DevOps – its not Culture, and its not a Movement

What is DevOps? If I had one scenario to pick for which to use the phrase “everyone has a different definition of X”, it would be to define DevOps. In my entire career in business and technology I have come across similar confusion only twice – the first time was with the definition of “cloud“, and the second is with the definition of “omnichannel“.

So what is DevOps? If you look up with definition of DevOps on Google you get this – “DevOps (a clipped compound of development and operations) is a culture, movement, or practice that emphasizes the collaboration and communication of both software developers and other IT professionals while automating the process of software delivery and infrastructure changes.” Ok – now even I am slightly confused? So DevOps is a movement?

Well to me a movement looks something like this:


or at least like this..


& not like this…

Credit: New Relicdev-ops

Well, what if its more of a culture? Hmmn, again, when I think culture, I think something like this:

Credit: Listversesamural

or this…

Credit: mausspacebeatles


& less this…

Credit: Sakthi Vadivelu

DevOps Culture.png

What about practice? Now are we on to something. “Meditation” is a practice, “martial arts” is a practice. Generally a practice is associated to something that you a) do consistently, and b) that enhances your well being in some way. Well to do DevOps right – a) you have do it consistently, and b) if you do DevOps right, it will enhance the well being of most development and IT organizations. So yes, DevOps is a practice, and like with most practices, it involves a “philosophy”, a “methodology”, and a “toolkit”, however unlike say “meditation”, “DevOps” is a team practice. What this means is that in addition to a philosophy, methodology, and toolkit, DevOps requires an “operating model” in which a team or a set of teams can effectively operate. Additionally, like with any other practice, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

So with this as a foundation, how would I define DevOps? I would say “DevOps is a practice with an associated philosophy, methodology, toolkit, and operating model, that enables the rapid deployment of software“. I have used some words very deliberately here, in particular the words “rapid”, “deployment”, and “software”.

Rapid vs. continuous: Continuous deployment or continuous delivery implies a level of instantaneousness that while it might be an ideal final state, is probably not a realistic near or even medium term state for most IT organizations adopting DevOps. Rapid is fast, but its not continuous, and its certainly not instantaneous.

Deployment vs. Delivery: Software can be delivered as quickly as it has been developed and tested, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that the software has been put into use. In the IT world, for software to be used, it has to be deployed.

Software vs. Infrastructure Changes: Infrastructure changes might or might not be software changes or software-driven changes. For the purposes of this definition I have excluded infrastructure changes that are purely hardware changes.

Additionally, note that I haven’t used the words “to minimize risk” or to “reduce time to market” in my definition of DevOps. The reason is simple, its because in my mind those are value statements of DevOps, and hence imply why we should care about DevOps, but do not constitute the definition of DevOps.

Hope this helps!

DevOps – its not Culture, and its not a Movement

Enterprise Computing – The Fourth Act

Hello and welcome to the very first post of the The Fourth Act. In this post I will answer four questions:

  • What is The Fourth Act of enterprise computing
  • Who am I and what is my experience in enterprise computing
  • Why am I starting this blog
  • What will the fourth act blog cover

Lets gets started…

What is The Fourth Act of enterprise computing?

The Fourth Act of enterprise computing is the cloud. Note by cloud here, I don’t mean just the popular definition of the cloud, i.e. the public cloud accessed over the Internet. I use the word cloud more liberally than that and include in it, in addition to the public cloud, both the hybrid and the private cloud, and more widely the use of commodity hardware to build very large server farms for computing – where this farm resides – on-prem, off-prem, or a on a bit of both, is of secondary importance.

The Fourth Act v03 MA 31Dec2015

Why is it of secondary importance? Because really what defines an era in computing, as depicted in the image above, is not so much where the computing power resides, but how this computing power can scale. This ability is to scale is contingent on the core technology driving each  act, and the core technology driving cloud computing today, is largely commodity hardware.

The ability, or inability, to scale also drives everything else in enterprise IT – any by everything else I literally mean everything else – including the applications that an enterprise deploys, how these applications are commissioned and built , an enterprise’s information security and network infrastructure needs, end-user computing needs, and IT operating models, budgets and governance.

 Who am I and what is my experience in enterprise computing?

My experience in enterprise computing dates back to 1998 and initially covered end-user computing, and enterprise networks. In the year 2000, I got my first taste of enterprise information security and risk consulting by way of an internship at now-defunct Arthur Andersen. In 2001, I began my career in enterprise technology consulting in earnest by way of Accenture. At Accenture I was exposed to clients in a wide array of industry verticals including resources, healthcare, and public sector. At Accenture I initially worked for the Global Architecture and Core Technology practice, focusing primarily of enterprise networks, data center, and contact center technologies, and later for the IT Strategy and Transformation practice, where I focused primarily on CRM and IT  Strategy. In 2010 I left Accenture to pursue my career as an independent consultant and entrepreneur, and have since worked with some of the worlds largest brands, technology companies, and public sector entities.

Some career highlights up to this point include:

  • Conceptualizing the infrastructure design and managing the infrastructure roll out, required to support one of the largest ERP implementations in the world
  • Building the core technology that supports that largest citizen-service contact center implementation in the world (NYC 3-1-1)
  • Developing the go-to-market and proof-of-concept strategy for collaboration and unified communications (UC), for one of the worlds largest UC and Contact Center companies
  • Designing a key component of the information security strategy of a global top-3 brand
  • Creating the omni-channel customer support strategy and roadmap for one of the world’s largest technology companies

Why am I starting this blog?

I am writing this blog because I have found a dearth of high quality enterprise focused technology blogs. Most blogs I have read are either by experts in certain niche areas of enterprise technology (some are quite good for practitioners of that niche), or by journalists that have been covering enterprise technology (mostly well intended, but lacking a practitioners insight) for a while. With this blog I plan on keeping a balance between a practitioners expectations of an enterprise technology blog, with that of those that might be a little bit on the outside, but looking to better understand the wider enterprise technology landscape. I by no means claim to be an expert in every aspect of enterprise technology, but I do have a very wide breath of experience, and will pull in the appropriate experts as needed to help supplement the blog. Hopefully this will help increase both my audience’s, and my own knowledge of all things enterprise.

What will the fourth act blog cover?

While cloud computing is the general paradigm that drives this blog, the intent is for the blog to cover all areas impacted by the paradigm shift from client-server computing to cloud computing in the enterprise. To that attend this blog will focus on:

  • An in-depth look at each aspect of the enterprise IT stack, across people, process, technology, and governance, and how it is impacted by the fourth act (cloud computing)
  • Interviews with enterprise IT leaders that are leading the charge to the cloud
  • Case studies highlighting the challenges, strategies, and innovation happening in the cloud
  • Occasional looks into what lies ahead

Hope this gives you some good perspective on The Fourth Act, and look forward to sharing great content with you in 2016 and beyond!

Enterprise Computing – The Fourth Act