After weeks of industry rumors and leaks to the press, on January 11 Harness announced that it had purchased the assets of Armory. Harness says this news “Powers [the] Future of Software Delivery” but what was (and was not) announced suggests otherwise. I’d like to share my take on what is happening and what it means to Armory Customers based on technology acquisitions I’ve seen over the last two decades.
What Did Harness Announce? Acquisition Details
Let’s start with what we know:
- $7M Purchase Price. Compare this to the reported $80M that Armory raised from investors. This suggests there was not a viable, ongoing business.
- Asset Only Sale. Harness is not buying Armory’s business, nor taking on any prior obligations or commitments that Armory made. Harness is only buying “key intellectual property and technology.” This is important enough to be right in the headline of the press release.
- Armory Team Did Not Move to Harness. As this is an asset sale, the Armory team did not move to Harness. Based on OpsMx’s analysis of data from LinkedIn it appears that only six hands-on technical people from Armory were hired by Harness. In total it appears that fewer than 20 of Armory’s ~100 employees have joined Harness.
- No Public Commitment to Spinnaker. “Spinnaker” appears nowhere in Harness’ press release and in exactly one sentence in the announcement blog posted by Harness, despite the fact that Armory’s entire business was built on Spinnaker. To reinforce the point, the Harness website has a page dedicated to why Harness is better than Spinnaker.
- “Moving onto the Harness Platform.” This is the heading in big bold letters in Harness’ blog, followed by, “Armory customers will have the opportunity to move their deployments onto the Harness Platform.”
Harness’s Message to Armory Customers? Migrate!
Harness is being remarkably clear about their plans for Armory customers: migrate to Harness. No guessing is required when Harness CEO and founder Jyoti Bansal tells the press he wants to offer “a path to migrate to a next-generation platform like Harness”. No plans to continue investing in a Spinnaker platform, instead Harness will “selectively cherry-pick pieces from the Armory code and technology that are interesting and we’ll add those technologies in those areas to the Harness CD platform.” While this is not unusual in an acquisition like this, companies usually at least pretend they will keep things going for a while.
Here’s how I think this is likely to play out:
- “Everything’s fine – no change”. For the moment, any Harness/Armory rep will tell you there is no change. Just wait…
- Decline in Support. With only six hands-on technical people with Spinnaker expertise and few customer success people, one of the first places you are likely to see a change is in the speed of response and resolution for your next support issue. This is not going to get better.
- “Have you looked at Harness?” Expect to be asked this in your second meeting with your new Harness sales rep. Despite what the Harness rep will tell you, Spinnaker continues to grow in thousands of active implementations around the world including companies like Apple, Autodesk, Cisco, JPMorgan Chase, and Salesforce. OpsMx’s Spinnaker customers have doubled their usage over the last two years.
- No New Releases. Expect new Spinnaker-related product releases and product announcements to get very quiet. There is barely anyone to fix bugs, let alone develop new features.
- Migrate! No later than your next contract renewal, you’ll be told that support for Armory Spinnaker is ending and you’ll need to migrate to Harness. Harness will be happy to help with the migration as they’ll then be in their closed ecosystem where they can sell you expensive licenses and services.
Don’t get surprised. Migrating CD platforms is complex and time consuming. Start planning now to be ready for what you’ll do next.
Four Better Alternatives for Armory Customers Than Migrating to Harness
The good news is there are better alternatives available to Armory customers than a forced migration and getting locked into an expensive, proprietary platform. If a migration to Harness is not in your plans for 2024 then an “Open CD” strategy built around open source CD platforms can preserve investments in Spinnaker while providing maximum flexibility. Consider your options:
- Keep Using Spinnaker. Is Spinnaker working well for you today? Keep using it. You can preserve all of your existing Spinnaker pipelines, stages, etc. with an easy move from Armory Spinnaker to OpsMx Spinnaker or to open source Spinnaker. Some of Armory’s largest customers have already moved to OpsMx, making the transition over a weekend. OpsMx is currently offering special discounts and free transition services to help you move.
- Add Argo CD to Spinnaker. Some teams find that Spinnaker is working well for existing applications, but users are asking for a different solution for new applications. In this case add GitOps with Argo CD for Kubernetes deployments running side by side with Spinnaker. OpsMx can help with Argo and Spinnaker.
- Migrate to Enterprise Argo CD. If your organization has decided it is time for a new CD platform then you should be looking at open source Argo CD, one of Linux Foundation’s fastest growing projects. Only OpsMx has expertise in both Spinnaker and enterprise Argo to help with support, migration, and security.
- Migrate At Your Pace. CD migration is complex and time consuming. If you’ve already decided to migrate off Spinnaker then OpsMx can provide you support while you do. Complete your migration on your timeline, not Harness’ timeline.
All of these options give you more choices and investment protection than what is offered by Harness or any other single-vendor CD solution.
Let’s Talk About Open CD
If you are a Harness / Armory customer, let’s talk. I and the rest of the OpsMx team welcome the opportunity to explore your CD options, regardless of where you may be in your plans. OpsMx has already helped some of the world’s largest companies on their CD journey, including former Armory customers. We can help you too.