My The Register column this month is on scaling DevOps/cloud-native teams to the entire organization. It’s easy to build one team that does software in a new and exciting way, but how can you move to two teams, five teams, and then 100’s? It goes over the amalgamation of a few case studies and plenty of over-the-top gonzo analogies, per usual.
I always like his focus in speeding up the release cycle as a forcing function for putting continuous integration in place, both leading to improving how an organization’s software:
I try not to get too caught up in the names. As long as the changes are helping you improve your software development and delivery processes then who cares what they are called. To me it is more important to understand the inefficiencies you are trying to address and then identify the practice that will help the most. In a lot of respects DevOps is just the agile principle of releasing code on a more frequent basis that got left behind when agile scaled to the Enterprise. Releasing code in large organizations with tightly coupled architectures is hard. It requires coordinating different code, environment definitions, and deployment processes across lots of different teams. These are improvements that small agile teams in large organizations were not well equipped to address. Therefore, this basic agile principle of releasing code to the customer on a frequent basis got dropped in most Enterprise agile implementations. These agile teams tended to focus on problems they could solve like getting signoff by the product owner in a dedicated environment that was isolated from the complexity of the larger organization.
You can hide a lot of inefficiencies with dedicated environments and branches but once you move to everyone working on a common trunk and more frequent releases those problems will have to be address. When you are building and releasing the Enterprise systems at a low frequency your teams can brute force their way through similar problems every release. Increasing the frequency will require people to address inefficiencies that have existed in your organization for years.
On how organization size changes your managerial tactics:
If it is a small team environment, then DevOps is more about giving them the resources they need, removing barriers, and empowering the team because they can own the system end to end. If it is a large complex environment, it is more about designing and optimizing a large complex deployment pipeline. This is not they type of challenges that small empowered team can or will address. It takes a more structured approach with people looking across the entire deployment pipeline and optimizing the system.
The rest of the interview is good stuff. Also, I reviewed his book back in November; the book is excellent.
One of the things nerds love to do is look at other people’s stacks and say, “what a house of cards!” In fact I fully expect people to link to this article and write things like, “sounds okay, but they should have used Jizzawatt with the Hamstring extensions and Graunt.ns for all their smexing.”
Here’s what I think: We are rebuilding our entire culture and economy on top of computers, which are crazy light switches that turn on and off a billion-plus times per second.
You can describe what a given computer might do in a given circumstance using math, but there are billions of computers running at all times now, all chatting with each other using different versions of software. So it’s chaos. Everything is a house of cards. You can point at the house of cards and laugh, or you can sit down at the poker table, grab the cards, and deal.
Finally catching up on some reading.