Even considering the rapid evolution of the Digital Age, it’s fair to say that both business and technology have evolved considerably over the last few years. Digitization and the adoption of new services have been catalyzed by the new ‘normal’ of remote and hybrid working environments created by the Pandemic, with many individuals and teams struggling to adapt to the new status quo.
The impact of this rapid evolution can certainly be seen in the world of DevOps. Digitization is par the course for DevOps work, and most teams were utilizing software for remote communication and scheduling well before the start of the Pandemic. However, that is not to say that the new global working situation, coupled with new developments in technology, has not created its own share of challenges for DevOps teams.
So, exactly how did Lockdown change things for DevOps teams? How can DevOps cultures adapt to new working situations, and how can senior DevOps engineers and managers give their teams the support they need?
In this article, we explore why and how DevOps teams adapted to Lockdown.
DevOps teams communicate regularly to establish targets and responsibilities, offering help and insight for different stages of a pipeline as necessary. This facilitates essential tasks and helps team members reach the targets for which they are jointly responsible. Regular meetings are also fairly common for DevOps and Agile teams to establish short-term goals. As a result, most DevOps teams have long been utilizing the communication and task allocation platforms that have become the norm for teams working remotely.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that DevOps engineers did not also benefit greatly from having colleagues in close proximity. For example, DevOps cultures tend to have a bespoke quality built around the requirements of the organization in question, which can take a certain amount of time to fully adjust to.
Because of this, many DevOps team leaders worked to step up team communication throughout the Pandemic. This, of course, meant taking advantage of platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Monday to ensure team members knew what was expected of them.
However, it also required managers to consider the value of communication in terms of mental health. Checking how team members are coping, giving them the chance to share their concerns, and making sure they are up to speed with their setup can all go a long way in sustaining and building morale.
The upsurge in remote working environments has accelerated the adoption of cloud technology. For many, this was simply a necessity of working remotely long-term, though others have recognized the significant potential value of migrating services and functions to the Cloud. For DevOps engineers, it is crucial to explore this potential. Cloud platforms can create new opportunities for automation, infrastructure management, and scalability, as well as centralized testing, deploying, modelling, and operating.
There are also numerous economic considerations. Cloud platform providers typically take on the costs of management and maintenance, which would have previously been left to organizations with their own internal systems. Cloud technology can also enhance the speed, reliability, and quality of code deployments, improving a company’s ROIs and overall competitiveness. This has led managers both in and outside of DevOps teams to seriously consider the implications of failing to adapt.
While the Pandemic was hardly the start of the Great Digital Migration, it certainly sped things up. Now, more than ever, DevOps teams are looking to the Cloud.
While Lockdown saw the end of many businesses, others continued as normal, even hiring new members of staff as necessary. The issue is that it can often be difficult to get newcomers up to speed and make them feel comfortable in their roles when they can’t even meet their colleagues in person. While regular interaction is hardly impossible, even with remote setups, incorporating new team members can still prove challenging for the unprepared.
With this in mind, it is important for DevOps leaders to have a firm structure in place for onboarding staff. This is even true for experienced DevOps engineers, as they may fall back on their own experience if they do not adequately understand and appreciate how their new workplace gets things done. This can also mean taking the time to discuss progress with newcomers, offering resources or documentation on your DevOps culture, and taking charge of maximizing transparency and communication to help ease candidates into their roles.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), just like cloud technology, have become much bigger parts of DevOps over the last few years. They enable a higher level of analytical insight, helping DevOps engineers drive automation and improvement wherever possible.
Indeed, it has even gotten to the point where engineers have been forraying into specialization, as is the case with ‘AIOps’. DevOps engineers have also developed new tools and services designed to help more organizations take advantage of what AI and ML have to offer.
You may be asking, what does this have to do with Lockdown? It is simply that, as more teams pursue improvements like digitization out of necessity, there is a greater need for DevOps engineers to make their utilization of ML and AI a priority. Given the continuous evolution and improvement that tends to characterize DevOps pipelines, AI and ML are simply organic next steps.
In an increasingly digitized world, nobody can deny the value of the security. This is hardly a new topic in DevOps, with practitioners having already developed mixed approaches that prioritize security, such as Rugged DevOps and DevSecOps.
However, with the upsurge in digital activity during the Pandemic, the importance of security as part of a service’s offering has skyrocketed. This issue also relates to the compliance standards in areas like cybersecurity, to which organizations are held strictly accountable.
Many DevOps teams have adapted by adopting one of the approaches mentioned above. DevSecOps, for example, optimizes the value, speed, and reliability of security by placing it on the same level of importance as Development and Operations. Security considerations are ‘moved left’ and prioritized during the development stage, and automated testing is applied regularly to prevent vulnerabilities from going unseen. It is not uncommon to offer high salaries for security specialists or invest in team training for DevSecOps.
DevOps in the Pandemic and beyond
There is no denying that the world has changed, and as far as work is concerned, it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a full return to the status quo. Remote and hybrid environments are around for the long haul, and the new status quo has both created and catalyzed challenges for DevOps managers.
But still, continuous improvement has always been part of DevOps’ success. For proactive teams, there is no shortage of opportunities to improve in response to pressing requirements as well as potential long-term gains. Better still, DevOps has one of the most active practitioner communities in the professional world, and engineers have long been discussing and sharing methods for optimizing pipelines even despite the restrictions of the Pandemic.
As we continue to discover what the new ‘normal’ means for working professionals, DevOps teams must continue to define and improve on it for themselves.
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