The Perth DevOps Meetup was running an “Unpopular Opinions” talk night. Each presenter had three minutes and no slides, to talk about their unpopular opinion; Whatever that meant!

I choose to talk about how organisationl silos aren’t the evil things that DevOps purports to be. In particular this is referencing an article on how Increasing collaboration can do harm by Jade Rubick.

The talk is basically a classical tragedy (think Macbeth or Dr. Faust) but really, really really condensed 😅 into three minutes; Almost one minute per part.

Presentation - None. No slides!

Recording - Not recorded

DevOps Murdered Silos - A Tragedy in 3 Parts(minutes)

The Setup

This is the Tragedy of Steve. Steve is a CIO at Parts Unlimited and is in charge of many things including a bunch of developers and sys admins. The Developers in their developer silo write the code, and give it to the admins to run. The Admins in their silo try and the run the code. And when it fails (and it always fails) the finger pointing and blaming started. You know usual, THOSE people in the OTHER silo were always wrong and broken!

No matter what Steve did, he couldn’t get them to work together and just ship the software HE needed for Parts Unlimited to prosper…

And then one day, Steve read a book. A book about DevOps, Phoenixes and Projects! And lo! heavenly voices sang and angels descended from up on high, to spread the divine knowledge of The DevOps. He took the trinity of DevOps (Systems thinking, Feedback loops and Learning Mindset) and taught the Dev and Admin leads to work better.

The Promise

And slowly, ever so slowly, things began to change.

At first, the developers and admins tolerated each other Then they began to respect each other… and then oh my goodness … then they began to seek each other out and collaborate!

The DevOps prophets were right! With Dev And Ops collaborating, he could get software out to the users faster than ever!!!

The Fall

… And then one day

Steve saw a DEVELOPER talking to someone in SECURITY! He thought it was glorious! And another ADMIN talking to FINANCE. The DevOps was spreading, and surely even better things could happen by breaking down more silos…

but Steve was wrong …

That developer had to wait another week to finish the feature because he was busy collaborating with Security. And then he noticed more people in the CAB meetings. Every one was talking and collaborating but it was taking forever to come to a decision and actually get work done.

Steve asked one of the architects to explain how the software that ran Parts Unlimited worked. What he saw was a mess of spaghetti. Everything was dependent on something else, just like how his all his teams were now. All communicating with each other!

Steve asked the admins, “How long does it take to release the software?”. They answered “a week, maybe”. Steve thought, how could this be? That was exactly how long it used to take! DevOps has has improved NOTHING.

But worse happened still! and one day. Steve was asked to leave Parts Unlimited and never come back.

The Regret

And it was only then that Steve realised his folly. That treacherous DevOps had not just broken down the silos but Murdered them. And with nothing to stop it, collaboration swept in, to suck the velocity out of his teams.

If only Steve had kept some of those silos alive and well. If only, in all his DevOps reading he headed the warning in Conways Law, and saw that when collaboration is left unchecked, it can manifest itself as horrific software. And Steve mourned the death of those innocent Silos that he helped kill.

The moral of the story: Don’t go around destroying Silos just because they are Silos. Silos can also be useful barriers that temper interactions, not just blocking them.