How do you devop?

I’m a sucker for good portmanteau. “Devops” is a precise, but not particularly rewarding concatenation of “development” and “operations”. What it lacks in sonic fun, it makes up in describing something that’s actually going on.

For example, the tools that developers build for themselves are taking cues from the scripts that the operations team hobbles together to automate their work. In the bad old days, you manually configured a server after it was racked up. Then there was a specific load out of packages, a human-readable script to work from, a disk image to restore from, or maybe even a shell script to execute. Today, you can take your pick from configuration management systems that make the bootstrap and maintenance of large numbers of servers a programmatic matter.

It’s not just bringing up new servers that developers are dabbling in. Increasingly, I run across developers who are really, really interested in logging everything, using operational metrics to guide their coding work, and running the deploys themselves. In some teams, the days of “developers versus operations” and throwing bits over walls is over. This is a good.

You devop and don’t know it

Even if you don’t know Chef or Puppet, even if you never ssh into a database server even once, even if you never use the #devop hashtag or attend a like-marketed conference, you’re probably dabbling in operations. You, friend, are so devops, and you don’t even know it.

You use a tool or web app to look at the request rate of your application or the latency of specific URLs and you use that information to decide where to focus your performance efforts. You watch the errors and exception that your app encounters and valiantly fix them. Browsers request images, scripts, and stylesheets from your site and you work to make sure they load quickly, the site draws as soon as possible, and users from diverse continents are well served. You run deploys yourself, you build an admin backend for your app, you automate the processes needed to keep the business going. You consult with operations about what infrastructure systems are working well, what could improve, and what tools might serve everyone better.

All of these things skirt the line between development and operations. They’re signs of diversifying your skillset, better helping the team, and taking pride in every aspect of your work. You can call it devops if you want, but I hope you’ll consider it just another part of making awesome stuff.

One thought on “How do you devop?

  1. Devops is a neat buzzword, but regardless of what you call it this is exactly what it means.

    I think a lot the mindset that you describe stems from laziness and this is also a good thing. We tend to automate tasks that we only want to do once, build admin backends so that we don’t have to run queries or explain how to console in and do such and such. This laziness plus the inherent drive to make our creations work optimally leads us to create awesome stuff and make ourselves awesome in the process.

    Great post Adam!

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