DevOps transformation, the Cha-Cha-Cha and Dojo

Savinder Puri on December 18, 2017

I’m just back from a whirlwind business trip of USA – Boston, Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago and New York, all in 7 days. Lots of intriguing Customer workshops, intense technical debates and smoldering experiences shared across the Enterprises met. There’s a common, radical urgency to transform, that’s driving across organizations right now. And more often that not, DevOps is at the centre of these digital transformations, to actualize the promised “La-la Land” – the land of “zero defects”, “near-full automation” and “one-touch deployments” – the land where every Software Release lived happily ever after!

Just as I was packing up for the return journey, the TV played an advertisement of a dance institute that specialized in Cha-Cha. You know, the Cuban dance form that goes “two, three, cha-cha-cha”. Three steps forward, two steps back, cha-cha-cha. As I saw the elegant dancers come to life, I realized – there’s a “DevOps Cha-Cha-Cha” as well. No Enterprise can just go straight through a transformation, it’s always three steps forward, two steps back, cha-cha-cha. That’s how it’s done. Some successes, some failures, yet you tread along forward. It’s the same algorithm, for achieving anything substantial in life.

Why is a DevOps transformation tough?

Beyond the famed stories of Unicorns, there are umpteen stories of failed transformations, of “this thingy does not work”, “we are too big/small to transform” and the plan old “thanks, but we’re doing just fine”.

DevOps fundamentally changes the way of working of an Enterprise. And change is tough. First, there are all these shiny new tools, process changes and the agile way of coding, building, testing and releasing software. All this, if done right, leads to a high degree of transparency, in real time. And that’s not always desirable, for all teams. Information that was previously tucked away in a world of myriad Excel sheets, is now available on dashboards, for all to view. This is not always comforting.

Then, there are the softer challenges. Things that involve structural changes, role alterations, power struggles, contract re-negotiations and sometimes even resource reductions. These bring in the complex human angles, which has several layered dimensions to it.

DevOps is no longer optional
Its being increasingly accepted that the case for a DevOps transformation is no longer “nice-to-have”; it’s a “must- have”. And this business case is being driven by dynamic business environments and a fiercely competitive landscape. As I like to tell my Customers – “DevOps solves a Business problem, not just a Dev or an Ops problem”. In the new world order of micro-services and containers, not being nimble to address business needs often translates to financial losses, directly or indirectly. And this is true even for large Enterprises with huge legacy footprints. While moving out of legacy is a different conversation, whilst it’s there, it cannot be made a bottleneck. So today, no matter what technology or mode an Enterprise operates in, a DevOps centered digital transformation is here and now.

The DevOps Dojo
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Dojo as “a school for training in various arts of self-defense (as judo or karate).” At ChefConf 2015, Adam Jacobs delivered a very interesting talk titled “Chef Style DevOps Kungfu”, that talked about building your practice through repetition and development of skills. Target Inc. took a cue from it and created a place to develop their own DevOps Kungfu – the Dojo.

The Dojo is the home base where dedicated subject matter experts come together to create and fine-tune automation frameworks and processes. Everyone from Agile leaders, deployment experts, infrastructure specialists, middleware specialists and database admins contribute to the Enterprise’s definition of the “La La Land”. This is where DevOps Champions are created. And the spread of the movement is strategized.

The DevOps Dojo and Cha-Cha-Cha
Like all great symphonies, a successful DevOps transformation takes patience and practise. The practice of putting forth a Dojo and persevering to establish it. The patience to perform an organization’s Cha-Cha-Cha. Some things will work, some don’t. Re-calibrate. Adjust. Mould for your environment. Repeat.

As long as you are committed to doing the cha-cha-cha long enough, it will happen. The rhythm will set in. The build will succeed, the one-touch deployment will work, and automated rollback will complete. And magic will happen, without a downtime! Just Dojo and cha-cha-cha long enough. The world awaits to hear your story.

Zensar can help!

We, at Zensar have helped several Enterprises across the globe build their Dojo’s, learn the dance and perform Cha-cha-cha concerts of their own! To know more, please write to us as marcom@zensar.com

About the author:

Savinder Puri is a DevOps Evangelist and heads the DevOps Centre of Excellence at Zensar. For the past 18+ years, Savinder Puri has been helping Enterprises across industry verticals to strategize and drive successful business transformations, leveraging cutting edge technologies. Savinder is a recognized figure in the DevOps space and has empanelled/presented in leading industry events. He is a sought after trusted advisor providing valuable insights and thought leadership to Customers and technology partners.