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I was grinning with excitement when I arrived in Minneapolis for my first DevOpsDays conference. I knew that many of the most forward-thinking individuals from the space would be attending and bringing their ideas along with them. I was eager to learn as much as I could about this thing they called “DevOps.”

 

Everyone should DevOps

(Katherine Daniels – DevOps: The Missing Pieces – Opening Keynote)

Katherine Daniels started the conference off right by showing everyone that DevOps isn’t just for developers and operations, but is actually for every department in a progressive company. Katherine shared her story of working at Etsy and being a part of their program where each new employee works with a department other than their own in order to foster empathy for, and collaboration with, that sector. She now continues to work with multiple departments at Etsy to collaborate on problems.

 

I was surprised and intrigued by the idea that everyone should be adopting DevOps; I had been under the impression that DevOps was only for development and operations. Maybe there was some hope for me to be involved in the movement as a member of the sales team at VictorOps. I began to understand that DevOps is really about empathy and collaboration among all teams within an organization, not just between devs and ops.

Are you aware of Situational Awareness?

(Mary Poppendieck -The New New Software Development Game)

During her presentation, Mary shared with everyone what she thought was most important about DevOps: situational awareness. Mary suggested giving employees a holistic view of their organization by giving visibility for as much as possible to as many people as possible. Mary advised that this practice enables employees to perform their job better because they better understand where their part fits into the whole. According to Mary, in soccer, the team with the best situational awareness always wins, and this is equally true with businesses.

In order to create situational awareness, Mary advocated for breaking down the barriers between silos within a company to create a low friction team. Mary suggested that people still be grouped together, but that the lines between the groups should be blurred so one group could see into the actions of another.

 

Open Spaces: No one to Blame & Everyone to Gain

Open Spaces are just what they sound like – an open discussion about a topic decided on by members of the conference. In my first experience with open spaces, I had the opportunity to learn a lot from my peers who had previously only been spectators like myself.

My favorite open space surrounded the topic of Blameless Post-mortems. During this open space, Jon Cowie shared his insight into the blameless culture and how they had implemented it at his company, Etsy. Jon talked about how at Etsy no one is blamed when incidents happen; instead everyone is given the benefit of the doubt that they are trying to do the best job they can.

Katherine Daniels from Etsy also chimed in and said that incidents are a good thing because they uncover weaknesses within a system that can then be addressed. The person who is involved in the biggest incident at Etsy is even awarded an honorary “3-armed sweater” in reference to the image that accompanies the 404 page on Etsy’s website.
 

During this discussion I realized that the implementation of blameless post-mortems represents a paradigm shift. The old way of thinking where someone needs to be blamed for an incident is counterproductive to success. Recognizing that people are doing their best to fix incidents, and reviewing incidents without blaming anyone for them fosters learning on how to fix issues.

 

 

Every DevOps has it’s Day

By the end of the conference my head was buzzing with new ideas. I felt like I now had a better handle on DevOps and what it means to the industry, and to my company, VictorOps. DevOps is about empathy, collaboration, and situational awareness. VictorOps was created with these goals in mind, and is a tool that can help other companies better achieve these goals.