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Managed Cloud: The SysOps Approach vs. The DevOps Approach

Recently, we launched the Rackspace Managed Cloud. At the center of our Managed Cloud strategy is our core strength – our exceptional customer service, known as Fanatical Support.

Within Managed Cloud, we also launched two new service levels: Managed Infrastructure and Managed Operations. Whether you consume our technology products in our Managed Infrastructure service level or depend on us to help run your day to day workload ops with our Managed Operations service level, both allow you to tap into the experts and specialists who understand how to run infrastructure at scale.

The Managed Operations service level includes two different approaches: System Administration or DevOps Automation. Here, we would like to help you understand how each of these offerings can help meet the needs of your cloud workloads and ultimately your business.

The need to provide two distinct approaches – SysOps and DevOps – in our Managed Operations service level is driven by the explosion of technology and innovation from the cloud and Internet era. Businesses that have only existed in the last 10 years have depended on IT as a key enabler and primary channel for their success. Competition in online markets is intense and the need to provide new and valuable services to customers is a key differentiator. Time to market for new capabilities is a primary indicator of business performance and reducing this is a competitive advantage for them.

Additionally, there are new deployment models that should be taken into account as workloads are brought to production. Applications being developed specifically for the cloud with a DevOps philosophy can have fundamentally different needs in how they are operationalized than those developed previously in a more monolithic deployment model. For example, the huge interest in complex applications built with micro-service architecture will mean that businesses deploying applications in this way will need a new approach to maintenance and deployment. Their estate will contain many more smaller components, which provides reductions in time to market for features at the expense of increased complexity on the infrastructure and toolchains.

While these types of pressures are now common to all organizations competing in the online space, established enterprises have built IT capabilities over a number of years and have much more complexity built into their dependencies that have a fundamental impact on how they work and what they need to be successful.

We understand that trying to cater to both of these profiles of business with a single offering will only partially serve each one. By optimizing the experience for both of these kinds of applications, we provide the best possible experience to all our customers while maintaining consistent service levels and ownership of your end-to-end application stack. This is why Rackspace Managed Cloud offers service levels that allow customer choice:

When considering whether System Administration or DevOps Automation is best for your application, here are some key things to consider:

  • What is your expectation with regards to the speed of execution from us?
  • How quickly does your application need to adapt to unplanned change?
  • How predictable is your load and how extreme are your traffic spikes?
  • What happens if during a spike you can’t scale quickly enough?
  • Is you business global? A global spike is very different to a local spike!
  • How frequently do you want to perform releases to your application?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions – they will be specific to your individual workload and your strategy to get to market. Additionally, we encourage you to use a combination of our approaches across your application portfolio so you’re not forced to move your entire business to a new way of working all at the same time – that’s a level of change that could be counterproductive to your mission. The table below captures some general trends we see about the needs of customers considering both of these approaches.

At Rackspace, we would encourage you to consider these methods of service to be peers to one another and not as a superior/inferior comparison. There are applications running highly successful businesses that depend on both approaches and will continue to do so. At Rackspace we embrace the emergence of a new approach and allow customers to put the right kind of support against the right kind of applications at all times. As a company of specialists, we’re here to help deliver Fanatical Support with both approaches and support you when you decide to transition from one to the other.

The Rackspace DevOps Automation Service automates application environments using DevOps tools, and includes 24×7 DevOps Engineering support.

About the Author

This is a post written and contributed by Chris Jackson.

Chris Jackson is the Chief Technologist for Rackspace EMEA. He has over a decade of IT experience in technical support, solution design, account management and web application development. In his current role, Chris drives technology strategy into Rackspace’s product and service offerings as well as working with customers to understand how their needs map to a increasingly complex marketplace of services. He has built and championed the creation of a DevOps Advisory service and is contributing to a global group responsible for understanding the evolution of managed services in an increasingly automated world.

Chris launched his Rackspace career seven years ago as a data centre technician after spending a year with Motorola as a system administrator. He earned a bachelor¹s degree in computer science and e-business from Loughborough University in the UK, where he graduated with honours. Chris and his wife, Sally, live in Berkshire, with their 18-month-old son, George. When he¹s not in meetings, Chris can be found spending time with his family and catching up on sports.


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