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The Quest for a DevOps Culture: Communication is Key
by Matthew Fisher

Matthew Fisher, November 20, 2013

Stackato Activity Stream We are constantly seeing articles about DevOps and the goal of improving communication between Dev and IT Operations The underlying message is a good one: “lets all work together.” While everyone would like to work together, in theory, the adoption of DevOps has been slower than most would like. But CIOs and senior IT executives need to develop a plan to implement DevOps (if they haven’t already) because the benefits of bringing applications to market faster should translate to a competitive edge and increased innovation for their organization.

Of course, the change doesn’t happen easily. “Breaking down the silos” (to use an overused clich&eacute) is one of the challenges. How do you increase communication between two groups that seemingly don’t speak the same language? Since we’re dealing with people (and potentially battling old processes), the implementation of DevOps isn’t simple and definitely takes time.  You can see from the survey by Puppet Labs, the barriers are in part because we’re human. While it may take a while for people to change, incorporating the right tools can help achieve some of the benefits of a DevOps culture without having it in place right away

When our clients use Stackato, our application deployment and management platform, to develop, deploy and manage their web applications, they see how it reduces the friction between the two groups and results in faster deployment times. Stackato gives developers the freedom they want (by letting them focus on the application and not have to worry about infrastructure administration) and it gives IT administrators the control they want over their cluster (by letting them restrict the infrastructure and resources available to developers). So the two groups get what they want, without a lot of back and forth in dealing with infrastructure and wasting valuable time.

While just having Stackato in place can help, we recognize that communication can still be a hurdle. To help overcome this problem, we added Activity Stream to Stackato. When we acquired Appsecute earlier this year, we knew that this kind of social DevOps technology can really help developers and IT collaborate more efficiently through the application’s lifecycle. Our users can now comment and coordinate the work directly on the stream, improving communication within and between these groups.

What is Activity Stream?

Collaboration is key for a true DevOps approach, which is why we acquired Appsecute and integrated their technology within Stackato. We saw the power behind a Facebook-like stream for application deployments, and we felt that this would take our product’s functionality to a whole new level.

Stackato Activity Stream

The Activity Stream provides a real-time view for enterprise cloud management, which allows stakeholders to see a unified information stream across multiple applications. It enables you to track application deployments, updates and issues in real-time and start a dialog based on any event. While PaaS already makes deployments easier and faster, the addition of the Activity Stream provides improved communication because the constant messaging between the groups keeps everyone informed up-to-the-minute.

Similar to Atlassian’s Activity Stream (which we honestly didn’t know about until we had completed ours), our Activity Stream allows managers and developers to view an information stream for all application events within their organization. You can also drill down and see the activity stream for just one application within the organization, if you so wish. The events displayed on the stream are usually recent deployments, instance scaling, application management (such as starting or stopping your application), and any discussions that the developers add to the stream.

We know that there are cultural hurdles to implementing DevOps in an organization and it will never happen overnight. However, with the right tools we feel that we can make the change a little easier for everyone.

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Category: stackato
About the Author: RSS

Matthew Fisher is ActiveState’s Junior Product Manager. Born and raised on Vancouver Island, BC, Matthew is a software developer in his spare time, preferring Python as his weapon of choice. In December 2012, he graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology with a Diploma in Computer Systems Technology. He has previously built telephony systems for customers using Asterisk PBX and Django, and has completed co-op placements doing IT/Sys Admin work with Core Information Technology and AeroInfo Systems, where he received an AeroInfo Award of Excellence. He joined ActiveState in February 2013.