Shut Up Everyone, This Is What #DevOps Actually Means

One of the most common questions people ask me is, “Jon you have been talking about DevOps for months now and I have no idea what on earth you’re talking about. What is it? What is it? Please help me. I need to know it, pronto. I googled it on the web and have no idea. Please help. Please.”

I do joke around online a lot but on this matter I am gravely serious: DevOps is actually good and not even very complicated. But the culture surrounding DevOps— specifically the thought leadership that came before me— created confusion, either deliberately to maintain their own relevancy (clever cyber-Machiavellian theory) or through a fierce combo of ignorance and arrogance that would be uncouth and maybe cruel to criticize (dumb guy theory).

“Jon that all sounds really weird and stupid.”

I know. Think about it like that terrible Ripley’s Believe it or Not place. You want to know what’s going on so you buy a ticket to go look at a shrunken head but it’s just like a messed up rotten watermelon with a wig on it, and you’re really confused so you come back next week to try to figure out what the heck that was. And then they show you some badass dino armor or whatever but it’s actually just some metal a guy found at the lake, but you’re still like, “Whoa these guys are really smart and they know stuff I don’t.” so you tell all your friends to check it out and eventually Ripley gets noticed and lands a job at Chef or Puppet or as VP of Shrunken Heads or whatever.

If everyone suddenly knew what DevOps was, there would be no need for DevOps thought leaders and they would all start to vanish from photographs like in “Back to the Future” when Marty kissed his mom. That’s what I’m trying to do— make the old DevOps thought leaders kiss their moms. And in turn, I will let their moms kiss me if the moms want to.

It’s actually a real problem, though. In five years of saying the word “DevOps” and having people put it on résumés and job postings, there is no real definition of what it actually means. Instead of some basic, no-nonsense thing explaining it using simple ideas, you’ve got a few dozen middle managers with too much time on their hands so they blog about it for years without ever actually saying anything— and when they finally do say something, it’s either so abstract that it’s useless, or so filled with platitudes and buzzwords that it’s nearly indecipherable.

What DevOps Actually Is

In the olden times you had your system admin people and your developers separate. DevOps is basically not doing that. And once everyone is working together you can begin to automate a bunch of stuff that used to be a pain.

The reason this was previously a problem is because everyone is extremely used to staring at their computer all day and zoning out and thinking about orcs or elves or whatever Lord of the Rings stuff was popular at the time instead of talking to their coworker friends about work.

DevOps is mostly just a way of reorganizing all your nerds and making them talk to each other more. And when you get good at that, automate some stuff and things will work better, probably. (There are some more complicated parts [“Data beans”, Data Kissing], but that’s pretty much the simplest possible explanation.)

How Do I Go About It Then, My Friend Jon?

Jeez, I don’t know. And neither does anyone else. Every place is different. You figure it out. Just don’t listen to anyone who claims to know, except for me.

DevOps Quick Glossary

Unicorn: Say this if you want to look like a dork.

Infrastructure as code: I lock my office door and get fully nude to blog.

Continuous integration: My wife left me.

Web-scale: Blllghghjg.