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What can your organisation learn from the devops movement?

Tamlin Magee | Sept. 1, 2016
Paying attention to devops is a win-win for both the company and the workforce.

According to Chef's Mandi Walls, there was a backlash roughly 10 years ago when businesses believed IT didn't matter - and that it would simply be cheaper to outsource everything rather than foster a healthy internal approach to technology.

"IT was seen as a cost rather than something that would actually help get work done," Walls says. "But I think in the last five years or so, a lot of the more larger companies are beginning to see they can work more efficiently, the can be more effective, they have better velocity for their customers if they are handling more of that work internally. Rather than relying on outsourcing, they're bringing more stuff back in."

"It's been interesting that the value of work has increased, especially on the operations side," Walls says. "I was a sysadmin for a long time, and the less it costs to actually run a system - with cloud and other services that are super inexpensive compared to the capital investment required 15 or 20 years ago, the actual human work now has a lot more value.

"You have a lot of other things you're doing on a much more pro-active basis, with monitoring, and metrics collection, and business intelligence and customer response, and all of those things really help the company move forward. I think a lot more larger companies are catching onto more of these practices, whether that's insurance or banking or retail, because people are moving their lives online and companies are responding to that. And they're moving towards these more collaborative technical environments, including devops culture, as part of that."

Walls explains this approach by comparing IT to the medical field, where a team of professionals will have to assess the patient as a whole to make the appropriate decision. "If it's a cancer patient, you want your cardiologist, you have all these other components, your oncologist," she says. "They all need access to information that's available to make the best choice for the patient.

"So we're starting to see more and more of this larger view of how things work in the marketplace, where IT is just one piece towards a more open aind information-based business," Walls says.

Automic's Scott Willson, whose official title is 'Automic Release Automation Evangelist', picks sport, not medicine, to make his analogy: "Devops encourages a culture of collaboration and respect, not a 'me versus them'," he says. "I often liken devops to an American football team. There are eleven specialists on each side of the ball. They each have an important role to play, and each player must respect and value the role of each other.

"If anyone fails to do their job, or even pick up the slack of a player who missed a task, the whole play fails - it's beautiful chaos, 11 people orchestrating their efforts towards a common goal. They must all be on the same page and helping each other."


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