Dev and Ops: Not from Different Planets

Dev and Ops
Joshua Platt

By Joshua Platt

At a conference, I heard a speaker remark that "Dev people are from Mars while Ops people are from Venus." That's catchy and captures what a fair number of managers believe instinctively. But is it really true? I'm not convinced.

We all know that DevOps enables us to deliver software faster, with fewer bugs and much less downtime than traditional approaches. But DevOps is new, complex and often challenging for teams to embrace. Developers often guard their tools and operations shake their head each time they hear about some new asset bundling package they have to support. I think the first few meetings of Dev and Ops probably do a lot to build the notion that they are from different planets.

In my experience, however, the opposite is true. To borrow a different popular catchphrase, they are more "brothers (or sisters) from a different mother." When you examine the makeup of Dev and Ops people, you find more similarities than differences. Here are some examples of their common ground:

Consistency and Standards

Both Dev and Ops are technical endeavors that place a huge premium on things being "precisely" correct. Whether coding a service or setting up an AWS instance, "in the ballpark" doesn't cut it. For this reason, both camps try to establish standards for how they work. Whether keeping Dev teams all using the same environment or Ops trying to keep Dev, testing and products all running the same, both need to benefit from building consistent environments.

Coding Skills

Whether coding or scripting, Devs and modern Ops teams need to be comfortable in a variety of highly technical tools. Build scripts, deployment, automated testing and reporting all require some coding skill.

Common Tools

If you look at the DevOps ecosystem, you'll increasingly see tools that are intended for both Dev and Ops tasks. Dev people, for example, use Git for reusable code; Ops uses Git as well for configuration of things such as Docker. Also, Dev uses Jira to track bugs while Ops uses Jira to track tasks.

Shared Metrics

While their focus may be different (code versus pipeline), both Dev and Ops share many metrics of success—consistent delivery, fewer errors, responsiveness to customers and uptime, to name a few.


Dev and Ops both embrace the "fail fast" mantra. They want to know if a change will break anything as soon as possible, long before it ever impacts a customer. Both often start with automated tests, which are run on Dev or local instances, to verify the changes are non-breaking.

Love of Automation

Neither Dev nor Ops enjoy manual, error-prone work. Both gravitate to tools that automate routine tasks, reducing variances and errors.

Star Wars

Finally, both groups are avid "Star Wars" fans. Just watch how they open automatic doors using the force or name servers or other things with sly "Star Wars" references (such as "Secret Rebel Base"). In fact, next time you're in a DevOps meeting and somebody is wondering if Dev and Ops can get along, bring up Jar Jar Binks and marvel at the immediate—there will be a completely concordant reaction from both sides.

So, are Dev and Ops from different planets? I don't think so. I see Dev and Ops as being like those twins separated at birth, who, when reunited decades later, laugh the same, have the same twitches and both married spouses with the same first name. And in the best DevOps shops I have seen, that's a really good thing.

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