The high-tech industry has fallen into a rut and seems to be struggling to get out of it. This rut is most fervently seen when talking about DevOps, but it exists across the board.
We’ve fallen in love with the idea that faster is always better. That idea is provably false, and the assumption that everything needs to be faster is false, also.
Early on, time to market and increased responsiveness to user needs were the driving market differentiators for agile development, DevOps and DevOps tools. There were indeed cases where IT was not responsive enough to business needs—I think most of us were acutely aware of this issue, so dwelling there for a while was not a terrible thing. But responsiveness to business needs is one piece of a much larger puzzle. And we seem to be stuck, with some lip service paid to other strengths of DevOps … as long as it’s still delivered yesterday.
In my career I’ve worked in two industries where speed of delivery was a tertiary concern for core business systems. To be blunt, when you are putting together a system that will administer contracts expected to last a hundred years or more, you really don’t get that worked up about it being out there tomorrow and “good enough,” you worry about it being right when it does go out, so you’re not still paying for mistakes a century from now that were made by rushing today.
Of course, there are vendors that don’t want to hear people like me say these things. Of course, there are products with other benefits that are more important than speed of delivery. But as an industry, we’re still too obsessed with speed.
Most industries do not even fall into a neat category where they are all or nothing. For most, some teams need to be fast, using agile, CI/CD and fully automated deployment to drive out changes fast (not as fast as some talk—most don’t even need weekly, but fast, nonetheless), while other teams need to be more thorough and cautious and the cadence of releases really doesn’t matter as much as the final result.
So my advice is similar to advice I’ve offered on similar “hot” topics for the last decade or so:
You are the rock stars.
No vendor, analyst, pundit or author knows your vertical market, organization, environment or team the way you do. Do not let them proxy their view of what is “right” over you. Yes, far too many act as though, “If you’re not doing X, you’re behind.” But again, you can look at your industry and get a better grasp of what the definition of “behind” is than someone talking in generalities.
Know what you need, know what is most important, know how to get to what you need. Don’t do what “everyone” says you should.
But don’t dismiss the need, either. There are other benefits to these technologies that we have only recently started discussing. Infrastructure as code is an astounding way to transfer knowledge should something happen to critical people, for example. You just have to choose the technologies for the right reasons, and what the right reasons are is dependent upon the organization, not what Vendor Y is selling today.
We’ve come a long way, and are on the cusp of some very cool stuff, but make sure you know what you need, and how to get it, then keep doing your magic.