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DevOpsGroup Blog #DevOps - Organic versus Transformational DevOps

#DevOps – Organic versus Transformational DevOps

Despite what some people seem to think there is more to DevOps than just Continuous Delivery and Infrastructure Automation with Puppet, Chef or Ansible.

To me, DevOps is “an alternative model for the creation of business value from the software development life-cycle that encompasses a product-centric view across the entire product life-cycle (from inception to retirement) and recognises the value in close collaboration, experimentation and rapid feedback”.

Moving from one model of value creation can either be an organic process or a transformational one – you can “grow into” the new model or you can plan a strategy of change to transform your organisation from one to the other.

It’s in this “Organic DevOps” versus “Transformational DevOps” that I see a growing disconnect between different sectors of the DevOps community, particularly between “DevOps for Start-ups” and “DevOps for Enterprise”.
IMHO, “Start-Ups DevOps” normally follows the “organic DevOps” path – you’re often starting from a relatively “greenfields” approach based on a cloud infrastructure. You probably already have a very close, collaborative culture because there’s only 20 of you anyway and you all work in the same office and you spend 18hrs a day there. Automation is part of your DNA because you’ve never had the staffing levels to do it manually.

“Enterprise DevOps” is normally “Transformational DevOps” – you have large, distributed IT teams that cross geographic locations, time-zones and probably organisational boundaries (due to outsourcing). You have extensive legacy applications and infrastructure estates (JVM 1.4 on Tomcat 5 anyone?) and you’re likely to have well developed Prince2/ITIL/SixSigma delivery models rigidly enforced by a centralised command&control mindset, backed by an army of highly-paid consultant from the Big 5 telling your CEO, CIO and CTO the best way to manage their IT budget.

Moving an enterprise to DevOps via a transformation programme is a very different challenge to introducing DevOps concepts into a receptive start-up and watching them grow organically, and the DevOps community needs to make sure that when it’s evangelising DevOps to the world that it’s aware of the differences and challenges inherent in each approach.

If you want to debate this idea of “Start-up Organic versus Enterprise Transformational DevOps” we’re taking part in a Webinar tonight with the great folks over at ScriptRock that’s focussing on Enterprise DevOps. It’s at 1900 BST,  11:00am PT / 2:00pm ET (60 minutes).

We’d really like to get your thoughts on this by asking a question on the webinar or by leaving a comment below as these concepts are still experimental and, just like DevOps itself, the faster we get feedback and the more we iterate around the concept the stronger it will be!

6 thoughts on “#DevOps – Organic versus Transformational DevOps

  1. Sounds interesting – will the webinar be recorded and available afterwards? I don’t think I can join tonight but would love to hear people’s views.
    I’m particularly curious how to bridge the ‘outsourcing’ divide, as both sides have potentially different goals. Often a company wants to minimise cost via automation but the oursourcer has a vested interest in protecting their existing processes (and therefore profit). While this also applies to internal departments (and indeed many change scenarios) it’s a more powerful separation when two different companies are involved.

    1. @egrigson – yes it will be recorded and will be available on-demand later via the Scriptrock blog. If you have any questions feel free to ask them here or tweet them to @devopsgroup and we can raise them during the webinar if you’re not online.
      “DevOps in an outsourced world” is a tough one. We spoke to @realgenekim about this back in Feb 2013 and I think there was going to be a mailing list setup to try and explore it more but I am not sure what happened with that.
      tl;dr version is that I don’t think anyone’s cracked it yet. We’re going to be talking about this more in our upcoming #DevOpsMBA blog series though. Gut feeling is that (1) its hard and (2) multi-channel communication is the key – collaboration on wiki (e.g. Confluence), structured workflow (e.g JIRA Agile/Kanban), instant messaging (e.g HipChat, Skype etc), regular team video conferencing (e.g Hangouts), conscious team building with face-to-face interaction. Anything and everything you can do to break down barriers to communication.
      or should that be “everything you can do to bypass the horrible contractual sh*t and have real conversations with real people”? 🙂

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