Dan's Take

The Changing World of DevOps

IBM and Catalogic think they've bridged the enterprise IT digital divide.

IBM and Catalogic have announced a set of "joint solutions" that address the divergent needs of enterprise IT and the proponents of DevOps. The solutions target self-service cloud provisioning, cloud automation and DevOps. What they have in common is the need to safely, securely and manageably move selected data objects or subsets of enterprise data from the enterprise datacenter to the datacenter of a cloud service provider, or to one or more systems being used by developers.

The Enterprise IT View
Enterprise IT organizations are charged with the responsibility of maintaining a stable, secure computing environment. If we take a peek inside the datacenters these professionals are managing, we'd see applications and services that started life long ago; in some cases, a very long time ago.

The functions and workloads the apps managed started out addressing a few simple requirements. Over time, the need to address changing business environments, new regulations, new technology and even new styles of development had to be addressed. The simple applications were extended, and in most cases, improved.

Enterprise workloads may not be pretty to look at, but they've become reliable tools that the organization relies on. As I've pointed out before, most enterprise technology has gone though this evolutionary process five, eight or even 10 times over its lifetime.

Forgotten Workloads
These enterprise applications and workloads are hosted on systems and system software that had humble beginnings 30 or even 50 years ago. They're reliable, do their jobs and may have been largely forgotten by business decision makers, even though these decision makers use results they produce daily.

The apps were written using languages and approaches that have fallen out of favor today because the industry focus has shifted from optimizing the use of "machine cycles" to optimizing the use of "developer cycles."

The data being managed by these slowly-evolving systems has to be held secure and meet the stringent requirements of today's regulatory environment. The development tools used were meant to optimize the use of the systems and storage, and they might be complex and difficult to use.

Their approach can be likened to an archer that slowly, carefully aims at a target, checks that aim many times and finally releases the arrow. It has to hit the target every time, and hit the bullseye often. This means updates or new releases of software may come out quarterly, biannually, annually or, in some cases, once a decade or so.

The DevOps View
The DevOps community takes a very different view, and that view is based upon the idea that being slow and being late means being dead. Their processes are based upon stepwise development and near-immediate deployment. They do their best to quickly develop workable solutions for business needs and deployment as functions are completed. If something turns out to have a problem, they'll fix it and release an update. Some major enterprises are releasing updates several times a day.

They select tools and processes that are fast, simple, and do their best to automate the development and deployment process. These tools, typically, are designed to optimize the productivity of the developer, rather than the underlying systems.

That's quite a bit different than enterprise IT that might release an update much, much less often.

Dan's Take: Addressing the Needs of Both Groups
Catalogic has stepped forward to help IBM's customers as well as enterprises in general. It is focused on helping those who support enterprise workloads, and those wanting to break free of the chains of the past by adopting new development methods, new hardware and software platforms and new styles of both application development and support. The common element -- some would say the common elephant in the room -- is enterprise data.

Self-service cloud computing, cloud automation and the use of the DevOps style of development and support all need self-service and programmatic access to enterprise data. This access must easy to use and yet not negatively impact data governance rules all enterprises must live by in this modern world. This access must be secure, reliable, automatic and support both programmatic and self-service approaches.

Catalogic offers tools making it easily possible for enterprise IT to maintain a single master copy of data and still make snapshots of the entire data set and selective subsets available to DevOps for other purposes. Now the button-down world of enterprise IT and the t-shirt and jeans world of DevOps can work together without being forced to shout at one another across a great data divide.

About the Author

Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. He has been a business unit manager at a hardware company and head of corporate marketing and strategy at a software company.


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