Rethinking DevOps for an app-dependent Asia
By Benjamin Cher August 20, 2015
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NEED to do some shopping or banking? There are hundreds of apps for that.
And Asia, with its high smartphone penetration, is pretty much a hotbed of app activity, which has led to companies looking into ‘Agile Operations’ to push out apps faster for their customer engagement.
Asian businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the need for speed, scale and quality in their app development.
“We’re sensing the same theme across Asia Pacific – our customers are driven by customer experience, they recognise they are in the ‘app economy’,” said Richard Gerdis, vice president of enterprise management, Asia Pacific and Japan, at CA Technologies.
“Businesses are looking to use simple tools to quickly deliver great results and outstanding customer experience.
“Asia is already adopting Agile Ops – it’s in the thick of it right now,” he told Digital News Asia (DNA) in Singapore.
But this has led to a DevOps challenge. In CA Technologies’ definition, DevOps is a methodology which helps foster collaboration between the teams that create and test applications (Dev) with those that maintain them in production environments (Ops).
Agile Ops emphasises individuals and interactions over tools, with the Ops team and Dev team working together, allowing for a shorter development cycle in bringing applications to market, while still assuring quality in performance of an application.
Each has its role in the system – a Dev build new features into the app, for example, while the Ops guy maintains them.
But the reality sees time being wasted on other responsibilities, instead of on their core duties.
“Developers end up firefighting and not bringing new features to market,” Gerdis said.
This often leads to specialists being called every time an issue pops up, he said, likening this situation to a surgeon riding the ambulance to every accident scene, which is impractical.
“Who [should be] on that ambulance? Not a surgeon but a triage person who gets you well enough to get to the hospital to see a specialist,” he added.
Also, DevOps often gets bogged down in monitoring the tools and not the system.
“On average, enterprises have about 29 different separate monitoring tools,” Gerdis said. “More often than not, they’re spending time monitoring those monitoring tools, rather than actually monitoring the core applications of their business.”
The complexity of traditional enterprise software is not helping customer experience either. The ‘more is more’ approach to features end up making tasks more complicated for the DevOps team.
“Traditional enterprise software is built for buyers and not users,” Gerdis accused. “You pack a lot of features, but this kills the ease-of-use.”
Facing the problem
To get speed, scale and quality, companies need a unified view into their own infrastructure, argued Gerdis (pic above).
The emergence of big data analytics has made increased visibility of one’s infrastructure even more important.
“Organisations are consuming a lot of infrastructure, and it is very important to have a unified view of all that infrastructure,” he said.
Analytics is helping reduce the ‘noise’ around managing application performance.
Analytics again might be the answer to helping DevOps collaborate better and solve problems faster, according to Gerdis.
“We have got various different attributes we can mine the team by – by attributes or geographies, or team role, or specific application,” he said.
“There is now smart instrumentation that automatically collects deep dive diagnostics, which allows DevOps to triage the areas that are very important,” he added.
This allows DevOps teams to prioritise what is mission-critical for customer experience, and what can wait, helping in the triage process of dealing with problems.
Ultimately, it is still about getting the right people to fix the right problems.
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