Boots and sandals are basically the same thing—something to protect your feet while you walk about. The thing is that they are intended for slightly different purposes. You wouldn’t wear sandals outside in the middle of a Wisconsin winter*, and you wouldn’t wear boots to your day off, hanging at the beach. The thing is that boots and sandals have been around forever, and it is relatively simple to gauge the merits of each in a given setting. The same is not true of DevOps tools.
* Every few years there is a news report about someone found only in sandals in sub-zero weather, they’re not the norm, and there’s a reason they’re in the news.
Rate of Change
The rate at which DevOps markets are maturing is a pace that few enterprises can keep up with. When both development processes and operations processes are changing, new tools are being introduced and the two groups are increasingly working in tandem to support the business, yet another market space is not what they want to study and yet another tool in the tool chain is not something that they want to just “pop in.”
But the DevOps space is young, and there is a lot coming that can help achieve the goals. I have had reason to look into application release automation (ARA), cloud security auditing and global file systems (GFS) in the last few months, and all three bring something to the table in terms of helping IT adapt and automate. The problem is that in each case, the market is a bit muddied. ARA must explain why it does more than Jenkins alone, cloud security auditing must explain why it is better than calling the cloud vendor APIs to do the same task, and GFS must explain why it is more than a cloud storage gateway and how that helps the enterprise.
And they can. But when considering them, you need to do the research and figure out the market and how that market applies to your organization. Which is a bit unfortunate. DevOps.com and other sites can help by talking about the tools over time, and the vendors’ own promotional pages can help you understand what gap they’re filling, but it’s legwork (though, in many cases, the legwork is worth it). ARA marries app provisioning tools with CI tools, giving a unified workflow, for example. And it makes the deployment process more agile. If you are running many projects that deploy on a regular (not hourly or even weekly, but regular) basis that you may one day want to deploy to a different environment, ARA can help, along with the wealth of other functionality it provides, bridging the two sides of the DevOps coin is probably its largest driver. The same type of thing is possible with the other two toolsets I mentioned, but trying to keep this short enough to read, so will leave it to those interested in GFS or Cloud Security Auditing to research them.
The Key is Knowing Why and Which
In the end, if you’re building out DevOps, you want to automate the process as much as possible. That means as the markets mature, you will want to explore what’s new. These tools can help many organizations provide a smoother or more secure process, but knowing the reason the market exists is the first step, and only then can you decide if you want to evaluate products. They do not all help all customers, so seeing which are right for you—there is no need for either GFS or Cloud Security Auditing if you are a single office with no cloud presence, for example—will help you narrow which toolsets might improve your DevOps efforts.
And whatever you do, don’t buy the “sandal cowboy boot” of IT. It might look good, but won’t be very useful in either of the environments it’s intended for. 😉