“Cloud Native DevOps” is a great term to throw around if you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about at the meeting to discuss how the business will innovate and grow next year. If you want to do more than just sound like you know what you’re saying, though, it’s helpful to understand what Cloud Native DevOps is, how it works, and why your business would benefit from cultivating it.
What is Cloud Native?
Cloud Native is a term used to refer to the skills, organizations and technologies innovated by companies that were “Born in the Cloud”. Think Google, Amazon, Facebook, and AirBnB, for example. These companies shook the IT world by providing scalability, availability and agility that far surpassed anything that traditional IT could provide. It took these companies years to innovate new ways of doing things, and they changed everything – culture, organizational structure, process, technology, automation and even revenue models, giving birth to the SaaS subscription alongside an explosion in open source technology. In short: Could Native is the now, the next, and is certainly the precursor for whatever comes later.
What is DevOps?
There is a common misconception that “DevOps” is a job title that describes the role of an engineer who is responsible for automating IT operational practices (such as deploying new code). If you want to gain the advantages of a Cloud Native organization, Worthwhile strongly believes that DevOps actually refers to the organizational structure of an engineering team that includes both Developers and Operators.
Instead of two separate departments that are constantly at odds with each other, DevOps is an approach to “tear down the wall” between Developers and Operations. In a traditional IT Environment the Development team is focused on delivering new features as quickly as possible; When they complete a release they “throw it over the wall” to Operations for deployment. The Operations team is focused on making sure that the application is always up and running. They know from experience that the best way to bring the system down is to deploy new code, so they are naturally at odds with the goals of the Development team. Tearing down this wall requires software developers to be involved in operations, and operators to embrace the risk of rolling out new code. DevOps is an organizational structure that by its nature is more prone to internal collaboration and greater interpersonal understanding between teammates.
Put them both together and what have you got?
Cloud Native DevOps! Within an organization, you either adopt DevOps as an organizational structure and rely on the unifying powers of the approach, or you continue to divide your IT staff into Developers and Operators. Any company that has software engineers and manages software in a production setting will benefit greatly from a DevOps approach. Remaining stuck in a divided world will prevent any company from recognizing the benefits pioneered by the Cloud Native organizations that set the standards that end users expect.
What can a DevOps team do?
Cloud Native DevOps teams have the advantage of speed, improved collaboration, faster deployment, better quality, stronger reliability, and heightened security. Increased team efficiency and understanding leads to higher quality products, faster and easier releases, and consistently happier clients. Because DevOps is firmly grounded in a culture of open, frequent communication, shared understanding, and shared responsibility, DevOps teams are able to run on a continuous loop that designs, builds, and runs a solution. In an organization where Development and Operations are more siloed, these steps typically happen in a disconnected way that is rife with opportunity for misalignment. In a DevOps structure, these steps happen in a loop that facilitates continuous improvement.
What do we risk if we don’t utilize DevOps now?
Not utilizing a DevOps approach can leave a business vulnerable to their competition. While one organization is able to run towards innovation at an impressive pace, another is lagging behind as they refuse to lean into the most collaborative and interpersonally beneficial practices. Old struggles with slow release cadences, expensive outages, and complex disaster recovery strategies can be mitigated by a Cloud Native DevOps team. This type of organization builds a team that can sustain a rapid release cadence of high quality code that meets challenging service-level objectives.
Aside from the obvious risk of a less-than-ideal approach to development, DevOps culture is a revolutionary component of company culture as a whole. When departments break down walls with the intention of sharing ideas, responsibilities, and a deeper understanding of each other’s roadblocks and triumphs, businesses thrive. This particular type of practiced, intentional collaboration is infectious and is rarely contained within the development and operations spaces alone. Companies that are willing to change to a DevOps approach to software production are priming themselves for tremendous growth in business acumen as well as the human culture of the organization.
Businesses that choose not to implement Cloud Native DevOps organizational structures are destined to be disrupted by their competitors who do. Worthwhile is not holding on to an outdated approach to software development, but leaning in to empower the people that use better processes to build better products.