For any organization, adopting DevOps is a complex undertaking. It is built around core principles that underpin how it operates in practice. Done right, DevOps ultimately accelerates release cycles and brings customer feedback directly into the process, which increases business value.
But not every DevOps initiative succeeds and frequently the “journey” includes unanticipated obstacles and challenges that derails a well-intended effort. This is why the “principles” are so important. Based on our experience, before you begin, take the time to really understand the core principles. Discuss them cross functionally, including the C-suite, and explore what they mean in terms of real world practice in your environment.
The Weakest Links in DevOps Implementations are Consistently the Same
Frequently we see the weakest links in struggling DevOps implementations are the unanticipated cultural ramifications on the organization, and a lack of skills around the common tools, methods and frameworks used in a DevOps environment. You can’t take either of these for granted. Assuming teams will collaborate cohesively underestimates the magnitude of ‘change’ that comes with DevOps. And including skilled engineers familiar with the pros and cons of tool sets, interoperability and working a DevOps toolchain is very important. The beauty of the principles is that both vulnerabilities would be exposed if you honestly work through how the DevOps principles manifest in your environment.
The 5 Core DevOps Principles Provides a 360-Degree Perspective
Iterative — DevOps uses Agile principles to ‘iterate’ towards a goal; this works well for development projects where the final outcome isn’t necessarily fully defined — as opposed to waterfall methods, where the outcome is required to be defined at the start. Iterative principles allow projects to change ‘just enough’ based on feedback.
Continuous — In an ideal world, a DevOps project allows both continuous delivery into a staging environment, and continuous deployment into a production environment. This is reflected in the reality of today’s technology world. Products and services never stand still, do they? They always change and improve. Your DevOps environment should operate in a continuous mode.
Collaborative — DevOps teams rely upon one another and trust that each member is pulling their own weight towards the end goal — they collaborate and communicate frequently and transparently. If your team has no prior DevOps experience, get the skill set onboard. Experienced DevOps talent knows how to pull the effort together and evangelize how everyone’s role is integral to effective collaboration.
Systematic — In a well deployed DevOps environment, teams address processes systematically to maximize efficiency. A great example would be tools for monitoring and measuring KPI’s such as lead time, downtime for updates/upgrades, bugs, issues in production and so on. This is a good way to know where the next improvement is needed and also a good way to show results to stakeholders. The point of being systematic is to build repeatable, scalable processes that produce consistent, quality results.
Automated — The automation of technology underpins and supports all other DevOps principles. Allowing teams to rely upon automated testing and deployment enables products to be delivered reliably, at scale. Without automation, continuous development and deployment is impossible.
The DevOps Adoption Curve is Not as Far Along as One Might Think
A few weeks ago, we attended Gartner Research’s Application Strategies & Solutions Summit in Las Vegas. DevOps was an important topic occupying a large portion of the program and casual conversations among attendees. What we witnessed was a large gap between the few leaders in DevOps who had stories of great successes and the rest of the attendees, who were mostly struggling to see how to really get started.
Based on survey results of conference attendees, approximately 51% responded that they do not have a DevOps strategy but plan to; and only 17% have been running DevOps more than two years. So the adoption curve is wide and full of potential.
Wherever you are on the DevOps adoption curve, apply the core principles to your environment to identify vulnerabilities. Active executive sponsorship goes a long way to resolving cultural issues. Our experience also shows that the best way to catalyze culture change is by leveraging practices that make Dev and Ops teams’ daily routine easier and less stressful. We do recommend that companies leverage such practices and we’ll be happy to share with you 6 of the most effective practices we’ve been using in our own projects. And when it comes to finding skilled, experienced engineering talent—we know it’s challenging especially in Silicon Valley—consider outsourcing to a high-quality software development partner—like Daitan Group.
As technology companies continue to embrace their digital future, it becomes the business imperative to adopt DevOps. After all, it’s proven to accelerate release cycles which leads to improving the customer experience and business growth. We encourage you to download our recent paper on the topic—no form or email required. It’s titled: DevOps and the Engineering-Led World of the Enterprise.