Devopathy – beware adding dogma to DevOps

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Challenging the Recipe Book Approach to Service Management

Devopathy is a system of alternative DevOps practice created at the top of the DevOps hype cycle by nefarious vendors and consultants, based on their doctrine of like cures like (similia similibus curentur), a claim that an approach that causes the symptoms of a disease in healthy information systems would cure similar symptoms in sick systems.

Devopathy is a pseudoscience – a belief that is incorrectly presented as scientific. Devopathic approaches are not effective for treating any condition; large-scale studies have found devopathy to be no more effective than a placebo, suggesting that any positive feelings that follow treatment are only due to suggestion and normal recovery.

Devopaths believed the underlying causes of disease were phenomena that they termed miasms, and that devopathic approaches addressed these. The approaches are manufactured using a process of devopathic dilution, in which a chosen good IT practice is repeatedly diluted, each time with a white paper being bashed against an elastic material (commonly a leather-bound Body of Knowledge). Dilution typically continues well past the point where no value of the original practice remains. Devopaths select devopathics by consulting reference books known as repertories, and by ignoring the totality of the system’s symptoms, traits, state, and life history.

Devopathy is not a plausible approach, as its dogmas about how systems and practitioners operate are contradicted by a wide range of research since its invention. Although some clinical trials produce positive results, multiple systematic reviews have indicated that this is because of chance, flawed research methods, and reporting bias.

Continued devopathic practice, despite the evidence that it does not work, has been criticized as unethical because it discourages the use of effective treatments. The continued practice of devopathy, despite a lack of evidence of efficacy, has led to it being characterized within the IT community as nonsense, quackery, and a sham.

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Mark Smalley, also known as The IT Paradigmologist, thinks, writes and speaks extensively about IT 'paradigms' – in other words our changing perspectives on IT. His current interests are the digital enterprise, IT operating models, value of IT, business-IT relationships, co-creation of value, multidisciplinary collaboration, working with complexity, and as the overarching theme, management of information systems in general. Mark is an IT Management Consultant at Smalley.IT and Ambassador at the ASL BiSL Foundation. Mark has spoken at 100+ events in 20+ countries.