Making DevOps a Reality at Work

Organizations need to consider it as a cultural shift, not just a technology makeover.

The past few years have witnessed a rapid evolution of how we interact with technology solutions. Gone are the days when you would patiently wait to be informed of a software update. Now the buzz word is “on-demand” with customers wanting real-time fulfillment of goods and services. To stay relevant, companies have to come up with innovative ways to put together a mechanism that provisions a product or service with the latest features and standard quality all in record time. In steps, DevOps - a discipline that integrates software development and operations in a bid to provide better customer experience through rapid and reliable delivery of software. Simply put it is what happens when ‘Infrastructure becomes Code’, ‘Automation goes mainstream’ and ‘Developers and Operations experts work in sync with each other’. DevOps empowers businesses to promptly address changing technologies and customer demands by:

  • Increasing throughput through improved quality of deliverables, efficiency of distributed team operations and automation of repetitive tasks
  • Embracing cross-team collaboration and pre-emptive checks to reduce delivery risk, deployment failures, rollbacks and time to recovery
  • Adding value and continuous improvement to the software development process through cross training and constructive feedback
  • Improving customer satisfaction by guaranteeing timely delivery and focusing on creating customer delight
And despite these discernible advantages, introducing DevOps in any organization is a mammoth task and far from an overnight process. When you dig deeper, you realize that it is much more than a technology shift that can be introduced via a skills training program. It is actually more of a cultural shift that warrants constant collaboration and synchronization between disparate teams whose individual incentives take precedence over the overall objective. For instance, development teams are focused on swiftly delivering new features with operations teams emphasizing on stability of systems and quality teams being driven to ensure high quality of software releases. What becomes of essence in such a scenario is communicating the need for a common goal: ‘Looking beyond individual interest to jointly deliver value to the customer.’ To make DevOps a reality at work, organizations need to consider it as a cultural shift, not just a technology makeover. DevOps is primarily a convergence of People, Process and Technology and these three distinct aspects need to harmoniously co-exist in a unified ecosystem that is rooted in trust, interoperability and versatility. People – In most companies, software teams work in silos with developers writing the code and simply handing it over to the operations team for deployment with no shared responsibility. However, the rising demand for on-the-fly software demos, quick bug fixes or feature enhancements necessitates continuous cross-functional collaboration directed towards providing customers the right solution. To have the desired impact, DevOps needs to be driven by the top management with strong emphasis on encouraging functional teams; marketing/sales, development, operations and quality assurance, to welcome change and better understand / support each other. Process – Adoption of DevOps requires the creation of a well-defined process that encompasses the entire software development lifecycle from the way code is written and built to how it is tested and released. This begins with planning a code-line strategy that considers various parameters; infrastructure, possible feature updates (patch fixes or new versions), application usage scale, etc., before a single line of code is written. With developers and operations experts working in tandem from coding stage, it becomes exceedingly easy to follow a robust build and release mechanism that leverages automation. With automation being the driving force behind DevOps, it is possible to programmatically identify or even predict bottlenecks and develop machine learning capabilities to take corrective action sans human intervention. For instance, continuous monitoring and historical analysis of application logs or large data sets could reveal potential obstacles and proactively resolve the issue to avoid system failures at critical times. Accompanied by a closed loop of feedback and continuous monitoring to boost optimization, this process can vouch for delivery of the right product / service to the right customer at the right time, every time. Technology – Once organizations are able to bring down the psychological barriers between technology teams, there is a slew of technology tools that can help realize the promise of DevOps. The first step would be to analyse the current toolkit being used by the concerned stakeholders and then make informed decisions as to the additions. Some of the popular ones include: version control systems like SVN and git, testing tools like JMeter and Selenium, container platforms such as Docker, infrastructure provisioning with Amazon, log analytics using ELK, test and build systems such as Ant, Maven and Jenkins and more. There is no denying the substantial benefits an organization will receive through effective implementation of DevOps. Whether it is assuring higher team productivity and stable operating environments or significantly reducing time to market and delivery cost and risk, DevOps is an infallible way to always create great customer value. It is important to note that DevOps not only requires a paradigm shift in the way work is done but also in the mindset of the teams that have to learn to welcome change and be open to much higher levels of integration, communication and collaboration. To truly leverage the power of DevOps, companies must stop viewing it as just another technology / framework and strive to advocate it at an organizational level. Revati is Technology Enthusiast at ABOVE Solutions


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