DevOps and cloud: Are you paying attention?


It seems like our industry has a new marketing term every day that we’re supposed to pay attention to. But here’s the thing: with DevOps, and with cloud, we’ve kind of moved past “marketing” and into the realm of “really for-real.” But there are still a bunch of us in the industry who just don’t care—and probably for good reason.

There’s not a lot of DevOps or cloud education out there that’s in-your-face and easy to find, and a lot of the awesome that’s been happening in these spaces has been grass-roots, under-the-radar efforts. For example, I hold a DevOps camp every summer for about 20 people in a small working group, but that’s hardly going to grab headlines, right?

How DevOps and cloud are transforming IT

Let’s start with why these two spaces are so important. It’s actually a single reason: they’re transforming IT. Even huge, legacy-style companies are investing in cloud services, and many are investigating DevOps-style approaches for at least specific projects or products. These companies have crunched the numbers and realized that their creaky old approaches to IT are costing them money, making it difficult to retain quality IT team members and making them less competitive.

Why cloud is so important

Let’s take cloud. Nobody seriously thinks that “doing cloud” means shutting down your datacenter and shifting everything into AWS or Azure. “Doing cloud,” we’ve realized, means using it like any other tool: at the right time, for the right job. Whether you’re moving selected customer-facing websites into a PaaS solution, architecting a cloud-based microservices solution for a new offering, or simply using the cloud’s IaaS capabilities as a kind of disaster recovery hot-site, targeted application of cloud approaches is where it’s at.

Of course, that makes your job as an IT person much more difficult, because you’ve actually got to understand all the many different things cloud can do, and understand them to a level of detail that will let you decide when and where to use what.

Why DevOps is so important

Similarly, DevOps has moved into the mainstream – not necessarily as a global way of running all IT, but as a way of achieving specific business benefits on an as-appropriate basis. Does a bank’s core financial services software need to change and move at the speed of light? Perhaps not—but the same bank’s mobile applications may need to do just that. DevOps makes it easier, cheaper, and most importantly, safer for companies to quickly iterate key products and services. Again, understanding the actual approaches, the tools that are available and what DevOps can and cannot do, is how you figure out which bits to use, where to use them and how to manage them.

Which gets us back to the educational opportunities for these topics. Obviously, Pluralsight has – and is building – lots of courses around cloud-related services from Amazon, Microsoft and others. The library contains plenty of courses about DevOps concepts and tooling, too—with more on the way. But there’s more to learning than just ­learning, especially in these fields where things like best practices are actually being created, and being evolved, every day. You need to be connected to these topics, not stand apart and stare at them.

Cloud and DevOps: Stay in the know is one starting place to find local, community-run, usually nonprofit events that focus on DevOps as an art and science. For cloud, you’ll obviously find the big first-party vendor shows like those from Amazon and Microsoft, but while you’ll find plenty of product expos in the cloud space, it’s difficult to find education. Cue IT Transformation—an event sponsored in part by Pluralsight in May 2017. It hosts tracks dedicated to the practice of both cloud services and DevOps, in real-world environments.

Join the event: IT Transformation

In fact, since it’s not too late to craft a New Year’s resolution for yourself, consider making “get to an event and get some details about DevOps and cloud” a goal for yourself this year. These might not be areas your company is ready to adopt right this minute, but trust me, we’re still more or less on the ground floor with these. In 10 years, you’re going to wish you’d been there closer to the beginning, because from here things are just going to get bigger, more complex, and more exciting. 

Learn more: IT Transformation


Don Jones

Don Jones' broad IT experience comes from 20 years in the business, with a strong focus on Microsoft server technologies. He's the author of more than 45 technology books, including titles on administration and software development, and writes monthly columns for the industry's leading periodicals. He's an in-demand speaker at technical conferences and symposia worldwide, and is widely recognized as one of the top trainers in the Microsoft sector.