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Cloud and Assembly Lines – Choose the Right Model

I’m at Red Hat Summit this week talking about cloud with customers and partners, and it occurs to me one of the common metaphors isn’t quite right. The problem with the “Assembly Line” metaphor is everyone thinks of 1907 Ford (“any color you want, as long as it’s black”). And that’s actually a lousy example.  There was zero flexibility in product output and the only automation beyond individual parts was the well-defined hand-off during assembly. Don’t underestimate the power of those elements, but that’s nothing compared to what we can do today.

The right model is Chevrolet’s model: build knowing the products you need tomorrow are different from the ones you need today.  Build knowing you will change your process while it’s still running. It’s no wonder that once implemented, Chevy beat industry-leader Ford to market by a full year while continuing to serve their current customers and took the lion’s share of the entire car market .

If your cloud isn’t open and changeable, your competitors will out innovate you and take your market.

100 Years of Chevrolet Assembly Lines - 2011-10-27 - Assembly Magazine{ photo from excellent slide show on 100 years of assembly lines at Chevrolet and GM: http://www.assemblymag.com/articles/89625-100-years-of-chevrolet-assembly-lines }

[ update: corrected link to Red Hat Summit keynote streaming ]

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