RSAWEB recently partnered with Chef (previously known as Opscode) to host a DevOps meet up, held at The Griffin in Johannesburg. Due to the rapid uptake of Cloud and scalability, the once clearly defined boundaries between the Development, Sysadmin and Operation teams have become increasingly blurred. This change and growth has neatly set the stage for the DevOps culture which has rapidly gained traction amongst the development sphere in South Africa.
Until recently, the actual meaning of DevOps is something that’s always somewhat eluded me. At RSAWEB we’ve come to see the value of the DevOps culture though, viewing it as a methodology that encourages, and often depends on, collaboration between systems as well as people. The eagerness of the community to understand this mysterious trend was demonstrated when the room was flooded by attendees and the landscape of our office tables quickly changed from drinks and pizza to Macbooks and code for the duration of the meetup.
The general consensus at the meetup seemed to be that DevOps is a methodology that extends far beyond technical capacity and should ultimately be translated to every aspect of a business. However, the introduction of a DevOps culture is certainly not a one-stop shop that makes the world a brighter place for developers and engineers only. There may be a great focus on software and infrastructure in terms of micro services, scale, automation and orchestration, but in order to truly appreciate DevOps one needs to employ the required processes that encourage the correct behaviour and, most importantly, support collaboration between people.
Collaboration is key
Collaboration is vital to ensuring that you have robust and scalable systems that effectively satisfy the business requirements. This can be achieved only through effectively harnessing the skills and knowledge of development, engineering, operations, testing and domain experts.
Previous methodologies used to enforce a degree of separation between these roles more often than not resulted in finger pointing and a feeling that technical staff such as the developers and engineers, were usually unreachable and unavailable to the rest of the business.
Breaking down barriers
DevOps strives to bridge the barriers between the various sections of the business so that we can align much more closely around business goals. It was these very aspects that drove every conversation at the meetup, as we discussed everything from technical aspects of scaling, orchestration and testing, to the effective management of large teams and the implementation of important elements such as peer reviews, skills development and workflows to achieve and create a DevOps culture across the business.
Engage with the community
There is a truly vast and growing repository of valuable knowledge in the development community, and it is becoming increasingly vital for every development team to make an effort to engage in the community if they wish to be successful. By leveraging the experiences and knowledge of other development teams, you could easily save yourself months, even years, through reduced trial and error, as was pointed out by one of our attendees. As previously mentioned DevOps is a culture that encourages collaboration above all else, and now is the time to take it a higher level to bring that collaboration to the development community as a whole.