From DevOps to CloudOps – understanding the real relationship between the cloud and DevOps can help your company achieve the goal of continuous operations.
Time is money, so they say, and that’s never been truer than in the digital economy. Here the costs of downtime – both planned and unplanned – can spiral out of control. What’s more if your competitors manage to embrace the benefits of technology to reduce or eliminate their downtime, you’ll find yourself falling behind. In extreme cases, the results could prove to be fatal. This is why you need to start thinking about moving towards a goal of continuous operations – and for that you’ll need to understand the relationship between the cloud and DevOps.
For many people these are two separate things. The cloud is all about technology and services while DevOps is focused on processes. All too often, the latter gets overlooked. However, rather than thinking of them as two separate entities, you should be focusing on how they can work together to help you achieve your digital transformation goals.
Towards continuous operations
The goal you’re working towards could be considered continuous operations nirvana. In the digital world, downtime can be more-costly than ever before. Many businesses will see them as a regular part of doing business. A study in the US, found that around 80% of data centre managers experienced an average of 1.6 hours downtime per week. However, the cost can be enormous. Research from the Ponemon institute found that unplanned outages represent a growing threat to businesses. 84% of respondents said they “would rather walk barefoot over hot coals than have their data center go down.”
What’s keeping them awake at night is the fact that this is about much more than just a loss of revenue. In the digital world, they may be competing against other businesses who have found a way to achieve continuous operations. They will be getting their products to market more quickly and efficiently and, as such, will have an advantage at multiple points.
Why the cloud is vital
This is why digital adoption is so vital. In many cases, it could make the difference between success or failure. Investors have cottoned on to the idea and have coined a new phrase: digital due diligence.
When deciding whether to invest in a company and how to value it, one of the key factors they will look at will be how well along the line towards digital transformation they have got. It’s a sign of just how important the concept has become. It is more than just an opportunity to improve business operations, it is now something which could make or break your business entirely. If you haven’t started, you could find it impossible to match the competition in the near future. To make it work, though, businesses will need to push further into the cloud. This offers a range of advantages including:
- Increased capacity: Cloud computing offers increased storage capacity without any investment in physical infrastructure. You can scale up at any time, so your operations can evolve with your data requirements.
- Widely distributed: This data can come from anywhere in the world. Location is no longer as important as it once was.
- Unified platforms: Clouds don’t depend on the infrastructure of individual platforms. They can extract it all and present it in one, easy to understand dashboard.
- Automated: Many routine operations are automated which saves time for the user. Basic operational problems can often be fixed quietly in the background.
This is a digital solution to a digital age, and it will require a fresh approach to DevOps to take account of the distinct challenges it poses. To be successful, IT managers will need to create their operations around what the cloud can do rather than updating their existing operations to manage. The big goal is to achieve what we’re going to call ‘continuous operations’. This means the elimination of down time and the ability to run cloud operations in a way which means you never need to take any part of the service offline. You’re looking to update any software or make changes while achieving zero downtime for the service.
This will require a change of attitude for some people, who may have seen downtime as being an inevitable result of installing patches or carrying out operations. This was because operations were run on a single server, so if work needed to be done, that server would have to be taken offline. Redundancy servers to maintain continuous operations, were seen as being too expensive. However, today in a world in which businesses are moving increasingly quickly, any downtime represents a significant impact on revenue.
With the move towards public clouds, users are becoming increasingly demanding. They expect continuous operations, and they have plenty of reasons to do so. Public clouds have sold themselves as offering greater reliability and performance than traditional infrastructure which means they have to offer this service in order to be successful. Most will offer the ability to set up redundant servers. This means operations will continue to run, even during updates or system failures which would have interrupted an existing system. These systems can run in the background managing updates and addressing problems so seamlessly that users may often be unaware that there has even been an issue.
The cloud also helps to embed culture change into operations through the use of advanced automation procedures. So, if you develop a new way to assemble components, these can be codified into new automated processes. This process can be streamlined and made instantly repeatable time and time again from the user’s point of view. Monitoring tools also allow you to set up data driven tools which are constantly scanning and monitoring for issues. By analyzing all the data that comes into them, they can continuously check the current state of that system. When issues do occur, they can automatically initiate procedures which correct the issue before it becomes a serious problem. The key to remember is that achieving continuous operations is about much more than just using the best technology and putting it into practice, it’s also about how you use it. To do this you need to build a coherent and effective approach. This starts with analyzing your requirements. What data are you looking to host in the cloud and what do you want it to do? What changes do you need to make to your cloud-ops in order to achieve them?
Create a plan to eliminate any outages or down time. Set up a series of automatic or self-provisioned systems to help you avoid those issues which would normally involve an interruption to the service. Once you’ve done that you can select the tools to help you achieve these goals and develop a system of monitoring the performance of these tools to see if you are getting everything out of them that you hope for. The rise of digital transformation has created a host of buzzwords and it’s important not to get confused by them. There are plenty of people who will be firing off terms such as cloud-ops without fully understanding what it is and what it involved. The secret is to understand what it is that you want the technology to deliver, the challenges that might stand in your way and the tools you have at your disposal to overcome them.
Market Research Team, RapidValue