Click here to close now.

Welcome!

MICROSERVICES Authors: Elizabeth White, Aria Blog, Dana Gardner, Andy Jonak, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: MICROSERVICES, Java, Open Source, Virtualization, Web 2.0, Cloud Expo

MICROSERVICES: Article

Hey IT! Get with the Program: Make Operations a Strategic Weapon

Don’t start your battle without preparation

Too often, Information Technology leadership lives in its own world, far removed from business decision-making. This can result in IT being an easy target for blame. If everything goes well, IT is a high-spend cost center. If things go poorly, then IT isn't doing its job. Non-strategic IT departments are too often seen as the bad guys-They are an obstacle, a process-loving bureaucratic group that slows everything down...Other departments must find a way around IT in order to launch those pet projects quickly. Now you, the CIO, are caught in a downward spiral, spending more time fighting political battles, less time addressing your organization's immediate tech needs and zero time planning for the future. The IT Ops team is in a constant scramble to keep up, overburdened with administrivia and maintaining uptime. In this bleak picture, IT isn't exactly a potent weapon in the battle for innovation.

The solution? Get proactive!
Today's CIO must intrinsically understand the ins and outs of business strategy, and he or she must be fundamentally involved in crafting business strategy. The CIO is the IT org's commanding general, and if the general's not on the battlefield, the battle won't be won. Get aware of upcoming initiatives and anticipate how IT can impact them. Start by prioritizing strategies:

  1. Innovation: What new organizational capabilities can IT enable and drive?
  2. Velocity: How quickly can a new technology project be executed?
  3. Cost/ROI: How much is a project going to cost and how much is it going to save?
  4. Governance/Control: Are all organizational and legal requirements being met?

Identified your strategies? Good start. But you need more than just top-of-mind strategies to truly make your IT operation a strategic weapon. It's time to deliver on their promise.

Clear the battlefield...or at least your schedule
First, eliminate what you can so you'll have the capacity to work on what's truly important. Your work may well be controlled by various governance mandates, but if you can offload some core work and free up personnel and hardware resources, do it.

Second, investigate Software as a Service (SaaS) as a way to reduce overhead and maintenance expenses. SaaS can make good business sense for any size project: Email, HR-management systems, project management, content delivery, source code repositories, IT help desk, bug-tracking software, and test case management are all examples of services that could potentially be migrated to a SaaS vendor. Ask four questions when considering SaaS:

  1. Is this function core to my organization's mission? (E.g., Is my company in the business of running an email system, or are we simply required to have an email service?)
  2. Are there governance or regulatory reasons why I can't outsource?
  3. Does a suitable SaaS application exist?
  4. What is the risk to the organization if this application is temporarily unavailable for whatever reason?
  5. What's the ROI, factoring in personnel and hardware resource savings?

Audit usage of the existing services IT offers to the organization, both in terms of how often those services are accessed and your cost of keeping them running.

Third, reevaluate all in-progress projects with their respective business owners. You may be surprised to learn that some projects can be halted completely, others can be scaled back, and some should be revisited (to attack the scourge of outdated requirements).

Get your army in the (private) cloud
Find the resources to create a private cloud infrastructure. Consolidating your servers into a cloud will allow you take maximum advantage of the resources at your disposal. You'll no longer need to worry about provisioning each server independently with its own OS and middleware, or whether any one specific server is being under- or over-utilized. (Several research studies note that enterprises tend to be unaware of under-utilized server capacity, and/or unable to take advantage of it.) Your cloud will help ensure that you always have the required infrastructure available to deploy a new application when required.

And why a private cloud? If your organization must adhere to strict government regulatory data requirements, the private-vs.-public battle may already be decided. A private cloud ensures that you retain complete control over resources and data. As CIO, you are ultimately responsible for your organization's digital assets, and it makes sense to retain as much control over that data as is possible within your own security policies and parameters.

Get started: Repurpose some of your in-house servers into an on-site private cloud. There are a wide variety of private-cloud technologies (both commercial and open source) to choose from, and plenty of easily accessible consultants who can help you. Yes, you'll see upfront expense, but the long-term benefits will outweigh the short-term costs. Or, consider a simpler alternative: hosted private cloud.

Arm the troops with a polyglot private PaaS
Once your cloud infrastructure is in place, deploy a polyglot Platform as a Service (PaaS). Think of PaaS as an automated middleware layer that abstracts underlying infrastructure management needs away from your IT management, delivers the middleware layer your applications require, and allows your development team to deploy new applications (or update existing ones) without involving IT.

A so-called "polyglot" PaaS handles multiple languages and frameworks. There are many single-language PaaS solutions, but if your organization develops in more than one language, you'd need to deploy a single-language PaaS platform for each language. That burdensome approach sustains your language silos, and multiplies overhead work. You're better off selecting a polyglot PaaS in the first place—one that accommodates the languages (Java, .NET, Ruby, PHP, Python, Perl, etc.) in which your developers code.

Future-proof your forces and choose an extensible private PaaS. As your resource skillset evolves to support your business growth, you'll need to accommodate new languages and frameworks.

Test locally, deploy globally: A good PaaS will enable production testing on local clients. Developers will know if their apps will run in the corporate cloud because they've already tested them in a simulated production environment.

Good private PaaS auto-scales and auto-configures, and your IT team monitors everything. It facilitates deployment handoffs, and shaves time off deployment process, freeing both devs and IT to focus on strategic innovation instead of paperwork, rework, and finger pointing.

Capture the flag...wisely
Don't start your battle without preparation. As you deploy private PaaS, you must measure, tweak, and improve. But private PaaS on private cloud will make IT agile enough to win your organization's IT battles. You'll spend more time innovating, and less time configuring, managing, and worrying about infrastructure. And that makes IT a potent strategic weapon for your organization.

More Stories By Brent Smithurst

Brent Smithurst is ActiveState's Director of Product Management and he thinks about Stackato 24x7. Prior to joining ActiveState, he held leadership positions in software product management, IT, operations, and marketing for organizations in security/computer management, motion picture/television, food services, and hardware retail/online industries.

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.


@MicroservicesExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia 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, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps 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., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and eas...
You hear the terms “subscription economy” and “subscription commerce” all the time. And with good reason. Subscription-based monetization is transforming business as we know it. But what about usage? Where’s the “consumption economy”? Turns out, it’s all around us. When most people think of usage-based billing, the example that probably comes to mind first is metered public utilities — water, gas and electric. Phone services, especially mobile, might come next. Then maybe taxis. And that’s ab...
Exelon Corporation employs technology and process improvements to optimize their IT operations, manage a merger and acquisition transition, and to bring outsourced IT operations back in-house. To learn more about how this leading energy provider in the US, with a family of companies having $23.5 billion in annual revenue, accomplishes these goals we're joined by Jason Thomas, Manager of Service, Asset and Release Management at Exelon. The discussion is moderated by me, Dana Gardner, Principal A...
This month I want to revisit supporting infrastructure and datacenter environments. I have touched (some would say rant) upon this topic since my post in April 2014 called "Take a Holistic View of Support". My thoughts and views on this topic have not changed at all: it's critical for any organization to have a holistic, comprehensive strategy and view of how they support their IT infrastructure and datacenter environments. In fact, I believe it's even more critical today then it was a year ago ...
Modern Systems announced completion of a successful project with its new Rapid Program Modernization (eavRPMa"c) software. The eavRPMa"c technology architecturally transforms legacy applications, enabling faster feature development and reducing time-to-market for critical software updates. Working with Modern Systems, the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) leveraged eavRPMa"c to transform its Student Information System from Software AG's Natural syntax to a modern application lev...
As a group of concepts, DevOps has converged on several prominent themes including continuous software delivery, automation, and configuration management (CM). These integral pieces often form the pillars of an organization’s DevOps efforts, even as other bigger pieces like overarching best practices and guidelines are still being tried and tested. Being that DevOps is a relatively new paradigm - movement - methodology - [insert your own label here], standards around it have yet to be codified a...
When it comes to microservices there are myths and uncertainty about the journey ahead. Deploying a “Hello World” app on Docker is a long way from making microservices work in real enterprises with large applications, complex environments and existing organizational structures. February 19, 2015 10:00am PT / 1:00pm ET → 45 Minutes Join our four experts: Special host Gene Kim, Gary Gruver, Randy Shoup and XebiaLabs’ Andrew Phillips as they explore the realities of microservices in today’s IT worl...
The world's leading Cloud event, Cloud Expo has launched Microservices Journal on the SYS-CON.com portal, featuring over 19,000 original articles, news stories, features, and blog entries. DevOps Journal is focused on this critical enterprise IT topic in the world of cloud computing. Microservices Journal offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Follow new article posts on T...
Hosted PaaS providers have given independent developers and startups huge advantages in efficiency and reduced time-to-market over their more process-bound counterparts in enterprises. Software frameworks are now available that allow enterprise IT departments to provide these same advantages for developers in their own organization. In his workshop session at DevOps Summit, Troy Topnik, ActiveState’s Technical Product Manager, will show how on-prem or cloud-hosted Private PaaS can enable organ...
It's 2:15pm on a Friday, and I'm sitting in the keynote hall at PyCon 2013 fidgeting through a succession of lightning talks that have very little relevance to my life. Topics like "Python code coverage techniques" (ho-hum) and "Controlling Christmas lights with Python” (yawn - I wonder if there's anything new on Hacker News)...when Solomon Hykes takes the stage, unveils Docker, and the world shifts. If you haven't seen it yet, you should watch the video of Solomon's Pycon The Future of Linux C...
OmniTI has expanded its services to help customers automate their processes to deliver high quality applications to market faster. Consistent with its focus on IT agility and quality, OmniTI operates under DevOps principles, exploring the flow of value through the IT delivery process, identifying opportunities to eliminate waste, realign misaligned incentives, and open bottlenecks. OmniTI takes a unique, value-centric approach by plotting each opportunity in an effort-payoff quadrant, then work...
For those of us that have been practicing SOA for over a decade, it's surprising that there's so much interest in microservices. In fairness microservices don't look like the vendor play that was early SOA in the early noughties. But experienced SOA practitioners everywhere will be wondering if microservices is actually a good thing. You see microservices is basically an SOA pattern that inherits all the well-known SOA principles and adds characteristics that address the use of SOA for distribut...
Microservice architectures are the new hotness, even though they aren't really all that different (in principle) from the paradigm described by SOA (which is dead, or not dead, depending on whom you ask). One of the things this decompositional approach to application architecture does is encourage developers and operations (some might even say DevOps) to re-evaluate scaling strategies. In particular, the notion is forwarded that an application should be built to scale and then infrastructure sho...
SYS-CON Events announced today the IoT Bootcamp – Jumpstart Your IoT Strategy, being held June 9–10, 2015, in conjunction with 16th Cloud Expo and Internet of @ThingsExpo at the Javits Center in New York City. This is your chance to jumpstart your IoT strategy. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but includes hands-on demos and walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of Do-It-Yourself IoT platforms including Arduino, Ras...
Microservices are the result of decomposing applications. That may sound a lot like SOA, but SOA was based on an object-oriented (noun) premise; that is, services were built around an object - like a customer - with all the necessary operations (functions) that go along with it. SOA was also founded on a variety of standards (most of them coming out of OASIS) like SOAP, WSDL, XML and UDDI. Microservices have no standards (at least none deriving from a standards body or organization) and can be b...
Our guest on the podcast this week is Jason Bloomberg, President at Intellyx. When we build services we want them to be lightweight, stateless and scalable while doing one thing really well. In today's cloud world, we're revisiting what to takes to make a good service in the first place. Listen in to learn why following "the book" doesn't necessarily mean that you're solving key business problems.
Right off the bat, Newman advises that we should "think of microservices as a specific approach for SOA in the same way that XP or Scrum are specific approaches for Agile Software development". These analogies are very interesting because my expectation was that microservices is a pattern. So I might infer that microservices is a set of process techniques as opposed to an architectural approach. Yet in the book, Newman clearly includes some elements of concept model and architecture as well as p...
Even though it’s now Microservices Journal, long-time fans of SOA World Magazine can take comfort in the fact that the URL – soa.sys-con.com – remains unchanged. And that’s no mistake, as microservices are really nothing more than a new and improved take on the Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) best practices we struggled to hammer out over the last decade. Skeptics, however, might say that this change is nothing more than an exercise in buzzword-hopping. SOA is passé, and now that people are ...
Microservices, for the uninitiated, are essentially the decomposition of applications into multiple services. This decomposition is often based on functional lines, with related functions being grouped together into a service. While this may sound a like SOA, it really isn't, especially given that SOA was an object-centered methodology that focused on creating services around "nouns" like customer and product. Microservices, while certainly capable of being noun-based, are just as likely to be v...