Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It appears that DevOps may be more symptom than solution

It appears that DevOps may be a symptom of a bigger problem. The bigger problem? Java.

Java development -- with a giant framework like Spring -- seems to accrete layers and layers of stuff. And more stuff.  And bonus stuff on top the the excess stuff.

The in-house framework that's used on top of the Spring Framework that's used to isolate us from WebLogic that used to isolate us from REST seems -- well -- heavy. Very heavy.

And the code cannot be built without a heavy investment in learning Maven. It can't be practically deployed without Hudson, Nexus, and Subversion. And Sonar and Hamcrest and mountains of stuff that's implicitly brought in by the mountain of stuff already listed in the Maven pom.xml files.

The deployment from Nexus artifacts to a WebLogic server also involves uDeploy. Because the whole thing is AWS-based, this kind of overhead seems unavoidable.

Bunches of web-based tools to manage the bunch of server-based tools to build and deploy.

Let me emphasize this: bunches of tools.

Architecturally, we're focused on building "micro services". Consequently, an API takes about a sprint to build. Sometimes a single developer can do the whole CRUD spectrum in a sprint for something relatively simple. That's five API's by our count: GET one, GET many, POST, PUT and DELETE: each operation counts as a separate API.

Then we're into CI/CD overheads. It's a full sprint of flailing around with deployment onto a dev servers to get something testable and get back test results so we can fix problems. A great deal of time spent making sure that all the right versions of the right artifacts are properly linked. Doesn't work? Oh. Stuff was updated: fix your pom's.

It's another sprint after that flailing around with the CI/CD folks to get onto official QA servers. Not building in Husdon? Wrong Nexus setup in Maven: go back to square one. Not deployable to WebLogic? Spring Beans that aren't relevant when doing unit testing are not being built by WebLogic on the QA server because the .XML configuration or the annotations or something is wrong.

What's important here is that ⅔ of the duration is related to the simple complexity of Java.

The DevOps folks are trying really hard to mitigate that complexity. And to an extent, they're sort of successful.

But. Let's take a step back.

  1. We have hellish complexity in our gigantic, layered software toolset.
  2. We've thrown complicated tools at the hellish complexity, creating -- well -- more complexity.

This doesn't seem right. More complexity to solve the problems of complexity just don't seem right.

My summary is this: the fact that DevOps even exists seems like an indictment of the awful complexity of the toolset. It feels like DevOps is a symptom and Java is the problem.