27 Jan 2019
By Mohammed Abubakar
While Agile methodology represents a change in thinking, DevOps covers architecture, technology, strategy, methodology, and most importantly, culture. In other words it is much more than changing tools or mindset; it is implementing a comprehensive cultural transformation in the organisation by creating a collaborative environment among devs, ops, and several other teams.
The goal of DevOps is to optimise the entire IT delivery process for the fast and reliable shipping of code and the cloud will help ensure a successful and efficient adoption. DevOps has quickly risen to popularity as it enables companies to introduce new features and products to market faster than ever, yielding an increase in customer satisfaction. This is achieved by automating deployment pipelines and changing the operational model for both dev and ops, which includes tools, project methods, support, metrics, testing, and ITIL processes (Information Technology Infrastructure Library). As deployment periods have reduced from several months to a few hours, DevOps has truly changed the IT landscape as we know it.
Now you have prepared yourself for the possible upcoming challenges of building and transitioning to a new culture, here is how you overcome those roadblocks and introduce DevOps successfully into your enterprise.
Changing the way people think and act is the most difficult and time consuming aspect of building a DevOps culture; it takes time to see the light and change behaviour. The only answer to this is to educate and keep educating. This is also a good opportunity to remove the bureaucracy and inflexibility of traditional IT that is acting as a barrier to development and begin your move to the cloud.
Having said that, one major mistake is to introduce DevOps practices only to IT. As we have established, DevOps is a culture that should include everyone that is involved in delivering value to end users. They should get at least a high-level understanding of the end-to-end flow. Business, Testers and Quality Assurance, Project Management Offices and Human Resources should be aware of what is DevOps and what it means to them. You should have workshops with management and gather up with your team to talk things through.
###02 — Start slow and then expand Your staff might feel that if it is not broken, we do not need to fix it. Help them understand that while things are functioning, they can still be better. While building under- standing across the enterprise, start progressing with one team. Analyse existing processes against the new principles, and see where DevOps practices can add value. Start from a simple problem first, optimising and automating where appropriate. Change their tools and explore the new process with them. When you start figuring things out, keep moving to other teams. This way we leave the time for the people to get used to the new process.
Remember that not all changes are unicorns and rainbows. There will be new process- es and tooling, which means you need to change people’s habits. This might be good news for the organisation but bad for a specific unit. For example, developers may lose some of their freedom when processes are cleared up making them a bit more restrictive. Or they might be forced to change the deployment model they are most comfortable using. But do not worry too much, most people will adapt as soon as they see the bigger picture, and the benefits, which takes us to the next step…
To fight through natural human resistance of change it is important to frame DevOps in ways that people can see how it benefits them. You need to sell DevOps to all your teams and the management as well. Tell everyone about the tremendous gains they will receive with automation: less manual work, simplified processes, better visibility and trustworthy metrics. Operations might be interested in the fewer changes per re- lease (even if those releases happen more frequently), since it means more control and makes it easier to perform root cause analysis and troubleshooting. And remember, DevOps and automation means freeing your people so they can have more time to be more productive.
Introducing the benefits alone might not be enough. Try to build a culture that encourages change, rewards new ideas, and fosters innovation. Whether you’re a software developer, operations manager, or inspirational leader, becoming a master of your craft takes time; you cannot turn into a great developer or manager overnight. You should start small, learn, and adapt to build your skills and senses. Motivate individuals or teams to take on new challenges, come up with development suggestions of their own, and be supportive to all ideas. A good way to do this is through an awards scheme for example.
Cultural change never has an end-point; it is an ever-evolving concept. When you begin your DevOps journey, you must realise that there is no final destination — and there never will be. You must constantly reinforce the DevOps message and empower your team to drive this cultural transformation through a solid support network and a sufficient toolset. Look at what is working and why it has worked, as this may help you understand why you still have some challenges and what can be done to solve them. By ensuring your people grow as individuals will ensure that your company grows as an organisation.
Remember, DevOps is about doing things better, faster, and smarter to deliver increased value to the end user. If you’re achieving this, then you’re on the right track.