July 12, 2016

What is DevOps? Mark Imbriaco Explains

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Pit Stop Crew
DevOps is focused on reducing friction and improving collaboration through the entire software delivery cycle, says Mark Imbriaco of Operable.

Mark Imbriaco has spent the past 20 years working at some of the most interesting and innovative companies in the industry, including 37Signals, GitHub, and DigitalOcean before moving on to become Co-Founder and CEO at Operable. You can also find him talking about various DevOps topics at conferences and elsewhere online.

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

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Mark Imbriaco is Co-Founder and CEO at Operable.

Mark Imbriaco: This is a tough question to answer because there are so many factors involved. In the end, the movement toward DevOps is not caused by any sort of inherent altruism in organizations but rather as a reaction to increasing demands to deliver more software, more quickly, and with fewer resources.

DevOps is focused on reducing friction and improving collaboration through the entire software delivery cycle. As more and more organizations see successful outcomes with this approach, it only becomes an easier sell. After all, it's pretty intuitive that working collaboratively throughout the process is more efficient than attempting to coordinate across silos of development, QA, and operations at the last minute before a release.

Linux.com: Why are individuals interested in participating?

Mark: People like to feel empowered and like their voices are being heard. The collaborative nature of DevOps ensures that everyone involved in a project has the opportunity to contribute their point of view and ideas to have a positive impact even in areas that may not have traditionally been their department.

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

Mark: There is, at this point, a significant body of evidence that shows that agile, iterative development processes are able to significantly improve both the rate of software development and the ultimate quality. Rather than minutely specifying all of the details up front, practitioners of an iterative approach are able to continually learn by delivering small units of functionality and preserve the ability to adapt to what they learn along the way.

It turns out that this iterative approach is just as useful operationally. The result is systems that can be deployed more quickly, managed more effectively, and which incorporate feedback mechanisms to enable learning as a core feature.

Linux.com: What is the overwhelming hurdle?

Mark: The biggest barrier is in the variability of implementation. DevOps is not something you can buy, and no two organizations will wind up with the same implementation details in the end. This lack of a linear implementation plan can be daunting to those who are intrigued by the ideas but are already overwhelmed by a mountain of work.

The good news is that the same iterative approach that DevOps suggests for delivering projects works for adoption of the methodology as a whole.

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

Mark: As with anything, start as small as you can. Choose a small project or a new feature delivery as a testbed for a new methodology. Resist the urge to make a big splash by attacking a high profile project and apply the same iterative approach that DevOps and Agile advocate for software delivery to the delivery of changes to your human systems.

Finally, never stop learning. The real power of DevOps is the ability to continuously learn and immediately apply knowledge. The more you and your team can internalize that idea, the better your outcomes will be.

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

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