2013 – DevOps Retrospective

Usain Bolts is probably my favourite athlete of all time. I mean, it’s hard not to like a guy who wins gold medals consecutively. He makes the 100m and 200m Men’s race look so easy, anybody could pull it off – In dream land!

2013 has flown by really fast and I find myself constantly gasping for air as though I had just finished a 50m dash. “Where did the year go ?” I keep asking myself. No doubt I had lots of personal projects running in tandem, but I reckon not much more than in previous years.

One thing that stood out for me this year was the explosion in the DevOps community. Right from the beginning of the year we were hit by the release of Docker, an open source project to pack, ship and run any application as a lightweight contain from Docker Inc. formerly known as Dot Cloud. The unveiling of Docker by Solomon Hykes at Pycon 2013, literally sparked a fire that got everyone re-thinking how we make application deployments truly ubiquitous. Several docker-based projects emerged including Dokku – a Docker-powered PaaS implementation.

Cloud-based Projects have been on the increase. Many traditional shops moved their infrastructure into Public or Private Clouds. AWS, leading the Public Cloud race has continued to roll-out new services to support cloud deployments. On the private cloud front,the Openstack project gained a lot of traction. The Docker fever also got caught in the Openstack Cloud – The Openstack Havana release introduced native support for Docker Containers.

Docker, in collaboration with RedHat now runs on unmodified Linux kernels and all major distributions. RHEL6.5 released in November supports docker and the upcoming RHEL 7 release is billed to provide further integration.

Vagrant, the popular tool for managing development environments expanded the virtualization platforms it supports. VMware plugins are available that significantly improve performance. Also a Vagrant AWS plugin makes it easy to provide a seamless development workflow for developers on EC2 instances. Plugins are available to support other Service Providers including RackSpace, Digital Ocean, Joyent etc. Also, the current release of Vagrant includes a docker provisioner.

Configuration Management tools have not been left behind. Puppetlabs and Chef formerly known as Opscode have both received rounds of funding. More recent tools like Ansible and Salt have become increasingly popular on customer sites.

Perhaps the biggest news is the DevOps revolution in the networking world. Software Defined Networks (SDN), which decouple the decision-making plane from the forwarding plane on networking gear, make it possible to automate the management of traditional networking devices. Openflow is the first communications protocol that implements the SDN architecture. Google’s Urs Hölzle stated last year that “the idea behind this advance is the most significant change in networking in the entire lifetime of Google.”

In November, Cisco launched the NEXUS-9000 family of switches embedded with puppet, chef, and the Openstack network plugin. This move signals that in the coming year, DevOps folk would most likely be swimming deeper in the networking arena.

This is just a brief overview of some of the developments in the DevOps Community that I came across this year. While we have more tools available to us, keeping up with the times is challenging. Hiring and addressing the skill-gap is becoming more and more critical as many companies seek to improve their software delivery process.

My upcoming book DevOps 101, An Introduction to DevOps Culture and Practice attempts to help professionals and companies bridge this growing gap. You can sign-up here to be notified when the book is launched.

It will be interesting to watch how things unfold in 2014. One thing is certain though – We will not be hanging our running shoes anytime soon.