The cool kids talk about operations

Tim O'Reilly, the boss of O'Reilly publishing and a key booster of the Web 2.0 meme, recently posted an article about operations.

One of the big ideas I have about Web 2.0 [is] that once we move to software as a service, everything we thought we knew about competitive advantage has to be rethought. Operations becomes the elephant in the room.

O'Reilly laments that most of the tools for deploying systems and applications on open source platforms (i.e. Linux) are not themselves open source. Luke Kaines and others have commented on the article with examples of open source deployment and operations management tools, including Puppet, and others I've mentioned for system configuration and network monitoring.

I think Luke's blog post makes a fair point, that there is more activity in this area than O'Reilly gives credit to, and in fact, the OSCon sponsored by O'Reilly Publishing had turned down Luke's proposal for a talk on Puppet. Luke reports that Tim O'Reilly emailed him directly in response to this, and gave him a slot on the OSCon speaker's schedule.

So this post by O'Reilly should mark a turning point. By expresing his interest in the subject of operations, O'Reilly has invited the commentary from people who are passionate about it, giving himself an opportunity to perhaps learn more about what's out there. I hope we'll see some new books in this area come out from O'Reilly.

I wouldn't expect that Puppet has a wide enough user base to carry a title of its own (yet), but a guide to managing systems and networks with open source tools would be cool, and would fit in well with O'Reilly's existing catalog of systems administration titles.

I also very much like Dominic Mitchell's suggestion that there is a need to work out application deployment patterns. I'd add that patterns for infrastructure operations in general would be really useful, something I'd like to think about a lot more.

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