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Framework #23

You build it, you run it

Werner Vogels, Amazon CTO (2006)

What does it mean?

The ”You Build it, you run it” quote from the CTO of Amazon reflects the essence of the DevOps concept: those who build a product should be responsible for maintaining it. Therefore, DevOps aims to move away from a model where functional teams (e.g. product development, QA, support) work in silos to a model where those who build are also those who run and maintain.

Why do we believe it’s important?

Traditionally, IT organisations have had separate teams for development and operations with a process of transferring a new or improved services from project mode into operations mode. This causes tension at the transfer point as the project team wants to get onto the next project as soon as possible and the operations team worries that once the project team is disbanded, they will be left “holding the baby”. This has led to delays in delivering a new service, or poor performance in a new service which has been moved into live prematurely.

The premise of DevOps is that bad behaviour arises when people are removed from the consequences of their actions. We believe that having those who build also be responsible for running and maintaining their code makes them responsible for the result of their work and thus enhances the quality of the code delivered.

Whilst DevOps in itself is not a distinct set of 'hard' skills, we see it as a guiding principle in how we look to build new digital services. More specifically, we see that there are commonalities in the personality type who work in companies that do "DevOps" well. These are: emotional intelligence, a broad understanding of tools and technology, security mindset, experience of infrastructure automation, testing, customer-first mentality, collaboration, flexibility, network awareness and a view and understanding of the big picture

How do we put it into practice?

We are conscious that defining a way to embed this model in an organisation can be particularly challenging.

For instance, we worked for a multinational media company that was looking to move their global service management capability in-house. Whilst they knew DevOps was the way forward they were unsure how to get there. We assisted them in formulating a strategy and a plan to move to this model. This involved defining a Capability Model for their Digital Operations Centre, using the DevOps model which we adapted to this particular organisation, and defining a Transition State plan for them to progressively build this capability over the course of two years. We also defined an adoption approach taking into account human factors, behaviour patterns, and ways of working  to help them successfully move to this new model.


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