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Navigating the CloudOps Landscape

A Guide to DevOps and SRE in the Cloud

Cloud computing has revolutionized the way organizations manage their IT infrastructure, making it more flexible, scalable, and cost-effective. However, managing cloud resources comes with its own set of challenges, particularly for DevOps and SRE teams.

Let’s explore the key concepts of CloudOps, a set of practices that combines DevOps and SRE principles in the cloud. Where Platform Engineering comes in handy and how Bulls-i can help you navigate through it all.


DevOps vs SRE

Both DevOps as Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) are practices that improve reliability, scalability, and efficiency of software systems.

By applying DevOps principles, an agile team takes responsibility for operating the applications they develop.  A separate team, often lacking the necessary expertise, will no longer take over the responsibility of running the application on the infrastructure and dealing with any associated issues.

Entrusting this responsibility to the development team can enhance the application’s quality, as they are now directly responsible for any problems that may arise.

DevOps is not a distinct role within the team, instead, it’s a collaborative effort that involves the entire team. However, specialization within the team may arise to focus on specific technologies that align with DevOps principles.

On the other hand, SRE is a specific implementation of DevOps principles. It focuses on the reliability of software systems by using a structured approach to manage the operations and infrastructure of the systems. The SRE team is responsible for ensuring the availability, latency, performance, efficiency, and capacity of the systems by using software engineering principles and techniques.

Let’s take a closer look into specific specializations that fall under DevOps and Site Reliability Engineering tasks.

Development Process Automation

The first specialization in this field revolves around the various tools that cater to the software development lifecycle. These tools facilitate automation in the development process and include CI/CD tools, automated testing, automated code scanning, and alerting, as well as tasks such as creating dashboards and logging.

It is crucial to note that those working in this area must have a deep understanding of the application and its logic. Without this knowledge, it is impossible to achieve a seamless SDLC process.

All these tasks are classified under DevOps.

Infrastructure Automation

Another specialty in this field is infrastructure automation. Here, the same development practices used for building applications are employed to start provisioning infrastructure. This is achieved through an infrastructure-as-code or configuration management tool. The scope of this practice is not limited to a single application, but includes tasks such as security configuration, network setup, Kubernetes cluster maintenance, and database setup.

These tasks fall under the purview of SRE (Site Reliability Engineering).

One role or multiple ones in DevOps and SRE

The line between having one or multiple roles in DevOps and SRE can be blurry. Specializations are not necessarily mutually exclusive, and it is possible to incorporate these specialties into an agile team before hiring someone with specialized knowledge. The decision to seek out someone with specific expertise depends entirely on the team’s workload and existing knowledge.

However, when it comes to breaking out DevOps and SRE into separate roles or teams, it becomes crucial when multiple DevOps teams are facing the same problem, but they all find different solutions, leading to operational and budgetary challenges. For instance, running a Kubernetes cluster requires specialized skills, and if each team must find these experts independently, it can be time-consuming and costly. In such cases, it makes sense to have a specialized team handle the task.

What is CloudOps?

CloudOps refers to the application of DevOps or SRE principles within the cloud. It involves the extension of DevOps or SRE responsibilities to encompass the management of a cloud infrastructure and the PaaS services offered by cloud providers.

In essence, CloudOps aims to optimize the development, deployment, and maintenance of cloud-based applications using automation and tooling. To achieve this, CloudOps professionals must possess a deep understanding of cloud architecture, as well as the different services and tools available to manage and monitor cloud infrastructure.

By adopting CloudOps practices, organizations can improve the scalability and speed of application delivery, while reducing costs and increasing operational efficiency. This approach provides a comprehensive framework for organizations to achieve continuous delivery and improvement in the cloud.

And what about Platform Engineering?

One of the disadvantages of bringing the infrastructure to a central SRE team is that we are forming silos (again). This was one of the reasons DevOps came into being. Platform Engineering can help here. It is the technological approach to deal with problems caused by silo formation.

The idea is to provide an interface that allows DevOps teams to handle tasks via self-service. This without the intervention of an SRE team.

Today’s challenges for DevOps and SRE

DevOps and SRE teams possess extensive knowledge on how to set up an infrastructure, but they often waste time repeating the same tasks. This, because infrastructure-as-code (IaC) is still very declarative and file-based. As a result, DevOps and SRE teams must be in sync at a framework level similar to that of a programming language. There is no loosely coupled way for these teams to work together because modules are written using specific technologies and languages, creating friction within teams.

To alleviate this friction, an overarching infrastructure platform can be introduced to enable teams to collaborate seamlessly using their preferred tools. SRE teams can focus on developing reference architectures, while DevOps teams can consume these architectures via APIs and install them as necessary in their environment. This approach will help reduce the friction between DevOps and SRE teams and enable them to work more efficiently.

Making the switch to cloud-native organizations with Bulls-i

In the process of transitioning to a cloud-native organization, there are crucial decisions that need to be made.

  1. When is the ideal time to hire a DevOps engineer within an application team?
  2. When are we large enough to bring tasks to a centralized team?
  3. When do we start a platform layer to support DevOps teams?

The answer to question 3 is the easiest. Once there is a central team, there should also be the drive to provide self-service tools as soon as possible to make unburdening DevOps teams as flawless as possible such that they can focus on their applications.

Questions 1 and 2 are difficult questions where emotion also plays a role. We will have to look at the roles of existing team members and organically help shape this new way of working.

Bulls-i helps organizations to make the switch to more natural cloud-native organizations by centralizing DevOps and SRE, with the help of people, processes, and technology we ensure that organizations are ready for the challenges of tomorrow.