Published on 16 August 2013 by

DevOps practices are almost taken for granted at leading-edge Bay Area companies, says Donnie Berkholz of RedMonk. But in the world outside the Bay Area — and indeed, outside a limited circle of leading-edge technology companies — DevOps is still something people are struggling to get their heads around, even when they really want to.

To illustrate, Berkholz writes about attending an Amazon Web Services Summit in Silicon Valley, where he found startups building in DevOps practices from the ground up. By contrast (and ironically), at DevOpsDays Austin, Berkholz found “a world where inertia rules the day, where business is king and sysadmins have little to no say in major changes. And it’s a world where even experimentation is difficult and must be done on the smallest of scales.”

What makes it so hard for companies outside the Bay Area to adopt DevOps practices? Our experience has shown us that:

  • Developers and IT operations people are rewarded for meeting different goals, and these goals conflict in many — even most — organizations.
  • Developers and sysadmins use different tools.
  • In many companies, developers and sysadmins don’t communicate regularly and don’t align around the goals of the business.

Developers are tasked with, and rewarded for, releasing new code. Sysadmins, on the other hand, are tasked with keeping IT systems stable and available. Too often, each group sees the other as impeding their ability to do a good job.

We’ve found that DevOps adoption often begins with the two camps — dev and ops — having a conversation where they can be open about their difficulties. The next step in DevOps adoption often happens when developers and operations people agree to use a common set of tools, such as adopting Git for version control across the organization. From there, it’s a short step to adopting automated configuration management and other tools that enable organizations to release code more frequently, with fewer errors and less downtime.

Will the companies of Everytown, USA, take to DevOps with the same enthusiasm as Bay Area companies? Ultimately, they will have to, or risk being outstripped by competitors who gain efficiency and time-to-market advantages through their own adoption of DevOps practices.

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