Defining the Shape Using CALMS with Jason Lee

At DevOpsDays Amsterdam 2019, Jason Lee shared a story about the shifting shape of the IJ over time to explain how, using the CALMS model, DevOps in your organization will change shape, too.

I liked his presentation so much, I wanted to repeat his message. If you’d rather watch the actual presentation, it’s online here:

Mapping DevOps using CALMS

CALMS is often used as a framework for DevOps. CALMS stands for Culture, Automation, Lean, Metrics and Sharing. It’s a simple way of defining where your organizations strengths and weaknesses are, by scoring your performance for each of the categories.

If you put each of these five on its own axis, you get a representation of your progress in adopting the DevOps methodology:

Jason Lee CLAMS

And by periodically revisiting the evaluation, you see where you’re improving:

Jason Lee CLAMS

Much like a rubber band, if you improve (or pull on) on one side, you increase the tension on the other side. So as some companies embrace the automation part of DevOps, it becomes harder for them to keep growing in areas like Culture and Sharing.

Work Around the Circle

Jason’s main point in his presentation is that you should be working in a circular fashion to improve on all axes of the CALMS model. His example is, that by investing in automation, it becomes easier to gather metrics. And once you have those metrics, sharing information becomes much easier.

Jason Lee CLAMS

Similarly, with a strong automation foundation, you can be lean, more agile and faster, which feeds into the culture of easy collaboration.
Jason Lee CLAMSBy knowing what your strengths are, and optimizing the adjacent areas, you can move your way around the circle to improve your DevOps. Re-evaluate periodically, check your progress, and shift work to new adjacent improvements.

CALMS in motion

Jason’s suggestion is to use the CALMS model as a way of knowing where you need to improve in the near future, or ‘going around in circles’. This is a simple, but effective way of realizing that:

  1. improving in one area creates tension in another
  2. And you need to work on that tense area in the future
  3. But also, different axes have a positive or enabling effect on other axes.