It's the Ranger4 #DevOpsFriday5 series - today we will hear from Richard Wadworth. Take it away Richard!
1) What’s your preferred definition of DevOps?
I heard a great definition recently that resonates with me: “DevOps is a conscious recognition of the natural friction between development and operations.”
“Natural friction” because devs are hired to deliver business outcomes through innovation and change but change introduces risk and instability. Whereas Ops are hired to reduce risk and increase stability. “Conscious” because the friction has always been there but we now have a common vocabulary to describe it. The success of the agile and continuous integration movements increased rate of change in production. Most agile implementations focused on breaking down the wall between business and development silos only, resulting in even more friction at the development and production boundary.
To build on the above definition, “DevOps is a set of best practices designed to address the natural friction between development and operations by taking a holistic view of the people, processes and technology used to deliver business value through technology.”
2) When people ‘do’ DevOps, what’s the most common mistake you see them make?
Too much reliance on tooling as the sliver bullet and compounding it by giving the tooling responsibility to one person. I see companies create a DevOps role within the dev team and give that role to one person who is responsible for developing, deploying and running the tools. This does not address the problems of culture, people or process and simply creates another bottleneck silo. It very common because it’s an obvious win that developers typically have control over.
3) How do you recommend an organisation new to DevOps start?
Start with an honest assessment of where the organisation is now, include all teams involved in the SDLC including customers. Agree on a definition of DevOps and define a target operating model shared across the organisation. This might be agreeing to get to level 4 of a DevOps Maturity model and laying out a path to get there. The assessment will identify quick wins and strategic desires. The quick wins will almost certainly look like a tooling or platform solution however the cultural/people aspects of DevOps (leadership, management style, trust, collaboration, sharing) are the most important things to address. Get the people aspect right and the tooling will follow naturally. Most SMEs and enterprises that are new to DevOps will have to go through a transformation to address these. Transformation is really hard but vital. To paraphrase Adrian Cockcroft: “If adopting DevOps doesn’t involves a transformation, you’re probably not doing it right”
As well as tooling in the continuous delivery pipeline, other quick wins at work can always be found by simple collaboration such as inviting Infrastructure and Ops to standups, ensuring dev and ops are involved in incident triage, ensuring developers are involved during go live, rotate devs into support roles, get some shared training on how to avoid the blame culture. On a more personal level that is within everyone’s control, go to meetups and conferences and read some books (Phoenix Project, The Goal, Understanding Human Error, Lean Enterprise to name a few).
4) What’s your prediction for what DevOps will look like in 2020?
Ideally we’d develop directly against production. Non production environments are wasteful but current development practices require them to minimise the risk of change in production. The community will continue to evolve processes and tools that reduce the need so many non-production environments. Testing in production is becoming common practice. This is particularly suited to media, entertainment and other non-regulated, non-transactional verticals.
The current trend around containerisation and microservices will significantly reduce the friction of moving code through the SDLC to production. However, this is a process and tooling solution that does not address culture and people. In 2020, I would expect DevOps as we know it today to only be relevant in the enterprise. Companies that fail to create working environments of ownership, accountability, trust and collaboration will find it very difficult to keep pace with the rate of innovation of their competitors.
As long as the introduction of change to production creates risk, there will always be friction between the roles of dev and ops. The goal therefore must be to create a working environment where business value can be introduced to production with no risk.
5) Where do you like to go to get a DevOps hit?
Talking to businesses and helping them transform is very rewarding. I also attend meetups and catch up on missed events like Velocity or the DevOps Enterprise Summit to keep me up to date on community thinking.
Richard co-founded Amido in 2011, a cloud Systems Integration consultancy that work with companies of all types and all sizes to drive business growth by understanding and improving customer engagement. He is a cloud platform architect and pays the bills by helping enterprise clients transform their business technology through the application of DevOps and cloud platform integration.
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