Cloud-Based Documentation at the Speed of DevOps

Welcome back to this (semi-)regular column where I attempt to answer questions about DevOps, especially in larger enterprises. This time I address a vexing issue facing many large enterprises – how to make sure downstream processes move as fast as development and operations: Q. In my enterprise we are getting faster at releasing code, but we are still slow to update and translate downstream product documentation. How can documentation and technical writing be optimized as part of a DevOps approach? As I have said before, you can ask me any question you want (in the comments below, via e-mail, or on Twitter), but that doesn’t mean I know all the answers. If (when) I don’t know, I have promised to try to find someone who does – and this is one of those times. This question stumped me, so I asked around to find some insight into this issue. As ...

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DevOps and Infor’s Journey to the Cloud

Infor, a leading provider of micro-vertical application suites, has introduced DevOps as part of an initiative to migrate its enterprise application suites to a cloud platform. The significance of this should not be lost.  Infor is not a young, Web 2.0 unicorn that was born with DevOps DNA.   Infor is a 14 year old privately held software supplier with over 70,000 customers across multiple micro-vertical markets.  Infor’s industry-specific applications are mostly deployed and managed on-premise.  The move to a cloud based AWS platform is as much of a paradigm shift for Infor as it is for its diverse customer base. Infor’s leadership team launched the company’s annual user conference last week with keynote details about Infor XI’s cloud strategy and partnership with Amazon Web Services.   CEO Charles Phillips explained the reasoning behind the move while COO Pam Murphy recounted the technical efforts behind the scenes.   Both acknowledged the necessity of ...

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Fighting federal agencies culture shock to get over cloud and DevOps hump

As federal agencies face budgetary pressures that drive them toward more agile IT pushes around cloud deployment and DevOps practices they must first tackle big perceptual and cultural roadblocks. Case in point is a survey out last week that showed that 89 percent of federal IT professionals still feel apprehension about migrating to the cloud, with 43 percent saying that it felt like giving their son the keys to their new convertible. Conducted by government research firm MeriTalk on behalf of NetApp and Arrow, the study shows that only 44 percent of agencies report having mature data governance practices in the cloud, and cite data exceptions, data integration, and collaboration and interoperability as their top challenges. Security still tops that list, though, with just one in five IT pros completely confident in their cloud vendors’ security. Interestingly, just a third of agencies met the June deadline this year to make ...

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The web-scale avalanche

Old-school businesses may not like it, but they’re competing with Google, Facebook, Amazon and other Internet powerhouses because those players have grown from day one with an eye on rapid, scalable, cloud-based and continuous IT operations.   Companies have been running application delivery aligned to an aging model based on low frequency release cycles. For decades, the major IT suppliers like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, SAP and others have released software at the predictable, plodding cadence of annual or bi-annual releases. IT departments have adapted to the vendor release cycles with mirror-like processes: highly structured in the ITIL fashion with processes in place for working around lots of bugs that don’t get readily fixed by the vendors. Yet this delivery management model is now out of pace in today’s always-connected, Internet-based world in which apps and sites morph on a weekly or even daily basis. Suddenly, companies and vendors alike must ...

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Five Top Tips for Cloud and DevOps Automation

A while back, I overheard someone asking why many of the ‘cloudy people’ have moved on to DevOps. One reason is certainly that cloud is at the heart of DevOps. Many of the grounding principles of DevOps – rapid iteration, agile development, automated testing, continuous delivery and continuous integration – are barely even possible without cloud. However, I think it runs even deeper than that. DevOps and Cloud are both fundamentally enabled by the same technology I have been working with my entire career – automation. When IT leaders get excited about cloud, it is mainly because of automation. Sure, cloud providers get excited about essential characteristics like broad network access and resource pooling, because that is how they maximize reach and minimize costs. Similarly, CFOs get excited about the measured service, because that means they only pay for what they use. However, according to a recent Luth Research study, ...

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DevOps developers; don’t be a DevGoof

There was a lot of brush back last week over Jeff Knupp’s post about how DevOps is killing the developer. Frankly I wasn’t shocked by Knupp’s opinion that developers “are the dentists in the dental office”. In my 30+ years of involvement in the IT industry my experience is that developers often think of themselves as the only smart person in the room. Often times that is the reason they are are the only person in the room, lol. The fact is many developers relate better to code than to people. For me all this talk about DevOps killing the developer is akin to saying power steering killed the driver. Just because you can do more with new technology, does not mean one dies, one just has to pivot and in this case become business social. Now the sociable part may be the problem. Sometimes I feel that DevOps is ...

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Microsoft bridges the gap between Azure and DevOps

DevOps can be easy for a startup. Many of the concepts and principles of DevOps come quite naturally to a fresh company just getting started. It’s a different story, however, for large, established enterprises trying to wrap their arms around this DevOps thing. For IT admins working in Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, though, things just got a lot easier thanks to the integration of Chef and Puppet Labs. Many organizations are heavily invested in the Microsoft ecosystem. IT teams and administrators are familiar with Windows domains, Active Directory, Hyper-V, and Azure. They know how to write scripts and leverage PowerShell to get things done, but they’re much less familiar with the core principles of DevOps, or common DevOps automation tools like Chef and Puppet Labs. One of the driving forces of DevOps is the ability—or perhaps necessity—to automate those tasks that can be automated so IT resources are freed up ...

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Nagios is not a monitoring strategy

When I visit clients to talk about DevOps, I usually ask them what their monitoring strategy is. Too often, the answer I hear is “We use Nagios”. I think Nagios is a great tool, but it sure is not a strategy. Nagios does a good job of monitoring infrastructure. It will alert you when you are running out of disk, CPU, or memory. I call this reactive monitoring. In other words, Nagios is telling you that your resources are getting maxed out and you are about to have issues. Proactive monitoring focuses more on the behavior of the applications and attempts to detect when metrics are starting to stray away from their normal baseline numbers. Proactive monitoring alerts you that the system is starting to experience symptoms that can lead to a degradation of performance or capacity issues which is more preferable than Nagios telling you are about to be ...

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Don’t Let the (April Fools Day) Joke Be on You

As much as seasonal increases in demand for on-line resources are discussed, the one day that’s often overlooked is April Fools Day. It’s the day the Internet loses its mind and your best bet is take everything not just with a grain of salt, but with the entire shaker. The use of April Fools’ Day to promote brand awareness and bring some laughter into the world as everyone tries to outdo everyone else in a bid to be named the King of Fools is well known. This is no more a surprise today than is Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Super Bowl Sunday. So it behooves those participating in the tom foolery to be prepared. That means being ready to handle an increased demand for whatever it is you’re offering up for consumption. This is where devops shines; where automation and orchestration and a demand-driven scalability strategy is your best ...

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