GitLab Says: “Ditch Chef, Puppet, SNYK” Probably a Good Idea!
Could there be anything more wretched than rising every morning to sell a DevOps niche tool like Chef, Puppet, SNYK, or browser testing?
Just the idea that one has to make a quarterly number by selling to people who sit at community desks, wear cargo shorts and are barely old enough to vote could make one suicidal.
No wonder these firms are all walking dead.
Chef, Puppet, SNYK, Splunk and a score of others may have some very good news coming. They may be put out of their collective misery by the insightful people at GitLab.
As the article below notes, GitLab announced, with significant credibility, their DevOps platform will be delivered as a single app that entirely eliminates the need for these niche tools.
And none too soon.
Purchasing departments have an almost universal written mandate, measured every year, to reduce the number of vendors.
In the DevOps space, GitLab now delivers a single platform that covers DevOps app functions of: manage, plan, create, verify, package, secure, release, configure, monitor and defend.
Each of these words designates a niche inhabited by over-funded, entirely non-strategic companies like Chef, Puppet, SNYK and a score of others.
Is it any surprise that GitLab’s move is perfectly aligned to appeal to the purchasing department’s mega trend of eliminating niche vendors?
We noted in earlier articles that Chef, Puppet, Xebia Labs, Perfecto Mobile and scores of DevOps firms are the walking dead. These companies often raised over $100 million in VC dough, never made a dime, are 10 years old or older, have had tons of CEOs and Sales VPs and know they will never reach IPO or liquidity trajectory.
They are dead in every meaningful way; waiting for the final VC round followed by private equity cram downs.
These are the companies where the mediocre go to live out a failed career in “high tech.” There is always enough VC dough to stay alive but never enough money or differentiated technology to break out bigly.
They are joined by more super niche companies like SNYK, (really, that is their name, it is not a typo) whose potential market is so small they will never be more than an asterisk in the DevOps or security world. Or in their case forever known as “SNYK (sic).”
GitLab just raised a massive funding round. They are well managed and from their recent market positioning, aggressive in a market of tired sheep.
Their move will succeed whether or not it is perfectly executed. When the industry demands that something happen, execution becomes secondary to positioning – being in the right place at the right time with the right mind set.
The right place is the never-taken-off area of DevOps. It is inhabited by old companies (7 – 12 years) that never quite launched. The right time is when corporations want far fewer vendors. The right positioning is the reality that cobbling together a dozen “best-of-breed” technologies only slows down app delivery times.
The same dynamics for the massively overcrowded security and logging markets. Nothing there to drive a massive valuation.
Best of breed works if you are selling a strategic product that drives a revenue or cost needle in the 10% or higher range. Best of breed doesn’t matter in niche DevOps when your buyer writes at the command prompt.
The trend of consolidation is simply a hidden constant in corporate IT.
It is like gravity: you do not see it but it is always there and always a force – against niche, transaction level products.
Over time, niche vendors are eliminated as one platform takes over. This happened in database, in operating systems, middleware and other categories. It is an inexorable force.
One can choose to be the company doing the acquiring or developing, like GitLab or one can choose to be the one praying, daily, they will be acquired at a great price.
In the case of these walking dead, they are pretty much screwed.
They do not have the juice –financial, positioning, leadership or differentiated technology to be the one delivering the entire solution.
They are not strategic and do not have immediately differentiated offerings – thus they will never command a great price.
So if you work for Chef, Puppet, SNYK, Xebia Labs or scores of others, you have a nice warm place to sit it out while GitLab takes over your market.
But you probably don’t care.
If you were a street fighter, wanting to command a market, you would have already left.