Top 5 Reasons You Could Fail At DevOps
The successful implementation of DevOps largely demands a complete process overhaul. Teams that were previously working in siloed environment have to come together and function as a single cohesive unit. Clearly, this means that the dynamics of traditional development teams need to undergo a dramatic change and previously defined roles and responsibilities also need to experience this element of change. It is when this approach is implemented judiciously that DevOps initiatives succeed and deliver the benefits of great software quality, fast releases and lesser time to market. Having said this, it is also true that many times DevOps initiatives also go southwards.
In this blog, we explore some key reasons that could lead to DevOps failure
The Automation Assumption
A number of times DevOps initiatives fail because organizations assume that they will be able to implement DevOps by automating everything. Yes, automation plays a very critical role in the success of DevOps initiatives but it is also true that automation is not what DevOps is. Automation has to be a part of the DevOps process and the candidates for automation need careful identification. Simply automating all of DevOps distribution is only going to lead to chaos and leave large process and communication chasms between the different teams at play.
Lack of Clarity
For DevOps success, it becomes imperative that the term is well-defined across the organization. If you have developers equating DevOps to software builds and use of a particular set of technologies and tools, IT management sees it as a continuation of existing processes with just a faster time to market, testing teams viewing it just as an opportunity to increase automation etc. then precious time is lost on arguing over what DevOps really is. Lack of a common definition for DevOps and goals will not make the software delivery chain move faster. Unless DevOps teams gain a clear understanding of workflows, processes that are slow and identify problems that need solving, then the DevOps initiative is very likely to fail since each enterprise will have different problems and consequently a different set of answers. It, thus, becomes important to first outline the definition of DevOps, assess what you are trying to achieve and accomplish and finally identify the boundaries between DevOps and other approaches to IT service management.
Uneven Focus on Tools, Processes, And People
One of the greatest mistakes that lead to DevOps failure is the uneven focus on tools, processes, and people. Since DevOps is all about changing the process of software development, the greatest focus of DevOps should be on the factors that enable this process change – the people. Even hiring the best set of engineers or testers will not guarantee DevOps success if the invested teams are not aligned. It is also essential to select the right set of tools and technologies to make sure that the development process becomes smooth and fast. Pushing the teams to follow some random tools or the tools that have big learning curve will add to the woes of the team and will be counterproductive towards DevOps shift. For example: if your team is comfortable using VSS instead of TFS, then you need to see how that can be integrated in the DevOps process instead of spending efforts and money on learning TFS. Finally, if processes are not well defined then the DevOps teams will not be able to function harmoniously and that will defeat the entire purpose of implementing DevOps within the organization.
The key lies in shifting the mindset – from completing one feature and giving build for testing to continuously integrating and building multiple times a day (and not stopping just there).
Thinking of DevOps as a New Team or New Role
DevOps is essentially all about changing existing processes and bringing about a culture shift that enables faster development and deployment. However, to do this, organizations do not have to create a separate DevOps department that works in isolation. DevOps success is not about creating a new team or creating new roles. Rather DevOps implementation has to occur in an organic manner to help the existing development and operations teams to interoperate and not as a separate department where a particular team is forced to work together. Simply focusing on the process of DevOps and looking at avenues of streamlining the development process is more likely to yield DevOps success rather than introducing a new set of people.
To make DevOps implementations successful, the team leaders should be educated continuously about what exactly constitutes DevOps. They should be made aware what part of the work they are already doing forms a part of DevOps or how they can align their efforts in a better manner. A DevOps coach who can hand hold and/or audit the process from time to time and refine it can generate better results.
DevOps can be difficult to implement because it demands a fusion of cultural shifts with the development and operations teams. Thus, it becomes essential to understand that upending business processes that have been in implementation for a long time will take time. The DevOps teams will also take some time to adjust to this new development methodology and to expect an immediate transition from, say, for example, one release per month to five releases a day can only be considered unrealistic. Expecting DevOps to deliver on its promise overnight will only see you abandon DevOps initiatives. However, when given time, DevOps teams can gain an understanding of the tools and processes and the strategy which will eventually translate into a high-functioning team. It is, therefore, essential to not consider the breaking-in period of sluggishness as an organizational failure. Additionally, for DevOps to extend itself into the organization, it needs a clearly defined path that is measurable, analyzed, and actionable. DevOps initiatives often result in failure if the focus is solely on increasing release frequency for the sake of it without assessing if it is going to have a significant business impact.
Some of the other reasons why DevOps implementations could fail include the incorrect selection of projects – small size projects or non-complex projects might not be the most suitable candidates for DevOps. It is also important that the teams capture metrics and showcase the benefits derived from DevOps so that the organizations can continue investing in that.
Pro Tip: Follow Agile with DevOps – both are complimentary and to reap the real benefits, both need to be practiced in tandem.
In conclusion, in order to be successful at DevOps, organizations need to understand that DevOps is not just about combing development and operations. DevOps initiatives become successful when organizations take into considerations the several stakeholders which include QA and testing teams along with development and operations, revamp processes and initiates a complete development culture shift which includes redefining processes, roles as well as responsibilities. DevOps is not a magic pill that works overnight and hence does not work if old cultures are kept intact in their traditional silos.