It seems I can’t turn around without getting myself involved in some discussion about Agile or DevOps these days.
I agree with many of the concepts and the aims of Agile, DevOps, Continuous Delivery etc. I find it hard to believe anyone wouldn’t see value in what they are trying to promote. As always, it is how people interpret and implement them that makes all the difference.
It’s just like religion. They all seem to be pretty sound at heart, but let a few lunatics and fundamentalists loose on them and next thing you know…
Things like Agile and DevOps have arisen to address perceived problems. If your organisation doesn’t suffer from those problems, you may not need to consider them, or you may already be doing something like them without knowing you are.
Your company can be agile, without following Scrum or Kanban. You will inevitably have arrived at similar patterns I guess. Likewise, your streamlining of process, automation of testing and deployment, good communication between silos (if present) may leave you wondering what all the DevOps fuss is about.
I am both a fan and hater of Agile and DevOps. I’m a fan of what they are able to achieve when used correctly. I’m a hater of all the bullshit that surrounds them!
OK. So the original quote from Spawn is exactly the opposite, but let’s go with it…
A few times in the past I’ve been asked questions and started to give a direct answer, then someone smarter has jumped in and asked the killer question. Why? Quite often it’s easy to answer the initial question, so rather than understand the reason for the question, you just respond and pat yourself on the back. That’s great, but without knowing the context of the question, the “right answer” could actually be the “wrong answer”. As Tom always says, “The answer to every question is *it depends*!”
I had another situation like that recently. The questions was, “How can I install VNC on a Linux box?” Pretty simple answer and I know a guy who wrote an article on that, so I pointed them to the article. Job done!
Then I got a pang of guilt and the conversation went like this…
Q: Why do you want to install VNC?
A: Because my boss told me too.
Q: By why does your boss want you to install VNC?
A: Because the network connection breaks sometimes, making a “ssh -X user@host” a dodgy solution.
Now I have nothing against VNC itself, but installing it on a server is one more attack vector to worry about, especially if it’s not necessary. Knowing the context allowed me to talk about silent installs, command line DBCA, running things in the background, even the screen command.
If the person goes away and installs VNC, that’s no skin off my nose, but just answering how, without knowing the context could well have opened them, or me, up to criticism down the line.
So next time you answer a question and are about to enable smug mode, ask yourself if you have actually helped, or just taken the easy route.
This could be a story about any one of a number of failed outsourcing or cloud migration projects I’ve read about over the years. They all follow the same pattern.
The company is having an internal problem, that they don’t know how to solve. It could be related to costs, productivity, a paradigm shift in business practices or just an existing internal project that is failing.
They decide launch down a path of outsourcing or cloud migration with unrealistic expectations of what they can achieve and no real ideas about what benefits they will get, other than what Gartner told them.
When it doesn’t go to plan, they blame the outsourcing company, the cloud provider, the business analysts, Gartner, terrorists etc. Notably, the only thing that doesn’t get linked to the failure is themselves.
You might have heard this saying,
“You can’t outsource a problem!”
Just hoping to push your problems on to someone else is a guaranteed fail. If you can’t clearly articulate what you want and understand the consequences of your choices, how will you ever get a result you are happy with?
Over the years we’ve seen a number of high profile consultancies get kicked off government projects. The replacement consultancy comes in, hires all the same staff that failed last time, then continue on the failure train. I’m not going to mention names, but if you have paid any attention to UK government IT projects over the last decade you will know who and what I mean.
Every time you hear someone complaining about failing projects or problems with a specific model (cloud, on-premise, outsourcing, in-sourcing), it’s worth taking a step back and asking yourself where the problem really is. It’s much easier to blame other people than admit you’re part of the problem! These sayings spring to mind.
“Garbage in, garbage out!”
“A bad workman blames his tools!”
PS. I’ve never done anything wrong. It’s the rest of the world that is to blame…
Update: I wasn’t suggesting this is only an issue in public sector projects. It just so happens this rant was sparked by a story about public sector stuff.
I mentioned in a previous post, the whole look and feel of Microsoft Azure has been rejigged. As a result, I had to do a run through of the SQL Server DBaaS stuff to update the screen shots in and old article on the subject.
WordPress 4.4 has landed. As usual, early on you will need to manually initiate the auto-update. I’m guessing in a day or so it will just happen by itself.
I did the update on 5 installations and all went through with no dramas. There will no doubt be a slew of updates over the next few days, which is pretty common after a big release. The auto-update feature means you can take the lazy approach and just let it do its thing.