“As long as we call it DevOps, we are doing it wrong.”

Of course, a title like this is to trigger you a little bit. But I really do think the term DevOps is missing the point that we are trying to make. Please do not get me wrong; I have met some amazing people which are completely committed to DevOps. And I also think DevOps can improve the life of an enormous amount of people. I totally agree with that, I would even like to think that I am one of these people (except the amazing part probably). So, what is wrong with the term DevOps?

It is only a small part of the problem

With DevOps, we naturally start to talk about Development and Operations. From my experience, it’s great that Operations is finally at the table. I think in the early days of agile, we tended to forget about Operations a bit and took for granted that it had to run somewhere after it was built. The focus back then was mainly on bridging the gap between Business and Development. But only focussing on Development and Operations, is making that same mistake again. We should take the whole value stream into account. Also think about: Security, HR, PMO, Finance et cetera.

End-to-end product teams

I believe that the most powerful way to organize your delivery is with end-to-end product teams. Product teams that have the knowledge to define, build, test and run that product and can take full responsibility for the product. With DevOps, we tend to focus on the automation of the Dev and Ops part and make sure there is no technical impediment to deliver software very frequently. But more and more we are emphasizing it is about people and processes. Why? Because in our shared experience we find that the tools are essential, but only a small part of the solution. “A fool with a tool is still a fool.”
So, I think it is time to turn our words into actions and start working on people and processes. With an end-to-end scope. Because Dev and Ops are only a small part of the chain that is needed to create value for your customers. Customize the whole, not just a single part of it.

“More and more we are emphasizing it’s about people and processes. Tools are essential, but only a small part of the solution.”

Focus on separation

By using the clipped compound of Development and Operations, we focus on Development and Operations. But let me be more specific; when talking about DevOps, a lot of people ask questions like: “So developers get access to production when I do DevOps?” or “But what will the testers do in a DevOps team at the first few days of a sprint?”, et cetera. All these questions show that we like to think in silos. There is development, operations and testers. And when we do DevOps, we put them together in a team and let them work more closely together.
But I would like to take it a step further. When “doing” DevOps, we create cross functional teams that are end-to-end responsible for delivering value to our customers. It doesn’t matter anymore if you are Ops, Dev Or Test because there is only one function: Team Member. This makes you responsible to excite your customer, together. The different functions will still be there, but not tied to specific persons with the right job title.

So, now what?

In conclusion, I think the term DevOps focusses too much on Development and Operations, while our goal is to really get rid of the silos. Putting the names of the silos in the term DevOps might send the wrong message. In my experience, this can cause misunderstanding on what we really try to accomplish.
Maybe you agree with some of my arguments. But even then, should we change the term? I actually do not think so, we are just too used to it. And DevOps is becoming mainstream very fast. But I do think it is a good idea to keep on challenging what we want to achieve.

I hope that this blog helps you to keep a fresh mind on DevOps.

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Hans Mollevanger

DevOps Director