Containers will not fix your broken culture. Microservices won’t prevent your two-pizza teams from needing to have conversations with one another over that pizza. No amount of industrial-strength job scheduling makes your organization immune to Conway’s Law.
Does this mean that devops has failed? Not in the slightest. It means that while the unscrupulous might try to sell us devops, we can’t buy it. We have to live it; change is a choice we make every day, through our actions of listening empathetically and acting compassionately. Iterative improvement starts somewhere for us all; let’s talk about it.
Tools are essential, but how we implement the tools and grow the culture and practices in our organizations needs even more attention. Whether you’re just starting to implement technical and organizational change, or facing the prospect that you already have legacy microservices, it’s worth considering the why and the how of our behaviors, not just the what.
Making thoughtful decisions about tools and architecture can help. Containers prove to be a useful boundary object, and deconstructing systems to human-scale allows us to comprehend their complexity. We succeed when we share responsibility and have agency, when we move past learned helplessness to active listening. But there is no flowchart, no checklist, no shopping list of ticky boxes that will make everything better. “Anyone who says differently is selling something”, as The Princess Bride teaches us. Instead, let’s talk about practical, actionable steps that will help. How do we evaluate our progress? How do we know when to course-correct? How do we react when it seems like there’s always something new we should have done last month?
Bridget Kromhout is a Principal Technologist for Cloud Foundry at Pivotal. Her CS degree emphasis was in theory, but she now deals with the concrete (if ‘cloud’ can be considered tangible). After years in site reliability operations (most recently at DramaFever), she traded in oncall for more travel. A frequent speaker at tech conferences, she helps organize the AWS and devops meetups at home in Minneapolis, serves on the program committee for Velocity, and acts as a global core organizer for devopsdays. She podcasts at Arrested DevOps, occasionally blogs at bridgetkromhout.com, and is active in a Twitterverse near you.