Develop and deploy Java applications in the cloud

The DevOps versus PaaS myth: Smart IT shop make them work together

By Sacha Labourey

TheServerSide.com

After a short break, TheServerSide welcomes back Cloudbees CEOSacha Labourey, with the fourth installment in the ongoing series that aims to dispel some of the most common and pervasive cloud computing and PaaS adoption myths. In this tip? Labourey tackles the intersection of PaaS and DevOps.

PaaS Misconception #4: 
I'm going down a DevOps path, so PaaS makes no sense

As with many things, we like to compare and oppose things, create tension and force people to make a choice. A while back, there was a lively thread in the clouderati echo chamber around the notion that, in contrast to DevOps, Platform as a Service (PaaS) was delivering NoOps. Who were you siding with? DevOps or NoOps? The controversy surrounding this meme must have been considered to be a success by someone's marketing department.

Back in the real world, IT people are just concerned with solving some of the hard problems they face to deploy, update, scale and keep complex systems running with scarce resources and changing business directives. The IT landscape ranges from decades-old mainframes to fully virtualized environments, and one key activity of IT Operations is to build from the bottom-up the servers and virtual machines that will run the business systems and applications. Those environments also have to smoothly evolve over time. Organizations such as these approach a solution more from an ops standpoint, and thus their viewpoint tends to be more focused on infrastructure orchestration and automation surrounding it.

When organizations start leveraging the cloud, they quickly discover that using automation is a must have.

Sacha Labourey, Cloudbees CEO

When those organizations start leveraging the cloud, they quickly discover that eliminating operational overhead using automation is a must have: not only is this the only way to truly benefit from some of the cloud properties (such as pay-as-you-go and elasticity), but it is certainly the only way to operate a performant and reliable environment on top of an infrastructure where resources come and go with little warning. Without necessarily making it a conscious decision, organizations that are to be successful in the cloud naturally aspire to continuous delivery and become DevOps experts.

Driving PaaS adoption

On the other hand, what often happens is that PaaS adoption is driven by a line-of-business with an urgent need, or by developers and QA to help upgrade their processes and get product out more quickly, with better quality. Those teams are not bottom-up driven; au contraire, they are top-down focused on the application they have to deliver to the business. Their viewpoint tends to be more application-centric and development platform-focused. That audience, by definition would most probably consider itself as desiring NoOps, the Ops and DevOps parts being delivered by the PaaS provider. In that case, continuous delivery comes as a very natural way to implement, test, stage and deploy applications.

So what type of organization would you define yourself as being? Well, chances are high that you will be … both! Part of your cloud deployments will originate from IT operations migrating or extending existing systems and applications to the cloud and DevOps will be the way to achieve that goal. Another part of your cloud deployments, mostly new applications, will originate from development teams who do not have specific or historical requirements for custom bottom-up stacks. These new applications, however, almost always have requirements to connect to and interact with the existing systems being delivered and maintained by IT.

The bottom line is that in both cases, bottom-up/DevOps and top-down/NoOps, the objective is to deliver to end-users, and continuous delivery is where the two worldviews intersect. For some ongoing insight on how these perspectives intersect in the real world, I encourage you to check out Jeff Sussna's blog.

How are you combining PaaS and DevOps? Let us know.

26 May 2014

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