Industry Experts Gather to Explain What is DevOps


What is this magical unicorn that is transforming service delivery?

Here’s the answer in 3 bullet points, 2 quotes, and a drinking game.

In case you missed it, thwackCamp™ 2015 was an online, virtual learning event that provided IT pros and developers with intermediate to advanced educational content, created by and for IT geeks. There’s an entire library of the thwackCamp video recordings that anyone can tune into and watch on demand.

Right to left: Matt Ray, Michael Coté, Caroline McCrory, Dave McCrory and Patrick Hubbard.

Right to left: Matt Ray, Michael Coté, Caroline McCrory, Dave McCrory, and Patrick Hubbard.

One of the main events, the Industry Experts Panel, brought in some heavy-duty, expert DevOps fire power from the likes of Matt Ray, Director of Partner Integration at Chef, Michael Coté, Director of Product Marketing at Pivotal Software, Caroline McCrory, VP of Business Development at CloudSoft, and Dave McCrory, Chief Technology Officer at Basho. Moderator and SolarWinds Head Geek™ Patrick Hubbard led the discussion on how DevOps is an inevitable evolution of the IT admin. If you don’t have a spare 40 min to watch the full video, here’s a quick summary in three bullet points and two quotes.

DevOps Session Summary:

What is DevOps? DevOps is the blurred line between IT admins and software developers. It spawned from the necessity that software developers needed to make updates to their applications crazy fast, from quarterly, to weekly, to sometimes daily. They needed QA and deployment of these updates to happen almost simultaneously, forcing the IT admin and software developer to work closer and closer together. Think continuous integration, delivery, and deployment all happening at the same time. How do you do this effectively and efficiently? Answering this question requires a hybrid solution between IT and development.

“Back when we were doing agile™, it was, you know, the business owners who would have the fast feedback from the developers, and the developers turn things around every two weeks. We still weren’t talking about QA in operations, and so DevOps is almost like well, it’s just agile for the rest of the people.” – Matt Ray

The key to breaking down the wall between IT and development is transparency. When a service goes down, these two groups tend to get defensive. Was it the code or the operations that screwed things up? Can you be open about the problems? Nurture a culture between teams that seek continuous improvement, not passing off blame. Acknowledging and documenting mistakes helps avoid making the same ones in the future.

Most IT guys are doing DevOps, they just don’t know it. You might be saying, “I’m not a programmer.” But if you write scripts, if you do A/B testing, if you use macros in Excel®, if you simply whiteboard out QoS mapping and workflows, then that’s DevOps. The nasty truth is this: The future of IT is going to be driven by software (software-defined anything). Programming is the key to making that happen. Those who embrace it will be the ones promoted with accelerated careers.

“You need to keep training and sharing that information, or you’re gonna be the guy saying, “Where do I hook up these horses to the car?” – Matt Ray

And a drinking game…

If you’re wavering on watching the full video, let’s sweeten the deal. Consider a drinking game that you can play along while you watch. Grab a tall, frosty glass of (my legal team insists that I recommend chocolate milk) and a few shot glasses of (again, they insist a beverage like Diet Mountain Dew™), roll the video and play by the rules below. You should be feeling pretty relaxed and open-minded about the changes DevOps is bringing by the end.

DevOps Industry Experts Panel Drinking Game Rules:

  • Take a sip from your glass every time “QA” is mentioned.
  • Take a sip every time “agile” is mentioned.
  • Take a long chug for any Walking Dead or Batman® reference.
  • Take a shot when the secret word “dearth” is mentioned. (Yes, there was a secret word decided before the panel.)
  • Take two shots when the concept of the “blameless post mortem” is introduced. “Let’s make new mistakes tomorrow and avoid the ones we’ve already made, and relish sharing your screw ups.”
  • Finish your glass when you realize programming and automation makes your life easier and ultimately more valuable to your organization.

Wanna drink see more? Check out the list of playback videos from thwackCamp 2015 here.