In the last post, I argued the importance of an organization undergoing a cultural shift before launching a DevOps implementation, as well as highlighted the new possibilities and practices DevOps encourages. In this final post of this four-part series, I’ll focus on how you can tell if your organization is truly ready for a DevOps implementation.
Is DevOps Right for Your Organization?
DevOps is a more flexible and dynamic development and deployment approach. The goal of a DevOps implementation is to bring products to market faster while delivering software more rapidly and reliably. There aren’t many scenarios where DevOps is inappropriate for a specific software development purpose. If you’re building a software as a service (SaaS), web or ecommerce application – or really anything that runs in the cloud – DevOps is probably the appropriate solution for you.
That may sound straightforward, but the truth is that it often isn’t. For starters, it’s not just about pulling the trigger on Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) processes and then feeling the immediate satisfaction of a job well done. DevOps isn’t a magic bullet. An organization has to buy into a broader idea of how the entire team might work together more effectively, always with specific outcomes in mind. There’s a much bigger picture. The cultural shift I discussed in my last post doesn’t come easy.
If different departments have adversarial relationships at your organization, DevOps may not work for you. In fact, a DevOps implementation could make those problems worse (think more bugs, more outages and a revolving door of key staff members). And if you think that simply hiring an in-house DevOps engineer or two will take care of an end-to-end DevOps transformation, think again. The in-house engineers may have some understanding of the DevOps landscape, but the solutions they implement will inevitably involve lots of frustrating trial and error.
DevOps is right for your organization only if you have the organizational mandate to change your culture and if you’ve put the time and thought into what you want your team to accomplish – and, more importantly, how.
Are You Ready? Three Key Questions to Ask.
Here are three key questions whose answers will help determine if your organization is ready for a successful DevOps implementation:
1. Have You Fostered Philosophical Buy-In? Your development, operations and testing teams are ready to move outside their comfort zone and do away with the barriers between them. Collaboration is the name of the game, and the organization is excited for the opportunity to build shared goals. DevOps champions at the organization remind those on the fence why DevOps matters and what’s at stake. The philosophical change at your organization looks like it’s going to stick because there’s management buy-in and a top-down desire to not only increase delivery speed and time to market, but also meet or exceed the wants and needs of the users you’re building these apps for in the first place.
2. Have You Built a DevOps Plan? Many organizations start adopting new processes and technologies without fully understanding the decisions they’re making or the pros and cons of the different technologies they’re using. That’s not you. You’ve created a clear, detailed strategy that includes overarching goals, well-defined deliverables, milestones and deadlines, and specific project owners. Team members are receiving the training they need in evolving cultural expectations and in the new and different technologies they’ll be using. What does a successful DevOps organization look like? Your team is doing the work needed to answer that question because you know that a sound DevOps foundation requires proper planning and oversight from the ground up.
3. Now That You’re Ready for Big Change, Are You Ready to Start Small? You want to ditch the silos and build a more cohesive, smooth sailing DevOps organization. It’s a great goal. So great, in fact, that some organizations think they can make the change in one fell swoop. Not you. You recognize that DevOps isn’t a switch you can turn on and off at whim. To eliminate the silo mentality, you understand that you must first chip away at the silos bit by bit. It’s about evolution vs. revolution. You’re prepared to take on a small project or product and test the waters (the team, the tools, the process). The newly integrated team is excited and curious to see what DevOps looks like in action. You get that they need to experience a small success before they clamor for more.
You’re Ready – So What’s Next?
Let’s say you have the organizational buy-in you need. You’re not naïve. You know that DevOps implementations are challenging, and the necessary cultural change doesn’t come easy. You’ve done the legwork. You’ve built a plan, and you’re ready to start small. You know what needs to be done. The next question is how.
While good infrastructure is a prerequisite for great applications and great DUX (developer user experience), most companies don’t need to own and manage their own infrastructure architecture and code (think Ruby on Rails in the development world). And you shouldn’t, as the odds are that what you create and manage will be ad-hoc, informally specified, bug-ridden, slow and unnecessarily expensive. Many organizations want DevOps but don’t want to hire and manage an expensive DevOps team. That’s because they recognize there’s little benefit and substantial risk to working outside their wheelhouse. The risks far outweigh the rewards.
That’s where a DevOps Partner comes in
Find a partner that can take a big chunk of the complex DevOps puzzle off your hands so you can focus on the things that are uniquely important to you – your core competency and core value. It’s your partner’s job to understand and align with your business goals and build systems that move you forward on your DevOps journey. It’s their job to give you great infrastructure, which frees you up to do what you do best.
The key is to first make sure you’re ready, then find a partner that exists to protect your infrastructure investment with turnkey, robust, highly automated DevOps-as-a-Service packages that can be fine-tuned to meet your needs and provide long-term support.
So what’s your next step? How can you implement DevOps practices at your organization? With strategic help. In the ever-competitive world of lean product development, CTOs, CIOs, CEOs and VPs of Engineering at small and mid-sized SaaS, web and eCommerce companies are discovering that finding the right DevOps partner is more than just a good idea – it’s a real game changer.