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March 30, 2016

Make Your Entire Operation a DevOps Shop and Reap the Rewards

Wonder why DevOps is getting so much attention these days? Unlike traditional software management models, DevOps focuses on collaboration and cooperation between an organization’s developers and operations team. According to a 2013 Puppet Labs State of DevOps survey, organizations that utilize DevOps practices deploy code up to 30 times more frequently than their competitors and with 50% fewer failures.  

Although it started with software deployment, DevOps is now being applied to IT operations as well. Its collaborative setting is an ideal model for growing businesses. Transitioning to DevOps is a vital part of gearing your teams up for success, but the journey can be difficult for many organizations. Here are some things organizations should consider when evaluating the DevOps approach.

Why You Need the DevOps Approach
Traditionally, software developers draft and engineer a solution and then hand it over to the operations team. The two teams are kept separate from each other while working on opposite sides of the business spectrum. This can often result in a lack of ownership and a slower development pace.

By contrast, in a DevOps model, the two teams work closely together toward common, customer-oriented objectives. Developers take ownership of their coding while operations develops methods that help the developing team write, test and deploy code more quickly and efficiently.

DevOps is essentially an extension of the Agile method. It is a strategic combination of uniting methodology like Agile, Lean and other management theories. Agile and Lean both encompass several of the same principles, such as welcoming shifting requirements, repeated delivery of software, relentless attention to technical quality and the highest priority placed on customer satisfaction.

DevOps’ emphasis on collaboration provides countless benefits. Some technical benefits of the DevOps model include continuous software delivery, fewer complex issues to repair and faster problem resolution. Some of the corporate benefits include quicker feature delivery operating environments with additional stability and more time available to increase value, rather than time spent performing maintenance.

Using DevOps for Your Entire Operation
As DevOps is now being used for both software development and IT operations, it is in your best interest to make your entire operations a DevOps shop. But how should you approach this? First, assess your DevOps strategy. Before starting a DevOps initiative, take stock of current software development issues. This will help you reach a common understanding of costs and intended efficiency gains, and assess what needs to be improved upon, optimized or fixed, as well as what might actually be going well. Answer a few questions like, what’s working? What isn’t working? Examine how your operations and development teams are currently working with each other. Are they collaborating at all?

You should also take into account the differing viewpoints between your two teams. If your company has traditionally been dispersed in separate silos, it might require a different mentality when considering both teams’ objectives as you are planning. Each department should share its goals and what it considers success to help cultivate an understanding and empathy-driven culture. To evade conflict due to contrasting assumptions of task priorities, focus on an environment of transparency.

Next, embrace and implement changes to increase the speed of development. The DevOps path defines standards and then sets them in a phased approach, addressing cultural and structural change throughout. In this step, you should focus on the individuals, processes and technology around key DevOps principles such as assessment, persistent integration and testing, as well as continuous delivery and shipment.

As soon as you’ve acknowledged the opportunities to increase collaboration and the rate of progress between your developers and your operations team, the next step is to craft a detailed plan. Begin by identifying the preliminary steps needed to make the changes you desire and then decide on appropriate timelines and goals. Establish a collective set of objectives that incorporate developmental and operational views. And finally, identify the measures that you’ll use to gauge the success of your initiative. This will help your team members realize that they need to work together - keeping an eye on improving production speed and quality.

Adopting DevOps across your entire operation can be a big adjustment for a company. There might be some bumps along the way, but the benefits of closer collaboration among team members and a more empathetic culture can be quite powerful. This will show results in the reduced time needed to complete projects, increase product quality and improve team morale.

As your team continues to grow, you must invest in the right services and methods to help keep everyone on the same page. Add in distributed teams across different time zones and issues can become crisis points. DevOps is a smarter way of thinking about IT. It is just one example of how helpful your IT outsourcing partner can be in helping you grow, thrive and transform your business!

Can DevOps help you win with IT? We sure think so. At Accelerance, many of our partners support their clients' IT operations using the DevOps model. We can partner you with the best in the business to give your IT solution the service, agility and delivery standards it needs to support your organization in an ever-changing world.

Andy Hilliard

As CEO, Andy leads and advocates for the globalization and collaboration of great software teams with companies in search of talent, innovation and a globally-distributed extension of their engineering function and culture. Andy founded the ground-breaking nearshore software development services company, Isthmus Costa...

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