my opinion, an example of slicing the baloney too thin. So thin, in fact that it becomes meaningless.

At that point, one of the maintainers of the OpenGitOps project, Roberth Strand,  pointed me at the project’s website. I appreciate that, by the way. It’s always a sign of good community when members suggest resources to each other. Mr. Strand especially wanted me to look at the the guiding principles of GitOps. They are 1 :

  • Declarative – A system managed by GitOps must have its desired state expressed declaratively.
  • Versioned and Immutable – Desired state is stored in a way that enforces immutability, versioning and retains a complete version history.
  • Pulled Automatically – Software agents automatically pull the desired state declarations from the source.
  • Continuously Reconciled – Software agents continuously observe actual system state and attempt to apply the desired state.

What you may notice is lacking is any mention of git itself. That’s right, GitOps doesn’t require git at all. Why call it GitOps then? Weird, right?

The other thing that is immediately noticeable is that these principles would apply to most CI systems. Granted some are not driven by declarative languages, but I would argue most are. Ultimately this looks like a specific implementation of CI.

Back to our baloney. This is an example of trying to create an entire category – be it software, product, or community – from a specific case of an existing term. It’s good marketing. Afraid you might drown in the growing sea of CI/CD products, projects, and companies? Narrow the scope and call it something else. Now whatever you are doing sounds new and fresh. Yay!

The downside is, of course, confusion. It walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but everyone is told it’s not a duck. Instead, consumers (IT pros in this case) are told to believe that a Mallard is different from a duck. The proliferation of technical terms that mean almost the same thing or that are just subsets of subsets makes decision making much harder. Consumers have to spend too much time just figuring out the starting point.

I suspect that enough companies and organizations such as the CNCF have taken up the term GitOps that it is here to stay. There’s no turning back. What is important is that GitOps not be seen as anything more than a specific case of CI, which is only part of the CI/CD pipeline landscape. Ignore the marketing and look under the covers. You might need some CI software or processes, and they may be called GitOps. You don’t need both and they are not competing with each other, except for the marketing.

 

  1. Source: OpenGitOps, https://opengitops.dev/

Sometimes You Have to Walk the Walk

This blog does not in anyway represent the views of Amalgam Insights. They are mine alone and I take responsibility for that. Just so there’s no confusion.

As an IT industry analyst, I am given a bully pulpit to speak on the issues of my industry. Typically, these are technology matters such as the cost and usefulness of technology or trends that will affect the industry in the future. However, as Winston Churchill said, Where there is great power there is great responsibility.” This places on obligation on us, who have an audience that listens, to speak out on the ethics and behaviors of members of our community. Big technology companies also have great power and, hence, great responsibility. They too have an obligation. Their responsibility is to use their power for the greater good. Or at least, as the famous Google slogan says, “Don’t be evil.”

This slogan, embraced at the beginning of Google’s existence, is now dripping with irony and hypocrisy. Recently, there was a walkout of 20,000 Google workers for its handling of the sexual harassment complaints against one of its executives, Andy Rubin. There were further allegations of retaliation against some of the workers who organized the walkout even though Google publicly praised their actions. If that doesn’t indicate something about Google’s attitude toward women, then the latest news says it louder. On June 13, 2019, Sundar Pinchai said in his blog that he was “pleased to announce” a $600M investment in a data center in Oklahoma. This investment lays bare the true heart of the company.

For those who don’t typically pay attention to what goes on in Oklahoma, they are well known for their hostility towards women’s reproductive rights. The state has tried to revoke the licenses of doctors who provide safe abortions, enacted a fetal heartbeat bill (for the record, fetal heartbeats are not a matter of science), and tried for a complete abortion ban in 2016. These are some of the more egregious attempts on the part of the state to limit a woman’s access to safe abortions. They are by no means the only ones.

Let’s be clear about one thing, none of this legislation is about women’s health. Many of the attempts to get around Roe v. Wade run counter to science, such as the fetal heartbeat bill, and contradict the standard of practice in the medical community. We should also be clear that this is not about religion either. If it were, then the state would have no interest in it or they would legislate male reproduction choices, such as vasectomies, just as strongly. It’s about extending the power of the state over the bodies of women. Specifically women.

So, given the dismal record of the state of Oklahoma toward woman, why would a company whose motto is “Don’t be evil” invest over a half a billion additional dollars there, for a total investment of $3B? There are a number of technical reasons for this investment, such as locating cloud data centers near customers. Money also matters too. In 2015, for example, Google received $13.5M in property tax exemptions for the data center in Pryor, OK for using wind power. Imagine the other incentives a state such as Oklahoma might offer for the expansion of a data center and the addition of 100 high paying jobs. Money clearly matters more than the ethics of supporting a state that is dead set on subjugating woman through their biology.

The IT industry has always marketed itself as an inclusive meritocracy that wants more women in its ranks. Companies sponsor programs to recruit more women, hold “girls can code” days, and show heartwarming videos of female empowerment at their conferences. However, when Google not only invests in a state hostile to women but brags about it in a blog from the CEO, it becomes clear that none of this is genuine. How can tech companies talk about equality (which is a lie anyway) and then invest in a state that strives to remove a woman’s autonomy over her own body? At best it’s hypocrisy but more likely it’s about the bottom line above all else.

So, it’s time for honesty. Google, like most giant companies, do not care about women, underserved populations, social justice, LGBTQ+ people, or anything other than the how much money they can make. There is no greater mission. Remember that, when an IT company plays the Hallmark quality video showing their employees teaching girls and young women to write code so as to uplift them into IT society. It’s all a gimmick. All of the diversity programs, women’s councils, and talk of meritocracy is nothing more than clever marketing to improve their image. When the real choices need to be made, money will be the deciding factor. Don’t get sucked into believing that Google is better just because they say they are. Everything is about maximizing shareholder value and executive bonuses. That’s just bizspeak for “make as much money as possible, for the wealthiest people imaginable, no matter how you do it.”

IT companies have become the new robber barons. There’s a lot of good but the costs are high. One of the costs is enabling those who want to subjugate women, who want to create the Gilead from The Handmaiden’s Tale in real life. Don’t be evil indeed.