Defining 'DevOps'

504 words, 3 minutes.

You know what, I am starting to despair of the IT industry, just a little bit.

I’ve been working in IT for just over 20 years - I was very lucky to ride the greatest wave we’ve seen, the dawn of the Internet (I worked for the largest corporate ISP in the world, UUNET, from early 1996 to 2001), and I’ve worked in the slowest, most immobile companies you can imagine (Investment Banks). And in the last 5-10 years I’ve seen less and less common sense be applied. And now we have this word that nobody can truly define. And it’s creating even more silliness. People are spending energy, lots of energy, debating this phrase and its definition (the irony of this post is not lost on me).

I despair of Agile as a formulaic solution to all our woes, I really do. I watch organisations debate over Kanban versus Scrum, then pick one and apply every last facet of the methodology to everything they do - in effect making project management so granular as to become weighty and patronising micromanagement. Yes, there are great points to it - releasing often is better than spending months, years, planning something then trying to release in a big bang. But at the same time barely planning past two weeks is akin to driving along the road looking at the end of your car bonnet.

I feel sorry for those organisations that pick up yet another piece of software that they believe will ‘fix everything’ for them, but in reality they purchase a well sold lump of complexity that could be achieved much, much simpler.

Then Mike at UpGuard brought to my attention an article they’d posted about DevOps. And I think it’s spot on, in a single paragraph:

“The core of DevOps is not a difficult or complex concept. More or less, it’s the idea that developers and operations should collaborate more closely than they traditionally have, so neither side is caught with their pants down when something blows up”

The core ethos has spawned many, valid, accoutrements, but at its simplest definition it is about us all ‘rowing in the same direction’. Developers, Operations, we’re all in the same boat. Let’s work together to make it go forward. Creating a ‘DevOps Team’ is completely missing the point - you’ve just created yet another silo, where if the culture isn’t worked at (like any solid relationship, a culture of communicating and sharing needs constant work), communications will fail and we’ll have three teams doing their own thing.

Across my working years I’ve been a network engineer, a systems engineer, a network manager, a project manager, a security consultant and a technical consultant. Every role has involved working with other people to deliver a business goal. And I’ve always found that the goal was much easier to hit when I talked to my colleagues and customers.

It’s not difficult, it’s common sense.

But what is it they say about common sense? It’s surprising how uncommon it is.