DevOps Is A Number of Things

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DevOps is a variety of things:  a cultural shift, a process shift and, in some cases a technological shift.  Each of those aspects can be introduced individually or in concert with each other.  But what DevOps isn’t is an act that someone does alone.

In a typical organization, you have people who develop apps and people who look at the infrastructure on which the apps run.  In many organizations, those two disparate groups never talk, never meet, never understand where the other side is coming from.  But in effective organizations, they not understand each other, they help each other.

Can be an organization of one and still do DevOps?  Yes, you can.  Since you play both roles you understand the struggles that each side has and how best to solve the problem.  But most organizations are filled with developers and filled with operational staff.  Getting them to talk is the key the same language can be a tremendous barrier to being successful.

“We do DevOps”, says the development team.  The operational team fires back and insults the developers by telling them that they don’t know their bytes from their nibbles.  The dev team responds by complaining that if the world had to wait for the ops team to do their job the world would’ve stayed back in the stone age.  Then the insults really get thrown and everybody crowds around playing Mario Kart and trying to find out who really won the argument.

Neither side is right and neither side is wrong.  The English language is horrible for describing things because there are so many ways to say the same thing and yet, in many areas, those synonyms don’t mean exactly the same thing.  For instance the English word drunk has apparently over 2900 synonyms.  (We spend so much time drinking that we come up with new words for it?)  For instance does buzzed really mean the same as plastered?

DevOps has a similarly checkered past even though it is a completely made up word that has only recently entered the English language.  It means so many things to so many people with so many different contexts.  We can say that it is the operational response to the Agile/Scrum movement and that helps narrow things down, but it is still quite vague.  We could mention that DevOps is a cultural shift towards decreasing the barriers towards application creation and implementation.  We could describe the processes and procedures that stand out as being “really good practices” to enable the destruction of those barriers.  We could mention the technological changes required to do any of this.

But until we have a common understanding within the organization as to what DevOps means, everyone is still going to be fighting over something as simple as a word.

 

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