DevOps and AppOps

There is a whole set of new operational pressures on IT operations at the application layer. Business are betting more and more on their applications, users with always available platforms (i.e. mobile) mean that applications really do need to work 24×7, virtualization is making the underlying infrastructure elastic and easily available , and of course agile development enables features to be developed faster and in smaller increments.

All these are putting new pressures on IT operations at the application layer. DevOps is one growing trend that is starting to address these issues. DevOps is related to AppOps but it isn’t AppOps – nor does it replace the need for AppOps. DevOps is the process of streamlining the dev to ops lifecycle for applications, but AppOps is specifically the operational side of application management.  I think that we’ll be seeing a lot more companies starting to use the term AppOps, as way to describe their IT operations at the application layer – since there doesn’t seem to any better term around. AppOps has two separate, but related, components:

  • Application Release Operations – all the operational work needed to make sure production applications and features are deployed in a timely and robust fashion. This goes way beyond just release automation – since the automation component is just a small part of  the operations surrounding a release. Release Operations also includes all the remediation and maintenance operations for making sure imperfect applications and unexpected events don’t cause catastrophic application failure.
  • Application Monitoring Operations – the monitoring needed to make sure that application problems are discovered as quickly as possible.

In many cases it is up to the AppOps folks to notice a problem and then (working with dev) figure out a quick workaround (CAPA) to the problem to make sure things continue to run, then it is up to dev to come up with a longer term fix which gets deployed in the next release.

There has been very little focus on Application Services CAPA (Corrective Action\Preventative Action) – or maybe a better term would be COPO (Corrective Operations\Preventative Operations). I am not sure why Application Services CAPA gets so little attention – maybe because it is the unglamorous daily work of ensuring everything works correctly, as opposed to getting a new release deployed.

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4 Responses to “DevOps and AppOps”

  1. Sue Cole Says:

    Interesting read! In your experience, what is the title of that AppOps staff, and do they report into Operations or up thru the AppDev organization?

    • Jacob Ukelson Says:

      Sue,
      Hi. The AppOps staff is part of operations (sometimes they have the term “release” as part of their title – for example the “release manager”).

      Jacob

  2. DavidG Says:

    Hi Jacob,
    Now that we’re a few years out from your original post, has your opinions about the need for both DevOps and AppOps changed at all? Or, has the definition of the boundary between the two changed? From your perspective on our industry, has the distinction “AppOps” gained traction? I ask because we’ve recently initiated a discussion around the two functional areas. We have a DevOps group but we don’t have an AppOp group, at least as a distinction.

    • Jacob Ukelson Says:

      David,
      Hi. Yes, AppOps is still needed and provides a orthogonal functionality to DevOps – DevOps is about setting up the environments (using tools like Puppet, Chef, Ansible) while AppOps is about delivering and maintaining the the application once an environment is set up. Sometimes companies use the word DevOps for both – which confounds the issue. Also, many DevOps adopters just haven’t got to the AppOps part yet – they were busy getting DevOps operational.

      So I guess the way things are evolving is that AppOps is the application component of DevOps focused on Release Automation and application feedback from Production to Dev. For example Facebook uses Chef for the environments part of DevOps, but rolls their own when it comes to AppOps – but they call the whole DevOps.

      Hopes this helps.

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