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Evolution of DevOps

Why DevOps is a digital state of mind...

I have chatted many times with experienced engineers over the years who frankly see DevOps as being CICD for engineers who can talk to software developers. This is understandable considering something new is dropped into old management practices with a company culture that sees DevOps as nothing more than tech types creating a trending new tech addition to the existing company structures. Many now realise that if a company is to succeed in the digital marketplace, it must have a consistently effective product team instead of multiple functional teams handling software products. This means the days of functional based technology problems where it is a 'Software Dev's problem' or 'an Operations problem' will eventually be gone from the digital landscape. This evolution has led to the modelling of CALMS in the spirit of the evolving DevOps paradigm. For those who embrace a collaboration orientated culture that does not chuck problems over the organizational fence, CLAMS is a breath of fresh air that takes DevOps to the next level. So let's look at CALMS and it down as follows:

  • Culture - the move to an adhocracy dominated company culture driven by a change in leadership practices is the number 1 requirement for implementing CALMS in my view. Design and feature discussions, software development standups, build meetings plus more are examples of events that operations engineers have traditionally not been invited to as they are not within the scope of the operations area of competence. Correspondingly, ever try to get a developer at 3am after triaging a major outage, which points to a software issue? Cultural alignment must be cross-functional across the company and align without exception all the way to the top for it to be a success. This requires a paradigm shift for the company, which in turn requires an enormous amount of planning and investment by management to make it happen.
  • Automation - CICD, integration, and continuous improvement in a data driven manner to increase product performance is the focus here. Here one can also see the culture shift to cross-functional team problem-solving noting the wider lens creates new areas of importance. For example, production support for runbook based curation rather than tribal knowledge reliance becomes a priority as one cannot scale in a manner minimizing mistakes and custom treatments of problems without guidance from the documentation around what to do and when. Automation of deployments in a manner that is reusable will lead to a shorter time to deploy and strategies for fixing mistakes like automated rollbacks instead of 'hot fixes'.
  • Lean - Despite multiple takes on the word 'Lean' in business, this DevOps based meaning is based on the concept of risk acceptance around failure. The concept of its ok to fail along with the realization companies need to become failure resilient, not failure sensitive in their outlook is covered here. This cross-functional approach opens a lens of structured failure response quickly followed by learning and recovery. The learned lessons from lean are shared organization-wide so all interacting functions of the digital product know about what happened and the lessons learned from fixing it. This cross-functional awareness can bring help from unexpected quarters dismissed as not possible in times past.
  • Measurement - In order to become closer to the company in an adhocracy driven culture, the need to embrace technology to measure everything that is done is critical to data-driven decisions in the software development lifecycle delivering meaning to every decision. This in turn relieves the reliance on politics and personal bias at critical decision making junctures.
  • Sharing - Sharing failures as much as wins become accepted as normal practice in a culture that looks to learn from its mistakes instead of pointing fingers. Correspondingly, wins no longer rank as a cultural baton to beat competing functions up with in meetings. Gloating and brinksmanship switch from being a cultural virtue to a cultural vice.

This evolution of DevOps has also roots in the compatible agile project management methodologies that facilitate this pan company approach to digital projects. This of course makes sense of course. After all, why would a digital company approach it any other way? 

Stay tuned for more on infrastructure in this blog along with articles on other areas of interest in the writing and DevOps arenas. To not miss out on any updates on my availability, tips on related areas or anything of interest to all, sign up for one of my newsletters in the footer of any page on Maolte. I look forward to us becoming pen pals!

Best Regards

John 

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