Ranger4 DevOps Blog

#DevOpsFriday5 with Marco Abis

Posted by Helen Beal on Fri, Jan 2, 2015 @ 10:01 AM

It's the Ranger4 #DevOpsFriday5 series - today's contributor is Marco Abis. He's DevOpstastic!

1) What’s your preferred definition of DevOps?

DevOps describes how we do things rather than ourselves and I’m in the camp of those who say that “you cannot be a DevOps”. It’s a movement, an approach, a way to organise people and organisations. DevOps is a response to the disconnect between development and operations activities. This disconnect often manifests itself as conflict, friction and inefficiency. Development tends to be driven by how many new functionalities can be churned out in a given time, therefore change is its incentive. Operations on the other hand tends to be driven by stability of the status quo and its incentive, therefore, is resisting change. So I see it fundamentally as an extension of Agile and Lean as it attempts to instil those same values, principles and practices into Operations.

DevOps is about people, collaboration and feedback loops, definitely not about tools. You cannot buy a “DevOps tool” and suddenly be done with it. There are certainly tools better suited than others to a DevOps inspired style of working, but those come after the hard work is done: getting Development and Operations to collaborate from the outset on common goals.

2) When people ‘do’ DevOps, what’s the most common mistake you see them make?

If I had to pick two I’d say not building Quality in and trying to change culture the wrong way. 

3) How do you recommend an organisation new to DevOps start?

Broadly speaking I see DevOps adoption attempts starting from the two ends of the spectrum: either concentrating solely on culture or solely on tools. I believe one of the most successful ways to change behaviour is to change what people do daily and that’s a combination of the two. If I can recommend something is to read John P Kotter books on change. Bearing that in mind I think we don’t need to look far for guidance: just take Gene Kim’s Three Ways: - First Way; System Thinking - Second Way: Amplify Feedback loops - Third Way: Culture of Continual Experimentation and Learning and start with the first: for example get all the relevant people in a room and collaboratively draw a Value Stream Map and identify both quick wins and longer term ones. Get to work on the biggest bottlenecks. After that’s done move on to the second way and so on. Of course you will get to the pint where more than one stream is underway but the blueprint is right there.

4) What’s your prediction for what DevOps will look like in 2020?

It’s actually pretty easy, just look at the past and take Agile as an example. I was asked a similar question about Agile in 2009 and I think the answer applies to DevOps as well: I find DevOps important for its continuous improvement approach, not for the single practices. A bit fatalist perhaps but I believe the longer time goes by the more diluted DevOps will be to the point of being so watered down that values and principles will be lost completely in the “mainstream”. But fear not: a new wave will arise out of those who embraced it early, they will build on it exactly as DevOps did with Agile and Lean and a new cycle will start. So it's a 3 steps forward - 2 steps backward kind of thing: there is constant progress but, at least for the “mainstream”, less that could be possible. 

5) Where do you like to go to get a DevOps hit?

I find the majority of the content published daily appalling bordering on the content farm so I don’t really follow any websites but trust the people I follow on twitter the most. 

Marco AbisAbout Marco

Marco has been running businesses around software delivery, Open Source and Agile since 1999, in several European countries. After having created the first and biggest Italian website for software developers, he founded a company entirely dedicated to Open Source in 2000, organised the first European ScrumMaster class with Ken Schwaber in 2003, was elected Director of the Agile Alliance the same year, organised for 10 years the 600-strong Italian Agile Day, moved to London to work for ThoughtWorks, ran Sourcesense UK as Managing Director and then Sourcesense Europe as CEO. Went back to ThoughtWorks to work on their Continuous Delivery tool GoCD. As of 2013 he runs HighOps, a Software Operability-minded blend of Developers and Operations professionals providing both Professional and Managed Services for the full tech stack.

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Topics: DevOpstastic, #DevOpsFriday5, DevOps