With software development teams universally embracing Agile project management methodology, the question about Agile in Operations comes - up - frequently. Many view "agile sysadmin" as a key component of the DevOps movement. Recently, I had to give an answer to the "agile in operations" questions to my coworkers. Here's my take on it.

In software development, Agile methodology is firmly associated with Scrum. Very few Scrum practices make sense in the context of Operations. Outside of Scrum's Product backlog and Implementation backlog, I can't think of many Scrum methodologies relevant for Operations. Fortunately, Agile is much bigger than Scrum.

Agile suit of methodologies has different flavors. The following list comes to mind:

  • Extreme Programming (Response to changing customer requirements)
  • Scrum (Product - Development close collaboration)
  • Dynamic System Development method (DSDM) (rapid development)
  • Crystal (Software development as a cooperative game)

Out of Agile flavors listed above, we subscribe to the Extreme Programming philosophy in Operations. We use several practice from Scrum and DSDM. Extreme Programming philosophy is tailor-made for Operations.

Extreme Programming is described by the following practices:

  • Planning Game
  • Small Releases
  • Customer Acceptance Tests
  • Simple Design
  • Pair Programming
  • Test-Driven Development
  • Refactoring
  • Continuous Integration
  • Collective Code Ownership
  • Coding Standards
  • Metaphor
  • Sustainable Pace
  • Root-cause analysis
  • Incremental development

Practices I have seen successfully implemented in Operations:

  • Small Releases
  • Simple Design
  • Continuous Integration
  • Collective Code Ownership
  • Metaphor
  • Root-cause analysis
  • Incremental development
  • Customer Acceptance Tests
  • Pair Programming
  • Coding Standards
  • Test-Driven Development
  • Refactoring


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