Interview with DevOpsCon speaker Michiel Rook

A DevOps review: “The days of the hardcore specialist are mostly gone”

Dominik Mohilo

In the past 10 years and since its initial conception, DevOps has become a cornerstone aspect for company culture and the developer community. We caught up with DevOpsCon speaker, Michiel Rook to discuss the development of DevOps over the years.

JAXenter: DevOps is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. It all began in 2008 when Andrew Shafer and Patrick Debois presented their “Agile Infrastructure” talk. Could you perhaps make a quick analysis of how DevOps developed over the past 10 years?

Michiel Rook: I’m not entirely sure when I first became aware of the term “DevOps”. I know that I’ve been applying the principles since well before 2008. I’ve always had a focus on (quickly) delivering value, and I believe that focus is fundamentally incompatible with the traditional way of doing things: erecting walls between people, teams and departments.

JAXenter: How would you describe the current state of DevOps? Where is it headed?

Michiel Rook: Some people in the community have expressed their concern that DevOps is turning into a cargo cult. That danger definitely exists, especially with vendors selling “DevOps tools”. This could lead to the false belief that buying the tool will add DevOps to your organization. On the positive side, I do see more and more (larger) organizations embracing the principles of DevOps. A lot of them are struggling (and it definitely isn’t easy, given where some of these organizations are coming from), but at least they’re trying.

JAXenter: Developers are facing more and more tasks formerly handled by operators and vice-versa. Are the classic roles of developers and operators still going to be used in the future as well or are they blending?

Michiel Rook: There will always be personal preferences, aptitudes, and interests. And that’s totally fine. However, I do think the days of the hardcore specialist are mostly gone. In my opinion, if you want a high performing team it should be composed of a set of mature, diverse, cross-functional people. that embrace change, love learning new things, can support each other and develop great software.

SEE ALSO: The DevOps cookbook

JAXenter: DevOps is not only about the cultural aspects, but also about the tools. Which tools do you recommend for a successful transition to DevOps?

Michiel Rook: I believe that tools don’t make DevOps. Or rather, introducing DevOps in an organization does not imply using specific tools. Of course, automation is a key component of DevOps, so any tool that helps with that is potentially useful. In any case, the way public cloud services, Docker and especially Kubernetes have transformed the infrastructure and application deployment landscape has been nothing short of staggering.

JAXenter: What do you think are the biggest obstacles in implementing DevOps successfully?

Michiel Rook: I’d say culture and leadership. An organization that does not trust and empower its teams to deliver great products, with sufficient autonomy, will continue to add processes, walls, silos, and bureaucracy. An organization that does not embrace bottom-up decision making, the agile mindset and a modern way of working will ultimately fail in applying DevOps successfully.

Thank you!

Dominik Mohilo
Dominik Mohilo studied German and sociology at the Frankfurt University, and works at S&S Media since 2015.

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