Why? Digitalization is a hard task and developers alone are not enough to run reliable systems.

In one of my talks this year, I showed a slide that contained this statement along with a tombstone. It was part of my lightning talk Rescued By Kanban! which was roughly based on my Medium blog post with the same title and which I’ve delivered at the first GitLab Heroes Summit. What’s the background for this slide and why I am thinking that the DevOps campaign or movement is dead today? In this talk, I had only limited time for each slide (15 seconds per slide, 18 slides in total) and this slide was supported by two follow-up slides with some words about each. You can find the slide deck here:

In this Medium story, I would like to share some background thoughts about why I’ve used these slides and this framing.

Here we go.

The starting slide

Slide statement: During the past three to five years the community, we, perfectly managed it to change the working culture but, the organization of work did not change the same way.

You remember: This lightning talk was about the power of Kanban boards, especially about why you should use it and why it helps you. So, why we need Kanban more than ever before? What are the facts behind this first slide (out of three)? I’ve taken the following statistics from Statista. These statistics are not generally available and therefore I had to summarize them. For those who have access to Statista e.g. people who are applied at a university, I’ve shared the link to these statistics too.

The statistic for this slide is a more general one. It states, that from a group of nearly 5000 attendees the very most of them say that agile project management is most relevant (3.4 points). The second-ranked is agile development and the third rank goes to design thinking. The possible answers were, 1 = not relevant to 5 = extremely relevant.

This means that agile project management is more important than agile development on a global view. DevOps tends to be too much focused on the development part. This is perfectly OK, but it lacks the global view on how you can manage and operate software in an overall context, at least for me.

Supporting slide #1

After this statement, I used two arguments to support this position with two slides. The first slide was about digitalization. In the quotes, you can find the phrases which I said during the 15 seconds the slide was visible.

Slide statement: This has two main reasons. First, everyone talks about digitalization and beliefs that digitalization is an easy task. But to be honest, it isn’t and maybe, it will never be an easy task.

Here we can get some statistics from the digital transformation. The first one is a forecast for the amount of money that will be spent on digital transformation technologies worldwide from 2017 to 2023. In 2019 1.18 trillion dollars were spent on digital transformation, whereas 2.3 trillion dollars will be spent 2023!

The second one shows the US market revenue for digital transformation. And we see the same picture here. In the US in 2020 220 billion dollars will be spent for digital transformation. In 2025 it will be at 490 billion dollars — nearly doubled.

Source Statista:

Both worldwide and in the US the spending and the market revenue on digital transformation will double if we trust this forecast. But a lot of businesses have not even begun to start the digital transformation. Furthermore, from 500 asked german business leaders in 2019, 89% said that they think that Germany lays behind in digitalization.

There will be high pressure on this topic in the next years but how should we manage this? Everyone cries for more digitalization but I think that digitalization is nothing you can just buy like a bottle of milk or a car. Digitalization needs creative and innovative people who are able to handle complex technologies and who can understand the basic coherence at the same time. Hmm.

Supporting slide #2

Slide statement: Second, the “Developers first” campaign of the last years was extraordinarily successful. But the Operators were missed. Today, a disproportion between “developers” and “operators” of 10 to 1 or higher is normal.

And, the last one is pretty obvious. As an example, I took a survey from Switzerland. And this one is really powerful! Therefore I decided to put a diagram in here, derived from Statista. 47% of all workplaces in ICT (Information Communication Technology) will be held by software developers in 2028. Only 7% will work in the operations. And even worse, only 4% will work in the network and security section.

Source Statista:


It’s good to set a focus on the software developers, no contradiction! But, sacrificing operations, network, and security for this at this scale is a really bad idea! This can fall on our feet sooner than we might think. Therefore we, as a community, should take care of this situation and invite people to work in operations, networking and security.

Software that is not in operation has no value as it does not exist.

Software without network communication is nearly useless nowadays.

Software without security considerations is a fail.

Thanks for reading!

Last edited on 23rd January 2021

Speaker, GitLab Hero, Docker Community Leader, Author, Cloud Architect — 𝗜𝗺𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻 𝗶𝘀 𝗺𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗶𝗺𝗽𝗼𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘁𝗵𝗮𝗻 𝗸𝗻𝗼𝘄𝗹𝗲𝗱𝗴𝗲.

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