November 3, 2022

Why Don't CTOs Have a Platform?

Table of Contents

Key takeaway

Chief revenue officers have the CRM. Chief operating offers get an ERP. Chief people officers get an HRM. But what about CTOs? What are they using to manage company-wide software delivery and DevOps initiatives? 

The cost of not having that central space is greater than you think. That tool sprawl, lack of documentation, and lack of a singular repository for process and project metrics takes its toll in the form of added work and developer toil. It also weakens your resilience, security, and governance. 

That true price you pay isn’t always readily apparent. This is just the way things have always been done. But once you start using a software development lifecycle (SDLC) platform and no longer have to pay it, the difference is unmissable. Today, I’ll explore that largely hidden cost.

Platformless Teams Pay a Productivity Tax

Instead of a singular software and DevOps platform, many CTOs purchase a flight of point solutions to address individual needs as they arise. But more systems means higher integration costs and more costly sprawl.

Whereas one platform managed by one vendor with one product team evolves into greater cohesion over time (decreasing entropy), a franken-stack does the opposite (increasing entropy). Each component is run by a different open-source group or startup, and each is free to evolve in its own direction. Inevitably, many develop overlaps. 

Then there’s the exponential cost of incorporating additional tools. The equation for this is known as Metcalf’s law, which demonstrates how incrementally more nodes in a system produce exponentially more interconnections. Granted, not every tool connects to every other tool, but the principle holds. Complexity increases a lot faster than you’d think. 

Metcalf's Law illustrates the exponential cost of additional tools.

This is all to say that every custom script, written out of convenience, is a snowflake—a minor maintenance burden—and many snowflakes make an avalanche.

From this perspective, yes, Jenkins is free. But is it really? What is the cost in terms of your team’s time? Can you afford to have developers spending 20-30% of their time maintaining and deploying code, rather than writing it?

Scripts make sense for small organizations. But as soon as the cost of a DevOps platform exceeds the cost of one developer’s salary, it’s time to think about switching.

Yes, Jenkins is free. But is it really? What is the cost in terms of your team’s time?

Plus, Consider How Fragmentation Creates Blind Spots

The other great maintenance cost is the incalculable value of what remains in everyone’s heads. Every snowflake deepens the system's fragility because it depends on the knowledge of individuals who can leave. 

Transferring that knowledge becomes a compounding tax. It slows people’s release cycles down and raises the already expensive process of onboarding new engineers even further. It causes bottlenecks around the few most knowledgeable people. Your most valuable technical individuals find they have to shift their focus away from exceeding your customer’s expectations and toward internal problems around software plumbing. 

And then, of course, those people can always leave, a point which probably needs no elaboration. 

Moreover, open source components and silos bring about fragmented data. It leaves lots of CTOs with no good way to understand their full software development process. If you’re looking to continually improve your service, simply consolidating that data becomes its own project. The snowflakes lead to more snowflakes and it’s difficult to provide your customers with business intelligence that you yourself lack.

Is it Time to Say 'Goodbye' to DIY?

A software delivery lifecycle platform (SDLC) can address all the above issues for a CTO. It’s the data, the structure, the documentation, and the resilience they need, as well as a real unlock if you’re looking to push beyond what you’re doing today. For more complex achievements, like GitOps, you’re going to need a stronger foundation

And that foundation should be one platform.

The CTO’s Platform? That’s Harness

It solves for every part of the software delivery lifecycle. It helps you accelerate innovation with built-in security and control, and modules to ensure reliability and predict cloud costs before something goes into production. 

Learn more about the Harness platform. Request a personalized demo today.

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