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Let’s Focus on Ops

October 22, 2018

With this post, I am starting a series on computer operations (Ops) as in SysOps and NetOps and DevOps. In IT, we often focus on technical disciplines like system administration or availability management, but what about the people, procedures and tools that run and support the broad and challenging world of Ops? Let’s explore the topic.

Interactions with SysOps
From the beginning of large-scale computing, many different people in IT interacted with SysOps. That’s because a SysOp is a person who oversees the operation of a server, often in a large computer system. Before large-system automation was implemented with NetView and other automated operations products, people would ask SysOps to help get things done. Here, “SysOps” refers to a team, not an individual, and there are usually at least two shifts of operations to support on-line and batch processing.

Developers might ask SysOps to stop and start a test CICS or IMS region. Managers might do the same for production systems in the rare situation when a production system requires this kind of intervention. Even now, when system automation supports system interactions, a phone call might still be required for a supervisor in SysOps to stop and start (so called “recycle”) a region or collection of related resources. It all depends on the independence and authority afforded to members of a team. Keeping in mind that systems are shared resources, others in the community care if a system is recycled, thus the need for SysOps control.

The term “SysOps,” like so many other terms in IT, is evolving in its use. Combined with engineering, for example, SysOps Engineer, the phrase can be used to recruit individuals to support a company’s customer support team mission. In a cloud content, the phrase is used to recruit systems and cloud engineers to drive customer integrations by extending the functionality of company middleware while at the same time continuously enhancing the company’s engagement best practices.  

NetOps Emerged
NetOps came along with the growing importance of networks. One day, an organization hired a SysOp who knew about networking because the organization was about to roll out a distributed application and maintaining the availability of network lines and devices was about to become very important. That SysOp was their first NetOp. In my experience, the first NetOp I worked with was named Ron.

NetOps is now more mission-critical than ever. In addition to business as usual, which comes with its own set of challenges, companies build and operate networks that make the digital connections that support an organization’s emerging digital business initiatives. Those connections have to be available, and due to the dynamic nature of digital business, the network and the services it delivers must also concurrently be agile. Available yet agile is the challenge. How can you be always available yet able to be changed easily and reliability with little or no down time? It can be done, but you need people, procedures and software to work together on this common goal.  

WebOps for the World Wide Web
The need for WebOps or web operations was established from the late 1990s to the early 2000s as many businesses began to embrace web-hosted and cloud-based delivery. Because of the pace of the World Wide Web (WWW), certain practices like using the waterfall model for development wasn’t working out. It was just too slow and it assumed stable production software so some kind of agile experiments were needed. These experiments became common practice for many working on the web.
For many companies, the WWW and its role in their business was the reason to form more integrated teams of developers and support engineers. These different individuals on one team came to support all phases needed to both develop and support the application. These WebOps teams performed many activities that we now associate with DevOps (which will be discussed in the next post) including developing and implementing the application as well as ongoing maintenance supported by proactive monitoring and reporting.  

What’s Next?
In the next post, I will to explore CloudOps and DevOps as these teams are doing what’s necessary to develop and support the emerging vision of what IT is and how it should operate in support of the organization.

Posted October 22, 2018| Permalink