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Virtualization twisted devs, cloud and SaaS made them monsters

But 'digital' and the internet of things might make them appreciate ops teams again

At the VMware user group conference in Melbourne a couple of weeks back, NetApp's Josh Atwell wondered what it will take to repair relations between developers and ops teams.

His history of the two tribes has them in a long, distrustful truce until virtualization took off, at which point developers revelled in pool of virtualized resources that were so much more available and flexible than had previously been the case. Atwell thinks developers quickly took that, and the ops teams that delivered it, for granted. Then along came cloud, complete with more-or-less limitless resources for developers, and developers' expectations shot through the roof.

Ops teams went from being applauded for best-ever flexibility to being derided for not being able to match the automated might of hyperscale clouds and the endless gourmet buffet of services that their marketplaces offer developers.

To make things worse, ops teams have also started copping it from software-as-a-service vendors. It's not enough for ops to have created decent private clouds, albeit constrained by what an organisation can afford. Now sales, marketing and HR expect applications to just happen, too.

Atwell thinks that's unfortunate, because ops teams still have lots of value to add to developers. That value comes by just getting out of the way so that developers and line-of-business people alike feel like they're in a hyperscale cloud even when they're not.

The good news is that it takes considerable skill to get out of the way. Making operations as cloud-like as possible, and bringing on-premises disciplines to hybrid cloud, means getting good at tools well beyond the virtualization and/or private cloud stacks that have made such a difference in recent years. Atwell thinks that ops teams who can master the likes of Ansible, Puppet, Docker will win developers' admiration as they make private and hybrid clouds even easier to work with.

I've previously written about how ops teams can add value to software-as-a-service by bringing their security and availability expertise to the table to make SaaS well-governed, secure and reliable.

The internet of things (IoT) might also offer ops teams another way to win back respect from developers and line of business folks.

Gartner research director Michael Warrilow says over 40 per cent of IT teams will in coming years be asked to take on responsibility for IoT implementations.

Local and wide area networks, he says, will need to be readied and secured for the deluge of sensor data that will result. Organisations will need to be ready to process data sent from things, almost certainly at considerable scale.

Warrilow thinks the rise of SaaS and the IoT therefore means ops teams need to become “a broker of infrastructure services” who can understand the leading suppliers of infrastructure for digital business. Ops teams who can make sure that internal customers can get value from those new tools will win respect and be seen as supremely relevant.

At least until users take all that new stuff for granted again … ®

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