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'NoOps' debate grows heated

Nancy Gohring | March 21, 2012
The dust-up over the term "NoOps" escalated this week, with high-profile IT executives from Netflix and Etsy issuing dueling blog posts about the evolution of IT organizations.

For an organization of its size, Netflix is very advanced, Perry said. "For an operation of that size to be running the way they're running, it is very, very cutting edge," he said.

Perry said that Google may have a similarly streamlined and automated process but he would be hard-pressed to name another company that would.

A big reason for the uproar around the NoOps concept is simply its name. "The language has such unfortunate connotations," said Gene Kim, former CTO and founder of Tripwire, and author of an upcoming book called "The DevOps Cookbook."

"I don't know why they choose NoOps. It's so inflammatory." There has already been a "decades long" war between developers and operations people and the term only exacerbates that, he said.

In addition, the concept of NoOps clearly means that fewer operations people are needed. Cockcroft said most of Netflix's original IT operations team left and were replaced by a smaller team.

"Ops guys are insulted and actually threatened economically if people make the claim you don't need ops people any more," Perry said.

However, the shift opens up some new opportunities for operations experts. People with operations experience have the opportunity to take on the role of operations architect, where they can focus on things such as getting operational requirements into the code and using the systems to better survive outages, Kim said. Operations people no longer have to do the repetitive manual work but instead can focus on bigger-picture architectural design, he said.

Perry agreed. "The quantity of ops people is going down already, but their importance and role in the organization will become very strategic," he said. With automation, fewer people are needed to deploy code, but the requirement for planning and architecting systems becomes more important, he said.

"Underlying all of this is that we are going through tremendous changes in the industry and there are all these new things happening that don't have names yet," Perry said.

He also pointed out that vendors are starting to jump on the NoOps concept. Platform-as-a-service provider AppFog, for example, argues that the emergence of PaaS offerings eliminates the need for most operations organizations, thus enabling a NoOps organization. It designed an infographic plotting out the evolution of IT organizations, which was published on GigaOm earlier this year.


 

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