DevOps requires strong team integration and transparency, not just new tools.
DevOps adoption is picking up in enterprises across the US, as research shows that the workflow—emphasizing communication between software developers and IT professionals managing production environments—can lead to faster deployments, fewer service problems, and more employee loyalty. However, focusing too intently on tech tools like Chef, Puppet, or Jenkins instead of how the team works together is a major pitfall to DevOps success.
"A lot of organizations think DevOps is a problem that you can solve with tools," said Justin Rodenbostel, DevOps practice leader at SPR Consulting—essentially modernizing the development and operations teams without joining them. "We more rarely see the cultural aspects of DevOps, where the ops and dev concerns are actually on the same team working toward the same goal and sharing the same accountability," he added.
Here are five steps to developing a strong and effective DevOps culture in your organization.
SEE: IT leader's guide to making DevOps work (Tech Pro Research)
1. Integrate teams by building a collaborative environment and setting common goals
DevOps managers must create an environment in which everyone on the team realizes that they contribute to the success of the project, Rodenbostel said.
"It's shying away from the traditional view of ensuring uptime where we can't put changes in the production, but rather leveraging the tools to ensure that changes are getting into production more quickly and more reliably through the use of automation," he added. "Then a development team can take advantage of the capabilities of those folks to more officially manage their development environments and local workstations, so that they're developing code in a consistent environment between their workspace and the environments that they deploy to."
This is not just about putting people on the same team, but holding them to the same standard, Rodenbostel said.
SEE: How to become a DevOps engineer: A cheat sheet (TechRepublic)
2. Develop team players who think beyond their own area of expertise
Since DevOps success starts at the team level, finding a leader who understands the value of the investment and of having operations and development workers on the same team is key, Rodenbostel said.
"It takes a long time to realize the value of that investment in the automated testing, automated bills, automated deployment, release artifact archiving, and then local developer workstation management, infrastructure provisioning, infrastructure configuration, and then subsequent application monitoring," he added.
3. Empower poly-skilled workers who understand each other's functions and share accountability
DevOps allows workers across development and operations to flex different skillsets as they work toward a common goal. Team leaders need to empower workers to do so, Rodenbostel said.
SEE: Quick glossary: DevOps (Tech Pro Research)
4. Continuously develop agile employees who gain from experience
DevOps teams must strive to continually improve, Rodenbostel said. Measuring performance outside of uptime—such as future lead time, mean time to recovery, and successful build percentage—and constantly evaluating and looking for ways to improve is the goal.
"You can't just put this stuff in place and then let it atrophy," Rodenbostel said. "Our primary success as DevOps is having that learning culture, that needs to be encouraged by the team."
5. Promote shared learning through transparency
After determining metrics of evaluation, it's important to publish the results of those team evaluations in a place where they can be viewed by other teams inside the organization, Rodenbostel said. This transparency helps everyone view what successful teams have achieved and how they did so, offering a roadmap to others, he added.
"This shouldn't be limited to one team," Rodenbostel said. "If you have a successful team following a methodology and showing measurable results, they should be able to communicate those same things to other teams as well."
- Special report: Riding the DevOps revolution (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
- What is DevOps? An executive guide to agile development and IT operations (ZDNet)
- DevOps: The smart person's guide (TechRepublic)
- The road to digital bliss is paved with service thinking and DevOps (ZDNet)
- Gap between DevOps-savvy and non-savvy companies is huge, survey finds (ZDNet)
- 10 critical skills that every DevOps engineer needs for success (TechRepublic)