Letting developers buy technology piecemeal has implications for how you pay for technology. It can be hard to track your IT spending if more and more of it shows up on employee credit cards. And as APIs spread from IT-centric services like data cleansing into standard business services like telephony, your developers may not have enough expertise on pricing to know if they're getting a good deal.
Some businesses have found their BYOD pilots costing more than their entire company-provided device program, because the amount allocated to cover user data plans was far higher than the tariffs an experienced facilities team could negotiate with a carrier (and users in the pilots claimed the full amount, however much their actual bill came to).
On the other hand, your data center is far more likely to be energy efficient if the electricity bill goes to the IT team than if it's picked up by facilities management, because then you have both the expertise and the incentive to get those costs down.
Tapping developer expertise for choosing and buying services can free up IT to be more strategic themselves. "The value an IT department brings to the table is less about the racking and stacking and the buying process these days," Lawson points out "As things become easier and easier with cloud, the role of IT is increasingly oriented towards customer facing solutions and adding value."
Embracing change, the benefit of developer involvement
Cracking down on what your developers are buying can be counterproductive. "Two years ago, our number one customer let us know they were leaving the service," explains Brian Harry, who runs Microsoft's Visual Studio Online cloud service for developers. "We asked why and they said we started this as a side thing and now management has found out we're doing this and management has not approved using the cloud for company assets' so they wanted to move back to on premise systems."
The Visual Studio Online team helped the developers migrate their code and accounts in Microsoft's Team Foundation Services. "But nine months later we got another call saying they wanted to come back," Harry remembers. The developers missed the simplicity of the cloud service, and the regular updates and new features, so they'd talked their management team into signing off on cloud.
That means the development team at a business changed not just a single purchasing choice but the whole company attitude to cloud services. "It's about time, and comfort and understanding the value of a cloud service and how to avail yourself of that," Harry suggests.
It's also about being able to manage and monitor what your developers are committing you to, and what you're getting in return. That means you may want to use tools like the cloud service monitoring in Microsoft's Azure Active Directory Premium (which also lets you take control of the accounts developers use for Azure services) or identity management systems like Xceedium's Xsuite (which lets you manage AWS accounts as well as Office 365 and VMware vSphere).
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