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6 Core DevOps Principles

  • DevOps continues to be a major focus for many IT organizations and is projected to grow in the coming years. The key driver behind this popular initiative is rooted in strengthening the communication between development and operations with the goal of enhanced, expedited and exceptional work.

    If your company plans to meet current demand and also grow its customer base, DevOps can scale to meet expectations with a unified outlook and helpful tools that better align people to business objectives. The cross-functionality of DevOps increases output and reliability, which, by definition requires upkeep to continuously meet customer and organizational expectations. DevOps strategies not only improve product and service quality, but they also improve collaboration in the workplace to address previous roadblocks and disconnects between development and operations.

    The three components associated with DevOps address the people, processes, and tools and must begin with a strong foundation. Although many organizations embrace this, they can trip up if they intend a DevOps strategy to be a quick fix. The initial investment requires keen focus and outlining as a means to an end. The stronger the structure is to build from, the greater the ROI, which provides an organization with effective inter-division communication and heightened output.

    Meanwhile, principles need to be instated to guide the initiative from implementation and ensure key pillars resist crumbling upon meeting any potential obstacles. Established principles should even go further to allow DevOps teams to benchmark themselves and save valuable time back-tracking to pinpoint a particular constraint in the system.

    While it’s impossible to encompass all viewpoints of a DevOps strategy, certain principles should serve as core focus areas. By following these principles, development and operations teams can achieve the collaboration required to deliver value to the business.

    You can hear more about DevOps from Josh Atwell at Interop ITX, where he will present, "How To Evolve Ops Skills to a DevOps World." Register now for Interop ITX, May 15-19.

    (Image courtesy of NetApp)

  • One part macro

    DevOps can only achieve full success when organizations observe, document and understand the overall system. This is a foundational knowledge of all steps and processes required to take a release from development through testing and into production. A macro view of this pipeline also requires an understanding of the business impact of the development cycle. Any organization lacking the macro perspective is not able to act consistently in the interests of the company's core objectives.

    (Image courtesy of NetApp)

  • Another part micro

    In order to affect change in the development pipeline, there needs to be discrete observations of micro operations. How long do handoffs between groups take? How much time is required for requests to be delivered? How long do tasks wait in queue before they move through the pipeline? Focusing efforts on micro elements of the pipeline allows you to build improvements early and often. Organizations often address these areas through automation or various tools.

    (Image courtesy of NetApp)

  • The ideal tools

    If you are a house builder, you need to understand more than just the order of operations to go from a cleared lot to a certificate of occupancy. You also have to possess the correct tools in order to accomplish each step of the construction. Oftentimes, one tool can serve many functions and be used by multiple people in the process.

    An IT organization adopting DevOps must adopt this mentality. They have to evaluate the tools required to enable a faster pace of development. This requires more than simply adopting virtualization and automation. They need to leverage tools to manage code issues, supply version control, enable team communications, and provide actionable operational data insights. Additionally, individuals from multiple disciplines in the organization may need to leverage these tools often at multiple points in the software development lifecycle.

    (Image courtesy of NetApp)

  • Expanding the tribe

    Tribal knowledge is the silent killer for IT organizations. Critical operational knowledge left undocumented creates a large risk for the organization. Success in applying a DevOps model requires transparency and shared knowledge across the entire organization. Standardized documentation practices and encouraging shared work can provide immediate gains. These practices reduce lone-wolf heroics and ensure that all processes are documented as they occur. Expanding operational knowledge across the organization also reduces the inherit risks that IT professionals face worldwide.

    (Image courtesy of NetApp)

  • One team, one dream

    The most critical element for success with a DevOps framework is the shared goal of the entire organization. IT has a fairly lengthy history of discipline silos and mistrust across these silos. Finger-pointing and blame are part of the game, but there is no place for that behavior in a DevOps-centric organization. The entire organization must function as a single team with shared goals. They win together. They lose together. They improve together.

    Every individual must also understand their role in the macro view as well as the impact their role has on the business. They must also feel confident in their work and in sharing their views on how the team can improve further. Without this confidence, the other principles outlined here cannot come to fruition and deliver the results the business needs.

    (Image courtesy of NetApp)

  • Staying focused

    There is no formula for guaranteed DevOps success. Each organization is unique and may need to focus on some areas more than others. In addition, maturity in these principles does not happen overnight, but occurs by continually reviewing the effectiveness of the IT organization over time. This leads organizations to identify areas for improvement. As a result, they can further improve the agility, speed and quality that the team produces..

    (Image courtesy of NetApp)