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Introducing DevOps Culture by Changing Behavior

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At a time when the term DevOps is getting increasing attention from Gartner and other high profile industry players due to reduced time to market, better quality and increased revenue, Damon Edwards discussed at DevOps Days in Rome how to bring forward a DevOps culture and not focus solely on the automation aspect.

Damon presented common pillars of companies with a real DevOps vision:

  • System thinking: end-to-end view of the system, from the business idea to the technological implementation, breaking silos of devs and ops functions
  • Focus on flow: translate business ideas to a working service efficiently by examining how fast artifacts and work flows through the development lifecycle
  • Amplify feedback loops: quickly learn about the system by seeing through fast feedback on what happens to results of changes
  • Continuous experimentation and learning: the consummation of all previous points is an attitude of continuous improvement and putting feedback loops to good use

Damon exemplified with a set of practices/initiatives that successful DevOps organizations have built into their daily way of working to achieve the four pillars above:

  • Banish the word "done", services are never finished, they are continuously running and must be taken care of continuously
  • Treat operational requirements as first class citizens to give them early impact visibility as they go through the same pipeline as functional requirements
  • Visualize the flow of work so everyone is aware of what's going on across the board and bottlenecks become visible
  • Collaboratively map value stream to understand full system picture and highlight waste
  • Turn information flows into artifact flows, to reduce ambiguous information handoff and clarify required interactions between people
  • Combine relevant data into meaningful metrics that provide situational awareness for different stakeholders in the organization
  • Raise awareness of changes by correlating them to metrics and graph them into charts
  • Paint the office walls with awareness, make everyone feel part of the overall system
  • Decentralize control and align responsibility with the producers/maintainers of the artifacts (e.g. Dev responsible for uptime of their code, Ops responsible for platform uptime, etc)
  • Run internal mini-conferences where everyone can align on what is being done, what can be done and feel empowered to introduce changes
  • Mandatory deployment verification checks for each service provided by Dev with the help of Ops to avoid problems thrown over the wall
  • Unleash the monkeys to provide extreme confidence in your services compliance
  • Stop the pipeline flow (introducing more changes/work) when problems arise and focus on finding the real origin of the bottleneck and fix that
  • Ensure transparency with the customer, assume when things go wrong but also stress when things work out and the customer has reasons to be happy
  • Gamify relationship building outside teams/regular work flow, for example “Guess the Admin” game or going for lunch with random people in the company

Damon is currently working together with other thought leaders on a DevOps Cookbook covering this and other topics. This and other presentations from DevOps Days in Rome were streamed here.


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