The Valentine's Day DevOps Challenge: Who Do You Love?
February 14, 2017

Aruna Ravichandran
CA Technologies

Everybody loves DevOps. In fact, DevOps is the hottest date in IT. That's because DevOps promises to satisfy the deepest longings of digital business — including fast execution on innovative ideas, competitively differentiated customer experiences, and significantly improved operational efficiencies.

But who does DevOps love?


This is more than a cute Valentine's-themed question. It's a fundamental challenge for anyone leading a DevOps initiative. What passions and motivations are driving your DevOps teams? How do you know? And if those motivations aren't the right ones, how do you re-direct them?

Metrics, it turns out, may hold the answers.

The Danger of DevOps Narcissism

Many of us know what it's like to be in a relationship with a narcissist. Narcissists can actually be very attractive. They maintain the best possible outward appearance and exude confidence. They can also be quite charming and seductive.

But relationships with narcissists ultimately turn out to be quite toxic, because narcissists only love themselves. So they use our feelings for them to meet their own emotional and material needs—giving us little or nothing in return.

Left unchecked, DevOps can easily devolve into a similar state of narcissism. Technology professionals, after all, typically love technology. So as they catch DevOps fever, they start to view DevOps, agile and continuous delivery as objectives to be pursued for their own sakes.

There is nothing wrong with having a DevOps team that is super-enthusiastic about DevOps excellence. You want your team to be excited about DevOps best practices and DevOps-enabling tools.

But enterprises aren't investing millions in DevOps so that IT can congratulate itself. It's investing in DevOps to address an existential business challenge. DevOps narcissism is thus potentially quite toxic.

One way to detect creeping DevOps narcissism is through the metrics by which DevOps performance is measured. Narcissistic DevOps teams focus on narcissistic metrics (also known as "vanity" metrics). These metrics include lines of code produced and function points created. Leaderboards and gamification can also both indicate and promote DevOps narcissism — especially if they utilize vanity metrics to keep score.

Romancing the Business

The proper object of DevOps affection is, of course, the business. The whole point of DevOps is to accelerate time-to-benefit for business-driven digital deliverables produced by agile development — while also diligently addressing performance at scale, production economics, security, compliance, business continuity and other digital business requirements.

DevOps therefore can't just look inward. It must look outward to see how well it is communicating and collaborating with all relevant digital stakeholders in order to achieve the goals of the business.

What metrics best indicate alignment of DevOps efforts with the business? There are several—but I'll just highlight one here: NetPromoter. NetPromoter scores (NPS) are broadly used by organizations to quantify the customers' perceptions about the quality of their engagements. I won't weigh in here regarding the concerns CX professionals have about excessive reliance on NPS vs/ other CX metrics. I'll simply point out that, whatever its flaws, NPS is a far more business-directed metric than lines of code or function points. And, as such, it is a much-needed antidote to DevOps narcissism.

NPS is also practical to obtain and immune from corruption by DevOps staff — two key requirements for any management metric.

Other metrics (cycle times, FTE-to-customer ratios, MTTR, etc.) can also be very useful for DevOps leaders. And I'll write more about them in future blogs.

But on Valentine's Day, it's appropriate to ask a relationship question. Yes, everyone loves DevOps. But who does DevOps love? If it's not the business, then there's going to be some heartbreak. And that heartbreak is likely to come in the form of failed expectations and subpar business outcomes.

For more tips on measuring your DevOps success, check out the book DevOps for Digital Leaders, it's all about how one can reignite their business with a modern DevOps-enabled software factory.

Aruna Ravichandran is VP, Product & Solutions Marketing, DevOps, CA Technologies

The Latest

August 17, 2017

Mobile SDKs (software developments kits); love them or hate them, they're here to stay. They provide our apps with all sorts of functionality that would be incredibly time consuming to build, and they give us another means to monetize our apps. While it would be difficult to argue that SDKs aren’t useful, it’s also hard for developers to get a good idea of the amount of resources used by each SDK once the app is in production ...

August 15, 2017

A common belief within DevOps circles is that automation not only enables greater frequency of delivery and deployment, but improves its overall success rate. Whenever manual intervention is required, the chances of errors creeping in increases. Human error is a significant factor in many an outage, after all ...

August 14, 2017

DevOps and NetOps are both far more generous in their opinion of the other with respect to prioritization of efforts than traditional archetypes purport them to be, and they have a lot in common – even though they may disagree on details – according to a new survey by F5 ...

August 10, 2017

Only 12 percent of organizations can claim that their whole organization is on the path to business agility even though more than two thirds of survey participants agreed that agile organizations are better able to quickly respond to dynamic business conditions, according to a new survey from CA Technologies ...

August 09, 2017

Alongside its clear benefits, DevOps brings unique challenges when developing and operating a mobile environment. Mobile app developers and development teams face a unique set of requirements relating to collaboration, testing, and release. Technology fragmentation, disparate back-end systems, updates that require user action, and poor instrumentation can impede the DevOps process and become critical roadblocks to agile mobile development, ultimately impacting app retention and the bottom line ...

August 07, 2017

A crashing app might be a deal breaker, no matter how heavy the load that an alternative website entry point can handle would be. It is all about quickly verifying compliance against key functional and non-functional requirements in order to meet aggressive release schedules as part of the Go-to-market strategy. This means positioning unit testing, UI testing, API testing, and, of course, performance and load testing — as pillars of SDLC ...

August 03, 2017

Most software developers make themselves easy targets for hackers, even when they are behind a corporate firewall, according to a new survey from Netsparker Ltd. ...

August 01, 2017

Your top priority is to improve application development agility, but you may run into roadblocks put up by a security team that (mistakenly) believes speed is the enemy of effective cybersecurity. A new survey finds a majority of enterprises are working to overcome those roadblocks by integrating security into their existing DevOps methodology ...

July 31, 2017

Agile development compresses software testing cycles, jeopardizing risk coverage and opening the door for software failures. Here's what you can do ...

July 27, 2017

While 75 percent of organizations highlight continuous testing as critical or important, only a minority of survey respondents have made exceptional progress acquiring the necessary knowledge and key enablers to drive digital transformation, according to a global study by CA Technologies ...

Share this