La cultura DevOps, más que herramientas

DevOps culture, more than tools

Business Agility
Understanding DevOps

The DevOps movement started more than 10 years ago. Patrick Debois was trying to apply the agile mindset to the infrastructure he was managing without much success. Later he met Andrew Clay Shafer, who was working on agile infrastructure, and Jean-Paul Sergent, who was exploring the ways to improve collaboration between developer teams and IT operation teams. 

They planned to share their ideas in a conference. On 2009, Debois watched a talk from Flickr about developers and operations cooperation to achieve multiple deploys per day to production. This motivated him to hold a conference in Gent (Belgium). “Agile system administrators” didn’t look pretty cool for the conference name, so “DevOpsDays” was chosen.

Nowadays, you can search for “devops” jobs and you will get a wide variety of required skills and role names. Some positions are focused on terraform or ansible, others look more like an AWS cloud architect or a Docker/Kubernetes expert but few talk about a DevOps mindset. Even Patrick Debois published a graph in his blog about DevOps job titles:

*Shades of DevOps Roles by Patrick Debois.

Since the conference that coined the DevOps term, the related number of tools grows day by day. Tools grasp our all attention most of the time. However, collaboration between developers and operations is the cornerstone of the DevOps mindset aiming for continuous delivery.

Team structure

Usually, different teams in the same company have different responsibilities, hence they have different priorities and schedules. This leads to bottlenecks and delays in the delivery of new features. And that’s one of the root causes that originated the DevOps movement. 

The relationship between teams in the DevOps context, was analyzed by Matthew Skelton in 2013 and is available at “DevOps Topologies”. You can find there one of the most common ways to speed up delivery: build a “devops team” focused on automation an CI/CD. Beware it’s categorized as an anti-pattern because this team may become another silo (DevOps is all about breaking silos, right?). 

This work around teams (not just DevOps) evolved with Manuel Pais and together they wrote the book “Team Topologies” where they analyze the different ways to structure teams for software development. They fully depict successful team organizational patterns and the hidden forces that drive relationships between teams.

One of the many key takeaways from the “Team Topologies” book is the concept of cognitive load. Anybody has a particular amount of information that can hold to perform a task. And the same holds true for a team. 

Now let’s take a team that works with a great number of tools or a team that manages many different responsibilities (or both). Inevitably, delays and bottlenecks will appear due to changing contexts, multitasking or days fully booked with meetings. Again, DevOps motivation is removal of any delay to achieve fast flow.

What’s next?

It’s been more than a decade since DevOps started back in the 2009. A lot happened since then: cloud computing, infrastructure as code, microservices, docker, kubernetes… 

But DevOps, it’s still relevant or has becoming just another empty buzzword? Maybe we would hear Kris Buytaert talking about it in DevOps Barcelona 2022. In the meantime, you can watch:

Spoiler alert

Tools are amazing but don’t forget about collaboration, communication and blameless culture.

The incoming 3rd - 4th November you will have the chance to meet one of the instigators of the first DevOps conference, Kris Buytaert, at the DevOps Barcelona 2022.