Adopting DevOps should be a top priority for you right now
|Richard Harris in DevOps Wednesday, June 14, 2017|
Sacha Labourey talks about how DevOps may not be walking the walk even though they can talk the talk.
ADM: Why should companies adopt DevOps?
Labourey: DevOps is becoming a necessary part of enterprise IT environments, as it supports a culture of shared goals and teamwork. DevOps environments enable companies to develop and deploy software more seamlessly. Coupled with continuous delivery, software can also be deployed more rapidly and as frequently as desired. Continuous delivery is the extension of continuous integration throughout the entire software delivery process and it enables ongoing deployment of frequent, incremental software releases. Accelerating the deployment of software allows organizations to respond quickly to customer needs, gain a competitive edge and realize faster time to value from innovative ideas. The adoption of continuous delivery greatly aids in a DevOps transformation, particularly if it is based on process automation. As companies extend their channels, or avenues for customers to interact with them in today's digital world, a DevOps culture, supported by continuous delivery processes, provides the opportunity for competitive growth and success.
ADM: DevOps has become a more mainstream topic over the past couple of years. What do you attribute this to?
Labourey: DevOps has become so much more than just something talked about in theory and has transformed into an integral part of many companies' development structure. With the user demand for companies to constantly produce new, incremental functionality and/or new products, DevOps has risen as the solution to meeting these demands.
Watching the success of others who have adopted DevOps is also driving the DevOps discussion. Take Etsy, for example. Back in its early days, the company was having a difficult time making updates to their e-commerce website and underlying processes without it going down, resulting in frustrated buyers and sellers unable to transact business. Fast forward to today: Etsy has not only adopted a DevOps framework with a fully automated deployment pipeline and continuous delivery process, but is a brand name leading by example. They perform 50 or so deployments every day. Other well-known companies also deploying software updates frequently include Adobe, Fidelity Investments, Sony Pictures, Target and Netflix, to name a few.
ADM: Are companies adopting DevOps at the same rate that they're talking about it?
Labourey: While many forward-thinking companies have adopted a DevOps culture, we are still seeing hesitation within some organizations that are unsure as to how they go about making this change. Change is never easy - especially when it must permeate a company's culture, and implementing a DevOps model requires a company-wide cultural change based on principles the organization puts in place. When uniting development and IT operations teams, there are numerous processes and systems that need to be integrated and this can cause a lot of resistance, internally. Now, more than ever, companies are increasingly adopting DevOps, but it is certainly not always an easy change and can sometimes take longer than management may expect to see the benefits. However, though the work to get there is hard, the business value is there for companies that transform to DevOps.
ADM: What are the main challenges companies face when adopting DevOps and how can they overcome those challenges?
Labourey: The main challenge is the cultural aspect that is critical for the success of DevOps. Cultural change is challenging. If you think that adopting DevOps is something that can be done overnight, you're wrong. The adoption and implementation of DevOps is hard work, but the payoff is huge. Companies need to be prepared for the time investment required to effect internal changes and behaviors. There are also IT/environmental factors to consider in order to create a culture that's supportive of a DevOps model and the value and changes it will surely bring. Staff, at all levels, need to be communicated to and then educated on the shift that is taking place and the expected results the organization will realize from it. Most importantly, open communication and the discussion of pain points should be brought to the forefront, as teams that haven't traditionally worked together begin to merge and collaborate - and the inevitable friction points occur. While it is a large undertaking, the long-term success of the organization and the opportunity for breaking new ground in software development is well worth it.
The best way to transform is to look for the low-hanging fruit, first. Don't try to do a big-bang approach, where suddenly everyone must transform overnight. Look for ways to improve - perhaps software testing is still being done manually. Automate it. Perhaps provisioning resources still takes weeks or months - automate it. Teams using Jenkins for continuous integration and continuous delivery, for example, have ways to spin up new masters and associated resources in minutes.
ADM: Once a company has implemented a DevOps model, how can they expand upon it?
Labourey: Following the implementation of a DevOps model, organizations can look to streamline and formalize training processes to further integrate DevOps company-wide. After creating a strong foundation among IT professionals and developers, companies can look at the next phase. For example, maybe an automated and streamlined process can be implemented for a customer service organization to communicate issues customers uncover in day-to-day usage of an application directly back to development. The implementation of DevOps across an organization will open doors for enterprises to attract and retain top talent, driving further quality improvements and overall success.
ADM: How can IT communicate the benefits of DevOps to the executive team/board?
Labourey: First - before any DevOps transformation can take place, the executive team must buy in and support it - and it can't just be lip service. Start with a small project and then broadcast success - giving credit to the entire team. Then onboard more projects and teams. Throughout the adoption of DevOps and as a part of the ongoing drumbeat of DevOps, communicate to the organization and shout from the rooftops the improvements, time savings, ROI and acceleration of new functionality to production that is occurring. Success breeds success.
Another important recommendation is to have regular check-ins specifically with the executive team to share progress that has been made. This ranges from spotlighting specific members of the team that have gone above and beyond from both a cultural standpoint as well as from a technical one. Highlight the increased productivity, quicker project timelines and quantify the changes that have occurred due to the collaboration and integration of teams. This will ensure ongoing buy-in from the executives. Keep it high level and to the point to ensure you don't lose them in the minutiae of the overall efforts.
ADM: Where do you see software delivery going in 2017?
Labourey: With DevOps teams' primary focus on automation, the biggest change in software delivery this year will be seeing container solutions like Docker Swarm, Kubernetes and Mesos become mainstream. What is the appeal of using containers over separate servers or even virtual machines, which can be used in a similar way? Containers enable you to avoid building and configuring an entirely new physical server or spinning up a new virtual environment with processor emulation, an operating system and installed software. Instead, the container lets you encapsulate an entire environment into a set of inter-related lightweight images. As such, containers provide fast access to infrastructure, a fundamental requirement of DevOps and continuous delivery practices and make it trivial to build, test, stage and deploy multi-services applications using the exact same set of images, across the lifecycle, increasing reliability and determinism.
Along with broader container adoption, continuous deployment (the automatic delivery of updates to production with no manual intervention) will see tremendous growth as organizations taste success in evolving to DevOps and continuous delivery and gain confidence in their automated software delivery processes. As enterprise organizations adopt containers, they will revisit continuous deployment and start implementing it.
ADM: If they do nothing else, what is the one most critical thing an IT organization MUST do in 2017?
Labourey: If not already done, they should onboard on a limited number of DevOps proof of concept projects. The sooner they start, the more data points they will gather on how to best extend it across the organization. Those transitions take time, the longer you delay them, the more you take a competitive risk of being displaced by your competition.
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