Moving Up the Stack Does not Really Simplify Anything!

Moving up the stack does not simplify anything. Complexity increases. Let us look at this from several angles: management, security, development, networking, and storage. In essence, the entire IT stack. Because complexity increases, we need DevOps (or SecDevOps) to help us over the rough spots. We need new rules of engagement and even new ways of working. This makes the new IT stack even more complex.

However, this is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow and move with the times. We create new processes to help us understand this new world. That is DevOps, that is why we need DevOps. We also create new architectures to help us understand how everything old fits into the new. An architecture like TVP Strategy’s own Secure Agile Cloud Development reference architecture.  This move up the stack is a fundamental shift. A shift away from hardware but to software. Virtualization has given us the foundation, the first abstraction. New storage fabrics have given us ways to abstract storage. We have abstracted away networking with software defined networking and even network function virtualization.

We are moving away from the old and into the new. Yet, that is not without issues. Fear runs rampant as does uncertainty and doubt. FUD abounds on both sides of the fence. The real issue is not where we are going, but the fact that many feel we should already be there. Yet, many organizations are no where near that point of their own journeys. Many organizations look at the cloud, cloud native applications, as a goal. Not the reality. Even the biggest companies are using new techniques for only new projects, not their older projects. Cloud utilization while higher than last year, is still in the single digits. Yet is still a billion dollar industry. This points to where we need to go.

Getting there is not easy. It takes quite a bit of discussions, education, and proof of concepts to move any organization down this path. Actually new organizations get off easy. They can start down the path, even slide along the cutting edge far easier than traditional organizations. Does this ability simplify anything, no, not really. When push comes to shove, someone is monitoring security, performance, hardware, etc. On the 50th anniversary of Star Trek perhaps we have the best analogy.

A bridge officer that never goes to engineering does not know how the ship runs except in abstract terms. However, almost all bridge officers go to engineering, missile tubes, and everywhere else on the ship. In essence, they overcome the complexity to learn all they can. This allows them to do their jobs better.

If there is one thing we can learn from Star Trek after 50 years, is that there is always something new to learn. Some concept that is an abstraction of the physical world. That abstractions do not always make things less complex nor simplify things. They may simplify our thinking, but also can lead to serious misunderstandings. That is due to the nature of abstract concepts. So we need new rules of engagement. Those new rules are based on tried and true techniques we have employed for ages. Techniques such as automation and orchestration.

We are moving to the work of everything as code: Infrastructure as Code, Testing as Code, Security as Code, Data Protection as Code, etc. Even our quality measurements are based on algorithms and code. Moving to the abstract changes how we think about everything and this is the biggest disruption yet, however, not everyone is embracing all the concepts.

This disruption will be with us for years. Even Star Trek realized this was a journey:

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.

Even Star Trek knew its journey was more than instantaneous. It was a five-year mission. The new worlds are everything as code, containers, even cloud. The new civilizations are DevOps, SecDevOps, etc. We are literally boldly going where no one has gone before. Change is rampant, but we need to remember that it is a journey with something new around each corner. The new is often hard to understand, digest, and this is where abstractions come in handy, yet do not simplify the matter much. Just our possible ways of thinking about it.

So boldly go, just do expect it to be anything but simple or fast or that everyone is on the same mission.

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