Is the bloom already falling off the Dev/Ops rose in the enterprise?
Hard as it may be to believe, some technology thought leaders are already calling an end to the Dev/Ops movement, or at least Dev/Ops as it has come to be known at this point in its evolution. While it is not uncommon for doubt to start creeping into technology initiatives, it rarely happens before the technology in question has even been deployed to a large extent or its impact on data processes is fully known.
But according to Smartling CTO Andrey Akselrod, Dev/Ops is already dead, a victim of a perfect storm of developments spurred in part by the very agile development and continuous deployment capabilities that it championed. The problem, he says, is that in order to put Dev/Ops in motion, the enterprise must still invest in numerous infrastructure and operational layers before true value can be realized, essentially creating a new cost center that may or may not be any less burdensome than the old IT. At the same time, new cloud-based managed services are already poised to make today’s Dev/Ops obsolete by removing all these hassles, fully delivering on the promise of unfettered application and service development with none of the in-house cost and complexity.
Web-based Dev/Ops is already emerging as the next wave in the digital transition of the enterprise, says the UK Register’s Adrian Bridgwater. With mobile devices, wearables and the IoT pushing greater workloads onto enterprise infrastructure, the need to go web-scale is growing, and this includes application development, deployment and support. The new “webby” Dev/Ops toolkit is heavy on acceleration, compression and other optimization systems, as well as processing control to maintain agility across distributed architectures. In this way, business, configuration and application logic can finally reside in one place so that systems and operations admins are no longer at loggerheads when it comes to identifying performance issues or implementing changes to the application.
No matter whether Dev/Ops is internal or on the web, says Sonatype’s Derek Weeks, the name of the game should be the same: pushing code to users faster without sacrificing quality. The problem with most Dev/Ops strategies so far is they make it easy to adopt various tools without requiring a hard look at the bigger picture. Automation, for example, is a key component of the development stack, but without implementing a cohesive system that incorporates governance, artifacts management, security and other functions, it will not adequately support the entire delivery chain, now or in the future. As well, at organizations where Dev/Ops has taken hold, few teams even use the same language, leading to disjointed operations and heavy integration on the back end.
It is also important to understand that Dev/Ops alone cannot rescue the enterprise from its own internal shortcomings, says DevOps Zone’s Scott Willson. This is because people, not systems, are responsible for fundamental change, and without effective leadership Dev/Ops will be no more successful than the legions of software deployments that have come and gone before like so many spring fashions. Just like you cannot build a house on sand, you cannot deploy a successful Dev/Ops framework on top of dysfunctional corporate culture or top-heavy bureaucratic processes.
In this light, it’s fair to say that Dev/Ops is not really dead. It’s just that the style of Dev/Ops that agrees with web-scale providers is not necessarily the same style that will appeal to the common enterprise.
And while Dev/Ops can be a strong catalyst to institutional change, there is no such thing as a free lunch in the data industry. If change is on the agenda, it will be up to the enterprise to change itself to support Dev/Ops, not the other way around.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.