Welcome!

DevOps Journal Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Mike Kavis, Roger Strukhoff, Yeshim Deniz

Blog Feed Post

Excuse Me Ms. Shannon-Solomon, But DevOps Is Great For Enterprises

On May 13th, Rachel Shannon-Solomon wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal’s CIO Journal section entitled “DevOps Is Great for Startups, but for Enterprises It Won’t Work-Yet.” In this piece, Ms. Shannon-Solomon implies that DevOps—a loosely-defined IT initiative oriented toward creating higher quality and more resilient systems—currently faces too many hurdles to see broad-spectrum adoption. Unfortunately, this assertion is incorrect and based on some rudimentary mistakes individuals make about what defines DevOps and what is required to be successful with DevOps adoption.

First, I will address Ms. Shannon-Solomon’s premise and then propose alternative thinking from other industries that will work well for enterprises. Ms. Shannon-Solomon’s initial point that silod-structures and organizational change are necessary to institute DevOps is an area of debate and contention among many leading the DevOps charge. There is an entire school of DevOps influencers that do not believe silos are the enemy and, indeed, serve a purpose in large IT organizations for ensuring focus and a level of specialization needed to ensure that the prime operational mission—keeping the systems available and secure—is met. The issue Ms. Shannon-Solomon uncovered relates to organizations that have been indoctrinated into the school of thought that DevOps requires cultural change. One of her later points in the piece explicitly states that the hurdle many DevOps tools vendors are running into is related to attempts to sell this cultural revolution.

This entire line of thinking is spurred by the perspective that DevOps fosters greater collaboration between various facets of IT that need to work more closely to ensure successful completion of the tasks. Moreover, the cultural change is not revolutionary, but evolutionary, with regard to instituting accountability for the availability and security of the corporate assets across all of IT. The outcome being reduced finger-pointing, reduced outages and faster recovery times in cases where outages do occur (and they will).

Ms. Shannon-Solomon’s points around build vs. buy illustrates another common misunderstanding regarding DevOps, which is that tools are an essential element of adoption. It is true that a key element of DevOps is automation as it provides consistency and reduces configuration drift—the issue where application and infrastructure configuration changes are instituted with loose control leading, a leading cause of outages—and increases productivity through the reduction of time spent on repetitive tasks. However, there are a bevy of tools already deployed in enterprise environments that can be used to drive an end-to-end design-build-test-stage-deploy-operate process. Indeed, I, and other DevOps throught-leaders, have indicated caution with regard to tools adoption around DevOps as it can lead to new IT silos and a significant increase in code and scripts that require their own architecture and maintenance lifecycles.

Finally, with regard to her point about return on investment, Ms. Shannon-Solomon addresses, anecdotally, one aspect of the DevOps process focused on engineering and development. Specifically, she addresses a lack of ROI with regard to agile development projects, when it’s important to examine and measure impact on all facets of application delivery including those that touch security, network operations, data center operations and help desk, as would be expected of an effective enterprise DevOps strategy. However, the real value to any business in successfully adopting DevOps is the increase in focus on depleting backlog and supporting innovation that is currently lost to just keeping the lights on. As with cloud computing, the greatest value proposition to the business is increased agility.

Where I agree with Ms. Shannon-Solomon is that the same tactics used to institute DevOps in a startup will not work in an enterprise setting. These are very different environments with extremely different goals and requirements. She is correct in her assessment of enterprise as resistant to change and stymied by organizational structure. However, requiring a “rip-n-replace” approach has never been popular in enterprise settings and tearing down the silos to gain efficiencies or achieve IT modernization are simply utopian follies.

Interestingly, an answer to this problem domain can be found in military strategy. Armies are simply a group of individualized regiments each with a specific responsibility toward an overarching mission. Within each regiment, the commanding officers institute rules and procedures based on military guidelines and the specific situation on the ground. Each regiment carries out its assignment based on a specific timeline as part of a bigger plan that leads to completion of a whole mission. In this scenario, DevOps comprises the military guidelines plus the individual commander’s input.

The real hurdle that lies in front of enterprises is the lack of well-understood missions as defined by the executive office. Often when speaking with IT management I will ask, what are the top 3 initiatives of the CIO and CEO for this year and next. Quite often, the answer to this question is unknown or unclear. In some cases, they just haven’t been clearly laid out by the CEO, in other cases, the information does not get disseminated beyond a certain point of management. In lieu of of mission directives, the regiments will aimlessly execute the last known set of tasks. To those who have experience in enterprise IT organizations, this can easily be translated into, “because it’s the way we’ve always done it!,” which is a curse of death for adoption of well-intentioned DevOps initiatives.

Ms. Shannon-Solomon’s perspective is greatly skewed by her association with those attempting to sell DevOps; those is attempt to implement change through the introduction of new tools and cultural revolution. This approach is akin to Woodstock. It produced great music, raised awareness of what was happening in Vietnam, but did little to dramatically change the lives of the majority of individuals living in the United States. Impact on the scale of the enterprise occurs through accountability, incentive, and management directives. The cultural change is one of constant improvement. DevOps initiatives approached with this as a goal and following something akin to the regiment model can achieve great strides in delivering on the larger mission and obtaining the known benefits of agility.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By JP Morgenthal

Mr. Morgenthal has over 25 years of experience in Information Technology spanning multiple disciplines including software engineering, architecture, marketing, sales, consulting and executive management. He has specializations in multiple industry verticals including: banking, brokerage, retail, supply chain management, healthcare and Federal. Mr. Morgenthal also has technical specializations, and is considered a thought leader, in integration, enterprise architecture, service oriented architecture and cloud computing. In the role of Director, Mr. Morgenthal is responsible for furthering Perficient’s efforts in cloud computing with its customers through services development, sales force enablement and training, strategic account support and development of programs to drive cloud computing opportunities. Prior to his role as Director, Mr. Morgenthal was a Cloud Ranger with EMCC’s Cloud & Virtual Data Center service line. In that role, Mr. Morgenthal was instrumental in driving consulting opportunities for EMC around cloud and IT transformation, facilitating workshops and EBCs, and developing statements of work. Prior to EMC, Mr. Morgenthal designed, developed and operated one of the first Platform-as-a-Service for the supply-chain, logistics, multi-channel retail management, loyalty program management and payment cards. Mr. Morgenthal is the author of four trade publications covering topics of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Application Integration, Enterprise Information Integration, and Distributed Systems Management. He has also published over one-hundred articles and is a frequent blogger and has spoken at many of the leading conferences covering these technologies. He has a Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Computer Science from Hofstra University.

Latest Stories from DevOps Journal
Achieve continuous delivery of applications by leveraging ElasticBox and Jenkins. In his session at DevOps Summit, Monish Sharma, VP of Customer Success at ElasticBox, will demonstrate how you can achieve the following using ElasticBox and the ElasticBox Jenkins Plugin: Create consistency across dev, staging, and production environments Continuous delivery across multiple clouds to handle high loads Ensure consistent policy management across environments: tagging, admin boxes, traceability Spin up machines and environments quickly Deploy applications to any cloud Enable real-time collaboration between developers and operations
Docker offers a new, lightweight approach to application portability. Applications are shipped using a common container format and managed with a high-level API. Their processes run within isolated namespaces that abstract the operating environment independently of the distribution, versions, network setup, and other details of this environment. This "containerization" has often been nicknamed "the new virtualization." But containers are more than lightweight virtual machines. Beyond their smaller footprint, shorter boot times, and higher consolidation factors, they also bring a lot of new features and use cases that were not possible with classical virtual machines.
High performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems are ready for use – getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time – bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of Enterprise SQA? Does the SQA function become redundant?
WaveMaker CEO Samir Ghosh is taking a new pass at aPaas, and leveraging the increasingly popular Docker open-source platform, with the announcement of WaveMaker Enterprise. The new version of the company's eponymous software “enables instant, end-to-end custom web app creation and management by professional and non-professional developers (alike) and development teams,” according to the company. We asked Samir a few questions about this, and here's what he had to say: Cloud Computing Journal: You've mentioned the previous challenge of business-side developers making that jump from design to deployment. What sort of learning curve will they still face with Wavemaker Enterprise? Samir Ghosh: “Business-side developers” can include non-programming business users or professional developers under tight schedules or with limited mobile or front-end programming expertise. Both can use WaveMaker to meet their app development needs, but may have different deployment needs. I think business users just want their app to run as easily as possible. In WaveMaker, they can literally click a button and their application will run, either on our public cloud or on the enterprise’s private...
The old monolithic style of building enterprise applications just isn't cutting it any more. It results in applications and teams both that are complex, inefficient, and inflexible, with considerable communication overhead and long change cycles. Microservices architectures, while they've been around for a while, are now gaining serious traction with software organizations, and for good reasons: they enable small targeted teams, rapid continuous deployment, independent updates, true polyglot languages and persistence layers, and a host of other benefits. But truly adopting a microservices architecture requires dramatic changes across the entire organization, and a DevOps culture is absolutely essential.
Leysin American School is an exclusive, private boarding school located in Leysin, Switzerland. Leysin selected an OpenStack-powered, private cloud as a service to manage multiple applications and provide development environments for students across the institution. Seeking to meet rigid data sovereignty and data integrity requirements while offering flexible, on-demand cloud resources to users, Leysin identified OpenStack as the clear choice to round out the school's cloud strategy. Additionally, the school sought a partner to provide OpenStack infrastructure deployment and operations expertise. They ultimately selected Blue Box’s Private Cloud as a Service, powered by OpenStack, leveraging Blue Box's Zurich, Switzerland data center.
In a world of ever-accelerating business cycles and fast-changing client expectations, the cloud increasingly serves as a growth engine and a path to new business models. Dynamic clouds enable businesses to continuously reinvent themselves, adapting their business processes, their service and software delivery and their operations to achieve speed-to-market and quick response to customer feedback. As the cloud evolves, the industry has multiple competing cloud technologies, offering on-premises and off-premises cloud platforms for both Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). In parallel, cloud standards are also evolving, including community standards like OpenStack and CloudFoundry. Most organizations who are adopting the Cloud today are ending up adopting it in complex ‘dynamic-hybrid’ environments. There is physical infrastructure that now co-exists along with the new dynamic-hybrid on-premises and off-premises Cloud hosted environments.
This story came in from Joseph – one of our fellow dynaTrace users and a performance engineer at a large fleet management service company. Their fleet management software runs on .NET, is developed in-house, is load tested with JMeter and monitored in Production with dynaTrace. A usage and configuration change of their dependency injection library turned out to dramatically impact CPU and memory usage while not yet impacting end user experience. Lessons learned: resource usage monitoring is as important as response time and throughput. On Wednesday, July 3, Joseph’s ops team deployed the latest version into their production environment. Load (=throughput) and response time are two key application health measures the application owner team has on their production dashboards.
The recent trends like cloud computing, social, mobile and Internet of Things are forcing enterprises to modernize in order to compete in the competitive globalized markets. However, enterprises are approaching newer technologies with a more silo-ed way, gaining only sub optimal benefits. The Modern Enterprise model is presented as a newer way to think of enterprise IT, which takes a more holistic approach to embracing modern technologies. This model makes use of Composable Enterprise framework put forward by Jonathan Murray of WMG.
Software development, like manufacturing, is a craft that requires the application of creative approaches to solve problems given a wide range of constraints. However, while engineering design may be craftwork, the production of most designed objects relies on a standardized and automated manufacturing process. By contrast, much of moving an application from prototype to production and, indeed, maintaining the application through its lifecycle has often remained craftwork. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gordon Haff, senior cloud strategy marketing and evangelism manager at Red Hat, will discuss the many lessons and processes that DevOps can learn from manufacturing and the assembly line-like tools, such as Platform-as-a-Service, that provide the necessary abstraction and automation to make industrialized DevOps possible.