Definition

DevOps Dojo

Contributor(s): Alex Gillis

A DevOps Dojo is a place where DevOps team members go for hands-on training. In Japan, a dojo is a safe environment where someone can practice new skills. In software development and operations management, DevOps Dojos provide learners with an immersive environment where team members can gain practical work experience without having to worry about introducing errors into the production environment.

A DevOps Dojo team is usually made up of the learning product team, product managers, Agile coaches and engineers. The team is self-organizing, which means that members will first work together to figure out what skills they will need to accomplish a desired goal and then plan together how to build those skills.

The benefits of creating and using a DevOps Dojo for training include:

  • Identifying and closing skills gaps.
  • Creating a culture of collaboration.
  • Giving DevOps team members the time it takes to learn something new.
  • Providing development and operations teams with a collaborative, risk-free learning environment.
  • Creating turnkey trainers who can facilitate future DevOps Dojos.

How DevOps Dojos work

DevOps Dojos typically last for six weeks, with around two sprints a week. Dojo coaches will act as teachers until the team can begin to perform and meet expectations on their own. For example, coaches will help members with the DevOps tools they will be using. Implementation of a DevOps Dojo should start with small teams and a few coaches. Typically, developers in a DevOps Dojo will gather and run through multiple lightweight exercises to gain experience in a new skill. Each exercise is called a “kata.”

A common implementation of a DevOps Dojo is called a Dojo challenge. In this challenge, a team will work toward a common goal for six weeks. The main idea of the challenge is to help the team identify and improve areas they need practice with. Completing the goal is secondary, meaning the stress of reaching the goal is lessened while emphasizing the practice, making for a less stressful learning environment.

The Target Dojo

The retailer Target is credited with the creation of DevOps Dojos. Prior to the founding of Dojos, they were facing a few technology related issues. For example, Target lacked a dynamic engineering culture (outsourcing more than half of their engineering work) and their IT organization was complex, with upwards of 800 concurrent projects. In response, Target began creating DevOps Dojos by hosting trainings and workshops. 

Target is also credited with creating the dojo challenge, a specific implementation of a DevOps Dojo. At first, they utilized training from external sources, but later shifting to hosting trainings and workshops in house once they started gaining traction and prior internal IT teams became turnkey trainers and coaches who could help others learn DevOps strategies and tools. Target continues to host trainings and workshops, along with internal and external conferences (in which they will bring in experts to speak).

This was last updated in April 2019

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