Snake Oil DevOps - BEWARE!

2 minute read

As a DevOps Consultant a lot of what I do is spent on People and Processes. If you remember the definition of DevOps that I love is from Donovan Brown, “DevOps is the union of PeopleProcesses, and Products to continuously deliver value to our end users”. I want to keep reiterating this, continuously deliver value to our end users. I bring this up because my job as a DevOps Consultant is to delivering value to my end users. But not all of us do. My amazing coworker (@_s_hari) and I have discussions about this quite a bit. As far as I know, he coined the term and gave me his blessing to blog about it.

DevOps - People Processes Tools
DevOps - People Processes Tools

A lot of what I do is focused on enablement. I don’t want to come in and setup 2 pipelines for a user, or just do board customizations on 3 board. I want to educate my end users. I want them to learn and apply it after I’m gone. I want to see the lightbulb go off, and the gears turning. I want them to continue on their journey and call me back at the next roadblock miles down the road, not the same one 5 feet away. I might focusing on training, or streamlining the workflow. Whatever is going to help them the most at that point in time.

Snake Oil
Snake Oil

Snake Oil

But, like days of old, there are those trying to make a buck at any cost. We come across them or hear about them from customers time to time. People and Processes aren’t part of the discussion. Instead the discussion centers on the tool. Snake Oil, The secret sauce, the magic technology, the silver bullet, the tool that will solve all your problems.

Have you ever heard any of theses statements/promises/lies?

  • If you buy this list of tools, you’ll be/have/do DevOps.
  • You can’t do DevOps without X tool.
  • You need to do Containers to do DevOps
  • Jira/Service Now/GitLab/Azure DevOps/GitHub/Excel/Post-its is the only way to track work
  • If you buy this monitoring tool all your bugs will get caught

Notice the lack of discussion about the company/business/team. What the business, what is important to the end users? How do you work? What are the processes to take a new idea, let the team work on it, and get that code into production? How do you know its running OK in production? Do you know if the end user uses your new feature?

When someone just focuses on the tool, they don’t care about helping you to improve, your journey, or the actual outcome. They want to continuously deliver the value of your wallet into theirs.