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69% of companies regard automation and process transformation as a top priority on their digital agenda

Full automation of IT operations - in other words: NoOps - is driven by the intensification of IT automation and the emergence of cloud computing. The goal is to limit - or even eliminate - the intervention of IT specialists when deploying and maintaining applications. The resources thus freed can then be allocated to new assignments.

It’s a well-known figure: about 70% of an organization’s total IT budget is spent on ensuring its critical applications function properly. It comes as no wonder then that, according to Deloitte’s “2018 Global CIO Survey”, 69% of companies regard automation and process transformation as a top priority on their digital agenda.

Fully automated

In a NoOps environment as envisioned by Forrester, « the deployment, monitoring and management of applications and the infrastructure on which they run are fully automated, » says Glenn O’Donnell, Senior Analyst and co-author of the report « Augment DevOps with NoOps ». In practice, rather than having the development team test their program in an isolated environment before entrusting it (providing it meets the requirements, of course) to the operations team, the tasks assigned to that automation team are fully automated, whether they are implementation, management or even maintenance tasks. This move towards NoOps is driven by an ever-increasing automation of operations as well as by the cloud – which explains why so many Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) providers offer this type of solution.

In DevOps, on the other hand, the development and operations teams share tasks. And they are closely involved in the whole chain (with an agile rather than a classic waterfall approach), both for code generation and functional changes as well as for the production and the life cycle of the applications.

Serverless

In reality, there are no longer any barriers between development, updates and modifications, testing, deployment, integration and maintenance, all of which are automated. In this context, the use of containers will obviously improve efficiency, agility and security, as applications integrate their complete execution environment. Indeed, these containers are built from a set of isolated microservices (see also our previous blog). And they can be dynamically created and provisioned quite simply, the challenge lying in the use of a provisioning engine smart enough to understand the needs and characteristics of the workload associated with the container. In addition, these containers reduce dependency on traditional virtualization technologies, such as VMware or Hyper-V.

It should be noted that the microservices architecture and the containers are closely linked to the serverless concept. That concept puts the cloud service provider, such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform or IBM Cloud, in charge of the execution of some of the code by dynamically allocating resources. Indeed, this code is usually executed in a container and sent as a function.

According to a recent survey among 600 IT decision makers, conducted by the vendor Cloud Foundry, 19% of respondents already use a serverless architecture, while 42% intend to use it in the next two years. In fact, research by MarketsandMarkets estimates that the serverless market will represent 14.93 billion USD in 2023, compared to just 4.25 billion USD in 2018.

Cloud in the centre

To succeed in a NoOps approach, or at least tend towards that goal, the cloud appears as the road to take. It allows your organization to get rid of a number of tasks related to IT operations, while an internal data centre imposes certain constraints such as the provisioning of machines, the management of the network or storage in particular. That said, on this level containers can also contribute part of the answer (see above).

In fact, the cloud will have to come in different ways. Be it, at one end of the spectrum, in the form of a Platform-as-a-Service, where the customer buys access to his applications. Or, at the other end, in the form of a Function-as-a-Service, where the customer pays only for the code he wants to run, depending on the degree of maturity of his organization.

Eventually, NoOps should allow IT to free up resources currently assigned to management tasks, the so-called IT operations. It should also give developers the option of not having to worry about ‘minor’ tasks related to the underlying infrastructure, the operating system, the middleware or the runtime language. Overall, it’s about getting IT teams to shift from a reactive to a proactive approach.

For now, Amazon, Google and Microsoft offer serverless platforms that allow you to get closer and closer to the NoOps concept, while players such as IBM, Alibaba or Oracle offer their own approach. But it is clear that this transition will not happen overnight and requires a higher level of maturity from your IT department.

With this in mind, Aprico has been helping companies transform their business for more than two decades. Therefore, we can share best practices, technologies and organizational models that will allow you to quickly adapt to the current rapid evolutions of your business and IT environment. More information: marketing@aprico-consult.com