The DevOps approach has several clear-cut benefits with the value centered in several key business areas: improved market agility, increased quality and revised culture of cooperation and effectiveness in staff operations. By promoting and implementing a DevOps culture in your SME’s business, Dev and Ops teams align much closer together and can better share in-between knowledge. This lets you create products more fluidly and increase deployment rates. The time for evaluating the business idea, development, testing and moving the finished product into the operations department is reduced dramatically. Quality margins improve, and this feeds back into the ability of your teams to continually fine-tune the products you offer.
Businesses see a point in adopting DevOps only if it is directly contributing to the company’s increased effectiveness, productivity and, of course, profitability. The only way that it is possible for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is when their IT and DevOps teams are working in sync and streamlining the provision of tech solutions that solve the business needs. And only a successful and timely DevOps adoption inside your organization will help your company beat competitors and stay afloat as the development across the industry speeds up.
In the last years, we’ve seen a tremendous application delivery shift in businesses. We’ve moved away from the old ways of having large-scale system implementations based on one single project and its continued maintenance. SMEs now perceive application delivery as a continuous evolution. DevOps plays a leading role, as this software engineering trend ensures that such a major shift is possible. It brings all of the different parts of the enterprise together: business, development and operations teams collaborate on a different, more in-depth level with a goal of automating processes. This helps eliminate the usual constraints and takes the time-to-market issues off the table.
In the latest ECS-Digital research on adopting DevOps in businesses, 57 percent of SMEs have partially implemented DevOps practices in their daily routine. The key benefit of DevOps for them is improved inter-departmental collaboration. But for the 43 percent that haven’t yet adopted DevOps, the collaboration issues are among the last priorities on the list.
Step-by-Step Guide to a High-Level DevOps Life Cycle
According to IBM Cloud Director, the end goal of a relevant DevOps practice is to cut the development time and improve enterprise’s efficiency. A growing business has to start from the “business needs” of the company and go down the road to make it come to life. The goal of adopting DevOps in your company is to push your business needs into production at a quicker pace more reliably. The goal in any DevOps practice is to cut the time and increase the efficiency of processes. You need to move from the “business need” to the “it’s live!” stage.
Business Needs are a DevOps Priority
But does your business have to get involved? Of course, your SME leadership focuses on the “business needs” of your company. But when we look at organizations that have implemented proper DevOps practices, the internal structure of the company shifts to focus on delivering great business results across the whole life cycle of your product/services offering.
DevOps also ensures that employees have the ability to correct their work direction during the whole lifetime of a project. Things and goals tend to change, competitors may roll out some features that may make some of your project’s parts trivial, and all of this makes the need to adjust your project accordingly. This is easily done when your business need is close to both the Development and Operations teams that are able to steer and drive this alignment of goals.
Have a look at the infographic below that clearly shows how a DevOps delivery cycle looks like:
The Clash Inside Organizations
Measuring the impact of DevOps on the things that matter to business is vital. Most SMEs are experimenting with DevOps, and there are some within the company who want to prevent DevOps adoption. The culture within enterprises is shifting too drastically and dramatically, although the effects are mostly positive.
Such a shift is impacting all operations, with software development impacted the most. SMEs have it easier to change and adapt compared to larger businesses, and this lets them move the workplace culture a step ahead of their larger counterparts.
If we look at business, operations and developer teams from a historical point of view, it was never a goal to establish inter-connection between them. The teams started cooperating only when it was absolutely necessary to get the other team’s input. SMEs are still faced with such a separation, as most responsibilities are set in stone for each team and the individual employee. All business units are used to working in their closed-in niche, and there is a lack of will to leave the comfort zone and act outside the predefined roles. Such actions in the past could have been viewed negatively.
While most businesses that want to implement DevOps have employees who want the business to prosper, it can be difficult to force people to act outside their duties. However, to reach the end goals of any business—namely, ensuring fast and quality product delivery—and solve issues on the go, people must interconnect their duties and reach outside their business unit. With proper DevOps application, such collaboration can be smooth and result in the improvement of cross-functions.
DevOps Represents Change in Internal Business Structures
Many SMEs are faced with internal structural issues that limit the company’s prospects: Engineers are not willing to be on-call, the Ops team has a negative attitude toward those who write code and executives are slow to embrace automation. Organizations must overcome the culture war to be able to approach the agility and productivity gained by a DevOps model. The faster they can get there, the faster these organizations can take the competitive edge away from traditional enterprises.
DevOps culture looks very different from organization to organization. However, regardless of the business implementing a DevOps approach, the potential benefits are the same. From faster deployments to increased efficiency and cultural changes toward experimentation and away from rigid planning, a DevOps culture has the ability to transform an organization completely. Wholeheartedly adopting a DevOps culture has real implications on how well a business is positioned to take on the market. With many industries facing uncertainty and a host of upstarts disrupting the status quo, shifting to a DevOps culture can be an important weapon in repositioning your business.
Empathy is the Core of DevOps Adoption
One of the foundational ideas behind DevOps is mutual empathy. Having empathy from operations toward developers and vice versa, as well as empathy in other business-related and non-technical company units, remains vital. It’s not about patting your colleague on a shoulder. We are talking about the moral mandate of a developer who just creates their part of the software and doesn’t care about how it can be deployed in production. The goal is to push employees to think outside of their small task, and to take into account the outcome of their work: Is the developed app secure? How hard is it to deploy it? Is it easy to keep it running? etc. If those questions are not accounted for, the developer’s colleagues on the Ops side will pay the price if something goes wrong past the release.
By ensuring that the SME has empathy for each other at its core, businesses will deliver better products/services. And doing just that is what DevOps aims to bring to companies. Until this idea is ingrained, DevOps will face a cultural war of sorts.
Your Most Valuable DevOps Resource
By considering to adopt the DevOps approach to running your SME, you can better rethink the ways your organization operates—how it deploys its teams across the enterprise and how often it addresses structural problems that appear over time. Now you can lay out a new foundation for your SME based on the culture of cooperation and experimentation. With proper guidance in the application of DevOps culture, you can address the waste of time, human resources and money in your business.
Becoming a DevOps organization is no easy task and taking up on such a challenge requires faith that changing the existing processes will bring its benefits. Reworking and optimizing organizations is the new norm, regardless of their size, industry, and goals. The faith in DevOps culture is driven by the firm and quantifiable statistics, but the intangible benefits to corporate culture are just as compelling. Many businesses are looking at implementing DevOps, and even more, SMEs are in the active process of its application. When your company is delivering quality ahead of time, there is a strong chance your competitors will be left behind as you are getting the bigger piece of the pie.
- To stay current, businesses need to adapt to an ever-changing environment, respond to competitors and stay on top of the innovation cycle, increasing customer value via responsiveness to change.
- Increased service quality depends on both the availability of the service and being able to restore the service to an error-free state. Thanks to fast feedback loops and high release velocity, service breakdowns can be removed much more quickly than in the past.
- DevOps are built on the sound principle of waste reduction such wait times and process overhead due to continuous improvement. This helps to improve agility and has a positive impact on costs.
- Fostering continuous learning and improving culture through efficient principles is what DevOps is all about. In a fast-paced, unpredictable environment, non-stop improvement is paramount for sustaining your competitive advantage. It is also important for attracting exceptional talent and keeping employee satisfaction at a high level.
About the Author / Stephan Pushkarev
Stepan Pushkarev is the Head of DevOps Practice at Squadex.com and CTO at Hydrosphere.io. Co-founded and managed engineering teams for eCommerce, IoT and Ad-tech companies. He is responsible for the full products stack: math models, infrastructure & operations, enterprise applications as well as recruiting, establishing engineering culture and delivery processes. Stepan combines strong technical and managerial skills, and entrepreneurial spirit. Connect with him on LinkedIn.