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Revisiting What is DevOps

by Carlos Sanchez on Jul 24, 2014 |

Mike Loukides, vice president of content strategy for O'Reilly Media, writes an update on his now two year old "What is DevOps" article focusing on the DevOps cultural changes.

Mike reiterates the cultural roots of the DevOps movement, and the focus on cooperation and collaboration, not only between developers and operations staff, but extending to the rest of the organization:

DevOps isn’t about tools; it’s about culture, and it extends far beyond the cubicles of developers and operators.

The cultural base of the DevOps movement was also highlighted by Jeff Sussna, founder and principal at Ingineering.IT. In "Empathy: The Essence of DevOps", describes empathy as the key of the relationship that must take place between the teams involved:

DevOps is not about making developers and sysadmins report to the same VP. It’s not about automating all your configuration procedures. It’s not about tipping up a Jenkins server, or running your applications in the cloud, or releasing your code on Github. It’s not even about letting your developers deploy their code to a PaaS. The true essence of DevOps is empathy.

And there are ways to increase that empathy between teams, such as colocating the Dev and Ops teams, participating in the same standups, or going out to lunch together. All with the goal of creating an environment that encourages empathy.

Top-down management is no longer adequate to reflect these relationships between teams. As Mark Burgess, CTO and founder of CFEngine, points out in "The Promises of DevOps" there is a conflict of interest between developers and operations engineers. Developers are motivated to create new features as fast as possible, while operations have no incentive to change anything and take the risk of something going wrong. Mark examines DevOps from the viewpoint of promise theory, a different take on management:

Dev promises things that Ops like, Ops promise things that Dev likes. Both of them promise to keep the supply chain working at a certain rate, i.e. Dev supplies at a rate that Ops can promise to deploy.

By choosing to express this as promises, we know the estimates were made with accurate information by the agent responsible, not by external wishful thinkers without a clue.

This Dev-Ops relationship is not special, the same cooperation applies to the rest of the organization. For instance, management promising goals and staff promising to implement those goals at a certain rate. Mike Loukides makes a prediction:

In five or 10 years, we’ll look back at who survived and who thrived, and we’ll see that the enterprises that have built communities of collaboration, mutual respect, and understandings have outperformed their competition.

DevOps is not just the sum of Dev and Ops but affects the whole corporate management and culture, from the bottom to the top, with the different players making promises to each other to keep the business running in an environment where each individual works for the benefit of the whole company.

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