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DevOps vs. NoOps: Will automation give Ops the proverbial boot?

NoOps looks to achieve even greater efficiency than DevOps not by integrating operations team, but by eliminating it. This is much easier said than done.

If DevOps means a continuous development cycle, where does that leave the operations side of the equation? Can a company fully automate its operations team (or automate much of it) and make the development team responsible for maintaining code in a real-world environment? If an organization is asking these questions, then it’s considering NoOps, a concept that takes DevOps a step further.

With DevOps, the application development and systems operations teams work together in a more streamlined, collaborative process. The lines are blurred between development and deployment to facilitate continuous development and faster delivery. NoOps attempt to achieve even greater efficiency than DevOps not by integrating operations team but by eliminating it.

IT automation and cloud computing have been the primary NoOps forces. If IT automates enough processes, then it requires fewer resources to maintain an organization’s operations footprint. The cloud accelerates this automation by moving hardware offsite where it can be maintained by outside sources. One promise of a cloud platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is that an organization can develop and test applications without needing to worry about the complexity of building and maintaining infrastructure. With PaaS, NoOps is possible… in theory.

Even if an organization adopts NoOps, however, I’d wager there are still operations professionals critically involved. They just aren’t walking around with traditional titles like Operations Engineer or Operations Manager. In a NoOps environment where development reigns supreme, there are team members whose job or a portion of their job involves operations responsibilities such as monitoring systems, identifying and fixing bugs, training staff on new tools, and establishing best practices.

But as we’ve noted before with regard to BizDevOps, which empowers the business side to the point of actually building apps with visual app dev platforms like Microsoft PowerApps and AppGyver, taking DevOps even one step further can prove easier in concept than in application. It’s unrealistic to expect business executives to engage with the micro-details of application development, and the tools just aren’t robust enough to replace human development skill. And regarding NoOps, it will take time for companies to feel comfortable ditching secure legacy systems in their control for cloud-based platforms completely out of it.

Again, DevOps won’t become NoOps in fell swoop. BizDevOps and NoOps are in many ways just the natural evolution of development and operations fueled by new tools built around cloud technologies and automation. If organizations adopt BizDevOps or NoOps -- if at all -- it’ll be in pilot programs and non mission-critical applications or by bleeding-edge startups. DevOps and its complementary processes have only been in the popular imagination since 2009, and sometimes this imagination can get ahead of the realities of best practices as organizations process DevOps culture.

NoOps, BizDevOps, and their kind are still viable in limited cases where a smaller core group implicitly builds collaboration across all teams. Industry-wide adoption of NoOps, though, remains out of reach for now.

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