About Aaron Nichols

Aaron works with startups and small companies to help their development organizations move faster. He is presently the senior Operations Engineer at a startup in Boulder working on implementation of Continuous Deployment, automated monitoring & configuration management.

Why do we insist on consensus on the role of Ops?

I’ve seen so many threads over the last few weeks about who should do what, why, and what you should do about it if you don’t conform. I don’t get it. Ops is a team in a company – there are lots of types of companies. Companies typically have a few goals:
  1. Make mone 
  2. Change the world, as long as we can do #1.
Lots of companies accomplish these goals doing things wrong. If you want proof, read Good to Great, there are oodles of examples of companies who didn’t qualify as “great” but who you would recognize as successful.
When wagon trains migrated families west across the US, the idea of driving 40mph, of crossing a state in a day, would have been crazy talk. Then came the locomotive.
When locomotives moved people across the country, the idea of a car making an interstate trip would have been crazy. It would be madness if everyone operated their own car. Then came cars, and road, and traffic signals, and road signs. This took time, lots of mistakes, lots of retrospectives, and year over year progress.
Progress isn’t made by conforming to the conventions of today, it’s made by pushing for something better. That’s what some folks are doing in Ops today – they are trying to push the limits and do what works for them. Others are observing these patterns and following suit. Still others are sitting back and saying “That ain’t right, my process works just fine”. Perfect.
It wasn’t necessary for automobile manufacturers to convince railroad operators that the car was the future. The car became the future because people adopted it, because it worked, and because over time the infrastructure that supported it became more mature.
As our tools get better, as our patterns become more and more repeatable, as we start to understand what roads & traffic signals & road signs we need for Ops to get out of the way of Developers making changes in production, things will move. In the mean time – talk about what works for you, why it works for you, and don’t bother convincing other people why it should work for them.
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