Click here to close now.


@DevOpsSummit Authors: Pat Romanski, AppDynamics Blog, XebiaLabs Blog, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @DevOpsSummit, Java IoT, Linux Containers, Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

@DevOpsSummit: Blog Feed Post

If Apps Incur Technical Debt Then Networks Incur Architectural Debt

The concept of "debt' is not a foreign one; we've all incurred debt in the form of credit cards, car loans and mortgages

72%. That's an estimate of how much of the IT budget is allocated to simply keeping the lights on (a euphemism for everything from actually keeping the lights on to cooling, heating, power, maintenance, upgrades, and day to day operations) in the data center.

In a recent Forrester Research survey of IT leaders at more than 3,700 companies, respondents estimated that they spend an average 72% of the money in their budgets on such keep-the-lights-on functions as replacing or expanding capacity and supporting ongoing operations and maintenance, while only 28% of the money goes toward new projects.

How to Balance Maintenance and IT Innovation

servicing architectural debtThis number will not, unfortunately, significantly improve without intentionally attacking it at its root cause: architectural debt.

Data Center Debt

The concept of "debt' is not a foreign one; we've all incurred debt in the form of credit cards, car loans and mortgages. In the data center, this concept is applied in much the same way as our more personal debt - as the need to "service" the debt over time.

Experts on the topic of technical debt point out that this "debt' is chiefly a metaphor for the long-term repercussions arising from choices made in application architecture and design early on.

Technical debt is a neologistic metaphor referring to the eventual consequences of poor software architecture and software development within a codebase. The debt can be thought of as work that needs to be done before a particular job can be considered complete. If the debt is not repaid, then it will keep on accumulating interest, making it hard to implement changes later on. Unaddressed technical debt increases software entropy.


This conceptual debt also occurs in other areas of IT, particularly those in the infrastructure and networking groups, where architectural decisions have long lasting repercussions in the form of not only the cost to perform day-to-day operations but in the impact to future choices and operational concerns. The choice of a specific point product today to solve a particular pain point, for example, has an impact on future product choices. The more we move toward software-defined architectures - heavily reliant on integration to achieve efficiencies through automation and orchestration - the more interdependencies we build. Those interdependencies cause considerable complexity in the face of changes that must be made to support such a loosely coupled but highly integrated data center architecture.

We aren't just maintaining configuration files and cables anymore, we're maintaining the equivalent of code - the scripts and methods used to integrated, automate and orchestrate the network infrastructure.

Steve McConnell has a lengthy blog entry examining technical debt. The perils of not acknowledging your debt are clear:

One of the important implications of technical debt is that it must be serviced, i.e., once you incur a debt there will be interest charges. If the debt grows large enough, eventually the company will spend more on servicing its debt than it invests in increasing the value of its other assets.

Debt must be serviced, which is why the average organization dedicates so much of its budget to simply "keeping the lights on."  It's servicing the architectural debt incurred by a generation of architectural decisions.

Refinancing Your Architectural Debt

In order to shift more of the budget toward the innovation necessary to realize the more agile and dynamic architectures required to support more things and the applications that go with them, organizations need to start considering how to shed its architectural debt.

First and foremost, software-defined architectures like cloud, SDDC and SDN, enable organizations to pay down their debt by automating a variety of day-to-day operations as well as traditionally manual and lengthy provisioning processes. But it would behoove organizations to pay careful attention to the choices made in this process, lest architectural debt shift to the technical debt associated with programmatic assets. Scripts are, after all, a simple form of an application, and thus bring with it all the benefits and burdens of an application.

For example, the choice between a feature-driven and an application-driven orchestration can be critical to the long-term costs associated with that choice. Feature-driven orchestration necessarily requires more steps and results in more tightly coupled systems than an application-driven approach. Loose coupling ensures easier future transitions and reduces the impact of interdependencies on the complexity of the overall architecture. This is because feature-driven orchestration (integration, really) is highly dependent on specific sets of API calls to achieve provisioning. Even minor changes in those APIs can be problematic in the future and cause compatibility issues. Application-driven orchestration, on the other hand, presents a simpler, flexible interface between provisioning systems and solution. Implementation through features can change from version to version without impacting that interface, because the interface is decoupled from the actual API calls required.

Your choice of scripting languages, too, can have much more of an impact than you might think. Consider that a significant contributor to operational inefficiencies today stems from the reality that organizations have an L4-7 infrastructure comprised of not just multiple vendors, but a wide variety of domain specificity. That means a very disparate set of object models and interfaces through which such services are provisioned and configured. When automating such processes, it is important to standardize on a minimum set of environments. Using bash, python, PERL and juju, for example, simply adds complexity and begins to fall under the Law of Software Entropy as described by Ivar Jacobson et al. in "Object-Oriented Software Engineering: A Use Case Driven Approach":

The second law of thermodynamics, in principle, states that a closed system's disorder cannot be reduced, it can only remain unchanged or increased. A measure of this disorder is entropy. This law also seems plausible for software systems; as a system is modified, its disorder, or entropy, always increases. This is known as software entropy.

Entropy is the antithesis of what we're trying to achieve with automation and orchestration, namely the acceleration of application deployment. Entropy impedes this goal, and causes the introduction of yet another set of systems requiring day-to-day operational attention.

Other considerations include deciding which virtual overlay network will be your data center standard, as well as the choice of cloud management platform for data center orchestration. While such decisions seem, on the surface, to be innocuous, they are in fact significant contributors to the architectural debt associated with the data center architecture.

Shifting to Innovation

Every decision brings with it debt; that cannot be avoided. The trick is to reduce the interest payments, if you will, on that debt as a means to reduce its impact on the overall IT budget and enable a shift to funding innovation.

Software-defined architectures are, in a way, the opportunity for organizations to re-finance their architectural debt. They cannot forgive the debt (unless you rip and replace) but these architectures and methodologies like devops can assist in reducing the operational expenses the organization is obliged to pay on a day-to-day basis.

But it's necessary to recognize, up front, that the architectural choices you make today do, in fact, have a significant impact on the business' ability to take advantage of the emerging app economy. Consider carefully the options and weigh the costs - including the need to service the debt incurred by those options - before committing to a given solution.

Your data center credit score will thank you for it.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Lori MacVittie

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

@DevOpsSummit Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.
Clearly the way forward is to move to cloud be it bare metal, VMs or containers. One aspect of the current public clouds that is slowing this cloud migration is cloud lock-in. Every cloud vendor is trying to make it very difficult to move out once a customer has chosen their cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Naveen Nimmu, CEO of Clouber, Inc., will advocate that making the inter-cloud migration as simple as changing airlines would help the entire industry to quickly adopt the cloud without worrying about any lock-in fears. In fact by having standard APIs for IaaS would help PaaS expl...
Mobile, social, Big Data, and cloud have fundamentally changed the way we live. “Anytime, anywhere” access to data and information is no longer a luxury; it’s a requirement, in both our personal and professional lives. For IT organizations, this means pressure has never been greater to deliver meaningful services to the business and customers.
DevOps is gaining traction in the federal government – and for good reasons. Heightened user expectations are pushing IT organizations to accelerate application development and support more innovation. At the same time, budgetary constraints require that agencies find ways to decrease the cost of developing, maintaining, and running applications. IT now faces a daunting task: do more and react faster than ever before – all with fewer resources.
Culture is the most important ingredient of DevOps. The challenge for most organizations is defining and communicating a vision of beneficial DevOps culture for their organizations, and then facilitating the changes needed to achieve that. Often this comes down to an ability to provide true leadership. As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction...
Clutch is now a Docker Authorized Consulting Partner, having completed Docker's certification course on the "Docker Accelerator for CI Engagements." More info about Clutch's success implementing Docker can be found here. Docker is an open platform for developers and system administrators to build, ship and run distributed applications. With Docker, IT organizations shrink application delivery from months to minutes, frictionlessly move workloads between data centers and the cloud and achieve 20x greater efficiency in their use of computing resources. Inspired by an active community and trans...
For almost two decades, businesses have discovered great opportunities to engage with customers and even expand revenue through digital systems, including web and mobile applications. Yet, even now, the conversation between the business and the technologists that deliver these systems is strained, in large part due to misaligned objectives. In his session at DevOps Summit, James Urquhart, Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc., will discuss how measuring user outcomes – including how the performance, flow and content of your digital systems affects those outcomes – ca...
The cloud has reached mainstream IT. Those 18.7 million data centers out there (server closets to corporate data centers to colocation deployments) are moving to the cloud. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Achim Weiss, CEO & co-founder of ProfitBricks, will share how two companies – one in the U.S. and one in Germany – are achieving their goals with cloud infrastructure. More than a case study, he will share the details of how they prioritized their cloud computing infrastructure deployments and the details they’ve learned. From performance to network configurations, they've got interesting...
The modern software development landscape consists of best practices and tools that allow teams to deliver software in a near-continuous manner. By adopting a culture of automation, measurement and sharing, the time to ship code has been greatly reduced, allowing for shorter release cycles and quicker feedback from customers and users. Still, with all of these tools and methods, how can teams stay on top of what is taking place across their infrastructure and codebase? Hopping between services and command line interfaces creates context-switching that slows productivity, efficiency, and may le...
Decisions about budgets and resources are often made without IT even having a seat at the table. As technologist we understand the value of DevOps - but do your business counterparts? If they don't, your DevOps initiatives could lose funding before they start. In her session at DevOps Summit, Jeanne Morain, Strategist / Author at iSpeak Cloud, LLC, will provide insights on how to bridge the gap between business and technology leaders. Attendees will learn prescriptive guidance on balancing workloads, critical communication processes and considerations for building out a solid return-on-inves...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
Today, we are in the middle of a paradigm shift as we move from managing applications on VMs and containers to embracing everything that the cloud and XaaS (Everything as a Service) has to offer. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Kevin Hoffman, Advisory Solutions Architect at Pivotal Cloud Foundry, will provide an overview of 12-factor apps and migrating enterprise apps to the cloud. Kevin Hoffman is an Advisory Solutions Architect for Pivotal Cloud Foundry, and has spent the past 20 years building enterprise and mobile software for small businesses, massive enterprises, and everything in ...
While testing is often ignored when it comes to DevOps - it could be the most important aspect of achieving true DevOps success. Without rethinking automated testing from the ground-up, the entire DevOps productivity gain cannot be realized. Large tech companies build their own rapid test automation that runs in minutes across functional, performance, security and other tests. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kevin Surace, CEO of Appvance, will discuss how we learn from these real-world successes and achieve a 95% time reduction in creating and running automated unified tests. Otherwise ent...
DevOps has often been described in terms of CAMS: Culture, Automation, Measuring, Sharing. While we’ve seen a lot of focus on the “A” and even on the “M”, there are very few examples of why the “C" is equally important in the DevOps equation. In her session at @DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, of F5 Networks, will explore HTTP/1 and HTTP/2 along with Microservices to illustrate why a collaborative culture between Dev, Ops, and the Network is critical to ensuring success.
SYS-CON Events announced today that has been named a "Bronze Sponsor" of SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. provides open-source software ELK turned into a log analytics platform that is simple, infinitely- scalable, highly available, and secure.
DevOps delivers remarkable results. But does it help all of IT? Can traditional ‘mode 1’ IT benefit as much as innovative ‘mode 2’? How about the rest of your business? Or have you just shifted your bottleneck? And if so, what can you do about it? Improving dev and ops is necessary, but not sufficient. It often just shifts the burden sideways (e.g., to PMs, SQA, InfoSec, DBAs, NOC, etc.), upstream (to the PMO, Controller, Business Liaison, etc.), or downstream (to TechPubs, Service Desk, Training, etc.).
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo® and DevOps Summit 2015 Silicon Valley, which will take place November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Alert Logic provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid IT infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that JFrog, maker of Artifactory, the popular Binary Repository Manager, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based in California, Israel and France, founded by longtime field-experts, JFrog, creator of Artifactory and Bintray, has provided the market with the first Binary Repository solution and a software distribution social platform.
Docker is hot. However, as Docker container use spreads into more mature production pipelines, there can be issues about control of Docker images to ensure they are production-ready. Is a promotion-based model appropriate to control and track the flow of Docker images from development to production? In his session at DevOps Summit, Fred Simon, Co-founder and Chief Architect of JFrog, will demonstrate how to implement a promotion model for Docker images using a binary repository, and then show how to distribute them to any kind of consumer, being it a customer or a data center.
DevOps is speeding towards the IT world like a freight train and the hype around it is deafening. There is no reason to be afraid of this change as it is the natural reaction to the agile movement that revolutionized development just a few years ago. By definition, DevOps is the natural alignment of IT performance to business profitability. The relevance of this has yet to be quantified but it has been suggested that the route to the CEO’s chair will come from the IT leaders that successfully make the transition to a DevOps model. If this still seems foreign to you, I recommend reading up on D...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Raxak has been named “Media & Session Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Raxak Protect automates security compliance across private and public clouds. Using the SaaS tool or managed service, developers can deploy cloud apps quickly, cost-effectively, and without error.
The principles behind DevOps are not new - for decades people have been automating system administration and decreasing the time to deploy apps and perform other management tasks. However, only recently did we see the tools and the will necessary to share the benefits and power of automation with a wider circle of people. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Sanders, Chief Technology Officer at CloudBolt Software, will explore the latest tools including Puppet, Chef, Docker, and CMPs needed to move from an insulated culture where automation is absent or hoarded to one where the power of ...
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
At first adopted by enterprises to consolidate physical servers, virtualization is now widely used in cloud computing to offer elasticity and scalability. On the other hand, Docker has developed a new way to handle Linux containers, inspired by version control software such as Git, which allows you to keep all development versions. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Dominique Rodrigues, the co-founder and CTO of Nanocloud Software, will discuss how in order to also handle QEMU / KVM virtual machines versions, they have developed a new tool, called Vm_commit, which can create commits, backup ...