In a recently trending rant on hackernews Josh Johnson pointed to his negative experience with the DevOps process after taking on a new job in a firm that had a “dedicated devops team”. The post is mainly a rant about “that devops is utter bullcrap” and any sane developer should run when they hear the term.
My problem with this is that they didn’t even have a properly functioning agile processes in place and decided to create a dedicated “DevOps” team handling the deployment/infrastructure automation. I mean what could go wrong? They might as well have bought some “DevOps tools” from some new BS company hitching on this term.
DevOps is not a job title and if you come across an offer like that it should make your alarm bells ring. If you take on a DevOps role make sure they really want a (backend) engineer interested in automation but being part of the same team otherwise. if your’re doing devops right it means that everyone is in this together. There is no such thing as pushing your commit and let the “devops team” face the music.
Unfortunately there are many companies right now which have hi-jacked the DevOps buzz but lack total understanding of what it is. Somehow it feels like 2005 again when Agile became the latest rage. If you need a laugh just check stackoverflow for a bad example of actual sysadmin positions which are trying to sound sexy.
The root of the problem (the idea that sysadmins can’t program) might come from the fact that every company whether furniture/clothing store or any other sizable non-tech business needs sysadmins. But only if technology is your core business you need good developers. This probably leads to generalization of sysadmins not knowing their bits/bytes. Sure guys working for ISP’s and in datacenters are a different breed but they still get thrown into the same category because of the job-title.
Admittedly DevOps is much harder to do in large established companies than in a start-up. (but what isn’t? Agile is/was equally hard the bigger your firm is). DevOps (same as Agile) requires support from top-down as much as from bottom up. The bigger the company the more crucial it is to live the mindset of “Continuous Improvement” in the whole organization and not just in R&D.
This makes DevOps as much a political exercise as a technical challenge. As a rough indicator if DevOps can be a success in your firm ask yourself if you could politically get away with deploying the ChaosMonkey. The Netflix Chaos Monkey has nothing to do with DevOps at first sight, but the cool thing is that it only works with a stable DevOps process/mindset in place (in all ranks of the org) if not it will force you (brutally so) to improve your deployment automation and sort out your politics (and technical debt).
We’re constantly searching for “DevOps Engineers”. But rest assured that our clients know the difference of a silly job title and what the role entails. They are well aware it has nothing to do with trying to make the role of the system administrator (who apparently hates programming) more hip.
As a rule of thumb for assessing DevOps job opportunities: the bigger the company the more questions you should ask about the specific tasks which the “DevOps Engineer” will be expected to perform.
To answer the question in the title, devops isn’t bullshit but you get many companies (and recruiters) hi-hacking the term without a real understanding of what it entails.
— by Joachim Bauernberger
Valbonne Consulting provides Research & Consulting for emerging technologies in Internet/Web of Things (WoT/IoT/M2M) and Emerging-Tech. We specialise in decentralisation, security and privacy. We work across a variety of traditional industry verticals (Telecommunications, Automotive, Energy, ...). We support Open Source and technologies built on open standards.