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6 things your ops team desperately needs to hear

Lucas Carlson Vice President of Strategy, Automic Software
Thank you sign

Mercedes-Benz's new Vision 6 concept car, launched at the Paris Motor Show in October, is packed with digital innovations. The car’s designer basked in the limelight, as the crowds congratulated him for a job well done. Meanwhile, the backroom guys—the ones who masterminded the electric motors, the self-driving capability and other ideas—remained anonymous. They received no applause from the crowd.

Does that remind you of IT operations? Too often, even on DevOps teams, it’s the developers who get the credit for the new service, created in weeks, and launched in even less time. They are the heroes of the hour. As for IT operations? Well, they just make sure the lights don’t flicker, don’t they?

Well, no. If developers are the shape of a car, then operations is the engine, the chassis, the powertrain, and just about everything else. IT operations deserves more recognition, more praise, and more acclaim as part of the DevOps team. It’s time they were championed, and here's how to do it: Here are the six things that your ops team would desperately like to hear you say.

1. “Thank you for building a battle-tested environment”

No one gets praise when the operational environment works well. When it falters though, the finger-pointing starts. Your operations teams work day and night to maintain an environment that stays running 24 by 7 by 365. Their skills, knowledge and experience are what ensures that the environment on which your organization relies is robust, reliable and resilient. So let this be a reminder to thank them.

2. “You know what, let’s not throw out our processes to follow a hot new trend”

Containers may be all the rage right now, but battle-tested and production-ready they are not. Operations people realize that new platforms require major changes not just to the technology, but also to the underlying processes. They carry a significant degree of hidden risks around integration, production readiness, security and robustness. Change happens when change needs to happen.

Maybe there is more than a grain of wisdom in not throwing out current processes and replacing them with shiny new solutions. Evolution, not revolution, is the operations mantra, and it should be respected by more than just operations.

3. “We need your help thinking about the digitization of our business”

Successful DevOps is not the combining of developer and operations responsibilities. Rather, DevOps done right is a collaboration between developers and operations. Developers talk incessantly about the features of the new service and how it will work, but operations is just as important in that discussion. Dip your toe in their vast pool of knowledge, or risk diminishing your digital success.

4. “Tell me more about the tools you’re excited about”

Too often, operations is told to use tools that weren’t built for them. They are handed developer tools and asked to make them work. Developers, meanwhile, get to choose whatever they want.

Shouldn’t we be asking what operations wants, too? The ultimate goal is to deliver high quality new services faster. If operations isn’t given the tools—especially the automation tools—that they prefer to use, those shiny new services won’t come to market as quickly as they should.

5. “What can I do to help you automate more of your processes?”

Sometimes operations gets a bad rap for not automating enough of their work, but that's not fair. We all want services delivered more quickly. Operations often aren’t asked what can be done to help them achieve their automation goals.

People are confused. It’s not that operations is opposed to automation or speed, it's just that they won’t do those things if they decrease robustness and resilience. So go ahead, ask them: “What can be done to automate more of your processes?” The answer might surprise you.

6. “You’re rock stars, too.”

Developers are often the kingpins of IT. If their code breaks, it’s OK. But if operations messes up, well, it’s time to get the curriculum vitae out. That’s so unfair. Organizations simply couldn’t function and succeed without the vision and insight offered by operations.

Sometimes a little recognition goes a long way.

There you have it. Six ways to make operations feel more appreciated. So the next time you see us, try out one of these statements. Better still, how about buying us one of those new Mercedes-Benz concept cars?

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