DevOps is Not About the Tools
April 15, 2016

Pete Goldin

Although DEVOPSdigest recently posted an epic list of 30 Must-Have Tools to Support DevOps, it is important to note that DevOps is not really about the tools. I said this at the beginning of the list, but the idea deserves further discussion. It is true that all of the 30 tools outlined in the list can augment an organization's DevOps initiative, but none of them — not even all of them together — can guarantee DevOps success alone. First and foremost, DevOps requires a culture change. In DEVOPSdigest's list of 17 Ways to Define DevOps, the very first definition is: A Cultural Revolution. DevOps is about people, and changing how they think, and how they interact with each other

"Asking what tool is a must-have to enable DevOps is like asking the Wizard of Oz for a heart," explains Jason Bloomberg, President of Intellyx. "The best clock in the world wouldn’t have helped the Tin Woodman if he didn’t already have all the heart he needed."

"I really think the DevOps story is broader and more durable than any particular technology choice," Bloomberg continues.

In his own Cortex newsletter, Bloomberg introduces the notion of a “DevOps virus” — how to extend the cultural and organizational principles of DevOps across the organization. "In that context, it doesn’t really matter what tools teams use," he points out, even though he agrees that perhaps there are technologies today that are well-suited tactically for achieving the goals of DevOps. "What matters is the teams are empowered to choose their own tools."

Julie Craig, Research Director, Application Management, Enterprise Management Associates (EMA) adds, "From my perspective, there is no single, must have tool, as DevOps is so much about organizational change AND 'starting where you are'. So the 'must have tool' would vary from organization to organization, based on tools already in place, organizational maturity, and the types of applications they are deploying."

In the end, my point is not to discount the value of tools, but just to put it in perspective. I think Sven Hammar, Founder and CEO of Apica, said it well in Part 4 of DEVOPSdigest's list of 17 Ways to Define DevOps: "DevOps is more about people and processes than tools, but a good tool will make the process more rewarding (and easier to follow)."