In a recent conversation with Shlomo Swidler, prominent consultant and founder of Orchestratus, he discussed the merits of strong project leaders and team builders in the DevOps environment.
Swidler offered a historical perspective on DevOps and said that it is another step in the continuing evolution of the IT service delivery model. In the past teams were divided, operations was typically only involved in hardware and developers were typically only involved in software.
“As the two roles started to converge, because software began to take on more and more responsibility for high availability, those roles also merged. That’s really what DevOps is. The closer alignment of development and operations, or the functions within the organization that know how to build the software and the functions that know how to deliver the software,” he explained. This alignment is more and more common in companies today, and there is more awareness of this convergence.
“In and of itself, DevOps does not help organizations build software that is more in tune with what the users want…What DevOps can do is help, once you understand what the users’ needs are, to develop applications more quickly, and in such a way that once they are deployed, they will be more reliable,” he said.
In any environment, the role of the project manager is to make sure the team has all the skills it needs to develop an application that is correct and serviceable in the field to meet desired reliability, according to Swidler. He explained that in DevOps, the project manager must ensure that both the development and operations sides understand what the other side needs, and make sure that interactions and “cross-functional germination” take place.
There is a cultural gap between developers and operations—as developers push through change readily, and operations people tend to want to minimize risk, he explained. Their performance is measured by two very different criteria. However, good team builders and project managers create a “team-wide incentive alignment” so that the two sides can work together effectively.
“Culture is created by leaders. Whatever the leader’s behavior expresses, that is what the organization is going to rally around,” Swidler explained.
He went on to say, “It’s the leader’s responsibility to make sure that the team is managed or structured or governed in such a way that everybody’s success or failure is mutually dependent.” Ultimately, this is how to go about aligning IT teams with business objectives.
For other recent SSQ stories on DevOps, see: