Ossification is an issue in IT, and always has been. It is borne largely out of staff and management knowing what to expect from existing software/infrastructure, and the deep product knowledge that allows teams to make existing systems do what is needed. But this becomes a series of rocks that the ship of progress smacks into.
Contrary to popular belief, DevOps and other new methodologies are not immune to this problem. Quite the contrary, we’ve spoken with people that say “We’re a Jenkins shop,” which sounds exactly like “We’re an Oracle shop” of a decade ago. The wave just ushered in new tools, it didn’t change tendencies. OK, it did more than usher in new tools, but it didn’t change tendencies.
So, it’s time for a friendly reminder: Review what you are doing, review cloud usage, review tools in the toolchain, review methodologies, review security posture (which has suffered in this environment for far too many shops) and review customer satisfaction.
Many organizations used the push of Agile and DevOps to update stagnant parts of the infrastructure and development toolsets. Don’t let them become stagnant again. Just as you don’t want change for the sake of change, you don’t want to stay with one tool or methodology just because it is comfortable.
This isn’t some easy task that I — or anyone else, no matter how much they try to tell you differently — can dictate to an organization. There isn’t a handy list, because no two organizations are exactly the same. Not in toolsets, not in culture and not in appetite for risk. The only thing we can offer is guidance to look closely at where you are, what’s available in a given area — Application Release Orchestration, for example — and evaluate the available tools just like you were making a fresh choice and did not have a tool in place. Then do the same for processes. Is this the best process for what we’re trying to achieve? Are there tweaks we can make to it? Should we completely change the process to take in changes in environment that have happened since we adopted this process?
Finally, if you don’t have someone responsible for monitoring cloud costs, appoint someone. Get them the tools, help them understand where the money is going and what cloud-based server usage is. Could these servers be spun down outside of business hours? Could we follow the sun better by staggering cloud data centers in which cloud servers are active, rather than hosting them always in one location or leaving them on 24/7 in multiple locations? Is one team using a cloud feature no one else is? If so, how does it apply, and are the other teams not using it because they don’t need it, or is there some other solution they’ve adopted?
Basically, question everything. We’re launching a new project that will be a simple dynamic app. Make a few selections from a limited list, get a summary of what you should do and why. It is all really quite simple. Should we host in a web page or make it a standalone mobile app? If mobile app, what tools for development and what targets? Integration of Git — should it be local or on one of the big providers? Do we want any team member to trigger builds on commit or do we want someone managing branch merging before-hand?
These are all things we already do on other projects, but we’re digging in and seeing what could be better. What could we improve, and what would the rewards for that improvement be? It takes a bit of time and some discussion. We’re confident we’ll burn through it in the next day or so and come up with a plan for development and architecture that best suits the app, but is informed by where we’re at now. It’s been a fun exercise, to be honest. If nothing else, it gave us a strong reminder that any given cloud provider’s “simple” pricing is not that simple, and we need to pay more attention to app characteristics versus fees.
You’ve rocked it this far, even kept the lights on during the great shift to working from home. Don’t stop improving the environment though, find innovative ways to make it better and keep clipping along.