Le Morte d’Arthur— A DevOps Engineering Journey

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The stories of King Arthur have fascinated me from the time I was young. Now that I am old DevOps_the_Gray, I enjoy relating the story of King Arthur to my experiences with DevOps. I hope you find this blog interesting and relevant too.

Imagine a boy raised in Britain by the wizard Merlin who becomes king because he can pull the magic sword Excalibur from a stone. Once king, he unites warring tribes, forms a brotherhood of knights and creates a round table to be sure everyone who sits around it has equal status as they pursue the quest for the Grail.

Christopher Krebs, former director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency talk about the very real security threat disinformation can cause. Live at DevOps Connect 2021 on May 19.

DevOps as the Grail of Software Creation and Delivery

To engineer DevOps, even the first way of DevOps—continuous flow (harmony)—requires faithful employment of leadership (King Arthur), collaborative team culture (the Knights of the Round Table), disciplined engineering processes (laws of Camelot), technology (Excalibur) and automation (the magic of Merlin, Archimedes and Nimue). The ultimate pursuit of the third way of DevOps—continuous improvement (quest for the lost Grail)—requires persistent commitment to engineering discipline and noble practices.

DevOps also requires a persistent evangelist (Nimue, the Lady of Avalon) and leadership (Morte d’Arthur) to be forever vigilant and ready to lead DevOps’ evolution into the future (King Arthur is forever ready to rise again with Excalibur).

Both King Arthur and DevOps depend on the virtuous tenets of chivalry/culture, laws/ processes and use of Excalibur/technology.

Arthurian tales represent a masterful integration of historical events with misty, imagined magical episodes and, like DevOps, embody tenets of chivalry and respectful moral leadership. While the means can be elusive, the results can be magical. The sword Excalibur and the search for the Grail are powerful symbols that remind me to always try to engineer technology for good and noble purposes.

The Arthurian Analogy Expresses the Importance of DevOps

“Then there entered into the hall the Holy Grail covered with white samite, but there was none might see it, nor who bare it.” —Le Morte d’Arthur, BOOK XIII CHAPTER VII

“…said Sir Gawaine, we have been served this day of what meats and drinks we thought on; but one thing beguiled us, we might not see the Holy Grail, it was so preciously covered. Wherefore I will make here avow, that to-morn, without longer abiding, I shall labour in the quest of the Sangreal.” —Le Morte d’Arthur, BOOK XIII CHAPTER VII

Like the Grail, DevOps is too often regarded as an ethereal thing, earnestly sought after and pursued. To do DevOps well means treasures and miraculous benefits; satisfying, harmonious production; and competitive advantages in abundance.

Like Arthur’s battles, hard work and skills are required for success with DevOps.

“King Arthur rode in the battle exhorting his knights to do well, and himself did as nobly with his hands as was possible a man to do; he drew out Excalibur his sword, and awaited ever whereas the Romans were thickest and most grieved his people, and anon he addressed him on that part, and hew and slew down right, and rescued his people; and he slew a great giant named Galapas, which was a man of an huge quantity and height, he shorted him and smote off both his legs by the knees, saying, Now art thou better of a size to deal with than thou were, and after smote off his head. There Sir Gawaine fought nobly and slew three admirals in that battle. And so did all the knights of the Round Table.” —Le Morte d’Arthur, BOOK V CHAPTER XII

DevOps, At its Best, is Engineering Greatness

In my experience, well-engineered DevOps always starts by defining a great goal. Greatness is won by careful, inspirational leadership, measured tactics, superior technology, a culture of collaboration, courage and unwavering persistence in applying skills to the task until the goal is attained. To engineer is to do the noble work of engineering. DevOps engineering requires the skills of elite leaders and engineers that have a profound understanding of DevOps practices.

DevOps’ Enduring Legacy and Future

“Yet some men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of our Lord Jesu into another place; and men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the holy cross.” —Le Morte d’Arthur, BOOK XXI CHAPTER V-VII

DevOps implementations – and DevOps itself – are not immortal.

As DevOps leaders, experts, and evangelists come and go, the perceived value of DevOps may wax and wane. The fame of innovative new technologies expires ever more quickly with the acceleration of technological systems facilitated by stacking technologies higher and higher.


The stories of King Arthur teach us to lead passionately when needed to triumph against DevOps challenges and to continue the pursuit of perfection. I hope you find this Arthurian DevOps analogy as relevant and interesting as I do, and I hope that it adds a little uniqueness and fun to your DevOps understanding. If you would like to see more on this analogy, I refer you to the only DevOps book with the sword Excalibur on the cover. Now, on with the quest of engineering DevOps!

Marc Hornbeek – DevOps_the_Gray, esq.

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