The DevOps evolution (Revolution!) has a great story; a story of winning the hearts and minds of people of all experiences who all anxiously strive to achieve their goals in amazing new and opportunistic ways. This story isn’t that of throwing everything away and starting over, nor is it a story of always having to start from scratch and do things from the ground up. It’s a story that reflects the hard work, critical thinking, scientific processes and deep analysis of your business needs with your goal in mind. The concepts of the classic DevOps cloud business and the classic Enterprise all evolve in different ways but end up with the same evolutionary cognitive artifact, the focus on improvement and adding value through technology.
When it comes to talking about Enterprise patterns vs the more spoken about “Cloud” patterns, we sort of speak to them as if their exclusively different, almost denying them an existence by choice. One sees an “Enterprise” shop and almost cringes at the thought of them being DevOps out of an ideological view more than an evolutionary view. However, when studying a “DevOps Enterprise” and “Cloud” company from the ten thousand foot view we can see them as being much more similar.
Develop -> Build -> Test -> Deploy
Develop -> Build -> Test -> Deploy
Visually, this pattern while overly simplified is the same but how people get from develop to deploy may be entirely different. In a developer centric “cloud pattern” you may be developing a web application to offer self service functionality to your end users but in a corporate environment you may be less developer centric as a business analyst adding features in a corporate resource planning application. The end result is still creating value for your customer, developing functionality, building that functionality, testing that functionality and deploying that functionality and doing so in a very “DevOps Way”. Taking a closer look at the Enterprise through a slightly stronger magnifying glass, we would see something more like this for a typical enterprise deployment pattern:
Storage -> Physical Host > Hypervisor -> Virtual Host -> Database <-> Application -> Customer
Everything that composes this pattern could be made of of all sorts of parts from many vendors, open source projects, COTS systems and value add resellers. The components aren’t really what matters. It’s the technology that an organization has acquired in doing business and the processes they have developed to meet the demands of their organization over their years of growing. It’s grown organically just as our concepts of IT have grown over there years and its done so creating and growing value too (at least, that’s the expectation). It’s evolved. For better or worse, there is something we’ve encoded in these concepts and transmitted in an artifact we call “Enterprise”.
The end result of applying DevOps to an Enterprise “Develop -> Build -> Test -> Deploy” pattern is to add value to this pattern, align this pattern to the business and to optimize the flow of this pattern. It’s really no different than applying these ideas to a “Cloud” business. One could optimize the Enterprise pattern of their Oracle Financials application by doing continuous integration just as cloud operations strive for continuous integration, but the CI you see in Oracle world may be drastically different than that of typical Cloud Ops CI. Enterprise CI may be more of a “validation” experiment, a “Safe to fail” experiment. It may be more business process oriented – you may see people experimenting with BPEL or other tools to wrap business requirements and compliance around tasks/alerts/metrics/services/data. The more we talk about Enterprise DevOps patterns the more we realize that we can benefit from these experiences in all DevOps patterns! There is a lot we can parallel in our views and see value from. Just because the “Enterprise” and the “Cloud” may appear differently, doesn’t mean they’re exclusively different by mandate or incapable of converging ideas.
Looking more closely at the Cloud, we see this a mode of operations:
Virtual Host -> Database <-> Application -> Customer
More frequently, depending on which type of cloud you seek out, you could simply see:
Database <-> Application -> Customer or simply just Application -> Customer
I feel it’s important to look at this evolution as parallel or even somewhat convergent (the differences being arbitrary if you ask me) because the end results are the same, that all-powerful “Goal”. How one gets there, is how you tell your own story, but that story is your own evolution of services and what worked for you and your survival. The common hereditary artifacts of this separate but in the end parallel evolution of services is that they appear to build upon each other; sharing similar services, using APIs, using abstractions when needed, using automation when needed, building up “self-service” type systems/frameworks and doing so with the end user in mind and creating value (surviving!). To the customers in an Enterprise business, all they see is “application” or “service” just as in the cloud services organization your customer sees “application” or “service”. DevOps is the patterns that create/add value/optimize flow regardless of the service to the customer.
Some people call the Enterprise applications and services we all know so well as the “Dinosaurs” of the computing age. Let me remind you, dinosaurs ruled the earth for 230 million years; that’s 229+ million more years than humans! Dinosaurs weren’t stagnant by any means, they continually evolved and grew with staggering variations and abilities to survive. If you stopped evolving, you went extinct. Beyond the extinction of the dinosaurs, many species from the same era did survive and they survived not just because they had the winning combination of hereditary traits for survival but because they evolved through the changes that continued to happen regardless of their will to survive. Dinosaurs had an evolutionary dead end not because they did the wrong things or had the wrong design, but because couldn’t survive against the external forces that happened upon them. The Cloud business could just as well be a dinosaur, soon to be extinct if that business fails to evolve for its own survival. Same for the Enterprise business. We’re all evolved from dinosaurs in the end and if some have figured out how to survive through their cosmic collisions and still appear to outsiders as a metaphorical dinosaur, then that survival should be seen as having value in and of itself. The cognitive ability of reason should win, not an ideological opinion thereof.
DevOps at “Big Giant and often cumbersome Corporation” may be different in scale/ideas, but the goal is just as much the same and the experiences we can learn from each other, are just as much the same. Join my efforts in documenting DevOps in the enterprise, and help work on Enterprise DevOps patterns or DevOps Audit Defense concepts. Both of these are open to participation and aren’t in any way specific to any technology or service other than sharing experiences that are common in the arbitrary “Classic Enterprise” or “Classic Corporate IT” shop.
Through the parallel evolution of Cloud and Enterprise systems, convergence may be the end result, but it certainly isn’t the mandate. Keep evolving! Mother nature has done it for billions of years and she isn’t stopping anytime soon.