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The DevOps movement and Microservices: Not as bad as you think, not as easy as you’ve heard

Posted By itSMF Australia Inc - Cancelled, Monday, 19 December 2016

DevOps is the latest Holy Grail within the IT industry.  Everywhere you turn there is a story online regarding how companies like Netflix, Spotify  or Amazon have done amazing things through the application of DevOps principles. 

A quick search on LinkedIn, Seek or Indeed returns hundreds of results for shiny, new, cool roles with my personal favourite being….

“We are looking for a Senior Systems Engineer who believes in the collaboration between the development world and operational practices.”

Translation:  “We need someone who will…you know…talk to the other technical people to make sure everyone is playing nice together and the business gets what it wants.”  This, apparently is a new concept within IT.

The rise in stories regarding successful application of DevOps principles in the market has also given rise to increased anxiety amongst traditional, ‘legacy’ operations teams.  With conceptual ideas such as ‘NoOps’ (An IT environment so automated that there is no need for a dedicated team to manage software in-house) getting more and more press it is no wonder that IT Operations teams are getting ulcers.

Business is feeling the pressure too.  Everywhere you turn businesses are told that they aren’t agile enough or fast enough.  You need to go faster!  Faster!  With less resources! And less cost!  And more value!  If you can’t be the Netflix/Amazon/Spotify of your industry, you are going to die a quick and painful death as these small, agile, super smart, DevOps aligned, no-process driven, latte-sipping, drum circle Millennial genius hiring start-ups fire past you.

Well, there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is: You have time.  Your business is going to be just fine over the next 5 – 7 years.  There’s a large, very helpful community out there eager to help. A simple hashtag search for #DevOpsDays is all you need to start soaking in information. As long as you, don’t emerge with a Blockbuster Video or Kodak mindset, you’ll be fine. 

Keep in mind that that DevOps can’t survive WITHOUT good Agile, LEAN and IT Service Management principles in place.  That’s great news for many ‘legacy’ businesses because they already have these capabilities within which should, in theory make their journey towards DevOps nirvana faster and less painful. 

The bad news is, DevOps takes time. But don’t take my word for it, Click Here to hear it directly from Netflix themselves. The link will take you to the precise point in the video where Ruslan Meshenberg of Netflix describes the challenges of their 7 year journey.

DevOps doesn’t have an instruction manual.  It doesn’t have standardised guidance. It’s going to require a tremendous shift in mindset especially in the areas of experimentation and ‘failing comfortably’. If you are working within a legacy, fear based, blame culture DevOps will require a SIGNIFICANT amount of ‘hearts and  minds’ work.

Further to this, ‘Operations’ doesn’t just go away. It just looks different.  In THIS video (also queued up for your convenience) titled ‘What I Wish I Had Known Before Scaling Uber to 1000 Services’ Matt Ranney discusses real world issues with the application of DevOps principles inside the internet startup darling Uber. As an ITSM specialist, my favourite bullet point on the slide reads ‘Understand a Service in the Larger Context’.

DevOps, like the other frameworks, standards and practices that have come before it will not solve all of your problems.  It will not fix your dysfunctional work culture in and of itself. It is a collection of ideas that has been shown to work within a specific domain for specific company types.  Within it, are practices and ideas that may be repeatable and reusable for you and your business. How useful is largely dependent on your culture, your strategy and your understanding of what you mean to do in the market.  Without a clear understanding of that….DevOps is just another shiny anagram that looks good in the store window but may provide little value if you don’t really need it (yet).

Phillip Palmer

itSMFA Board Member



Tags:  DevOps  itservicemanagement  itsmf  itsmfa  itsmfchair  professional  service management 

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