Everything on your company’s DevOps checklist is accounted for. It’s got the vision and the talent. It’s identified the problems and mapped out a solution. It’s got a culture that allows the flexibility that such a plan requires. Now’s the time to put the plan into action and let the benefits begin.
The truth is that it may not be that simple. A great plan won’t mean anything unless everyone understands how to achieve it. And whatever a company’s DevOps strategy consists of, collaboration is the key to making it a reality.
Collaboration is at the heart of DevOps. It’s even conveyed in the phrase itself. No matter the size of your company, this new process of teamwork and transparency relies on combining strengths between Development and Operations to achieve goals that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.
Breaking Silos with a Full-Circle Approach
With one department responsible for writing code and another responsible for implementing it, silos can naturally form as each group focuses on its job. This kind of structure is what commonly gives rise to software deployments taking longer than they should and even little or no communication taking place between the two departments.
DevOps has come about as an antidote to these kinds of siloed situations in which inefficiencies and a lack of teamwork are the norm. Yet for DevOps to take off, both Development and Operations have to participate fully and understand that collaboration requires equal cooperation from both sides. Such collaboration has to take place not just at certain stages, but throughout the life of a project. When each team is invested in the effort by providing feedback, helping identify future problems and continually learning from day-to-day deployments, a company has a great chance of seeing benefits from these new collaborative efforts. Without complete buy-in from everyone, the process will never get off the ground.
The Evolution of Collaboration
Just as DevOps is about moving beyond the assembly line process of software development, the concept of collaboration itself is evolving. DevOps-style teamwork can consist of more than breaking down the silos between different teams. In an agile infrastructure, team members can wear different hats and swap responsibilities depending on the demands of the day. Instead of a scenario in which people work on single specialized tasks without any interaction with the larger group, you’ll have contributors who can play multiple roles within a team and understand how this boosts productivity for the entire company, rather than just a single department. It’s possible that a team member can function as a developer one day and then work on deployments another. Through DevOps, an organization can advance beyond one-dimensional departments and one-dimensional contributions.
Real-World DevOps Teamwork
For many within the IT industry, DevOps is already a working reality. Breaking silos and becoming more agile are goals for companies that know how increased collaboration can help their business. A good source that lays out some first-hand experiences of DevOps practitioners can be found in the recently published Rackspace e-book, The DevOps Mindset: Real-World Insights from Tech Leaders. It features interviews with IT experts who discuss what led them to adopt a DevOps approach and recommendations for those interested in a new agile approach to software deployment.
When discussing the importance of agile teamwork, James Kenigsberg of 2U remarks that, “To achieve true DevOps collaboration, you need your employees to really think and act as one, not just be merged together in name only.” As a provider of online university programs, 2U faces a huge demand for quick, dependable deployments and underwent a transition to increase teamwork at the company. “We had to flip the model,” Kenigsberg explains, “from the idea of personal heroics and siloed responsibilities to real, cross-functional collaboration.”
Jim Kimball of fund administrator HedgeServ reiterates this cross-departmental approach. “Repeatability and scalability are our business,” he explains. “The capabilities that DevOps gives us directly enable this by encouraging collaboration within the organization to come up with better solutions.”
Forging a Partnership Between Dev and Ops
Assembling a skilled and talented group that will be the envy of your industry is the ideal every company would like to have. If you’re able to gather a team that’s the IT equivalent of the X-Men, it’s not enough to just assemble that talent and assign them siloed roles. Without frequent teamwork, not only will company goals become difficult to achieve, but solving problems will be nearly impossible.
When Development and Operations see themselves as working in partnership with each other, the foundation for greater collaboration will be in place, and company goals, such as greater speed to market, increased productivity and an all-around agile performance, will be within reach. With the right mentality, DevOps can be an evolutionary step in company functionality and reach new levels of efficiency that otherwise wouldn’t be achievable.