Needed more than ever: DevOps to manage cloud unpredictability

Needed more than ever: DevOps to manage cloud unpredictability

Summary: Cloud is illusory; there's still hardware somewhere on the other side of the mist.


Behind every cloud service is a load-balancing challenge.

Data Center at CERN-photo courtesy of CERN Press Office
Photo: CERN Media Relations

That's the word from F5's Lori MacVittie, who astutely observes that load balancing "is at the heart of elastic scalability models, and that provides a means to ensure availability and even improve performance of applications."

The bottom line is the cloud is merely an illusion. You don't really get your applications or compute power from a "cloud" somewhere — there are real physical servers and datacenters that supply this capacity. It may be self-evident if you are working with private or hybrid cloud. But even public cloud comes out of a datacenter somewhere. And someone has to manage and pay for this capacity as it is used.

In the process, the ability to control performance — based on tweaking or configuring to underlying hardware — gets lost, Lori states. "In the public cloud, that's because you have no control over the underlying hardware capabilities — you can only specify the compute capabilities of an instance. In a private cloud, you have more control over this but may not have provisioning systems intelligent enough to provide the visibility you need to make a provisioning decision in real time."

Application aware network and load balancing services can pick up some of this load, but they need to be equipped to handle unpredictable situations, Lori adds. Variables such as application load, response time, and capacity may change from one minute to the next in a cloud environment.

That's what makes the practice of DevOps so crucial in these situations, she said. "DevOps practitioners must become adept at not only understanding the complex relationships between performance and availability and capacity and load, but how to turn those business and operational expectations into reality by taking advantage of both application and network infrastructure capabilities."

The cloud isn't taking away the need for close work with operations people. Instead, it's increasing this requirement. An enterprise relying on cloud services can't allow itself to be vulnerable to invisible hardware running behind the scenes somewhere. 

Topics: Cloud, Software Development

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  • I was just reading an announcement on DevOps insight

    Which I thought was very interesting in this context as what they needed seems to be the insight info that will help Devs and Ops to collaborate.
  • Although if you read ZDNet long enough . . .

    "The bottom line is the cloud is merely an illusion. You don't really get your applications or compute power from a 'cloud' somewhere — there are real physical servers and datacenters that supply this capacity."

    Although if you read ZDNet long enough, I wouldn't blame you for thinking such a thing. Sometimes I wonder if some ZDNet bloggers actually do think that everything they do is floating on a vapor in the sky somewhere.

    A magical mystery cloud that solves all problems and how dare anybody think that anything should not use the cloud.
    • Yes the cloud is largely a bizarre money making scheme

      This is such a simple "no brainer", I just don't get why some ZDNet writers are not really poking the big holes in this whole "cloud" issue.

      I could understand if there were no readily apparent reasons for thinking the cloud has any drawbacks, but there are reasons. And there are great big huge powerful reasons that should be drawing the attention of practically every writer here, pointing out that the big IT companies are trying to change the angle of the playing field and simply "slide" us all into cloud based computing in the upcoming years so that they can begin to reap the regular profits of a rental based system as compared to the current purchase based system that is failing them because software and hardware is so reliable that nobody is interested in purchasing anything close to as often as they used to.

      Its ridiculous. This article provides for some genuine proof. How much storage for how much rent? How much to simply purchase the same amount of storage?

      The few advantage the cloud can give you better outweigh the disadvantages it can bring you. If the storage is inside your computer, or laptop, so long as you have power, you got your stuff. If its in the cloud, you also need the internet connection. Believe it or not, there are places you go, places people work that block wireless internet. Sometimes even cell phones.

      Suppose you decide that right now, you want every single thing you have stored GONE. Right now. COMPLETELY. If you have it all on your own hardware storage HD, you could pull that HD and smash the living crap out of it if that's what you need to do to be satisfied its all gone to never never land. Not so easy permanently eliminating a TB worth of data that's in the cloud. I suppose the storage provider they eliminate your cloud drive contents so completely that The Men In Black couldn't retrieve it from their cloud drive, I would like to see that not in the fine print, but in the big print.

      For most people the cloud is a positively ridiculous idea with so little merit we should have writers here screaming at us and tell us to wake up and resist.