Too often, when enterprise folks talk with DevOps aficionados, we get a loud chorus of “Culture Change” and “Take down the silos,” and frankly that scares any sane enterprise IT person. Not because they fear change, but because they fear that those of us who are fans of end-to-end DevOps have no clue what we’re talking about.And to some extent, that impression is not misguided. There will still be a development team. There still needs to be a selection of operational specialists. Eliminating these are not changes anyone is proposing for enterprise use. Indeed, if an organization has an investment in Cisco UCS, they still need a UCS specialist. The system is complex, and the more knowledge you have of it, the better it can be managed. Sure, automating as much as possible is a worthy goal for all such specializations, but even automated, the UCS person still needs to be able to expand/modify/maintain the automation. Another good example is NetOps (or whatever we’re calling it today): The person with in-depth knowledge of your ADC will still need to have in-depth knowledge of your ADC.
So, then, what we’re really talking about is increased communication. We’re talking about a small, cross-functional team to smooth the areas that DevOps is very good at, but specialized knowledge is still needed. Increasing communication is key to every DevOps implementation, regardless of tool set; the ability to predict future work based on updates is almost essential in any faster-moving environment. Indeed, Lori and I were discussing this morning, wondering how many of those enterprise Slack channels are being used to provide a running commentary across the team of what is happening upstream. But that’s another blog, I think.
It is not that DevOps people are clueless, nor is it that they want to eliminate specializations (well, some claim to want to, but they have a marketing reason to do so), but rather, it seems that many of us DevOps folks have gotten so wrapped up in change (it is a big change to streamline both Dev and Ops) that the baby is being thrown out with the linguistic bathwater.
If you’re talking DevOps, talk about increasing communication, not destroying silos. Secure DevOps is evolving now, and shows the model more clearly because of it—developers and ops are given more of a role in security and auditing, but they are taught and overseen by the security team. This does not eliminate security, but does increase the security of what is being produced.
While we’re at it, switch from bulk “Culture Change,” too. While there is a fair amount of culture change—moving to proactive and more frequent, with roadblocks minimized or removed and non-essential changes treated as, well, non-essential. But “streamlined dev/operations” might just be a better way to talk about it. After all, the brazen voices still seem to sing of wrecking balls from on high crashing down, and that’s not an effective way to get buy-in for change.
In the end, the point is more repeatable, more stable, more manageable processes and systems. Let’s talk more about that, and less about Destructor, shall we? Sell the concept; don’t force-feed it. There’s a lot of good to be had, and using terminology that is both confusing (Define “Culture Change” in a generic, applicable sense) and often frightening is not helping people understand (or want to understand) how it can help.