DevOps is a portmanteau of “developers” and “operations.” The concept of DevOps is about shifting IT culture in a way that enables developers and operations to work together more seamlessly. As more and more elements of DevOps become automated and leverage microservices such as container platforms, though, the operations side of that equation plays a diminished role.
Microservices and Automating Ops
What you’re left with essentially is developers with the processes and tools to automate the infrastructure back end. Technologies such as containers and services such as AWS Lambda simplify greatly the process of programmatically generating, modifying and maintaining the underlying infrastructure.
AWS Lambda seems to be a step toward removing the Ops from DevOps. It creates a system for use and runs code via APIs. The instance is spun up, the code is run and the instance is spun back down. AWS Lambda can decrease provisioning time and enable developers to be even more efficient than working with traditional virtual machines in partnership with operations.
Container technologies such as Docker allow applications to be broken down into very granular elements—many of which can be leveraged repeatedly. The ability to reuse containerized functions across different apps and to drive that process through APIs enable substantially greater automation.
With each step forward in the evolution of DevOps, organizations find new bottlenecks or roadblocks, and then look for or develop solutions to address them. In this API-based, automated future, the APIs themselves become a challenge. Organizations have to find ways to effectively manage and update a rapidly growing library of APIs.
Ops Will Live On
If you work in operations, or aspire to someday work in operations, don’t fret: Operations still will exist on some level.
The role played by operations will simply evolve. “Operations is not going away, but the job is definitely changing,” says Shannon Williams, VP of Sales and Marketing at Rancher Labs. “Automation and microservices are technologies that are enabling operations teams to spend less time ‘firefighting’ to maintain configurations, etc., and more time on bigger-picture issues that will help improve performance and resiliency, [and] help bring down costs for the business.”
That’s a step in the right direction. In this future scenario—next-gen data center—those in operations will be able to invest their time in more valuable endeavors. They will be able to automate routine, mundane infrastructure tasks and focus on incorporating new technologies that enable the organization to derive greater value from DevOps and IT in general.
“What is going away is the time spent arguing about what went wrong, not operations itself,” Williams suggests. “Given the additional time that automation will free up for Ops, they can start to find ways to improve their specific business unit. They can now be focusing on optimizing for performance, costs, etc.”
Evolution of DevOps
I have pointed out before that every roadblock in DevOps is actually an opportunity. As DevOps principles are applied in new areas, and new tools are developed to automate more tasks, it just accelerates everything to the next bottleneck. Rinse and repeat.
To some extent, the infrastructure side of IT and DevOps are two of those roadblocks. That’s why tools are emerging to allow many components of infrastructure to be automated, freeing the operations team to focus its efforts on whatever the next roadblock is.