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When you get someone else to do something for you, that doesn’t mean it’s not being done, or that getting it done is not important, or even that you don’t have to worry about it any more. And when you get someone else to do something for you that’s critical to your business, you’re going to want to manage it carefully!

Many times since I started working in Capacity Planning, I’ve gone to the Computer Measurement Group’s excellent annual international conference. It’s an old-style professional conference with juried content and several streams of highly technical presentations. It’s not as flashy as many of the other conferences around, and it’s sad to see it shrinking. I guess a serious, measured approach that takes focus and an attention span of more than a few minutes just isn’t popular any more.

Anyway, I’ve met lots of high-quality, serious professionals at CMG. One of them is Adrian Cockcroft. Adrian is a forward-thinking guy who doesn’t pull his punches. I’ve had the pleasure of attending quite a few of his presentations, which always leave attendees with food for thought. I’ve also shared several coffee breaks and a dinner or three with Adrian, so I’ve had the chance to hear some more of his personal experiences and views.

Recently I read an article at IT World Canada in which my old acquaintance figured heavily. It seems he’s been making some waves about something called NoOps. I read the article, and it reminded my why I’m Always Grumpy. Then I followed a link to the related article on Adrian’s own PerfCap blog and found myself Always Grumpy in two ways!

First, the idea of NoOps as represented in that IT World article is silly. Second, I think Adrian was mis-represented. Always Grumpy, that’s me!

The idea of NoOps is silly? Whatever do I mean? Well, according to IT World’s article it seemed Adrian was saying that since we have The Cloud, we can all get rid of those expensive Operations Divisions with all their time-wasting bureaucracy and their perverse insistence on planning and due process.

Right. And in another article I read a while back (and can’t seem to find), the author suggested that since we have The Cloud, no-one needs to write code any more. I’ve also read suggestions that The Cloud will mean an end to operating system and middleware upgrades. The Cloud will save us all from all those nasty bits of detail work that require serious attention! It will all happen by magic! I’m Often Dopey, but this one doesn’t get past even me. NoOps, NoCode, NoSense.

Really, people?  Is that why we don’t attend CMG any more? We think that we won’t have to worry about Performance Management or Capacity Planning now that we have The Magic Cloud? I don’t think that’s what Adrian was saying, though I’m sure he can speak more eloquently and forcefully for himself. I think his term “NoOps” is intended to make us think about how and where, rather than whether, we manage our operations. What I’m saying is that we still need all of the discipline we had before, but sometimes we’ll provide it through different business models.

The advent of Cloud Computing is a real phenomenon that will drive – is already driving – real change. It will change the way IT works for many shops, especially smaller ones, separating datacentre operations from application development, implementation and operations. It will also change the way human beings work with IT, though that’s a discussion for another post, another time. But The Cloud will not mean the end of coding, or the end of middleware or subsystem or operating system upgrades. It will not mean the end of computer operations.

For cloud-based functions, computer operations will be – are – centralized. If we’re talking about IaaS, it will just be the hardware that’s invisible to the developers; for PaaS, the operating system and middleware are invisible too; for SaaS, everything’s invisible except application configuration and use. But the operations staff still exists! The hardware installers, support staff, implementers, designers and planners are all still there, they just work for the cloud service providers. You won’t have to worry about them any more.

In this brave new world of Cloud Computing, your enterprise can demand whatever level of service you’re willing to pay for. You don’t have to plan capacity. You can let your developers create all the images they like. They and you can focus on delivering new function quickly and not worry about whether the code runs well or efficiently. You won’t need to worry about outages for hardware or software upgrades. But you will pay for resource utilization and you will pay for flexibility and availability and you will still have to worry about code compatibility.

CPU and memory and storage and software are getting cheaper, but they’re not getting free. And all those annoying employees in the Operations Division you don’t have to pay for any more? They’ll be loyal to the company name on their paycheques, and that won’t be you. They’ll help their new employers figure out exactly how much spare capacity they need to keep on hand to satisfy your developers’ random whims, and how much more capacity they need to maintain service even when they’re doing upgrades, and how much still more capacity they need to handle all of the various sorts of service outages. And they’ll cover the costs in your bill. All of them, plus some, because they too have shareholders who expect profits. Remember that… and hire some planners and controllers of your own. If you’re not going to have an Operations Division to remind you what it costs to increase utilization and capacity, you’ll have a vendor billing cycle instead.

Jonathan Gladstone is alwaysgrumpy at or follow me on Twitter @jbglad59.



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