DevOps is a Dirty Word

DevOps is a Dirty Word

Let me just see if you've heard any of the following terms and phrases before…

  • New-Style IT
  • New IT
  • Cloud IT

Frankly, these are all terms invented by marketing – invented to sell an idea to management that IT somehow, for some reason, needs to change to match the coming Cloud storm.

For years, companies have struggled with employee titles for those that work in the Information Technology group, or rather, those unique, skillful, and experienced individuals that actually make the business run and drop everything at a moment's notice to put out fires. A rare breed, indeed.

But, even if the Cloud becomes more than a dirty word, does IT really change because of it? I don't think so. IT Pros will still be those individuals called upon in the middle of the night when the "Cloud is down," even though the issue may actually be a link to a West Coast Amazon datacenter that is damaged by weather. And, they will be required to fix it, even if it's just a phone call so the Cloud provider can give a status update. Business leaders and workers just want someone real to place responsibility on. It gives them a sense of ownership and control – even though they have neither after pushing everything to the Cloud.

So, now many vendors are pushing a set of old terms, mish-mashed into a new concept, hoping it might catch on: DevOps.

DevOps is the combination of Developer and Operations, two completely different jobs that go together pretty much like gas and flame. For vendors to make the Cloud successful and to get companies to migrate on-premise software and services en masse, they need to make management believe that a person who is versed in both development and operations actually exists out there somewhere. Oh, they are out there, but it's very, very rare.  A single person with this aptitude is generally considered bipolar and sucks down meds like a fish breathes water. Much like the symbiotic relationship between Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk, folks just wait for them to snap.

Just look at the personalities of each to get a better understanding of why this term makes no sense and why most IT Pros are becoming increasingly offended by it.

  • Developers require admin rights to the computer. IT Pros hate people who need Admin rights because it circumvents almost every IT management investment and violates every security policy known to man.
  • Developers are meticulous, organizing code and testing, testing, testing (most of them) before compiling and delivering to the public. IT Pros barely have enough time to test the latest security patch on 3 machines before management proclaims it ready for production rollout. IT Pros have to schedule Datacenter Saturdays once a month just to rearrange the makeshift network cabling needed to MacGyver a solution for the entire department that decided that moving desktops across the room was OK.
  • Developers code – whenever. If they roll in at noon because they coded all night, so be it. IT Pros are on call pretty much all the time. If they were busy fixing a critical outage until 3am, they're still required to be coffeed-up and sitting at their desk as the first business user steps into the office.
  • IT Pros are generally the people enlisted to clean-up development messes. And, that's when the endless finger pointing starts.

So, really? Combine Developers and Operations into a single job? Is that what we're supposed to believe will issue in the golden age of the Cloud? I get the feeling sometimes that vendors believe they are like Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt, setting the business free and drowning IT Pros in the Red Sea. No matter what new term the industry can lob into the wild, the job of the IT Pro will not change. Whether it's Cloud or on-premise, it doesn't alter what needs to be done, how responsibilities are meted out, or who catches blame when "the Cloud is down."

IT Pros don't like being pushed around. They don't like being lumped into a category that has absolutely no real world merit. And, they don’t like being told that a marketing team somehow knows how to do their job better than they do.

DevOps just isn't going to fly. Try again.

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