Most organizations that I deal with have a similar story for the promulgation of DevOps in their data center. The story is similar for bringing in most new technology and techniques: A team that usually does a new project without any attachments—relatively small compared to projects at the center of the business—adopted DevOps from the start. A smaller (by far) number shoehorned DevOps into an existing project as a first taste. Some decided to go “all-in” and “convert” IT to DevOps. This is a painful method; I can’t say I recommend it. I suspect my friends at those organizations wouldn’t recommend it, either.
When I say “DevOps” in this sense, I am talking more about process and procedure changes, even cultural changes, rather than tools. My experience is that most companies that have been around longer than the last spring shower started adopting the tools of DevOps before they started looking at ways to streamline the process. And that isn’t a terrible thing at all. It doesn’t matter what marketing spin is used to sell the product; if it makes your life better or allows you to react faster, implementing it is worth consideration. I just wanted to be clear what we’re talking about here.
Those companies that started small generally grew small, also. It is a big deal to move that 20-year-old codebase with a ton of processes that touches everything into DevOps when compared to saying, “New projects will use DevOps.” This, too, is in line with what we’ve always done. Iterative replacement has always been the case, where the large, important systems are concerned. In a couple of industries I am familiar with, I’d even argue that those large, important systems weren’t completely upgraded to Customer Information Control System (CICS), so don’t hold your breath on seeing them completely upgraded to DevOps. But that is a different blog.
Once a critical mass has been hit, these shops start referring to themselves as a “DevOps shop” or “DevOps first shop.” This is the point I want to talk about today (though it took me a bit to get here).
You’ve got a bunch of apps or a couple of application portfolios that are now running under DevOps. In most organizations, the tool sets are not a perfect match. Indeed, in some organizations the DevOps toolchains look like they were assembled on opposite day. Teams tend to be more standardized, but even team composition varies from project to project, as do communications.
This is the next point of inflection in DevOps growth. You have it in your grasp to jump again, from amazing to truly amazing.
Time to smash the DevOps stack.
Get the teams together, build a list of each system used at each step in the process for each app, each manual intervention, each communications channel—essentially each difference between DevOps teams—and start to look for synergy. If one team is using ChatOps, check out what benefits they perceive from doing so and if ChatOps fits all teams. Does one team have a standard process to roll from continuous delivery to continuous deployment? Check it out. If you have several disparate DevOps teams, it is almost guaranteed that one team will handle DevSecOps better than the others. Take a look at what/how they’re doing and promulgate it to less security-intensive projects as needed.
Basically, build the corporate process/toolchain from what is successful. That sounds like simple advice, but it isn’t. Teams often love their tools and processes, and are certain their choices are better than others. It takes work to get to a common understanding and there are always exceptions in a complex environment: “Well, yes that works, but for our app, we have this thing over here that makes it not possible/feasible/affordable.” It requires extra work, but that’s always true. Because the environment is complex and has been for a long time, these issues have always existed; you’re just dealing with them with new processes.
Keep kicking it! Keeping the virtual lights on is as important as keeping the physical lights on in today’s environment. Unless your company is listed in “haveibeenpwned” emails, or your website has been suffering catastrophic outages, you are kicking it.