Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassador

Tired of the “What Is DevOps?” Question?

Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassador Michael Hüttermann answered the question by writing a book about it.

By Bob Rhubart

May/June 2018

DevOps consultant Michael Hüttermann grew so tired of answering the question “What is DevOps?” that he wrote a book. Five years later, he still gets the question on a daily basis, but now he can refer people to DevOps for Developers (Apress, 2012).

Hüttermann, an Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassador and Java Champion, describes his interest in DevOps as having evolved logically. “I recognized that languages are just the means for achieving a goal. I’m focusing on big projects and supporting big companies and big enterprises, and they often use a heterogeneous ecosystem involving many different languages and many different people,” he explains. “To make an IT initiative a success, it’s important to include all the different stakeholders and decision-makers and colleagues. From a more technical perspective, it’s important to include all different languages and platforms and artifact types to make a technically and functionally consistent release. That’s a DevOps background. All those different platforms and languages should be included in your efforts.”

That’s the plan. But getting there isn’t without challenges. “It’s still often the case that companies have a mismatch in their understanding of the value of processes and peopleware,” Hüttermann observes. Tools are a part of the formula. “It’s important to have very good tools and to integrate those tools with other tools to form great DevOps toolchains.”

If you have the wrong expectations, the project or initiative can be very successful, but what is successful?”—Michael Hüttermann, Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassador

What goes into those toolchains? “The major backbones are still the same,” Hüttermann says. “One example is Jenkins, which is often the foundation of many DevOps automation activities.” Farther down the toolchain, “It’s also important to have very powerful platforms to rely on, including cloud computing and micro¬services—all those neat things that help developers make their work even more productive and successful,” Hüttermann says.

But although the right tools are important, Hüttermann often sees too much focus on tools. “DevOps is neither one single tool, nor is it a team. Although there are good success stories, typically it’s not really one team; it’s a shared effort across different teams.

That’s indicative of one of the major DevOps challenges. “It’s all about expectations,” Hüttermann says. “In my daily work, I talk to prospects and customers and try to set the stage, to shape the expectations.” The wrong expectations can result in disappointment or, even worse, a false sense of success.

“If you have the wrong expectations, the project or initiative can be very successful, but what is successful? That’s often measured in terms of the expectations,” Hüttermann explains.

Of course, to have realistic DevOps expectations, organizations must accept and appreciate that DevOps matters. In his role as a consultant, Hüttermann devotes a lot of time and effort to that goal. “I support big companies on their DevOps path, helping them find the best approach and to utilize the best tools to achieve their goals,” he explains. Across his considerable set of customers, “The problem and the solution remain the same. It’s all about getting people and customers and companies to recognize that DevOps is important and not just an academic discussion. DevOps is really about values and improving the cycle time, and that’s very important.”

Hüttermann’s interest and expertise in DevOps continues to evolve, as does the IT world he inhabits. “After so many decades in IT, there are always waves and evolutionary steps,” he observes. “We do not invent anything from scratch nowadays. Everything is based on experience and lessons learned in the past. This includes languages and trends. Looking into the future, I’m optimistic.”

That optimism, his ever-evolving expertise, and his willingness to share both are traits that helped Hüttermann earn his status as an Oracle Groundbreaker Ambassador.

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Photography by Mareen Fischinger/The Verbatim Agency