Could DevOps have made the Healthcare.gov rollout smoother and less bug-free than it was?
“Yes,” says Ali Hussain, CTO and co-founder at Flux7. In a recent post, Hussain observes that there was precious little communication and coordination between developers, contractors and the client (in this case, the White House).
“The White House CTO Todd Park was not part of the conversation from the beginning,” he states. “The code was written by a myriad of government contractors. There was lack of ownership. Everyone bickered over passing the buck. The system had no private beta and no testing at scale.”
The problem encountered with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) websites was one that vexed many enterprise rollouts over the decades. The developers, not talking with the operations side, would go about their business designing a full application and then throw the whole thing over to the operations people to attempt to run.
DevOps, an emerging best practice now employed in six out of 10 organizations, is intended to support the quick release of complex software, but doing so with developers and operations people working side-by-side to ensure that there are no surprises. Typically, developers and operations people are from two different worlds — developers have more free-form work styles, while operations people prefer to adhere to strict schedules and routines.
Once the Healthcare.gov team took its onslaught of criticism from Capitol Hill, the media and everywhere else, it regrouped, with lines of communication open between all parties involved in the project. Prominent dashboards helped to enable everyone to see the progress of various parts of the project, and to keep everyone on the same page.
Also see: Health Care Reform: It's Only Just Begun
As Hussain put it so eloquently in his post: “DevOps is not about the tools. It is about human relationships. All of us have an inherent desire to be a part of creating something great. We want to help our fellow human beings. We want recognition for our hard work. And, we do not want to do things that detract us from what we love. When developers have all of this, they are happier, more energetic, and more productive. DevOps is about solving this human problem. Getting everyone working together as a team with improved communication. Anything tedious is automated to avoid the frustration and consequent loss of productivity. This is what DevOps is all about.”
Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.
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