What I like the most about being a Developer is building tools to (hopefully) make someone's life better.
I like it when my software gets used, and people thank me for it, because there was a need they had that wasn't met before, and thanks to my software now it is being met.
I am maintaining software for meteorological research that is soon going to be 10 years old, and is still evolving and getting Real Work done.
I like to develop software as if it is going to become a part of human cultural heritage, developing beyond my capacity, eventually surviving me, allowing society to declare that the need, small as it was, is now met, and move on to worry about some other problem.
I feel that if I'm not thinking of my software in that way, then I am not being serious. Then I am not developing something fit for other people to use and rely on.
This involves Development as much as it involves Operations: tracking security updates for all the components that make up a system. Testing. Quality assurance. Scalability. Stability. Hardening. Monitoring. Maintenance requirements. Deployment and upgrade workflows. Security.
I came to learn that the requirements put forward by sysadmins are to be taken seriously, because they are the ones whose phone will ring in the middle of the night when your software breaks.
I am also involved in more than one software project. I am responsible for about a dozen web applications deployed out there in the wild, and possibly another dozen of non-web projects, from terabyte-sized specialised archival tools to little utilities that are essential links in someone's complex toolchain.
I build my software targeting Debian Stable + Backports. At FOSDEM I noticed that some people consider it uncool. I was perplexed.
gives me a vast and reasonably recent set of parts to use to build my systems.
gives me a single bug tracking system for all of them, and tools to track known issues in the systems I deployed.
gives me a stable platform, with a well documented upgrade path to the next version.
It gives me a release rhythm that allows me to enjoy the sweet hum of spinning fans thinking about my next mischief, instead of spending my waking time chasing configuration file changes and API changes deep down in my dependency chain.
It allows me to rely on Debian for security updates, so I don't have to track upstream activity for each one of the building blocks of the systems I deploy.
It allows me not to worry about a lot of obscure domain specific integration issues. Coinstallability of libraries with different ABI versions. Flawless support for different versions of Python, or Lua, or for different versions of C++ compilers.
It has often happened to me to hear someone rant about a frustrating situation, wonder how come it had never happened to me, and realise that someone in Debian, who happens to be more expert than I can possibly be, had thought hard about how to deal with that issue, years before.
I know I cannot be an expert of the entire stack from bare iron all the way up, and I have learnt to stand on the shoulders of giants.
'Devops' makes sense for me in that it hints at this cooperation between developers and operators, having constructive communication, knowing that each side has their own needs, trying their best to meet them all.
It hints at a perfect world where developers and operators finally come to understand and trust each other's judgement.
I don't know
about perfect world, but I, a developer, do like to try to understand and trust the judgement of sysadmins.
I sympathise with my sysadmin friends who feel that devops is turning into a trend of developers thinking they can do without sysadmins. Reinventing package managers. Bundling dependencies. Building
apps instead of components.
I wish that people who deploy a system built on such premises, have it become so successful that they end up being paid to maintain them for their whole career. That is certainly what I wish and strive for, for me and my own projects.
In my experience, a sustainable and maintainable system won't come out of the startup mindset of building something quick&dirty, then sell it and move on to something else.
I my experience, the basis for having sustainable and maintainable systems have been well known and tested in Debian, and several other distributions, for over two decades.
At FOSDEM, we thought that we need a name for such a mindset.
Between beers, that name came to be "debops". (It's not just Debian, though: many other distributions get it right, too)