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Best and Worst DevOps songs of 2015

Wait... you didn't know there are songs about DevOps? Hell to the yeah!

Best DevOps Song of 2015: Uptown Funk (Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars)

Uptown Funk is exemplary of good DevOps operations: It encourages being evidence-driven.

An important principle of DevOps is that you should base decisions on evidence and data, not lore and intuition. Intuition is great but only gets you so far. With a tiny system is is possible for a single sysadmin to know enough about it to make good guesses. However modern systems are complex enough that we must collect data, analyze it, and base decisions on that data.

This means we must also be willing to revert a change if the data doesn't pan out as we predict. That's the scientific method. We measure something, we do an experiment, and we measure again. Then we decide whether we keep the change based on the data. Of course, this requires that our systems are observable, which means the days of un-monitorable systems is long gone.

A more scientific way of saying this is DevOps insists that we prove our assertions by gathering empirical evidence.

So, why is Uptown Funk exemplary of this DevOps principle? We... duh! The point of this song can be summed up by this line:

Cause Uptown Funk gon' give it to you

Now let me tell you something. A lot of people don't believe that the uptown funk gon' give it to you. I understand. It might be difficult to believe if you have not experienced the uptown funk. I don't mean to brag, but I happen to have a lot of uptown funk-related experience. However, you shouldn't believe me just because I have so much experience.

Likewise, Uptown Funk's author Mark Ronson doesn't insist that you simply believe him. He assures you that if you use scientific principles, you will discover on your own just how right he is. In particular, he says:

Don't believe me, just watch

See? Total devops.

Sure, he could have said, "empirical evidence proves my assertion" but he states it more lyrically.

Let me quote the entire chorus to be clear:

Girls hit your hallelujah (whoo)
Girls hit your hallelujah (whoo)
Girls hit your hallelujah (whoo)
'Cause uptown funk gon' give it to you
'Cause uptown funk gon' give it to you
'Cause uptown funk gon' give it to you
Saturday night and we in the spot
Don't believe me just watch (come on)

Mark feels so strongly about being evidence-driven that he implores you to do so 3 times in a row!

Here's the music video:

Worst DevOps Song of 2015: Shake It Off (Taylor Swift)

Technically Shake It Off was released in 2014 but it won the 2015 Grammy and People's Choice Awards so I count it as 2015 too.

To be clear, I love the song from a music and dance perspective. In fact, I own a copy of the CD that this song appears on. By the way, the CD is titled "1989" which refers to the year she was born. [For those of you that were born in 1989 and are reading this, a CD is a way that people used to distribute music. Ask your parents.]

That said, I don't think it exemplifies good DevOps practice.

The main message of the song is simple: ignore the negativity in your life

Or, as she says it:

'Cause the players gonna play, play, play, play, play
And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate
Baby, I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake
I shake it off, I shake it off

Now if TayTay had a better DevOps background it would be more like this:

  • Teams should be encouraged to openly discuss disagreements.
  • File bugs. Don't suffer in silence. Amplify feedback.
  • Blameless postmortems for major outages.

Making that rhyme is left as an exercise for the reader.

Openly discussing disagreements is an important part of breaking down silos. When I was at Google I held periodic team-to-team meetings which would be open forums to discuss a process that affected both teams. Both sides would list out the steps in the process and point out the "pain points" and annoyances about the process. Many bugs and feature requests would be filed during these meetings and often bugs would be fixed in real time. Engineers would have their laptops open and would fix minor issues during the meeting.

Of course we need a way to deal with larger issues too. If enough haters hate, hate, hate, we should perform a postmortem. 2015 brought us a great book on the topic, Beyond Blame by Dave Zwieback.

Sorry, T-Sway, I can't just shake it off. We need to get to the bottom of this by finding the contributing factors.

Here's the music video:


I hope you agree that we should be more evidence driven, that the uptown funk gon' give it to you, and haters should file bugs or otherwise open more productive channels of communication.

I hope to bring more DevOps music reviews to you in 2016.

Feel free to post your DevOps-related songs in the comments!

Happy new year and have a great 2016!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in DevOpsFunny

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In case you missed it
Uptime Funk, parody made by Suse :-)

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