Armory's Perspective on Scaling DevOps
Empathy and trust are required for previously siloed teams to work in unison for a common goal.
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How long has your company been pursuing a DevOps methodology?
Armory has been pursuing a DevOps methodology since its inception in 2016. Our goal is to bring DevOps to the Global 2000 with the help of the Spinnaker open source continuous delivery platform, and with the support, training, and best practices we provide. Here’s why: today's innovative companies are software-first (think Netflix vs. Blockbuster). How these innovators build and deliver software can be the difference between thriving or merely surviving. Armory is commercializing Spinnaker so enterprises can leverage all of the DevOps learning and best practices that Netflix and Google (who created and open-sourced Spinnaker) built into the platform and ship better software, faster.
What are the most important elements of DevOps?
Teamwork, teamwork, teamwork. Without teamwork, every DevOps initiative will fail. Teamwork is the engine of DevOps. Empathy is gasoline.
How has your DevOps methodology changed as it has scaled?
DevOps runs on teamwork, and empathy is the gasoline of a high-performing team. Over time, Armory has prioritized empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. We test all employees for their empathy during the hiring process, and it is one of our core values. We are currently in a hyper-growth mode, and scaling ourselves requires us to be the best teammates possible. This requires empathy in all interactions. Empathy drives our internal and external interactions:
With each other (we work to ensure the success of those around us)
With our tribe (we understand and prioritize those that support us)
With candidates (we prioritize the candidate experience)
With prospects (we work to understand the pain they are feeling that we can solve for)
With customers (we work to turn our customers into heroes within their organizations)
In Armory’s view, the DNA of DevOps is as follows:
Team of coordinated specialists
Oriented to a common goal
Servant leader providing coordination and communication
Empathetic in dealing with others
Trust in the rest of the team
Dedication to a common goal
Selflessness, adherence to the greater good
Determination and resilience in the face of difficulty
Honesty with the leader and the rest of the team
Commitment to the mission
What techniques and tools are most effective for scaling DevOps?
My personal DevOps tenets are ACAMS+ (Agile, Culture, Automation, Metrics, Sharing, PLUS whatever is important to the customer, i.e. compliance or innovation) which provide a great framework for scaling DevOps. The important thing to remember is that each tenet is equally important. Metrics, for example, are just as important as culture. Focusing on the team, and the processes that make a team successful, enables effective, scalable DevOps.
What are some real-world problems you, or your clients, are solving by scaling DevOps? (Use cases you like to highlight.)
As companies are moving workloads out of the data center and into the cloud (and, more often than not, hybrid and multi-cloud), they are realizing brittle, manual paths to production won’t scale. It is not feasible to build and maintain separate paths to AWS, GCP, Azure, etc., and more often than not the knowledge of how these pipelines work is siloed within a small group in the ops organization. As a result, companies are getting stuck and their transition to the cloud is getting bogged down and delayed. With Spinnaker, we enable our customers to build a single, golden path to production that can deploy to any cloud or data center target. With clear, repeatable pipelines, the entire DevOps team is empowered to deploy software safely at a moment’s notice. Pipelines are documented by default, enabling new team members to get up to speed quickly. These benefits have been critical for our customers as they embrace DevOps and the cloud.
What are the most common issues you see when scaling DevOps?
The most common issue we find, especially in large organizations, is the team is not coming together as a cohesive unit. Amongst other things, we find the dev and ops teams at odds with each other — dev wants to move fast and break things, while ops want nothing to change and break. DevOps organizations need to act like a rowing team, also known as a crew. Crew is a great metaphor for DevOps — a team of individuals all rowing in unison towards a common goal. A crew team fits the DNA of DevOps well, and is made up of the following characteristics:
Mission: Row together with power and efficiency
Team: Comprised of rowers in individual positions moving the boat forward together, maximizing the efficiency of each stroke.
Trust: Rowers sit with their backs to each other. The first rower has no idea what is going on behind him. They have to trust their teammates.
Dedication to the common goal: In crew, the common goal is to win the race.
Selflessness: Crew is an unbelievably difficult sport, it requires a tremendous amount of selflessness and sacrifice.
Determination: Crew requires an incredible amount of determination. One 2km race is the equivalent of playing two basketball games back to back.
Honesty: In crew, the coxswain is facing the rowers and sees everything. The coxswain can evaluate everyone’s performance.
Commitment: Rowing is considered one of the most difficult cardiovascular exercises. It takes a tremendous amount of commitment to be a competitive rower.
Do you have any concerns regarding the current state of DevOps?
DevOps is a people, process, and technology problem. We as a community are still too focused on technology problems and don’t spend enough time on the people or process issues. We need to prioritize humans and get them working better and better together.
What’s the future for DevOps from your point of view — where do the greatest opportunities lie?
DevOps 2.0 or even DevOps 3.0 will be dominated by people and process. Empathy-driven cultures will proliferate and companies who operate the most effective as a team will win in the marketplace.
What do developers need to keep in mind when scaling DevOps?
Prima donnas will not be tolerated in a highly team-oriented environment. You have to be nice to work in DevOps and get along well with others. In order to work well together, teams need to treat each other with respect and individuals need to act as good teammates.
What have I failed to ask you that you think we need to consider with regards to scaling DevOps?
My personal definition of DevOps: A technical and cultural focus on teamwork and the software delivery mission.
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