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Infrastructure as Code

By John | July 12, 2009

A few weeks ago I attended Velocity “09″ in San Jose, Ca.  One of the sessions used a phrase that I had never seen before and it stung me like a bee.  In fact, in my opinion, this new phrase described one of the more dominant themes of the conference.

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Topics: #velocityconf, other | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Infrastructure as Code”

  1. Berkay Says:
    July 13th, 2009 at 4:38 am

    John,

    Having worked on turning infrastructure to code (using the new terminology) in large enterprises in significant chunk of my career, the concepts described here strongly resonate with me, and I’ve been following what ControlTier and ReductiveLabs folks have been saying on the subject for some time.

    I also agree that most enterprises do not really consider infrastructure important and see it as a cost center. Try getting funding for an infrastructure improvement project and you will surely get rejected. Sort of a tragedy of the commons.

    I’m not surprised to hear that enterprise folks have not yet embraced these concepts. However, I don’t think this is necessarily a case of enterprise IT being primitive and incapable. I have to say that I myself find these references to how great “Internet 10″ is doing mostly irrelevant and irritating.

    There is little in common between typical enterprise IT environment and the internet companies. Typical enterprise IT department supports diverse set of technologies and applications. Many if not most of the applications and systems were not developed in-house. Further it is often not feasible to automate the operational tasks due to technical and/or legal limitations. There are many applications where administrative tasks can only be accomplished from a GUI, and even if you find a way to code it, you may find yourself not supported by the vendor, no can do in the enterprise.

    No doubt, enterprises can and should learn from the experiences of the web companies on how to support modern web applications but they constitute a fraction of what’s supported by the IT departments.

    As for the terminology, I like infrastructure as code as well, but not sure it will catch on outside development folks. In IT management world, I’ve seen this referred as policy based computing.

  2. Andrew Clay Shafer Says:
    July 13th, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    John,

    Great piece.

    I’d just like to add a few points, starting with how hurt I am that you hadn’t heard ‘infrastructure is code’ before Velocity…

    Minute 16 of my talk from Mountain West Ruby Conf… I will talk louder next time.

    @berkay

    Economics will force efficiency. The cost center mentality will become an even more marked disadvantage.

    The other day I was talking with someone from an organization with 10 different CIOs managing >3000 applications, 43 of which are CRM.

    The majority of those are web applications built on the same stacks as the ‘Internet 10′. The difference is that these web apps are not viewed as mission critical. When Amazon goes down for an hour the calculation of money being lost is straight forward. When the CRM at a Fortune ‘Whatever’ company is down for an hour it is just an inconvenience, but multiplied across 10 business units, I’m confident that downtime accounts for millions of dollars in losses a year.

    Applications that don’t let you administer them without a GUI should be tried for crimes against humanity.

    On the path to IT as an enabler, the identification of waste in the process leads to optimization. The time/money lost to downtime or to the ‘GUI only’ automation barrier will provide pressure to evolve.

    The real cost of difficult to manage applications will become more of a consideration, as operations is recognized as a competitive advantage.

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