How Dev and Ops Can Work Together for Continuous Delivery

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Your organization has created a DevOps group, embarked on a journey to implement Agile methodology, and has been working towards continuous delivery. But have you really examined what that all means? Have you thought about the fact that you will be making one of the most difficult changes that can be made in an organization — a cultural change?

This year the pair will appear together for the first time on a conference stage at Interop ITX 2018 to talk about The Impassable Last Mile of Continuous Delivery. But while it may be the first time they have appeared together on a conference stage to talk about DevOps, it won’t be the first time they’ve presented their knowledge and expertise in front of an audience, they told InformationWeek in an interview.

“We’ve done them for our friends,” Patrick told me. “We’ve done them, geeking out with friends…Mandy and I will get into conversations about automation, virtualization, software-defined infrastructure.”

Each partner brings a different set of skills, experience, and knowledge to these conversations. Patrick likes to build things and learn new languages, according to Mandy.

“I like to make sure we do things in a scalable, reliable way,” she said. If these sound like complementary skill sets, they are, but that doesn’t mean that everything was always so smooth.

The pair met when they were coworkers in 2000. Mandy served as the lead QA engineer and Patrick was a sales engineer who had built a demo environment that was great at highlighting the features of the product.

Management told Mandy to keep the demo environment stable, make sure it ran on the latest code base, but they said she should not let Patrick make any changes. Management told Mandy that all changes needed to go through her.

But then the management created a back channel to Patrick. They told Patrick not to listen to Mandy. They told him to go ahead and make any changes he needed to make to the code in order to show the coolest new things to the customer. “Just do it!” they said, according to Mandy and Patrick.

“So they created this dynamic that exists in so many companies where they want one person to keep reins on process and make sure the results are predictable, and then they want the other person to be dynamic and charismatic and creative and can throw something together really quickly. But then the risk is higher,” Mandy said. And you run the risk of some negative interactions with your coworkers.

It took a long time before Mandy and Patrick Hubbard talked about their experiences at that job and figured out how management had pitted each of them against each other.

“We didn’t understand the dynamic until years later,” Patrick said. “We have already professionally argued about technology as passionately as any two people can at work. So relatively in our relationship it’s pretty harmonious when we talk about tech.”

Their strengths as collaborators remain the same. Patrick is the builder or maker, he said. But he’s learned quite a bit more about what happens to his code when it moves to the operations side of the house.

“Cowboy development creates an enormous technical debt for the business that will have to get solved,” Patrick said. It’s important to also think about the way things will have to be maintained in the unsexy years after Dev walks away and then Ops has to run the thing for months and years afterwards. That is one of the greatest things you can do as an architect or a developer or someone who works on strategy. Step back and think about quality.”

You can reap the benefits of the Hubbards’ long DevOps collaboration during their session at Interop ITX on Thursday, May 3, in Las Vegas. Mandy and Patrick Hubbard promise to offer best practices to help organizations navigate the cultural changes needed to reach your organization’s goals and create a cohesive team environment during The Impassable Last Mile of Continuous Delivery Session.


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