Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Other Fence

A lot of derision has (rightly) been spilled on the idea that development writes code and chucks it over the fence at QA. Fortunately, at least in the places I've worked, this doesn't really happen any more. That development-QA fence is basically gone (hooray!).

Now maybe we should start working on the other fence.

Other fence?

Think for a second about what happens when you're done testing (and developing) on a release. What do we do? We chuck it over the fence at operations (or professional services, depending on how installations and upgrades get done).

Oh, that other fence.

I've been thinking about this fence, and wondering if it's bad. After all, we didn't used to think it was bad that development finished and chucked the code to QA for work! Now we know better. Maybe we should be starting to learn better as we chuck a build out of engineering and into Operations.

Let's posit for the moment that the engineering-ops fence is bad. What kinds of things might we do to break down the fence, and how might that help?
  • Change how we structure our builds to make them more releasable. This is somewhat analogous to writing more testable code.
  • Help deploy. Just like our developers do some testing now, maybe we can help deploy, or create some utilities to help. Rake tasks, deployment scripts, hand installations - how does this stuff get deployed, and can we make it easier or better?
  • Get help building and packaging. Just like development sometimes asks a tester how best to approach a TDD problem, engineering can get some advice from operations on how to handle a configuration issue, or a packaging question.
  • Pair on problems. When there's a problem in the field, we don't have to look in isolation, or bounce questions back and forth. We can work on it together. With two different views and skills looking at the problem, you're more likely to figure out a problem that has a foot in both worlds.
Depending on your current organization, and on who receives your code, your list may be different. Maybe you're working with support right after release, or sales. Maybe engineering owns operations, so you don't have this problem. At this point, this is just something to think about.

What do ya'll think? Is there a fence after engineering? And is it time to start talking about that fence?

1 comment:

  1. "Is there a fence after engineering? And is it time to start talking about that fence?"

    Good God, yes.

    I have saved untold hours by figuring out deployment as soon as I have an app that does anything, instead of saving that all until the end.

    And I just stumbled onto that approach. I can hardly imagine the great stuff we'd come up with if building, deploying and monitoring got the same attention that testing has these days.

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