DevOps hype? Sometimes a pizza really is just a pizza

Differentiating between commercial partners, coevolution and clutter


Opinion Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Four friends are sitting on a sofa, and one says to the others, “I’m hungry, I want to learn how to make pizza.”

The first friend responds: “90 per cent of my fiends who ate pizza in 2016 were 80 per cent less hungry.”

The second: “I can make you pizza, 30 per cent quicker and 10 per cent tastier than my closest rival.”

The third replies: “You don’t need pizza, pizza is merely rebranded circle bread with cheese, we’ve been making that since Snowbird 2001.”

Therein lays the problem with DevOps, Continuous Delivery and various other tech movements. The first speaker recognises a problem (hunger) and has heard of a promising solution (pizza), and yet, due to her companions’ preference for hype, she is unable to elicit useful information on how to progress.

This is a noticeable change for someone who has been involved in the DevOps community from fairly early on. The first posts and talks were from practitioners, sharing their direct learnings, helpfully including their failures and dead ends. These days it takes me longer to find accurate information. If I try to learn what DevOps is, and how it might help my problems, I have to wade through a vast number of non-answers, stock photos, and unfographics to reach anything resembling a nugget of useful information.

Interesting things happen as an idea grows beyond its founding community and attracts increasing commercial attention. Interesting, because while we all enjoy a spot of vendor bashing, there are both positive and negative outcomes. So, for those of us that just like to get things done, what does the hype tax yield?

One significant benefit is contribution to Open Source projects. Consider how OpenStack has marched along with input from the likes of Mirantis and HPE. These symbiotic relationships may be seen throughout the DevOps and Continuous Delivery worlds. Last year non-paid developers fell to the third place by number of commits to the Linux Kernel. Contributors benefit from commercial possibilities and publicity. Notwithstanding the politics of corporate commits, the community benefits from a quicker advancement of the project generated by greater numbers and paid talent.

Let’s not forget the sponsor’s role in conferences and meetups. These gatherings extend reach and diversity of a network, creating serendipitous links and encouraging conversations of more than 140 chars. Next time you pick up your lanyard, pause to think about the effort that goes into these events – organisers are generally paying to bring in strong speakers, the kind it would be hard to attract for a smaller gathering, and of course for the venue, lunch and your weekend T-shirts.

A new idea, or buzzword, creates attention, attention which creates demand, and demand means potential customers. Interests compete for those customers, driving innovation. Competition-fuelled innovation is widely considered a good thing. However I notice two types of innovation. Firstly, there is forward innovation - the development of ideas, products and services which move a community forward, enabling it to evolve. The second type is where energy is ploughed into attracting attention, a kind of polluting innovation, innovative ways to attract more sales which do not benefit the community. This is typified by episodes of shameless freebooting. I’ve even seen fundamentals like Deming’s PDCA cycle rebranded and claimed by a well known consultancy.

I feel concerned for those people and organisations which Burch would describe as ‘unconsciously incompetent’. Those who can’t differentiate the authentic from the inauthentic, and may pay a hefty penalty in time or money as a result.

The difference between these forward and polluting innovators may sometimes be sensed, and it’s a valuable skill to develop. Simon Sinek’s theory is that we feel the ‘Why’ of a company, and it pervades their every action. Apple love design, and happen to make phones, he says. Google love tech and also happen to make phones. We feel these motivations in our daily use of the devices and in our interactions with their businesses. Understanding the why of an organisation will often help appraise its output, determine its biases, and determine whether their material is worth more of your time.

Ultimately, I have two pleas to make. The first is for practitioners to recognise the value, and necessity, of commercial interests in developing our networks and pushing forward our practices. The second plea is for commercial interests to seek out valuable ways to work with communities. People will see through the hype, and be deterred by it. An authentic contribution is far more likely to benefit your goals and the communities’.

John Clapham is a coach, trainer and consultant. He specialises in DevOps and Agile, helping teams build great products and organisations to become more effective, productive and enjoyable to work in. His experience ranges from start-up to enterprise in areas including finance, mobile and .Gov. John will be speaking at Continuous Lifecycle London in May. ®

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Screencastify fixes bug that would have let rogue websites spy on webcams
    School-friendly tool still not fully protected, privacy guru warns

    Screencastify, a popular Chrome extension for capturing and sharing videos from websites, was recently found to be vulnerable to a cross-site scripting (XSS) flaw that allowed arbitrary websites to dupe people into unknowingly activating their webcams.

    A miscreant taking advantage of this flaw could then download the resulting video from the victim's Google Drive account.

    Software developer Wladimir Palant, co-founder of ad amelioration biz Eyeo, published a blog post about his findings on Monday. He said he reported the XSS bug in February, and Screencastify's developers fixed it within a day.

    Continue reading
  • FTC urged to protect data privacy of women visiting abortion clinics
    As Supreme Court set to overturn Roe v Wade, safeguards on location info now more vital than ever

    Democrat senators have urged America's Federal Trade Commission to do something to protect the privacy of women after it emerged details of visits to abortion clinics were being sold by data brokers.

    Women's healthcare is an especially thorny issue right now after the Supreme Court voted in a leaked draft majority opinion to overturn Roe v Wade, a landmark ruling that declared women's rights to have an abortion are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution.

    If the nation's top judges indeed vote to strike down that 1973 decision, individual states, at least, can set their own laws governing women's reproductive rights. Thirteen states already have so-called "trigger laws" in place prohibiting abortions – mostly with exceptions in certain conditions, such as if the pregnancy or childbirth endangers the mother's life – that will go into effect if Roe v Wade is torn up. People living in those states would, in theory, have to travel to another state where abortion is legal to carry out the procedure lawfully, although laws are also planned to ban that.

    Continue reading
  • Zuckerberg sued for alleged role in Cambridge Analytica data-slurp scandal
    I can prove CEO was 'personally involved in Facebook’s failure to protect privacy', DC AG insists

    Cambridge Analytica is back to haunt Mark Zuckerberg: Washington DC's Attorney General filed a lawsuit today directly accusing the Meta CEO of personal involvement in the abuses that led to the data-slurping scandal. 

    DC AG Karl Racine filed [PDF] the civil suit on Monday morning, saying his office's investigations found ample evidence Zuck could be held responsible for that 2018 cluster-fsck. For those who've put it out of mind, UK-based Cambridge Analytica harvested tens of millions of people's info via a third-party Facebook app, revealing a – at best – somewhat slipshod handling of netizens' privacy by the US tech giant.

    That year, Racine sued Facebook, claiming the social network was well aware of the analytics firm's antics yet failed to do anything meaningful until the data harvesting was covered by mainstream media. Facebook repeatedly stymied document production attempts, Racine claimed, and the paperwork it eventually handed over painted a trail he said led directly to Zuck. 

    Continue reading
  • Florida's content-moderation law kept on ice, likely unconstitutional, court says
    So cool you're into free speech because that includes taking down misinformation

    While the US Supreme Court considers an emergency petition to reinstate a preliminary injunction against Texas' social media law HB 20, the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday partially upheld a similar injunction against Florida's social media law, SB 7072.

    Both Florida and Texas last year passed laws that impose content moderation restrictions, editorial disclosure obligations, and user-data access requirements on large online social networks. The Republican governors of both states justified the laws by claiming that social media sites have been trying to censor conservative voices, an allegation that has not been supported by evidence.

    Multiple studies addressing this issue say right-wing folk aren't being censored. They have found that social media sites try to take down or block misinformation, which researchers say is more common from right-leaning sources.

    Continue reading
  • US-APAC trade deal leaves out Taiwan, military defense not ruled out
    All fun and games until the chip factories are in the crosshairs

    US President Joe Biden has heralded an Indo-Pacific trade deal signed by several nations that do not include Taiwan. At the same time, Biden warned China that America would help defend Taiwan from attack; it is home to a critical slice of the global chip industry, after all. 

    The agreement, known as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), is still in its infancy, with today's announcement enabling the United States and the other 12 participating countries to begin negotiating "rules of the road that ensure [US businesses] can compete in the Indo-Pacific," the White House said. 

    Along with America, other IPEF signatories are Australia, Brunei, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Combined, the White House said, the 13 countries participating in the IPEF make up 40 percent of the global economy. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022