For DevOps to work, define the 'Ops' as services

The case for software defined networking and software defined operations as a necessary step toward DevOps.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

I'm sure many readers are involved in the operations side of the house, so the following will not come as a surprise to you. But for those from other parts of the enterprise seeking to be part of a DevOps flow, there's a lot to learn. Before diving too deep into DevOps, the opportunities for automation or abstraction of these functions needs to be a part of the plan. Operations shouldn't be treated as one big monolithic function.

IBM Watson Group-photo from IBM Media Relations
Photo: IBM Media Relations

That's the view of F5's Lori MacVittie, who in a new post, called attention to the need to review exactly what goes into the Ops side of DevOps. When pulling together a DevOps strategy and process, it's important to remember there's a lot more to operations that one big group deploying applications and keeping them running. "Operations is not a single group with a single focus," she states. There are actually four key areas of operations, each with its own staff expertise and infrastructure: security, network, compute and storage.

There are two initiatives on the operations side that are needed to accommodate all these aspects and facilitate the rise of DevOps, MacVittie points out: software defined networking (SDN) and software defined operations (SDO).

In fact, DevOps and SDN are a very natural fit and belong together, as explained by John Willis of Pacific Crest Security at a recent Puppet Labs event. SDN may help bring network operations in from out in the cold, he explained. "Networks are hard to manage, and they don’t have to be," he said. "They don’t evolve to understand, they’re hard to understand, they’re ridiculously hard to abstract. SDN is kind of an approach to solve all that."

The other initiative, SDO, is a less commonly used term, but is closely related to the concept of the software defined data center. Many definitions also add network to the mix as well, essentially that the IT infrastructure is virtualized and offered as a service. Having both approaches is the only way to achieve end--to-end DevOps, MacVittie says. "The point is to recognize that SDN and SDO are really subsets of DevOps, each with a focal point on a different piece of the app deployment puzzle: one on the network, one on the app infrastructure."

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