PaaS and the Path to 'NoOps' Nirvana

Michael Vizard

There's a lot of debate these days about how to strike the right balance between agile application development methodologies and the needs of the people who run IT operations. Generally referred to as the "DevOps" debate, the core of the issue is how much control and visibility do developers need to have over IT infrastructure resources. The general consensus is that developers and IT operations people need to find ways to work more collaboratively together to maximize IT resources.

But there are those who would argue that the DevOps issue is just a momentary hiccup on the way to embracing higher levels of automation delivered via platform as a service (PaaS) that should render the DevOps debate moot. The real goal, says Sacha Labourey, CEO of CloudBees, a provider of a PaaS platform for Java applications, is to achieve a state of "NoOps." That doesn't mean that IT infrastructure goes away; it just means that the management of it reaches a level of transparent automation that is provided by the PaaS platform.

CloudBees has created a PaaS platform that can be deployed on premise or in a third-party data center in the cloud. As PaaS platforms continue to evolve, Labourey says many of the IT automation technologies that are being created today to address DevOps issues will be subsumed into the PaaS platform. The applications running on those platforms will be able to see what IT infrastructure resources are available and make dynamic adjustments accordingly, says Labourey.

It may take a while to reach this NoOps state of nirvana, but clearly software developers are creating layers of software that allow them to directly manage IT infrastructure at a higher level of abstraction. The motive behind this effort isn't so much to put the people who manage IT infrastructure out of work, but rather to free up more time for the developers to spend working on creating new applications.

But what may be most interesting about all this is that there are a lot of companies, ranging from providers of application lifecycle management (ALM) to job schedulers, working on the same basic DevOps problem. The real question may ultimately be, however, how many of these companies will wind getting rolled up into PaaS environments that provide those capabilities as a feature rather than requiring customers to acquire separate products that need to be licensed, deployed and managed? If Labourey is right, then operating systems and everything associated with managing them will eventually disappear into a PaaS fabric that could finally eliminate much of the complexity that plagues enterprise IT today.

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