Ask anyone in DevOps about the unicorns in their field and they will tell you about the companies that have embraced the concept of allowing their developers to conceive, write and deploy their code quickly and continually. At Facebook and Google and Amazon, the mantra is ‘Fail Fast’. Joining John Furrier and Stu Miniman at this year’s Red Hat Summit, broadcast live on SiliconANGLE’s theCUBE, was Gene Kim, founder of Tripwire, Inc. and co-author of The Phoneix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps and Helping Your Business Win.
Even though the field of DevOps could be considered cutting or even bleeding edge, it finds relevancy in most every conversation being held at this year’s summit, in light of all of the innovation and growth we are currently witnessing. Furrier began by asking Kim to share his perspective on DevOps as it stands today and where he sees it evolving in the coming years.
“We go to all these conferences and you surround yourself with the best thinkers and practitioners in the space,” Kim began. “I love seeing DevOps is such a main part of the program here at Red Hat. Even mainstream developers care about the downstream code and that it works properly. That warms my heart.” Kim believes we are currently watching DevOps create a shift in how business at all levels will be conducted. “What we are observing is the emergence of continuous innovation and continuous delivery as a standard practice,” he noted. “It’s not just for Amazon and Google and Etsy and Netflix. This is for any developer that wants to have fun doing their job.”
Watch the interview in its entirety here:
Considering the old procurement models, Kim believes this was the time DevOps required to come into their own. “What we all want is fast feedback,” he said. “No one actually achieves their goals when it takes 6 weeks or 6 months to determine whether our code even runs.” To achieve this continuous innovation and delivery, a practice has to be employed that once would have struck a nerve in Kim. “[It] involves something that I would have thought was immoral: developers doing their own deploys. I think that’s kind of the end state for both development and operations.”
There are a lot of buzzwords associated with the field of DevOps. Furrier asked Kim to address the definition of DevOps and speak about why that definition is so very broad right now.
Kim acceded that drilling a definition down precisely is actually a difficult undertaking. “It’s not what you do. It’s the outcome,” he stated. “A great DevOps shop has fast flow of features and production where they can very quickly go from code being written to code deployed and code running. This is where you get hundreds or thousands of deploys per day.” In early days, to have that level of agility, both security and reliability were often sacrificed. If reliability was more important, then agility was an impossibility. “[Today], they can do that and have world-class stability, reliability and availability and security.”
The conversation then shifted to asking Kim if he could identify the ‘lightning moment’ for DevOps. “For me, it was 2007,” Kim stated. “I was with a friend who was CTO of AOL. We were talking about the Ops problem of when Ops can’t upgrade from 2.4 to 2.6 kernel in Linux. And he says to me, ‘That’s not a Dev problem. That’s not an Ops problem. That’s my boss’ boss’ biggest problem’.” According to Kim, that statement was, for him, the a-ha moment that the problem DevOps solved was not just Ops or Dev, it helped the people and the businesses that they serve.
Another story shared by Kim highlighted how IT and DevOps are not only driving their businesses to increased agility and reliability, but the lifecycle of the developer is moving at a faster pace as well. His anecdote shared the fear of a Director at Intel who said his time in both fabrication and IT were basically similar but that what kept him up nights was the human factor. In 22 years in fabrication, he had seen employees who slowly were made redundant. In just 2 years over IT, he claimed an employee’s irrelevance, thanks to lightning-fast advancements, could be realized practically overnight.
While Kim’s first realization of the importance of DevOps occurred some seven years ago, it is clear this field is coming into its own for more organizations than just the unicorns of Facebook, Google and Amazon. Today, we are seeing a tectonic shift in the way business is conducted across all industries and the import of a dedicated and talented DevOps team will be paramount for the success of those companies.