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DevOps epiphany – yin and yang in the cloud era


Guest Post: Vasu Sankhavaram, Chief Strategist, Product Foundation Services, HP Software


I must share with you an epiphany I had about DevOps. My thought explains so much about the connections and the disconnections of Development and Operations in the cloud computing era.


I was recently invited to present at the 14th International Cloud Expo in New York – a very prestigious opportunity for me. As HP Software’s chief strategist for DevOps, I have a message to deliver to the world about the new look of DevOps in cloud computing – the New Style of IT. Conferences like Cloud Expo are the perfect venue, but I have learned from experience that I can’t just stand up and talk for 30 minutes about IT infrastructure, agile software development and continuous delivery. I needed to make these business-critical topics feel real and engaging. So I am always hunting for a good analogy – something to make the abstraction of DevOps simpler and more familiar.


devops5.jpgIt is a struggle to simplify everything that falls under the umbrella of “DevOps.” It is a very complicated space. DevOps has always been depicted as Dev and Ops, two completely different worlds, separated by a “wall of confusion.” Despite their differences, you can’t have Dev without Ops. They are like two sides of a coin, or like my twin daughters.


Not all twins are identical

When I tell people that I have twin daughters, most people assume they are identical – the same assumption some business managers make about Dev and Ops. But my girls are fraternal twins. They were born at the same time and are growing up together in the same environment, but they have very different personalities – like yin and yang.


devops6.pngAs I crafted my presentation for Cloud Expo, searching for analogies and metaphors to bring DevOps to life, I thought of my daughters and their yin and yang personalities. That triggered this “eureka moment.”



Dev and Ops are like yin and yang – Ops is the yin, and Dev is the yang. Ideally, the strength and speed of Development’s yang is balanced out by Operations’ yin, focused on stability and “keeping lights on.” However, too often the two don’t work well together. Dev and Ops end up needing a mediator or negotiator – a la the United Nations – to get the teams to work together. Businesses that have an imbalance of DevOps yin and yang  will struggle with the new style of IT.


The speed of the cloud makes it imperative that Dev and Ops work together to understand each other’s point of view. DevOps needs to be a more collaborative team, with developers spending time on operations and operations attending development sprints. Developers need to build in monitoring frameworks so operators have a way to continuously gather telemetry about app performance. Operators need to be trained to manage infrastructure as code.


Of course, making this kind of organizational change happen will require leadership buy-in. Without buy-in from both business and IT leadership, the balancing of yin and yang won’t happen. As in the game of Monopoly, you won’t get past GO.


Companies are implementing DevOps in different ways – having a dedicated DevOps group in between Dev and Ops, cross pollinating resources and having virtual, matrix teams working collaboratively.


Having a group called DevOps is contrary to the principles of DevOps – in the sense that more overhead is being added instead of addressing the fundamental need for improved collaboration between Dev and Ops. For some organizations, this may be the only way to deal with Dev and Ops failure to communicate.


My manager, Lars Rossen – an HP Distinguished Technologist – tells an anecdote from a friend in a very well-known company. The company adopted the practice of cross pollinating developers in support of frontline operations. For the first three months after a deployment, the developers were responsible for support. But after three months in production and with limited ongoing updates, they still faced the challenge of how to transition support. In order to maintain continuity, the company extended the Ops phase, giving developers financial incentives to stay in the Ops role for an entire year.


This illustrates that DevOps is skewed toward Dev needs and tools extending into Ops. The Ops handoff is being kicked down the road. Fundamentally, the mindsets of Dev and Ops are different. Without a significant mind shift by the developers (to focus on stability versus agile creation), Ops can be destabilized.

A more sustainable option would be to include the Ops stakeholders in the planning and development process, including operations’ non-functional requirements. A matrix can be developed to separate concerns while incorporating agile methods into operations.


At Cloud Expo, my presentation on DevOps yin and yang (and a related topic, “DevOps Roadblocks” ) was well received. Everyone I’ve spoken with identified with the metaphor of yin and yang. They understood that Dev and Ops should no longer be viewed as separate entities with orthogonal missions. They are complementary and connected entities in a complex system. Just as yin and yang describe how apparently orthogonal forces in the natural world can be complementary, interconnected and interdependent, so DevOps can balance Ops yin with Dev yang to provide the speed and stability needed to meet business needs.


To learn more about how HP Helion can give your business a competitive advantage, check us out at and follow us on @hphelioncloud.



Senior Manager, Cloud Online Marketing
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About the Author


I manage the HPE Helion social media and website teams promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds. I was previously at Dell promoting their Cloud solutions and was the open source community manager for OpenStack and at Rackspace and Citrix Systems. While at Citrix Systems, I founded the Citrix Developer Network, developed global alliance and licensing programs, and even once added audio to the DOS ICA client with assembler. Follow me at @SpectorID

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