Friday, August 7, 2015

DevOps: An Engine in a Horseless Carriage

DevOps is fantastic, but the one constraint DevOps has been unable to address is data management and delivery. DevOps can automate the delivery of the ones and zeros of your applications and databases, but those bits and bytes can only travel so fast on the network. DevOps has allowed us to apply the laws of physics and maximize efficiencies to close to their breaking point for new environments. We try and build faster networks and accelerators to squeeze the last drops of speed out of silicon, copper and fiber, with diminishing returns. Even Moore's law is being re-evaluated as technology just isn’t able to make the same speed gains with our current understanding of physics. But what if we can change the equation?

I liken DevOps to the automobile. It was a tremendous innovation replacing the horse drawn carriage with the "horseless carriage," but that is truly what it was. They got rid of the horse, and improved or eliminated the many touch points associated with arriving at your destination (care, feeding, stabling, dying of typhoid fever, etc), yet you still had the same amount of miles to cover on the same roads. But, like DevOps,  you were now able to do it at breakneck speeds. That's all the current knowledge of science and physics would allow. 

Before the turn of the 20th century, the Wright Brothers saw technology like the automobile, marveled at it, but asked themselves the question "The engine is fantastic, but is this as good as it gets? What if there is a better way to use the engine? What if we changed the equation? What if we can eliminate the constraint of roads?" Can you imagine the skepticism and derision they must have endured? I even recall reading where people referred to their "flying machines" as witchcraft.  Despite all the nay saying, People came from many miles away to attend their air show demonstration just to behold the miracle. The Wright brothers persevered, got the science right, and completely changed the way we perceive the world.

I draw a parallel to when we invented Data Virtualization at Delphix. We asked, "What if we can eliminate the constraint of moving the same data over and over again? What if we could make this happen in minutes? Why do we move data around the same way we have for decades? What if we could take the engine of DevOps and liberate it from the constraints holding it back from its real potential?" Our questions were similar to those the Wright brothers must have asked themselves. And once we figured out the science of how to do this, we set out on a mission to share our creation with the world.

I truly love sharing that message. A first meeting with a customer usually begins with a complete lack of knowledge that Data Virtualization exists (flight),  almost always follows with a proclamation that Delphix is some sort of "magic" (witchcraft),  and then a request to see it live and working in their environment (the air show). After they have witnessed Delphix in action begin telling everyone they know about "the next big thing" they just witnessed.

And as amazing as our technology is, Delphix is far more amazing because of the people that work to make it happen. I am really proud of all the people I work with. They are some of the most talented and dedicated people I have ever known. And  we owe all of our success to people like the Wright brothers that paved the way before us and dared to ask "Why?"  And fittingly, I am writing this while on a flight home from one of those meetings. A tip of the hat to you both, Wilbur and Orville. Thank you for allowing our dreams to take flight.

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