Lingo You Should Know: DevOps for Dummies

If you are like most non-techies, you’ve probably sat in a product meeting and frantically googled “DevOps” under the table when the subject came up. Don’t worry, we aren’t judging you; we had to look up “brand architecture” the other day in a marketing discussion so we feel your pain.

Though DevOps is one of the most critical roles in software development, it often fails to garner the innate sex appeal of core programming (wait are you saying programming isn’t sexy??  Say that to my face).

So to avoid this fate in future product meetings – and to convince you that DevOps is just as sexy as any other aspect of engineering (except for maybe database sharding) – below are the three main things you need to know about the glorious wonder that is DevOps:

1). What is DevOps and Why Should I Care?

Development Operations – or “DevOps” if you are a super cool kid – are the set of practices and tools that streamline your company’s software development process and make these “operations” more efficient.  DevOps engineers build automated tests for both quality and security when new code is submitted, and they create instruments to monitor your environment and ensure that it’s available when needed.

As a startup leader all you want to do is ship code faster.  So as a result, you hire as many engineers as you can afford and start building great stuff.  But with any organization, the more folks you hire and the more code you write, the more squirrely your process becomes.  Soon your DevOps become what they call GoodyearOps – so bloated that they look like the Goodyear blimp.

Hiring a full time DevOps person when you can only afford three or four engineers may seem like a luxury, but the reality is that skimping on DevOps is going to cost you a TON more the longer you wait.  And the true cost keeps on compounding each month.

Here’s another way to think about it: skimping on DevOps and just hiring engineers is the equivalent of trying to chop wood without sharpening the axe. DevOps is the axe sharpener that ensures that every dollar you spend on developers is maximized; otherwise your developers try to become jacks of all trades, which rarely works and never ever scales.

2). When Should I Hire My First DevOps Engineer?

There are three surefire signs that it’s time to bring on DevOps:

a). Your development velocity keeps slowing down and the amount of time required to do a release drifts from an hour to a few hours to a few days, and so on.

b). You start experiencing more and more down times; if you get them a little too often, you likely have a DevOps problem. Maintaining the high uptime thresholds that your customers and users hold you to (in most cases 99.9%) is only possible because DevOps folks implement great tools that are focused on things like monitoring and automated scaling of resources.

c). You have a “hot fix” culture in your engineering department and crises start to feel normal.  Let’s be clear, this type of culture should never be normal…

3). How Does DevOps Scale?

Once you’ve done the smart thing and hired your first DevOps engineer (congrats!), you will inevitably need to scale this resource as the rest of your product development team expands too.  Eventually the DevOps team will be divided into three parts:

Core DevOps: these geniuses (as discussed above) increase the speed of development and deployment by implementing an automated continuous delivery pipeline.

Dev Security Ops: these wizards implement tools needed to effectively ship code following a secure development lifecycle (you’ll need this to comply with HIPAA, SOC 2, or any other security framework).

ProductionOps: these virtuosos are in charge of maintaining and monitoring uptime, scaling the platform, and incident response.

So in sum, DevOps is the insurance you buy to reduce the likelihood that the shizzle ever hits the fan, particularly as you grow.  Trust us, it’s worth it!

Want more information about DevOps or need help creating or scaling your DevOps team?  We’d love to talk! (info@turnkey-labs.com, 310-699-6884)

 

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