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Truth Is, IT Is Currently Driven by Speed By @DMacVittie | @DevOpsSummit #DevOps

Is this obsession with speed a good thing?

For all the buzz-words and high-flying markets out there today, the truth of the matter is that at this point in time, IT is driven by speed. How fast can I spin up an image? How fast can I integrate the changes in my app? How fast can I test prior to deployment? How fast can I go from nothing deployed to functional app? The list goes on and on.

There are a lot of ancillary questions, but I would argue that at this point in time they are just that – ancillary. There are also a good number of catch-phrases that hide the reality of speed fueling everything. Let’s look at a few of those first:

  • “It’s about business agility”: Translation: It’s about how fast the business can respond to market changes.
  • “It’s about CIO oversight”: Translation: It’s about the CIO seeing how fast we’re delivering.
  • “It’s about adding business value”: Translation: It’s about getting it done fast enough that the business sees value.

Get the trend here? It is about speed. How fast can we crank this out.

The ancillary bits are important, but all take a back seat to how fast you are executing. Let’s take a look at a few of those…

  • “It’s about consistently spinning up servers”: Translation: “It’s about consistently spinning up servers faster”.
  • “It’s about communications between ops and dev”: Translation: “So we can do things faster”.
  • “It’s about saving man-hours”: Translation: “By doing things faster, so we have time to add value elsewhere.”
  • “It’s about people!”: Translation: “It’s about keeping staff happy so they do things faster.”

Is this obsession with speed a good thing? No, but it is the nature of the environment that we live in at the moment. Quality should be first, and speed of execution second in all endeavors, and that cycle will come (given continuous test, maybe already is coming) around again, but at the moment, it’s all speed, all the time.

What can you do about it? Go along with it. Look for ways to improve. Let’s face some basic facts here, IT was the bottleneck for a very long time, only with the advent of virtualization did that start to change, and now the floodgates are open. Let’s improve as much as we can before the cycle comes around and too many errors make us have to check 1000 boxes like our static web page changes were as important as the code that drives the thrusters on a space ship. There is a lot of room for improvement, watch what’s going on, adopt what suits your org, be it in automation, DevOps, Cloud, or all three together. Include your security staff in the changes, because security is a bottleneck too, and you don’t want to adopt something they find atrocious from a security perspective.

And keep on kicking it. There is no reason to freak out at the rate of change, you control that rate in your organization. Yes, there are inputs, but in the end, IT managers will be able to adjust the rate of change within IT to balance staffing with future needs. Help your business counterparts understand why the rate of change is limited (assuming it is at least some in your org), and help them to prioritize the changes they want.

And move along. IT today is certainly not IT a decade ago, and in a decade we’ll have a whole new wave of changes under our belts. It’s not new to the industry, so deep breath and find what helps your IT org be more responsive and go there.

Pundits will tell you all sorts of things about what you must be doing. They’re not in your org, doing what you do so well, so remember to take the “Hop on this train, or miss out and get fired!!” rhetoric to be just that – rhetoric, often driven by what’s important to them not what’s important to you.

The trends are toward automation, be it DevOps, automation tools, cloud, SDN, or any of the fifty other things out there, all point to helping you do it faster by spending more money on tools. That’s okay, since most of us are not getting staff at the rate we’d like, help in the form of faster toolsets should be welcome.

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More Stories By Don MacVittie

Don MacVittie is founder of Ingrained Technology, A technical advocacy and software development consultancy. He has experience in application development, architecture, infrastructure, technical writing,DevOps, and IT management. MacVittie holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northern Michigan University, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.

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