Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Microsoft Cloud Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Jaynesh Shah, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: DevOpsSummit® Blog, Java IoT, Microsoft Cloud, Linux Containers, @ContainersExpo Blog, CloudExpo® Blog

DevOpsSummit® Blog: Article

DevOps Lessons for Small Businesses

Bootstrapping your developer resources

As Eric Reis, pioneer of the lean startup movement notes, a software startup's ability to succeed depends solely on how quickly and inexpensively they can try new features. The challenge is if you are a typical startup, you are your ops team and development resources are the biggest determinant of time-to-market, and developers are your most expensive and highest ROI resources.

If you could save each member of a four-person developer team 10% of his/her time, you could reduce time-to-market, reduce cost, try more experiments that increase your chances of success, delay hiring, and keep your burn rate under control. A DevOps approach can hold this promise.

For this reason, improving your DevOps workflow to eliminate inefficiencies should be a top priority for every technology-driven startup, no matter how small. And doing it sooner is more beneficial than later because more can be accomplished in less time with the right workflow in place.

Yet, according to the InformationWeek 2014 DevOps Survey, only 68% of startups are familiar with the DevOps concept. While this survey is small, it appears to be a representative figure based on firsthand experience. The numbers may be even lower among attention-stretched owners of technology-driven small businesses. In fact, when asked, most startup owners are indeed aware of DevOps and know they need to implement a DevOps approach but don't feel they have the time or knowledge.

The top barriers to implementing DevOps, according to the PuppetLabs 2013 State of DevOps survey, are cultural and hierarchical; these challenges are much less likely to exist in a small business where teams are smaller and more agile. But the pain of onboarding skilled labor with technical expertise and DevOps perspective may be greater. Many businesses are just getting on with business, and with recent price reductions in AWS costs, this number will likely increase.

While implementing a DevOps framework retroactively has challenges, it is still worth the effort. At Flux7, we recently recognized this lesson first hand during a complex "Internet of Things" project. Although we had proposed a DevOps model early on, we'd been unable to convince the client of the value in taking the time and resources up front to establish a DevOps framework that would support and streamline development workflow. As such, nearly a year into the project, with more than 100,000 lines of code produced, we were beginning to fall behind schedule and resources would need to be added to meet objectives. It was in the tenth month of the project that we convinced our client that investing in a developer productivity solution would achieve cost and resource savings. The result just may have saved thousands of dollars in development and delayed delivery.

Our engineers built an entire multi-tenancy without code change, creating a transparent DevOps solution that extended beyond a typical framework. The system is designed to auto-deploy and auto-scale using a NoSQL Cassandra database that collects time series data. Because DevOps processes were applied, developer productivity during the project was greatly increased.

The framework supports a continuous delivery model that will ease future development process and ease infrastructure management.

Why Your Devs Can't Fix These Issues?
While one of the missions of your devs is to help build your framework and make your processes easier, the question above is intentionally worded incorrectly.

Your devs are smart, and they have confidence that they can fix the issues being posed. You, as the leader, share the same confidence. However, while fixing these operational issues can be their job, you really have to ask two things.

First, is this the best use of their time? Second, will their output be the best and all encompassing? The answer to both questions is likely a "no." The reason is that at the end of the day, the value proposition of a startup is based on the features it provides to its end consumers. Your developers know your code base, and they can add features faster than anyone else. If you take them away from feature development and hand them code cleaning tasks that can be done by an outside entity, it will be a mistake.

Solving some of these tasks is an art, not just a science. It is about implementing best practices that are only learned over time from doing the same thing repeatedly. Your devs have likely not created a dozen AWS setups before now. While they will likely reach a good solution, they may miss details that can come back to haunt you later.

Pre-Canned Solutions Won't Work
Startups are an anti-pattern for pre-canned solutions. If you subscribe to the Lean model, agility is the key. Agility can only be achieved if there is freedom and flexibility. Any pre-canned solution that reduces agility will add negative value to your company. A stable application may be a perfect candidate for a pre-canned solution, but startups are not.

An outside partner with experience in DevOps consulting - one that has its finger on the pulse of configuration management solutions, ops productivity, auto-scaling implementation, and even best practices in AWS - can certainly help startups proceed in the most effective way to move DevOps projects forward within your organization.

Such a consultant is fully focused on helping an organization build, maintain and optimize DevOps processes. They are capable of evaluating your needs and creating a DevOps plan that will identify skills shortage and cope to meet demands with limited resources, while meeting head on the technical requirements, as well as the practical and political challenges.

As a result, they will have a strong understanding about how to make the best use of your experienced developers. They will effectively improve communication between dev and ops. Quickly, redundancies will disappear within the developer environment, and visibility will increase as the process unfolds. Cost savings will mount, starting with minimizing expensive bug fixes that are usually found in pre-production, and too often in production.

Finally, all of this can begin to produce a streamlined DevOps team by first eliminating the need for an ops guy. Your dev team will be fully functional and self-sufficient employing best practices in AWS, saving unnecessary headaches and time-wasting Googling. Then there's the anticipated and celebrated reduction in your AWS costs from using advanced techniques you may have been previously too busy to put in place.

Seven ways consultants can help

  1. Make the best use of your existing developers
  2. Minimize the time wasted due to lack of DevOps communication
  3. Minimize cruft in your environment and increase visibility into the process
  4. Minimize expensive bugs that are caught pre-production or, God forbid, in production
  5. Eliminate the need for an ops guy
  6. Employ AWS best practices to save you the headache and googling
  7. Reduce your AWS costs using advanced techniques you may be too busy to implement

Conclusion: DevOps and Small Business Are Like PB&J
Peanut butter and jelly are a match made in flavor heaven. They belong together, just like, yes ... DevOps and startups.

The continuity and seamless technology abound in a development environment ripe with a framework launched from a DevOps plan. Startups benefit from this because of the realization of the better managing and streamlining of their IT and developer resources and getting to market faster. Now, who wouldn't like such a delicious taste as that.

This kind of approach effectively works for a startup because devs become immensely productive by continuing to create using their native machines with all their tools and IDEs. Meanwhile, compute requirements are minimal, therefore existing hardware is utilized. The expected result is no bugs due to mismatches between local production environments. What's more, devs can work offline at any time, won't pollute their machines with packages and different versions, and repeal the tendency to learn new commands, all while running your website locally and accessing logs natively in real-time for immediate feedback.

As for the ops team, requests from the dev team are eliminated that normally hold up development environments. And, thankfully, there will be fewer debates around "this passed on my machine" due to parity in development and production, as well as fewer queries in regard to the production environment.

And, guess what... C-level decision-makers benefit in such a flavorable approach. Consider that new developers can now be productive within an hour by running a single command. There's the leveraging of higher quality software and the excitement of a reduced time-to-market. As for saving dollars, the existing dev team becomes more productive, while erasing the need to deal with talent shortages and adding salaries; there are reductions in overall spending, lowering the need to raise capital; and, best of all, this allows you to focus on other important areas, such as thought leadership, development and brand management, instead of spending so much time on code.

Whats in It for the Devs?

  • Devs are immensely productive because they work on their native machines with all their tools and IDEs
  • Compute requirements are minimal so existing hardware is used
  • No bugs due to mismatch between local production environments
  • Dev can work offline
  • Devs do not pollute their machines with packages and different versions
  • Devs do not have to learn new commands
  • Website is run locally and logs are accessible natively in real-time for fast feedback

Whats in It for the Ops?

  • No requests from devs to standup dev environments
  • Fewer debates around "this passed on my machine" due to parity in dev and production
  • Fewer queries about the production environment

Whats in It for the CXOs?

  • New developers to be productive within an hour by running a single command
  • Higher quality software
  • Reduced time to market
  • Tackles the  talent shortage by making the existing team more productive
  • Reduces spending lowering the need raise capital
  • Less time spent on code allows CXOs to focus on other tasks like thought leadership development and brand management

Be aware that the next rush of business innovation is happening now as it rides the wave of reduced AWS costs. You don't want to be left out because of an ineffective development team. Do the hard yards first. Then get valuable help, so you can definitely ensure your business is set up for success as early as possible.

More Stories By Aater Suleman

Aater Suleman, CEO & Co-Founder at Flux7, is an industry veteran in performance optimization on servers and distributed systems. He earned his PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also currently teaches computer systems design and architecture. His current interests are in optimizing DevOps and reducing cloud costs.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
The 4th International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 17th International Cloud Expo - to be held November 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA - announces that its Call for Papers is open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The enterprise market will drive IoT device adoption over the next five years. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Greenough, an analyst at BI Intelligence, division of Business Insider, will analyze how companies will adopt IoT products and the associated cost of adopting those products. John Greenough is the lead analyst covering the Internet of Things for BI Intelligence- Business Insider’s paid research service. Numerous IoT companies have cited his analysis of the IoT. Prior to joining BI Intelligence, he worked analyzing bank technology for Corporate Insight and The Clearing House Pay...
As the Internet of Things unfolds, mobile and wearable devices are blurring the line between physical and digital, integrating ever more closely with our interests, our routines, our daily lives. Contextual computing and smart, sensor-equipped spaces bring the potential to walk through a world that recognizes us and responds accordingly. We become continuous transmitters and receivers of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Bolwell, Director of Innovation for HP's Printing and Personal Systems Group, discussed how key attributes of mobile technology – touch input, sensors, social, and ...
All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - computers, smartphones, tablets, and sensors - connected to the Internet by 2020. This number will continue to grow at a rapid pace for the next several decades. With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo, June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust IT industrialization – allowing customers to provide amazing user experiences with optimized IT per...
The world is at a tipping point where the technology, the device and global adoption are converging to such a point that we will see an explosion of a world where smartphone devices not only allow us to talk to each other, but allow for communication between everything – serving as a central hub from which we control our world – MediaTek is at the heart of both driving this and allowing the markets to drive this reality forward themselves. The next wave of consumer gadgets is here – smart, connected, and small. If your ambitions are big, so are ours. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jack Hu, D...
The multi-trillion economic opportunity around the "Internet of Things" (IoT) is emerging as the hottest topic for investors in 2015. As we connect the physical world with information technology, data from actions, processes and the environment can increase sales, improve efficiencies, automate daily activities and minimize risk. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ed Maguire, Senior Analyst at CLSA Americas, will describe what is new and different about IoT, explore financial, technological and real-world impact across consumer and business use cases. Why now? Significant corporate and venture...
Today’s enterprise is being driven by disruptive competitive and human capital requirements to provide enterprise application access through not only desktops, but also mobile devices. To retrofit existing programs across all these devices using traditional programming methods is very costly and time consuming – often prohibitively so. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jesse Shiah, CEO, President, and Co-Founder of AgilePoint Inc., discussed how you can create applications that run on all mobile devices as well as laptops and desktops using a visual drag-and-drop application – and eForms-buildi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue of profound change in the industry.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participa...
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC defines no default signaling protocol, causing fragmentation between WebRTC silos. SIP and XMPP provide possibilities, but come with considerable complexity and are not designed for use in a web environment. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Matthew Hodgson, technical co-founder of the Matrix.org, discussed how Matrix is a new non-profit Open Source Project that defines both a new HTTP-based standard for VoIP & IM signaling and provides reference implementations.
There will be 150 billion connected devices by 2020. New digital businesses have already disrupted value chains across every industry. APIs are at the center of the digital business. You need to understand what assets you have that can be exposed digitally, what their digital value chain is, and how to create an effective business model around that value chain to compete in this economy. No enterprise can be complacent and not engage in the digital economy. Learn how to be the disruptor and not the disruptee.
2015 predictions circa 1970: houses anticipate our needs and adapt, city infrastructure is citizen and situation aware, office buildings identify and preprocess you. Today smart buildings have no such collective conscience, no shared set of fundamental services to identify, predict and synchronize around us. LiveSpace and M2Mi are changing that. LiveSpace Smart Environment devices deliver over the M2Mi IoT Platform real time presence, awareness and intent analytics as a service to local connected devices. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Sarah Cooper, VP Business of Development at M2Mi, will d...
Thanks to widespread Internet adoption and more than 10 billion connected devices around the world, companies became more excited than ever about the Internet of Things in 2014. Add in the hype around Google Glass and the Nest Thermostat, and nearly every business, including those from traditionally low-tech industries, wanted in. But despite the buzz, some very real business questions emerged – mainly, not if a device can be connected, or even when, but why? Why does connecting to the cloud create greater value for the user? Why do connected features improve the overall experience? And why do...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
Imagine a world where targeting, attribution, and analytics are just as intrinsic to the physical world as they currently are to display advertising. Advances in technologies and changes in consumer behavior have opened the door to a whole new category of personalized marketing experience based on direct interactions with products. The products themselves now have a voice. What will they say? Who will control it? And what does it take for brands to win in this new world? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Zack Bennett, Vice President of Customer Success at EVRYTHNG, will answer these questions a...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal an...
We’re entering a new era of computing technology that many are calling the Internet of Things (IoT). Machine to machine, machine to infrastructure, machine to environment, the Internet of Everything, the Internet of Intelligent Things, intelligent systems – call it what you want, but it’s happening, and its potential is huge. IoT is comprised of smart machines interacting and communicating with other machines, objects, environments and infrastructures. As a result, huge volumes of data are being generated, and that data is being processed into useful actions that can “command and control” thi...