IT Operations people are too often the unsung heroes in an IT organization. They perform a phenomenal set of tasks that can easily be overshadowed by more glamorous developers. You know the ones: Always in the spotlight creating the apps that promise to make the business 1, 10 or 100 million dollars. IT Operations teams may work in the shadows, but you can’t be without them. They know how to scale environments. They understand the business requirements. They recognize the demand for rock-solid stability. They troubleshoot, audit and monitor.
There’s a great presentation about the role of IT Operations on Heavybit, the community for developer-focused entrepreneurs. Charity Majors, a production-engineering manager at Facebook, explains, “Operations engineering at scale is a highly specialized skill set. You’re not hiring someone to take over the dirty work from your developers. You’re hiring someone who knows things that you do not about running systems at scale.”
(Related: Testing needs to keep up with agile, DevOps)
So IT Operations is as necessary as the wheels on a car. But they don’t sleep easy. What keeps them awake at night?
The No. 1 issue most likely is how to deliver IT operations in an agile world. A world where the business is demanding digital transformation yesterday; where new services need to be launched ahead of competitors; and existing ones adapted to stay in front. In this climate, IT Operations needs to scale what they are doing to cope with agile and deliver at higher velocity.
That’s not easy. Ops teams deal with the voracious appetite from the business for development infrastructures: They need to quickly spin up new test environments to push forward the launch of a new digital service, enhance an existing one, or simply maintain what’s there.
This provisioning infrastructure is typically complex: Each infrastructure is application-specific, and the specification and configuration are different every time. The automation of virtual machine images and other process automation tasks helps to an extent, but there’s no denying that this demand from the business for application-ready infrastructures absorbs a significant amount of Ops team time and resources.
The second barrier for Ops teams surrounding agile transformation is how to control the production environment. How do they manage the quality of all the application releases and updates arriving from QA for production?