New age in ops management: DevOps strategies are here to stay

DevOps is NoOps, right? Wrong! There'll always be a place for the help desk and operations staff, and those well-versed in good ops management have little to fear from the coming changes.

DevOps is more than just another buzzword -- although there's still enough DevOps jargon floating around to fill buzzword bingo sheets. Just like cloud, it's now a mainstream idea about how to approach problems and provide solutions.

And I could forgive you for thinking DevOps strategies are more about empowering developers to double as operations staff than traditional ops management. Just like Microsoft Azure, new ideas are often targeted at developers first. When looking to change the way an entire industry works, it's a fair decision to target the people that start the work. Cloud would be useless if developers didn't change their ways to accommodate the differences, and the same applies to DevOps.

Due to this approach though, it seems like DevOps strategies abandon the IT operational staff. It seems like ops pros have a bleak future and should really learn how to code. However, that's not what ops' future holds.

Here's why. The help desk will always exist. It might change and adapt and until we have AI that can determine a practical joke -- like someone switching keyboard keys around -- from a real technical issue, the help desk will be human-driven.

Change requires communication

The help desk exists to be quicker than the end user at finding an answer, working out a problem or arranging a change. The help desk staff is good at doing this, just like a plumber is good at changing taps; both are focused and practiced at a type of task and use their skills against it.

DevOps done well demands even more of the operations staff and ops management.

The same applies up the operations tree. DevOps done well demands even more of the operations staff and ops management. As your software changes more often, communication at all levels must meet a high standard -- and that's a key focus for the ops team.

Those already excelling in this area might not experience many changes. They're likely (hopefully!) already working closely with developers, arranging rollouts and giving feedback.

Less is more for a DevOps tool stack

"DevOps can be an infinite loop of tools," said Nimesh Misra, director of global development operations at Varian Medical Systems. So how can developers and operations folk find the tools that collaborate and integrate best? And isn't DevOps about culture not tools?

DevOps strategies are an ops management opportunity

Of course, DevOps amplifies issues if you have poor ops management, as a result of the increased rate of change. Problems you could once live with before become more persistent and must be addressed. They also cause a bad experience for the developer side of DevOps, as the devs are asked to roll back changes and deal with a general state of confusion.

Take DevOps as an opportunity for the operations staff to help developers deliver better -- improve the team's communications and processes and everyone wins. Developers will continue to develop, and operations will continue to manage ops. Both are very different job functions and require many separate and specialist skills to get great results.

This was last published in December 2017

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