Niina Känsälä // June 26 2017

A long walk from Datacenter to Devops

Head of Digitalist Group IT and Devops services, that’s how I nowadays introduce myself in work related events… but it is not a long time ago when I was still working in Ixonos Cloud and Hosting services, in a team with altogether a solid 100 years or experience of providing global on-going managed hosting services mainly from our own datacenter. How did we do it?

A year ago my team was in front of something new. Due to a strategic decision our Cloud & Hosting business was sold, and all of a sudden the datacenter was not going to be part of our daily life anymore in the near future. No more big blinking machines to care for, no custom-made cloud platform to develop further, and no cloud customers to be a service manager to. At the same time our company was changing the provider and scope for outsourced IT services, and bits and pieces were falling free from that direction.

Our working life was about to change over the next six months. First we were all too busy to think about the future – there was a whole datacenter to relocate. 34 customer environments, most of our internal tools and over 400 servers found a new home before the last servers in our own datacenter were unplugged and electricity was turned off. Super good team spirit and super bad humor were sometimes the only two things that saved us from falling into desperation in front of dozens of surprises.

Then in the autumn it little by little hit the consciousness – there is no use for IT geeks, network wizards, storage system magicians and server gurus without a datacenter as a playground. Or is there?

The skill development and finding the new course was such a subtle process that it is hard to say how it happened. All of a sudden words like AWS, Bluemix, Devops and vCloud were part of the daily language, and different three-letter abbreviations every second word in the discussions. Cloud environments and concepts as such were definitely nothing new, we all had participated in building and maintaining our own cloud platform and hybrid cloud solutions around it for years. Also migration projects from datacenter or from one cloud platform to another were part of our long term service portfolio. But still – I can definitely identify myself with CIOs and IT directors who compulsively hang on their in-house datacenters, it is quite a scary jump to let all those machines go 🙂

However, after doing that jump it is kind of a relief to in practice see that actually the same basic principles are still true in each and every cloud environment: There is no computing without hardware behind it, no cloud without a datacenter on the background, and no business critical service that could be run without management and security actions. You can automate everything, but eventually a simple core reason can ruin your business if you don’t know how to control it. It can be a fatal mistake to cheat in security or not to understand exactly what it means to open that certain port in a firewall.

All this cloud environment management and continuous development still requires truly professional human beings, constant learning, competence building and numerous certifications to keep things rolling. But probably the best news is that physical security, electricity, fire safety etc. is nowadays taken care by someone else, meaning that our devops professionals can concentrate on more interesting stuff. Also, operating in cloud world gives more freedom to choose where to set up the remote office or emergency duty working center each day.

Today our IT and Devops services team offer facilities for designing and setting up the new cloud environments, and operating the ongoing services, including our own internal tools and services. It completes the Digitalist Group offering so that discovered, designed and delivered services and applications can live in secure and managed manner through their life cycle. The key asset that our team can offer to the customer and service development is the strong understanding about security issues, automation and billing practices that are related to different architectures and cloud environments.

Our service portfolio includes (sure, some skills we need to borrow over the team boundaries):
– Cloud infrastructure architecture consulting. AWS and Bluemix are close to our hearts, but after all they are all based on same principles and building blocks.
– Continuous deployment & operations automation. We have masters of Ansible, Jenkins and built-in command line interfaces in the crew.
– Architecture design, setup and migration projects, including cloud and hybrid solutions. As a bonus we still remember the pain of abandoning our own datacenter and can feel empathy 🙂
– Cloud Analytics, Reporting and Cost control measures.
– Service packaging and productization. Converting concepts to concreteness.
– Global 24×7 service operation and management.
– Serverless architectures, micro instances, dockers, auto-scaling, white hat hacking… Whatever you can name and dare to wish, our visionary specialists can deliver.

 

 

Together with Solution Architects and Software developers our Devops team can work closely with customer teams to build highly scalable, robust and secure infrastructures. And all this with amazingly high professional pride and attitude, delivered to you by:

Johanna “Ansible Angel” Toikkanen (up to the left)
Jussi “Security Sensei” Saine (up in the middle)
Jyrki “AWS Apostle” Tounas (up to the right)
Juri “Cloud Champion” Ahokas (down to the left)
Antti “Domain Doctor” Vainiola (down in the middle)
Niina “Delegation Demon” Känsälä (down to the right)

It has been a demanding yet rewarding year so far. Transformation from datacenter to devops is more or less history already, but the long walk continues.