DAY FIVE: Software Can Learn To Write Better Software

May 10, 2014

by Evan Powell

I think a lot about positive feedback cycles these days. DevOps wins in part because by decreasing the cycle time of development and operations of new capabilities the software gets closer and closer to real user needs. This of course brings more users, which presumably brings more resources, which enables even more projects to further accelerate the delivery of new capabilities. And so on.

That’s the theory and the reality in many shops. However, in too many shops the automation that is core to DevOps quickly becomes technical debt. Unlike components like NoSql data bases or even underlying configuration management, there are not yet projects that have critical mass and hence have the credibility to gain more users and so forth.

StackStorm and the OpenStack operations automation software that we and the broader community are developing and contributing content to will, we hope, be at the core of a virtuous cycle along these lines.

However, we also think that we can build a virtuous cycle right into the software itself. Self-driving cars, with incredibly advanced control theory based software driving them and enabling advances in much of robotics, now work well. Why not apply similar algorithms to operations automation so that we can increasingly build a learning brain that tells us how our automations are performing and that suggests new ones we might consider and that even authors new automations for us?


It sounds like science fiction. Except – this future already exists. The top operators already do this.

Applying machine learning and artificial intelligence to operations automation is the fifth driver for us founding StackStorm:

Software can learn to write better software.

We welcome our future computer overlords, and we think you should too. Whereas I’ve spent years helping to define and lead the Software Defined Data Center transition we now believe that collectively we are starting to make Self-Driving Data Centers a reality. Let’s call this SDDC or SDDC prime. Again, this future already exists but is unevenly distributed. We’re in the business of distributing that future to all of us. We foresee a world in which data centers learn to operate themselves and in which collaboration between humans and between different operating environments just works.

What’s a good example of that self-learning – one that the most advanced operators already embrace and one that is a focus of our POCs (proofs of concept)? Shifting monitoring as a service to remediation as a service is a real world example of what you can do with a self-learning DevOps friendly operations automation solution. If you think through what you need to do to actually automate the automators – tying into the monitoring fabric and simplifying and extending the ability to learn what is happening and then learn how to remediate potential issues is actually core to remediation as a service. Some of our friends are already there. This is the kind of value we are bringing to a broader audience.

To conclude this five-day blog series, at StackStorm we have set off on a journey to deliver the benefits of DevOps operations automations to the broader market. We are a 100% open source company. The past few blog posts tie in with our effort to be transparent. While we cannot tell you everything yet about what we are doing – unless you are a member of our private beta – we thought we should tell you why. Hopefully the five drivers I’ve mentioned help you better understand who we are and how we see the world.

In review, five drivers for us founding StackStorm:
1. DevOps is more important than generally realized.
2. There are not enough DevOps full stack engineers (“unicorns”) to go around.
3. While OpenStack isn’t a product, it is a hugely powerful community.
4. DevOps architectures require rewrites by legacy solutions.
5. Software can learn to write software.

Driver #6 I hope you gathered by reading these blogs. It is an honor and a blessing to be at the forefront of such a shift in how software is development and operated. It is a blast. And the team we’ve built so far at StackStorm comprises tough, driven, and fun people with whom to fight and change the world. In the end, it all comes down to people. We are recruiting the very best as fellow StackStormers and as additional beta users and also as partners.

Do you want to learn more? So do we! Register today to request an invite to our beta program. The ideal candidates will already have started down the path towards DevOps friendly operations automation and likely will be a little nervous about the wiring tying together their systems. We strongly prefer users with OpenStack as part of their immediate plans.

We invite you to get in touch with us, and stay tuned.