You can’t purchase DevOps or become a DevOps organization overnight. The only way to successfully transition into DevOps and keep progressing along the path to DevOps success is to completely change your organization's culture. That means all stakeholders — from the C-suite to the development team and everyone who contributes to a project — must adopt the DevOps mindset.
The DevOps mindset prioritizes the following values:
- Visibility: ensuring everyone has access to information and that your pipeline and processes are transparent.
- Quality: improving the quality of your tools, training, processes, and overall product.
- Speed: increasing the velocity of your development pipeline so you can release software faster and more frequently.
- Resilience: ensuring teams can quickly adapt to changes and implement feedback with Agile development practices.
- Collaboration: giving cross-functional teams the tools and support they need to work together without conflicts.
- Continuous Improvement: always looking for opportunities to improve your processes, tools, training, and end product.
In this post, we’ll explain adopting the DevOps mindset and how you can apply these principles within your organization.
The DevOps Mindset: How to Adopt it Within Your Organization
Embracing the DevOps mindset means your organization needs to focus on:
One of the cornerstones of DevOps is eliminating informational silos, so everyone is on the same page about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. Teams can accomplish this using collaboration tools like Slack and source code version control tools that provide visibility into user stories and changes over time. In addition, you need visibility into every aspect of your pipeline so you can capture key metrics, identify issues, and streamline workflows.
Live metrics, and the ability to look back in time, are crucial for monitoring the organization's health and doing retrospectives on past issues. Tooling that provides accessible dashboards populated with live metrics and alerts is ideal. Accessible means people of varying technical abilities can easily see and work with dashboards without much training or hassle.
For your DevOps adoption to succeed, you need quality tools that provide the necessary functionality without forcing team members to compromise or change their processes to fit the tools they’re given. Of course, there may be cases where you need to force teams into new development methodologies and tools to cultivate a more DevOps-friendly approach. In that event, you should make this transition as painless as possible. Explaining the benefits of the change and how it will save people time will be critical for team buy-in. In addition, you need to ensure teams have high-quality training on the tools and processes in their workflows so they can perform to the best of their ability.
The quality of your processes is also important but harder to fix with an off-the-shelf tool — you need visibility into your pipeline to identify inefficiencies and bottlenecks and find ways to optimize.
Finally, the DevOps mindset also prioritizes the overall quality of your product, which is improved by shifting left (testing earlier and more frequently in the pipeline) and using test automation to catch defects and issues that a human might miss.
One of the primary goals of DevOps is to streamline the software development lifecycle (SDLC), so you can release software faster. Automation is key to achieving this speed. For example, continuous automated integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) tools reduce the manual intervention needed to integrate and build new code and deliver software to the various environments and stages in the pipeline. Test automation makes it possible for QA to shift left and validate software quality early and often without creating additional bottlenecks in the SDLC. Additionally, on the Ops side, automated configuration management and deployment tools help engineers provision new resources faster and more efficiently.
It’s true that “the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.” No matter how well you plan out your development project, it’s almost guaranteed that something will force you to change or pivot unexpectedly at some point in the SDLC. Customers change their minds, business requirements shift, market conditions evolve, and unexpected problems pop up.
The DevOps mindset promotes resilience, the ability to adapt to these changes on the fly without huge delays or other headaches. Resilience is achieved through Agile development processes such as breaking projects down into small iterative workloads and shortening feedback loops between end-users, QA, developers, and operations engineers.
The DevOps methodology was founded on a desire to break down barriers between the various teams involved in a development project — developers, sysadmins, QA, support staff, etc. This style of collaboration creates a more streamlined SDLC because it eliminates many of the factors that cause bottlenecks and friction between teams — for example, sysadmins know exactly what, when, and why they need to provision environments for developers, which ensures those developers get the exact resources they need on-time without worrying about delays or miscommunication. And hopefully, sysadmins are using Infrastructure as Code (e.g., Terraform) to provision those environments. This allows developers to give their input via PRs (pull requests) so Ops and Dev can collaborate on the needs of the business.
According to Atlassian’s 2020 DevOps survey, collaboration is often the hardest DevOps principle for the C-suite to get on board with because executives are more likely to prioritize individual achievement above all other values. That creates a massive hurdle for organizations trying to shift their corporate culture to prioritize constant collaboration, which is critical to DevOps success.
It may be simpler to implement collaboration tools and processes in this area first — before you can truly change your culture. Once executives see real results from a more unified and streamlined DevOps team, they’re more likely to fully accept your culture shift. Suppose automation and version control allow team members to work on the same codebase simultaneously, which leads to faster releases and happier customers. In that case, executives won’t be able to ignore the business benefits of a collaborative culture.
One of the scariest but most exciting aspects of the DevOps journey is that it never ends. Adopting the DevOps mindset means you’re constantly looking for ways to improve your visibility, quality, speed, resilience, and collaboration. That means with every iteration, you should collect DevOps metrics so you can identify opportunities to optimize and ensure that your processes and products are getting progressively better.
Some examples of DevOps metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) that you should pay attention to include:
- How fast you’re able to release software.
- How frequently you’re releasing software.
- How many defects are reported.
- How long to fix bugs and other issues.
- How long to see an ROI from new releases.
This continuous improvement should also extend to the people in your DevOps organization. Team members need insight into how well they’re performing and support in reaching their professional goals. If individuals have tangible proof that their knowledge and abilities are progressing, they’ll have greater motivation to continue improving the quality of their work, leading to a better end product.
Changing your entire corporate culture to adopt the DevOps mindset won’t happen overnight, and you’re sure to face some hurdles along the way. Luckily, you don’t have to make this journey alone. The DevOps experts at Copado Strategic Services can help your organization overcome the unique challenges and barriers you face on the road to digital transformation.