Don't automate all the things

August 29, 2021

DevOps is often confused with “automation.” I’ve said before this is wrong. You can do automation and still not be doing DevOps.

But what may be more controversial is that I believe the reverse is also true. You an do DevOps without automation.

Perhaps this is easier to swallow if we think of automation as a spectrum, with “completely automated, all the humans can go to the beach now” on one end, and “not automated at all, humans are releasing software by typing tar commands on the console.”

Nobody (we hope) is at either extreme. All of our teams, projects, and companies lie along this spectrum. After all, even the automation needs maintenance some times…

Where does DevOps fit along this spectrum? I don’t think it does. At all.

Some might claim that you can’t say you’re doing DevOps if you’re not doing automatic deployments. But is that really true?

What if the developer who wrote the code manually issues a docker push command to deploy? We can discuss the security and reliability implications, but I think it’s hard to make the case that they’re operating in some sort of “Dev silo”.

Automation improves DevOps drastically. So everyone interested in DevOps should also be interested in imporoving automation. But automation also improves non-DevOps, so those not doing DevOps should also probably be interested.

Do DevOps. Then automate only what makes sense. Or don’t do DevOps, and automate only what makes sense just the same.


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