The Relationship Between Cloud and DevOps

By Flux7 Labs
August 31, 2017


Cloud, DevOps drive meaningful IT transformation

This article originally appeared on Forbes 

Most companies understand that if they want to increase their competitiveness in today’s swiftly changing world they can’t ignore Digital transformation. DevOps and cloud computing are oft-touted as vital ways companies can achieve this needed transformation, though the relationship between the two is often confusing as DevOps is about process and process improvement whereas cloud computing is about technology and services. Not mutually exclusive, it’s important to understand how cloud and DevOps work together to help businesses achieve their transformation goals.

Different organizations define DevOps in different ways. The intent of this article is not to take a stance on which definition is correct, but rather to present them in order to focus on cloud’s benefit to DevOps infrastructure. That said, DevOps definitions generally fall into two camps:

  1. Developer-friendly operations. In organizations that use this definition, IT Operations are run separately yet in a way that is much more friendly to developers, e.g., self-service catalogs are provided to developers for provisioning infrastructure or providing technology-enabled pipelines for deploying new code.
  2. DevOps as a single, consolidated team. In organizations that use this definition, developers take on operations responsibilities and vice versa.

While cloud itself has several definitions, the most basic definition of cloud is a system that allows provisioning of infrastructure, e.g., VMs or routers, programmatically. Thus, it allows infrastructure to be defined as code or templates, hence enabling the creation of repeatable processes which are not possible without cloud technologies.

The beauty of cloud technologies and services — and why they become so easily intermingled in the enterpreise DevOps vocabulary — is that they complement DevOps processes regardless of which way your organization defines them. Said another way, regardless of which DevOps path you travel to digital transformation, cloud computing can help.

Companies that focus on operations for developers often use cloud computing to speed developer productivity and efficiency. Cloud computing allows developers more control over their own components, resulting in smaller wait times. This application-specific infrastructure makes it quite easy for developers to own more components. And, by using cloud tools and services to automate the process of building, managing and provisioning through code, service teams speed the development process, eliminate human error and establish repeatability.

Another aspect where cloud computing helps with this definition is the ability to create self-service methods for provisioning infrastructure, e.g., using AWS Service Catalog. Without needing to wait for IT Operations to provision resources for them, these developers are able to quickly try new things, fail fast, and just as easily succeed in getting new products to market faster. In this case, cloud computing eradicates long queues and instead allows developers to quickly create development environments.

A single DevOps team is really an amalgamation of these approaches where developers and operations work together using the cloud as a single, common language. In this way, the two teams are able to work together as everyone is learning new definitions and approaches at the same time. Developers and operations are equally comfortable with the new language of the cloud as developers often teach operations about the code aspect and operations can teach developers about infrastructure and security, creating a meeting point that leads to strong team dynamics.

Regardless of the definition, the importance of “cloud DevOps” can’t be underscored enough. Cloud computing propels IT transformation and with advanced tools and automation can help companies double down on their work to streamline and embed DevOps processes for greater efficiencies that are truly transformative.

Naturally, DevOps, as process improvement, also requires culture change. Cloud computing can play a role here, too, as it can help codify and automate new processes. For example, if there is a new way developers should assemble the components they need to deliver a service (e.g. code, configuration, libraries, pipeline definitions, etc.) advanced automation tools can streamline that process and make it distinctly repeatable.

At the end of the day, the business case for a DevOps model coupled with cloud for IT transformation is five-fold:

  1. Bring products to market faster through faster access to development environments and streamlined developer processes.
  2. Automation and infrastructure as code reduces cloud complexity and with it system maintenance.
  3. Increase security with automated, repeatable processes that serve to eliminate fat finger error, and even more importantly build security controls in from the very beginning.
  4. Eliminate downtime through cloud-based continuous operations. Moreover, in the process of applying automation, developers can build stateless applications which increase availability and failover ability, in the process increasing business reliability and customer satisfaction.
  5. Increase scalability. One of the primary reasons organizations look to cloud computing in the first place, scalability allows organizations to increase capacity with the click of a button. When coupled with AWS DevOps, scalability becomes an integral part of apps as they are developed — all this while reducing cost of infrastructure and increasing global reach.  

Together, DevOps automation and cloud computing are like the proverbial 1+1=3. With both offering greater effectiveness and business impact, together they are able to drive meaningful IT transformation that directly impacts business goals, regardless of your DevOps definition.

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