DevOps and the Cloud. Not just localised in the Bay Area…

I’ve just read this interesting blog post about DevOps and the Cloud, and felt compelled to leave a comment, which is now turned into a blog post. The original article can be found here:

http://redmonk.com/dberkholz/2013/05/03/devops-and-cloud-a-view-from-outside-the-bay-area-bubble/

The post is USA-centric, talking about the Bay Area in particular, but it does make some very good (and thought-provoking) comments about how cutting-edge practices such as the DevOps philosophy tend to gravitate around the well established tech hubs.

I wanted to add my 2 cents (2 pence?) to the discussion to make sure people don’t just assume this practice only occurs around the West coast of America. Obviously this geographical area is highly influential in the global IT landscape, but people all over the world experience similiar trends and practices, albeit on a more micro scale.

I work as a freelance development consultant in the London areas, and many small companies are investing heavily in the new DevOps philosophy, particularly around the “Silicon Roundabout” area which is a haven for tech-focused start-ups. Although there are many other tech-hubs around the UK (as I’m sure there are all over the US; NYC for example?) it’s all too easy to see the pattern mentioned in the above article, especially in the more established ‘traditional’ IT sectors. When it comes to the Cloud, people in these sectors often talk a good game, but play very badly. This trend is regardless of geographical location.

It’s not difficult to see why. If I’m riding my ‘startup’ pedal bike then I can change direction at any time. If I see something I like, or something that looks new and shiny I can hop onto the sidewalk or even ride down a one-way street if I really want to. If I’m driving my SME articulated truck then I have to think ahead, but if something interesting pops up on the sat nav then I can usually change direction within a reasonable distance. If I’m driving (piloting?) my Enterprise-grade freight train then I have to start planning things months in advance and talk to a thousand other people before I even consider travelling on another track.

Having said this, I am generally very encouraged to see these new ‘DevOps’ approaches emerging, regardless of where this is happening. Anyone who is a true practitioner of this philosophy knows and can demonstrate the benefits it will bring to a business. My personal favourites are how DevOps methodologies can enable the implementation of Continuous Delivery, thus allowing more iterative product/feature releases, and also how DevOps can facilitate the automation of provisioning and deployments, thus allowing rapid auto-scaling to meet demand and also lowering the cost of experimentation. Anyone who is a fan of the “Lean Startup” methodologies should be jumping up and down with joy at the thought of this, but notice how I mentioned the words ‘Lean Startup’ There isn’t a ‘Lean Enterprise’ philosophy that I know of

In my opinion it’s only a matter of time before these early DevOps adopters spread the good word and this practice becomes mainstream. It doesn’t really matter where they are located or in what size company they work – if the methodology is based on sound and proven principles then it will eventually become adopted by almost everyone in the industry. It’s just a matter of how flexible the organisation is, and this largely relates to size and willingness to take (what are perceived as) risks.

[Flashback to the early 2000’s] TDD and Agile development anyone? Surely only the cool Bay Area kids do that? 😉

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