Amid all the technological changes set to take place in the coming year, the enterprise is on the verge of a momentous operational and organizational transformation as well. One of the most significant aspects of this is the rise of Dev/Ops as the driving force behind the delivery of IT services.
Before long, virtually the entire data stack will sit atop a virtual architecture residing on commodity hardware. Sure, there will always be a need for bare-metal functionality, but even then, those resources will be treated like managed services within an automated, software-defined ecosystem.
This means knowledge workers hoping for a new application won’t have to wait for coders and IT technicians to come together in a months-long development process that usually ends in either marginal success or abject failure. In the future, a combined Dev/Ops team, including the business unit in need of the app, will create the code, test it in the lab, provision the virtual resources, and then launch it into production environments, all within a matter of days or weeks.
Naturally, this is going to affect a good many people who have spent their lives treating development and operations as completely separate entities, says Computerworld’s Beth Stackpole. The Dev/Ops model encompasses a great deal more collaboration than many people are used to, which is why this is more of a cultural change in the enterprise than a technological one. But with a good 44 percent of enterprise looking to adopt Dev/Ops in the coming year, according to a Computerworld survey, it’s going to be a fact of life whether it ruffles some feathers or not.
The trick will be in getting today’s data professionals up to speed quickly, says SolarWinds VP Gerardo Dada. Let’s face it, at this stage of the game, there simply aren’t enough experienced players that can be hired from the outside, so the enterprise is pretty much on its own to train existing employees with the right skillsets. This shouldn’t be anything the enterprise can’t handle, though, since it is exactly what happened at the outset of the cloud, virtualization and practically every other major initiative that came before. But it does mean that investing in the right technology is not enough. Organizations must invest in their people if they hope to derive maximum value from Dev/Ops.
Are we all doomed to be coders, then? When the entire data stack is software, does anyone in the enterprise need to concern themselves with anything other than the application programming interface (API)? Maybe someday, says Pluribus Networks’ Mark Harris, but it will take time to turn all of today’s infrastructure-facing apps into abstract architectures like SDN, so they will still require a fair amount of manual setup and configuration. And while Dev/Ops and fully virtualized data environments sound intriguing, it is doubtful that many organizations are going to jump into fully automated deployment processes right off the bat.
The flexibility of the Dev/Ops model will be hard to resist, however, says SolidFire’s Martin Cooper. Not only are development cycles much shorter, but deployments can be scaled and retooled at will. So even if an app doesn’t perform the way you expected, it can easily be scaled down or removed entirely to contain the damage, then rewritten and sent back up again – all without disrupting the broader data environment. And when you combine Dev/Ops with other agile constructs like PaaS, you have the means to build highly versatile, highly productive application ecosystems at will.
Dev/Ops is more than just an IT phenomenon, then. It affects anyone who comes into contact with the date environment, which, let’s face is, is everyone these days. For those willing to put the effort into learning how to navigate this new world, it will literally usher in an era of “If you can think it, you can do it.”
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.