Is It Even Possible for DevOps to Take Apart Silos?

DevOps, at its core, is really about destroying silos, those calcified and insular management systems that make it impossible for people to collaborate across the enterprise.

Breaking down silo walls is a chore facing managers in pretty much every industry. Volumes of management books are written on it. When it comes to delivering better apps faster and cheaper, there’s hardly anything more important.

How important? In the second part of our interview with Ruston Vickers, chief DevOps architect at CA Technologies, says bringing down the walls between developers and network operations is an adapt-or-die type of proposition. You either do it, or you fall by the wayside. (part one of interview)

Do you think it’s possible for large organizations to disassemble the silos?

Well, my thought to that is, ‘You have to.’ If you don’t, you’re going to be left in the dust. You’re not going to be able to play in the market. Your competitors are going to figure it out and run past you.

Do you have an example?

Here’s one. Taking a picture of a check and depositing it in your bank from your mobile phone. OK? So, a bank – one bank – comes up with that. Now, if another bank is not ready to jump on that and they can’t move fast enough to get that feature out, how many people do you think are going to move banks because of that type of innovation? I mean, that stuff’s big.

Then you look at telecom. You know, who is able to get their iPhone or Android phone launch to be the most successful? And people can’t actually get activated or actually order the phone. People are going to go somewhere else.

So it’s those types of things. Consumers, consumerization, everything is moving so fast, and you’ve got to be able to innovate quickly to be the first or to react.

Who is responsible for DevOps?

For me, it’s the whole organization, ultimately. I mean, the whole point of DevOps is bringing development and operations together. So these organizations have to come together and start working symbiotically.

There’s not one group responsible for DevOps. That’s the whole point we want, we want all of these functional areas of delivering applications to work together to make it happen and make it happen fast.

You think the CIO is in the best position to help to drive that DevOps change, or should it should come from elsewhere?

Both. There has to be grassroots support, and there has to be a top-down push. So you have to have both.

Will DevOps last, or is this a fad?

No, I think it’ll last, and it’s because DevOps is mostly defined in a sense that its core is about that culture change. It’s not a very strict, put-together set of things to do. There’s room for this to grow.

Is there too much hype around this movement?

I don’t think so, because, again, it’s actually about instigating people to change their mindset in how we deliver enterprise applications. I think you’ve gotta, gotta – repeat – you gotta push, especially when it’s a philosophical change in the way we do things today. And, and you know, the silos have been around for so long that we have to keep pushing on it. So, no, I don’t think so.

What is the proper role of technology in enabling the culture?

That’s a tricky one. You’ve got to make the culture change, but to enable the effective execution of DevOps principles it’s absolutely critical that you understand the tools.

And, by the way, it’s a huge amount of different types of tooling and stuff that we’ve had, from continuous integration tools … all the way into the new configuration management, infrastructure code, and all these different types of things, the last of which is automation. All of these things come together. I mean, it’s all absolutely important for you to really, truly be able to enable that fast pace and with high quality.

How do you think companies should blend open‑source and Enterprise software when trying to achieve the delivery speed?

Well, this is pretty straightforward. This is the classic build-versus-buy that an organization goes through. There are very well understood areas in the application delivery stage that have wonderful open-source implementations. But then there are things and areas where there is no real open-source solution.

So software companies get focused on those areas. So you have to see what’s happening. When you have a clash between the two and it’s ‘What value do I get out of this Enterprise form of product?” So apply that to your budget and what you can do.

Either way, make sure that you’re working with tools that can help to actually enable your DevOps initiative and that it’s across the board. There’s a whole ecosystem to actually do that, and so it will be a good mix of anything from open-source and enterprise tools.

How does a company know if it’s doing DevOps right?

They will know they’re doing DevOps right if they are iterating and releasing software faster, and it’s better quality. And they’re doing it within a similar budget that they were fighting with before. I think that’s it in a nutshell.

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