DevOps Done Right: The Operations Dividend


Containers and cloud native are great technologies, but what is the larger business context? Why should the pointy-haired bosses care? Joe Beda of Accel Partners described the tremendous business value of DevOps done right in his keynote presentation at LinuxCon North America in August.

Does anyone really know what DevOps is? Some call it “Group therapy for large corporations.” But Beda says that when DevOps is done right it’s a way of structuring your organization for greater efficiency, better coordination between operations and development, and greater speed in rolling out services and improvements.

Beda’s talk began with DevOps gone wrong: “I think we’ve all seen this dysfunctional organization where really it’s one team is from Mars, one team is from Venus, I’m not sure which is which, and they really don’t get along. So you hire some expensive consulting firm and you do some trust fall and ropes courses and everybody’s happy again.”

DevOps done right, on the other hand, accelerates development, deployment, and improvements, and lowers the costs of providing services. It improves the relationships between application developers and how applications are pushed into production and operated. Beda said, “It is no longer acceptable for a development team to not care about how their stuff runs in production. Similarly, it’s no longer acceptable for an operations team to just let something happen and say, “Oh well, put that in a playbook, we’ll deal with it next time.” They have to take their knowledge, their learning, and they have to plow that back into the development cycle so the application becomes more and more operable over time.”

The key is to take the classic engineering approach of breaking large problems into small problems, solving them, and using and re-using them as building blocks to solve the larger problems. Using small independent teams is also key, as larger teams don’t necessarily accomplish more. “Jeff Bezos has the saying that if any meeting is so large that you can’t feed everyone with two pizzas it’s probably too large. That’s the two pizza rule. A lot of folks, and I think it’s a good idea, have also applied that two pizza rule to development teams,” said Beda.

“As you add that extra person you have more relationships that you need to manage, more lines of communication to keep open, and it’s more difficult for that development team to gel and be effective. It really makes sense to keep those teams small, keep those teams independent,” he continued.

DevOps done right has tremendous business value. Beda explained that “This is what I’m calling the Operations Dividend. If we make operations that much easier, that much less work, and we make those teams that much more efficient you’re going to have excess capacity, and it’s up to you to decide what you want to do with that capacity.” See the complete keynote video below.


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