A better name for DevOps: 'continuous improvement'

Conversation-driven development explodes across the enterprise, blurring everybody's roles, and spurring cultural change.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Perhaps "DevOps" just isn't a good term to describe what we need to accomplish when we attempt to fuse the innovative spirit of the development world with the get-it-done-and-out efficiency of the operations world. Perhaps it sounds too techy, or nichey. A better term would be "continuous improvement."

Photo: Joe McKendrick

That's the view of Jason Hand, VP with VictorOps, who emceed his company's latest confab in New York, which explored the challenges and opportunities of DevOps. In Hand's view -- as well as other speakers at the event -- one thing is clear about the DevOps challenge: Culture trumps all.

Hand noted that successful DevOps -- the integration of development and operations into a single force for progress -- "is a mind shift, a cultural shift, a change in the way we do stuff. Culture is at the heart of all DevOps engagements." In essence, everyone is now a software developer, now part of an operations team, now all business analysts and managers. The roles have blurred.

A recent survey of 1,850 IT executives by ServiceNow finds DevOps is expanding well beyond the bounds of IT. Ninety-four percent, in fact, say they are participating in one way or another in the DevOps movement. Two out of three agree that DevOps not as a new division, but rather as a philosophy to be taught to existing departments such as IT and development. Tellingly, as ServiceNow CTO Allan Leinwand told me in a recent chat, DevOps is no longer relegated to IT departments, but is being embraced across the enterprise. everyone wants in on the DevOps action.

At the VictorOps event, Jason Yee, evangelist with DataDog, explained how communicating and percolating DevOps through the enterprise requires really good and comprehensive metrics. Such metrics should be "well understood -- managers need to understand why the metrics mater to them." Plus, DevOps metrics should be sufficiently granular, and "tagged and filterable" -- "You need to know not only what, but where they are from, and what part of the system they represent."

For his part, Hand also is an advocate of "ChatOps," or the use of group chat tools to advance DevOps. In a recent book by the same name, he explains that ChatOps evolved as a communication platform for DevOps from software engineers managing source code to an enterprise-scale communication requirement:

"Originally dubbed 'conversation-driven development' at GitHub, ChatOps has evolved well beyond the ability to keep teams up to date on information regarding source code repositories... As teams begin to adopt DevOps principles and share more of the roles and responsibilities, sharing becomes one of the key points of focus. Group chat is where this sharing takes place, both intentionally and inherently.. with the gain in DevOps adoption, many teams are beginning to dissolve the segregated roles and responsibilities that were traditionally divided up between 'developers,' 'operations' and others."
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