DevOps is a culture. It is a set of values, beliefs and practices used by an organization. It is not a department, job title or set of tools. These things are born from a DevOps culture but they do not define it.

I was part of moving an organization from walls and silos to a culture of cooperation, shared belief system and collective ownership and seeking the best tools and practices to support the company’s values.

Company values rarely change. In the fast paced world of technology however, beliefs, the thoughts and practices to support a set of values, can and do change. Think of it as values are the destination a company wants to reach every day. Beliefs are what must happen to achieve that goal. Beliefs about how people communicate, collaborate and deliver the company’s products and services. That requires making decisions about time management, the tools to use and the processes and procedures that work for everyone.

I have been a Senior Software Engineer and Reliability Engineer for almost two decades and I’ve seen what can build and what can destroy a company culture. Such as when a company is not clear on its own values, what supporting beliefs will help it achieve those values and not giving its employees the freedom, tools and management to adopt those values and beliefs every day.

Growing the value system from within is the best way to achieve a DevOps culture. One where Development, Operations and the rest of the company (all the way to the top) care about each others responsibilities and challenges. You’ll know you have achieved it when you see people asking how they can help others, what can we do to make a system or process run more efficiently and how are the systems they helped create or manage operating 24/7.

Growing a DevOps culture takes time. Patience, commitment top to bottom in the organization and most importantly, communicate the company values to everyone.