Monikers come and go, the practices will evolve
It is very obvious that DevOps, I spare you my favorite definition, is on its way to become a mainstay in IT organizations of companies of all sizes. Smaller sized “born-in-the-cloud” companies grow and prosper applying modern and collaborative development and operation practices from the get go. Let’s call them DevOps practices.
Larger enterprises – with mature operations structures and procedures, carrying large bags of technical and cultural debt, are clamoring for ideas to stay or to become more competitive in their markets. DevOps and the practices that come with it may be able to help. And there are plenty of excellent examples of companies that started on their IT transformation before DevOps was even a word (Nordstrom, GE, Macy’s). They fostered collaboration and cross-team work including shared responsibilities between development and the IT operations groups because they saw the possibility of improvements in their overall processes – and how this can lead to increased business success.
For now DevOps is the future of IT organizations
Latest with the advent of cloud computing more and more IT organizations are faced with new challenges. A world of on-demand, self-provisioning, and elastic scale to name some. Developers understand they need to be empowered to do more things faster. It is to a large part in the hands of the ops teams to enable them. DevOps practices applied early on in the lifecycle support this.
While there is no one DevOps motion, DevOps is here to stay. That said, I am in wild disagreement with Baron Schwartz who asked in a recent post “DevOps is experiencing an identity crisis” if it is time to rethink the “no manifesto” mandate of DevOps purists. Working on an all-encompassing manifesto will be the first nail to the coffin of what DevOps can do.
DevOps is different things to different people. That is a good thing. In my opinion the best thing about the DevOps movement is that people in IT started reaching out to teams in other disciplines looking for ways to collaborate and become more efficient to support the ongoing success of the business. That’s the real value of DevOps.
The term has created much awareness and opened the eyes to new ways of improving IT of many leaders, managers, and practitioners in companies of all sizes. To be clear, we just start to feel the impact of DevOps. DevOps as a concept is a gift that will keep giving for a very long time. The practices will evolve as IT will.
We may call it something completely different in a few months or a year or 10 years from now. Who cares? It marks the introduction of a number of improvements at all levels within the IT organization. It is the next evolutionary step that IT (dev, test, ops, networking, security …) will take to address today’s challenges.
Unlike Baron Schwartz, I am not looking for any uniqueness in DevOps. It is no requirement that says you have to be unique to be successful. In many ways DevOps is the culmination of common sense and best practices that exist outside of IT for decades, applied to IT.
Rightfully Schwartz warns us to not fall for the snake oil that clever people trying to sell us under the name of DevOps.
But I disagree with him and say that any discussion or dispute about the term or how to use it should be welcome. It will foster shaping a new and better IT. Mature leaders in IT will have to learn or know how to funnel the energy of these discussions into tangible outcomes and improvements for their organization’s IT. There will always be people unwilling to give up perceived territory. There will always be the “younger guy” who knows better. But there are also always ways of dealing with it in context. There’s no difference with DevOps. Do you need a manifesto for it? I highly doubt it.
IT faces very real challenges requiring new and innovative ways of handling them. That’s the real problem.
DevOps and Cloud
Cloud adoption is one of the challenges. Everything in a hybrid world moves so fast that, especially on the ops side of IT, new methods and new practices are key to survival. If everyone involved in the ongoing success of a cloud connected app or a cloud service is not properly involved in the process of creation, testing, deployment, and improvement, there is no chance to be successful. Too much time will be spent on dealing with “old way of working” problems that there is almost a guarantee of failure. DevOps practices can guide teams to avoid this challenge.
DevOps and IoT
Internet of Things or IoT. Apologies for introducing another highly contagious term into this post but while everyone seems very excited about the opportunities and developers all over the globe are asked to build the next big thing, I wonder who thinks of the deployment, management, security, etc.? This is something IT teams needs to address jointly – across silos. DevOps practices can guide teams to do the right thing. Success is only possible if everything from cradle to grave is taken into consideration.
DevOps and Big Data
Same as for the cloud or IoT. Cloud adoption will grow. It will help generate and accumulate more and more data from IoT and from other more mundane places like the DMV or bird population counting. This data creates hunger for apps. Apps slicing and dicing the data. Apps displaying the data. Apps analyzing the data. Huge investments will be made and today IT teams should use DevOps practices to stay in the game.
But this is just the beginning. The honeymoon is over. DevOps is a stepping stone for IT into an ever evolving future and a way to address an ever fiercer struggle for relevance for some.