Some organisations see DevOps as a magic wand that will instantly turn them into super-productive machines, but you need more than cutting-edge technology to realise its benefits.
DevOps is taking off. According to an April 2020 report from Global Market Insights, Inc., the market valuation of DevOps will reach $17 billion by 2026, proving that the appeal of shorter development life cycles, fewer deployment failures, more efficient communication and reduced cost is undeniable.
Companies that have transitioned to more automated DevOps processes have been able to adapt more successfully to the global upheaval caused by Covid-19, whereas those with legacy pipelines and no DevOps instrumentation processes tend to have struggled. Now, many are rushing to get the right tools and process in place — not to mention the major cultural changes required — to make DevOps successful.
The “automate everything” mindset of DevOps can certainly transform productivity levels. But not everything can be automated: Failure to understand the context, overlooking important actions because of communication barriers and poor collaboration are some of the human factors that stop DevOps being a silver bullet. But it can be an effective weapon if you combine the right technology with the right culture, attitude and skill sets.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is more than just technology. It encompasses a set of practices that help bring development and operations teams together to streamline software delivery. The concept was born from the urgency of deploying software at a faster rate to meet the needs of a world gone digital. By encouraging closer cooperation between developers and operation engineers, developers could have access to the infrastructure resources they needed to deploy several times a day.
The beauty of DevOps is that it helps to streamline the sprawling delivery ecosystems that enterprises accumulate as they expand. Without DevOps, a multiplicity of teams, systems, end-user devices and other elements makes it difficult to collaborate. Teams are siloed, so delivery slows down, costs and overheads soar and environments are inconsistent across functions.
DevOps addresses these issues by working to break down the silos that development and operations teams traditionally work in, creating a unified delivery channel. With increased automation and collaboration, it accelerates the feedback cycle, prevents waste, reduces delays and makes the software produced more efficient and reliable.
Organisations that implement DevOps correctly and put a unified delivery ecosystem in place can expect the following benefits:
- Higher overall productivity
- Faster delivery
- Improved quality (due to a reliable delivery ecosystem)
- Lower costs (through streamlined delivery)
- Transparent communication
- Continuous feedback
- Faster resolution of issues
What do you need to get DevOps right?
Enterprises fail at DevOps usually because they approach it like a framework rather than as a set of practices or processes. You can’t just install the right tools and say you have implemented DevOps: You need to drive shifts in your culture as well as your technology.
DevOps culture means developers and operations share understanding and responsibility when it comes to the software they build. To achieve this kind of relationship, you need transparency, open communication and an emphasis on collaboration across the organisation. Everybody needs to know what is expected of them and be trained to work together with an innovation mindset. This sort of cultural change takes commitment from the top down. The enterprise’s leaders need to demonstrate their support for a DevOps culture and drive efforts to create it. There is no point recruiting exceptional people if it’s not in place.
Big picture thinking
Transforming your organisation’s culture requires a visionary approach. To address legacy issues and break down established team structures, leaders need to adopt a cohesive view, bringing disparate elements together so that they can create the best foundation for future success. That means taking down silos, understanding processes end to end, and reviewing how software updates are rolled out. Successful DevOps depends on everyone working together to optimise the potential for future success.
Adopting an approach of “shifting left,” or bringing testing into the development process early, helps create an understanding of how software is developed and how the life cycle progresses from start to launch. This approach encourages developers to focus on quality from the very start of a software build, rather than waiting for errors and bugs to be identified later on. Defects are easier to fix during the requirements stage than after the software has gone into production, saving time and money, and ultimately resulting in a better product.
The cost of fixing a defect discovered at the end of the build can be very high, requiring massive investments of effort and time. In some cases, mission-critical software cannot even be released because the bug has been identified too late.
Automate CI/CD to enable teams to self-serve
Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) are pillars of successful DevOps implementation. Continuous integration involves developers integrating code into a shared repository multiple times a day. An automated build verifies each check-in so that defects can be identified early. It doesn’t eliminate bugs, but it makes them far easier to find and remove. Continuous deployment is the release into production of software verified by the automated tests.
To maximise the benefits of your organisation’s CI/CD model, you need an efficient pipeline to automate your build, integration and testing processes — and that requires the right tools. At Nearform, we guide teams through the process of CI/CD tool selection, architecture decisions and implementation and enable on-premises systems to operate in CI/CD mode.
Get DevSecOps right
Just as DevOps takes a wrecking ball to the idea of the monolithic enterprise operating in silos that never communicate, so DevSecOps extends the philosophy to security. Adopting the agility and responsiveness of a DevOps approach, DevSecOps views security as pivotal to the entire development life cycle — not just reserved for a specific team in the final stage of development.
Outdated security practices can undermine even the most efficient DevOps initiatives, so DevSecOps operates from the mindset that security is a shared responsibility, with continued collaboration between software release engineers and established security teams.
Transitioning from the traditional software development approach to DevOps is not something you can do effectively overnight. Equipping your people with the right tools is essential, but the secret to successful DevOps implementation is creating the right culture in which everyone has their eye on the bigger picture and works together to achieve it. Adopting this mindset and following best practices in creating a delivery pipeline with CI/CD and automated DevSecOps will optimise the massive potential that DevOps can deliver.