ValueFlow Thinking

DevOps is Like Climate Change


Yes indeed, DevOps is a pressing reality for IT survival

… we all know we need to do something about it, but there are a few entrenched deniers, a lot of people looking the other way and those would like to do something but don’t know where to start!
This blog is for those wanting tips on where to start…

But first, a few thoughts on the how and why this came about!
(Can’t help myself it’s been too fascinating watching this emerge ;-])

I’ve been doing IT review/assessment work since the late ‘90s in various forms (ITIL, ISO 20000, COBIT etc). When it came to Testing/Release/Change processes, the bulk of organisations struggled to fund and manage enough hardware to do testing in “production like” environments. So we all shrugged and said “ah well”… and added more controls ;-]

We struggled like this for 20 years then…
Enter Cloud computing IaaS ….

  • AWS, Azure, VMWare, OpenStack. Etc

So, the environments problem is solving itself one stack at a time. The trajectory is abundantly clear on this. Market demand is driving change.

Meanwhile, in the battle for the consumer, digital disruption has emerged. A bunch of software based technology services companies decide that they want to take on traditional business models and do it as fast and cheaply as they can e.g. Uber, Netflix, etc. These businesses are pure Value Stream structures…no silos!!

For the disruptors, it’s all about how to get the features to the customer.

Enter DevOps tooling & practices which could be summarized as:

  • Infrastructure as Code for environments… Puppet, Chef, Ansible
  • Containerisation to simplify architectures and improve flow….Docker,
  • Test automation to “shift left”, reduce labour & increase velocity…Jenkins, Cucumber etc
  • Codification of DevOps into books and conference presentations… DevOps days, DevOps for Dummies, Gene Kim’s “The Phoenix Project” and soon to be released (hopefully) DevOps Cookbook

Traditional business models are under siege!

In reaction, traditional businesses and government are latching on to movements like Lean Startup and what’s this thing called Agile? They decide on a “Digital First” strategy and start throwing effort into building software to “Digitalise” the business. Expectations and “need for speed” are through the roof.

So now we have Demand side pull from the business, we have Cloud computing resources and we have DevOps capabilities. It must be time to sort out the Supply side of Enterprise IT.

And that is what DevOps is…it’s how we get the Supply side of IT in synch with Demand.  Essentially Ops becomes part of a value stream that joins external Customer – to the Business – to the Developers – to the Operators.  If we get this right it is a huge enabler for the business.

I can’t tell you how energising it was to chair a DevOps conference in Melbourne recently where and Domain spoke about how they get features to market to compete with each other on a day to day basis.  And even Gene Kim was impressed with how one of our Aussie banks can now make changes to banking systems in business hours!  It’s already happening here in Australia while you read this.

So how do we go about this transformation in enterprise IT?

Fortunately there are a lot of great – free – resources

(Unlike when we started with ITIL with no benefits data, no implementation guidance and no clear business driver…but in the end that was just about getting our act together on the Supply side.)

DevOps people like to share.  Here are some of my favourite sources:

As an IT Operating Model advisor, I get to talk to a lot of clients and practitioners around the traps and as an avid Goat, I absorb and synthesise a lot of content!

So, here are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up around the traps over the last couple of years:

  • Don’t just get Dev and Ops to sit together and hope for osmosis. – it just feels weird ;-] Put some serious thought into it before you start. Be clear on your objectives and create a plan, starting small first and engaging your early adopter “goats” (see link above)
  • You will need environments and tools to get this happening so you may need seed funding. Hence the start small. On the other hand, the business is driving digital and your developers are almost certainly doing/exploring agile so you will find that there is an appetite. It won’t be a hard sell..ummm would you like us to do IT better, faster and cheaper?
  • It is not necessary to set up different Operating Models for DevOps and traditional ITSM. These capabilities can co-exist. You need to come off a strong, business focused ITSM footing and work on higher velocity in Change and Release processes.
    This from Gene Kim:  “It is my firm belief that ITSM and the DevOps movement are not at odds. Quite to the contrary, they’re a perfect cultural match.” From
  • Bring DevOps into the mix in selecting your tools. Your ITSM tools should be able to cope with the “fast lane” i.e. the CMDB should be able to integrate with Infrastructure as Code tools. Your new Apps services need be internally instrumented so you know what’s going on and integrated with monitoring tools
  • Evaluate your Infrastructure partners, in particular Managed Service Partners, on their ability to provide DevOps services. Can they move at DevOps speed? Can they provision environments, provide tooling and integrate with the agile development practices?

It’s clearly time to get cracking on this before our Islands of IT go under (re-read title please ;-])! All the resources are available, now it depends on leadership to take on the cultural change challenge and make a plan to get this done so your business can get on with competing in their markets without the constraint of a “heritage IT” department.

I guess I should end here and leave more for another day. Just on that, I’ll be running DevOps Foundation ( training with long term Partners:



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