The number of tools that engineers use to provide software architecture in the cloud is starting to shrink a bit. There are many competing ways to do one thing. More often than not, people are simply adopting a new DevOps solving tool at the moment, and they don’t always think about the longevity of the solution or how other departments will deal with it. This can lead to fragmentation and technical debt, making it difficult to find consistency and increase speed simultaneously across all divisions of the company.
I recently interviewed Jeff Kukowski, CEO of CloudBolt Software, to explore why these issues persist and how CEOs should approach cloud management within their organizations. According to Kukowski, many flavors of Ops now permeate large corporations. There are often different methods for each department or between departments, with teams using various software packages.
According to Kukowski, a new frame of mind will be necessary to stay flexible in the new cloud and address this condition. Doing so will require organizations to erode false binaries around ownership and IT governance.
Everything is operating
At this point, most large digital service groups have adopted a hybrid multi-cloud approach. Many teams have adopted their unique form of DevOps to deal with the administrative difficulties of delivering software and maintaining reliability for microservice architectures. Kokowski explained that different groups pulling in different directions create an ongoing battle for EverythingOps.
You can think of it as a separate process approach that emerges around different business functions. For example, FinOps appears to control spending, ITOps aims to deliver services, DevOps improves the flexibility of issuance and DevSecOps aims to put security at the forefront of the issuance process. Finally, BizDevOps is all about increasing the observability of business results.
At a high level, CIOs have committed to digital transformation to move faster. However, the problem now is that “battles between different processes can easily lead to disruptions in IT governance,” Kukovsky said. He explained that this tension presents several faulty divisions. In addition to slowing down agility, the lack of a DevOps unit prevents reuse, which contributes to wastage and increased IT expenditures, Kukowski said.
Solution: change governance to the left
There is a belief in information technology that real innovation will come if you just give engineers the keys to using whatever they want. While that may be true, without better leadership regarding the fundamentals in this new cloud system, some things can spiral out of control very quickly, Kukowski warned. Instead, he argued, built-in firewalls to provide tools are essential. “We have too many tools – we need better frameworks to tie this together.”
Not only would increased cloud governance help tie the decisions of disparate tools together, but Kukowski argued that it could also reduce the knowledge load necessary to run each tool. “Shifting to the left will increase speed — and it won’t slow people down,” he said. Contrary to popular belief, he said, shifting the fender to the left could have the effect of increasing speed, which could greatly outweigh the downsides of developers restricting one approach.
CloudBolt predicts that siled management will shift to organizational governance around tools in the coming year. It’s not just tool decisions that require forward thinking, Kokowski said, “it’s leadership and a cultural approach.” A common area that requires greater leadership, he said, is labeling workloads for applications. “It’s not being done well anywhere.”
Or consider containerization. Containers have become central to most modern cloud technology clusters, however, the knowledge load required to publish, create, and run content is still very high, Kukovsky explained. Do you allow each developer to custom code for each container, or do you enable a self-reproducible provisioning process? He explained that if the standard code is not reused, you will not get speed or management. Furthermore, as green IT initiatives become a priority, companies should look for ways to reuse processes and reduce waste where possible.
Final Thoughts: Shift Left, Automate, Reuse
For a cloud-powered company, the focus is constantly on speed and growth. Engineers are driving this focus and the resulting innovation. However, this innovation cannot come at the cost of bringing all departments to the same level of innovation. “Innovative elements in the cloud cannot be separated from governance, environmental and social governance, corporate governance, and security,” Kokowski said.
The big hurdle for cloud management in the future is to identify and standardize these islands of automation, pockets of tools and preferences that differ between departments. It will also require a different frame of mind across sections. “There is a difference between solving a mission problem and solving a problem for reuse and speed,” Kokowski explained. He said that reuse and speed will require less on-demand DevOps automation and better foundations for solving future problems.
“Shift left, automate and reuse — people shouldn’t touch it. That’s the thinking that needs to be applied to this new cloud order,” said Kokowski.