DevOps is DOA

DevOps is DOA

Summary: The increased efficiency DevOps aspires to bring to the software lifecycle requires a massively inefficient, expensive,and disruptive cultural upheaval.


Commentary - The concept of DevOps is very alluring. Who could take issue with the noble goal of increasing collaboration between developers and operations professionals? Who wouldn’t agree that better communication between these teams could improve software quality, expedite release cycles, and give the business greater agility?

DevOps would seem to be particularly enticing now, given the rapid rise of cloud computing and Agile development practices. The cloud model demands a new mindset about how applications are developed, deployed, and managed; delivering cloud services requires a higher level of collaboration between development and IT operations. At the same time, the advent of Agile practices has sparked increased collaboration within development teams. With Agile development, all stakeholders are cross-functional team members rather than siloed specialists.

There are several problems with DevOps, the largest being this: The increased efficiency it aspires to bring to the software lifecycle requires a massively inefficient, expensive,and disruptive cultural upheaval.

DevOps essentially requires everyone involved in the development, deployment, and management of software to change the way they work, to cross-train for multiple functions, and to collaborate with people they’ve all too often viewed as adversaries. It creates new processes and methodologies and, in many cases, uses new tools to get the job done. In addition, it often requires a small army of consultants to implement and manage the transition. That is why the “promise” and “potential” of DevOps has yet to be realized by more than a handful of real-world companies.

Enter PaaS
The appeal of the DevOps model fades even further when you consider the fact that there is a better option! You can achieve the intended benefits of DevOps without any of the turmoil by taking advantage of Platform-as-a-Service offerings, or PaaS.

PaaS is quickly gaining momentum as a way to support the complete software life cycle via the cloud. A PaaS offering can combine a development platform, computing resources, deployment infrastructure, and managed hosting services—so that businesses can cut the cost and complexity of every aspect of developing, deploying, and managing their applications. The tools and compute power are available on a metered basis, and the specifics of the offering can be tailored to specific business requirements.

In the PaaS model, IT vets the platform for security and dependability, developers work within the platform so they can focus on features and functionality, and the platform takes care of the rest. Simply put, PaaS offerings get your applications to the cloud, using the cloud. They deliver a new level of efficiency—and cost savings—at every phase of the development life cycle.

PaaS does not require a painful cultural transition, nor does it put IT out of a job. Quite the contrary, PaaS can free development and operations staff from time-consuming but low-value activities and allow them to focus on new services and innovations that create competitive advantages.

Set developers free - don’t turn them loose!
PaaS allows developers to create the next great application without having to worry about configuration details and the ongoing management of IT resources. By providing the right abstraction, integration, and automation at platform layers, PaaS can enable developers to:

  • Build with a focus on innovative business logic, not platform infrastructure
  • Deploy quickly to production
  • Run with maximum performance and minimum downtime
  • Iterate and adapt rapidly
  • Scale easily and dynamically in step with business growth
  • Keep up with security, performance, and other platform upgrades
  • Mitigate failures and outages at lower layers of the stack

Equally important, most developers and IT Ops professionals love the PaaS model, so adoption tends to be fast. With PaaS, development teams no longer have to procure, provision,configure, and manage tools, middleware, or compute infrastructure. Operations staff no longer has to struggle with the complex stack of components required to deploy applications. They no longer have to worry that they’ve missed a critical security patch or failed to optimize the caching. They are set free to focus on higher-value activities.

And of course, everyone does their best when they’re working with tools they love. With PaaS,developers are using tools that are up to date, that work the way they should, and that help them be more creative and efficient at their work.

Senior management has plenty of reasons to love the PaaS model as well. For starters, PaaS can reduce CAPEX and OPEX dramatically.

On the CAPEX side, there’s no longer any need to purchase licenses for tools or to acquire server, storage, and networking hardware; and you no longer have to procure the facilities to house those resources, and pay for the power, water, physical security systems, insurance, and so on.

The OPEX savings are often even higher. People are the largest expense in IT, according to Gartner, consuming 41% of the IT budget.# With PaaS you no longer need as many people to keep tools up to date and to monitor, manage, and maintain your infrastructure: system administrators, security administrators, database administrators, virtual machine specialists, high-availability configuration experts, network management administrators, etc.

In short, PaaS can free up budget that is currently locked away in necessary but low-value activities.

Traditionally, far more money is spent on the Ops side than on the development side.

By fusing development and operations via DevOps you get a small overlap which corresponds to small cost efficiencies.

With PaaS the budget is focused on development and innovation; there is only a small investment needed in operations.

Scalability is also a huge advantage of the PaaS model; with PaaS you scale your applications by clicking the appropriate boxes on the PaaS vendor’s web site. You can scale instantly, massively, and seamlessly to meet unexpected spikes in demand for your web apps and services; and you can scale back down just as quickly and easily. All the while, you pay only for the resources you actually used.

And with PaaS, small start-ups have access to the same tools, the same infrastructure, the same service levels, and the same scalability as large enterprises.

DevOps: The future has already passed you by
It’s ironic that cloud computing is often cited as the catalyst for the DevOps movement. In fact, cloud computing has created an opportunity to completely remove the need for DevOps. The utility model implemented by cloud computing is best engendered by PaaS; and that is why PaaS—not DevOps—is the future of integrated, collaborative software development and operations.

With customer satisfaction and revenue on the line, IT professionals need to be prepared to successfully run applications in the cloud to meet business and performance goals. DevOps isn’t wrong, but it's a short-sighted solution. If you’re looking for the scalability, flexibility, and reliability to accelerate IT’s contribution and drive business success, look to PaaS.

Tom Mornini co-founded Engine Yard to provide the infrastructure and support necessary to fuel development of Ruby on Rails applications. He has spent nearly 30 years as a software developer and systems architect with experience encompassing nearly every major development platform in that time and 20 years leading companies as a serial entrepreneur. You can follow him on Twitter @tmornini.

Topic: Cloud

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  • They're probably social, too

    <ul><i>all stakeholders are cross-functional team members</i></ul><p>On our planet, The G'narr has decreed death to anyone who talks like that.
    Robert Hahn
  • paas will only change the context

    Hey Tom,

    thanks for challenging the devops community.

    If you use iaas, saas, paas, this will only change the context. It will be another layer of abstraction. Great when it works, hard when it fails. The adagium that your SAAS provider will fix your stuff faster isn't always true either. There is always a history and a context required to give good support, close constant collaboration can provide that better IMHO.

    And because you rely on an external party, you will now have to monitor if it fails, check if you can switch to another paas provider, have a backup ready solution, need testing to avoid performance issues. So here come the operations/sysadmin tasks again, just in a different setting. You might say the developers can do it all themselves now, but in reality they are now taking on the sysadmin roles too.

    Don't get me wrong, I love *aas , but when the shit hits the fan, I'd favor someone I can really talk too, with options for my problem and not a generic problem. If you can get close to that level of collaboration with your SAAS provider, your saas has become another part of your devops team. (bridging collaboration). But my experiences are when things fails, communication often shuts down to a generic information level and isn't focused on helping my specific issues. This can be done right, but if not, this will just be another silo you will have to bridge again.

    • RE: DevOps is DOA

      Benjamin Vivo
      • PaaS pressures Ops: That encourages, not kills DevOps

        Assuming that the threat of the cloud and PaaS will kill operations, assumes that Ops will fight back badly. What I'm seeing is Ops guys taking notice and realizing that they have to provide a better service to their developers than external providers to stay relevant (and employed). This is highly motivating. <br><br>So there's an effort underway in the enterprise to build the internal cloud, and provide it as a service to the development team. Otherwise, the Dev team might walk away to an external cloud. The business is distrustful of the external cloud but likes the basic "cloud" idea and using an internal one to provide efficiencies to the development team is a safe way to dip their toe in the water. <br><br>It's this push that is getting the two sides of the wall talking again and is actually the great opportunity for a gradual (if radical) culture shift away from adversarial positions. When the developers push Ops to not just spin up environments on the fly, but deploy applications post-provision, Operations is getting its hands dirty in the Developers Continuous Delivery tools. It's not a radical leap from that point to standardize on deployment techniques in dev and prod environments, and generally see more collaboration. <br><br>DevOps isn't going to happen (in any but the most radically foward thinking shops) because its better. It's going to happen because the Dev guys want to continue to go fast, and the Ops guys are fighting for their jobs.
  • RE: DevOps is DOA

    Man, someone really needs to take the blog keys away from Engineyard. Between the MongoDB article in April and now this, they've proven themselves to have a ravenous appetite for their own feet, and little common sense.
    • RE: DevOps is DOA

      @fahrv242 Do you have a comment on the content, or do you prefer to stay entirely ad hominem?
  • DevOps is dead, long live DevOps

    Paas is another iteration of the DevOps model. It is neither a refinement nor revolutionary. It merely introduces strictures and regulations, through contractual SLAs, between the provider and the development team. The only difference between the classic DevOps model and the Paas-centric model is the outsourcing of blame.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: DevOps is DOA

      @facebook@... Do you agree or disagree that developers will care less and less about operations over time?

      As for shifting blame, I suppose I can agree that there's always some of that when you're shifting responsibilities, which is how I'd describe it. :-)
      • False dichotomy

        There is nothing that a *aas solution offers that is unique, other than the costing model. The costing changes from a CapEx to an OpEx. And developers simply do not care about costing models at all.

        Developers should never "care" about operations. Operations needs to work with the same reliability as dialtone service. You need to pick up the phone and expect to hear a dial tone at all times. *aas, however is not a panacea.
        Your Non Advocate
  • PaaS is not the &quot;NoOps&quot; panacea

    I'd claim that making your teams and processes work well together is much harder than chucking your infrastructure and going to the next PaaS vendor. As we know, development processes of today are inherently complex - in just about any mid to large size enterprise there are geographically distributed teams that need to manage and synchronize complex dependencies and processes throughout the lifecycle of developing, testing and deploying/releasing and monitoring at an increasing pace. And that is what DevOps is intending to solve, using a combination of the right tools, culture and collaboration. To claim that PaaS makes this development complexity magically disappear is wishful thinking at best.

    Tom, your article inspired me to write a short post on our blog, <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"><a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow"></a></a>
  • RE: DevOps is DOA

    I would second the points made by Patrick and Eric above. To Tom, particularly, and to ZDNet, generally, I fail to see how this sort of post is designed as anything other than a thinly veiled advertisment playing on the climbing keyword appeal of "DevOps." The arguments for PaaS generally are strong, and you make most of them fairly well; the objections against DevOps are strained and the arguments faintly ludicrous. It's hard to see how it got in here as anything other than a controversy designed to attract raw eyeballs. It does not, in my opinion, cover either Engine Yard or ZDnet with glory.

    In that spirit of raw exploitation, then, I will also throw in a link to my own blog post on the matter:
  • really surprised by the emphatic statement...

    tho' meant to draw attention...
    the difficulties of making a cultural shift are always present when a new paradigm has to be adopted. If the benefits out-weigh the costs, in the short term, the stakeholders could be convinced to bite the bullet. IMHO, *aaS is definitely helpful on the way but does not obviate the need for change, as others have pointed out... and this paradigm is here to stay... and that is how the *aaS providers themselves stay nimble on their feet (so to speak) or rather a "must do" for them...
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  • RE: DevOps is DOA

    Take your main argument "DevOps essentially requires everyone involved in the development, deployment, and management of software to change the way they work, to cross-train for multiple functions, and to collaborate with people they???ve all too often viewed as adversaries." and replace the word 'devops' with 'agile'. This is/was the argument against going from waterfall to agile. In the past ops got a 'pass' from having to go agile by arguing increased risks. Devops is the realization that we should have been along for the ride in the first place. I don't think most people in devops are arguing that ops should become programmers and dev should become sys admins, just that both need to come to a better understanding of the other. The cost of adding ops to an agile environment is relatively small when compared to the investment already made to train dev, qa, project/product management and the user.

    I'm very excited about advances in paas. I think these tools will be a great addition to the devops toolkit. However they don't signal the end of devops or ops in general. As others have noted, someone still needs to understand the infrastructure behind them and that is not the developer. Just look to the s3 outage last year to understand what happens when developers blindly choose to hit the infrastructure "easy button". They get outages because they didn't understand the infrastructure. Furthermore, the argument for paas is good when you have only a few apps that require 'cookie cutter' configuration. I work in a large enterprise where I have 100+ different apps. Some of them can be lumped together and benefit from a paas but many have specific requirements that can't be met by pushing the small, medium or large button.