Inspired by the long-bemoaned tension between “change-the-business” (dev) and “run-the-business” (ops) IT teams and their activities - and the need for change - my colleague, Glenn O’Donnell, and I have delivered a Forrester report called “Improving The Ops In DevOps”.
This tension inflicts a detrimental impact on the business. In fact, most organizations suffer this curse, and stereotypes that reflect this animosity abound. Does this sound familiar? Ops people see dev people as sitting in their ivory towers cranking out code all day and wanting to release applications oblivious to real-world constraints; dev sees ops as cog-turners ensuring that the IT infrastructure doesn’t break under the strain of poorly written code. Chances are that your organization is not this bad. But this exaggeration is indicative of the tension between these two IT “tribes” and their opinions of each other. These stereotypes exist because organizational behaviors do exaggerate genuine conflicts, and both parties must act quickly to change.
Getting DevOps right will address many of the issues enterprises consistently have with IT, such as applications failing to meet both functional and nonfunctional requirements, delivery delays, increased costs, and an inflexibility to change. But is DevOps enough to save I&O from extinction?
In Forrester’s opinion, there are many other issues to consider to that question, but an enlightened DevOps movement will certainly prove extremely valuable. For DevOps to work — and it must — I&O teams need to evolve the mindsets of their people and follow the words of the oft-quoted management mantra: “If you can’t change the people, change the people.”
But this means today’s I&O execs must overcome at least two serious challenges:
Challenge No. 1: The sibling rivalry between app dev and IT ops ultimately hurts the parent.
App dev and IT ops are part of the same IT family, yet they often act like the opposing factions in “Romeo and Juliet”— often working against each other rather than pulling in the same direction. Most of us know that “Romeo and Juliet” ended in tears. A suitable family view of the status quo is a form of quasi-sibling relationship, one that’s built on teenage one-upmanship or the toddler-like need for the most parental attention. Whether one of these or another reason cause the identified inability to effectively cooperate, it’s ultimately the business “parent” that suffers from its children’s inability to play well together.
Challenge No. 2: IT is now a business expense rather than a business function.
Is blood thicker than water? Not any more — at least not around the perspective of traditional IT. In the changing IT and business landscape, most enterprises can now freely choose IT development and delivery methods, and the failure of IT to pull together will potentially lead to a reverse-adoption situation — with internal I&O people and processes jettisoned for hopefully better-behaved and cheaper external alternatives. DevOps can go some of the way in preventing this, but far more has to be addressed within the internal IT ecosystem. I&O people, and their thinking, need to change to avoid corrective actions that are punitive in nature.
Forrester offers six steps that I&O can take to improve the DevOps collaboration:
- Change your change management.
- Communicate more often with the app dev group to increase its knowledge of operations.
- Educate app dev on the evolution of I&O as a services-centric organization.
- Consider app dev as “service dev.”
- Understand and manage the diversity of views on IT delivery.
- Integrate I&O’s mission statement with the business.