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architects,devops,theory,tools & methods

Delivering Value: Engineers and the End User

When I started following along the devops movement often times the phrase “delivering value” would appear in conversation. That made me ponder even harder on a question that had haunted me for quite a while already: who, as an ops person, am I delivering value to?

There seem to be two obvious recipients: the rest of engineering, primarily application developers, and end users, where in theory the value delivered to the devs is just a proxy to deliver value to the end user.

Staring at my terminal with tshark’s output floating by, asking that question feels somewhat odd. Am I delivering value to the end user right now? I guess I am, but on the spot the only thought I really have in mind is “why the heck is this api endpoint taking so long to respond?!“.

When I started bootstrapping a business years ago that question on the other hand was much more at the forefront of my mind and applicable to what I was doing. If you’re trying to figure out what to develop, how to design the app so that customers love using it, or even deciding to do some optimizations because people are complaining about speed – in all those cases it’s right there in your face – you’re delivering value to the user you just talked to.

The experience led me to conclude that as an ops guy I was quite remote from that person I was supposedly delivering value to and felt bad about it. Furthermore I felt most people around me were in a similar position, but they had no problems with it, in fact they were happy to be removed from that end user. That feeling is still with me today and I keep wondering if it’s useful, not even right, for things to be this way.

Today I ran into this paragraph on an article I was reading:

The guys and gals who show up every day eager to hone their craft, who are passionate about building stuff that matters to them, and perhaps in some small way, to the rest of the world – those are the people and projects that will ultimately succeed.

is that what we expect of engineers? and not just ops, I’m seeing a lot of devs that seem to be removed from the product they are building and purely obsessed with their “craft”. Is this a silo devops should be concerned about?

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