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I'm reminded of something a certain high-end ops director (responsible for a DevOps push at a Fortune 50) would tell his CxOs... "No matter what business you think you're in, you're in IT now".

I work mostly in big enterprise companies. Whatever business they are in, they are "large software organizations", and they have decades of experience creating and evolving processes to suit the times and available. tech. You don't need to be Google to be an IT company. Any insurance company, any big-box retailer is an IT company. They know how to do this stuff, believe it or not.

footnote: Don't judge big enterprise companies by what they were doing 20, 30 years ago. They were state of the art then, and they're often state of the art now.




It's a question of support though, in a non-software-selling org, as a dev, you are a cost center, not a profit center, so getting the tools or other things you need is not a business priority; in fact, any additional costs in the cost centers are only losses on the balance sheet. In a company that sells software (primarily), you are the profit center, so anything that can be done to facilitate your work is supported, as it drives the bottom line.

footnote: just because they produce lots of software doesn't mean they've ever learned how to do it right. Ford is still a car company, Chase is still a financial company, Schlumberger is still an oilfield service company, despite all of them producing more software than some Software Companies.


Do you actually work in these environments, or are you making assumptions?

Resource contention is a problem in pure software companies, too. I used to work for a small pure software company in rapid growth. What did we have? Legacy code nightmares that were as bad as or worse than anything I've seen in the Fortune 500 (like building the core product on antique Borland C++ where there were only 9 licenses in the company and new licenses were no longer for sale and hadn't been for years, while the UI was written in Java Swing with a table kit from an out-of-business vendor). And almost all growth money went to expanding sales staff... engineering got screwed. They sold (and sell) terrible quality software, and they make a fortune at it.

Meanwhile, I'm at a massive health care company, and they hired me because they're committed to radical improvement in how the already-okay software is built and deployed. We're working hard on a serious continuous integration pipeline, and I expect us to be as good as anyone in a year - our reference points for "Why can't we do this?" are companies like Netflix. We're after that level of smoothness in the process, and we'll get there, or at least get close.

Don't let conventional wisdom tell you who is and isn't good at software.

edit: I'm reminded of going to a meetup about selling to the enterprise in Silicon Valley some years ago, and the twenty-something Stanford crowd were convinced that because these big companies have big failures, that they must suck. I pointed out that if you worked at a startup with $50M revenue, they'd be pretty successful, right? I've worked on several projects with annual development budgets larger than that. It's expensive and risky because they're operating at scales that most of the HN crowd can't even comprehend.




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