The latest trends in DevOps: Infrastructure-as-code, automation and the importance of communication

2 months ago 15
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Expert discusses his job as a DevOps advocate, what it means and why it's important.

TechRepublic's Karen Roby spoke with Tim Davis, DevOps advocate for Env0, about what DevOps is and why it's important. The following is an edited transcript of their conversation.

Tim Davis: A DevOps advocate is just a title at this point. It means a lot of things. I'm part of the developer relations or DevRel space, which in itself means a lot of things to a lot of people. It's a lot of technical marketing, product marketing, community engagement. Really helping to bridge the gap between engineering, operations and users. My background is mostly in infrastructure, everything from operations to architecture. So, my joke is, I bring the ops to DevOps.

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Karen Roby: Expand a little bit about the gap that exists between engineering and operations, and the rest of the company.

Tim Davis: Things definitely seem to have gotten better specifically since I was in operations. It was one of those things where developers always hated the infrastructure folks, infrastructure always hated the development folks. They were asking for the same thing, just in different ways. Developers use different tools than infrastructure folks. They were trying to solve the same problem, making the business money. But they were just trying to go about it in different ways. These days, DevOps, it really is a hand-holding collaborative effort. And I think that has helped facilitate the conversation, which is really the most important part of these two groups coming together and being successful.

Karen Roby: Right now, what do your conversations really center around when it comes to DevOps?

Tim Davis: Absolutely. Automation is definitely key, bringing that process forward and really helping that out. Infrastructure-as-code, it's not new, but that's definitely a big, hot thing right now. It comes with its own problems. So infrastructure-as-code automation tools and things of the like. There's a phrase that gets horribly overused that I would die on a hill about, is GitOps. That means a lot of things to a lot of people. But really, it's a very specific phrase. But just using developer methodologies to run and manage your infrastructure and your operations, that's something that's driving the forefront of DevOps.

Karen Roby: If you would expand for us a little bit on infrastructure-as-code automation.

Tim Davis: It's actually a problem that just came about naturally. Infrastructure-as-code by itself is great, if you're a single developer or infrastructure person with a laptop, and you're running it locally. As soon as you start to scale that out to multiple members of teams, you immediately start to run into problems, mainly with visibility, like who ran what, and where, and with what variables? So you start to run into these scaling problems. And these infrastructure-as-code automation tools are helping bring groups together and solving a lot of those problems.

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Karen Roby: When we talk about that disconnect that exists within some companies, or many companies, between oftentimes engineering, and again, other parts of a company. Is communication really what's to blame here?

Tim Davis: It's one of those things where it's kind of a little bit of everything. There is still a lack of communication. There are still so many companies that are heavily siloed. And it makes for difficult collaboration, especially now that, with infrastructure as code, with DevOps, it's bringing all of these tool sets together. And it really requires communication. So, if you don't have it, there are lots of companies that think a digital transformation is just buying a CI/CD pipelining tool. And that's really not the case. You have to get everybody on board, and you have to get utilizing this.

So if you don't have the communication, you're going to have problems. And if you do have that communication, you're still going to run into certain limitations with the actual tool sets, depending on how you implement and utilize them.

Karen Roby: Looking, say, six months to a year down the line, how do things look, or maybe look a little different for dev ops?

Tim Davis: I think it's only going to get better. There are so many great companies out there. So many different startups and companies that are already existing that are pivoting to try and help solve a lot of these problems that are coming about. I mean, it's one of those things with tech, where we innovate and we innovate. But that new innovation comes with its own constraints and issues. And then somebody has got to come and solve that problem. We just keep moving along and moving along. And trying to solve each problem as we come up to it.

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