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Micro Focus 2017 Predictions: DevOps - Will it Lead to NoOps, or will it be the Liberator of Operations?

VMblog Predictions 2017

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2017.  Read them in this 9th annual VMblog.com series exclusive.

Contributed by Travis Greene, Director of Strategy, IT Operations for Micro Focus

DevOps – Will it Lead to NoOps, or will it be the Liberator of Operations in 2017?

Over five years ago, the analyst firm Forrester Research extend the concept of DevOps by introducing the term "NoOps," which they defined as "completely automating the deployment, monitoring and management of applications and the infrastructure on which they run." In other words, eliminating IT Operations through cloud and automation technologies with the development team having complete lifecycle responsibility for applications.

In practice today, NoOps isn't all or nothing. Some organizations are seeking to minimize IT Operations through the use of cloud services and automation, but there remain core IT operations that support legacy applications that would be difficult, if not impossible, to replace with cloud and automation approaches.

After five years to simmer as a concept, where is all of this heading? Will cloud services in all its flavors (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) and automation, such as software-defined networking, fully eliminate the need for IT infrastructure and operations teams in 2017?

Cloud Micro Focus 

The Impact of Cloud on Operations

From an IT operations perspective, no other technology or approach is quite the existential threat as cloud computing. The need for internal IT operations is contracting from both ends with the increasing availability of common applications delivered through a SaaS model, and the agility that IaaS and PaaS provides to developers to deliver custom applications.

Or at least that's what the proponents of NoOps would have us believe.

The Role of Operations in the New Cloud Order

All of IT is struggling with digital business transformation - increased engagement with customers via IT services, extracting greater value from information resources, enabling a new, mobile workforce, and assuring they have reduced the risk associated with this transformation. The trend towards DevOps is fueled by the need of the business to innovate faster, so innovation also drives a need for more responsive operations, which is often viewed as an innovation bottleneck.

Yet, becoming more responsive to business demand for new apps doesn't mean the business no longer cares whether the applications are performing or available, nor does it mean it no longer needs to support business users and legacy services.  So, in the end, who is responsible for ensuring that the cloud providers are meeting contractual obligations?

In response, it's important to remind ourselves that cloud and automation are enabling technologies, and not the end goal of business. What role should operations have in the new cloud order in 2017? Perhaps the answer isn't cloud or automation centric.

The Change that Operations Must Make

The shift of computing resources to the cloud can actually be seen as liberating operations from more mundane tasks. It allows agility and enables a shift of focus from technology outcomes to business outcomes. Rather than measure the speed with which incidents are resolved, or how many patches are applied, or the availability of a server, in 2017, IT Operations must focus less on these IT-centric tasks and begin measuring its own success based on how it has enabled the business to reduce costs or generate revenue.

IT operations must also demonstrate improvement in its agility, embracing the DevOps manufacturing approach to software delivery, in order to avoid the bottleneck label.

Therefore, the change that IT operations must make in 2017 is towards becoming an agile provider of IT business outcomes. If cloud services are necessary to achieve that outcome, then use them.

The best operations leaders have the expertise to translate business priorities into operational metrics to support the successful outcomes and continuous improvement that the business needs - a critical step considering how itinerant end customers can be.

This is the next logical progression in DevOps - completing the "last mile" of software delivery via an operations team that ensures the satisfactory delivery of services regardless of whether the infrastructure is in the cloud or the corporate data center, and regardless of the endpoint where the service is consumed by the user. Operations must embrace the new liberated role that cloud, automation and closer alignment with the development team can provide, while retaining the specialized skills that bridge development and business outcomes.

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About the Author

Travis Greene, director of Strategy, IT Operations at Micro Focus, possesses a blend of IT operations and security experience, process design, organizational leadership and technical skills. After a 10-year career as a US Naval Officer, he started in IT as a Data Center Manager for a hosting company. In early 2002, Travis joined a Managed Service Provider as the leader of the service level and continuous improvement team. Today, Travis conducts research with NetIQ customers, industry analysts, and partners to understand current IT Operations challenges. Travis is Expert Certified in ITIL and holds a BS in Computer Science from the US Naval Academy.

Travis Greene 

Published Friday, December 09, 2016 7:08 AM by David Marshall
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