Monday, August 4, 2014

Gain your DevOps attitude

Playing around with a cluster is a good exercise for any developer. "It works on my desktop" is not  enough anymore.

I have to admit I have developer background and developer attitude. Since I assembled the RPi cluster reported in an earlier post, I have had to start thinking the operations way. How do I deploy into multiple instances the configuration I'm running now in this single board. Four nodes is enough to make you understand manual copy and configuration is not the way to go.


How to perform testing, deployment, configuration and management in traceable, reliable and effort-inexpensive way? This is one question that DevOps is trying to answer, by emphasizing communication around development, operations and QA functions. In order to be able to communicate efficiently, people must share common concepts, and think more or less the same way the counterpart does. This is where devops people are coming in by mixing the roles.

DevOps is considered as the third generation of software development methods, after waterfall and agile. There exists some criticism against devops, as it's considered consuming all developers time by doing less challenging tasks like QA and operations. This is why automation is important. DevOp is not supposed to perform manual testing or configure manually several instances of cloud environments.

DevOp uses his or her developer skills to build automated testing, deployment and management environment, and then focuses on developing something new, and let computers run the less challenging and repetitive tasks. At least in theory.

Back to the RPi cluster. Compiling decent database from sources natively in a single RPi takes a day or more. Cloud build environment could boost the process significantly, combined with automated cluster deployment and management tools. When I decided to build a cluster, I thought it's about studying distributed databases and messaging for IoT, but in practice it's a cluster management exercise making me a devops..

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