By Rajat Bhargava Posted May 26, 2015
The fastest organizations on the planet are leveraging DevOps and developing incredible automation tools to enable quicker decision making and product releases. DevOps is a cross-functional methodology that increases the pace of product development by decreasing the size of each product iteration with an aim to more closely match customer needs. DevOps pushes decision making to the edges of an organization, enabling teams to deliver quicker.
As Mandi Walls, a Web Scale Application Operations professional who’s worked for Chef, AOL, and Admeld says, “DevOps [is] a cultural movement combined with a number of software development practices that enable rapid development.”
The intended result of a DevOps culture is a fast-moving organization. The unintended result is cross-functional teams working closer together than ever before, causing new bottlenecks, challenges, and cultural issues. DevOps teams must be coordinated and organized.
Without key technology to provide visibility and control over the DevOps process, an organization risks chaos from the fast-pace model, such as: downtime in business, finger pointing among team members, and overworked employees.
To avoid the risk of DevOps gone wrong, businesses must make crucial changes to both their (1) cultural ecosystem, (2) processes, and (3) technologies.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1: People – Implement a “DevOps Culture”
The first step to mitigate risks associated with DevOps is to develop and encourage a “DevOps Culture.”
DevOps culture is the idea that businesses can help foster a collective and collaborative approach to the entire lifecycle of the product, from the software, tools, and technologies that a business employs to their customers, to the actual product and code they’re deploying.
A DevOps culture is a corporate culture that is distinct, held together by core values and behaviors. These familiar mores that employees hold within a business bring individuals together to work in such a way that their morals and value systems are supported in the work environment.
But describing what a culture is in theory is much easier than implementing any actual change within a corporate building.
Walls says deconstructing old developer communication habits is the first step:
Traditionally siloed technical teams interact through complex ticketing systems and ritualistic request procedures, which may require director-level intervention. A team taking a more DevOps approach talks about the product throughout its lifecycle, discussing requirements, features, schedules, resources, and whatever else might come up. The focus is on the product, not building fiefdoms and amassing political power.
By developing a community approach to solving problems, each individual on the development team is seen and felt as a valuable attribute to the team.
Building incentives or transparent communication platforms can also help bring team members together as a unit. Try publishing KPIs (especially customer metrics) or other development metrics in a cross-team platform to share exactly what customers are experiencing and how the team can help improve.
Step 2: Process – Identify Your Core Competency
To get your IT ducks in a row with DevOps, businesses must build the processes to operate. Gone are the days that you could shy away from building well-thought-out processes across your organization. If you’re going to stay competitive, your business must do more, faster.
Smart process is the only way to do that.
As Peter Thiel states in Zero to One, “Properly understood, any new better way of doing things is technology.”
In today’s business language, that “new better way” is DevOps. DevOps focuses on knowing and leveraging your core competencies. It accentuates your focus on what you do uniquely, while “outsourcing” everything else. This includes leveraging off-the-shelf components such as cloud services, Web-services, and embeddable solutions. Of course, the goal is to help your organization move faster, and by building smart processes you will.
To figure out the right processes, start by asking critical questions:
- What are the core intellectual property components to our business?
- What components already exist that we can leverage off the shelf?
- What components require economies of scale that can be outsourced?
Then, to align your processes to your users in a DevOps way, be transparent, open minded, and trusting of the team in the management of those resources. And, encourage your teams to leverage the right process as much as possible. Coupled with a strong culture, process will enable the team to move more quickly.
Step 3: Technology – Empower Technical Teams with Great Tools
Without excellent tools, a DevOps culture and process can only go so far. Organizations are implementing the culture and process to execute on DevOps, but they need the critical technologies to coordinate fast-moving, cross-functional teams.
For example, take the issues regarding product development delivery processes. To deliver work on time and speedily, you’ll need to develop a distinct pipeline for employees to deliver work. While it can differ from organization to organization, taking functionality from development to test to staging to production needs to happen in a controlled fashion.
You also need to build a system of technology to manage the roles and access rights of these teams and individuals on each of the cloud infrastructures your company chooses to employ. You want your software solutions to automatically configure and manage access of people and process to technology. Each person is critical and their role needs to be instantiated into the pipeline through access rights, roles, and capabilities.
Takeaway for Implementing DevOps
By identifying a system that links people, process, and technologies, your risk is mitigated and your business quickened. Not only that, but your teams will be de-siloed – there will be more communication between departments, and processes and technology will be aligned.
The even better result? Happy customers.
To learn more about how DevOps can help your organization do more faster, read our eBook “Doing More Faster, Now with IT Control.”
(this blog taken from Gene Kim‘s section on DevOps in our eBook “Doing More Faster, Now with IT Control.”)