It is winter, and one cold evening, a fairy visits you.
"You've got three wishes", the fairy says.
"I want a machine that throws snowballs", you say.
And puff, there's the machine. And the fairy disappears.
You invite your friend Simone over, and tell her what happened.
"Wow", says Simone. "How do you use the machine?"
"I have no idea. It's got like 1000 buttons.
It is way to complicated."
"Oh my god", says Simone. "What a pity."
That night, you sit in your room crying.
Suddenly, the fairy appears again.
"What's up? Why are you crying?"
"Well, you gave me that awesome machine, but I can't use it.
Simone can't use it either. It's too complicated."
"Well, you didn't say it needs to be simple. But remember.
You've got 2 wishes left."
"Ok. My friend Simone and me, we want to know which buttons to press. So that the machine builds snowballs, and throws them."
"Your wish is my command", says the fairy, and disappears.
You invite Simone over. But now, there is another problem:
you know exactly which buttons to press to make the machine build a snowball. But only that. You're kind of like the developer of snowballs.
Your friend Simone knows which buttons to press to make the machine throw a snowball. But only that. She's kind of like the operator of the machine.
If Simone and you work together, you can make the machine build and throw a snowball. But neither of you knows the whole story. Neither of you can use the machine alone. You always need Simone around. And while you can build snowballs that look really good, Simone often complains that they are too heavy and don't fly far enough.
But you're friends. You observe each other, and talk about the machine a lot. Because it's the most fascinating thing you know. And over time, you learn which buttons to press to operate the machine. And Simone learns to build a snowball with the machine.
You were a developer, and learned to operate the machine.
Simone was an operator, and learned to develop snowballs.
So now both of you are a developer, and an operator. You are DevOps.
One winter evening, you visit Simone.
Suddenly, the fairy appears again.
"You've got one whish left", the fairy says.
"It's your turn", you say to Simone.
Simone sits on her chair silently for a minute.
Suddenly, she jumps up.
And with a smile on her face, she says:
"I want a button on the machine that builds and throws a snowball.
And both my friend here and I can use it.
Don't trick us again. We are DevOps after all."
Loved this explanation.
Thanks a lot for this. So you think it makes sense to always have a team where everyone's title is software engineer or one where others devops engineers + % other engineers...
I know there's the scenario where teams requiring larger/more complex setups need devops teams who's sole purpose is infrastructure but is that really only what devops is all about?
In my opinion, DevOps is first and foremost a topic of organizational culture.
In contrast to my story, developers and operations often have conflicting interests. Developers prefer to have an easy, fast, frequent deployment process. Operations prefer a stable, high quality release, so they are often more conservative.
So the goal of DevOps would be: bring these two viewpoints together by collaborating closely. Have easy, fast, frequent AND stable and high-quality releases.
On the operations side, that would mean: gain empathy for the development side. Learn about developing automation of operation functions, like Infrastructure as Code.
On the development side, it would mean: gain empathy for the operations side. Use a continuous delivery pipeline with different kinds of automated tests. Lean about Monitoring, Rollbacks in production, Chaos Engineering and so forth.
I think both of the scenarios you describe are feasible: having all team members with DevOps skills, or having a separate team.
But if you have a separate team, this could be a smell that the cultural prerequisites are not there yet.
So the question would be: do the developers and that operations team work towards common goals?
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