Do It Yourself IT


Doc is talking, over at his new IT Garage, about Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma and asking how open source fits into the equation. Doc's rif is that open source is an example of demand supplying itself. That's a different model than the traditional "vendor builds and sells products--IT shops buy them" model that we're accustomed to. Doc calls it DIY-IT for "do it yourself IT." Hence the "IT Garage."

To get the DIY-IT model, however, you have to understand how its different from rolling your own accounting package, which is something we've mostly, thankfully, moved away from. In the DIY-IT model, "yourself" doesn't mean "your IT shop" so much as it means "users." Open source is about the users taking responsibility for meeting their own demands and being empowered (through distributed development tools and processes) to do so effectively.

At the CTO breakfast this morning, we were discussing the pace of change in IT shops these days and how that's necessitated a move from the old-style notion of developing ERP apps in-house to buying packaged apps. Perhaps its the other way around--the trend has enabled and increased the pace of change. We're not talking about vendor induced churn here, but needs brought to the IT shop by the business.

I see DIY-IT as another step along that path. An agile business can't afford to wait for some vendor somewhere to meet its demand. It must supply its own demand quickly, without the expense in time and money of doing custom development. Open source gives business the power to get needed systems without having to custom build them. I believe that feature, more than price, gives open source its power.