Investigating Software Engineering Artifacts in DevOps Through the Lens of Boundary Objects
The use of software engineering artifacts in DevOps is central to enabling collaboration between involved teams when integrating the development and operations domains. At the same time, collaboration around DevOps artifacts has yet to receive detailed research attention. To address this research gap, we explore the specific software engineering artifacts that act as a means of translation between DevOps stakeholders. We apply the sociological concept of Boundary Objects, which has been used to describe, analyze, and evaluate artifacts that enable a cross-disciplinary understanding. While Boundary Objects have not been explicitly studied in DevOps contexts, they appear promising to investigate how different teams can collaborate efficiently using common artifacts. We performed a multiple case study and conducted twelve semi-structured interviews with DevOps practitioners in nine companies. We elicited participants’ collaboration practices, focusing on the coordination of stakeholders and the use of engineering artifacts as Boundary Objects. This paper presents a consolidated overview of four categories of DevOps Boundary Objects and eleven stakeholder groups relevant to DevOps. To help practitioners assess cross-disciplinary knowledge management strategies, we detail how DevOps Boundary Objects contribute to four areas of DevOps knowledge and propose dimensions to evaluate their use.