In recent weeks, we've been having a series of open-ended discussions with the analyst community about DevOps and especially about where this is going, or likely to go, in the enterprise.
They have all, without exception, been great conversations and, being open-ended, have covered a lot of ground. One topic that kept coming up and that people got really excited about was the potential impact of DevOps on the IT organization and where that impact might be felt the most.
(Image by Robert Couse-Baker)
The concensus answer to these two questions appear to be:
1. Very impactful (potentially) and,
2. Operations, a lot more than development.
In many of these conversations, at least one person (on either the IBM or the analyst side, I will add) would end up taking the position that DevOps was potentially a radical game-changer for IT operations, that development will end up owning most of the key operational processes (change management, provisioning, automation, monitoring etc.) Furthermore, because programming, rather than systems administration, skills will be at the center of this, the hapless operations folks won't be able to make the transition. You get the picture.
I can see this happening, albeit at a much slower pace than some people might predict or hope for. But even if you think it should happen, and happen fast, this mental model for the transformation is likely to be counterproductive. If operations people start to believe their positions, indeed their jobs, are threatened by this, driving organizational change is going to become very difficult.
A better mental (and management) model for DevOps - one that avoids parts of the organization reaching for the metaphorical torches and pitchforks - is that of collaboration. Making these changes, especially in the complex, heterogenous, legacy, environment of the typical enterprise IT shop is going to require collaboration, not confrontation. If fact the collaborative model really represents the low-hanging fruit in most organizations.
In most organizations, both development and operations are well-functioning organizations. It's the historical divide that is the issue. Erasing this divide is disruptive enough (in many businesses we're talking about a 40+ year organizational split) without throwing uncertainty and fear into the mix. Change will come, but collaboration rather than wholesale re-engineering is likely to be the best on-ramp to success.