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

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 ...

July 25, 2017

Test teams feel the need to adopt DevOps, but that migration is not always seamless, according to a new survey by LogiGear. That may be because 25 percent of respondents said their Ops/IT team is always helpful to the test team and its needs; 37 percent said Ops teams regularly help bring about good test environments; 27 percent said Ops can be "slow or difficult" ...

July 24, 2017

SecOps is a seamless collaboration between your IT security and IT operations teams. The goal is to streamline security processes, and ensure that every piece of code that makes it into production is as secure as possible. If you've ever thought of revamping your company's current security operations to make it more agile, or if you've been thinking about building out a SecOps function, here are 5 tips you should keep in mind ...

July 20, 2017

Financial services organizations are high value targets for cyber criminals all over the world. Because of this, it is imperative that the keys and certificates used by financial service DevOps teams are properly protected. If not, bad actors can easily exploit cryptographic assets and wreak havoc on sensitive corporate data, all while remaining undetected ...

July 18, 2017

In the last year, businesses around the globe significantly increased their use of open source and although they readily acknowledge growing concerns about open source-related security and operational risks, the effective management of open source is not keeping pace with the increase in use ...

July 17, 2017

A Forrester survey confirmed what high-performance organizations have already said – DevOps is here to stay. Diving into the details, however, the study also shows that the DevOps journey may be in for a rude awakening. Companies in all industries are embracing DevOps for superior productivity, but many organizations struggle to overcome barriers that prevent them from translating these programs into improved business results ...

July 14, 2017

Despite the pervasive belief that security and development teams have conflicting priorities, initiatives such as creating DevOps environments and focusing on product innovation have the two teams aligned toward a common goal of creating secure software, according to a new study from Veracode ...

July 12, 2017

Gartner, Inc. highlighted the top technologies for information security and their implications for security organizations in 2017 ...

July 10, 2017

DevOps practices lead to higher IT performance, according to the 2017 State of DevOps report This higher performance delivers improved business outcomes, as measured by productivity, profitability, and market share ...

June 28, 2017

Why Agile? DEVOPSdigest asked the experts for their opinions on what are the most important advantages of being Agile. Part 5, the final installment, covers how Agile improves product quality and the customer experience ...

Share this