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8 min read

DevOps Hasn’t Devolved, You Just Aren’t Executing Correctly

DevOps/DevSecOps/Platform Engineering/Engineers/Developers/Tech/Technology/Software/Software Development/Tech Industry/Thought Leadership/Strategy
DevOps was once seen as the new kid on the block that would impact software development in a monumental way. Nowadays, there's more controversy and conflicting opinions regarding DevOps than there have ever been before. But, is it really DevOps' fault? The answer may surprise you.
Written by
Jonathan Mitchell
Published on
April 12, 2024

We can stop with the doomsday scenarios. DevOps, Platform Engineering, or any other related buzzword comes with a host of opinions. Biases, stereotypes, perspectives, and experiences influence the interpretation of these ideologies. Context is vital in this case, just like every other. But we can tone down on the catastrophizing. DevOps, or at least a version that can benefit your business, is still attainable. It’s not some ridiculous hypothesis. It's an important tool that has already seen its market explode in value and status.

The real issue here is implementation, not the ideology itself. Ego can be overwhelming. A good idea can be cast aside because some self-described genius doesn’t know how to implement the process. Expertise is essential. The high points associated with DevOps can still be reached. It’s a matter of letting the process, and the related data, drive the decision-making platform. Not some person’s “savant” capabilities.

Please, For All That Is Good, Plan Correctly

Tell me if you’ve heard this sob story before. Some executive reads a blog, perhaps one like this, espousing the incredible benefits associated with DevOps. This person then seeks to install this strategy with minimal forethought or research. If it helps the bottom line, they’re all for it. So, they put together a team, spending a lot of time and money. This team then struggles. All those bullet points the executive saw in the blog failed to materialize in the real world. The executive gets mad, throws a tantrum, and sullies the name of DevOps afterward. They got burned by this silly DevOps experiment, and now they want to make sure everybody knows about it. Sound familiar?

I swear I see some regurgitated opinion on a near-daily basis about how DevOps has over-iterated and become useless. But is that really the case? More often than not, the issues people have, and thus the points they bring up online, have nothing to do with DevOps as an idea. Instead, their problems lie within the implementation and execution of this process. Still, it’s easier to hate the game than the player. An integral part of implementing DevOps is understanding the expertise necessary to embrace this ideology. That and the associated trade-offs should be scrutinized at every turn. If you don’t plan correctly, then your plan will fail. Let’s slow down with the slander and do a better job of planning to begin with.

DevOps Isn’t Magic

I love humans’ ability to identify a problem and yet, at the same time, completely misunderstand the root cause of said problem. Collaboration and communication are important aspects of DevOps. These attributes enable the destruction of internal information silos. They foster innovation at an increased rate. So why do organizations still struggle?

Even though we may speak to one another every day and have all the Teams calls possible, we still talk past one another. DevOps places an increased value on communication, and if you fail to do so correctly, the procedure will crumble. I recently read an article by the brilliant Cory O’Daniel on the failings of DevOps, and here’s an example he gave.

“Do you know what’s worse than waiting through an ops backlog during the planning phase? Missing your deadline and working late because you’re waiting for someone on the ops team to update IAM policies and create KMS keys because you didn’t realize the SNS Topics were in a different region than your SQS Queues.”

Now, tell me. Does this sound like a DevOps problem? Or a communication problem? You don’t need Dora’s incredible sleuthing abilities to find the answer here. If you’re implementing DevOps, prioritize communication. Analyze your current processes of communication and any shortcomings they may have. Those weaknesses will show themselves loud and proud in a system like DevOps. Address everything you can to streamline collaboration through communication.

Yes, DevOps Has Changed, and It Will Continue To Do So

In a field where innovation and advancement are rapid, where continuous refinement and iteration lead to our greatest successes, why do we struggle to understand that thought processes do the same thing? We’ve come a long way from car phones, and the computers we now carry as mobile devices are potent. When implementing ideologies, we need to view them the same way we view the advancement of mobile phones. These things morph. They internalize opinions and rebukes from the unlimited internet and iterate. They’re alive and capable of malleability a contortionist would be jealous of. Stop complaining about the process and work to address the root causes.

Expertise is critical. It’s also expensive. But any organization looking to implement DevOps correctly must wield that double-edged sword. Integrating security, compliance, guardrails, and other facets requires the skilled guidance of master craftspeople. Systems are only going to get more complicated. Scalability will become more complex. So, do this right the first time. Don’t fall for some Eden-like description and start utilizing DevOps improperly. Do your research, take your time, communicate, and plan this out. Otherwise, this building will come crashing down along with its weak infrastructure, and you’ll have nobody to blame but yourselves.

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