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Zeus Technology: Cloud Computing, Empowering DevOps

What do Virtualization and Cloud executives think about 2011?  Find out in this series exclusive.

Contributed Article By Owen Garrett, CIO, Zeus Technology   

Cloud Computing, Empowering DevOps

As we come into 2011, it's clear that virtualization and cloud computing have empowered IT development staff. However, where we will continue to see a shift is in the ability these technologies have given development teams to assume the roles and responsibilities of the operations side of business as well. Hence the now popular term ‘DevOps,' which so adequately reflects the growing interdependence of development and operations teams to meet business goals.

In an organization, the infrastructure teams are most threatened by cloud computing, as it takes away their control over the network estate that the business otherwise depends on. Instead, the first adopter and most vocal proponent of the cloud is often at the far end of the spectrum - the application development team. In a sweet irony, cloud computing often lets development teams bypass the organizational barriers and processes put in place by the operations and infrastructure teams; processes that impose a very conservative best practice on changes but are often regarded by applications teams as adding unnecessary bureaucracy and impeding their innovation.   

When cloud platforms are put in place and used by developers, development teams' responsibility may extend beyond the application code to include large portions of the application infrastructure it runs on as well. Perhaps unintentionally, this allows development teams to drive the infrastructure design as it pertains to their applications, leaving the cloud provider to make the hardware decisions.

Development teams may also take longer-term responsibility for the operations of the services that they create. This leads to an emerging business role, termed ‘DevOps,' driven by the subtle growth in influence that development teams can have. This role does not arise purely from transitioning to cloud computing, but, rather, as a result of companies following the practices that make their application infrastructure ‘cloud ready,' whether or not it ever gets deployed to a cloud environment. When a company makes their infrastructure ‘cloud ready,' this is the catalyst for the subtle shift in power from operations to development teams.

Without embracing the cloud, how might an organization change in order to build the role of DevOps?  One common characteristic is the adoption of software solutions, which fall in the realm of the applications team, in place of legacy hardware appliances, which fall securely in the realm of the infrastructure team. A company may begin by assessing the application infrastructure and identifying any components of composite applications that are implemented in hardware appliances, such as firewalling, intrusion detection, web application firewalls, load balancers, etc. Once they're identified, they are replaced with more agile, flexible and higher-performance software alternatives during the next technology refresh.

This is where the shift in power really starts to come into effect. When companies deploy software alternatives to their legacy hardware appliances, it's only natural for them to deploy the software on the same type of server hardware that they use for their application servers and application code. With a reduced dependency on arcane, outdated command line interfaces, replaced by rich web interfaces and modern APIs, the application development teams are often most skilled to get the most value from these software appliances from that point forward. This transition empowers a company's most innovative, valuable employees to create more new services, more quickly for the business through a combined DevOps team.

This transition of power will become more and more common over the next few years, not only as companies continue to adopt cloud computing, but also as they begin to realize the immense benefits of software applications that can run independent of proprietary hardware. Unlike hardware, companies can easily deploy software components on a variety of environments across the entire enterprise in mere minutes, thereby avoiding lengthy processes and unnecessary man-hours. Software solutions also provide companies with seamless upgrades, opposed to the time-consuming hardware refreshes many companies have to undergo on a regular basis, which not only negatively impacts availability rates, but capacity as well. Companies are also really benefitting from software solutions' superior performance, which grows over time as the underlying hardware becomes both faster and cheaper.

Like so many advances in the IT industry, the cloud is much more than a technical solution to a technical problem. Cloud computing will provide companies with the opportunity to rid their infrastructure of hardware that's holding their business back and truly effect change. And with sufficient support, companies will be able to make this shift in responsibilities to newly created DevOps teams work to their advantage. It will certainly be interesting to see how the balance of power across organizations begins to shift as the adoption of cloud computing continues to take off.

About the Author 

Owen Garrett is Chief Innovation Officer at Zeus Technology and had been a member of the Zeus team for more than a decade. Owen is deeply involved in Zeus' research and development process, and has been instrumental in the development of the company's Cloud solution portfolio.

Published Thursday, December 16, 2010 5:15 AM by David Marshall
المعرفة الالكترونية » Zeus Technology: Cloud Computing, Empowering DevOps : … - (Author's Link) - December 16, 2010 3:37 PM
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