When it comes to DevOps, size matters. The number of people in your organization, as well as the size of its infrastructure, play a huge role in shaping how and why you adopt DevOps.
The importance of company size may come as a surprise. Few conversations about DevOps mention the role of organizational size in building a strategy.
That may be in due, in part, to the fact that DevOps engineers tend to be obsessed with the idea of scalability. A healthy DevOps process is one that can support an application with a million users just as effectively as it supports an application with a hundred users.
In theory, your strategy should be similarly scalable. But in reality, this is unlikely to be the case. The way that a company with a dozen employees does DevOps is going to look quite different from the way a Fortune 500 company does.
In a sense, DevOps is easiest to achieve at very small organizations. In fact, it is almost inevitable in companies of this size.
That’s because, when you have a very small IT staff, your engineers will end up playing multiple roles because that is the only way that all IT tasks can be completed successfully. People you hire as developers will have to help support and test the apps they write because otherwise, those processes might not happen.
What this means is that at small companies, it tends to be something that happens organically, not deliberately. IT teams at such organizations don’t need to plan a DevOps strategy; they just need to let it come into being of its own accord.
You might expect the opposite to be true within large organizations. But in many cases, it’s not. Large companies may also find themselves building their strategies organically.
The reason is that, at large enterprises, the IT organization tends to be broken down into many small teams, each working on different apps and processes. Because these individual teams are small, their members also tend to embrace DevOps practices by performing multiple IT roles, whether deliberately or not.
True, large companies often benefit from planning and implementing a companywide strategy. Encouraging DevOps best practices companywide can help to improve collaboration between different teams within the organization. It can also improve the ability of security or QA teams, which may otherwise operate in silos, to interact with other groups.
But by and large, if you are an enterprise whose IT staff are broken into a number of small teams, you will likely find that DevOps happens more or less on its own.
It’s medium-sized organizations that tend to have the hardest time doing DevOps effectively. That’s because these organizations are large enough to have a sizeable IT organization, but too small to break that organization down into multiple project teams.
As a result, medium-sized organizations erect the most rigid silos around their IT teams. They might have a single team of developers who focus on building a few applications, and a single IT Ops team whose job is to support those applications. But these two teams may not interact much.
For this reason, a deliberate DevOps strategy is most important for organizations that are of a medium size. Their silos need to be broken down actively.
The bottom line: When it comes to adopting and improving DevOps, take some time to evaluate how the size of your organization impacts it. Is your company sized and organized in such a way that it will more or less happen on its own, or do you need to take deliberate steps to implement it? Answering this question is crucial for achieving DevOps in the most seamless way possible.