Cloud automation and DevOps are already transforming IT for many enterprises, shifting the workload of managing operations to a combined DevOps team, who can use automation and continuous integration and deployment to make their operations more efficient.
Some enterprises are taking this concept to its logical conclusion: to completely automate the deployment, monitoring and management of applications, as well as the underlying infrastructure that supports them. In theory, you could run applications and services without any operations whatsoever.
Is this practical? “That’s a good question” says Ben Scowen, xPaaS Business Lead for Capgemini Cloud Platform, “and the short answer is that I think it’s unrealistic. The amount of investment that you need to put in to build a service that just runs itself effectively with very little operations is huge – and it takes a lot of time, energy and expertise to do it.” That might be practical for cloud giants like Amazon or Google, but not the average private business, which doesn’t have the time or the requirements to warrant that investment.
There are clear benefits to the NoOps approach, including cost savings, availability and speed to market. The more automation there is and the less operations workload, the quicker it is to spin up more infrastructure or launch a new application, and the cheaper it is to keep it running.
However, NoOps isn’t suitable for many legacy applications, and the operations workload doesn’t simply disappear. “My personal view is that you need to think about your business in its totality” adds Scowen.
“The reality is that you’re going to have many different services on many different platforms, and you’re going to have to put an operational layer around the whole. The idea that all of it can be self-healing and run without operations – it’s just not going to happen.”
That doesn’t mean you can’t take anything from NoOps, but it’s more about making the most of opportunities in PaaS and SaaS. “If you’re looking at Software as a Service, that’s by definition a really good example of NoOps,” says Stuart Ball, VP – Cloud Infra. Svcs, Capgemini. “There’s no application development or infrastructure support, so as a theoretical model there’s no operations in there.”
Ball also suggests to look at what Amazon and Google are doing, “You can take a number of things that they’ve done, such as chaos engineering and site reliability engineering, and they’re all moving towards a NoOps approach. There’s a lot of IP that we can look at from those organisations to drive best practice in this area.”
For Scowen, the eventual endgame might be as simple and as desirable as buying in an entire set of pre-integrated applications, services and infrastructure in a box. Right now, however, NoOps doesn’t chime with the way most enterprises run today.
In short, NoOps is more an ideal than a practical solution for most businesses, but still a viable source of inspiration. Together, cloud automation and DevOps already provide what Ball calls an ‘opportunity to make architectural decisions around replacing applications and existing products and minimise the operational overhead’ – freeing up resources to work on projects with real business value.
Want to know more?
- Download The automation advantage report that shows how cloud automation is enabling companies to accelerate their delivery of applications.
- Read the Cloud native comes of age report to find out how cloud-native applications are enabling business agility and innovation.
- Listen to the Capgemini cloud automation podcasts