DevOps and OSS Can Scale

Microsoft has changed quite dramatically in the last decade, in many ways. One of the more surprising ways to me is their embracing of open source software, while still building products that customers want and use. This is quite a change from the Microsoft that I knew back in the early 90s when I started working with SQL Server. Open Source software was seen as a complete anathema to the Microsoft way.

One of the very interesting ways that Microsoft works in the open is their use of GitHub as a VCS (version control system) for many projects. From .NET to Azure Data Studio to the new virtual kubelet code, thousands of Microsoft engineers are writing and committing code in a very transparent way. Not all their products are here, but there are more than I would have ever expected.

Part of the challenge of using a (formerly) third party platform is the infrastructure and administration of users. Microsoft has a scale issue here that most us do not deal with. While we work with dozens or hundreds of developers, they deal with thousands. There’s a good blog post about how they’ve scaled up to ensure 25,000+ developers can work.

The post has lots of information, both at a high, conceptual level as well as at a detailed, technical level in places. Some of the big themes I see in the post is that automation is important, and that there are tools that facilitate the collaboration of their developers by sharing information, triggering notices and reminders, and by enabling the discovery of others. Collaboration is a huge part of DevOps, and the more software can encourage this while reducing the burdens of tedious work, the better the system works.

None of this works without a culture change. If Microsoft can do this with thousands of developers and thousands more non-technical staff, any of us can. Microsoft has grown in the recent years to be one of the more valuable companies on the planet. Many of our organizations can learn from this by adopting DevOps, but not just in name or at a technical level. The technical tools are easy, but to get your organization to perform better, you need to ensure culture grows with the Three Ways and a team environment. Let your management know that you can all do better, but only if they truly embrace all the concepts of DevOps, teamwork, feedback, and learning from our previous actions to drive continuous improvement.

Steve Jones

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