What is DevOps? John Willis Explains


John Willis is an IT operations veteran of more than 35 years and has been a leader in the DevOps movement from the beginning. He is a co-host of the DevOps Cafe podcast, co-author of the upcoming DevOps Handbook. You can find him presenting about DevOps, most likely with a few Deming quotes, at numerous events worldwide. John is currently working as a Distinguished Researcher at Kosli. He is researching DevOps, DevSecOps, IT risk, modern governance, and audit compliance.


John Willis is co-host of the DevOps Cafe podcast and Evangelist at Docker

Linux.com: Why are so many organizations embracing DevOps?

John Willis: There is definitely a lot of cargo cutting going on here. Also, vendors are promoting what I would call agenda-based “DevOps”. That’s the bad news. The good news is there are a lot of people telling us that DevOps patterns enable organizations to be faster, cheaper and safer.

Linux.com: Why are individuals interested in participating?

John: One of the core tenets of DevOps is learning and sharing. Individuals who are passionate about the health and performance of their organization find these patterns personally fulfilling.

Linux.com: What’s the primary advantage of DevOps?

John: Implementing DevOps patterns have shown that organizations can go faster while being more reliable. Based on surveys of IT professionals, the State of DevOps Report has shown that organizations that deploy faster and deliver services more quickly are better at resolving issues and have better change success rates. There have been a number of case studies and experience reports from the DevOps Enterprise Summit that show large enterprises are also moving faster with better reliability.

Linux.com: What is the overwhelming hurdle?

John: Culture, Culture, Culture. Although DevOps can come in many flavors, there are a few principles that seem to be universal. An organization needs to understand some of these principles and be able to adjust and work collaboratively while turning these principles into repeatable patterns.

  1. Small Batch
  2. Source control everything (code, configs, infrastructure as code, container source)
  3. Cross functional ownership of services (done means released)
  4. Automate the service delivery pipeline (continuous integration / continuous delivery) end to toe.

Linux.com: What advice would you give to people who want to get started in DevOps?

John: Attend a DevOps event (DevOpsDays or DevOps Enterprise Summit). As a co-author of the soon to be published DevOps Handbook, we have taken some of the best case studies and experience reports of the past 5 years and aggregated them into this book, so it would be a great way to begin your DevOps journey.

Read previous DevOps Q&As with Kris Buytaert, Michael Ducy, and Patrick Debois.