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Should Dev or Ops be responsible for driving DevOps?

DevOps is a hot trend that has achieved mainstream status over the last couple years. Organizations with established departments, teams, and processes, however, generally don’t have anyone or anything called “DevOps”. They have developers and IT operations teams with separate goals and agendas. As these organizations move to embrace DevOps the push has to come from somewhere, so the question is “From where?”

I wrote this post about who should drive the DevOps initiative:

DevOps is no longer a niche or fringe concept. It has achieved mainstream status and businesses of all shapes and sizes are adopting DevOps tools and principles. DevOps involves various teams and individuals working together toward a common goal, but someone has to lead the effort. Is there a specific role that should own DevOps, or does it not matter who drives the DevOps initiative?

DevOps done right

What’s the “right” way to approach DevOps? Should it be a decision by upper management that’s pushed down throughout the organization or a grassroots movement from the trenches that strives for support from upper management? Is there even a “right” way?

Gene Kim, coauthor of The Phoenix Project: A Novel About IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win and the upcoming DevOps Cookbook, joined Mike Kavis earlier this year on aCloud Technology Partners podcast. The two discussed what works and what doesn’t in DevOps and touched briefly on the topic of who should lead DevOps initiatives.

Kim noted that he sees a number of large, complex organizations doing miraculous things with DevOps. Organizations such as Disney, GE, Raytheon, and Capital One—businesses that have to deal with significantly more complexity and overcome entrenched silos and internal politics—are managing to achieve DevOps success on par with DevOps “unicorns” like Netflix and Facebook.

It takes a village

The reality is that companies—especially larger enterprises—aren’t embracing or implementing DevOps across the board. It’s generally a scenario where one department or team is implementing DevOps tools and principles, and the company adapts one value stream at a time.

One assumption that’s often made is that a majority of the DevOps success stories should come from greenfield projects—brand new companies or projects that can simply start from scratch and hit the ground running with a DevOps mindset. Kim, however, says that what he has seen is that about two-thirds of the success stories come from brownfield customers—businesses dealing with legacy hardware and software and existing processes.

So who’s leading the DevOps movement for these organizations? Kim notes that of the 50 or so speakers at the DevOps Days conference, the top job title was director of operations, followed by chief architect, and then director of development. What’s interesting is that the order was reversed for the session attendees, with most being directors of development, followed by chief architects, and then directors of operations.

What does that mean? It implies that the early adopters of DevOps were driven primarily by operations leaders—which is why those individuals have already risen to the level of speaking at events and sharing their DevOps experiences. The current push for DevOps, on the other hand, seems to be coming from the developer side of the house, as evidenced by the attendee demographics.

Read the complete story at TechBeacon: Driving DevOps: Where should the leadership begin?

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