IT job functions and, by extension, individual titles inside the classic enterprise have been relatively constant. Various hierarchies of developers labored separately alongside IT operations teams that focused mainly on infrastructure. However, the emphasis on continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD) within the context of a modern DevOps environment is starting to blur the lines separating who does what inside these organizations. In fact, Phil Guido, general manager of IBM Global Technology Solutions in North America, says new titles such as DevOps engineer and Scrum Master, which better reflect new roles many IT professionals taking on, now are emerging.
At the crux of this shift is the rise of programmable infrastructure coupled with a need for IT organizations to be more agile. Instead of rolling out a few applications and associated updates a year, IT organizations today are being urged by business leaders to roll out more applications and updates at a pace associated more often with web-scale companies than the classic enterprise. Much of that demand emanates from shareholders and Wall Street to accelerate investment in digital business initiatives that generate higher-margin revenue.
To achieve those goals, enterprise IT organizations are trying to emulate as many of the DevOps processes employed by web-scale companies. For example, web-scale companies make extensive use of CI/CD technologies and processes to roll out as many new applications as fast as they possibly can. Overseeing those processes are developers who now are accountable for not just writing but also maintaining the application. The theory is that if developers are held accountable for the quality of the application, they will focus more on making sure that application attains a level of quality. The trick is to empower those developers to own everything from the code itself to the programmatic infrastructure it runs on. Because of that requirement, many of those developers adopted a “cloud first” mentality because deploying applications on a public cloud such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) eliminated the need for those developers to engage with IT infrastructure professionals altogether.
However, most traditional enterprise IT organizations have a much smaller number of application developers. Every minute those developers are not writing code reduces the number of applications an enterprise can roll out. Because of that issue, many enterprises have been trying to find a way for existing IT operations teams and developers to work together hand in glove.
That requirement, Guido says, is creating a lot of demand for advice from IBM about how to manage DevOps. IBM advises organizations to go slow to ensure they have a few quick successes under their belts before propagating DevOps across the entire organization, he notes. If an organization tries to do too much or move too fast, there’s a good chance that employee resistance to change will only increase. Above all, Guido says, organizations should avoid being too prescriptive in how they define DevOps.
Of course, not everyone agrees that changing job titles is always the best way to go about fostering change. But human nature being what it is within large organizations, some job titles will have to be reclassified to bring about permanent change.