Making the leap from DevOps to NoOps

As we get ready for our Agile Carnival day of programming at this year’s SXSW Interactive, we’re offering a closer look at each of our panels. In the session called Making the leap from DevOps to NoOps, CI&T’s Tissiana Nunes Costa will lead a panel discussion on how to continually and efficiently transform a business for today’s digital marketplace featuring Thomas Stubbs/Coca-Cola, Brandon Jung/Google, and Braxton Woodham/Fandango. RSVP here!

Now, please consider the following text a conversation starter to whet your appetite on the topics to be addressed in this session:

No matter the size of a company, its product or industry, every senior executive is concerned about how best to transform his or her business for today’s marketplace. At CI&T, we’ve been talking about this very real concern for a while — particularly as it relates to large traditional companies. The fact of the matter is that it’s hard for them to be as nimble as startups.

In his book, Escape Velocity: Free Your Company’s Future from the Pull of the Past, author Geoffrey Moore brilliantly likened the transformation process to the speed an object needs to be traveling in order to escape Earth’s gravitational pull. And what he explains is that much like the size of any object, the bigger your company, the harder to reach “escape velocity.” Many companies are stuck in their old mindset and have legitimate concerns about taking risks — not only from the technical perspective, but also for the business perspective.

Today, with the amount of startups that are creating new businesses — even in traditional industries — there’s a lot more competition than ever. Just look at how Fintech companies are challenging our approach credit card use.

It’s important to note, however, that the challenge isn’t just the presence of new businesses themselves. Because within the U.S., for example, the number of jobs created by new businesses actually decreased from 4.1 million in 1994 to 3 million in 2015. Furthermore, from 1993 to 2006, there was an increase in the rate of business churn (i.e., company births and deaths). So rather than the presence of startups, the challenge facing businesses is that many new companies are aiming to disrupt existing business models and reshape their industries. This means that while it was less important for incumbents to transform their business 10 to 20 years ago, now it’s critical for their survival.

A case for DevOps and NoOps

One of the ways companies are keeping lockstep with the pace of change is through DevOps, where they’ve streamlined their process for pushing code out of test/development environments and into production. The benefit to this kind of close collaboration between the developers and operations team is that companies now have greater capacity for continuous delivery. They are working together from the very beginning, rather than the old model of throwing your work over the wall to let someone else figure out next steps.

But we also have to admit that DevOps is a broad concept, much like Big Data or Cloud Computing. So it’s quite easy for companies to say that they’re using DevOps. And while startups are doing great on this front, large companies are just scratching the surface — and doing very basic things.

To unpack this a bit more, let’s consider software deployment: How many times does an individual company move its systems to production? If the answer is only a once per month, then they probably aren’t using DevOps effectively. Meanwhile, some companies have increased productivity from a coding and delivery perspective where they’re rolling out new code once a day.

Meanwhile, other companies are making the leap to NoOps, which Forrester defines as “the goal of completely automating the deployment, monitoring and management of applications and the infrastructure on which they run.” To illustrate, just consider how the following IT tasks are handled within a DevOps scenario as compared to NoOps:

According to Forrester Senior Analyst Glenn O’Donnell, who co-authored the report “Augment DevOps with NoOps,” it is more likely that although some operations positions will become unnecessary, others will simply evolve from a technical orientation toward a more business-oriented focus. For NoOps to work, it needs an IT platform that developers don’t need to worry about in terms of resource constraints — and that’s where the Cloud comes in. With some regulated industries, it may be harder. But to the extent possible, it’s worth pursuing.

Your concerns = business concerns

So what’s holding companies back? Most have a complex ecosystem that requires a Herculean effort to get all stakeholders on the same page. Large companies also have their own processes that are not easy to change. Trying to bring about change can be especially difficult because some people’s jobs are dedicated to maintaining processes. You’ve probably witnessed for yourself just how sticky arguments about changing processes can be. Unfortunately, this kind of mindset holds companies back.

But that doesn’t mean companies are not trying to improve their processes somehow. For example, Cloud Computing has been widely adopted. But the rate of adoption has not been fast enough with DevOps, often due to a combination of their inability to reach escape velocity combined with choice overload.

Here’s what we always tell clients: Your concerns should be a business concern. Don’t try something new — like virtual reality or the Internet of Things — just because it’s a fad. Don’t use something because Gartner or Forrester said everyone will use this. In the end, you will lose opportunities. Try new approaches and frameworks, and question whether they will really change the way you conduct your business — giving it that needed edge.

What you should know: Resources for making the transition to NoOps

There’s been a considerable amount innovations that now make NoOps more feasible. For example, managed services, APIs, and containers have all achieved maturity in the last few years. If you haven’t already, take a look at Google’s Cloud Vision API, which allows you to understand the substance of an image through machine learning models. There are other such APIs available as well. Have you realized that IBM’s Watson is a collection of APIs that are managed by IBM? Likewise, if you decide to pack your application into a set of containers, you can then outsource operation to vendors such as Google, for example, because they provide managed environments to register, deploy, run and manage containers. In a nutshell, it’s possible to create a complex application without having to worry about operations (i.e., network, hardware, etc.).

See you at CI&T’s SXSW Agile Carnivale

If you’re attending SXSW 2017, please stop by our panel discussions, have some Caipirinhas and let’s talk about DevOps or NoOps more. Just RSVP for all events here!