Consolidating IT processes Platform Ops – What Companies Need to Know
19.01.2022A guest article by Roman Borovits*
DevOps, NetOps, SecOps or FinOps: The family of new IT approaches is getting bigger and bigger. The latest addition is now called Platform Ops. But what is it exactly and where is it used?
In the age of the cloud, Platform Ops serves as an essential basis for company-wide cooperation and security and brings order to the multitude of digital tools available.
(Picture: ©Orlando Florin Rosu – stock.adobe.com)
Platform Ops is not just another approach. This is about connecting the various departments and use cases required to develop modern, distributed and cloud-native applications. Therefore, Platform Ops plays a central role.
What does Platform Ops mean?
A platform is a collection of technologies used by various development teams to perform functions. For example, a web application team on web servers is middleware such as Node.js, a frontend and load balancer. A team that uses marketing technologies, for example, uses SaaS products such as Adobe Creative Cloud and Salesforce. A network operations team relies on Kubernetes, application delivery controllers and virtual network solutions.
In the era of native cloud applications, all teams use a platform that provides not only the most important server, storage and network functions, but also tools for developing and deploying applications. Platform Ops is the team responsible for managing, maintaining, connecting and securing the platform that DevOps teams use. As more and more technologies are being moved to the cloud, Platform Ops is also closely involved in the provision of core functions such as enterprise-wide networks and security.
Who needs Platform Ops?
Classical monolithic applications are increasingly being transformed into services connected through APIs. Distributed applications can not only include multiple services, but also span multiple clouds. Developers are often given the opportunity to select tools themselves.
However, in some organizations, dozens of DevOps teams use several hundred or thousands of different tools and solutions for data processing, message queues, observability, security, and networking. This applies in particular to the application layer (Layer 7). For example, one of the largest mobile application companies operates several Kubernetes clusters and various types of service meshes. Because his application teams use many different tools and solutions that are not compatible or are not supported by a unified platform.
Cope with many technologies
To cope with the excessive prevalence of various tools, Platform Ops offers a promising solution. The Platform-Ops team works with all users of IT and applications in the company. The team will ask you what you want and need, reducing the requests to a small number of choices. Basically, Platform Ops is about finding a healthy balance between order and chaos. It should enable companies to become faster and at the same time ensure high security, governance and reliability.
Some companies will continue to offer their application or DevOps teams the ability to choose their own tools, which are not necessarily supported by Platform Ops. Netflix, for example, also allows tools outside of its curated portfolio. However, the condition is that the respective teams then take care of the support for these tools themselves – without the support of platform Ops, IT or other DevOps teams.
Decision from below
There is a big difference between platform ops and IT consolidation. While the consolidation is usually a clear specification of the management level, the limitation of the tools at Platform Ops takes place in an advisory manner from the bottom up. Platform ops teams need to explain the selection criteria so that all users of the platform understand why the decisions were made and how to make the most of the available features.
The platform ops teams usually come from the ranks of application development and DevOps. Therefore, they understand the needs and desires of these teams best. Platform ops teams usually also write code – either for internal tools or for configuration and IT management. In the end, you use exactly the platform you are looking after. This is significantly different from the usual practice of IT teams, which provide solutions, but do not use them for their own activities.
Companies have to find their way in the new and constantly changing IT landscape of clouds, cloud-native applications, distributed infrastructures, agile software development and dynamic security. Here, the Platform Ops team serves as an important source of information and reviews. This allows not only the CTO, but also the CFO as well as the procurement and audit teams to better understand what is needed and how high the costs are. In this regard, Platform Ops is the neutral intermediary, which becomes an important channel for the exchange of information and institutional knowledge.
Platform Ops is increasingly decisive for success
In view of the shortage of skilled workers, companies must offer attractive work and design opportunities for developers. A cloud-native, distributed IT landscape requires the right mix of freedom and control. On the one hand, a free selection leads to a chaotic mishmash of incompatible as well as differently configured and structured tools. Over time, this environment becomes not only unmanageable, but also unsafe.
Roman Borovits, F5 Networks.
On the other hand, developers are quickly frustrated by too strong restrictions. This increases the likelihood that you will look for a job elsewhere. How well the Platform Ops team can balance these extremes determines whether the company successfully copes with the digital transformation.
* The author Roman Borovits is a Senior Systems Engineer at F5 Networks.