DevOps – Stop Searching for the Holy Grail

DevOps is not without its challenges

September 12, 2016  | by Oleg Chunikhin

 

DevOps: the panacea for all that’s wrong with enterprise IT. Where siloed teams who keep information close to their chest are replaced by agile, transparent relationships between developers and operations and fast and stable workflows that improve IT efficiency significantly and very visibly.

It’s a wonderful thing.

Organizations that incorporate DevOps practices experience continuous service delivery, fewer errors, faster problem resolution, and more. They deploy 200 times more frequently and with 2,555 faster lead times than those who don’t deploy DevOps. They spend 50% less time remediating security issues and 22% less time is spent on unplanned work and rework.

Yet DevOps is not without its challenges. Legacy IT is historically complex and heterogeneous. Your systems still need tending, even in the DevOps world. They must be monitored for compliance and availability, secured and scaled, load balanced and configured, all without interruption to the enterprise.

 

Pre-DevOps Behaviors Hinder Success

And that’s where the problems start and the promise of DevOps starts to unravel.

With a limited set of clear leaders in the DevOps tools and architectures space, and a team mainly focused on development, making the move to DevOps becomes a challenging and risky endeavor for any CIO. If they take that risk, many of the time-consuming and manual pre-DevOps processes get carried over. For example, if there’s a glitch with release management or a broken disaster recovery process, these problems are dealt with as they occur, or not at all, until they reach a point of critical mass.

The promise of DevOps is somewhat broken, instead of agility, speed, and rapid service delivery, you’re once again dealing with a manual, repetitive, and time-consuming process.

So what are your options?

 

Infrastructure Management in the Age of DevOps

We believe it’s time for the forward-thinking enterprise to put DevOps management front and center. This means that mission-critical IT functions, such as back up and disaster recovery, must be streamlined, standardized, and unified. Only then will organizations save money, and ensure essential business continuity while embracing DevOps.

But IT infrastructures are intricate and unique. Re-architecting what’s already there is risky, painful, and expensive. Yet the marketplace isn’t coming up with any answers. A lack of repeatable, standardized, off-the-shelf solutions for infrastructure-level problems leaves you with few options.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. A number of technology trends are emerging that aim to address the problem of infrastructure management in a DevOps environment. Each has their benefits, but we’re not confident that any of them, alone, represents the holy grail. Let’s take a look:

  1. Cluster Management Software

    Apache Mesos, Docker Swarm, Kubernetes, and other cluster management software are becoming an important and required part of DevOps architecture – all work well with cloud technologies (but aren’t contingent on it).

    Cluster management works by abstracting out everyday software operational tasks, such as backups, and introduces much-needed efficiencies into complex environments and management tasks through orchestration.  Unfortunately, cluster software can be notoriously difficult to set-up for use in production. Cluster management software is designed to help developers manage many aspects of this complexity.  And while it may be a significant part of the solution, rarely is it a complete solution in and of itself.

  2. Containerization and PaaS: Manage DevOps with an SaaS-like Experience

    Flexibility and reduced time-to-market, who doesn’t want that? Thanks to the convergence of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, new DevOps approaches are evolving to meet this need.

    For example, one approach sees the combination of containerization technology and PaaS to deliver SaaS characteristics for custom software. This delivers capabilities such as fast service delivery, out-of-the-box production quality, reliability, security, disaster recovery, and so on.

    Since less expertise is needed for over-arching DevOps workflows, this SaaS/PaaS cluster management approach relieves the pressure on DevOps teams, it also checks off the need for out-of-the-box functionality. Not only is the need for custom software eliminated, maintenance costs are lowered, complex processes are streamlined, and automation is introduced – across the board.
     

Take Action Before It’s Too Late

While these trends have their benefits, there are no quick fixes or a one-size fits all answer. Both cluster management software and containerization differ wildly in their capabilities and are often incompatible with older/legacy software. The task of integrating each with existing back-end systems and ensuring compatibility with existing environments is a perpetual challenge in hybrid deployments where everything must work together for seamless DevOps.

But it’s important that CIOs recognize the problem of infrastructure management in a DevOps environment, before it’s too late. As you explore DevOps, consider how its concepts and challenges can fit in your organization:

  • How can repeatable cycles be eliminated?
  • How can you strike a balance between the demands of the business and the need to operate in a compliant, stable, and secure environment?

By addressing these challenges early on, you’ll ensure that each of these co-interdependencies is manageable. Before processes break down and critical systems are out of sync.

 

Unify and Simplify DevOps Infrastructure Management

While there’s no standardized, one-size-fits-all fix here, in our experience, as discussed above, each of these options presents unique issues that prevent them from becoming standard for our projects.

Instead, we recommend that you seek out a solution that combines best practices with modern open source DevOps containerization and cloud technologies to unify and simplify DevOps infrastructure management. Only PaaS provides the extensible and ready-to-use pluggable infrastructure services needed to easily configure new services, introduce development efficiencies, and take care of many of the operational concerns of getting to DevOps that we discussed above. DevOps automation and cluster management technologies also augment cloud strategy and multiply its benefits by an order of magnitude.

The result is a powerful platform for robust, production quality, elastic, scalable infrastructure services, such as security, backup, disaster recovery, logging and monitoring, continuous delivery, and more.

 

Boost your DevOps Efforts

By streamlining custom software development and delivery, while giving your IT team the freedom to develop great software and drive business value, the gulf between the promise of DevOps and the reality of infrastructure management in a DevOps environment is diminished.

Furthermore, because the cloud and open source are intrinsically flexible, you can seamlessly boost your DevOps automation with the addition of pre-packaged, production-ready, open source software components. Everything from identity management and single sign-on, to business intelligence and analytics – all can easily be integrated into your existing infrastructure.

The impact of DevOps to the IT enterprise and business as a whole is important and, as the data points at the top of this article reveal, highly measurable. But success requires forethought and planning. Only then will the promise of DevOps be realized and the walls that stall application roll-out will crumble. Collaboration will become the new norm, and your products and services will reach the hands of your customers, while your competitors are still stuck in testing mode.

 

To learn how EastBanc Technologies’  DevOps experts can help your organization thrive, contact:

Jill DaSilva | Director of Sales Operations | jdasilva@eastbanctech.com

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