Friday, January 14, 2011

Follow up to "No Operations Team Left Behind"

Jim Bird over at the swreflections blog, recently posted an article entitled "What I like (and don't like) about DevOps". I've attempted to post a comment but something about my comment is making Blogger go batshit so I'm posting it here instead along with some additional notes. Jim, for the record I don't think it's anything on the Blogger side. My comment is triggering an HTTP post too large error.

Here's my original comment:

As the author of one of your links, I should probably qualify a few things that weren't originally clear. I don't think that DevOps and ITIL are mutually exclusive and I don't think that anything about DevOps inherently subverts any existing policy. The point of my original post was that the enthusiasm that so many of us have can cause a negative reaction. I've often told people that you can get to the point where you can do things like continuous deployment without actually "flipping the switch". I clarified some of this in a presentation I made to the local Atlanta devops user group:
One thing that's not clear in the slides regarding "boogeymen" is that very little of the regulation from things like HIPPA and SOX impose specific technical requirements. Much of the policy is around auditability and accountability. The problem is that companies use a checklist approach to addressing those regulations because it's most cost-effective. If,for instance, the requirement is that all user access and actions are logged why is it not acceptable to simply eliminate that user access altogether and use an automated tool instead?
Auditor: "Show me who logged on to the server and what they did"
Me: "I can do you one better. No one logs onto the servers. Here's an exact list of every single configuration change applied to the server and when."
In fact, Tools like puppet, chef, mcollective, run-deck and the like actually encourage MORE security, auditability and accountability. By approaching your infrastructure as code, using configuration management tools and automation you can eliminate most if not all of the cases where, for instance, a person needs to physically log in to a server. You get disaster recovery built in because you've now codified in "code" how to define your infrastructure and you can "compile" that infrastructure into a finished product. You attack the root cause and not just bandaid it.
I think companies like WealthFront (originally Kaching) are a good example of what's possible in a regulated industry. It will be interesting to see how Facebook deals with the additional regulation should they ever go public. 

Sadly my original post has been used as "See? DevOps isn't for REAL enterprises" fodder. That was not my intention. The intention was simply this:

Do not let the "cool" factor of DevOps cloud the practical factor of DevOps. 

Yes, continuous deployment and fully automated environments are freaking awesome and they are truly laudable goals but they aren't the only reason to adopt these practices. Using configuration management is a no-brainer. Automated testing is a no-brainer. Having teams work more closely together SHOULD be a no-brainer. You can implement 100% of the capabilities that allow you to do those things and never actually do them. If you do flip that switch, don't belittle another person who can't flip that switch for whatever reason.

THAT was the point of my original post.

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