How Web 3.0 Is Steering the Future of DevOps Tools
This article gives an understanding of what motivates devs and DevOps so you can choose tools they will love to use.
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Changing your tech stack is painful. Some companies limp along for years with things barely working, so they don’t have to change a thing. So when, in my previous position at AWS as Global DevOps Partnerships Leader, I heard that one of my customers, a NASDAQ Top-10 tech company, was making the complicated switch from a top CI/CD platform to GitHub Actions, I was immediately curious.
Why would they do it? Features? Cost? A secret handshake between executives? Given the complexities, it had to be something major, but nothing added up.
At least until I bumped into a few of the company’s developers at a conference. Over cocktails (which helped with the information transfer), everything suddenly became clear.
What GitHub offered these developers was something the other leading, world-class CI/CD vendors couldn’t: OWNERSHIP. And in Web 3.0, ownership is everything.
Why Web 3.0 Matters to Dev and DevOps
Talking to those developers gave me a moment of clarity. The world of enterprise software had suddenly converged with the misunderstood (and slightly overhyped) world of Web 3.0.
Because that’s what forecasters have promised us will happen under Web 3.0: Users (in this case, the developers) will seek out new incentive systems, changing the way we do business forever.
If you’re new to the terminology, here’s a basic timeline.
1990: Web 1.0—The early internet was characterized by few content creators (mostly big companies), static text, and minimal interactivity. Online resources were largely read-only and decentralized.
2000: Web 2.0—The mid-period internet offered a wider array of user-created content (communities), extensive interactivity, and open interfaces (APIs). Online activity became more participatory but also more centralized around a few big sites that owned content and offered few monetization opportunities.
2020: Web 3.0—The next stage of online development involves content ownership (by individuals). Online activity will become more decentralized, without intermediaries like banks or tech companies, turning individuals into free agents who can better capitalize on their content contributions.
The key difference between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 is decentralization and ownership.
In Web 2.0, we share content through social sites and search engines owned and controlled by two or three large companies. These companies’ business model centers around data—our data, which they own and manage, use for targeted ads, and more. We are the product.
In Web 3.0, we are the owners of our own content, creations, and personal brand. This business model centers around the individual.
Emerging decentralized technologies that could help us fully reach Web 3.0 include cryptocurrency, NFTs, smart contracts, and edge computing. Many of these use blockchain, a form of distributed ledger technology that authenticates transactions, eliminating the need for a centralized authority (like banks, governments, or other institutions).
Being a Great Developer Is Not Good Enough
Under Web 2.0, developers are rewarded by their employers in one basic way: with a paycheck. There may be other incentives and a pat on the back from time to time, but what happens in Dev and DevOps typically stays in Dev and DevOps.
Now, that equation is changing as Devs flock to contribute to cloud ops communities. They’re still getting a paycheck, but they’ll also be rewarded within those communities. As their reputation grows, they can leverage that to build their personal brand and become DevOps superstars. They might also be rewarded with NFTs or another type of decentralized token to recognize their contribution. Still, the exact mechanisms remain to be seen as these communities grow and standardize.
Big projects like OpenTelemetry (OTel) will expand and thrive under this model, offering developers not only recognition but also compensation as their efforts are adopted.
We’re currently somewhere between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0: Web 3.0 is definitely on its way, but it’s not quite here yet. But even before the full vision of Web 3.0 has been completely realized, it’s easy to see that empowering individual Devs and DevOps team members are quickly becoming the only way to stay in business and attract quality talent.
In today’s development world, it’s not enough to just be good. Developers want more than a steady paycheck: They want to take ownership of their creations and promote themselves while expanding their influence.
Becoming a Dev Superstar
The way software is created today has changed. Today’s developers don’t work in a vacuum; they’re working hand in hand with third-party contributors from all over the globe.
According to dev.to a community of over 900,000 developers, “The software industry relies on collaboration and networked learning.” Let’s say your app needs a notifications infrastructure. Instead of coding one from scratch, developers draw on others’ contributions from all over the world.
This means that today, developers aren’t just working for their employers—they’re also building their careers and reputations by giving back to the community. And that, in turn, brings us full circle to my revelation, speaking to those developers over cocktails about how they’d forced their employer to switch to GitHub. For me, there were not just one but three key takeaways:
- Devs aren’t in it just for money; they want recognition.
- Devs aren’t just working on projects; they’re building careers.
- Devs don’t just care about their employer; they also care about their personal brand.
Developers want to be recognized and insist on using platforms that provide that recognition.
Additionally, using open forums like GitHub means they can take their work wherever they go (at least any work not covered under an NDA), as it won’t get stuck behind in a closed system.
Just like YouTubers or TikTok influencers, open forums let developers build their personal brands by creating more and more content, hoping they can monetize their contributions.
Just look at Jan De Dobbeleer. He actually began his career as a watchmaker but has parlayed his love for code tinkering into Microsoft MVP and GitHub star status (with 13,000 stars as of this writing). Jan’s theme tool, oh-my-posh, is a little utility with a lot of fans: 7,700 stars on GitHub.
He’s just one of a number of developers who regularly feature in posts listing hot developers and repos to follow (like The Algorithm and freeCodeCamp, both aimed at coding newbies). And, of course, there are lots and lots of posts out there telling Devs how to become a GitHub star themselves.
Developers and DevOps also look for brand recognition companies that will offer them a platform to get their name out there and eventually become that influencer. Think Kelsey Hightower from Google.
Which Brings Us Back to the Cocktail Party Where It All Began…
The DevOps team at that NASDAQ top-10 tech company had no problems with the CI/CD platform they were using. And GitHub didn’t offer better features or functionality. But what GitHub did better was empower developers with a platform to show off and grow their influence and personal brand, giving them recognition for their work and talent.
Today, few developers enter the industry simply hoping only to find a job coding; they want to create tribal knowledge that scales and they’ll seek out employers and tools to support them through developer empowerment platforms like GitHub, GitLab, PyPI, BitBucket, SourceForge, and others.
The best DevOps tools and platforms—the ones Devs will choose if they can!—allow them to build reputational (and hopefully soon monetary) equity that lasts throughout their career.
And so these developers voted with their feet. And their employer, recognizing the need for happy employees, dumped a leading CI/CD solution and moved to GitHub.
Some employers may resist this change, hesitant to ungate their code, kicking and screaming at the thought of developers serving anyone other than the company. But in the long run, giving developers what they want costs employers almost nothing and boosts the company’s reputation for hiring and nurturing experts and thought leaders. Superstar Devs work for superstar companies, and vice-versa.
Developers are an asset no company can squander. By recognizing the impact developers and DevOps have on value creation and buying decisions in the software industry, we can all emerge prepared to embrace and thrive with one of the biggest wins of Web 3.0.
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