The era of siloed development and operations functions is rapidly coming to an end. The concept of DevOps has already closed the gap between IT and developers, but as I speak with customers around the globe, one theme continues to arise. Many systems administrators are ill-equipped to handle the shift from IT Ops to DevOps and, in some cases, don’t even know the right questions to ask to ensure they are planning accordingly.
Having the appropriate equipment and software in place means nothing without people trained and ready to implement the shift from IT Ops to DevOps. As IT strives to support and protect developers continuing to innovate with wild-west-style creativity, how can we empower them with the tools and knowledge to ease the transition? This starts with asking the right questions, but requires IT to think about new things: Automating processes, revamping config management, building efficiencies in data orchestration and standardizing a set of APIs with enterprise-level protections.
Asking the Right Questions About DevOps and Infrastructure-as-Code
Enterprises need to look holistically at how infrastructure services are created, delivered and managed. Continuing current practices, such as manual provisioning complicated by different interpretations of imprecise instructions, will continue to lead to snowflake architectures and brittle systems. Organizations must modernize or replace this existing infrastructure to exploit cloud architectures and implement true platforms, actualizing the promise of the cloud.
Infrastructure-as-code is an underlying framework that removes the manual process of managing and provisioning resources and opens doors to enabling DevOps. Using code to define the infrastructure configuration means that there is greater consistency between platforms. That consistency allows IT to seed the agile processes, methods and technical approaches needed to evolve a DevOps culture.
To get to a point where infrastructure-as-code is facilitating a DevOps culture, it’s important for IT Ops to understand how to develop an early-stage continuous delivery and deployment pipeline. They also need to begin to seed practices and values native to DevOps for software engineering principles and practices with IT Ops. It’s also important to define success criteria–referred to as the “definition of done” in agile and begin to think about how to implement the infrastructure-as-code using DevOps best practices.
Don’t Expect Developers to Become Expert Sysadmins
Developers don’t want or need an extra layer of oversight or management, nor do they want to ask for permission before doing what they do best: Innovating. DevOps can more rapidly provision compute and storage resources and provide infrastructure-as-code while automating DevOps processes, empowering developers to become an innovation engine for their businesses.
So much of what we’ve seen puts pressure on IT to be proactive when protecting developer cycles in containers and beyond. The NSA, as well as other industry data protection companies, offer tips for IT to stay ahead of these threats, but manual patching and scanning is not only handcuffing IT but stifling innovation in DevOps. The challenge is that IT can’t move as fast as developer cycles and often lose sight of what developers are putting into containers or other IT environments.
While global data protection restrictions might have an impact on things like machine learning and AI from a consumer experience standpoint, it does not affect how IT might use these technologies to automate protection. It’s also not about extending protection to developer workloads, it’s about having an environment that recognizes and automates protection against threats in all environments. This way, developers and IT don’t have to become system admins or data protection experts. They can focus on the innovation at hand.
Config Management is Critical to Empowering Developers
As we continue to prioritize the automation of processes in the developer environment, it’s also important to consider how to move beyond just automating protection and infrastructure while allowing IT Ops to still have an eye on identifying, documenting and tracking changes in the DevOps stack. To do this, DevOps should look to configuration management tools to help manage and automate the architecture through strong community support, customization, scalability and the simplification of complex configurations.
These tools, such as Ansible, Terraform, etc., can be deployed to meet specific needs and preferences. The point is, once you create infrastructure-as-code, you need a way to configure and manage it that fits the model that’s appropriate for your business. While you can use IaC to configure and manage, you still need to determine how to best implement automation and configuration in the most appropriate environment.
Data Orchestration Eliminates Repetitive Cycles
Data orchestration tools bring all data together regardless of where it originates or its format. An ecosystem that can collect data efficiently and convert it to a format that is easily understood by any and all endpoints is critical to the app development process. There’s no need to iterate at multiple levels, on multiple platforms or in different environments. IT can enable developers to innovate and learn from any environment, data warehouse or platform and build applications that can do the same.
In the same way data orchestration can drive efficiency, there are additional benefits. Automating the collection, analysis and formatting of data saves IT countless hours of doing these processes manually. While there are obvious cost benefits, there are also a few other important benefits.
To allow developers to continually innovate at a wild west pace, IT/DevOps must also ensure they can meet data privacy compliance and governance policies. Data orchestration allows businesses to delete or store data based on policies preset in the environment. It also allows businesses to ensure that internal policy is upheld throughout the development process. Orchestration then takes that data and makes it workable so that any iterative process can be applied without fear of bottlenecks or additional cycles.
Standardized APIs Trump Those Created by Unaffiliated Coders
Today’s developer profile expands far beyond the enterprise. In fact, according to Developer Nation, we can expect a whopping 45 million developers in the world by 2030. These numbers don’t include the unaffiliated coders working out of their basements or garages. That’s not to say that creativity isn’t appreciated or eventually adopted by industry leaders. But the code and software created don’t necessarily abide by enterprise governance and privacy standards. Yet we continue to see wild west developers pulling in anything and any kind of API to ensure it meets the needs of the next business application they are developing. How does IT police this?
They don’t have to. For IT/DevOps to identify a set of APIs that meet business imperatives and certify them for use within the organization is imperative. Think about a scenario in which a developer has not only a comfortable environment to sit in without learning new skills but also an environment that automates protection, orchestration and gives them a preset library of helpful and open APIs. Businesses can begin to focus on delivery rather than policing and upskilling developers to work within the confines of the business ecosystem.
As data continues to flow in and out of organizations and more data is being created and stored at the edge, a DevOps culture built for tomorrow’s developers is critical. These tips are a great starting point to ensure you’re installing a future-proof culture of innovation. What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced and overcome during the transition to DevOps?