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Braving the DevOps Frontier

“There’s gold in them clouds!!” – The gold rush for business value and pace of change is on and the latest golden child is DevOps. That delicious portmanteau of Development and Operations. But much like the Wild West, our rush to charge into this brave new frontier, blending two disciplines that have been separate for decades, is not without issue.

The Good

  • Developers must take ownership of their code all the way into production
  • Ops staff embrace the pace of business and the rhythm of feature delivery and business change

The Bad

  • Dev Teams are starting to drift away from a long-term strategy for their software design, embracing the expediency of delivering features ASAP
  • Ops Teams are losing a means of vocalizing when business and development decisions put the organization in a precarious solution, because they are seen as being obstructionist to the new way of life

The Ugly

  • The critical role of quality assurance (QA) can sometimes get lost in the continuous development and delivery shuffle. Where is the dedicated and intentional effort to fold a thorough and professional examination of quality fit into the DevOps equation?
  • Although development teams have been moving incrementally toward agile and lean startup strategies for years, operations teams are very much finding themselves behind the eight ball. There is a significant shift in mindset, skills, and tooling required for these groups to come up to speed.
  • Development teams have a sizable knowledge gap as well. Although my family has trouble grasping it, it is not true that if you ‘know technology’ then you are equally adept at all things technical. Many developers have lived in a “if it compiles, then it’s good” mentality for much or all of their careers. They’ve never really needed to understand the production world…until now.

DevOps and the overall shift toward Development teams and Operations teams working together to deliver business value early and often is a good thing. Developers becoming aware, sensitive, and ultimately responsible for operationalizing their code, is a good thing. Ops folks partnering with the developers to deliver new and ever-changing business features is also a good thing. But if in an effort to embrace this new normal, we lose all of the uniqueness that a proper Development, QA, and Operations disciplines offer us, then we’ve swung too far to the latest extreme. Teams need to come together as partners for business value delivery, but not at the expense of long-term strategy and robust quality.

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More Stories By Kyle Gabhart

Kyle Gabhart is a subject matter expert specializing in strategic planning and tactical delivery of enterprise technology solutions, blending EA, BPM, SOA, Cloud Computing, and other emerging technologies. Kyle currently serves as a director for Web Age Solutions, a premier provider of technology education and mentoring. Since 2001 he has contributed extensively to the IT community as an author, speaker, consultant, and open source contributor.

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