“DevOps can present IT Operations teams with new ‘customers’ in development and test. What traditional or new tools and technologies are most likely to be important for IT Ops to team more effectively with preproduction teams? What information does IT Ops need to pass right to left and which tools are most likely to aid in that?”
The short answer is “A whiteboard marker, a pad of Post-It notes and a couple of pizzas” :-)
That answer is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is a serious side to it; whilst new tools can be an important part of DevOps (particularly in Automation) you can get started in changing your Culture and improving your Sharing with very simple tools i.e. the aforementioned whiteboard marker, Post-It notes and pizza.
Start to break down the silos by getting key people in a room with some blank walls and whiteboards and start sharing information, mapping out your value stream and trying to find out, collaboratively, where the bottlenecks in your existing processes are. Once you’ve identified your key constraints then fire up Google and start searching for the tools to solve your problems (or visit a site like DevOpsBookmarks).
DevOpsGuys, like most organisations, have our own “Opinionated Stack” – we like the Atlassian Toolset for managing our Agile workflow, TeamCity or Jenkins as our CI tool of choice, Ansible as our configuration management tool for Linux, Powershell DSC for Windows, AppDynamics as our APM tool, Redgate for our Database Lifecycle Management (DLM) and so on. We partner with many of these companies now because we’ve “dogfooded” the products internally and with our customers and they’ve worked well for our use cases. We always “try before we buy” and we “try before we partner” too because, as they say, “your mileage may vary” (YMMV).
This comes back to fostering a culture of experimentation – give something a try and see what works for you. We started off using Atlassian HipChat as our chat tool and we really liked it. Then we tried Slack and we liked that one more, so we switched. YMMV.
One additional point worth mentioning – the premise of the question is flawed!
They aren’t customers they’re colleagues.
There isn’t a silo of “Us” (IT Ops=supplier) versus “Them” (Everyone Else=customer).
We are supposed to be breaking down these silos to create cross-functional, multi-disciplinary, product-based teams. Development, Test, IT Security, Networks shouldn’t be silos any more – they are people in our team, sitting over the desk from us, attending our daily standups, eating our pizza :-)
The Q&A above is part of material prepared as our contribution to an CA ebook on “Agile Operations”. We wrote our thoughts on 6 questions, of which 4 will be used in the ebook, scheduled to come out in August 2015. We’ll post the remaining 2 questions with our answers onto the blog over the next 2 weeks.