Patrick Debois, father of the DevOps movement, is the first to admit that DevOps is not a new principle but rather a new practice. To highlight this point, Debois compares DevOps to a commander in charge of anti-aircraft gunnery during World War II. The engineers can tell you the angle at which to fire the gun to maximize offense. The gunnery crew can aim and fire the cannon. But by the time the two aligned, the enemy aircraft had already moved. By keeping the two teams separate, they were missing the mark entirely.
The coded message is that DevOps isn’t really anything new. We’ve always had the idea that automation and agility are worthy traits for a development organization. But cloud scale architecture, an increased call for metrics and performance transparency, the popularity of Puppet and Chef, and so on, make DevOps more of a product of the zeitgeist rather than an actual transformation.
That’s part of why Debois hasn’t accepted any offers to help formalize the field, whether by writing a definitive DevOps manifesto or developing a DevOps certification. DevOps is what a customer needs to be to help get it to the end point of continuous integration. It’s not a revolution by any means.
DevOps plays a similar role here: Developers are the dreamers, to use Debois’ term, who push the limits of what’s possible in IT. Operations are more critical, who try to limit the developers’ vision to what’s supported by the infrastructure. DevOps needs to help an organization achieve agile development, with a solid, value-driven endgame in mind – continuous deployment, for instance. All formalizing the field would do is stifle independent thought. Which is why Debois doesn’t think that dedicated DevOps pros are here to stay. For now, it’s worthwhile because it helps companies put a Googleable name on what they need on their backend. And it helps those who’ve already started the skills journey stand out from the pack.
But as the methodologies come into place, and as operations staff see their expertise more tightly integrated into the development side, and especially as developers take more of an active role in operations (a personal pet cause of Debois’), the standalone DevOps team is going to be revealed as a necessary compromise during this transition period. And a compromise is exactly what it is, since, as Debois says, an DevOps group is just a third silo.
That isn’t to say that there’s no value to someone steeped in DevOps methodologies going forward. Just as any coder is qualified to do testing but a good QA professional is worth their weight in gold, the DevOps pro is “just” going to be another highly specialized part of the team that not everybody will be able to afford, nor will they have to.
In short, DevOps is a cultural application of existing principles. But – and this is a big “but” – much like the cloud, to quote Debois one last time – just because it has a million different names and applications doesn’t mean it’s not terribly useful in the here and now.
What are your thoughts on DevOps? Is it here to stay or just a passing fad? Let us know in the comments section below.
Click here to read the original article ‘What We Talk About When We Talk About DevOps’ by Matt Weinberger on the DevOps Angle.
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