Long an undercurrent, the conversation around DevOps is now gaining wider attention.
Developers preparing work for operations have always been admonished not to ‘throw it over the wall’ but that has not naturally evolved into a true dialog with system admins that oversee the data center.
It has been discussed in relationship to cloud computing, but it remains an object of attention for the classic data center as well.
Noted Agilist Scott Ambler has counted effective links between developers and operations as a major goal for many years. At IBM he has worked with others to incorporate such best practices in frameworks and tools.
Tools are important said Ambler, agile development practice leader for IBM, when we caught up with him at Innovate 2011 event in Orlando, Fla., but he added that collaboration and communication are truly key. Dialog is needed, he said.
The noted Agile evangelist Ambler points out that agility can stall if quickly developed apps conflict with an ops department’s best practices.
“So many project teams run into trouble when they don’t talk with the ops people. A lot of developers don’t understand the needs of ops and their ways of doing things,” he says. “There is a gap, and it runs both ways.”
“Developers find ops won’t support the technologies that the teams have used. They won’t put up the servers. It’s a surprise.” It should not be, he said. “If you had taken the time to [meet] three months earlier, you wouldn’t get that surprise.”
Among projects Ambler has worked on at IBM is a process framework called Disciplined Agile Delivery. Elements influenced by this framework have been appearing in IBM Rational tools.
”We’ve baked in [DevOps] from a forward perspective and a reverse perspective. From a forward-looking point of view, you need to talk with ops people on a regular basis, so you know about their release windows, for example,” he said. For the reverse point of view, in diagrammatic descriptions, ops’ defect reports can be automatically fed back to development.
“This is such a common sense thing, you’d think it always would be included as a explicit part of the project,” he said. Ambler suggested better developer communications with operations helps ensure that the agile team members are good citizens.