Making the DevOps transition

Gerardo Dada, Vice President of Product Marketing, SolarWinds, takes part in a quick Q&A surrounding the culture of DevOps.

Businesses can only progress and perform as quickly as IT enables them to, and, these days, technology is a major point of differentiation for any type of company.

In response, as a growing number of organisations look to increase agility and performance in the IT department, one movement is changing the way two teams have traditionally collaborated: DevOps.

But despite being one of the industry buzzwords of the year, there exists substantial confusion over what DevOps means and how organisations can take advantage of the movement.

Are all companies in need of DevOps?

Not every company. But every IT department can benefit from a DevOps mentality.

Who requires DevOps, in your opinion?

Proper DevOps is useful for development teams that want agility. Some companies don’t develop software, and even some development teams that maintain existing, stable software might find that the investment in time, processes, tools, and energy required to adopt DevOps is higher than the benefits they will see.

However, every IT department can benefit from the principles that are part of DevOps. These principles are almost like a prerequisite to adopt DevOps: a focus on end-user experience, collaboration, performance orientation, service orientation, automation, and monitoring.

What does the culture of DevOps provide?

There’s no doubt that the concept of DevOps is picking up steam and making its way into the traditional on-premises IT department. And although the transition to a DevOps environment does not take place overnight, and there are significant challenges to be aware of before beginning a transition, by leveraging these principles, businesses can be well on their way to reaping the benefits of an integrated DevOps mentality.

Ultimately, despite being a bit of a difficult term to define, DevOps, a positive organisational movement that will help businesses empower IT departments to innovate, has the potential to change traditional data centres as we know it.
DevOps has the potential to improve agility, deliver innovation faster, provide higher quality software, better align work and value, and give the ability to respond to problems or changes.

DevOps has the potential to improve agility, deliver innovation faster, provide higher quality software, better align work and value, and give the ability to respond to problems or changes.

What tools do you need to make DevOps a success?

Organisations continue to perceive DevOps as a specific role or set of tools usually exclusive to cloud deployments, rather than a mentality. At its core, DevOps is simply a modern approach to software development. It aims to dissolve the siloes between the development and operations teams and encourage shared accountabilities and processes in order to better understand software performance.

However, some of the principles require new tools. The focus on automation and agility usually means a team should adopt configuration management and automated deployment tools. Similarly, the orientation toward performance and the need to understand the impact of every change requires adopting monitoring as a core discipline.

What team is required in order to undergo a DevOps transition?

Typically, when software is developed, one team will write the code, another team tests it, and yet another team deploys or runs the software, all of which translates to not only conflict between these teams, but also a much longer update cycle for any piece of software. In a DevOps environment, developers share responsibility for testing and operations, everyone is accountable for performance, and tools and goals are shared.

The team is able to manage changes to software more quickly, and in smaller pieces, ultimately resulting in a more efficient, effective and agile IT department with greater quality assurance for the end-user.

Still, for all its benefits, DevOps does have its challenges. Notably, the upheaval a traditional data centre will undergo to support a DevOps-centric environment can be potentially detrimental to an organisation.

Foremost, finding IT professionals with the right skills is extremely difficult. CIOs and other business decision makers may remember a similar experience several years ago when cloud computing exploded into the data centre: IT pros with suitable cloud experience were few and far between. In the absence of hiring a DevOps expert, organisations must instead invest in training their existing teams, experiment, and feel their way through a newly deployed DevOps environment.

The good news is that most organisations are willing to share their own best practices; the bad news is that most development teams are already understaffed. As a result, there is very little time for admins to think about, build, test, optimise, and implement all the changes that are required to successfully move to a DevOps process.

That includes not only taking the time to learn about the process, but also deciding how to realign existing processes and skills to fit a new DevOps model. And one should not underestimate the required change in culture to adopt the new mindset, either.

In short, adopting DevOps usually requires a team with a more collaborative spirit, higher focus on performance and end-user monitoring, and a systems approach that focuses on agility and optimisation, rather than a tactical or reactive perspective that focuses on fixing what is broken.


Edited for web by Jordan Platt.