January 29, 2018
In the early ‘90s the United States faced its worst existential crisis: The clear fad. There was Crystal Pepsi and Tab Clear while Palmolive and Ivory brands adorned new clear cleaning products. Ban started selling a clear deodorant. Even Miller brewing came out with Miller Clear to compete against Zima. Dark times were truly upon us. Well, we survived and started listening to alternative music and dressing like an out-of-work lumberjack moonlighting at a coffee shop.
Fads come and go. When was the last time you used a selfie stick to take a picture while planking? Some good ones stick around. Flannel is nice. Choker collars are fashionable again. Today, we see DevOps delivering on its promises, but only when we include the entirety of our Dev and Ops teams. To fully embrace DevOps you must include the whole Ops team, including the database administrators, not just some of them. To do so would only treat DevOps as a fad.
Find the value for your company
Unlike faddish architectures such as web 2.0, DevOps provides benefits that are unassailable. My favorite data point is the 2014 State of DevOps report sponsored by Puppet Labs and DORA. It's a bit dated, but it provides proof that companies that adopt DevOps have higher market capitalization growth than their peers. Furthermore, they outperform the S&P 500. That is hard data on business value that few would argue against.
But, unsurprisingly, people are still arguing, and they are still slow to embrace the “Ops” in DevOps. They say, “We’ve always done it that way.” In development, we enable that bad behavior and that is bad for the business. Developers are content to automate the application deployment, but none of the other “Ops-y” things that are required to enable full-stack automation.
That is not DevOps, that is laziness. You are not done until the entire job is complete.
By automating the application deployment, developers can congratulate themselves on completing the first step and showing some value for implementing DevOps. However, to fully embrace, to fully realize the return on your DevOps investment, you must identify ALL of the bottlenecks in your release process, including the operations side of things. Most likely these bottlenecks include database change and security.
For some companies, that is hard. They will never bring their entire operations team into DevOps. And, for them, failure is a real threat. Not that their DevOps journey will fail, but their entire company will go the way of the taxi company and planking.
That’s because (to come full circle here) DevOps is not a fad. It’s not even a matter of “if” or “when.” It’s really a matter of “how.” To bring the entire company into DevOps you must highlight victories and wins, and advocate for more collaboration and integration across teams and departments. Show the rest of the company, including the operations team, the benefits others have gained in the company. Show them that the application release team is leaving the office on time and exceeding goals while they (the operations team) are working longer hours and falling further behind. By highlighting success, you can hope to change minds that operations-centric functions like automating database deployments and implementing security are essential to meeting IT and business needs, and that they are more than the (now obsolete) Crystal Pepsi of the ‘90s. In return, they will embrace DevOps for what it truly is and not just “Dev and Some Ops.”
[For more about DevOps, check out The World of DevOps Tools Can Make a Newbie's Head Spin.]
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