Life Without Ops

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Mattias Geniar, March 22, 2015

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Have you ever done a Puppet run with the --noop option? It does what the name implies: nothing.

Use ‘noop’ mode where the daemon runs in a no-op or dry-run mode. This is useful for seeing what changes Puppet will make without actually executing the changes.

This is exactly what happens if you have no Ops. Nothing.

Startup Mentality

Not everyone is the same. Neither is every startup. However, I see more and more startups misinterpreting what DevOps is all about. They are publicly looking to hire Developers with a bit of sysadmin knowledge, and expect that to be DevOps.

That’s like asking a carpenter to also fix your leaky plumbing.

DevOps isn’t about developers doing your system administration. Neither is it letting your sysadmins perform development related tasks. You can have the DevOps spirit and still have those 2 perfectly defined job roles.

DevOps however preaches communication. Breaking silo’s. Having Dev and Ops work together. Learning from each other. Complementing each other. Not doing each other’s work.

Why Ops Exist

It’s so easy to implement some complex Puppet modules and have them working. But do you know what you’re doing? What happens when your downloaded modules fail on you, and a few months in your ElasticSearch suddenly breaks? Of you’ve reached the limits of your MongoDB setup? Or you suddenly realise Redis is singlethreaded?

This is what Ops are for. They’ve fought the battle. They know what the bottlenecks are, because they’ve experienced them. Server-side. They know what happens to the network, the disk I/O, the memory and the CPU cycles whenever you reindex your SOLR cores.

This isn’t knowledge to take for granted. You can’t expect a fulltime developer, with basic knowledge of systems administration, to have the same level of experience. And maybe you don’t expect it. Maybe it’s OK in the first few months.

But here’s my plea I’m hoping you’ll understand: go take advice from experienced system administrators. Find someone with battle scars, that’s walked the walk. If you can’t find it in-house, consider outsourcing. Or plain one-off consultancy.

There’s a reason Ops exist. It isn’t to cost you money, it’s to help you save money in the long run.

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