As more businesses rush to beat the competition with the help of technology, software development has become more than just a sound investment. It is a major revenue channel and the main strategic benefit of a modern business.
That is why it is crucial to ensure the quality, performance, and security of your product, as well as a fast time to market.
For the last decade, businesses and software development teams around the world have been relying on the agile methodology as a way to improve team efficiency and adaptability.
However, with the increased focus on the business value of software products, traditional methods are no longer enough. There is a need for more effective ways to build and deploy software.
As a result, the DevOps methodology has emerged as an attempt to create a more holistic, end-to-end approach to software development and delivery.
What is DevOps and how does it work? Why do you need it at all? And, most importantly, how do you implement DevOps in your organization? Read on to find the answers to these questions.
Being a relatively new phenomenon in software development, it often causes confusion. In fact, there is still no unified DevOps definition.
For example, Atlassian explains DevOps as a “set of practices that automates the processes between software development and IT teams.”
According to Sam Guckenheimer at Microsoft, the term means “the union of people, process, and products to enable continuous delivery of value to our end users.”
And both definitions are correct.
You can say that DevOps allows you to deliver value to the end users by automating the processes and improving collaboration within the engineering and IT teams.
All in all, DevOps shifts the emphasis on people, removing the barriers between the development and operations and giving them the tools and practices to work together as one multidisciplinary team.
How DevOps works
DevOps, as a software lifecycle management model, focuses on the end-to-end process by removing the gaps between engineers, IT staff, and stakeholders.
This means DevOps covers all the activities that are required to deliver the software to the end users, i.e. development, deployment, maintenance, and scaling.
As a result, the organizations that adopt the DevOps model become more product-centric, embracing the “you build it, you run it” philosophy.
The wide adoption of this methodology and its growth in popularity can be attributed to a variety of reasons.
Namely, here are some of the advantages that DevOps can have for your business:
- Reduced chance of product failure. Software delivered by DevOps teams is usually more fit-for-purpose and relevant to the market thanks to the continuous feedback loop.
- Improved flexibility and support. Applications built by DevOps teams are typically more scalable and easy to maintain due to the use of microservices and cloud technologies (we’ll get to that later).
- Faster time to market. App deployment becomes quick and reliable thanks to the advanced Continuous Integration (CI) and automation tools DevOps teams usually rely on.
- Better team efficiency. DevOps means collective responsibility, which leads to better team engagement and productivity.
- Clear product vision within the team. Product knowledge is no longer scattered across different roles and departments which means better process transparency and decision making.
The listed benefits of DevOps implementation bring tangible ROI to your business. In the long run, adopting this approach can save your time and resources while helping you grow your revenue through increased business velocity and competitiveness.
Despite all the benefits, DevOps implementation is no easy task.
Namely, there are several key DevOps implementation challenges you should be prepared to face (and some tips on how to cope with them):
1. Transition challenges (both technical and organizational)
Dealing with legacy systems and re-building your applications to implement microservices architecture or moving them to the cloud is probably what stops most businesses from adopting DevOps.
In addition to adapting your product, you might need to rebuild your team and change the internal processes to fit the DevOps model. This includes changing team roles, hiring new team members, adopting new tools, etc.
Solution: To test the waters and see if this approach is good for your organization, launch a pilot project first. Thus, you will see if your team is ready for the challenge and will be more prepared for creating a full-scale DevOps implementation roadmap.
2. Lack of talent
DevOps specialists with hands-on experience are hard to find. Most specialists in the field have 1-4 years of experience, according to Payscale. That is why DevOps engineer positions are among the top most difficult jobs to fill.
Solution: Consider hiring a dedicated team offshore or partnering with a trusted technology consultancy to guide you through your transition.
3. Toolset choice
There are many DevOps tools you can consider when switching to this model, which some can consider a benefit. However, this also makes it even more difficult to choose the ones that perfectly meet your team’s needs.
Moreover, switching the tools down the road can be a real challenge and a major waste of time. You will need to transfer all of your projects as well as give your team the time to get used to them.
Solution: Appoint an experienced CTO or consultant to help you with making the correct choices, as well as assembling and putting to use the required tools.
Taking into account the listed DevOps disadvantages, you shouldn’t blindly follow the trend and rush to implement this approach within your organization. If you only update your product once a year and don’t plan to build any new ones soon, DevOps implementation might not be the best idea.
Considering the pros and cons, DevOps strategy does seem like a reasonable investment, in most cases. So, if you are looking to build a DevOps roadmap for your organization, consider the following high-level plan as a starting point.
- Assess the risks and understand the potential benefits
Before you start working on your DevOps plan, think about the real reasons why you want to implement this approach. Do you want to speed up your deployment? Do you feel that the team isn’t working to its full capacity? How often do you face the problems caused by communication gaps between various departments?
Understanding the real motives behind your DevOps initiative will help you choose the optimal path that will lead to a solid implementation strategy and outcome.
In addition to that, knowing your current bottlenecks and challenges will help you set benchmarks and track progress down the road.
- Start with people
Your team members, from the developers to managers and executives, are the ones who will be in charge of your DevOps implementation strategy. That’s why it is so important to ensure everyone understands the potential benefits of this transition and is ready to contribute to the required changes.
To start with, appoint a lead to curate the process and assign the roles within your team. Allow your team members to take some time to process the changes and get used to their new roles. Plus, you might need to fill several new positions too, so it is important to start this process early.
- Change the culture
Your DevOps implementation plan won’t be complete without streamlined communication and transparency within your team. Building a culture of mutual responsibility and adopting effective collaboration practices should be one of the initial DevOps implementation steps.
To start with, put effective communication and knowledge sharing tools in place.
- Adopt DevOps best practices (and choose the right tools)
There are several elements of a successful DevOps implementation plan:
- Continuous integration and continuous delivery
- Test automation
- Agile project management
- Constant app data monitoring and logging
- Cloud migration
- Infrastructure as Code (IaC)
- Microservices architecture
Most of the listed best practices aim to streamline routine tasks and optimize the team’s performance.
For example, Infrastructure as Code (which is currently one of the hottest DevOps topics) eliminates the manual work when setting up your deployment environments while helping you keep their configuration consistent. This allows you to avoid a number of common deployment issues and speed up the process itself.
Another important aspect that will shape the future of your DevOps strategy is your choice of tools to implement the above-listed best practices.
- Start small and scale later
Before going all in with putting your whole organization on the DevOps path all at once, consider testing the approach on a pilot project first, as mentioned previously. This will help you uncover the possible roadblocks and avoid them in the future.
Before you start your DevOps implementation plan, it is important to understand that it is an ongoing process. There is always something to improve, better tools to try, and new practices that you can adopt.
Yet, the DevOps approach is without a doubt a sound long-term investment that can help you make your organization more efficient and future-ready. If the DevOps approach is right for you, then the undertaking will certainly be worth the blood, sweat, and tears.
However, having a clear plan is not enough to mitigate the risks associated with the implementation of the DevOps methodology. You need to get someone with the relevant skills and proven expertise, preferably a professional consultancy or an experienced team to guide you through the process.
Our team at Eastern Peak offers professional consultancy and continuous support with your DevOps initiative: from planning and preparations to the full-scale implementation and ongoing support.
Call us now at +1.646.889.1939 or use our contact form to leave your request and start your journey to become a better, more efficient and future-ready business.