Mykal Dortch looks beyond the efficiency and flexibility benefits of DevOps and outlines three unexpected ways that DevOps will change your enterprise.
The DevOps movement isn’t new, but its adoption is accelerating. Growing numbers of companies want to deliver the rapid innovation, faster product development cycles and richer experiences that today’s customers expect. There’s increasing comfort with cloud-native technologies. IDC research predicts this trend will continue even in the aftermath of 2020’s global economic slowdown, with the market for DevOps management platforms and toolchains still expected to see ongoing growth through 2024.
It’s only logical that more and more enterprises will want to take advantage of the enhanced efficiency, reduced overhead, increased flexibility and better software performance that DevOps promises. But, moving from legacy development and operational models to DevOps is about more than process change. It also entails a metamorphosis of organizational culture, with a corresponding transformation of people’s ways of thinking, working and collaborating.
If your enterprise is on the verge of a new DevOps initiative, it’s likely that you’re eagerly anticipating many of the benefits that organizations with successful DevOps practices typically see. You probably expect that continuous delivery pipelines will enable you to deploy more code, more frequently, with fewer errors. You may look forward to faster feature releases or a more stable platform. Perhaps you foresee reduced development costs and increased efficiency in your future.
However, adopting the DevOps methodology does entail a mindset shift for IT organizations accustomed to legacy practices.
Here are three ways that DevOps can change your enterprise that you might not have considered.
1. DevOps will improve communication and collaboration organization-wide (not just between development and operations teams).
Legacy development practices traditionally applied the waterfall model, in which software engineering was broken down into a linear sequence of discrete steps, each of which was executed upon the successful completion of the preceding step. In this approach, developers would hand off their completed code to software testers, who, once they’d written and executed test cases, would then hand off the project to the operations team for deployment into the production environment. Each of these handoffs was known as “throwing the code over the wall.”
The integration of development and operations that are fundamental to the DevOps methodology, removes the “wall” that previously separated these teams. In DevOps practices, both developers and operations team members participate in a consistent and cohesive process that allows for consistency and repeatability.
With open lines of communication across teams, who should take responsibility — for bug fixes, broken components, or breakdowns within the process — isn’t nebulous. Because every step and every individual’s contributions are being monitored, there are no more conflicts about accountability. The clarity and alignment that this brings can boost employee engagement and strengthen relationships.
2. DevOps empowers individual employees to take ownership of their contribution to the project as a whole.
Structurally speaking, a waterfall development practice ran like a relay race: each team passed the baton to the next one when the task it was responsible for had been completed. This meant an operations team member would receive an artifact from “the development team” — an abstract entity — rather than from, say, “Susan” — an individual who could respond to questions, answer concerns and cultivate trust and empathy.
DevOps makes it possible for every participant to see exactly where their individual contribution fits within the release cycle. It lets them take personal responsibility for their part in the process by making them accountable to the next person within the cycle.
At times, new DevOps adopters may initially hesitate to take on this increased responsibility, fearing that they’ll have rigid processes foisted upon them. In practice, however, members of mature DevOps teams tend to appreciate the enhanced sense of competence that accountability brings. Recent surveys indicate developers in DevOps practices are 1.3 times more likely to feel they can complete the work that is assigned to them and 1.7 times more likely to report being happy at work than those in more traditional organizations.
3. DevOps can enhance professional development opportunities across the enterprise.
A core tenet of the DevOps philosophy is to automate wherever possible. From infrastructure management and configuration setting to smoke testing, DevOps practitioners strive to maximize the number of places where they rely on time and labor-saving tools within the development and delivery cycle. By leveraging automation to perform repetitive manual processes and create feedback loops, they make it easier to find errors early, correct them quickly, and facilitate rapid integration and deployment.
For developers and operations teams alike, the ability to lean on specialized tools and services has the benefit of freeing them from the need to perform mundane tasks. Because they don’t have to “reinvent the wheel,” they can instead focus on more creative activities.
Mature DevOps practices provide their participants with a unique blend of autonomy and shared responsibility. Through this, they come to a fuller understanding of the product’s end-to-end development across its entire lifecycle, and better appreciate its role in solving enterprise-wide challenges or providing value to the business as a whole.
In the absence of silos separating development and operations teams, there’s simply more room for everyone to grow.
If you would like to read my thoughts on whether DevOps will cause a culture shock within your organization, click here.
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