In today’s business landscape, it is no longer enough if you offer better and cheaper products than your competitors. This is the age of digital disruption where laxity can spell doom. One has to build and ship faster than everyone else in order to meet the growing demands of business. DevOps is the de facto philosophy to achieve this objective. It fosters:
- Improved business agility
- Enhanced innovation
- Increased application stability and security
- Higher operational efficiencies
Apart from these, DevOps also accelerates product development cycle, enables multiple commits and integrations simultaneously, and helps release features weekly or biweekly instead of quarterly – all aimed at shortening the time to market.
Yes, DevOps has brought a sea change in the way operations and development teams collaborate. But as it gains more popularity, enterprises need to be aware of the challenges in adopting this new kid on the block. In this blog, I discuss some of the common challenges and overcoming them:
- Manual deployment process: Manual processes slow down enterprise deployment activities. To accelerate deployment, DevOps principles promote an automation-first approach. One of the major reasons for DevOps’ popularity is the promise of zero-error outcomes, and automation serves this purpose. It is recommended to bring automation as early as possible in green field implementations and follow a staggered approach for live projects.
- Legacy systems: Legacy systems hamper speed of deployment due to their inflexibility, costly maintenance rigor, high complexity, and lack of resources. Moving from legacy to DevOps-enabled systems is a journey that takes time, and enterprises need to gradually transform to disposable and consumption based infrastructure in cloud.
- Organizational silos: The old world work culture established silos that now pose a big challenge in DevOps adoption. Establishing cross-functional teams and upskilling delivery team members can improve collaboration and break down the traditional barriers.
- Lack of visibility in tools and workloads: Inability to track progress, limited visibility of tools, and siloed working style can lead to disparate adoption of tools. This can be prevented by leveraging a visual approach to track, monitor, and manage workflows through dashboards.
- Large, infrequent releases: Enterprises typically perform large, infrequent releases due to manual tasks and risk of failures. A self-organized team should be designed to enable effective flow of value in steady stream of releases providing incremental value to end user.
- Compliance bottleneck: Regulatory compliance is a mandate for enterprises across industries. Due to the complexities involved, some believe that timely compliance is a far reality. However, by integrating requirements into a high-velocity DevOps workflow, enterprises can achieve compliance at speed and scale.
Enterprises can achieve perfect DevOps adoption by avoiding the common pitfalls described above. Other key components that support DevOps adoption across end-end orchestration are:
- Leadership: The most important aspect of cultural change relates to support from the leadership. Change should come from the top. There needs to be close alignment between IT and business leadership, with common vision and goals.
- Collaboration: The primary feature of DevOps culture is increased collaboration between the roles of development and operations. There are some important cultural shifts, within teams and at an organizational level, that support this collaboration. An attitude of shared responsibility is an aspect of DevOps culture that further encourages closer collaboration
- Fail-fast, fail-often: Organizations must accept that it is ok to fail! Experimentation is the best way to progress (as long as we make course corrections, learning from our mistakes)
- Security: Security testing has to be aligned to the delivery pipeline. Security scans should be completed with every build so that issues are identified sooner.
- Self-Healing: Systems should be designed for failures instead of aiming for perfection, so systems have ability to self-heal in case of failures.
- Compliance: By using a Continuous Integration server, one can log and track precisely which version of each source code file went in a release. There can be pauses in the continuous deployment process that can allow inspection of the pipeline for unauthorized change.
- Value Stream
- Lean: Enterprises should leverage lean principles, especially value stream mapping to proactively identify bottlenecks in delivery pipeline and develop solutions to address them.
- Automation: This helps create a frictionless flow of information across the software development and delivery lifecycle, error free and with high velocity, helping organizations to increase their teams’ effectiveness.
- Holistic: Everyone on team should have systems thinking – each team should be aware of the actions of other teams in the pipeline.
- People, Process, Technology: Measurement is important aspect for continuous improvement. It should be built on all three dimensions – People, Processes, Technology. Examples include Customer Satisfaction, Release/Change frequency, Volume of failures, Time/Cost per release, Mean time to Resolution (MTTR), Mean Time between Failures (MTBF) etc.
Organizations serious about competing in this disruptive era of digital technologies, must embrace DevOps. While it is being spoken about in great enthusiasm, enterprises should also understand the bottlenecks and address these challenges before embarking on the DevOps journey.