Saying that you’re interested in DevOps is another way of saying you’re interested in change. That’s what DevOps promises any organization. No matter the problems a company is trying to solve or the goals it’s trying to reach, DevOps depends on a willingness to embrace some big changes. Sure, it can help you streamline software deployments, but it requires shaking up a company’s usual processes and routines. As we all know, change can be complicated, so before your organization transitions to an agile culture, it’s best to prepare for the likely challenges ahead.
Breaking Old Habits for Continuous Delivery
Many of the procedures we follow at work each day are second nature, and what’s familiar carries a certain comfort with it. Even when we realize a more efficient process is within reach, old habits are tough to break. For an organization that employs hundreds, any change can be a challenge.
And DevOps offers no shortage of challenges. It entails overhauling a company’s deployment process, its communication patterns, its department structures and even the roles of individuals on a team. Yet unless an organization is willing to let go of its old habits, the benefits of continuous delivery won’t ever be achieved. When acclimating people to this new procedure, it’s important to convey that the old procedure – one team throwing code over the wall to another one – will be left behind for actual collaboration in which Development, Operations and possibly other departments work together, not just in silos.
Getting Past the Resistance to Change
Encountering some reluctance to change will be natural, and a smooth transition depends on making everyone aware of why DevOps will be a big step forward. This includes communicating what the advantages will be for individuals, departments and the company as a whole. With an agile plan in place, greater efficiencies will become the norm, and a team will have the ability to spot and fix problems more quickly, so 3 a.m. phone calls to the system admin won’t happen anymore. Once managers through C-level folks are aware of these potential advantages, resistance will gradually turn into acceptance and enthusiasm.
Combating the Myths and Rumors
Many think DevOps is only for the well-known unicorn companies, such as Etsy and Facebook, or that it’s an exact science that will produce the same results for everyone. Some even believe the rumor that DevOps only works with certain operating systems. The truth is that continuous development can take place anywhere as long as the company culture is right. As detailed in the Rackspace-sponsored e-book, The DevOps Mindset: Real-World Insights from Tech Leaders, many DevOps practitioners went through their own uphill climbs to become more agile, and they have the firsthand experience to resolve many popular misconceptions.
“You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to embrace the DevOps culture,” says James Kenigsberg of 2U. “In fact, many new firms these days have a bad habit of building shiny technology because it is shiny, which goes against the DevOps principles of communication and transparency.”
Jeff Hackert of Chef dispels the myth that DevOps is a one-size-fits-all solution. “It is not a set of proscriptions or a recipe that will give you a defined best practices outcome,” he explains. “Your best practice is the collective wisdom of the very smart people you’ve hired to solve your problems. And if what you have is a siloed or broken environment, you want to increase the communication, not impose new rules.”
Getting Automated Without a Struggle
When an organization is considering DevOps, they may find that the opportunities for efficiency not only involve employee collaboration, but technology as well. Most IT departments would jump at any chance to save time when it comes to coding procedures, and automation is a means of making this happen. By offloading these processes to an automated system, people can tackle other tasks, and businesses that release several deployments a day can greatly simplify their rollouts. For those who might not be familiar with the ins and outs of automation, receiving some guidance from a trusted IT provider can be a good first step. Finding an advisor to guide your initial automation efforts can prevent the expense of hiring a DevOps engineer with automation knowledge.
Finding a Path Around DevOps Obstacles
Every company’s DevOps strategy will be unique, and every company’s plan for overcoming challenges will be just as unique. Whatever the circumstances, communication will be crucial to any adoption, as it ensures that everyone understands why such a change is necessary. Getting acquainted with the success stories out there will dispel any myths circulating among team members, and stumbling blocks can be avoided by the understanding that familiar silos will be replaced by more efficient collaborations.
Despite its challenges, DevOps can be the catalyst for a variety of improvements, from productivity to employee morale. Those who are the most successful at being agile will not only have the right culture in place, but be able to negotiate the challenges that DevOps has in store for those ready to embrace change.