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How did Netflix become so good at DevOps by not prioritizing it?

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Isn't it bizarre that Netflix became good at DevOps by not prioritizing it? It's like saying that Michael Jordan became a great basketball player by not shooting hoops. But that's the truth.

Netflix has been around for a while but has only become a household name in the last few years. And a big part of that is due to their embrace of DevOps. So how did they do it? How did Netflix become so good at DevOps by not making it a priority? Let's take a look.

1) They give production access to the engineers and let them solve any problem in the way they think it's best

Giving people the power to solve problems in the way they think is best is a core principle of DevOps. By giving engineers production access and letting them solve problems without going through layers of bureaucracy, Netflix has been able to move quickly and efficiently. This culture of trust and responsibility has helped them avoid many common issues plaguing other organizations.

2) They didn't prioritize uptime, rather focused on innovation

Regarding DevOps, uptime is often seen as the most important metric. However, Netflix takes a different approach. Rather than focusing on uptime, they focus on innovation. It allows them to experiment and iterate quickly, which has been essential to their success.

3) Not enforcing the use of specific frameworks or programming languages

Flexibility is key for any organization, but it is especially important in DevOps. That allows their teams to use the tools they are most comfortable with, which will be the most effective for each project. Netflix doesn't enforce the use of specific frameworks or programming languages.

4) They focused on data for decision making

In DevOps, it is important to make decisions based on data rather than opinions. Netflix has taken this to heart and has made data-driven decision-making a core part of its culture. Netflix lets algorithms take care of analyzing data and notify them if something is wrong. Again this helps engineers to focus on the product.

Even with all these different approaches right from the get-go, it's likely that following Netflix blindly would still lead to some issues. This trade-off focusing on product rather than uptime might work for them, but other companies might not have the same success. That is why they are also considered an exception.

Nevertheless, their success case is still valuable to learn from. It's good to know that breaking norms can be done right – as long as it's done with caution, consideration, and a lot of data backing up the decision.

Benjamin QoChuk, PhD

Benjamin QoChuk, PhD

Benjamin QoChuk is a Computer Science Researcher, Inventor and Author. His educational background include Bachelors at Vanderbilt University and PhD in Computer Science at Peking University.

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How did Netflix become so good at DevOps by not prioritizing it?
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