Dev Ops Fell On Deaf Ears At IBM Pulse 2011

Much has been written about the emerging trend of DevOps. Mike Gualtieri, as always, provided sharp commentary in his blog titled “I Don’t Want DevOps. I Want NoOps.” I was very excited to attend IBM Pulse 2011, which is aimed clearly at operations professionals and is Tivoli’s primary event. Over the past year, the Tivoli brand has gone through a management change. Danny Sabbah and a lot of his management team moved from Rational, the developer brand, to Tivoli. So I was interested to hear how Danny Sabbah and his team had introduced the ideas of Jazz and OSLC into the Tivoli mission. And I was not disappointed. The keynotes, track sessions, and analyst and press events were all aimed at vision. They talked about the end-to-end value chain of delivering and maintaining software. They placed heavy emphasis on process and automation, describing a vision of integrated tools and process allowing software to move seamlessly from idea to implementation and beyond. IBM is not alone in this vision; increasingly, other vendors are trying to break down the barriers between operations and development. HP, with its Business Technology Optimization (BTO) vision, is connecting quality, portfolio management, and service management. Microsoft for a long time has described an integrated vision for the .NET platform.  

BUT, was the audience of Pulse 2011 interested in DevOps? Perhaps the best barometer was the Service Design Delivery track. This track was all about DevOps, titled Agile Operations by IBM. It was staffed by IBMers from the Rational and the Tivoli brands and included a number of customers who were integrating their delivery and operations tools and processes. The track content was strong, but unlike the baseball field on Field of Dreams, IBM built it and they did not come. The track was poorly attended. There was some interest in the ideas of Agile and integration, but compared to the other tracks, such as Service Delivery and Automation, attendance was low. This highlights the fundamental issue with the DevOps movement. Who has the problem that DevOps fixes? Often development and operation professionals are measured within their own domains. Neither party is measured on the whole value chain. Development professionals are measured on project metrics such as time, budget, and quality. Operations pros are rewarded on service measures such as up time and cost. Both parties want a better life and to deliver more business value, but without a clear shared objective, it is difficult for them to get motivated. For vendors the problem presents itself in finding the buyer. Often the only place these two camps come together is at the CIO level, a level that is already busy with numerous change programs.

So is all lost for DevOps? No, it will happen, and not just because of the efforts of vendors but because the movement is rooted in business need. The business needs software to be delivered faster and to provide increased value. Optimizing development or operations will not give if these groups are treated in isolation. My observation is that:

  1. DevOps will become the reality in situations where the business and technology require it. Thus mobile and new web apps will motivate not only different development models but also the transition to DevOps.
  2. Development will push the agenda. Agile methods have been the catalyst for DevOps in many organizations, and as Agile continues to grow in use, the drive to DevOps will happen.
  3. Organizations will adopt technologies such as cloud, making traditional operational processes obsolete.

I would love to hear what you think. Are you deaf to DevOps?


Same Genesis as Agile...

DevOps is seeing the same "speed bumps" that Agile practitioners continue to deal with. Change is hard, and when change is bucking organizational structure it is even more difficult to enable.

I agree that while Agile environments will be able to "carrot" the DevOps upsides, I am not completely sold that DevOps will result simply because it is required (or that DevOps will be able to just latch-on to orgs implementing Agile methods). While "carrots" are the prepared motivator, "sticks" are still required in a lot of cases...which means that the tooling in the space needs to continue to evolve, simplify, and extend further into the development lifecycle.

IBM hasn't been a DevOps thought leader

I'm really starting to wonder how you and Mike Gualtieri are getting your understanding about what DevOps actually is. At first I thought you were link baiting for traffic or upset that DevOps isn't a Forrester created term. But now I'm thinking that Forrester just isn't doing it's homework.

IBM hasn't been a DevOps thought leader. They don't even use the word (Agile Ops alone does not equal DevOps) and then they break the DevOps topics out into several tracks (automation and service delivery are critical parts of DevOps). Where is the content IBM publishes that would lead people attending Pulse (a product specific vendor conference) to think they would learn something about DevOps? You don't go to Pulse to learn about DevOps, you go to Pulse because you are a Tivoli shop and your boss wants you to learn all about Tivoli from the Tivoli product experts (not DevOps experts).

Have you attended any of the sold-out DevOps Days conferences? Plenty of chance for you to have... In the past two years there has been 2 in Europe, 3 in the US, and 1 in Australia. The DevOps Days conference in Mountain View last summer was a who's who of companies that specialize in building and operating software (Google, Amazon, LinkedIn, AOL, Facebook, Intuit, Shopzilla, Etsy, etc..). Most of the DevOps Days events use EventBrite for registration, so you can see the attendee list yourself and ask around. The DevOps meetup group in Chicago has over 200 members from both high performing web outfits (like Orbitz) and high performing financial services company (like Morning Star Capital). The London DevOps group has an equally impressive membership. There are dozens of other DevOps groups around the globs. Which ones have you spoken with?

But perhaps these self organizing events don't past muster for Forrester. They should since the interest level is so high that people spend their own time and initiative organizing. But even so, have you tried roaming the halls of "commercial" conferences like O'Reilly's Velocity or SURGE in the past year? Have you taken a look at the call for proposals/papers for USENIX's LISA conference? DevOps is a hot topic at each and well attended.

Does Forrester have some other agenda against the DevOps concept? If not, could you be more specific about how you and Mike Gualtieri form your DevOps opinions? Without more transparency I think you are hurting Forrester's reputation by coming out so harshly against a self-organizing movement of actual practitioners who are just helping each other solve real problems in a vendor neutral way.

-Damon Edwards

I am NOT anti Dev Ops, Quite the Opposite

I see the huge amount of interest in the industry around DevOps. I love the self organizing nature of the community. I appreciate the insights of its leaders. BUT I was also interested in what IBM Operations customers are saying and was surprised by the lack of interest, immaterial of the thought leadership or positioning IBM may or may not have on the subject. You may say that this 7000 person conference is not relevant to the DevOps community and perhaps you are right, but these people are releasing LOTS of software and it is interesting to see what their opinions are.

I guess it felt like going to a developer conference in the 90s and only the vendor talking about OO !!

But in a nutshell Forrester will continue to watch and join-in with this community (the DevOps one), and I am VERY excited about how this thoughtleadership is going to change the world..

And, finally if I did not make it clear - I AM NOT AGAINST DEVOPS - quite the reverse... I thought I said that it will happen with or without people attending those sessions...

Hope that clears up any confusion... !!

Apologies for lumping you in...

My apologies for lumping you in with your colleague, Mike Gualtieri, and his anti-DevOps stance! It was wrong of me to impute his reasoning onto your observations about the Pulse audience.

I'd like to invite you to attend the next DevOps days which will be in Silicon Valley on June 17th (the day after the nearby Velocity conference). The questions about messaging and interest around DevOps and related vendors would be a great topic for a panel or even a civilized debate. If you look at last years attendees, I think you'll find a high-caliber audience full of thought leaders that would make it well worth your time (and Forrester's as well).

I'm one of the organizers and you can reach me at

I'm going to post the same invitation on Mike Gualtieri's blog as well.



I organize devopsdays in the US with Damon.

I met you at Agile 2010 in Orlando after a panel of analyst brought up devops multiple times. I engaged with you and the other analysts at the time to try to minimize misconceptions. I sent you a follow up email that I hoped would advance the dialog.

Suffice it to say, IBM customers are trailing indicators in this market.

On the assumption that you've just been too busy to engage, I extend an invitation to do so and want to support Damon's proposal that you join us in June.

Andrew Clay Shafer
VP of Engineering