Diving into DevOps

Scrum + DevOps = ScrumOps

Chances are when you think about Scrum, the popular framework for managing complex projects, you think "Agile," and when you think about DevOps, you think "Continuous Delivery." And when you think about them combined ... well ... you probably don't. But if Dave West and Jayne Groll have their way, the notion that Scrum and DevOps don't go together isn't long for this world.

"It's a total misconception that it has to be either Scrum or DevOps," West told me. "And there's a tension between the two that is wholly misplaced."

West is the CEO of Scrum.org, a training organization founded by Ken Schwaber, who co-created Scrum with Jeff Sutherland. The organization provides training, assessment and certifications based on "the values and principles of Scrum and the Agile Manifesto." Groll runs the DevOps Institute (DOI), which describes itself as a "global learning community around emerging DevOps practices." DOI specializes in training and certifications around enterprise-level DevOps."

Groll and West took that stage at the DevOps Connect event in Dallas last month to challenge the notion that DevOps and Scrum are somehow mutually exclusive. And they put their money where their mouth is, announcing a new strategic partnership between their respective organizations. They have agreed to collaborate on ongoing content, training and resources over the coming months. They also coined a new term to describe their joint mission: "ScrumOps."

"I don't think of ScrumOps as a new thing," West said. "I almost don't want it to be a thing at all. I guess you could say we're using it as a way to remind everyone in the DevOps and Scrum communities that it's not an either/or situation. The fact that you can use Scrum for more effective DevOps truly should be something that everyone gets."

West reminded me that what we think of as DevOps today emerged at the Agile 2008 conference, when Andrew Clay Shafer and Patrick Debois talked about something called "Agile Architecture." The first DevOps Days event in Belgium followed in 2009.

"It has been forgotten that Agile is at the heart of DevOps and Scrum principles, such as empiricism, transparency, inspection and adaptation, are at center of DevOps. There's a concentration on automation, tools, techniques and flow -- all very import things. But a lot of vendors are using DevOps as a mechanism for positioning their tooling. That both worries and excites me. It worries me because its, hey, I've got these DevOps tools, so it has to be about DevOps. But it excites me because a lot of people are thinking about these problems and talking about them and marketing them and trying to drive solutions."

Among other things, West and Groll are hoping their collaboration will lead to an integrated approach to software delivery. The press release announcing the partnership describes ScrumOps as "a holistic model of modern IT that can better speed the delivery of secure, working software while accurately measuring success…."

"When we bring the practices and ideologies of Scrum and DevOps together," Groll said in a statement, "we can truly shape the end-to-end IT organization. This new model shows how business, development, delivery, security and operations fit together to support continuous value in a governed way."

West is also hoping to contribute to a consistent nomenclature around DevOps.

"With Scrum, there's a consistent body of knowledge called the Scrum Guide. It's a ratified document that everyone in the industry points to when they talk about Scrum. It defines Scrum. DevOps doesn't have that. It would be a good thing to establish some consistent nomenclature -- glossary, lexicon, whatever -- for DevOps to ensure that all of the training is consistent. I think it would also help to dispel some of the myths about the incompatibility of Scrum and DevOps."

There's a list of some of the myths West and Groll would like to dispel on the Web site.

"The bottom line is, we believe that the Scrum and DevOps communities can and should be working together to solve real problems," West added.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of Converge360.com sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].