Definition of devops harkens open core debates

When open source software was still getting established in the enterprise five years ago or so, there was a lot of discussion about so-called open core ripoffs. The concern was that anyone and everyone was proclaiming an association with open source software, even if most or all of their products were proprietary. Today, a similar debate has arisen about devops, a convergence of software development and IT operations for optimal speed, efficiency and other advantages.

For those concerned about misuse or abuse of the term “devops” — which has come to be positively associated with rapid releases, collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness rather than the somewhat rogue movement it was considered a few years ago — there may be some lessons in open source software that indicate the movement and the term will endure, regardless of the posers.

Read the entire article at LinuxInsider.

Open source woven into latest, hottest trends

We may not see or hear much about open source in the latest cloud or Big Data offerings, but it’s playing a significant role in the most disruptive trends in enterprise IT.

Just as we’ve seen with open source in cloud computing, it is an integral part of trends that currently are disrupting consumer and enterprise IT markets, including hybrid cloud computing, automation and devops, and Big Data.

Read the full article at LinuxInsider.

The OpenStack Tipping Point – new report

Since its start in the summer of 2010, the OpenStack open source cloud computing project has been the subject of a lot of hype. Today, the technology, backers and use of OpenStack are giving substance to all of that sizzle and skepticism is giving way to service provider and enterprise use cases across the globe. OpenStack is still relatively immature and still requires a high degree of technical aptitude to deploy, but its community continues to grow in both providers and users, both of which are focused on making the software easier to deploy, manage and scale.

*Coming of age
The OpenStack project itself is not even three years old, but thanks to maturing technology, growing membership and the OpenStack Foundation formed last year, OpenStack has matured to the point it is getting attention from large service provider and enterprise users, including companies in telecommunications, retail and research. Large supporters of OpenStack such as Cisco, Dell, HP, IBM and Rackspace are using OpenStack internally and also in new cloud offerings. We also see vitality in the number of startups and smaller players bringing OpenStack to the market, including Cloudscaling, eNovance, Mirantis, Morphlabs, Nebula and Piston Cloud Computing. We’ve also seen large vendors make acquisitions of key OpenStack players, such as Red Hat’s acquisition of scale-out storage specialist Gluster for $136m in October 2011, VMware’s acquisition of open source networking player Nicira for $1.26 billion in July 2012 and Oracle’s acquisition of cloud management vendor Nimbula in March 2013. We have no doubt as the OpenStack technology and market matures, it will present additional acquirers and targets along the way.

The fact that there were already open source cloud computing options in the market when OpenStack was established helped contribute to a discussion of open source software, open standards and open clouds. We expect OpenStack and other open source cloud options, such as CloudStack, Eucalyptus, Joyent and OpenNebula, will continue to co-exist in the market and will all benefit from the increased credibility they all bring to open source cloud computing. Just as different Linux distributions and different open source hypervisors have helped drive one another in the industry, we are likely to see open clouds do the same thing.

*Components mature, emerge
In addition to its foundation and growing support among vendors and implementors, OpenStack is also gaining traction because the technology of the open source project is maturing and advancing. The main OpenStack components for compute (Nova), networking (Quantum) and storage (Swift) are becoming more credible for enterprises and service providers beyond bleeding edge users. Where there are some of the biggest gaps in OpenStack, such as dashboard/UI, identity services, orchestration or metering, additional components and sub-projects are emerging. While OpenStack continues to require a good degree of technical aptitude to deploy, the OpenStack community seems to be scatching the right itches for broader enterprise and service provider use.

OpenStack users have also indicated that although the OpenStack technology may be lacking in certain features and functionality, they appreciate the ability to be part of the community that solves issues and having more control of their own IT destiny.

*OpenStack Drivers
OpenStack is being driven largely by the growing number of enterprise and service provider organizations that want to put more of their operations and offerings in the cloud. Many companies are seeking the scalability and elasticity of public clouds, but desire more control and want private clouds, where OpenStack is finding some traction. this is particularly true for continuous integration and continuous deployment or devops implementations that combine application development and IT operations for greater efficiency and speed. We are seeing two types of adoption of devops: more proactive efforts that center on speed and iteration and more reactive effors that focus on providing IT resources to developers, productivity and business units so they do not go outside the organization for public cloud, free or low-cost options, also known as ‘shadow IT.’

Other OpenStack drivers parallel the advantages we’ve seen for open source software: cost savings, flexibility and avoiding vendor lock-in. OpenStack users have also indicated it has been helpful to be able to access OpenStack source code and customize it for integration with existing infrastructure and systems. We’ve also heard from some OpenStack implementors that their developers and engineers prefer open source tools and frameworks that give more flexibility.

*OpenStack Hurdles
Despite the size and number of OpenStack supporters and vendors, the open source cloud computing software still represents a technical challenge for many organizations. Baseline features and functionality, such as metering and billing, are just now taking shape in OpenStack and while issues are being rapidly addressed, the software is not ready out of the box by an means.

Another challenge with the project and its use among more enterprises and service providers is the fact that OpenStack talent is in short supply. This is one of the biggest challenges of deploying OpenStack and while users may seek third-party help, their options are somewhat limited. This facet of OpenStack is quickly changing with more training and certification efforts in the works as well as a new OpenStack Operations Guide that was published last month.

We at 451 Research have also fielded more inquiries and questions on OpenStack. In response, we’ve published an extensive report on OpenStack available to 451 Research subscribers here.

PuppetConf and the state of devops

It’s been some time now that we’ve been talking about devops, the pushing together of application development and application deployment via IT operations, in the enterprise. To keep up to speed on the trend, 451 CAOS attended PuppetConf, a conference for the Puppet Labs community of IT administrators, developers and industry leaders around the open source Puppet server configuration and automation software. One thing that seems clear, given the talk about agile development and operations, cloud computing, business and culture, our definition of devops continues to be accurate.

Another consistent part of devops that also emerged at PuppetConf last week was the way it tends to introduce additional stakeholders beyond software developers and IT administrators. This might be the web or mobile folks, sales and CRM people, security professionals or others, but it is typically about applying business operations methodology to applications and IT, thus bringing in more of the business minds as well. The introduction of additional stakeholders was also a theme we heard from Puppet Labs CEO Luke Kanies in his keynote address. Kanies then discussed how the community was working to make Puppet the ‘language of operations,’ which it basically is along with competitors Chef from Opscode and CFEngine when it comes to devops implementations.

There was another interesting point on the PuppetConf stage from DTO Solutions co-founder and President Damon Edwards, who said devops should not be sold as a way to achieve cost savings, but rather as something that will bring return on investment (ROI). This is similar to the shift of open source software drivers we’ve seen in the enterprise, which are sometimes changing from cost savings and time to factors of performance, reliability and innovation.

Later in the conference during his keynote, Eucalyptus Systems CEO Marten Mickos also had some interesting observations concerning devops, which he described as managing the cloud from both sides. One of his points was that developers have the most to learn about operations. While I would agree to some extent, this statement is interesting when considered alongside my contention that most of the change in devops is happening on the IT administrator and operations side. Later in an interview, Mickos elaborated on his devops thinking, indicating the experts who orchestrate applications in cloud computing — both developers and admins — must understand the entire lifecycle and environment. Continuing our comparison of devops to open source, Mickos indicated the open source MySQL database that he helped usher into the enterprise was disrupting old technology, while devops is innovating new technology.

While it remains early days for devops in the case of many enterprise organizations, we continue to see and hear signs that devops practices, technologies, ideas and culture are making their way into more and more mainstream enterprise IT shops. While we expect devops practices to be implemented by many enterprises based on utility and need to leverage cloud computing, we see a higher level of awareness and engagement from leadership and executives than we did with open source software. This means we expect uptake of devops to happen more quickly and to generate more revenue and opportunity.

DevOps and PaaS, yes, but now No-Ops?

We continue to closely watch the devops trend, with some new offerings and new nomenclature, but also validation of our contentions this would begin washing over more mainstream enterprise IT.

Some of the most recent discussion of devops is coming in context of VMware’s Cloud Foundry announcement and offering, an open source PaaS that gives developers another option for building, testing and deploying cloud applications and services. While I do believe Cloud Foundry and VMware’s decision to opt for an open path in PaaS is further evidence that cloud computing may be opening up.

Based on some of the initial Twitterverse reaction to Cloud Foundry, it is also further evidence that devops is contending with another term that has emerged in the discussion of deploying applications in and among today’s cloud computing resources and environments: ‘no-ops.’ The idea is that infrastructure – servers, storage and network — as well as its configuration and maintenance are so automated, there is really no need for the ‘ops’ or system administration part of devops. However, in the larger picture and in the long run, particularly at greater scale, there is undoubtedly need for system administrators. One of the bottom line findings of my research on devops is that the trend is very much about a dramatically changed purpose and role for system administrators, who are typically freed up of mundane OS maintenance and other tasks, but who must also embrace openness and transparency in their operations and scripts, which can be very foreign. While no-ops may be one way to respond to developers cries of ‘give us root,’ I believe that devops with the ops is required for a successful approach. That ops part may indeed be handed off to someone else, and the options and ability to do so have never been greater — again thanks mostly to readily-available cloud resources and infrastructure. Another perspective on devops is that it is bringing some of the agile and automated practices and procedures of software development into the datacenter and operations team, which have previously been focused on their own scripts and stability above all else.

So when I’m asked does devops mean devs doing more ops? Is it ops doing more dev? I say this: devops is the confluence of roles and duties among both software developers and IT operations professionals — many of whom are increasingly working in both jobs at various points or together in their careers. No-ops may emerge as a preferred option as organizations use and grow confidence in various PaaS offerings, as well as more openness in the clouds in general, perhaps. Still, I think that the ops folks still have a tremendous role to play, and I wonder about the PaaS innovation that will be possible when we see the same style of collaboration and communication in operations that we have had on the development side, in large part because of open source, an example being Facebook’s recent move to open up on its datacenters.

The future of cloud computing is the future for open source

I recently wrote a column about the lack of a cloud computing bubble, even though the hype and marketing levels around the cloud have risen along with innovative technologies and vendors. As we consider what’s next for cloud computing with a survey presented by 451 Group, North Bridge Venture Partners and GigaOm, we will also be able to get a good sense of what’s next for open source software, given the prominence and significance of open source in the clouds.

Given our most recent efforts to track open source software in the enterprise, it is relevant to note that we see a continued, symbiotic relationship between open source and cloud computing. In fact, in many ways, the future of open source depends on the future of cloud computing and vice-versa. One of the symbiotic relationships between open source software and cloud computing is also one of the main reasons I believe both will continue to be a big part of enterprise IT and a big opportunity for vendors and investors: customer enablement. The lessons, practices and community of today’s enterprise IT that have been ushered in by open source – more transparency on the plans for products and code, more flexibility in working with both legacy products and software as well as newer open components, add-ons and combinations, faster development and fewer dead ends via vendor death, acquisition or strategy shift — are being applied to cloud computing. We also see evidence of this customer enablement in the makeup of today’s communities, both open source and non, which include both developes and users/customers.

I continue to have some concern about how open will be open enough, and whether that will truly be open and collaborative enough for these new, customer-enabled cloud communities.

However, I remain convinced that cloud computing may be opening up and, just like open source, is much more than a catch-phrase or hyped-up marketing term. It is central to the continued success, growth and innovation of vendors and users in the key categories I cover, including open source and devops.