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Why the "DevOps" Buzzword Can be a Force for Good

12.01.2011
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I felt compelled to respond to a well-reasoned article written today by Infoworld veteran Neil McAllister.  The article does a nice job of pointing out a lot of the confusion and dissonance in the DevOps movment—for example, is DevOps occuring because of PaaS and SaaS technologies which allow developers to play the role of both programmer and IT operator?  Or is it precisely because of cloud that the 'Ops' side of DevOps is dead-on-arrival?   There are more murky questions and explanations about how it is also becoming a marketing buzzword, but I wanted to focus on an area where I disagreed, specifically this statement:

The truth is that no amount of sloganeering, hand waving, manifestos, seminars, or user groups will bridge the divide between application development and operations. Magic software pixie dust won't do it, either. Slapping a glib label on a broad set of complex, fundamental process and organizational challenges -- which are surely different for every organization facing them -- does no good for anyone.  --Neil McAllister, Infoworld

No good?  Are you sure?  Yes there are always different factions with their own agendas that will try and misuse a term for their own benefit, but I think we're forgetting the psychological power for good that certain buzzwords can have. 

Think of all of the good ideas that have come out of this community.  Just this year there has been an explosion of conferences such as Camp DevOps, DevOps Days, and parts of other events that have rallied around the DevOps flag. 

The word does no good for anyone?  I bet it does some good for someone.

The thing is that people have trouble unifying, collaborating around, and comprehending an idea this complex and funamental with no name to call it.  I know it's strange to think about, but it's a huge deal that "DevOps" is a tag small enough to fit nicely into a tweet as a hashtag.  People need tags in language like they do on the web so that they can find what they are looking for.  And what many people are looking for (even though many know that the problem isn't just limited to this) is strategies for dealing with the divide between Operations and Devlopment. 

So all these buzzwords: DevOps, NoSQL, NewSQL - I think they can be a force for good, as long as we understand the complexities that they are trying to bring to order.