By Rajat Bhargava Posted July 15, 2014
Religion with DevOps
At times our recent DevOps State of the Union event in Santa Clara was a little heated and contentious. With so many awesome DevOps thought leaders, media, and analysts in the room, there was no shortage of strong opinions. As we’ve mentioned before, our goal at the event was to bring together some of the best and brightest from our industry together with amazing press and analysts to create a conversation around DevOps. We wanted to see if we could finally get to a definition of DevOps that we all could agree upon. Alas, that was not possible!
Part of the reason that it wasn’t really possible was that there were some fundamental differences in the way that people approach the problem. At the crux of this on the technical side was whether ops actually exists as a separate function. Our friends from LinkedIn argued that operations is absolutely a separate function that needs to work closely with development. The core of the argument was that just as developers are great at their craft, so too are operations personnel. They understand how to build and maintain infrastructure in ways that perhaps some developers don’t. By having the best people in any given area, the team will be stronger as a result.
On the other hand, folks from Netflix argued that the future requires combining development and operations into one group where developers run the infrastructure. Developers have the tools and skills to manage their part of the world, and by being as close to the production environment as possible, they have the freedom and responsibility to build a resilient, scalable infrastructure (as Netflix has done). They credited the decision to implement this as a key part of their success. They hire to this and believe it is the right model for their organization. The Netflix folks were also quick to point out that their structure / architecture may not be right for everybody, but they believe that it is going to be the way of the future.
It turned into a fascinating debate with opposing viewpoints. It’s clear that both organizations are absolutely historic companies executing at a high level, but taking very different views and paths of DevOps. Each organization believes that its path is the right one and ultimately it felt over time that we will have religion in DevOps. There are going to be certain approaches that will work for some organizations and people – those will be the way for them. Others will have different ways and different beliefs. My sense is that over time, you’ll want to find like-minded people at a company to make sure that you are in the right place. From the outside looking in, it is hard to argue that one model is better than the other, although each will and I think that’s the key point – see what you believe and then find others with common beliefs as you start to build your DevOps practice or implement it within a company.
Here at JumpCloud, we are probably closer to the NetFlix approach than LinkedIn, but that could be a function of size. As the team continues to expand, we can see a time where we have more dedicated operations personnel. There is also another factor with our business – which is focused on being a cloud-based identity management platform – and that is our emphasis on security. As we need highly skilled personnel with very specific pieces of expertise, we can see the business moving towards the LinkedIn model as well. If you’d like to learn more about JumpCloud and our focus on creating the next generation cloud directory service called Directory-as-a-Service®, drop us a note. We’d be happy to chat with you.