LinuxPlanet published an interview with Ibrahim Haddad this past summer on a topic near and dear to my heart.
Developers have done a great job in the last couple of decades of evolving their practice, so that development looks very different now than it did a couple of years ago. There’s a lot of competition for tools and methodologies, lots of publishing on these differences, and plenty of opportunity for new ideas to gain mindshare. This competition is really important to evolution: Unless there is opportunity and reward for better ideas and products, these better ideas don’t develop very quickly.
Sysadmins, on the other hand, have very little competition, in either ideas or products, and in the few areas where there is competition there generally isn’t much to differentiate the competitors.
Ibrahim’s interview mostly focuses on process, which is, I think, where a lot of the evolution has happened in development recently. The wizz-bang Agile stuff is all about changes in process, and has almost no impact on tools, other than having a preference for tools that enable the process. It doesn’t hurt that there are lots of consultancies set up specifically to sell Agile development methodologies.
I’d love to see the same kind of process competition in the sysadmin world, and I wish I knew how to kick-start it, but my only real area of expertise is tools, so I’m kind of forced to stick to trying to that.
I will say that I’m very happy that Puppet has modern competition in BCFG2, because it forces us to keep making our products better. I know that reporting in Puppet needs to improve, because BCFG2 has set the standard there, and I like to think that there are parts of Puppet that Narayan sees and knows he has to match in order to compete effectively.