Challenges of Adopting DevOps

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The term ‘DevOps’ is treated with a great deal of awe in the world of software development. Businesses often see it as the perfect solution to boosting the ROIs of software pipelines, while recruiters obsess over it when looking for qualified candidates.

Still, while the benefits of DevOps are well known, actually utilizing the approach is not without its difficulties. In fact, there can be numerous challenges when it comes to using DevOps for the first time. A lack of understanding from some team members can create roadblocks or misconceptions about what DevOps actually is and can lead to mistakes in its application and management.

In this article, we explore some of the biggest barriers to DevOps implementation and how to overcome them!

Breaking Down Silos

When looking at the basics of DevOps, breaking down siloed thinking is one of the first things that comes up. Traditionally, developers will often focus on creating and updating code before passing it over a proverbial wall to operations staff before moving on to the next big development. While speedy dev work is a huge plus in this digital business world, this approach can outpace the capacity for tasks like administration, maintenance, testing, and so on. This creates a drag prior to the point of releasing code, making the speed of development almost a moot point.

As the name suggests, ‘DevOps’ focuses on instead combining development and operations under a single umbrella. One of the biggest initial challenges of adopting the approach can be fostering this attitude and encouraging collaboration, communication, and understanding between previously siloed teams.

To start, look at how certain groups are creating difficulties elsewhere and how these can be resolved. Better yet, start having separated teams begin assessing processes used throughout the pipeline. Tackling issues with new perspectives and ideas is an inherent aspect of creating successful and ever-evolving DevOps cultures.

Key DevOps Concepts

One of the biggest misconceptions about DevOps is that it is a ‘framework’ or ‘methodology’. While it is often described as such, it’s actually more of a cultural approach than anything else. Nobody ‘owns’ DevOps, and styles of implementation can vary depending on the organization in question.

Despite this, there are consistent elements and key concepts within DevOps. With this in mind, one of the biggest challenges for adopting DevOps can be making sure everyone understands what the terms mean.

Some of the most important DevOps terms include:

To help team members get to grips with this, it can be worth investing in entry-level DevOps training or onboarding resources. Building blocks like these will give candidates a great foundation for applying the approach while also helping them collaborate with other practicing team members.

Implementing Test Automation

Continuous automation is a cornerstone of successful DevOps cultures. It involves applying a developer’s mindset to inefficient or unreliable processes, especially those carried out manually. By applying automation wherever possible, DevOps engineers can optimize the overall efficiency and effectiveness of a pipeline – and this requires continuous vigilance!

Test automation is particularly essential, as it greatly eases the workload of operations teams and helps to drive continuous delivery and integration. During the initial implementation of DevOps, it will be important to establish an automation process that can be used as an example for the wider organization. This can then be applied across the pipeline in a variety of areas, including security, database management, and so on.

How to Choose Tools

DevOps tools serve a crucial role in optimizing pipelines and driving automation. They offer speedy solutions to inefficiencies and ineffectiveness across a variety of areas, and new options are being developed all the time.

The problem is that, like DevOps itself, certain tools can get businesses over-excited. Tools should never be chosen based on their popularity alone but should instead correlate with an organization’s unique requirements, structure, and processes. Once these elements are defined, candidates can search for appropriate tools in order of priority.

As with automation, it is worth establishing a structured approach for adopting tools so that teams can use it as an example. At the same time, DevOps leaders should help upskill team members in key tools and processes, as well as give them the freedom to suggest tools on their own initiative. This will help to drive continuous improvement throughout your workplace culture.

Shared Responsibility

We spoke earlier about the importance of breaking down silos thinking in DevOps. Part of this involves building shared responsibility for the results of the pipeline itself. That is to say, letting teams know that they are ultimately responsible for the results of the department or project rather than just their own deliverables.

This is not a matter of making it easier to allocate blame. Rather, it helps establish motivation and context for increased collaboration. As different skill sets and perspectives are applied across the pipeline, you will discover new ideas for optimization on a regular basis!

During the initial implementation, start encouraging discussion and feedback between different teams. This will foster an understanding of how various processes contribute to performance metrics. Speaking of which…

Define Performance Metrics and Targets

When making any kind of major management decision, measuring performance is key. Before you ever implement DevOps, you will need to have well-defined expectations for the impact of adopting the approach.

This also means highlighting metrics that will demonstrate the impact of DevOps on your pipeline. Some of the most common DevOps performance metrics include:

  • Mean time to restore services
  • Frequency of deployment
  • Percentage of failed deployments
  • Mean time for changes

As you can see, this list is largely a mixture of speed, stability, and reliability.

Another key point about performance metrics is that your entire team should be aware of them and know how their own tasks influence the results. This level of awareness will drive continuous optimization, as well as a shared sense of responsibility for successes and failures.

Encourage Continuous Learning

The most successful DevOps pipelines are constantly evolving. Engineers are always looking for new tools and processes and will often suggest ideas on their own initiative.

Encouraging this will help you to continually optimize your internal processes and capabilities while also positioning you to take advantage of new opportunities as soon as they appear.

A crucial element of this is making sure your engineers have the freedom to explore and try new things. Allow them to make cases for new tools and offer suggestions to team members. You may even want to provide opportunities to attend DevOps networking events or commit to further training.

It is worth pointing out that this process is about not just trying new ideas but also learning from mistakes. Indeed, DevOps engineers acknowledge that mistakes are inevitable and will analyze ‘failures’ to figure out what could have been done better and how these lessons can be applied in the future. In a complex, ever-evolving pipeline, mistakes will happen – so there will be plenty of opportunities to keep improving!

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