Here at REA, we have been firm believers in accountability of work, from the inception to delivery! To cement this idea, we instituted the concept of devops here some months ago, were a dedicated OPS person would co locate with the development teams for particular projects and be just like another developer. Conversely, a developer from one of the teams would colocate with the Operations team and experience being a systems administrator. The reasons were to get members of both teams aware of the fine grained issues and complexities that develop within the processes of development and/or deployment. We frequently rotated the personnel through this process to better spread the lessons learnt. Being an observer of this process, I have come to a few conclusions.
1. One person cannot be a ‘devops’ person.
It is not possible to have one person in a position where he/she is expected to do deployment and development while all others are expected to do only one of the above. The responsibility, and thats what it is, has to be shared across the team. It is the responsibility of the entire team to ensure that that the delivered product works in production, and not just one person.
2. It is a mentality, not a position.
It should not be marketed as position to slot one person in, or even rotate people through. A software developer who writes the code should be as concerned about his/her code working in production as he/she is in development. Definitely operations are more experienced with deployment and maintenance of products in production like environments, but that does not mean a developer should not base his software decisions before being aware of implications of deploying it in production, or be unaware of the status of his code after it passes quality assurance. The thinking behind devops is the critical bit of software development.
3. Operations need to be consulted early and often.
Operations are somehow considered as the team to call in last, when you have your product ready or almost ready. That in my humble opinion, is a fallacy. They need to be involved in every inception, every retrospective and every card kick off as any other team member. Their thoughts are most invaluable as they will look at a piece of work, not as whether it can be done, but whether it should be done based on the present state of production; whether there are some inherent dependencies that need to be resolved. Not only will this ensure that software developers will start writing software with production in mind, rather than their own laptop, but also the fact that this will spread the knowledge of state of production to people who might not have it to begin with.
devops is not a magical word that resolves our issues of deployment, dependencies etc, but it does get us started on the road of understanding that we are working to deploy to a production box, not our own laptops; and it is the responsibility of everyone involved to make sure that happens, and not just one lone person.