Q&A: Can Developers and Admins Co-exist and Improve the Enterprise?

Can the gulf between development and operations be bridged?

Can development and operations worked together, given their different culture and focus? How do other IT drivers, such as automation, ITIL, and virtualization affect the divide? For answers, we turned to David Hurwitz, vice president of marketing at Serena Software.

Enterprise Strategies: The idea of DevOps acknowledges there is a divide between the two houses. It seems developers are eager to deliver software, yet IT admins hold uptime and performance as their primary goals. Can a convergence of Dev and Ops really meet the needs of both sides?

David Hurwitz: Yes, assuming a two-pronged solution. One prong is for Dev to engineer more configurability into apps so they can be modified on-the-fly while in production. The other prong is to automate the release of apps along with the underlying process that ties together all of the stakeholders associated with app release.

What exactly does it mean for DevOps convergence to take place?

Firstm it means that Ops can no longer be considered an admin labor function. Rather it must be an Ops Engineering function. It also means that the two halves of IT Engineering -- that is, Dev + Ops -- must work together both strategically and tactically.

Is this an enterprise phenomenon or is DevOps more a Web-company story?

DevOps originated in Web companies for the simple reason that they do 100 percent of their business on-line, making app-update agility a critical success factor. Although the business card title DevOps doesn't seem to be migrating to enterprises, the mindset of Dev + Ops working together as I’ve described is taking hold in enterprises that have 24/7 online businesses (e.g., banking, brokerage, hospitality, telco, transportation, and logistics).

I would think cloud and virtualization have muddied the DevOps waters even more. Can you explain where these two environments fit in?

Cloud and virtualization accelerate the need for DevOps-like capability because they drive a more engineered operations environment.

Operations is known for hard-line processes to protect the infrastructure. How can the idea of successful DevOps break through with its “new school” approach to “old school” operations?

Protecting uptime and response time remain inviolate priorities. Now a third priority has risen to be almost as important: app-update agility. This modern Ops priority trinity is why DevOps-like thinking is so important now.

Where does automation technology fit into DevOps?

Automation is central to DevOps. It is what differentiates DevOps from old school sys admin.

Is DevOps symbiosis attainable by enterprises today? What company characteristics are typical of companies that succeed and which characteristics lead to failure (worker attitude, company culture, etc.)?

DevOps symbiosis is attainable by enterprises today. Companies that seize this advantage are process focused, outcome-oriented, and committed to agility. Those that are being left in the dust are siloed and insular.

Should DevOps be it own department, not reporting to Dev or Ops?

There is no simple answer to this organizational design issue. It is a similar challenge as to where QA should report. That said, DevOps most commonly reports to Ops, albeit with a process-based governance structure that includes stakeholders such as Dev, QA, and others.

Is the engineering that goes into modern operations taken into account by Dev leaders?

No, and that is one of the fundamental mindset changes that needs to occur in order to achieve the agility necessary to win in our on-line economy.

Does adoption of ITIL v3 within the enterprise impact DevOps and co-existence?

ITIL helps because it imparts a process-based orientation that allows an IT shop to stand on the shoulders of others who have defined a canonical set of processes. In this day and age, there is no need for any IT shop to craft-design its Ops processes.

Are Enterprise executives losing sleep over this issue? (That’s probably not all they are losing.)

They’re losing sleep over their ability to agilely compete with nimble competitors. For instance, they often envision new features they need in order to win in the marketplace, but then have to wait weeks or months to get them. Slowness in the end-to-end Dev + Ops cycle leads to sleepless, cranky execs.

What products or services does Serena offer in closing this DevOps divide?

Three Serena solutions help close the DevOps divide. Serena Release Manager directly spans Dev + Ops, providing a Release Control workflow that ties together all of an app’s stakeholders and provides them with a common Release Calendar. It also provides Release Vault to ensure the path to production and comprehensive Release Automation to collapse the time required to put a release into production, among other benefits.

Serena Release Manager ties in with Serena Service Manager to orchestrate engagement with end users and service-desk agents. All of this can be front-ended with Serena Request Center, so users can easily interact with IT in an open yet controlled fashion.

Each of these three delivers DevOps benefits. Together they form a comprehensive suite for closing the DevOps divide.

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