Why All Datacenter Professionals Need to Understand DevOps?

As agile development methods continue to gain steam with developers, system administrators need a way to keep pace with rapidly changing trends in technology. Enter the field of DevOps, which is a discipline centered on ensuring developers and system administrators understand the importance of collaboration through all stages of the development lifecycle. By combining agile and lean principles into system operations, system administrators are able to improve efficiency in a manageable way.

Row of network servers in data center

A Combination of Two Disciplines

“Ops” is taken to encompass professionals such as database administrators, network engineers, security professionals and anyone else who handles the operational aspects of product development. “Dev” typically includes professionals in product production, quality assurance and other relevant fields. These areas are combined by having the development team support operational requirements with tools such as deploy scripts, diagnostics, along with load and performance testing from the beginning.Operations professionals complement these aspects by providing feedback at all stages of the project from beginning to end.

A simpler explanation of this combination is thinking of system configuration automation. While developers are tasked with creating the underlying code of most projects, system administrators are needed to ensure the entire network is in sync. When managing clusters of hundreds of servers, deploying changes and fixing bugs is a challenge since they must be rolled out at once.

To help cope with these challenges, DevOps has emerged to make it easier for companies to ensure that operations is reproducible and programmatic by helping professionals adjust to the reality of managing resources across different locations rather than having everything in a central hub.

Preparing to Embrace DevOps

Before embracing DevOps within your organization you need to ensure that you have the proper resources in place to maximize the benefits from this model. Key questions you should ask include:

  • Does your development team have access to troubleshooting information in real time?
  • Does your development team run tests on the production environment to ensure it is functioning properly?
  • Does your development team view your administration staff as a partner?

If you answered no to any of the above questions, then your company is not ready to embrace this model. The best way to shift towards this model is through a combination of changing your company culture and providing staff with the tools they need to get the job done.

Innovative Practices to Ensure Reliability

When dealing with distributed systems, it’s a given that your company will face outages because of the added complexity. Excessive downtime however doesn’t have to be a necessity. An example of innovative developer operations are systems designed to randomly kill instances and services within an application. From there, support staff could analyze the impacts of such outages and prepare for them in advance, while constantly thinking on their toes, rather than taking a reactive approach and only addressing a problem after an outage occurs.

Changing the way your company handles post-mortems is another way to ensure your teams are operating effectively. While it can be tempting to assign blame to a specific aspect of the development cycle and figure out ways to avoid it, as outages often are caused by a mix of mishaps it’s important to instead focus on improving resiliency. In general the future of the datacenter revolves around accepting that system failure will occur, and finding ways to ensure that such incidents can be contained before spilling onto the entire network.

The Right Tools to Get the Job Done

In terms of simplifying the process of proactive maintinance, implementing proper monitoring solutions~is a vital step towards maximizing resiliency because it ensures staff are aware of failures and red flags as they happen, so that the effects can be minimized before things get out of hand.

Embracing high performance protocols such as SPDY also can be valuable since these standards were built with the modern web in mind, and are designed to handle the additional challenges encountered by many professionals within the modern datacenter.

The Importance of Forward Thinking

Overall the most important aspect of developer operations today is that all datacenter professionals need to be open to embracing new work methods within the datacenter. Although the developer operations mentality is a significant departure from previous techniques, the potential for increased efficiency means it’s a vital discipline for any datacenter which wants to stay ahead of the competition in today’s society.


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