This Thing We Call DevOps — A Valentine's Day Love Story

The love story between Development and Operations has thus far been filled with high drama, a relationship nurtured out of adversity versus love at first sight. Implementation tears have been shed, lessons have been learned along the way, but where is this romance going—and what lies ahead for the couple in 2017 and beyond?

Remember when this fated pair first laid eyes upon each other? Sparks flew, but from the embers of firefighting, not the kindling of mutual attraction. This isn't entirely true—Development was in it for a quickie, just a one-nighter—deploy code (which sometimes meant throwing pants/shirt/shoes and code over the wall for a quick getaway), leave quietly in the morning. Not even a breakfast sandwich for Operations.

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But of course Operations wasn't having that. Besides, quite frankly—Development needed Operations, it just hadn't come to terms with its feelings on the matter. What's one to do? Stumble through a life devoid of any meaning relationships? So the fate of this dysfunctional couple began to intertwine, during surprisingly amiable chance encounters, over water cooler discussions about previous deployments, at the usual firefighting sessions, from a distance with the occasional, coy glance. Soon enough others began to suspect that the two were an item, but it wasn't until O’Reilly Velocity 09 that they were officially conjoined. And with the subsequent creation of DevOpsDays soon thereafter, the two—now one—were a steady affair. 

Dating for the Sake of Dating

Like so many high profile relationships—Kimye, Brangelina, TomKat, Billary—DevOps was initially all about publicity and events, perhaps overwhelmingly so. DevOpsDays' Belgium was just the beginning; today, the event is held regularly across the globe throughout the year, from Silicon Valley to Istanbul, Moscow to Amsterdam. Others such as DevOps Enterprise Summit and DevOps Connect soon followed suit, along with the usual haunts like the O'Reilly Velocity Conference and AWS re:Invent. But a relationship centered around painting the town red soon falls apart when the music stops and festivities come to a close.

So where did it all go wrong, if at all? In the whirlwind of publicity and fanfare, DevOp's foundational elements—communication and collaboration—may have been lost in the shuffle to temptations of infidelity (“f*ck this, let's just push this build out without IT, just this one time!”), secret double-takes at hyped-up vendors peddling so-called “DevOps tools,” and other distractions. In fact, you could say that over time, Development and Operations were more in love with being in love than with each other.

Many enterprises even went as far as to create DevOps departments, ultimately leading to the enforcement—not the breaking down— of communication silos. Unrealistic goals and expectations were set, and like many new couples, Development and Operations vastly underestimated the effort required to maintain a long-term relationship. Indeed, overhauling the enterprise's business culture turned out to be no romantic walk in the park.

A Love for Tools

Soon, DevOps began to seek outside help to fix its ailing relationship—professional services, methodology coaching, and of course—more tools, namely configuration management and IT automation platforms like Puppet, Chef, and Ansible. These tools can help keep the DevOps romance fresh, enforce culture, and spice things up behind closed doors, if you will. But they must exist to fulfill DevOps' foundational aspirations, not hinder or detract from them. Every healthy relationship needs special tools to get the job done from time-to-time: the occasional post-spat box of chocolates, rose petals leading to the bathtub, handcuffs maybe. But just like that bouquet or V-day negligee, tools can only do so much to prolong imminent heartbreak.

Renewing DevOps Vows

The love affair between Development and Operations—this thing we called DevOps—is still going strong in 2017, albeit tempered and grounded by the reality of every day affairs. For today's enterprises, this means staying competitive, preventing costly IT downtime, combating cyber threats, staying compliant/legal, and more. The stakes of digitization are high, but if your DevOps initiatives are founded in trust, visibility, and communication/collaboration, their benefits will continue long after the the honeymoon ends. 

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Topics: IT automation, devops, IT operations