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Seriously confusing relationship between DevOps and cloud

“You don’t need cloud for DevOps, but you do need DevOps to get the full benefits of cloud”

In recent years, the terms DevOps and cloud have become synonymous. Successful DevOps transformations are often mentioned in the same sentence as cloud adoption or migration, giving rise to the perception that they are inextricably linked. This is not the case.

We often forget that some of the core principles of DevOps, such as agile and lean software development, have been around since the turn of the century, long before cloud computing. DevOps focuses on people and processes or practices. It therefore applies to all organisations engaged in the delivery of software or software-related services, whether they operate on-premise mainframe environments, public cloud or somewhere in between.

DevOps in mode 1

Many companies have significant investments in infrastructure such as datacentres and mainframes. The “death of the mainframe”, for example, has been hyped since the 1990s, but the simple fact is there’s no business case to replace many of the systems they host with cloud-based alternatives.

The consumerisation of IT, the internet of things and initiatives such as open banking mean that customer expectations of the ability of service providers have increased. Many of these “heritage” systems are at the heart of customer journeys, so operating in a traditional waterfall manner and frequency is no longer an option. You are only as fast as your slowest point.

The agility and value of these systems can be significantly enhanced by using DevOps techniques to ensure that they don’t become a bottleneck. Continuous integration and automated testing are just as applicable to mainframe applications as cloud-based micro-service apps.

Media and marketing often portray the latest trends as the only option, but we find that by going back to basics, we’re able to deliver the greatest benefits:

  • Are teams working collaboratively to reduce bottlenecks and wait times?
  • Could we automate processes to reduce manual effort?
  • Can we leverage technology to enhance the end-to-end processes?

Cloud needs DevOps

 The benefits of cloud, like those of DevOps, are now beyond question. Yet simply moving services to run in the cloud will not realise the benefits that are available. As a first step in a cloud-adoption journey, this approach can be justified and may deliver limited benefit. However, we often see customers recreating their datacentres and then asking why they haven’t realised the value they expected.

Cloud computing offers developers more control over their own components, resulting in smaller wait times. Moving the dial from an operations and constraint-focused model (shifting left) is a key principle of DevOps, but is only feasible when supported by practices such as automation and configuration management. Combined, they satisfy the requirements of empowerment and compliance.

Adoption of such practices is easier in the cloud. This is because all leading providers offer these as easily consumable services, with the same consumption-based cost model. As an example, AWS offer CloudFormation where previous infrastructure automation tools would be required, and CloudWatch/CloudTrail where alerting, auditing and monitoring tools would have been required.

The availability of pre-packaged as-a-service tooling that supports DevOps practices means that cloud adoption can help accelerate the adoption of DevOps within organisations. Developers building new services to run in the cloud will require code, configuration, libraries, pipeline definitions and so on. The as-a-service automation tools can streamline that process almost out of the box. All services have application programming interfaces or APIs exposed to ensure you can apply infrastructure as code (IaC) and configuration management across all cloud infrastructure.

How to get cloud right

 There is no doubt that cloud will bring you greater flexibility in the way your organisation provisions infrastructure. However, leveraging cloud in the right way is a challenge itself.

Countless times, we’ve heard: “I can provision a server in ten seconds with the cloud”, yet digging deeper this could cause more problems than it solves.

If not carefully managed pitfalls may include:

  • Everyone having access to provision a server – who will maintain all of them?
  • Costs are charged based on your compute resources – what stops people from provisioning large instances and not utilising them?
  • Incorrectly provisioned resources lead to breach, for example sensitive data unintentionally exposed, or unprotected credentials leading to undesirable usage of cloud by attackers
  • No mechanism to ensure that provisioned resources have the level of governance required to maintain compliance, both internal and/or regulatory.

There are, however, standards from the varying cloud providers including Well-Architected Framework from AWS. When cloud is adopted correctly, you can benefit from uniform, standardised and continuously protected environments, provisioned as landing zones for applications that are built in or moved to cloud. This in turn helps organisations focus on their core business and gain access to the benefits of using public cloud.

Still need help?

 Whether you’re thinking about moving towards the cloud and would like guidance or a roadmap, or you’ve already started the journey and facing challenges, our cloud assessment or health check will help you:

  • Avoid common adoption pitfalls
  • Maximise the value of cloud
  • Minimise any risk associated with the move to the cloud.

That in turn will help accelerate your digital agenda.

Download our Cloud Health Check datasheet to find out more or if you have any questions please get in touch

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