Meeting the Challenges of DevOps Implementation in the Enterprise

Posted 4/13/2016 10:34:29 AM by ANDREW PHILLIPS, Product Management at XebiaLabs

Meeting the Challenges of DevOps Implementation in the Enterprise
The growth of DevOps has been rapid in the last few years and it’s having a pronounced impact. More than 40% of Fortune 1000 companies have a DevOps practice and another 40% are actively evaluating it, according to IDC research.

DevOps is an approach that, in simple terms, can enable you to ship better software faster. The 2015 State of DevOps Report found that high-performing IT organizations experience 60 times fewer failures, recover from failure 168 times faster than their peers, and deploy 30 times more frequently.

The potential benefits are compelling, but there are many challenges for any enterprise organization trying to successfully adopt a DevOps approach. Realizing those potential benefits can prove much tougher than expected, and a failed implementation can be extremely disruptive. There are many important factors that must be considered in an enterprise environment, but these concerns can be overcome with the right planning, mindset, and technology.

Top-down vs. bottom-up

In a startup with 15 or 20 people, DevOps is relatively easy to manage, but in global organizations you might be dealing with hundreds of teams across many divisions, each trying to do “their own thing”. It can be difficult to maintain the insight, visibility, and control you need. There must be some kind of balance between top-down control and bottom-up innovation, initiative, and ownership.

You need to get that balance right. Make sure that it’s just as easy for management to access real-time reports and gain the insight they need as it is for the individual teams to put the automation they’re looking for in place. 

Technology should be driven by business

There’s a danger that people get too hung up on the technology being implemented. There’s often a temptation to move to the latest and greatest tech just because it’s there, or a misplaced belief that technology will solve all your problems. Technology choices should be driven by business considerations, and expectations and metrics should focus on business, not technical goals.

Step by step

Many organizations may be concerned about falling behind the competition, but you can’t implement DevOps wholesale overnight. Whether you’re looking to convince skeptics, or to adopt in a non-disruptive way that allows for integration of legacy systems, you can employ DevOps one small step at a time and still realize tangible benefits.

Take the time to understand your business needs, set clear goals, and implement technologies to achieve them. DevOps is a set of methodologies and processes that can be continuously improved. It’s not an all-or-nothing approach and there is no definitive end point when you’re done. 

Beyond Dev and Ops

You can’t confine your planning to development and operations, despite the DevOps moniker. It’s important to stir security, testing, and other groups into the pot as early as possible. The commitment to break down siloes and encourage collaborative work needs to extend across your organization, and bear in mind especially that many of the participants in this broader perspective are not technical experts.

For DevOps to succeed you also need everyone to buy in. It’s not something for IT to implement in isolation. Lack of executive support can represent a major challenge. Work towards a culture change and prove the efficacy of your approach. Small projects successes can build momentum and spread the DevOps mindset throughout your organization.

It’s not easy to implement DevOps in the enterprise, but with the right planning and careful consideration of your business needs, it can deliver extremely compelling benefits.

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About the author: ANDREW PHILLIPS, Product Management at XebiaLabs

Andrew Phillips heads up product management at XebiaLabs. Andrew is an evangelist and thought leader in the DevOps, Cloud and Continuous Delivery space. He sits on the management team and drives product direction, positioning and planning.

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