DevOps has become an important industry buzzword these days, because enterprises realize that their embrace of Modern Enterprise requires them to consider DevOps as a part of their strategy. There is lot of confusion in the industry about DevOps and it's usually because of discussions based only on culture or the tools. We need to have a more holistic discussion around helping users make their DevOps strategy actionable.
Driver for DevOps
I've followed cloud adoption inside enterprises for a few years now and encountered many enterprise CIOs and IT managers who talk about DevOps. In these conversations and industry surveys a key message everyone agrees with is that DevOps helps IT teams align the goals of Developers and Operations with that of business users. DevOps provides better IT productivity, cost reduction, etc. One of the critical drivers for enterprise adoption, often overlooked, is goal alignment between all the stakeholders of an organization. Agile frameworks helped developers think at the speed of business. DevOps is helping IT run at the same speed as developers and business users. If your strategy is around this goal, you are on the right path.
Culture or Tools?
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, DevOps is not just about culture or tools. It is about how organizations change the culture and align the right tools with that culture so that organizations meet goals in a seamless manner. There is no point in changing the culture if the tools hold stakeholders back. Conversely, embracing modern tools doesn't automatically change the culture. Adoption of modern tools without a cultural change is more of incremental optimization than the embrace of Modern Enterprise concept.
As a strategist, you must have an action plan that takes your DevOps strategy into production (yeah, pun intended unless it falls flat). That action plan should include developing the right culture to align the goals of business, developers and operations. But the key is to go beyond culture and pick the right tools for your developers and operations. The tools you pick should aim to remove any friction between developers and operations so that the DevOps team can meet the needs of the business. DevOps is not a new team in your organization, but it represents a partnership between your developers and operations, who are working towards shared goals in a more collaborative culture.
Now as a leader of this transformation, ask yourselves the following question, "Are we aligning the culture and tools right?" If you focus too much on culture at the expense of tools, you'll create friction as a result of wrong tools. If you focus only on the tools without changing the culture, you'' end up with sub-optimal results. You can maximize the benefits of your DevOps strategy only if the culture you have cultivated matches the tools that reduce friction between Developers and Operations.