Andrea Martinez, now Andrea Crawford, is the CTO for DevOps for IBM Hybrid Cloud. In this DevOps Chat we had a great discussion on what is “modern apps in DevOps,” how to upgrade your legacy apps, what to do if your legacy apps are not upgradeable and what this all means for DevOps.
Great discussion and as usual, the streaming media audio of our conversation is immediately below, followed by a transcript of our conversation.
Alan Shimel: Hey everyone, it’s Alan Shimel and you’re listening to another DevOps Chat. DevOps Chat today is going to be a good one. We have with us Andrea C. Martinez who is the CTO for DevOps for IBM’s hybrid cloud.
Andrea, welcome to DevOps Chat.
Andrea Martinez: Hey, thanks for having me, Alan.
Shimel: Thank you. Did I get that all right?
Martinez: So, I’m mostly known as Andrea C. Martinez but I’ve recently gotten married so my new last name is Andrea Crawford. Different last name but the same cowboy hat. So I always wear my cowboy hat in my profile pics. If you’ve got the hat you’ve got the right gal.
Shimel: And it’s the right Andrea. Okay. No hyphen – Martinez-Crawford or something like that?
Martinez: Nah, I’m not that fancy. It’s just Crawford.
Shimel: I’ve got to tell you I just got back from China last week and I was with my partner Jayne Groll, one of the co-founders of the DevOps Institute, and one of my co-founders there, Jayne Groll, is actually now Jayne Groll-Ray because she’s also recently married and what a mess on the – hats off to you – getting your passports done and redone and what name to use because you know it has to match exactly and all your other IDs – I didn’t realize what a –
Martinez: Alan, that’s why we get the diamonds in our ring.
Shimel: I guess so. Yeah, and well-deserved. Anyway, congratulations on your recent marriage but we’re going to talk DevOps and we’re going to talk a little bit about modern applications here today, okay?
Martinez: Awesome. Sounds good.
Shimel: Great. All right. So I should mention that we have a webinar coming up on June 28 at 1 p.m. Eastern time on this topic and really this chat is just sort of a lead-in to the full hour-long webinar and that webinar is on DevOps for application modernization and we’ll put the link to it in our show notes here but if you find what we’re talking about today interesting by all means check out the webinar.
But let’s dive in. So Andrea, let’s talk a little bit about modern applications versus non-modern applications: Do we have archaic applications, are they obsolete applications? What do we mean when we say a modern application?
Martinez: Yeah, I think to – and by the way, I like your archaic reference there. I think to really appreciate the modern application we really have to understand how applications use to be designed and built not all that long ago.
So, if I were to go back to the N-1 generation of applications I could make some pretty broad characterizations of how they were designed, built and delivered. So, if we were to like take it back to around the late-Clinton era of post-dot.com boom, world wide web and the internet, you know, that was really becoming the network platform where enterprises were exposing business function and really more of nascent digital economy.
So some of the characteristics of what I’ll call “heritage applications” were, No. 1, they were monolithic so the applications lived on these things called “application servers,” typically running on maybe like higher end commodity infrastructure – think like X86, power hardware with large amounts of disk and memory, we had big centralized databases and these memory hog application servers.
So the applications ran inside these app servers and they were fairly monolithic – that means they basically bundled the presentation or the view, the business logic and the data model components all together.
The second characterization I would say for heritage applications is that they lived on these app servers that resided on these sort of heavyweight operating systems and although at the time Linux was very much on the scene overall. The trust in Linux was not yet solidified so you had these operating systems that were sort of these enterprise, server, big and bold editions of this OS – and it was pretty prevalent, you know? Windows and proprietary Unix based operating systems pretty much ruled the day.
And, No. 3, the – in terms of the infrastructure on-premises data centers ruled the roost. I mean virtualization technology’s around, we had this notion of logical partitions, L-pars, VMware, virtualization, but it was mostly a hardware OS story, okay?
And then we had, in terms of looking at the actual heritage applications themselves, we had the rise and dominance of function-rich languages like Java and dot-net because the application server middleware pretty much dictated the language of what an application was coded in, right? So we still have a lot of these skills around today.
And I think the last characterization of a heritage app was in the way that they were delivered. So we had the waterfall delivery – very sequential, big-bang releases with siloed organizations, dev teams didn’t really talk to the operations teams and having that kind of silo was pretty much the norm.
So, that’s how I would sort of characterize the heritage applications.
Shimel: Yeah, dead on for me Andrea. We didn’t talk about this but in my background I had started a web hosting company in those dot-com days and I sold it to a company and started to work with them and we were one of the first big, what they called ASPs, if you remember those days – application service provider – and so this is – we wound up doing the whole IPO and all of that – this is 1997, ’98, ’99, 2000, into 2001 –
Martinez: Absolutely. Yep.
Shimel: Oh, they were glory days. We were probably one of the largest Lotus notes, if you – you know,
Martinez: Yeah, all right.
Shimel: So, picture this: We’re hosting – we are offering hosted Lotus notes as a service – it’s not even IBM WebSphere yet, I think it was still notes server –
Shimel: No, it wasn’t even Domino. What came before Domino? I mean this is old. And then Domino came out and it kind of rocked our world because it was really a big thing for us. But there’s no – it was on dedicated hardware, there was no cloud, T1 lines were about $1,200 a month, and so you had to deliver it over a T1 line oftentimes – you know, a dedicated T1 line point to point – and then we expanded to PeopleSoft and Oracle apps and stuff like that, and what a disaster. I’ve got to be honest. I mean we went through about $500 million – a half-a-billion dollars in monies raised between the IPO and so forth – but it was hard. It was really, really hard.
And then we tried to get into the whole custom app kind of hosting with ISVs and so forth.
Martinez: Oh boy.
Shimel: So, what you just described I had a déjà vu to my bones and, yeah, I wouldn’t call those modern applications but I think we’ve done a good job.
Now contrast that, though, with what modern applications are like today, Andrea.
Martinez: Yeah. So there’s sort of been an inflection point where some pretty emergent things have happened since those days, right? And you know we dealt with all of those issues around the heritage environments and applications. And now all of the sudden if we take a look at what I call “modern applications” today – Alan, you mentioned the cloud – No. 1, modern applications live in the cloud. So these applications leverage the elastic, infrastructure and platform that comes with it.
When we develop modern applications – you also may have heard them referred to as “cloud-native applications” or “born-on-the-cloud applications” – and really what has happened here is to leverage that type of virtualized infrastructure we’ve started to breakdown the monolith and the applications that run on them.
So, now we’re taking our bundled model-view controller applications and frameworks and we’re deploying them separately as components and hopefully we’re using architectural styles like microservices so that the monolith becomes broken down into choreographed microservices that can be managed separately, okay?
So, we have technologies that actually support this today. And so Docker, Kubernetes are some of the technologies that have come on the scene since that have allowed us to have a control plane and an environment to manage smaller-granularity applications which are hopefully services.
So, the other thing about modern applications that I think is interesting and has fostered the adoption of these microservices and smaller components is the fact that the solution stack has become more and more commoditized, right? And so, when you think about the solution stack of network hardware, operating system, middleware layer and so on, we’re seeing a commoditization of the solutions stack from the bottom up, okay? And that is – the whole notion of cloud computing, right? – We’re no longer concerned so much about CPUs and CPU architecture, you know, X86 versus Power P Series, this or that – it sort of doesn’t matter as much anymore, right?
And because of that, I think that has also fostered in some cases where critical proprietary software was not necessarily needed for enterprise applications. And so, when you start to break down the monolith and deploy smaller services, you’re isolating your risk because you’re isolating business functions and smaller chunks that are lighter-weight and it’s really analogous to the difference between deploying a 10-ton gorilla and deploying a colony of ants. If one ant dies it’s not a big deal, right?
But commoditization has even spread to the way that these little ants or microservices talk to each other with the advent of API interfaces and as long as you use rest APIs over HTTP or a lightweight messaging protocol that’s pretty much the lingua franca of modern applications today.
So, I think there’s probably this notion of componentization and that is actually fed into the notion of polyglot programming, and so enabling modern apps to be programmed in just about any language. So, you’re no longer bounded to this big, proprietary application server; you can program in just about any language, and as long as you can talk – rest over HTTP or send an A-synch message over a lightweight message hub – it sort of doesn’t matter.
You know, you can be a Java or a dot-net bigot but, hey, the new guy who knows Python and is really good at it, he can get in on the action, too. It’s all good.
Shimel: Absolutely. So, Andrea a lot of what you – you know, it was more than a mouthful there – and a lot of what you’re talking about really describes DevOps, right? This idea of chunking down stuff so it’s not the monolith, right, and doing small – you know, lots of smaller, little things rather than one large, bigger thing and learning and feedback looping and all of that – I mean this is – it’s DevOps 101, right?
And to me – and this is – you know, I speak to a lot of people obviously around the world about this stuff – but to me there’s a chicken-and-egg relationship between DevOps and modern application infrastructure, development and deployment as you’ve described. I don’t know if you could have one without the other. I just don’t know which one comes first. But they’re intrinsically linked, right?
And this is why, in my mind anyway, we need – you know, there’s a special relationship, if you will, between DevOps and modern application and how we do modern applications today.
Martinez: Spot on, Alan. I mean, when you think about the gorilla versus colony of ants analogy. Think about having to deploy the 10-ton gorilla – it’s typically pretty complicated but there’s a lot of dependencies and release management is of utmost concern – but deploying the colony of ants you’re deploying a lot of little things at different times – so you’re achieving the multispeed IT – if you don’t have DevOps, if you don’t have that kind of automation to do the build, compile, package, test, deploy and you’re doing it intra daily – if you don’t have that automated then your cost case is going to fly out the window.
DevOps is essential for modern applications. Period.
Shimel: Dead on. Dead on. Amen. You know, you’re preaching to the choir here, Andrea – we’re DevOps.com – but it really is essential and there is this sort of hand-in-glove type of relationship.
We are, as I promised you when we started – the time goes so quickly and there’s more I want to cover. So we talk about how DevOps fits into the story on the how and why of modern applications.
You know IBM has this history now – and as I mentioned to you four or four-and-a-half years ago when I launched DevOps.com IBM was one of the leading advocates for what was kind of the rise of the DevOps community and culture. And then you guys had the garage method, which was really kind of intrinsically again all about DevOps and DevOps ways, if you will – how does all of that fit in to modernizing applications and the way we’re doing it now?
Martinez: So the IBM cloud garage method is IBM’s opinionated view on how to deliver especially modern applications: It combines Agile, DevOps, Lean and our enterprise-design thinking and sort of rolls it all up into this wonderful burrito of reference architectures, practices and techniques – you know, it’s lunchtime, so I’ve got food on the mind – but it’s basically a way to help our clients act like a startup so that they can achieve the kind of agility that they need.
So, DevOps is also about organizational and behavioral changes because that’s really paramount. At the heart of our method is culture – how to organize our teams, the collaborative practices, social coding, pair programming – breaking down the silos, right – that’s what DevOps is all about, having product owners sit with the squads, right? – sit with them. You know, DevOps is a behavior story – a tool automation story – and it’s all in the name of enabling business agility.
Shimel: Absolutely. Andrea, I’ve got another final area I want to click on if you don’t mind. And that is for our folks listening out here – and it’s a worldwide audience at DevOps.com – and I’ve traveled the world doing this, and though we all want to do DevOps we move at different speeds and we’re at different stages of our journey.
What advice, if we can kind of give blanket advice – what advice around DevOps would you give to our listeners who – and again, Andrea, this is something you’ve probably learned, right? – I wish we all had a greenfield to play in, but we don’t, right? We have brownfields and there’s heritage apps, as you call them, and there’s modern apps, there’s old and new, fat and skinny, ants and gorillas – even burritos – what advice can you give our listeners on how to deal with all of these things?
Martinez: I think just recognizing that you may have to approach DevOps a little bit differently depending upon whether you’re modern or heritage or even somewhere in-between. Typically DevOps for heritage applications, you’re retrofitting automation in situ, right? So, you’re sort of bringing the automation to the app. Whereas for modern applications, you definitely want to have a DevOps Day One approach, right?
Because the ability to create a cloud-native application and have the automation in your mind right on day one is critical. But just know that you may have instances where you may not be able to bring a heritage application all the way to modern – you might be somewhere in between Fred Flintstone and George Jetson, right?
Shimel: Two of my favorites.
Martinez: But that’s okay, right? I mean that’s real-world. Because it may not be cost-effective to automate everything but that’s all right, you know?
So I think we can engineer our way through some of this – and there are products out there – you know, you mentioned before that hybrid cloud was really sort of the area that I was focused in terms of DevOps – and we have proprietary products, open source products, we have our Urban Code Deploy, our IBM Cloud Private – that really sort of helps bridge the gap between applications living in this cloud or that cloud – whether they’re modern or heritage there is an answer.
It’s not cookie-cutter, but we have the piece parts and the emerging technologies on the scene to help navigate.
Shimel: Yep. Excellent. So Andrea that is important for people to know but where do we go – where can people go to find out more about this?
Martinez: So I think the first place I would point them to is the IBM Cloud Garage method website – and I’m sure we’ll be providing links as part of the podcast references – but at that site you can definitely find reference architectures for DevOps, reference architectures for microservices in cloud-native development – and one of my favorites – the practices and techniques that we employ with our garage method for automation, tooling and social collaboration throughout the software delivery life cycle.
Shimel: Perfect. So, Andrea, as I mentioned, the time here it goes so quick. It was delightful, refreshing and fantastic having you as a guest here. I’d love to have you – you know, where else are we going to learn about gorillas, ants and everything else? I need to have you back on the show. We’ll talk off-mic about it, but if it’s not too much – and we’re Florida neighbors – so I’d love to have you back here. But we’re going to wrap it up for this episode of DevOps Chat.
Andrea Martinez-Crawford, welcome and thank you for being our guest on DevOps Chat today. We will have links to a lot of what you’re speaking about in our show notes, so folks, please take a look at that. But for now, we’re going to call it a wrap on this episode of DevOps Chat.
You’ve just listened to another DevOps Chat and hope to see you soon everyone. Have a great day. Bye-bye.