At Eiara, we’re often asked what DevOps is, what we bring to the table and what problems we help solve.
There’s lots of great answers on what DevOps enables on a technical level, but much less focus is given to what we feel is the true focus and true value of DevOps mindsets and mentality, the cultural understanding and shifts involved.
Why Does DevOps Exist
Before we can look at the cultural changes, we need to examine DevOps as a technical practice. The idea grew out of the Agile mindset, building on failing fast and iterating towards a solution, knowing that we cannot know everything in advance. Building on rapid failure, the core axiom of DevOps moves to reduce the effects of human error in IT, through reliance on strong automation in development, deployment, and testing of services.
As a cultural practice, DevOps states that the classical silos that separate software developers from sysadmins is intrinsically harmful, arguing that these skillsets instead exist on a spectrum of knowledge.
By making the argument that software development is intrinsically and irrevocably linked to running the software, and visa versa, DevOps insists that effective, failure-resistant services are exceptionally difficult to run without dismantling those silos.
This philosophy provides the understanding not just of how our technical teams must work with each other, but also how technical teams must work with an organisation as a whole.
All software exists in response to needs, the needs of our customers, of our internal departments, of ourselves. But just as the false silos of Developers and Operations must be dismantled through DevOps, the same ideals and culture demands consideration of the needs of the business, to ensure we are asking the right questions, that we know we can ask the right questions.
DevOps transcends automation of technological needs. Instead, it grants us the power of introspection. By telling us we have overlooked the needs of our peers, it encourages us to ask who else we are missing, what other needs are unmet, who remains excluded by our behaviour.
It tells us that we are missing out on the skills of others, of the help and value that they can bring to our achievements.
It tells us that we must be inclusive, and to do otherwise is to maintain those harmful silos.
It leads then that the fundamental skills of DevOps are not infrastructure-as-code or software development. While these skills are necessary, they are not fundamental, they are not useful on their own.
Instead, the fundamental skills of DevOps can only be Empathy, Communication and Respect.
By drawing on the Philosophy of DevOps, the reasoning becomes clear. When we treat silos as harmful, we must ask our staff to reconsider how they have done work, and in what regard they hold others. We now ask our staff to care about others’ opinions, and to communicate effectively and with empathy and compassion.
We ask for a more holistic view, where no organisational skill is less valuable than another.
This can be a difficult transition, as it asks staff to reconsider their actions against a new set of judging criteria for competence and capability. It tells us that how we have acted is no longer acceptable, and that changes must certainly be made.
This is the philosophy of DevOps at Eiara. This is what DevOps is to us, to live and breathe not the technology, not the tools of Continuous Integration or AWS or Azure or Docker or Cloud, but to live for the new culture of communication, of respect, of collaboration that is required for DevOps.
DevOps was never about the technology. It can never be about the technology.
DevOps is, and always will be, about the people.