Devops — Breaking the wall

What’s the first thing that comes to the mind when you think about Devops? Is it Jenkins, Chef, or Puppet? Most of the people say yes. The growing number of Devops conferences, roles and teams tell a story that Devops has traveled quite far from its original definition. We hire a team or at least a specialist, use the set of tools, build the delivery pipelines and also forget the basics i.e Devops represents a cultural change. Even today, we can see, in a number of organisations, development and operations teams work in silos.

Gone are those days when we had a major release once in a quarter. The need to stay ahead or at least to keep up with the market requires much faster releases. During one such release I was part of, the development team had added a new regulatory compliance feature to the product. Regulatory compliance features always come with the strict deadlines. As part of the deployment, a minor configuration update on the server was missed as the operations team wasn’t apprised about the new feature and the development team not even had read access to the servers. As a result the deployment failed and the deadline was missed. In that situation, advanced tools were in place, processes were automated, but the wall that separated both the teams led to the disaster.

Agile has taught us an important lesson — people over the processes. In the traditional IT world, quite a lot of time was being spent on fine tuning the processes, ignoring the first most important thing — the people. Tools are only meant to improve the collaboration. Ultimately, the people, development and operations teams, use those tools. As long as the wall exists between the teams, how much advanced technologies we use, the results may not be impressive enough. Especially in the larger organisations where the product owners and teams are from multiple vendors, the people must be encouraged and empowered to work together. After all, we all work towards the shared success.

Bringing the cultural change can’t be done overnight and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. The role of leadership is crucial in this transformation. They have to articulate that all the teams share one common goal i.e customer delight. They need to go deep down to understand how the people interact and collaborate on day to day basis and find better ways to collaborate. It took around 40 years for a nation to come together to break the wall that divided them. Now, we have the tools and technology ready. All we have to do is to get people together to build the world’s greatest products and solutions.