Fear the Cloud? Helpful Tips for Stifling DevOps Progress in Your Enterprise [Humor]


There’s a lot of talk going around right now about “DevOps,” a so-called marriage of Development and Operations functions. DevOps will change the world, say some, and will supposedly enable enterprises to be more nimble, efficient, and creative. But to get there, those organizations will have to shift mindset, workflow, and in some extreme cases, resources.

Is DevOps right for your organization? That depends. Can you handle the change? Does the thought of facilitating rapid development make you break out in hives? When you think streamlining, does a paved riverbed come to mind? Is your job security contingent on preserving operational bottlenecks?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, or didn’t understand them, or have trouble picking up on sarcasm, then no, DevOps isn’t for you, and you should probably recognize it for what it really is: a throughput-optimizing, process-accelerating, agility-creating, workflow-throttling threat to your very bureaucratic existence.

So who are these hybrid Development/Operations mutants hell-bent on changing IT operations for the better? DevOps leads are jacks and jills of all trades, undoubtedly masters of some. Their technical knowledge is broad, and they employ a mindset for eliminating silos, as they work to align delivery objectives across organizational stakeholder teams. They look like you and me. But they’re out to get you. At least if you’re in the way of something as trivial as say, progress.

So it’s agreed then, at least if you fear change: They must be stopped. The future of enterprise inertia is at stake. If your organization is leaning toward a DevOps future with all its cross-team effectiveness nonsense, then here are few fun facts to help convince your corporate leaders to see the light of maintaining the comfortable, safe, and unproductive status quo.

Hiring is hard.

If you think it’s difficult to find a good engineer, trying hiring a DevOps lead. It’s tricky. HR will be confused (“What’s D-Vops?”), recruiters will be challenged (“Do we poach from Development? Or Operations? I’m so confused!”), and the few good DevOps folks out there will be too busy improving enterprise IT operations to care. Best just to give up.

Organizational barriers foster interdepartmental rivalries.

DevOps people tend to bridge the gap between Development and Operations. This can result in (shudder) friendships, or craziness like shared goals. While everyone’s singing and “sharing,” think of three words: What about paintball? Don’t you people care about winning company competitions?

Hugging and interdepartmental paintballing do not mix.

Deployments should be fun, mysterious, unpredictable.

The unknown is cool. Who wants to see a movie they’ve seen before? In a corporate culture burdened by DevOps influence, major code deployments become routine, dynamic, certain. Where’s the fun in that? The unexpected (Will the app work in production? Will my data get past staging? What if we lose all my code?) is what makes deployments exciting. To quote someone who never worked in DevOps, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” And who doesn’t like chocolate, right?

Ain’t no party like a an all-night deployment party.

Streamlined deployment? More like no-fun deployment. Deployment firefights build character and camaraderie. Think of that euphoric feeling you get when you head home at six a.m. after what you hope was a successful cloud deployment. If deployment is so optimized that it can be done multiple times a day, well, where’s the fun in that? That’s right, I said “day,” as in “daylight.” Nobody parties in the day during office hours.

Efficiency disrupts employee nutrition habits.

If the all-night deployment parties come to an end, so will company-paid pizza-and-Red-Bull benders! Many of your employees rely on this subsidized source of nutrition. And four out of five doctors agree that dramatic changes to diet can impact your health. (They didn’t specify how.)

Kanban is bad for the environment.

DevOps zealots preach the gospel of Kanban, a scheduling method for lean operations. Kanban may help teams visualize progress and manage the flow of work through departments, but it’ll cost your organization dearly…in dozens and dozens of yellow sticky notes. Those come from trees. What do DevOps people have against nature?

Hello DevOps, goodbye cold hard cash.

Ballooning sticky-note outlays are a real concern. But so is the actual savings that DevOps will deliver. If work flows through your organization more efficiently, and cloud deployments are automated, you will save money. And saving money now will reduce spend next quarter. You’ve worked hard to get your budget up to its current size. Do you really want to see it diminished over something as silly as productivity-driven ROI?

What of the books?

You work in IT. You’re proud of your shelves full of fat paperbacks—books that tell you how to configure every aspect of every server, books that delve deep into the minutiae of three-versions-back infrastructure software, books with woodblock drawings of animals on the cover. If you adopt new technologies like PaaS, then money you spent on those books will have been wasted. You owe it to all the trees that made those books to continue to use them to their fullest.

Legacy systems need love too.

How do you say goodbye to old friends? Your sysadmins know and love your servers. To them, they’re family. They know that Bertha sometimes gets giddy on Thursday afternoon and needs to be rebooted a couple of times. They know that deployment scripts need to be coddled, and run three times before the payment processing system is back up. A lot of love and plenty of person-hours have gone into maintaining your enterprise’s legacy systems. Implement DevOps in the cloud, and all that could go away. Who are you to throw away all those memories of late nights filled with emotion and lost tempers?

These helpful tips will go a long way towards preserving stasis in your enterprise. Because if DevOps best practices creep in to your company, it’s a slippery slope toward efficiency, collaboration, and God forbid, innovation. That sounds like a lot of work. It’s not, actually, but still, who wants that?

Written by Toph Whitmore, ActiveState VP of Marketing; Phil Whelan also contributed to this article.

About the Author

Toph Whitmore leads the ActiveState marketing team, with focus on communications, media management, and strategic planning. Toph has 15+ years’ experience as a marketing/project lead and management consultant. He spent four years on strategic marketing assignments at Microsoft as a project manager with Caiman Consulting. Toph also headed DH Media Inc., a regional magazine publisher. Prior to that, he worked in enterprise high-tech marketing and product management in Washington State. Toph has a PMP certification and received his MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College and his BA in English from Pomona College.