Tuesday, 27 November 2018

DevOps: The Tech Cheeseburger?

How do you feel about change? A great way to gauge a person’s feelings about change is by their reaction to Spencer Johnson’s 1998 book Who Moved My Cheese. This thin volume is subtitled an amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life and in case you have not come across it you can watch a short cartoon version instead.

The book seems to have been written to help those going through catastrophic and unusual change, probably brought into sharp relief during the massive layoffs and off shoring that were still relatively new in the 1990s. The book was handed out to those who had lost their jobs, jobs they had expected to have for their whole life, and which may even have been jobs that their parents had. I find it hard to believe that being told to behave like mice can have helped much.

Those used to change are more likely to find the book obvious, insulting, funny or all three. I also found the parable insightful into how people who are unused to change, and the few who are just plain change resistant, look at things.

Looking at enterprises we often see that technology groups are split into two organisations, one that is charged with ensuring that everything works, and one which is doing new stuff. The latter is traditionally the software development team but has recently been joined by those migrating to the cloud and introducing IOT. Traditionally the infrastructure side won every battle as they spent more money and hence had more executive clout.

The two sides of this bimodal world are often in conflict, with one side battling to ensure that the cheese stays exactly where it always has been while the other side is trying to find new, more nurishing cheese somewhere else.  How can we make them work together? Well, the answer is obvious: focus not on each group’s cheese, but on the customers’ cheese: yes, move that cheese away from the factions and make them work together.

When creating software this is, of course, DevOps. Bring the people charged with offering reliable, consistent customer outcomes together with those who are driving to make new and exciting things and you should get new and exciting services that are stable. Rather than serving up the patty and the cheese separately, bring the two together. After all, a cheeseburger is unquestionably better than the two items served apart.


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