But Rafter has proven that automation, agile development, cloud and devops can all co-exist with data center managers. The company has two collocation facilities on either coast of the country, and a data center operations team that still runs the live web site and manages issues around automating processes, making sure there is enough hardware to meets the demand requirements and making sure the system is highly available.
"Enterprises still value high quality database, storage and network engineers," says MacDonald from Ubuntu, who adds that those jobs are getting harder than ever as compute, networking and storage are all being converged into virtualized environments. "You still need operators to manage the infrastructure." Williams says creating a devops shop wasn't an edict from him and management to implement; it really grew organically by the automation of processes.
It's not all completely smooth sailing though; Williams will be the first to admit that running a devop shop comes with its challenges. The biggest, he says, is finding the talent to work there.
At a recent Chef meetup group he attended the moderator asked the crowd how many people were looking for a job and no one raised their hand. When asking how many people worked for a company looking for devops workers Williams says practically everyone in the room raised their hand.
People with developer background seem to enjoy working on front-end UIs stuff, he says. Many are not comfortable working on the operations and management side.
"That's fine, but you still need to know how the system works so that you can fix something," says Ben Carpenter, a consultant who works with Rafter on its devops strategy. To work in an automated environment, it's helpful to know the manual steps.
Williams agrees: "Systems operations experience is built upon experience of dealing with issues and putting out fires, building up a catalog of random skills," he says. "It's not necessarily something you can just learn from a book."
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