James Governor's Monkchips

“Serverless and the the death of devops”. Can you not?

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So CloudCamp in London on the 6th July has the tagline “Serverless and the the death of devops”. OMG folks can you please stop doing this? I really like the CloudCamp folks – it’s a fun event and a really vibrant community, but the whole “death of devops” thing really grinds my gears. I blame Simon Wardley. 😉

Seriously – one of the most interesting aspects of the whole serverless thing, certainly as curated for example by the good people of Serverlessconf, is that DevOps is very much part of the serverless wave. Charity Majors, Honeycomb.io cofounder and Patrick Debois (of DevOpsDays fame) are stalwarts of the serverless community precisely because they do such a great job explaining how serverless doesn’t remove the need for ops. Ops will always be a key underpinning of every wave of technology. Automation doesn’t replace ops, it augments it. Abstraction doesn’t replace ops, it hides it. Function as a service doesn’t remove complexity, it increases it exponentially.

I appreciate the power of a good headline. I used to be a journalist. I am the guy that recently wrote how AWS is demolishing the cult of youth. But the whole Death of DevOps thing is getting a little old. Frankly in tech nothing ever dies. My excellent colleague Fintan wrote a great post in March about how serverless is redefining DevOps.

“One of the more interesting immediate evolutions, alongside the volume compute aspects we have previously noted, is in the use of serverless approaches by DevOps practitioners for dealing with tasks that were previously dealt with by having a dedicated virtual machine, or more recently containers, and a set of scripts in place. The kind of tasks that we are hearing about range from simple log processing, to tagging and identifying development instances for utilization monitoring to far more complex streams of activities which are processed and pushed into other cloud based services.”

So much this. Serverless is an excellent adjunct to automation and event-driven ops. Hackers gonna hack. Any good ops person using AWS, Azure, Bluemix or GCP is going to use their respective serverless implementations to drive better manageability of apps.

So anyway – I was lucky enough to chat with Tim Wagner, AWS GM of Serverless recently, and as far as I am concerned he pretty much put the matter to bed. He said simply:

“DevOps is our gateway drug.”

Customers start with something really simple like using Lambda to run cron jobs. Cron jobs are one of the least glamorous but most useful single function jobs in IT. Lambda makes great glue and bailing wire for managing all your AWS services, or whatever cloud you’re running on, or even inter cloud event-based calls.

DevOps is the ultimate reactive, or event-driven, tech use case. It’s not going anywhere.

Bottom line- NoOps is bullshit, or put more politely, about as likely as the tooth fairy.


Disclosure: all of the vendors mentioned above are clients.


  1. The more I have to manage a serverless solution at scale, the more I see that it’s definitely not a #NoOps solution. In fact it’s both DifferentOps, and significantly more Ops.

    I think if I had to characterise it, a serverless approach is really SuperOps with a bit of Dev thrown in.

    The problem is in what DevOps has become seen as. It’s not seen as being the infrastructure play, but increasingly is consigned to the CI/CD pipeline management part of it, and a minimal element of “making sure the system is up”.

    Serverless is far more OPS(dev) than what we often see as DevOps. It’s still an emerging space though, and my view of it is that the bigger you scale, the more Ops you have to do to make the system function.

    The Dev part is genuinely the easiest bit.

  2. […] This whole debate was due to come up once again at London CloudCamp on 6 July at an event titled “Serverless and the death of DevOps“. Sadly I’m going to miss CloudCamp this time around, but in the meantime the topic has taken on a life of its own in a post from James Governor: […]

  3. […] “Serverless and the the death of devops”. Can you not? […]

  4. […] for example very effectively in DevOps scenarios. It is great for cronjobs triggered by events. Devops is the gateway drug to AWS serverless. The more AWS services you use the more valuable Lambda is likely to be. Serverless is not really […]

  5. […] between AWS services. RedMonk has written about serverless for Cloud Services glue code – serverless is NOT the death of devops. Today Paul Johnston wrote that serverless is about automation, not functions. Gareth Rushgrove of […]

  6. You literally wrote 0 arguments why it is not killing devops.

    Of course we are going to have in 10 years barebone servers, bash scripts and other ‘older’ technology and yes, they are going to need ops people at AWS and Azure etc… but that’s not what the issue is.

    The issue is that the landscape is moving so fast that lambda is the next step, in 5 years devops and containers will be virtually dead and everybody will write code and put it on the serverless cloud. end of story.

    If you like it or not. writing non proving articles ain’t going to change anything.

    1. yeah awesome maybe post under your real name. thanks. if you can’t see the value of serverless for devops then you didn’t read the post, or the views of Tim Wagner, who runs the Lambda business at AWS. peace out.

  7. Hey James,

    I’m late to the article but better late than never? As usual you’re ahead of the curve in your thinking/writing and covering the hot issues of new trends.

    I agree ops does not go away, it changes significantly. And as Paul mentioned above because this entire architecture/ecosystem is still evolving quickly, it can also become much more complex. We’re in brave new territory.

    That said, I think this post does conflate two ideas and is the source of the frustration of the anonymous comment above. The fact that “DevOps Automation” is the gateway drug of serverless use cases is super important to the story of serverless but orthogonal to the idea of DevOps either going or not going away.

    Maybe it’s two sides of the same coin: On one side, serverless is assisting the act of ops, on the other side, outsourcing the management of cloud iaas is changing the idea of ops (ie — old concerns: patching VM’s, scaling, cost optimization of idle resources, new concerns: latency of cold starts, managing function sprawl)

    anyways keep up the good work.

    1. chad, thanks for stopping by. conflating 2 ideas? how dare you? 😉

      the role of ops is definitely changing, but it doesn’t go away. i would take this bet “in 5 years devops and containers will be virtually dead” if we could agree how to measure “dead”. generally in tech that just means “in production”. lambda definitely has huge utility (pun intended) but we’ll continue to see the container ecosystem thrive for a while yet, and the need for management doesn’t go away, though is does change. i have written a lot about this stuff – for example my post that the first one person one billion dollar startup with run on lambda. i understand the power of the model. i just don’t think everyone will adopt it for everything. it makes marvellous glue code, and as we move forward with event driven architectures things across multiple systems things get even more interesting.

  8. […] Governor’s post, “Serverless and the the death of devops”. Can you not?, was written well over a year ago, but is still an excellent read refuting the #NoOps […]

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