Cloud Infrastructure and the Rise of DevOps Culture

DevOps and cloud adoption: a match made in heaven?  

When it comes to IT, Bill Gates has the right idea. Either you innovate or you die.

With the ever-accelerating pace of disruption placing strain on traditional mainstream practice, it appears a growing trend in cloud adoption is among the key drivers of agile development within IT organisations.

As organisations seek to meet competitive pressures, there is a marked increase in “…innovation occurring in what are sometimes regarded as very traditional sectors (automotive, banking and finance to name two) as companies realise that they face – or soon will face – competition from ‘software-savvy startups’.”*

The growth of SaaS technologies is estimated to make up approximately 14.2% of all software spending in 2016, and with the compound annual growth rate of 23-24% for cloud adoption driving automation, it seems organisations are getting serious about unlocking agility.

Alongside this steady growth in cloud adoption, DevOps is “quickly becoming part of mainstream IT”, with a significant number of businesses having already implemented some form of DevOps strategy. Additionally, by 2018 it is predicted that “at least half of all IT spending will be cloud based, reaching 60% of all infrastructure and 60-70% of all software, services and technology spending by 2020.”*


But how do Cloud Computing and DevOps fit together? Is there even a relationship?

“Cloud computing, agile development and DevOps are interlocking parts of a strategy for transforming IT into a business adaptability enabler.”*

As firms start to get serious about cost savings and look at expanding the scope of their delivery to meet the demand for creative responsiveness, everything as a service (XaaS) is becoming “increasingly essential at all layers of the IT stack”. With organisations under pressure to speed up work cycles, understand their customers better and deliver a service economy, its little wonder they’ve turned to two “independent but mutually reinforcing strategies for delivering business value through growth”.

Indeed, in order to meet the demand recent societal transformations have wrought, firms must concentrate their attention on streamlining processes and drive increased efficiency through adaptive processes. With a growing necessity for companies to “become software service providers as well as consumers” there is a huge demand for IT departments to add “business specific value*.

With cloud’s capability to reduce waste and enable agility, organisations are able to increase deliverability, functionality and operability via a more malleable IT infrastructure. Aligning the operations side of a business with the wider business needs, cloud is rapidly transforming the way in which IT organisations engage with their consumer bases and run their applications.

That’s all well and good, but how does this relate to DevOps?

At the root, Cloud infrastructure and DevOps cultures are both looking to do achieve the same thing – increase agility in an organisation’s development and project management. Both Cloud and DevOps contribute to the Agile development movement – increasing businesses’ capacity to deliver continuous change.

 “If cloud is an instrument, then DevOps is the musician that plays it”

DevOps as a culture “…represents an effort to accomplish the same mutually trusting relationship for Software as a Service as Agile has done for Software as a Product…. DevOps tries to teach operations to move at the same speed and with the same flexibility as development.”

It’s about dissolving the boundaries between function and operation – which means there’s a pretty significant demand for “pliable infrastructure”. The DevOps skill set is needed now more than ever to ensure that new applications “can be written to automatically scale or contract in real time depending on load or demand.” Organisations face a key challenge when it comes to delivering the best experience for the user whilst retaining their cost effectiveness.

The DevOps method has matured through the first wave of cloud deployment – indeed, there are “innovative use cases which would have been impossible without the cloud. Database-as-a-Service, analytics in the cloud (Hadoop-as-a-Service), DevOps environments… the possibilities are endless.”*

According to Gartner, DevOps will evolve from being a niche strategy to a mainstream practice implemented by a quarter of Global 2000 firms. Laurie Wurster, research director insists that:

“In response to the rapid change in business today, DevOps can help organisations that are pushing to implement a bi modal strategy to support their digitalisation efforts.”*


Great – so it’s all plain sailing now?

Erm, not quite.

Whilst it’s true that DevOps teams reap the benefits that the cloud’s automation provides, there are significant challenges presented in hybrid environments.

“The complexity of integrating new tools within hybrid environments consisting of both legacy solutions and cloud based services remains a challenging hurdle for DevOps.”*

Indeed, co-location and a shortage of the required skill sets are two of the biggest risks associated with agile and DevOps adoption. Factor in an increased testing complexity due to the variety of access channels and devices across cloud applications, and it’s not hard to see why some organisations are reluctant to begin utilising an adaptive IT approach.

“To be successful, DevOps requires the right collection of people, the right measurement and reward system, and the right tools.” – Paul Muller, VP of Strategic Marketing, Software at Hewlett Packard Enterprises

One thing is certain, irrespective of perceived inconveniences caused by new methodologies, “IT needs to engage in continuous integration”.*


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