What is NoOps anyhow?

Since having our infographic published on GigaOm, there has been a lot of controversy and FUD around “NoOps”. Paul Graham recently wrote about schlep blindness. NoOps is a response to the schlep blindness of developers doing SysOps.

What does NoOps mean:

  • NoOps means developers can code and let a service deploy, manage and scale their code
  • NoOps means automated systems like CloudFoundry managing app lifecycles, not SAs “the point isn’t that ops are going away, but they’re going away for developers” – Derrick Harris at GigaOm

What does NoOps NOT mean:

  • NoOps doesn’t mean that operations are dead and nobody will do them (like this tweet thinks)
  • NoOps isn’t a job role (like this tweet and this tweet thinks)
  • NoOps isn’t blissful ignorance (like this tweet thinks)
  • NoOps isn’t marketing fluff made up by non-technical idiots (like this tweet and this tweet thinks) This is the true spirit of NoOps:

“Netflix runs NoOps … Netflix is a much larger example of a PaaS based NoNops organization … We claim a competitive advantage from the agility and automation of a PaaS based product and a NoOps organization.” – Adrian Cockcroft, Cloud Architect at Netflix (read more)

The growth of the SysOps movement has been driven mainly by developers who were tired of two things:

  • Developers tired of waiting for systems administrators because they did their work inefficiently
  • Developers tired of doing the work of systems administrators inefficiently

Why is it so hard to hire SysOps roles?

Because most SA’s aren’t versed in the programming needed to manage SysOps and because most developers who can use SysOps tools don’t want to spend their time doing SA.

Since SysOps roles are so hard to fill, what usually happens is all the developers at a company become responsible for handling ops through the SysOps tools (read SiliconANGLE to hear a contrary opinion to why schlep should stay).

SysOps is adding more horses to the carriage. NoOps is the car.

I understand why legendary ops guys like John Allspaw (Flickr, Friendster, Etsy) are scared of a term like NoOps and resort to calling it names.

NoOps is for developers. More dev and less ops.

It is not a job title because with NoOps, you don’t grow by adding headcount to your ops team. You grow by moving sliders. You grow by connecting managed services together. You grow by focusing on your core competency: coding.

Doesn’t this mean ops are dead?

No. SysOps is blueray, NoOps is streaming. Blueray is going to be around for a long time and there is a strong market for it. There will be people wanting to play blueray disks for decades to come. But streaming is a generational shift.

SAs and DevOps guys are always going to have a place to work. As long as there are datacenters, you will always be able to get a job at AWS, Google, TerreMark, etc. etc. As long as there are legacy systems, SAs and DevOps will be employable positions. That is not going away any time soon.

NoOps is for developers to focus on core competency

Ops isn’t a core competency or differentiating factor for many high tech startups. Ops is a necessary schlep for most high tech startups.

Customers don’t choose between groupon and livingsocial based on how well they hook their nginx confs together. Assuming NoOps services like AppFog and Heroku did just as good a job if not better than an in-house ops team, NoOps enables you to build and run high tech startups and enterprises without investing as much in the ops side.


Ops guys despise the term NoOps and will try to drag it through the mud. There is no need. NoOps is not the antithesis of ops. NoOps is simply recognizing inefficiencies for developers and optimizes around it.

NoOps is happening whether people want it to or not. Developers are driving it. They are driving it at startups, they are driving it at SMBs, they are driving it in enterprises. All NoOps does is give this shift a name.