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DevOps for Normals

Oct 9, 2017 8:00:00 AM By Derek Weeks

Do you want to know why we do DevOps but are neither Dev nor Ops? This is the article for you.

Michael Coté (@cote), Director, Marketing at Pivotal, gave the talk for you at the 2016 All Day DevOps conference. His talk, entitled DevOps for Normals:What's Happening as Donkeys Adopt DevOps, is for people who want to know what the big deal is.

First, Michael answers the question, “How did we get here?” Of course, it is a complicated answer, but it really boils down to the need to innovate faster and better. He quotes Stephen Bird, CEO of Citi Global Consumer Group, “In order to grow Citi, we first have to grow our own perspective, skills and capabilities… Our curiosity, our openness to learning and trying new things, our ability to adjust and adapt quickly, and our willingness to fail fast and fail small are the essence of a culture that innovates and exposes new value to our clients in real time.”

DevOps is about improving software development - being more lean, agile, efficient, and able to adapt to changes and improve quickly. It rewards a culture of innovation and effective communications. It asks, “What is the business reason for this technology decision?”

 While many companies are transforming their digital side, many are lagging behind. Quoting one research study that looked at companies’ digital transformation strategies, only 40% were at any stage of a formal strategy. Another looked at an alarming trend of IT’s role in business innovation, showing a downward trend - from 56% in 2013 to 31% in 2015 - of involving IT.

While many companies have a long ways to go, many others see the need to innovate in technology. One wave is the move to Agile software development and DevOps.

At the core of DevOps (and Agile) is to use a “small batch approach” at all levels. As Michael states, this means, “You are continually improving because you have no idea what you need.” The small batch approach scopes projects down to a week, maybe two weeks, or a month, as opposed to 9 months or more.

Michael contends, while the scope and timeline are much shorter, the reality is it is really the waterfall method, just in a shorter timeframe. It has the same activities, but just increases the iterations. This gives you more data to ensure user-centric design and improve the software, and allows you to adjust quickly based on real-time feedback.

We saw earlier that there is a still a long ways to go in the digital transformation of organizations.

Part of the challenge is scaling beyond the team level. The bigger the organization you work in, the more you need to pay attention. And, you need to stop hitting yourself. Instead of saying, “We can’t do this,” decide you need to change and get to work. Michael calls this the anti-pattern. This starts with management, and, like Dev and Ops, Management need to take a small batch approach and accept and take responsibility for failures. This gives management a lot more visibility and transparency.

The bottom line is that great organizations don’t just happen, and they don’t have eternal life. They must innovate, and, in this day and age, have to do it quicker and better than their competition. The principles of DevOps are part of that.

Michael’s full talk, including two other examples, is available for free here. If you missed any of the other 30-minute long presentations from All Day DevOps, they are easy to find and available free-of-charge here.  Finally, be sure to register you and the rest of your team for the 2017 All Day DevOps conference here.  This year’s event will offer 96 practitioner-led sessions (no vendor pitches allowed).  It’s all free, online on October 24th.