programming and devops

Why is It So Hard to Start a DevOps Team?

Development and Operations don’t normally get along with each other. It’s a fairly new concept to have the two IT types mingle together and form a team. It’s an amazing combination though, as long as the team works well together. The problem I’ve seen in most teams, however, is that neither of them understand the way the other works, so building a team is somewhat difficult. It can be done though. A DevOps team is one of the most beneficial IT sources for an organization, but it has to be done correctly¬† for it to work.

Operations and Programmers Work Differently

It’s important for whoever is managing the team to understand that both types of IT professionals work differently. Programmers tend to work with headphones on, alone, quiet and without interruption. IT people need to answer more calls and answer help desk requests, so it’s usually nosier where they are located.

This doesn’t mean that they can’t work together, but developers need quiet space to be able to concentrate. IT people must be able to move around, have multiple screens and usually have multiple pieces of equipment to work with. They need space.

Some companies push team interaction by place the two teams together in the same space. While this is not always a bad idea, it can interrupt the way developers work.

Here are just a few other idiosyncrasies between the two IT types:

  • Developers need quiet space to concentrate and get dragged into meetings a lot
  • IT people have tons of equipment to support and often need a lot of space for troubleshooting and technical work
  • Developers need to be able to freely create an environment within the operations department
  • Operations people need to be able to take phone calls and server closets are loud

What To Do Before You Create Your Team

It’s difficult putting a team together for DevOps. It’s difficult but it can be done. For the most part, it’s usually operations hiring developers for the team. This means that the manager doing the hiring is an operations guy, and many times they don’t understand developers.

Before you decide to hire a developer, here are some tips.

  • Have a project in mind. Developers need instructions, especially when they are new. They need to know what you want done whether it’s an app or a basic PowerShell script.
  • Know that they developer needs some learning time. They need to mesh with the team, understand their workflow, and learn how your system works before they start to develop.
  • Ask the dev for small scripts to start off.
  • Ask them what tools they use for their development environment, so they can install and customize their machine.
  • Testing is a big part of development, and many times operations people don’t understand that it’s an important step in the development life cycle. Always expect testing to be a part of the development process.
  • Every application has bugs. Your developer isn’t bad because there is a bug.
  • Facilitate team building lunches and meetings with your team to help them get to know the new developer.
  • Realize that building an application takes time and the more detail and instructions you give, the more likely the developer will deliver to spec the first time without any changes.

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