You Can DevOps!

I was in a customer briefing recently discussing OpenStack and Rackspace Private Cloud. This particular customer was incredibly keen on cloud and had been keeping an eye on OpenStack since its inception in 2010. The customer was also very transparent, which made for a good bi-directional exchange of useful information that will undoubtedly help us to prioritize features for Rackspace Private Cloud.

A particularly interesting part of the conversation centered on adopting a DevOps model. This company is a decent size, and has an impressive bench of in-house developers, however its developers are often frustrated with IT because they’re unable to get compute resources in a timely fashion. In addition, like many of the customers I speak to, the broader IT/IS organization is concerned with security, shadow IT and grappling with growing amounts of data and pressure to get smarter with analytics.

Keeping developers happy and breaking down walls between sys admins and developers should be an important part of any company’s strategy right now because in the words of The Phoenix Project author Gene Kim, “every company is an IT company.” Breaking down silos between developers and systems administrators can help companies take full advantage of advances in automation and help to deliver innovative products to market. Innovative products, in turn could create happier or more loyal customers and keep your company ahead of your competition.

So how do you DevOps?

  1. Make an investment in training your people. This could mean teaching sys admins basic dev skills and developers basic admin skills. It may also mean providing training and access to tools like Chef, Puppet or RightScale, and/or using collaboration tools like GitHub.
  2. If you have a cloud strategy (and who doesn’t?) consider the move to cloud-friendly coding languages that have SDKs, open APIs and run well on open source operating systems.
  3. Seat them together. By putting admins and developers side-by-side, you’ll reduce finger-pointing and failed/overdue projects that occur do limitations with code or infrastructure.
  4. Participate in DevOppy things. There are fantastic events, from conferences to un-conferences to local meetups (DevOpsDays is great).
  5. Give your people the resources they need to do their jobs. This might mean permission to use public cloud when it makes sense, or if you’re security conscious, deploying a Rackspace Private Cloud (available via free download) and allowing your team to self-serve.
  6. Use the cloud, don’t run it. The value in cloud comes in using it, not running it. Consider leveraging a company like Rackspace to operate your cloud for a fraction of the cost if you were to DIY.

Cloud, DevOps and automation aren’t buzzwords. Companies are doing some really cool and innovative things. If you’re not doing them, be prepared to fall behind or fail.

Questions, comments? Reach me on Twitter @nikiacosta.

To dig deeper into DevOps, check out the Rackspace DevOps Blog and the Developer Center.

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  1. I agree to that. It’s a habit of sys admins that they treat developers like a man having all the time some stupid problems. It’s the reason why the wall is built.


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