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The Peculiar Marriage of Cargo Cult Programming and DevOps: A Spectacle of Totems and Taboos

Remember when we were all novices, performing mysterious incantations and rituals known as programming, fully expecting to summon the spirit of successful code without understanding why it works? Well, this arcane art has a name, dear reader: Cargo Cult Programming.

It’s a curious phenomenon where programming patterns are copied and pasted without comprehension, like a caveman performing a rain dance in the hopes that the sky gods will bless his code with a torrential downpour of functionality. Sounds ridiculous, right? And yet, it persists.

Now, Enter the Beast: DevOps

DevOps, a portmanteau of ‘development’ and ‘operations,’ is like the cool kid who turned up late to the party, armed with buzzwords and promises of seamless software delivery and integration. It is indeed a powerful practice, fostering collaboration, efficiency, and speed in the software development lifecycle. However, the reality can be as sticky as a hot day at a honey factory when it’s used incorrectly.

The Unholy Matrimony

So, what happens when you combine Cargo Cult Programming and DevOps—the strange rituals of misunderstood code with the might and speed of this buzzword-laden beast? It’s a bit like giving the keys to your brand-new self-driving electric car to your grandmother who’s never been behind the wheel. You’re in for a wild ride.

You see, just as Cargo Cult programmers tend to replicate the outer look of successful programming without grasping its essence, DevOps can quickly become a victim of the same phenomenon. Fancy tools and processes are adopted at breakneck speed—Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery, Infrastructure as Code—everything that makes DevOps so sexy. But without understanding the why and how, we’re back to dancing for rain with an umbrella in hand.

Docker containers get stuffed with unnecessary components because, “Hey, that’s how they did it at Google!” Teams rush to embrace Kubernetes without understanding if they even need it, a bit like buying a spaceship to commute to work. It might look cool, but parking is going to be a nightmare.

The ultimate goal of DevOps—streamlining the workflow, enhancing collaboration, and releasing better products faster—often gets lost in translation, replaced by an obsession with tools and buzzwords.

Turning the Tide: Striking the Balance

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with either DevOps or leveraging existing code. It’s more about the way we approach them.

The problem with cargo culting is the lack of understanding, and the same goes for DevOps. Mindlessly copying practices or adopting the latest shiny tool will do us about as much good as a chocolate teapot. We need to truly understand the problem we’re trying to solve and choose the appropriate tools and practices to address it.

DevOps and programming alike require an understanding that goes beneath the surface, a comprehension of not just the ‘what,’ but also the ‘why’ and ‘how.’ After all, a master sculptor doesn’t merely strike at the stone; they understand its structure, its strengths, and weaknesses, and they use their tools with intention. The same principle applies to us as engineers and developers.

In the end, we need to remember that DevOps and programming languages are just tools in our arsenal, not magical incantations or cult rituals. So let’s stop our cargo cult dances around them and instead, use them with purpose and understanding. We might just find that the sky gods of coding favor those who know not just to dance, but also to understand the rhythm.

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