Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hierarchy in DevOps?

If you are moving to DevOps in your organisation, then bringing together different people from different silos and then expecting them (under their own steam) to magically cooperate and agree on everything is a little unrealistic.

If you are dealing with historical teams and employees - which I suspect most of you are - then breaking down silos is likely to be a significant challenge.

Aligning incentives makes things a lot easier. If both your devs and ops guys are paid a bonus depending on how much "change" they do in a year is a simple way of getting them to agree on whether they should automate releases for example.  That's a little too simplistic but hopefully you get what I mean.

This may well come at the cost of something else though.  The first thing that springs to mind in the last example is quality.

Let's put everything straight into live!  We get paid for it!

Ok so that isn't going to work.

Sometimes, at least to begin with, you need to bring people together and ultimately empower someone to make decisions when one can't be reached through consensus.   I've seen a real danger in DevOps of death by committee.  The more silos you bring together then potentially the greater the possibility of them not making a decision.

You may have heard about this idea of DevOps rockstars.  Guys (and gals) that get DevOps inside and out.  People that understand all sides of the coin (development, DBA, infrastructure etc).

They try and influence through education and persuasion and point people in the right direction.  They help the silos reach the right decisions themselves rather than a top-down "do what I say".

All said and done sometimes this open inclusiveness doesn't always work and someone needs to just stand up and be counted.

So what's my point? 

If you are trying to move towards DevOps then hire a rockstar.  Someone that has done it before.  Someone with a very mature sense of what DevOps is and preferably someone that has done most of the jobs he/she is trying to influence.

Moreover, hire someone who's first instinct is to try and bring people around to their way of thinking.  And lastly, someone who isn't ultimately afraid to put their privates on the line and make a goddam decision.

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