DevOps: The right tools, the right teams

DevOps needs more than just infrastructure automation — it needs the right culture within your organisation

Just as accepted definitions of what DevOps entails have morphed and grown over the years, so too have the toolsets and management approaches employed to build and manage a DevOps culture within the organisation.

Where developers used to manage their interactions with cloud services largely on their own through Web dashboards. DevOps tooling not only automates this process but wraps it in a monitoring cloak that makes it easier to track ongoing infrastructure costs in real time.

Read the previous pieces in this series:
DevOps: Delivering cloud reliability at all costs
DevOps: Keeping your cloud transformation under control

DevOps is such a general term people talk about it from different angles, and with different agendas; you can be having conversations at cross purposes when you're talking about it

MYOB’s John Sullivan

Indeed, thanks to maturity on the part of the cloud providers themselves, such tools are fast becoming mandatory because the process of cloud provisioning has become intensely API-driven.

“You have to create infrastructure by code,” says John Sullivan, business division product delivery manager with MYOB, which has built DevOps into its iterative software-development process for years.

“You can't do it through the dashboard and you can't do it by plugging in boxes. So whilst you don't necessarily have to have true DevOps in place, you are going to be using development practices to configure infrastructure as soon as you start entering into using the cloud as a provider for infrastructure or services.”

DevOps in the cloud

Thankfully for those interested in embracing DevOps, service providers and software houses are working hard to imbue cloud environments with the capabilities necessary to make it happen.

Rackspace, for example, offers a DevOps Automation Service, while Amazon Web Services (AWS) offers its widely used OpsWorks toolkit.

Many companies are formalising their DevOps capabilities. Bulletproof Networks, for example, last year launched a Bulletproof Professional Services offering that incorporates internal teams of DevOps practitioners that consult with customers on the transition and help them leverage internal tools for easy cloud-service provisioning.

Other providers are bringing capabilities such as security to the table. In January, Tenable Network Security expanded its Nessus cloud-visibility and system-hardening tool to allow visibility of workloads, applications and assets running on Microsoft Azure, AWS and Rackspace cloud environments. Deployable agents provide a continuous stream of information to enable monitoring of available cloud resources in real time.

HP, which has gone all-in on DevOps as a way to unify its myriad technology and consulting capabilities, is also pushing the case for a stronger profile for security within DevOps processes, citing user research that found integrating security throughout those processes would improve applications and service quality and performance, decrease security risk, and speed identification and resolution of issues.

Third-party developers are also finding opportunities in the DevOps space: Australian developer GorillaStack, for one, has built a strong export business around an eponymous tool that helps DevOps-focused teams track, control and cost AWS resources as they are created and used throughout everyday operations.

New instances are tagged as developers create them, with central reporting and integration with chat platforms like Slack allowing managers to see at any point how much their infrastructure is costing.

Read more: Embracing enterprise DevOps

“DevOps people are extremely talented and do a lot of things, but when it comes to optimising costs and determining how much they are spending on the cloud, it's not really a key concern,” explains product manager Oliver Berger.

“As the company grows, the DevOps environment can get very large and very unwieldy, very quickly. DevOps people do a lot of repetitive work and our goal is to automate that, so they can focus on things related to their core strengths and competencies.”

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