Chef: The DevOps tools arms race is over, time for application-centrism

The Computer Weekly Developer Network asked, is 2018 the year of the DevOps backlash?

Well, it was only meant to be an open question, a hypothesising supposition, a point of informed speculation that might lead to an informal pub discussion at best.

But, as is often the way with these things, the industry has taken it as a clarion call for commentary and deeper analysis… and who are we to turn down the opportunity for deeper inspection of the DevOps state of the nation?

It’s time to hear from Chef, the DevOps-focused automation infrastructure specialist. 

Mainstream monetisation

Technical community manager for the EMEA at Chef Software Mandi Walls thinks that DevOps itself is approaching the point of mainstream monetisation. So much is this the case that she suggests we are at the point of seeing the monetisation of [DevOps] buzzwords and certifications, which happens when a fashionable technology or culture gains speed.

But the road ahead is not just DevOps simples.

“There are still industries which are dependent on technology yet haven’t embraced it as a primary strategy for growth and improvement, such as sectors heavily reliant on outsourcing for software development, who may consider it to be a back office function. These kinds of businesses are not yet perceiving or applying many of the most valuable changes possible through DevOps,” argues Walls.

DevOps tools arms race

Walls describes the current state of the ‘DevOps tools arms race’ and says that (in purer, cleaner, arguably better times) we were more focused on technological tooling and workflow – to deliver customer and user benefits, as a way to boost the bottom line.

She says that while this new era helps companies deploy a wider range of features and fixes for customers, it doesn’t account for what tools and methods the development and operations teams use. So, improving the staff experience is a massive benefit they’re missing out on.

“Overall, we’ve seen technology take an increasingly important role in everything from banking and healthcare to education and construction, while lagging industries include insurance and utilities – partly because they’re heavily regulated environments where the constraints have bred an ecosystem of specialised practitioners. These industries may eventually move en masse once their baseline concerns have been satisfied by specific, custom solutions,” said Chef’s Walls.

Also keen to throw opinions into this discussion is Chef VP of marketing Mark Holmes.

Infrastructure to app-centrism

Holmes contends that the current growth in containerisation is creating a new era of what he calls ‘application-centrism’.

Backed by the general shift to the cloud and the increasing distribution and composition of applications, [the current growth in containerisation] means that there is a gradual shift from ‘infrastructure-centrism’ — where the unit of value is a server and the unit of work is a configuration — to ‘application-centrism’, where the unit of value is a service and the unit of work is a deployment. This modal shift also requires automation at scale, though with different jobs to be done,” said Holmes.

Chef Software’s wider position states that DevOps tools need to match to these new modes, so that we can do the new things the right way, vs trying to force the old way.

The company says that this current change is constant (and so will be long term) and that the rise of serverless, or ‘service-centrism’ will again adjust the mode and requirements for automation.

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