Cloud self-service doesn’t need to invite the orc apocalypse

I spend quite a bit of time talking to clients about developer self-service, largely in the context of public cloud governance and cloud operations. There are still lots of infrastructure and operations (I&O) executives who instinctively cringe at the notion of developer self-service, as if self-service would open formerly well-defended gates onto a pristine plain of well-controlled infrastructure, and allow a horde of unwashed orcs to overrun the concrete landscape in a veritable explosion of Lego structures, dot-matrix printouts, Snickers wrappers and lost whiteboard marker caps… never to be clean and orderly again.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Self-service — and more broadly, developer control over infrastructure — isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. Responsibility can be divided across the application life cycle, so that you can get benefits from “You build it, you run it” without necessarily parachuting your developers into an untamed and unknown wilderness and wishing them luck in surviving because it’s not an Infrastructure & Operations (I&O) team problem any more.

So we ask, instead:

  1. Will developers design their own infrastructure?
  2. Will developers control their dev/test environments?
  3. How much autonomy will developers have in building production environments?
  4. How much autonomy will developers have for production deployments?
  5. To what extent are developers responsible for day-to-day production maintenance (patching, OS updates, infrastructure rightsizing, etc.)?
  6. To what extent are developers responsible for incident management?
  7. How much help will developers receive for the things they’re responsible for?

I talk to far too many IT leaders who say, “We can’t give developers cloud self-service because we’re not ready for You build it, you run it!” whereupon I need to gently but firmly remind them that it’s perfectly okay to allow your developers full self-service access to development and testing environments, and the ability to build infrastructure as code (IaC) templates for production, without making them fully responsible for production.

This is the subject of my new research note, “How to Empower Technical Teams Through Self-Service Public Cloud IaaS and PaaS“. (Gartner for Technical Professionals paywall)

This is a step along the way to a deeper exploration of finding the right balance between “Dev” and “Ops” in DevOps, which is an organization-specific thing. This is not just a cloud thing; it also impacts the structure of operations on-premises. Every discussion of SRE, platform ops, etc. ultimately revolves around the questions of autonomy, governance, and collaboration, and no two organizations are likely to arrive at the exact same balance. (And don’t get me started on how many orgs rename their I&O teams to SRE teams without actually implementing much if anything from the principles of SRE.)

Posted on March 28, 2022, in Governance and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 68 Comments.

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