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Development and Operations in Conflict

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Traditional organizations divide their teams by type of work (that often results in what are called silos). Certain development departments specialize in writing code. Many companies also have dedicated departments for testing software. Because bringing software to production and maintaining it there often require skills other than software development, an operations department is created. Splitting work areas appears to benefit the management as well. In addition to the specialized team, each department has its own manager who fulfills the individual requirements needed for this specific department.

Each department defines its goals based on the division of labor. The development department may be measured by its speed in creating new features, whereas the operations department may be judged by server uptime and application response time. Unfortunately, operations is considered to be successful if the metrics are stable and unchanging, whereas development is only applauded if many things change. Because conflict is baked into this system, intensive collaboration is unlikely.

Development teams strive for change, whereas operations teams strive for stability (the definitions of change and stability will be discussed in Chapter 2). The conflict between development and operations is caused by a combination of conflicting motivations, processes, and tooling.

Development and operations are two distinct departments. Often, these departments act like silos because they are independent of each other

In a nutshell, the conflict between development and operations is as follows:

  • Need for change: Development produces changes (e.g., new features, bug fixes, and work based on change requests). They want their changes rolled out to production.
  • Fear of change: Once the software is delivered, the operations department wants to avoid making changes to the software to ensure stable conditions for the production systems.

However, there is a long history of software engineering and process improvements. What about the "Agile" approach? Does the Agile method address those pain points?

Both development and operations groups will optimize themselves. Instead of optimizing the whole process, development and operations teams improve their individual processes to meet their respective objectives. Developers primarily focus on accelerating the creation of new features by, for instance, adopting Agile methodologies. The Agile movement has brought together programmers, testers, and business representatives. Conversely, operations teams are isolated groups that maintain stability and enhance performance by applying practices such as the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), which equates change to risk.

The more specialized the individual departments are, the worse the results for the company and its projects. The development department continually creates new features, changes, or bug fixes and throws them over the wall to operations. The operations department, in turn, perfects its many defense mechanisms to prevent change.

The conflict between the two groups can only be healed and the silos bridged by aligning the two groups' different goals. To do so, Agile methods must be applied to operations as well. We'll explore this concept in the next section.

The Definition of DevOps

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