Back to the roots: Bridging the Deployment Gap

Matthias and I started this blog over a year ago because we had first-hand experiences with the rift between developers and sysadmins. We knew this was a lose-lose situation not only for those directly involved, but the companies they were working for as well. We’ve described many real-life examples of how to overcome this rift, but were never sure how these ideas were resonating out there with our fellow colleagues. How many developers had moved into the operations realm? How many sysadmins knuckled down and wrote end-user code in a pinch?

Enter Patrick Debois and devopsdays. What surprised me the most was the overwhelming number of sysadmins here who really understood the importance of agile development in beating the competition. Instead of blocking new features from being deployed, they actively work with the development teams to ensure timely, high-quality releases. Chris Read’s presentation of Continuous Integration, Build Pipelines and Continuous Deployment demonstrated a boatload of processes to help bridge the deployent gap.

As I am slowly running out of Pingdom checks, Lindsey Holmwood’s live demo of Cucumber-Nagios was especially interesting. As a developer, I would like to know immediately if the application changes I’ve made are somehow wiping out any existing functionality. And, of course, as a sysadmin I don’t want to be woken up at 2am, figure out exactly what’s wrong and rollback to the last known working revision. Cucumber adds a ton more flexibility to your acceptance tests and the Nagios plugin integrates perfectly with our existing monitoring solution. Additionally, Stephen Nelson-Smith has already done a post-conference, in-depth blog post on the above topic under the title Intelligent Monitoring.

How in the world can operations folks take advantage of agile processes in their day-to-day business? Scrum is too time consuming and XP is to resource intensive. Mattias Skarin gave a real-world example of how he helped an operations team move to Kanban – an endeavor that was so successful, the Ops team is now officially integrated into the Dev team proper. There were some excellent tidbits in his presentation Introducing Kanban in Operations that I can’t wait to try out myself.

The Open Spaces were a first for me, but I had fun excercising the “Law of Two Feet”. Too bad this can’t be applied more often to everyday meetings. Adrian Silva’s idea for Admin Coding Dojos is long overdue and I hope he is able to successfully get this ball rolling down in Spain – lemme know how it works out for you, Adrian! Finally, I’d like to thank Marcel Wegermann for a bit of BDD advice which has hopefully earned yet another convert to this tried-and-true coding discipline. He managed to convince my colleague that with some simple refactoring, you can break out of Zend – PHPUnit tests dependency hell and wrap those sticky areas with some testing goodness!

Like Bart Vanbrabant notes in his blog post, I also found many of the discussions to be very low level and missed more abstract discussion about how to bridge the gap between development and operations. I hope that next year we see a more balanced group in order to foster this important topic and call on every developer reading this blog to seriously consider making the trip next year to devopsdays!

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