“DevOps is a lifestyle, not a title.” This is a quote from Ron Melanson, of Amazon, and I hope he won’t mind me sharing it here. It struck a chord with me, and this blog explains why.
I have spoken about DevOps on a few occasions. Some audiences are not from a development background, so I explain the “why” of DevOps to them to help set context.
Chances are you are past the “why” stage and into the “how” stage. Even so, it is always useful to think about the “why” part, or even to revisit it—it is important to make sure you really are getting what you want from the DevOps journey.
In my DevOps presentations I vary between the transactional aspects of the “why” and the emotive aspects of the “why.” The transactional aspects are what the tooling can help with, and so that matters to a degree. However, since emotions influence us the most, especially from a lifestyle perspective, it is the emotional aspects that I want to focus on here.
The picture below captures, for me, the essence of why people care about DevOps: they want to be happy at work, and to sleep soundly at night. If you are not where you want to be with respect to those things, then you need to change the way you lead your life.
I highlight the “change the way you lead your life” aspect to illustrate contrasts among the differing approaches to DevOps that I have witnessed.
Now that DevOps has grabbed the popular imagination, it is quite common to see job advertisements for people to be part of a DevOps team.
One ex-colleague of mine, hired to lead a DevOps team, expressed some concern about whether that notion actually made sense. He saw his team off in a corner focused on tooling and processes, i.e. the transactional, while everyone else in the organization seemed to be doing what they always did.
When his team suggested a change to a process, or tried to explain how a tool could be adopted, they often were at a disadvantage. The people in development and operations, whose working practices would be affected, had not actually bought into the whole idea in practice, and/or simply did not have the bandwidth to think about it.
Consequently, with little or no time to pay attention to what the DevOps team were doing, there was no engagement from the people for whose supposed benefit the DevOps team was laboring. Thus, there was no driver for changes in behavior. They were all missing the emotive “why” part.
The challenge my colleague faced is common. Hiring someone to do DevOps does allow you to focus on getting people with the skills and experience for the transactional and technical aspects of DevOps. That is necessary, but it is far from sufficient.
If the benefits are to accrue to the people working in development and operations—and, indeed, the wider company and business they serve—then it is those people who have to own the idea, top to bottom.
Owning the idea means rethinking what you are doing, and why—in other words, changing your lifestyle. At least at work, anyway.