agility and diversity, oh my

According to the t-shirt record (think “the fossil record”), the last time I was in San Diego for the USENIX LISA (Large Installation System Administration) conference was in 2008, but I also got to the San Jose (2010) and briefly to the Boston (2011) events.

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USENIX LISA 2008 tshirt

Two of the most inspiring talks this year were on the afternoons of the last two days.

The closing keynote, by Aussie Geoff Halprin covered a lot of ground to summarize “15 Years of DevOps” (the open access mavens at USENIX have made Geoff’s slides available here).

What I found most interesting in the talk was the blurring of the lines that the “cloud” and “DevOps” evolutions over the past few years have allowed in traditional technology development positions. Much of Geoff’s talk focussed on processes and approaches (like e.g. agile software development), but the evolution of jobs and job titles is also a significant impact.

The obvious blurring is between the “development” team (nee programmers) and the “operations” team (nee sysadmins) just as the term DevOps implies. The more subtle blurring also applies to traditional titles such as “software engineer” and “quality assurance (QA) engineer”.

The obvious blurring is between the “development” team (nee programmers) and the “operations” team (nee sysadmins) just as the term DevOps implies. As he said, if you make the engineers carry the beepers, they tend to make fewer poor design and implementation choices.

The more subtle blurring also applies to traditional titles such as “software engineer” and “quality assurance (QA) engineer”. New titles like “reliability engineer” make it clear that a concern for quality, reliability, resilience and (ultimately) great customer experience is everyone’s job. It isn’t enough to just do solve “your piece” of the problem and then pass it to the next point in the chain to do “their piece”. Statements like “we’ll write a procedure so that the field operations team can work around [a problem]” need to be seen as band-aids at best and only applied when absolutely, positively necessary. Then such “technical debt” needs to be repaid as soon as reasonably possible.

This brings me to the tie-in for diversity. There was a session at LISA the day before, Advancing Women in Computing moderated by Rikki Endsley with a smart, focussed and on-topic set of panelists who had some great advice to contribute to the discussion.

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About er1p

Also known as "Daddy".
Image | This entry was posted in Diversity, Engineering. Bookmark the permalink.

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