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The DevOps Mindset

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DevOps promises to break down the barriers between developers and systems operators, but success with DevOps hinges on the company's culture and flexibility.

Steve Ropa, agile coach at VersionOne, explains in his recent blog that DevOps is that unusual scenario where getting good at it is both a technical and people problem.

Steve says that DevOps refers to a lot of technical solutions. Most of these practices are well understood as the foundation of DevOps. Items like continuous integration have been around a very long time, and require a CI server as well as the concurrent automated unit and acceptance tests to make continuous integration worthwhile. This also requires a tight integration with the version control system, so that everything can be under version control.

Steve mentions that apart from these technical practices, we should also focus on people, collaboration and mindset for successful DevOps implementation.

In order to do those practices, we need people.  Bringing operations into the Team Room requires a mindset and a willingness to change that can be very difficult to engender. This is a big shift in thinking.

An eBook by Rackspace, describes the DevOps mindset. The eBook has opinions of different tech leaders on DevOps. Kevin Behr, author and global Chief Information Officer at HedgeServ, says that DevOps is a combination of social and technical systems.

Without cross-functionality and flexibility, DevOps just won’t work. You can’t buy DevOps in a box. Certain facets have to be in place for DevOps to function, and the number one factor is having a company culture in which it can thrive. Basically, it is both a social system and a technical system – a socio-technical System, and what DevOps does is bring the social more in balance with the technical than it has been in the past.

Kevin says that one of the key elements of making DevOps successful is making sure that it is a part of an organizational plan. Organizations that want to be successful with the DevOps typically transition away from managing tasks to managing boundaries cross-functionally. Otherwise, DevOps can become a local optimization.

In an interview with VMblog, Jez Humble, Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks Studios, talks about DevOps. He said DevOps is not only a tool, but a mindset.

DevOps is the organizational mindset that enables continuous delivery - a focus on everybody working together to improve development performance measures such as throughput while at the same time increasing stability and reducing mean time to restore service.

James Kenigsberg, Chief Technology Officer at 2U Inc, describes the essential components of DevOps, in the eBook as:

  • Automation: Automation ensures the process is repeatable and reliable. It standardizes the execution of the task to the best way every time, without any risk of deviations from peer-reviewed code to improve the process for the whole team.
  • Transparency: Transparency gets employees from these groups to take an intimate look into what the others are doing, improving communications and business processes for all.
  • Talent: Talented employees put business needs, efficiencies, and automation before their historical knowledge of how hardware works, and don't draw a line in the sand between IT and developers. Before digging in to solve a problem, they talk to co-workers elsewhere who may have solved the problem in the past.

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