The Rise of New Operations

It has been 6 years since I wrote a blog post titled The Rise of Devops. Many things have changed during this time and I realized a re-evaluation could be interesting.

Today, in 2016, here is where I think we are.

1. Operations main focus is now scalability

In the past, our primary purpose in life was to build and babysit production. Today operations teams focus on scale. For some it could be traffic related (number of concurrent sessions, number of users, size of the dataset). For others it could be ability to move between states safely and at high pace (for example, fintech where high stakes make consumer web approaches to operations too risky).

Automation is a necessary condition of scalability, and if you want everything to be automated, you must have devops as your goal.

2. Operations team is now a foundation of your platform team

Engineering teams exist in order to create product. With many teams in a company, there is often a need to have a dedicated team whose job is to ensure productivity growth - code reuse, implementation patterns, client libraries, core APIs. This is what I call a platform team.

Historically, this platform team would partner with opertations but today we are already at the point where operations is a part of the platform team. I have another post on this topic.

3. No more dedicated operations teams at early stage companies

This is NoOps and I realize that many readers will have strong objections here but I believe it’s a new reality. Look at any early stage company - there are rarely pure operations roles among co-founders or early employees. At that stage, it’s a luxury that only a few can afford - when you are iterating very quickly, you don’t worry yet about scaling your service for large crowds that may never come - you care about features and market fit. People may wear many hats, and some will still do a lot of operations but as an add-on, not as their main function.

A pure operations role in the form it used to exist at young tech companies is now extinct.

4. More and more enterprise workloads require webscale

This is an emerging trend, where traditional enterprises start selling products and services directly to consumers and quickly discover that their operations chops in webscale world are lacking.

This is especially obvious to me in part because I live outside of the Bay Area.

5. What got us to our current state?

I think 2 main factors - IaaS cloud (along with AWS unstoppable quest to standardize everything that is not code itself, by offering it as a service) and operations people’s widespread adoption of software engineering productivity techniques (in other words, operations people becoming better developers and moving up from scripts).

6. Where are we headed within next 6 years?

I am pretty confident that in another 6 years a lot more truly large scale applications and services will be successfully running without a dedicated operations team. Where all engineering teams have at least one customer-facing product service running in production, operations team no longer exists as a standalone part of the engineering organization (which does not mean that operations expertise or tech ops knowledge or best practices become not needed).

I think it’s the future.

Categories: devops |