Best DevOps Strategy Hack (Winners Start With Why)

Devops Plan

As IT leaders, we’re all looking for innovative ways to improve ourselves, teams, and services, right?

So when we hear stories about our competition using DevOps, our blood pressure rises because we have a DevOps strategy – kind-of, sort-of…

If the above statement is true for you then you’re in the right place.

What is DevOps?

  • It’s a model.
  • It’s a culture.
  • It’s a journey.
  • It’s a skillset.
  • It’s CI/CD.
  • It’s Automation.

Yes, it’s all of the above but more…

I say DevOps is a strategy to Win!

Tactics without Strategy is the noise before defeat…Sun Tzu

Do you want to learn how DevOps helps You win?

We’re going to go step by step through this winning strategy hack.

And we’re not going to dress up DevOps in warm-n-fuzzy terms…


I’ve learned my lessons participating in multiple DevOps initiatives that failed because leaders didn’t know why they were making changes before they started shifting people around.

They read a handbook or blog post, partially watched a few YouTube videos, heard someone speak at a conference, or maybe they read a trending news story on Google.

These hot Tech stories are from this week:

Any one of these stories is compelling enough to trigger a process change without any thought or plan…

And then when your big idea fails, you can blame DevOps.

Does this sound about right?

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!…Benjamin Franklin

About This DevOps Strategy Guide

On VMinstall, I help people looking for guidance on VMware, DevOps, Cloud, or any innovative technology. I want you to understand more than just the nuts and bolts behind the Tech. So I teach strategies learned the hard way from 20 plus years of first-hand experience…

I also enjoy sharing insight. For example, these trends are deep learning framework jobs, artificial intelligence jobs, blockchain jobs, and even virtual reality jobs. All fantastic opportunities for smart people with talent. And they’re all in emerging technologies.

In this guide, you’ll learn how you can avoid a bad experience by using a well-thought-out plan.

Warning! DevOps is Disruptive.

You have to consider the cultural impact before starting because people will react to good or bad changes.

Don’t do this…

Without a strategy, take people from different teams or hire smart people and make them an exclusive DevOps Super Team!


Why are they special?

Then for months leaders try to get everyone to go along with their tactic and work with their new team.

But nobody does…

That was a tactical approach. Where’s the BIG picture!

  • Where are you going?
  • What are we trying to accomplish?
  • Where is the value?

It’s what Sun Tzu calls, NOISE!

Then there are leaders who want to mimic the Google or Facebook culture where people lounge around on bean bags with laptops and drink lattes… More tactical NOISE!

You’re not Google or Facebook.

3 problems IT has that need fixing.

  1. Too many outages.
  2. People dependencies.
  3. Silos (Saved the best for last).

Do you think a DevOps strategy can solve these issues?

Devops Strategy


#1. How can DevOps help with outages?

Well, let’s begin with the question – “why” are the outages happening?

  • Wrong choice of software
  • Bad code during a deployment
  • Wrong code released
  • Bad process releasing the code
  • Wrong time of day to release the code
  • The wrong person running the script to release the code
  • Not enough compute capacity for the demand
  • Wrong configuration of the application
  • Issues with hardware failures
  • Issues with networking
  • Issues with storage
  • Issues with the database

Anyone or more of the reasons listed could be why outages are happening. But that’s not why your operations are having outages all of the time. I’ll get to the real reason in a minute…

#2. Why do we have People dependencies in IT?

  • He or she is the only person who knows the system.
  • He or she is the CIO’s relative or friend.
  • He or she is the only person who went to DevOps training.
  • He or she is the manager’s favorite employee.
  • He or she doesn’t work well with others.
  • He or she won’t share the knowledge.

I could keep going here but do you get my point?

#3. Why are we still running IT like it’s still 1990, with silos?

  • We’re the SAP team.
  • We’re the Peoplesoft team.
  • We’re the VMware team.
  • We’re the Citrix team.
  • We’re the network team.
  • We’re the server team.
  • We’re the storage team.
  • We’re the database team.
  • We’re the .Net team.
  • We’re the Java team.


I understand we need a reporting structure. But the more separation you have between teams the harder it is to get alignment on priorities. And these are the real reasons why you have outages!

That’s right, outages are all caused by leaders who can’t get alignment on priorities.

Having a Strategy for DevOps

When running your operations with diverse teams you need to get them going in the same direction. Yes, this means aligning their priorities.

And please consider this important tip.

Resist the temptation to building the Super Team!

DevOps is not about grandstanding, it’s about SELFLESSNESS.

Let me say that again so it sinks in…

DevOps is not about grandstanding, it’s about SELFLESSNESS.

I’ve been there:

We all want our own priorities to be first because it’s human nature that we want to look good.

Hey everyone, look at what my team accomplished!

Picture this.

Imagine you’re getting your first car. Bare with me…

The car is sitting on the driveway.

You walk around the car and see it has 2 low tires and all 4 tires are bald.

As you walk to the front of the car you see the headlights are broken out.

Then you notice the side-view mirrors are missing.

The paint is faded badly and the car has a few big scratches down both sides (like someone keyed it).

You get in the car and sit in the driver’s seat.

The upholstery looks OK but needs cleaning.

You stick the key in the ignition and turn it to start the engine.

You hear a click, click, click, but the engine doesn’t start.

You decide to turn on the stereo. It plays but it needs new speakers.

Are you still with me?

Now for the big finale.

You walk away with a mental list that the car needs a paint job, new upholstery and a stereo, speakers, and a sub-woofer. And this is why DevOps fails.

Because instead of leaders looking at the big picture and building a strategy based on priorities, they want to look good so they focus their efforts on the wrong priorities.

Where or who are the real show stoppers that are causing the most pain for your customers and staff?


It’s not about the Operations or Development Managers, it’s about the customers who are paying for your services (and your staff’s morale).

Whether you’re a bank, school, hosting company – or a Mon and Pop startup. Your customer’s happiness is your top priority.

If you need new servers or network hardware to fix problems that’ll make your customers happy. Buy new servers.

Or if you need new tools to make the server and network operate better that result in happy customers, buy new tools.

But in the end, it’s all about putting the customer’s happiness (and staff morale) as your top priority.

STOP grandstanding over stuff that doesn’t matter. Yes, it’s nice and looks cool but it’s not needed.

You don’t need Pirelli Tires at $425 each, you just need $75 tires…

Do you really think the mother with five children who are logging into her bank account website to see if there’s money for rent really cares if it’s a Cisco network, or if the servers are on VMware ESXi, or even if it’s Docker?

Do you think she cares one bit what DevOps toolchain the bank uses?

No! She just wants to pay her rent. And feed her kids.

We get so wrapped up in the tactics. It’s all NOISE!

What’s your strategy to stop the outages?

Focus on the “WHY” and eventually, your people will have more time to work on innovation…

As Steven Johnson would put it, do the adjacent possible instead of leaping fifty steps to do the cool shiny stuff.

  • You need tires.
  • You need side mirrors.
  • You need headlights.
  • You need a battery and maybe engine work.

Then you can focus on the server and network upgrades.

As a matter of fact, kick the vendors out of your shop unless the problem is truly hardware or software related.

And only let them back in if buying new tech is a priority (not just a nice-to-have).

Again, what’s your DevOps strategy?

I bet you don’t have one…that’s OK because if you’re listening to what I’m teaching, you will soon…


It’s time to regroup and get down to business. My focus throughout this lesson has been to help you see the big picture.

Will you stop disrupting people’s work without a plan? It’s NOISE!


Sun Tzu also said…

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.

In other words, you need a strategy and tactics. Both.

Up until now, all you have been doing is tactics but now it’s time to create the strategy.

Companies that have a plan that includes a strategy and tactics are crushing it.

Do you think Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk have a plan. You darn right they do!

Even a small plan executed with the right tactics gets results and makes customers and staff happy.

I’ve been an Amazon customer since 1996. I know because when I log into Amazon it says so right there on the main page.

I’ve been using Amazon 21 years because they make me happy!

Do I care what servers or networks are behind the Amazon log-in?


And here’s the best part of this lesson. I bet none of your competition has a DevOps strategy either, which means if you take action first, you WIN.

Strategy Creation Video (Start with “Why”)


It’s not about you, it’s about how you inspire your team to care…

3 Takeaways:

  1. Define “why” you need to make changes and enlist help to create the plan.
  2. Beware “how” you disrupt people’s work unless they’re involved in the changes.
  3. Test “what” gets teams aligned with the same priorities.

Imagine the transformation your team would have if they Believe in your “Why”… Mind-blowing.

If you’d like to learn more about the skills needed to execute the automation behind DevOps I recommend reading 10 DevOps Skills: Finding The Elusive DevOps Engineer. Thank you and please share this winner’s guide…

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