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Is DevOps Dead? If Anything, DevOps Is Growing | Kit Merker, Nobl9


Guest: Kit Merker (LinkedIn)
Company: Nobl9 (Twitter)

Nobl9 helps software developers, DevOps practitioners, and reliability engineers deliver reliable features faster through SLOs that link monitoring and other logging and tracing data to user happiness and business KPIs.

In this episode of TFiR: T3M, Swapnil Bhartiya catches up with Kit Merker, Chief Growth Officer at Nobl9, to get his insight into the topic: Platform Engineering: Is DevOps Dead? He talks about the trends of how organizations are restructuring and the differences between DevOps, SREs, and platform engineering. Merker also goes into detail about developer experience and how it relates to platform engineering.

How are organizations restructuring?

  • Organizations are rebranding and renaming certain teams which can help to define roles and clarify approaches.
  • There is momentum from enterprises building platform engineering groups. It is part of an evolution from DevOps to SREs to platform engineering. However, although it changes the interfaces and ownership, it does necessarily change the work.
  • One of the risks of building an SRE team is that you end up building a lot of DIY engineering projects, which is not always conducive given the economic uncertainty of today.
  • Some larger enterprises have been particularly successful with building cross-company groups with reliability-focused virtual teams. This does not require much restructuring within the company and is focused more on learning and sharing ideas and practices.

Defining DevOps, SREs, and platform engineering:

  • SREs often take a consultative view of reliability, security, and scalability, whereas platform engineering tends to involve them building a platform, which will have internal customers use it.
  • Platform engineering aims to take the repeatable services that everybody inside of the organization requires, hooking together multiple systems with some configuration, and consistency, and to provide compute, network storage, database, identity, and observability as part of a platform with some metrics and SLOs around it.
  • SREs approach focuses more on reliability and measuring it whereas DevOps’ key focus is on how to take responsibility for failures and ensuring all the things that need to be done to deliver the product are done appropriately.

Is DevOps dead?

  • There’s no reason for DevOps to die; it has brought about an evolution in tooling and technical competency, and literacy. While there are tools looking to lower the barrier of entry for technical contributors, they are not trying to eliminate engineering or development.
  • We may see the DevOps mindset applied to more domains such as the MLOps space, to help ensure a good delivery model for putting their models and data to production. If anything, DevOps is growing.

What does developer experience mean?

  • Developers are looking to automation rather than doing things manually. It is important to look at how to make this easy for developers to achieve with simple APIs that fit into their developer workflow.
  • Sometimes tools try to hide the complexity to make it easier; however, this can make the developer experience worse. Nobl9 has reusable components to enable developers to build things themselves and give them the tools they need.

How does developer experience fit into platform engineering?

  • Developer experience, once you have built a platform for your developers, involves providing clarity on the constraints of that system if they are building highly reliable, high-performance services on top of the platform.
  • Enabling developers to provide feedback and have a conversation at scale is crucial so you want to have pull requests and be able to move the meetings into pull requests and APIs.
  • How you handle exceptions also plays an important role and requires a balanced approach.

This summary was written by Emily Nicholls.

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