As a DevOps evangelist, one of my passion and responsibilities, lies in spreading its awareness. There is a conscious efforts towards dispelling myths about what DevOps is – and isn’t. It is important to explain what DevOps means to “your” industry, how it is helping “your industry leaders” make transformational changes. One needs to arouse a genuine interest and understanding of this area. That’s what gets things done.

As part of my role, I was scheduled to discuss this topic with Zensar’s “Manufacturing” team. The team consisted of domain experts who come from this “more traditional mind-set”; people who have spent the better part of their lives working in this space. My regular DevOps deck variants around Cloud, e-Commerce, Retail space would not hold relevance for these experts. I really needed to re-design the presentation grounds up – if I were to stand even a fleeting chance of “impressing” this august audience.

And thus began my research – How is DevOps relevant and connected to Manufacturing?
Is it even really relevant? Or would I need to create a retro-fit for this talk?
I reminisced about my earlier roles in previous companies trying to correlate my learnings in my initial career days and applying to this “new” DevOps world?

The more I researched, the more I realized how deep the connection actually was – that perhaps manufacturing actually inspired most of the DevOps fundamentals. This was similar to several other new-age methodologies and ideas.

Some clear linkages are:

Standard Parts: One of the first things I learnt in my earlier CAD modelling experience was to experiment with Standard Parts. I still remember the fun contraptions I would come up with! In DevOps too, we start with Consulting, by first understanding its standard parts and asking questions like: Is the Customer using SVN/Git/Perforce for Source Control; are the defects tracked in Jira/Rally/Remedy; are the builds done in TFS/Jenkins/Bamboo, etc.? Standard parts that make up the entire system. Post this process, we start getting these Standard Parts talking to each other. And the journey to DevOps maturity starts.

Common, Re-usable platforms: Manufacturing pioneered the concept of true re-usability. Where one chassis system was re-used for generations of cars. And closer home in DevOps, we’re now hearing these same concepts with Micro-services.
Martin Fowler states: “A micro-service architecture puts each element of functionality into a separate service… and scales by distributing these services across servers, replicating as needed.” The entire ecosystem of Docker/MesOS/Kubernetics/etc. is based on these concepts. Common, re-usable platforms.

Automate repeatable processes: This has long been the bane of manufacturing and has given rise to several software philosophies. Entire cottage industries were born out of this need.
Automation has been the driver here too – with DevOps taking it to a whole new level of business enablement, by empowering companies to, say, release software several times a day. With the right set of levers (like tooling/process/culture), this elusive FTTM is being realized across more businesses

Standardize infrastructure: Mention a shop-floor and we envision a meticulous, clock-work standardized, functional factory. One that produces thousands of “same things” every single day, with utmost accuracy.
We’re also now beginning to describe software as “Software Factory”. With their own “Supply-Chain” of Vendors, 3rd Party Components et.al.
In virtualization automation too, the concept of “Infrastructure-as-Code” is exactly this. Create several of “same thing” in minutes. Standardized infrastructure.

Instrumentation & Control: I remember visiting a Boiler unit during my Engineering days and being completely infatuated by the pressure gauges and powerful looking sensors! We learnt that these are the critical monitors keeping “an eye” on the machines.
In software parlance, we’ve seen a bunch of Monitoring software that just does that – including the Nagios, Ganglia, New Relic, Cacti of the world. Critical metrics to keep a watch on the pressure gauges of software.

Continuous Integration: Legend has it that Henry Ford said it immaculately – “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants as long as it is black”. And as Continuous Integration in DevOps matures, there’s literature around “Continuous is the new Black”. Basics, repeated and re-instated 50 years later. Basics that Manufacturing taught us.

Researching on how Manufacturing is connected to DevOps and collating my thoughts around it has brought in a completely fresh perspective around DevOps. I realize that, what we talk as “Bleeding-Edge” today, actually has a very solid, ancient foundation. And that we’re just building on stuff that’s been around for a long time… much longer than probably even you or me have been around!

And that re-enforces my strong belief – DevOps is not “another new kid on the block”. It’s not a fad that will gradually fade away. It’s build on solid foundations like Manufacturing. And the power of DevOps is to enable a “new way” for modern businesses to address their complex demands that have been fuelled by the Internet revolution. DevOps is here to stay.

Would like to add that my discussion with the manufacturing team was very well received. And it gave me the idea for this blog too!

About the author:
Savinder Puri is a DevOps Evangelist and heads the DevOps Centre of Excellence at Zensar. He’s passionate about technology and it’s adaptation for business excellence. Savinder loves to travel the world and spread his DevOps story! Outside of work, he’s likes to sketch, is a Reiki Grandmaster, photographer and loves to spend time with family, relishing the simple pleasures of life. He can be reached at devops@zensar.com.

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Savinder Puri

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