UPDATED 13:17 EST / NOVEMBER 08 2017


Risks of a ‘serverless’ future: dissolving valuable infrastructure

As technology continues to expand and enable new levels of productivity and growth, the outdated tools and processes that once reigned supreme are naturally cast aside to make room for progress. John Willis, vice president of DevOps and digital practices at SJ Technologies Inc., is wary of this trend in light of developments towards serverless architecture.

“We make a big mistake to think serverless means we don’t need operations now,” Willis said, adding that he has seen many businesses dissolve valuable infrastructure in their efforts to incorporate this new frontier of tech, a decision he fears will ultimately do a disservice to their functionality.

Willis spoke with Stu Miniman (@stu), co-host of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile livestreaming studio, during the Serverless Conf event in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. They discussed the issues many businesses have in adapting to serverless architecture, as well as what they can do to ensure a smooth transition and long-term stability. (* Disclosure below.)

‘Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’

Though the draw of total transformation can be attractive to companies looking for an upgrade, Willis urges the importance of integration with existing operations processes over replacement. “Serverless is just another form of compute. … All the core principles that we’ve really learned about high-performance organizations apply differently … but the principles stay the same,” he said.

Willis stresses that this new tech does little to change the fundamentals of ingrained processes or results businesses need to see at every step for full comprehension. Observability, telemetry, repeatable patterns of delivery to ensure there are no code vulnerabilities are all impossible to achieve without the support of ops, according to Willis.

“It’s about supply chain and building repeatable, structured delivery with all the gates and the checks and the units. None of that goes away with serverless, just like it didn’t go away with the cloud … [or] virtualization,” he said.

Without an ops team reinforcing its efforts, Willis fears serverless will soon reveal its foundational cracks. “Serverless is easy to create a function, get it set up, cost effective, but we’re starting to learn all of the complex operational issues,” he said.

Willis sees the human capital side of this work as having a greater utility than just its value to the performance of tech tools. “I will tell you what my definition of ops is: It has really very little to do with technology. It has to do with human capital, how you create high-performing organizations, and the principles and practices that lead to that,” he said.

Though he sees the risks ahead, Willis appears assured that businesses will work wisely in incorporating new technologies. “I think the message is loud and clear that operations still exists; it just has to be thought about,” he concluded.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the ServerlessConf event.

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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