November 23, 2017

DevOps adoption is increasing by the minute, with more companies transforming their culture and technology to implement this model. The 2017 State of DevOps report speaks directly to their motivation: Organizations effectively utilizing DevOps principles achieved “46x more frequent software deployments than their competitors, 96x faster recovery from failures, 440x faster lead time for changes and had higher levels of operational efficiency and overall customer satisfaction.” There is no question that implementing a DevOps infrastructure can benefit an organization; the trouble is in figuring out how to implement one successfully.

Despite the success stories, many organizations still struggle with effectively implementing a DevOps structure. The reason? Developers and operations teams are trying to build one treehouse in two different trees. By working together in the same tree—or, rather, on a container-as-a-service (CaaS) platform—they can execute their individual tasks on common ground, making it a much more collaborative and efficient process.

Officially, a CaaS platform is a modern application platform  that IT professionals use to deploy, manage and scale containers and container-based applications and services. But for a team looking to successfully implement DevOps principles, a CaaS platform is the technology backbone of this transformation.

Uniting Teams Through a Shared Platform, and Shared Understanding

For many years, development and operations professionals were focused narrowly on the goals and challenges of their individual teams. Developers, for the most part, are motivated by speed, while operations professionals are focused more on availability, governance and control. Unfortunately, code changes can threaten the stability of existing systems—a problem that is exacerbated with more frequent changes. This tension between producing new applications quickly and delivering them carefully can sometimes strain relations between development and operations teams.

Enter containers. Containers ensure code portability, which facilitates rapid development/testing cycles and also eliminates environment-related failures in production. By supporting the critical needs of both organizations, a shared CaaS platform can help break down walls between development and operations teams and serve as a unifying foundation for shared productivity.

A CaaS platform supports both container deployment for developers and container orchestration for operations, streamlining the collaboration between the two teams. For example, developers creating containers must consider application deployment as part of their development process, making them more aware of the governance and control concerns that operations focuses on. This visibility into each other’s needs helps them work as one cohesive unit.

Elevating the Conversation Between the Two Teams

Many developers and operations teams will readily admit to spending hours trying to figure out why an application works in the development environment but not in a production setting. Containers erase that question completely by ensuring that applications behave consistently across development and production environments. With that question off the table, developers and operations teams can go beyond their tactical engagement and spend more time working together strategically to understand how to build and deliver more performant applications.

For example, development and operations teams may want to explore new cloud native application architectures. Based on loosely coupled microservices, cloud-native applications extend the benefits of modularity beyond application design and development to also include deployment and management. Containers enable lightweight, independent, portable microservices to move nimbly through their end-to-end life cycle.  With automated deployment, scaling and management capabilities, CaaS platforms make it feasible to operate microservices-based applications at scale.

Where a CaaS Platform provides a foundation for more productive relations between development and operations teams, the loosely coupled microservices model is inherently well-matched to DevOps processes, and can drive DevOps from promise to reality.

Accelerating Application Delivery

The main reason IT teams adopt DevOps practices is to accelerate application delivery. For some, the ultimate goal is to introduce new and updated applications multiple times each day, or continuously, for maximum agility.

Many development teams have already reduced their cycle times through agile practices, only to be slowed by less agile deployment methodologies (which are, again, driven by operations’ driving need for stability). Containers remove the bottleneck and CaaS platforms allow operations teams to keep pace with more rapid delivery demands. Cloud native applications, with their microservices-based architectures, magnify the acceleration opportunity.

Containers also shift more responsibility for code deployment to developers, eliminating the need for ad hoc fixes in production. This results in cleaner code that is easier to maintain.  Additionally, CaaS platforms enable the container life cycle to be managed in a highly automated way. This automation not only speeds deployment and management processes, but also reduces human error, freeing more hours that would be spent correcting mistakes.

Conclusion

While a CaaS platform can bridge many gaps between developers and operations, there also needs to be a cultural change within an organization for DevOps to be truly successful. Developers and operations teams need to be governed by the same processes, work closely together and ultimately, share the same end goals. It’s through this combination of technology and culture that DevOps can be truly successful.

About the Author / Jennifer Kotzen

Jennifer Kotzen is Senior Product Marketing Manager at SUSE. Jennifer is a seasoned technology and business professional with extensive experience in digital transformation markets, including application delivery, software-defined infrastructure, distributed applications and cloud services. Prior to SUSE, she drove product and marketing strategies at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Sun Microsystems and Sybase. Jennifer received her Bachelor of Science from Brown University. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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