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Webcast: PaaS for Ops - Pitching Platform as a Service to Sysadmins
by Troy Topnik

Troy Topnik, August 7, 2012

Stackato for Sysadmins A couple of weeks ago, we had the pleasure of talking with James Governor of Redmonk, about Stackato. I mentioned the challenge we face in explaining the benefits of Private PaaS to sysadmins and IT managers. We thought this would be a good topic for a webcast.

James and I got together online last week to chat about this, and here's the recording of that session.

Bridging the divide between Dev and IT

One of the main goals of this discussion was to put systems people at ease with the concept of private PaaS. There's a lot of noise in the IT marketplace and blogosphere lately about "NoOps" - the idea that you can dispense with a large portion of your IT workflow by outsourcing data and application hosting. Its proponents explain the apporach in more nuanced terms, but there's a strong perception in the traditional IT/Systems community that PaaS is all about eliminating sysadmins from the development lifecycle. The "Go away or I will replace you with a very small shell script" slogan turned against the very sysadmins who invented it.

Since ActiveState in the business of selling software to Ops, it doesn't make sense for us to jump on the NoOps bandwagon. Sometimes, we need to dispense with terms like NoOps and even PaaS and focus on what the software actually does. Hopefully this discussion helps us clarify how we see Ops roles evolving to meet the new expectations for seamless application deployment.

James asked me towards the end of the webcast for three key functions that Stackato provides to get Dev and IT working together more efficiently. I answered with a bit of a ramble, but if I had a second shot at that question I'd say:

  • Control: Keeping the application hosting platform "on-prem" or at least managed directly by corporate IT is a requirement for a lot of organizations. Stackato lets you do this and still get the benefits of PaaS.
  • Savings: Most of the organizations we talk to about Stackato have made significant investments in infrastructure. With the right tools, it's much cheaper for them to use the hardware they already have rather than pay someone else to babysit their applicaiton hosting remotely.
  • Expertise: Sysadmins carry a lot of organizational knowledge. They typically know more than anyone else in the organization what is required to keep the company's critical applications up and running. If you cut these people out of the picture, you're losing valuable experience and knowledge. If you put them in charge of a powerful platform, you'll get the most of that expertise.

So, if you're one of these expert sysadmins, and you dislike all this talk of outsourcing IT, get your hands on Stackato and take it for a spin. Set up an instance on the hypervisor of your choice and let your development teams at it. You might find they're less interested in using an external service when the one you can provide for them does the job even better.

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Troy Topnik is ActiveState's technical writer. After joining ActiveState in 2001 as a "Customer Relationship Representative" (AKA Tech Support), Troy went on to lead the PureMessage Enterprise Support team before moving on to a technical writing role in 2004. His talent for describing software for new users stems from his difficulty understanding things that developers find obvious. He has a Bachelor of Music from the University of Victoria.