The project you need to own: Building a cross-functional devops team that blends programming chops with sysadmin acumen to keep projects flowing. "It requires a blended skill set," says Moloney. "Programmers need the authority to make administrative changes, and Ops needs to know how to do a little coding. That way the dev team doesn't have to stop the flow of what it's doing to disconnect and then reconnect the project."
Interdisciplinary skills become even more important as organizations build apps to run in the cloud, says Todd Olson, vice president of products at Rally Software, an agile project management and coaching firm. "Developing for the cloud affects how software is written," he says. "Coordinating what happens to that binary after it leaves Dev's hands is even harder. If you're doing both agile and cloud deployment, devops becomes something you really can't ignore."
The best way to get started? "Select a small proof-of-concept project, pluck people from each silo, put them in a room together, and look at the result," says Moloney.
If this is such a great idea, why isn't everyone doing it? A lot of organizations haven't solved the first problem, yet -- getting good code out the door quickly, says Olson. Interdepartmental politics also plays a role, especially in larger organizations. And the devops concept is still fairly new, while divisions between developers and admins are not.
"Dev people and ops people speak different languages," Olson says. "The role of the ops guy is to reduce risk so he doesn't get desperate phone calls on the weekend. The goal of the dev team is to produce as much good new stuff as possible. There's a conflict there. You can't just buy a tool to make it happen. It requires a change in culture."
Essential IT Project No. 4: Create a crisis response teamWhen Sony's PlayStation Network was taken down by hackers last spring, spilling some 77 million customers' records, the electronics giant responded by doing just about everything wrong, says Christopher Budd, a former member of Microsoft's worldwide crisis response communications team.
After the network went offline last April, Sony failed to acknowledge or explain the cause of the outage. For a week the company provided virtually no information -- allowing the press and blogosphere to fill the gap with speculation and misinformation, says Budd, who now runs his own crisis communications company.