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DevOps vs IT-Ops

March 17th, 2014

I’ve spent the last few months closely monitoring the job boards, and because of my web development background I get flagged for development jobs. Interestingly the vast majority of development roles seem to be pitched as DevOps roles. Initially this got my interested as I’d be very interested in doing a DevOps role (my dev skills are rusty, but I can do the Ops side pretty well). But it seems the majority of DevOps roles are simply just Development roles with a bit of config management included, and the config management is code related, not infrastructure related.

If you look at the IT Operations side of things, these guys are getting more involved in automated builds, infrastructure configuration management and the ubiquitous immutable server concept. The problem is there is significant cross-over in the tooling for DevOps and IT-Ops. If you’re looking at something like Chef, Puppet, Ansible or Salt, one of the key decision factors is are you a developer or an infrastructure person. Developers are more likely to understand Github repositories and workflows, while infrastructure guys will understand more scripting an automated build. With the major infrastructure virtualisation vendors coming to the party with things like VMware’s Application Director and Data Director, as well as Microsoft’s App-Controller, this market is quickly becoming busy.

But the key question is still, are you a developer or an infrastructure person? Either an infrastructure person is building a template to hand-over to development, or a developer is taking a pre-built template and automating their code over the top of it. What about DevOps then? At what point will the infrastructure operations team actually work closely with the development team? Maybe the question is closer to: At what point will the infrastructure team let the development team get closer to the infrastructure, and at what point will the development team let the infrastructure team get closer to their code? There’s still too many arguments one way or the other (your code isn’t optimised for a virtual stack, your infrastructure isn’t dynamic enough for our code, etc. etc.).

I don’t doubt that the tooling is available, but I don’t think any one tool can yet do the broad spectrum that both Dev and Ops need yet. The biggest challenge is the politics between the teams. I don’t think this is necessarily ego’s, it’s just more taking 2 teams that have traditionally caused each-other a lot of headaches and suddenly asking them to just get along and work hand-in-hand. There are huge benefits in DevOps if done properly, but the challenge of doing it properly isn’t a small one! I think both teams can learn a lot from each-other too.

Should the converged infrastructure vendors (VCE Vblock, NetApp FlexPod, IBM Pure, Dell Active Infrastructure, HDS UCP, HP CloudSystem, etc.) start shipping with automation tools built in, it will be a very interesting challenge for the IT-Ops team! DevOps teams are already circumventing IT-Ops and going straight to platforms that can service them so my gut feeling is that IT-Ops need to start making the changes first.

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