Challenges for the Devops Crowd

This is a guest post by Kris Buytaert (@krisbuytaert)

Over the past couple of years Devops grew out of experienced Ops people, some with a development background. At least that’s how I see it. Some people think devops came out of the cloud and others think it was the devs that started doing ops, but does it really matter?

We’ve grown to a level where the analysts, both big and small, have noticed us and write about us. Some talk to us, others invent their own story but where do we need to go next?

Some of us practice Devops in a hot new Web environment, while others do it in a more traditional corporate environment. Some of us don’t even know they already do it πŸ™‚

DevOps Is Like OpenSource 10 Years Ago

However, we have a couple of challenges to overcome. When we look at where Devops stands today it reminds me of Open Source about 10 years ago. Linux was still mostly visible at the edges of organizations for security, networking and mail solutions.
The introduction of Open Source in the enterprise started at the bottom of the stack and under the radar of management, but today Open Source is everywhere in the enterprise. It took some time, but gradually Open Source took over and today we can’t imagine life without it.

Challenge 1: Involve Management Into Grassroots DevOps Approach

I haven’t seen an organization change to a more devops approach based on pressure from management yet. Change usually comes in little drops, initiated by the techies (whether it’s sysadmins or developers) – pretty similar to the introduction of Open Source. So, let’s remember where open source is today … today, it’s a strategic decision.

Getting management involved in the game is the first task we have. We’ll need to show some organizations why they should break their silo’s. One of the easiest ways is to take a problem, a pain point, and tackle that by involving all team members.

Challenge 2: Deal With Outsourced Operations

A second problem we’ll have to deal with is working together with outsourced development or platform management. How do you involve team members that are not really part of your team or people that work for a 3rd party, but with whom you have to work together? How do you motivate them? How do you get them involved in the team? You could use a liaison, but will that solve the problem?

Challenge 3: Make Vendors Open Up Their Products

The last problem I want to tackle today, but certainly not the last one around, is the challenge we face with vendors- whether it be software or hardware vendors. As Luke nicely phrases it, “If my computer can’t install it, the installer is broken.” The same counts for appliances. Applications shouldn’t have gui’s to install, configure and provision, but they should have clean config files or an API we can talk to for installation, configuration, provisioning and management purposes. Vendors will hopefully quickly realize that by opening up access to their api they can only gain.

Now, this challenge looks easier as we aren’t asking them to open source their code. We’re just asking them to provide us with an API we can talk with to automate the use of their platforms. If they give us one, chances are we’ll be buying their hardware/etc. at scale.

As you can see, we’re only at the start of the discussion. There is still a lot of ground to cover, so I’m looking forward to your ideas.

About the author

Kris is a long time Linux and Open Source Consultant doing Linux and Open Source projects in Belgium, Europe and the rest of the universe.

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