Last week, I wrote a book review on "The Phoenix Project", which looks to DevOps to solve a cross industry problem that a few fashion forward shops -- most notably Etsy -- have solved. Many more shops do not even recognize it as a problem. The reason this perspective continues to persist, in my opinion, is a combination of fear, misunderstanding and disbelief from IT practitioners and both IT and business leaders.

What is both funny and sad at the same time, is that a solution exists to this problem. It is not a quick fix, but there are very few, if any, quick fixes to real problems. The real problem is this -- the lack of an enterprise "continuous deployment" strategy that brings them to the ability to deploy releases, enhancements, patches, fixes and upgrades up to, if not more than, 10 times a day.

Bottom-up Fallacies

Some IT practitioners and leaders do not see deployments as critical bottlenecks. The practitioners look at the individual tasks and say:

"That cannot be automated. There are too many steps and analysis points along the way to automate." 

The practitioners cling to their manual tasks like a security blanket. Their denial is a completely false belief that automation tool-sets can't possibly perform either the analysis nor the decision making that they perceive as their primary value proposition. These practitioners fail to recognize two big truths:

  • First, the often scary but true reality of career management -- The best way to move up the corporate ladder in IT is to work yourself out of a job.
  • Second, the presence of a large number of manual and steps and decision trees is a reason to automate, rather than an excuse not to.

"Automating a 5 minute task will not save me any time."

This particular argument shows a lack of understanding the macro-economic equation. The automation process in the way of continuous deployment is neither about automating a single step, nor a series of steps. The point of this form of automation is to eliminate the often unmeasurable space between the tasks. This "dark matter" is present, but undetectable, in almost all IT shops and is the universal force that keeps IT from driving down WIP (work in process). 

"That process is so intricate, I don't want to trust that to a computer."

There is no validity to the idea that computers, in the realm of cycling through decision trees, are more susceptible to skipping a step or making an error than a human. The actual misunderstanding that is happening here is that the nay-sayers are thinking of software as if it is hardware. Automation scripts are meant to evolve and grow over time.

Good practitioners of marketing automation and configuration management are happy when a new environmental variant is uncovered. This is the actual point of scripting and automation. Errors only happen once! After a new variant has been identified, the scripts are modified to handle that circumstance, eliminating the same situation from happening in the future.

Top-Down Myopia

The perspective of the leaders when looking at the overall system see something slightly different, but still cling to skewed old-school IT precepts.