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How to Shift to a Remote DevOps Process


The COVID-19 outbreak, for better or worse, is challenging all organizations to adopt and embrace remote work. For many, this is completely uncharted territory. Having several remote workers or occasional work-from-home check-ins is one thing, but trying to move an entire group, department, or even mid-to-large-sized organization to a remote setup brings complexity at multiple levels. Companies that use remote technologies such as virtual desktops, mobile devices or collaboration suites to supplement in-person work are relying on those technologies and are quickly learning the pros and cons of working remotely. 

Enterprise DevOps teams must ensure business continuity and performance across current and future development projects and operations. For teams not accustomed to remote work, shifting to a virtual world requires revisiting approaches to collaboration, communication, security, quality control, individual & team performance, work assignment, compliance monitoring and governance.

With remote work, all interactions with employees, customers and partners are moving to digital. This accentuates the urgent need to ensure the best digital experience for all these stakeholders at all times, requiring DevOps teams to deliver innovation and updates faster. DevOps leaders must take extra care to ensure that they balance this need for speed with improved security, compliance and governance controls to uphold trust and performance in this critical time of transition and adaptation. This is the best time to implement full-scale DevSecOps within your organization.

For DevOps, the first priority is to ensure smooth, secure and effective collaboration and performance. This requires that everyone in your organization consistently use a shared collaboration tool for all work and planning. Even if some employees are still working on-premise, everyone needs to be using the same collaboration platform so there is shared visibility. 

Next, you need to ensure all tools and code can be accessed securely from home. Network security is critical but cloud-based offerings provide robust authentication security and there are many options such as VPNs to enable connectivity to on-premise systems, even with a remote workforce. You need to ensure adequate network bandwidth so that communications, sharing, downloads etc. are timely and uninterrupted.

A recent report by global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company compared project teams that were 40% versus 100% co-located. They found that employees in mostly remote teams completed projects almost twice as quickly, although the co-located team produced 50% fewer bugs. Thus, a shift into remote work may be expected to produce changes to typical patterns that will require teams to adapt. DevOps teams working remotely should put extra emphasis on monitoring quality and shifting towards automated testing early in the development process.

This is also a time to look at team resilience and cross-training. Relying solely on one individual to perform a particular task is a brittle approach. Today’s COVID-19 scenario increases the chances that any employee may suddenly become unavailable if they fall ill, have to care for children being kept home from school, or tend to family members who become ill. Thus teams need to rely on a shared system where work items can be tracked and assigned to queues instead of individuals if possible. Expect the flow of work to be less predictable, and strive to identify bottlenecks and single points of failure to minimize disruption.

Since DevOps, and by extension DevSecOps, is a critical part of every organization’s ability to create and deliver value to their stakeholders, it’s important to implement a system that combines DevOps capabilities with the critical security, compliance and governance capabilities that you need to deliver innovation in an agile and trusted manner. 

Check back this Friday for Part 2 of this blog, where Copado has put together 12 Keys for Shifting to a Remote DevOps Process. 


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