The REAL benefit of DevOps

I once was recruited to work with a startup. The product was very interesting and I was one of several people in an effort of raising the quality through DevOps. 

I started my work with great vigor. I interviewed key people around me. I reviewed the test infrastructure. I got to know the product and the pipeline. I exposed areas where expectations were not aligned. I connected people that needed to be talking to each other. I analyzed bottlenecks and root causes of bugs. I worked hard on preventing bugs from happening by eliminating their source. 

A few months later I left. My manager did not believe that the above description had anything to do with what a Quality Analyst should do in a DevOps setting. He himself was a person experienced with Waterfall settings, working with people who have never worked outside of the IT business. In order to be regarded as competent by that manager, a person would need to be a clone of him, sharing his perspectives and expertise rather than expanding upon it.

DevOps looks easy

The company had heard about the benefits DevOps will bring to them. It’s easy to get excited about this, the promise of DevOps indeed is vast. Better, faster, more profit, cheaper, work satisfaction, less bugs, less maintenance… Count me in! Everyone wants this, and the secret is easily packaged in a 30 minute talk at a fancy conference.

But what is the real mechanism that makes this work? In the manager’s head, it seemed to go a little bit like this:

  1. Recruit DevOpsy people
  2. ???

Recruiting the DevOpsy people is indeed a good start. But it’s not where the magic happens! 

In reality it goes a little bit more like this:

0. (Recruit DevOpsy people)

  1. Interview and investigate, analyse and structure
  2. Communicate findings
  3. Act upon findings, even if it’s painful
  4. ???
  6. Iterate

DevOps is a mindset

I’m making it sound easy. Just like a 30 minute talk at a fancy conference, I’m distilling years of analysis, failure and success into a bite-sized piece. 

In truth, analysing, investigating and structuring is demanding work. It might be the most painful thing you will ever do. The organization that I mentioned in the beginning was not willing to accept the growing pains. 

Structured analysis, acting upon the analysis and iterating. This is DevOps. It’s not magic, it’s a mindset.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Cindy

    That vigor of putting all the effort in to analysis, investigation, communication, connecting and preventing runs out fast when unappreciated or considered to be an unpopular overhead in my opinion. I’ve also experienced that I lost my way along with my enthusiasm in systems where the people think there is a quick ‘fix’, instead of committing to the analysis, action, iterate that is the magic mindset as you say

    1. Emma Lilliestam

      Amen to that, Cindy.

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