I was lucky. I learned IT in an incredibly immersive
way. My first two jobs were in organizations that
followed the very best practices for their day. Because
it was all I knew, I considered that to be normal. I had
no idea how unique those organizations were. I didn’t
know at the time that the rest of the industry would
not adopt these techniques for a decade or more.
My next career moves brought me in contact with
organizations that did not adhere to the same best
practices, nor any others. In fact, they were unaware
that such best practices existed at all. I considered this
to be a bug and went about fixing it, dismayed that
anyone would settle for anything else. I was re-creating
what I considered “normal.”
The environment I was trying to reproduce, however, was not normal, or
more accurately, it was not typical. A
typical IT organization is, in compari-
son, in utter disarray. The quality of
IT organizations follows a bell curve:
A few percent run like fine-tuned ma-
chines, a few percent look like toxic
waste dumps on fire, and the vast ma-
jority are somewhere in the middle.
Fortunately for me, I won the IT ca-
reer lottery. Early in my career I saw what
the best in class looked like and consid-
ered it normal. Later, this high standard
made me look like a visionary. The truth
is I just didn’t know any other way.
Most IT practitioners are not so for-
tunate. They are not blessed with the
same experience I was afforded, and
they literally do not know any better.
This, I believe, is why the bell curve
has not transformed into a hockey
stick, or is even a lopsided blob. This is
why we cannot have nice things.
How Did We Get Into This Situation?
Students certainly are not learning best
practices in the classroom. In fact, students are more likely to learn the best-of-breed DevOps practices through
extracurricular involvement in open-source projects than from their university professors.
Most large open source projects use
Git for source-code control, use Jenkins
for CI/CD (continuous integration/con-tinuous deployment), and have a fully
automated testing procedure because
it enables them to scale to large numbers of participants with minimal overhead. Smaller open source projects
tend to use these tools, too, because
they lack resources and using these
tools makes managing the project significantly easier.
Yet, how many universities require
CS homework to be turned in via Git
commit? How many universities have
an IT department that is a showcase for
best DevOps practices? How many universities have CS departments and IT
departments that collaborate to push
the boundaries of best practices? I assure you the number is very low. It is no
to Make CS
and IT More
Article development led by
Why the Bell curve hasn’t transformed
into a hockey stick.
BY THOMAS A. LIMONCELLI