In DevOps, 'Good Enough for Government' might mean better than Google

In DevOps, 'Good Enough for Government' might mean better than Google

"'West Coast' DevOps just won't deliver for federal agencies."

"[T]he Federal Government isn't Google", Marc Jones, director of public sector outreach for the Consortium for IT Software Quality told readers last week. Google has something good, and Fed actors such as national CIO Tony Scott want some of that goodness. Is DevOps the solution?

Jones knows better. He sketches a few of the divergences between the requirements Google sees, and those typical in government work. He leads with gravity, contrasting the negligible impact of a busted login to a social network to a breakdown in a critical logistical manager for a military operation. While I can cheerfully cite exceptions to almost all the details of Jones' explanation, his bottom-line summary is on-target: "[t]rue 'West Coast' DevOps just won't deliver for federal agencies. Some adjustments need to be made."

If anything, the need for adjustment extends far beyond government work. DevOps is never truly an answer in itself, except to the overburdened Human Resources departments that confuse hiring with keyword bingo. DevOps is a technique and a style, but solution only comes when expertise properly applies DevOps to appropriate requirements.

What's the point for the individual practitioners and team leads who read DevPro? Consider these three:

  • Think of "DevOps" as the starting point for a conversation, not its end. It's a way to express coordination between development, quality control, and operations, and to align that coordination with other functional patterns such as Agile and User Experience. Every software & systems organization needs to be thinking about at least some aspect of these ideas.
  • This is a good time to have those conversations, especially in government work. True, not all agencies are ready for DevOps. Some that think they are are just fooling themselves. Overall, though, methodologic improvement is a hot topic in government circles. I don't expect openness to change to become better than it is now.
  • Different organizations truly do have different styles. React adoption happens with cult-like zealotry in certain companies, while Erlang answers all the important questions for others. Whatever DevOps' virtues--I know it makes me smile periodically--it only nets out as a positive after adaptation to the local environment.

What does it mean when you mutter, "... good enough for government work"? Comment below with your own experience.

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