July 7, 2014
by Dmitri Zimine
At StackStorm, we believe that workflow is a key ingredient for cloud automation. That’s why we became drivers and core contributors to Mistral, a new workflow service for OpenStack.
Why the need for a new workflow service? Haven’t we already experienced Workflow Management? Aren’t a number of established, mature workflow products out there already? Yes, and yes, but…
With a decade of experience building system orchestration and automation products and seeing them used in the field, I realized that using a traditional BPM (business process management) oriented workflow is not a good match with today’s pace of change and scale of operations. The rich variety of workflow patterns that are bragged about by traditional BPM systems are never used in practice. The graphical representation of workflow, so exciting for non-technical BPM users, becomes a handcuff for techy admins. And complex XML-based syntax made working with workflow definition files a nightmare.
June 26, 2014
by Evan Powell
DevOps is all about the community movement – it’s an approach that is inherently collaborative. That’s why we love attending DevOps events and sharing ideas with others in the industry. DevOps Days Silicon Valley is around the corner and we’re expecting to see some great sessions. It’s the fifth anniversary for the conference, and we’re happy to be part of the program this year!
Patrick Hoolboom, an avid Stormer and contributor to our blog, will be presenting on the “10 Reasons Why DevOps is the Greatest Shift in the IT Industry.” There is a huge shift in IT towards a DevOps approach for building and operating software, with the goal of improving productivity. Conferences like DevOps Days are evidence of this shift and growth in the community.
by Evan Powell
Over the weekend I was chatting with a really successful venture investor who recently published a top trends list.
That made me think about DevOps vs. Cloud and vs. SaaS and vs. Mobile and other disruptors. I’m convinced more than ever than DevOps is the right focus for professional investors and for all of us investing our time in developing, adopting and operating IT. Examining and understanding DevOps is more useful than understanding cloud, SaaS, SDDC (software defined data centers) and more – and here’s a few reasons why.
1. DevOps is a common denominator
Keep peeling back the layers at the top operators and, underneath, you find the organizational structure and the set of tools that is DevOps. Some of these operators use containers, but some use bare metal, and some use virtualization – so there is quite a bit of variance there. Yes, there are other common patterns like developing applications that are stateless themselves and able to aggregate underlying resources – however DevOps in organization and in technology is a common denominator in a way that, for example, virtualization alone or technologies X, Y or Z are not.
June 11, 2014
by Patrick Hoolboom
I spend a lot of time talking about the positive effects of moving to a more DevOps oriented approach. The reasoning behind this because I truly believe it, and get excited just thinking about it. An interesting thing I have found is that, when explaining these concepts and what StackStorm is about to non-technical people, I almost always get the same question:
“If DevOps is so great, why isn’t everyone doing it?”
This is a perfectly valid question, so I thought I’d try to break it down into what I see as the biggest barriers to entry for a truly successful DevOps initiative. I thought back about the various places I have worked, or the reasons I have heard for not wanting to move away from the Operations/Development silo approach and was able to distill them down to 3 points (actually 4 but the last one seems to be wrapped up in the other three).
June 6, 2014
VSM: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. Could you start off by giving our readers an introduction to StackStorm?
Evan Powell: Of course. StackStorm is a DevOps automation company, created by myself and Dmitri Zimine, with the goal of leading the third wave of operations automation. We created StackStorm because we want to deliver self-driving, self-learning operations automation to the mainstream enterprise […]
June 5, 2014
by Patrick Hoolboom
The last few weeks have been a flurry of customer meetings, infrastructure design, and recovering from the OpenStack summit. The summit was an incredible experience. Listening to the frustrations from so many people over systems deployment and administration tasks really validated many of my views of classical IT Operations. Seeing the infrastructure pain points of other organizations, combined with the design plans currently swirling around in my head, has me thinking more and more about the future of IT Operations. How will operations evolve to support the rapid infrastructure growth commonly experienced by organizations in this day and age while still maintaining as many nines (high availability) of uptime as possible?
I find myself in a very unique position here at StackStorm. Our company culture is evolving from a foundation of quality engineering, accountability, and flexibility. It enables us to build out infrastructure and processes in such a way that we can avoid many of the pitfalls that a typical operations organization would encounter. It is truly exciting, even freeing, to be able to think this way. We are not breaking down the silos encountered in a typical technical organization – we are actively avoiding them from the very beginning. The usual startup environment runs like this. Not only do you code, rack and stack servers, and do software releases, you literally take out the garbage and vacuum. The team works together to do what needs to be done without thinking “That isn’t my responsibility.” This open-minded mentality is born out of necessity. Naturally, as companies grow, groups become more specialized and lines are drawn in the sand. Some of this is needed. You want your engineers to be able to focus on technical tasks but many times this turns parts of the organization into black boxes, and tends to create bottlenecks in various processes. At best this leads to frustrations or confusion, at worst the processes get completely circumvented.
June 2, 2014
by Evan Powell
Over the years I’ve helped literally thousands of customers gain efficiencies in their data centers. I’ve met and become friendly with a lot of IT pros but I’ve got to admit – I never envied them. Well, maybe I envied some of the views in NY and Jersey City. And some of the toys they got to play with over the years were amazing.
Nonetheless, I didn’t envy them because many of my friends in director and VP roles spent a huge percentage of their time fighting politics that resulted in Orwellian distortions of the truth. A couple of stories from the early 2000s might help illustrate my point:
1. Two guys pulling all-nighters delivering a $1.5B roll out of IP communications while 25+ project managers debate progress from 9-5
The headline pretty much captures it. This now too-big-to-fail bank, as well as their vendor, had brought in several project and program managers to ensure groups from facilities through supply chain through security and operations were “aligned.” I spent a couple of meetings getting to know all of these project managers before realizing that there were two guys working every night, all night, to manually, using fingers and spreadsheets, push and validate changes. Eventually those operators quit – and the project ground to a halt.
May 28, 2014
by Evan Powell
While I am a third time founding CEO who has helped build some successful infrastructure software companies, I’m continuously learning. I don’t have a particular formula for how to build the right combination of market positioning, company capabilities, company tactics, strategies, and more.
In leading companies I rely on my own broad experience, common frameworks from Michael Porter and others, and surrounding myself with people smarter than me who are unafraid to show it.
I believe each company takes on a certain personality – a sense of the company that can be felt. This is where design thinking perhaps comes to play.
For example, whereas Nexenta was generally a scrappy company that needed to break the rules to shake the status quo, StackStorm’s personality is more that of a relatively polished upstart that expects to be the best at everything it does.
May 15, 2014
Sort of. Especially if they’ve done it before […]
May 13, 2014
by Evan Powell
Yesterday, the first day of the OpenStack Summit in Atlanta, was a great day for StackStorm and for the community. It was a pretty special day for me personally too.
First – the community. I appeared on theCube in which John Furrier and Stuart Miniman asked me to share some thoughts on the OpenStack community. I admit – I’ve run the tape back. On the whole I hope I hit the right balance.
Here’s my gripes:
Well, that felt pretty good. Here is what I love about OpenStack (the quick version):