Those familiar with DevOps generally agree that it is equally as much about culture as it is about technology. There are certainly tools and practices involved in the effective implementation of DevOps, but the foundation of DevOps success is how well teams and individuals collaborate across the enterprise to get things done more rapidly, efficiently and effectively.
Most DevOps platforms and tools are designed with scalability in mind. DevOps environments often run in the cloud and tend to be volatile. It’s important for the software that supports DevOps to be able to scale in real time to address spikes and lulls in demand. The same thing is true for the human element as well, but scaling collaboration is a whole different story.
Collaboration across the enterprise is critical for DevOps success. Great code and development needs to make it over the finish line to production to benefit customers. The challenge organizations face is how to do that seamlessly and with as much speed and automation as possible without sacrificing quality or performance. How can businesses streamline code development and deployment, while maintaining visibility, governance and compliance?
First, I want to provide some background and share some data gathered by 451 Research on DevOps and DevOps adoption in general. Cloud, agile and DevOps capabilities are important for organizations today—both in perception and reality. 451 sees enterprise adoption of these things, as well as container technologies, growing—including increased usage in production environments.
There are a number of advantages to embracing these technologies and methodologies, such as increased flexibility and speed, reduction of costs, improvements in resilience and reliability, and fitness for new or emerging applications. According to 451 Research, organizations also face some barriers including a lack of familiarity and required skills internally, the immaturity of these emerging technologies, and cost and security concerns.
In the “Voice of the Enterprise: SDI Q4 2015 survey,” 451 Research found that more than half of the respondents (51.7 percent) consider themselves to be late adopters, or even the last adopters of new technology. The flip side of that is that almost half (48.3 percent) label themselves as first or early adopters.
Those general sentiments are reflected in the survey responses to other questions. When asked about implementation of containers, 50.3 percent stated it is not in their plans at all, while the remaining 49.7 percent are in some state of planning, pilot or active use of container technologies. Nearly two-thirds (65.1 percent) indicated that they use agile development methodologies for application development, but only 39.6 percent responded that they’ve embraced DevOps approaches. Nevertheless, while agile software development has been in the industry for years, 451 notes the impressive adoption of containers and DevOps, given they are emergent trends.
When asked what the top three IT pain points are, the leading responses were cost or budget, insufficient staff and legacy software issues. As organizations move to cloud, DevOps, and containers issues such as these will need to be addressed, along with how to scale both technologies and collaboration effectively.
The Current State
The industry—driven in large part by the DevOps revolution—is in the midst of a sea change, where software development is becoming more highly integrated across the entire business. The creation of software is less segregated and is more and more a function of collaboration and socialization.
Concepts and methodologies that were novel or niche just a few years ago have matured quickly to become the mainstream technologies and frameworks that are driving value today. Businesses rely on concepts such as agile, lean, virtualization, cloud, automation and microservices to streamline development and enable them to work more effectively and efficiently at the same time.
To adapt and evolve, enterprises need to accomplish a number of key tasks. The challenge companies face today is how to accelerate development while reducing costs. Organizations need to eliminate the barriers that exist between IT and the rest of the business, and work cooperatively toward a strategy that provides more effectiveness in a technology-driven, competitive environment.
Agile, cloud, DevOps and containers all play a role in that process, but the one thing that binds it all is effective collaboration. Each of these technologies and methodologies provides unique benefits, but the real value comes from the organization as a whole—and the tools and platforms used by the organization—being able to collaborate at scale. Successful DevOps implementations also require participation from other stakeholders beyond development and IT operations teams, including security, database, storage and line-of-business teams.
There are services and platforms online—such as GitHub—that facilitate and streamline collaboration. The online platform functions as a code repository, but the value extends beyond just providing a place to store code.
Such a collaboration platform helps developers and teams collaborate more effectively because it provides a community where the code and process can be shared and discussed. Managers can monitor progress and track what code is shipping next. Developers can experiment with new ideas in a safe environment before taking those experiments to a live production environment, and new ideas and experiments can be effectively communicated to the appropriate teams.
One of the keys to more agile development and DevOps is to allow developers to test things and gather relevant feedback quickly. The goal is to produce quality code and features faster, not to waste time setting up and managing infrastructure or scheduling more meetings to talk about it. The GitHub platform, for example, enables more effective and scalable collaboration because code review can occur when it is most convenient for the participants. There is no need to try and coordinate and schedule code review meetings, so the developers can continue to work uninterrupted, resulting in greater productivity and job satisfaction.
Steven Anderson of Sendachi noted that GitHub is a collaboration platform, but it’s also a place for your tools to work with you, too. This means it can help not only with collaboration and continuous integration, but also with code quality.
One of the benefits of a collaboration platform is that large teams of developers can be broken down into smaller teams that can focus more efficiently on specific components. It also allows things such as document sharing alongside code development to blur the lines between technical and non-technical contributions and enable increased collaboration and visibility.
Collaboration is Key
The importance of collaboration can’t be stressed enough. It is a key tenet of DevOps culture, and it’s vital to agile development and maintaining a competitive edge in today’s world. Executive or management support and internal evangelism are important. Organizations also need to embrace the culture shift—blending skills across functional areas toward a common goal.
With that culture established, though, effective collaboration is crucial. A collaboration platform is an essential element of collaborating at scale because it streamlines productivity and reduces redundancy and effort, and yields higher quality results at the same time.