Why DevOps is Doomed – Apps are Like Facebook (2 of 3)

    Imagine that Facebook represents your server environment –each person account is an application that can “friend” and “un-friend” any other application at any given time. Close friends and family are obvious relationships, but other friends are less known acquaintances and distant SaaS providers that have linked up over the weekend with continuous delivery. All “friends” represent a continuously expanding and contracting network of service dependencies.

    This is how I see the service-oriented, cloud provider application world, and the ease of continuous change represents an operational support challenge. Since any “friend” relationship can happen at any time, the notion of a traditional three-tier application hierarchy is vertically and horizontally evolving with new connections. Could you imagine trying to document your Facebook friend relationships on a wiki so your ops team can support the point-in-time dependency map?

    Web applications, service-oriented architectures and cloud services dramatically widen the communication gap between Dev and Ops teams.  And calling everything an applications is just easy for conversation, but it is destroying our ability to communicate effectively at a technical level.  The word “application” may be the most abused, non descriptive and confusing term used in IT. For enterprise organizations, I think it is a blocker to DevOps and any other cross-organization collaboration efforts.

    If the word “application” was surgically removed from your vocabulary, you might want to define your environment by the following groups of information:

    • Components that are software development module “chunks”
    • Components that are release deployment “chunks”
    • Groups of test servers for deployment “chunks”
    • Groups of production server for deployment “chunks”
    • Transactions that are monitored “chunks”
    • IT support system “chunks”
    • Product, business or end-user system “chunks”

    Unfortunately, most of us use the name “application” to describe each and every one of the categories listed above. In the Facebook world, it’s like saying every “friend” is actually a friend.

    I know people challenge the idea that dependencies actually change frequently.  However, I’m stubborn enough to keep believing.  For example, last week a reporting team, a change management team and systems admin team all started pulling data from a web service on our deployment automation platform.  I don’t know what applications they are connecting from and I’m positive our support teams won’t know these new dependencies exist.  I completely understand these dependencies can be identified and managed in an effective way, I just argue that most organizations don’t manage them.
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