Why DevOps Changes Everything: An Interview with Jeffery Payne


In this interview, Coveros CEO and founder Jeff Payne explains why DevOps is changing everything. He talks about how DevOps has to be incorporated as a complete culture change, as well as the differences between good and bad DevOps implementation. 

Josiah Renaudin: Today, I'm joined by Jeff Payne, the CEO and founder of Coveros and a keynote speaker at our upcoming Better Software Conference, Agile Development Conference, & DevOps Conference West. Jeff, thank you very much for joining us.

Jeff Payne: Thank you for having me.

Josiah Renaudin: No problem at all. First, could you just tell us a bit about your experience in the industry?

Jeff Payne: Sure. Coveros has been implementing DevOps solutions for quite a while—in fact, before it even really was called DevOps. Mainly because as a company that focuses on agile development and helping people transition toward agile, the automation of your builds, your tests, your deployments, your deliveries of software into environments is so critical to working in a fast, agile manner that you're really driven to doing that kind of work. We've been helping organizations through our agile solutions, but also just directly helping people build out DevOps solutions for really eight years here at Coveros.

Josiah Renaudin: Now, before we learn why DevOps changes everything, which is kind of the main topic of your keynote, can you give us your definition of the term? We hear it thrown around all the time, but what's your personal meaning of DevOps?

Jeff Payne: Yes. There are a million different definitions, and, as usual, when I speak at conferences, people are really confused about what it is because everybody talks about it so differently. To me, DevOps is fundamentally a culture shift toward collaboration and communication between everyone involved in the software development, delivery, maintenance, and support lifecycle. It's getting everybody to communicate and collaborate effectively.

The goal really is to reduce downstream errors, find bugs and errors earlier in the process where they're cheaper to fix, and replace costly manual efforts associated with setting up environments, managing environments, monitoring environments, tearing down environments, et cetera, et cetera, with as much automation as you can. There's plenty of tools out there and processes and techniques that help make DevOps efficient, but fundamentally, it's about culture, collaboration, and getting everybody to work together.

Josiah Renaudin: Like you just said, a lot of people hear the word DevOps and they're just confused about what exactly it's about. Why are organizations failing to see the grand impact DevOps has on the software development lifecycle? Have you seen different groups just assuming this is another buzzword that will fizzle out over time?

Jeff Payne: I think today people do see it. A year or two ago, not so much, but I think people today are starting to get it. The results of doing DevOps properly are so compelling, and there is some great data out there about what kind of efficiencies it can bring to your processes. It's really hard to ignore at this point. Like a lot of new technologies and new ideas, people are a bit skeptical, right?

Josiah Renaudin: Mm-hmm.

Jeff Payne: They're used to buzzwords popping up in the industry and there being a lot of hype around it. When you go to a trade show, every booth now has the word DevOps on it—same message, same tools. Now, though, they're all DevOps tools. There is a lot of hype, but I think DevOps is here for the long haul. I think that the efficiencies it brings to the overall software development lifecycle are so enormous, if you do it right, that it really makes it unlikely that it's only a passing fad.

User Comments

Clifford Berg's picture

OMG. Finally someone tells it like it is. Thank you Jeff.

Jeff is right that one can easily end up with unmaintainable code for one's infrastructure. Dynamic languages? That is the worst choice, but we are stuck with that for now because all the tools are written in dynamic languages. And the worst thing you can do is put some really smart "gurus" in charge of creating your "devops system" because they will rapidly create a mountain of code that no one else can use, understand, or maintain: thus, you have an immediate key person dependency and bottleneck, and your devops framework will come crashing down after a year or two.

The right way to approach devops: As Jeff says, include ops people early. They probably will not come to your standups, but they might call in. Definitely invite them to your release planning!!!! That is the place to start: when you plan your development pipeline, testing, and deployment. And have automation engineers  in the room to advise you on what can be automated. Another piece of advice: keep it simple, and use the tools are they are: don't create a home-grown framework unless you are prepared to go the full distance and turn it into a robust supported product. The advantage of today's devops tools is that programmers can google them when they get stuck and find an answer instantly: if you create your own framework, you take that away.

May 25, 2015 - 12:32pm
Elinor Slomba's picture

Excellent overview, Josiah! Many thanks for addressing the topic with such clear and to-the-point questions. If people would like to learn more about the Engineer Your DevOps Webinar series Jeff mentions in the interview, they should register for the next one upcoming June 17 http://ow.ly/Nrhec and check here for more dates http://ow.ly/NrhhG 

May 26, 2015 - 9:50am
Jeffery Payne's picture

Thanks Cliff and Elinor!  There's soooo much confusion out there about DevOps and what it means.  Glad to try and help people weed through the hype.  If anyone is in Vegas the week of June 7th for the Better Software conference, track me down!  I'll be there Sun - Wed.  Our free DevOps webinar on June 17th should be a good one too.  Check it out at the link Elinor provided.

May 26, 2015 - 12:04pm

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