When it comes to improving the performance of software development projects, DevOps is increasingly being touted as the best way to make use of your resources and deliver quality outcomes.
This promises to deliver a number of advantages over more traditional waterfall approaches to software development, from a faster time to market to reduced overall costs. But it does represent a major shift in the way IT teams operate, so there will be a range of challenges to overcome along the way if such strategies are to be successful.
From tackling cultural perceptions to getting professionals from different teams to gel well together, there are several issues that DevOps developers will need to overcome if they’re to make this software development strategy a success. Here are six to be aware of, and how you can deal with them.
1. Getting the right culture in place
The first step needs to be ensuring that everyone involved with the project is on board with DevOps and what you're trying to achieve. This can require a major shift in mindset for professionals who are used to more traditional development methods and who may be a little stuck in their ways, so it's vital any doubts and cultural issues are addressed head on.
You can fix this by easing your team into the change. Such fundamental shifts don't happen overnight, so start small by applying DevOps practices to a less-critical product or a component stack within a larger application. This not only helps familiarize teams with the process, but positive results can help make a compelling argument for wider adoption.
2. Working with legacy infrastructure
Attempting to manage a DevOps environment using the same tools and technologies you've had in place for several years may doom your efforts to failure before they even get off the ground, as this infrastructure won’t be well-optimized for a DevOps environment.
By shifting towards dedicated DevOps tools such as cloud infrastructure and microservices architecture like containers, you can avoid much of the complexity associated with using legacy equipment and encourage faster innovation.
3. Implementing automation
One of the benefits of DevOps is that it eliminates many of the time-consuming manual processes that can cause delays when using traditional approaches. However, in order to overcome this, it's important to know which parts of the process are best suited to automation and what tools are needed to improve this.
Automating testing procedures is an ideal place to start. This doesn't just make life easier for your QA team - it's vital if you're to take full advantage of the benefits of DevOps. Meanwhile, if deployments are still performed manually, this increases the chances of failure.
4. Balancing development and operations
As the name suggests, DevOps is a combination of development and operations teams, and therefore striking the right balance between these two often competing efforts is the key to success. Get this wrong by favoring one over the other, or by failing to integrate them effectively, and you won't reap the full benefits of this strategy. To be successful, a DevOps strategy has to break down traditional silos and get teams working together.
A first step in achieving this is to understand the current roles and responsibilities of each team to know where dev stops and operations takes over. Ensure these teams meet regularly in order to understand what each other is doing. For example, it can be beneficial to have operations professionals sitting in on Agile scrums during the dev process, while the use of effective collaboration and communication tools is a must.
5. Scaling up
Even once you've got to grips with the specific demands of DevOps on a small-scale project, rolling this out to larger projects on a company-wide scale can still be fraught with difficulty.
An important step is to ensure everyone is on board when you scale up - not just dev and operations teams. This means QA testers, product managers, marketers and business leaders. Having a culture that allows everyone to contribute is vital.
Another factor to consider is how to optimize the delivery pipelines, and the best way to do this is to embrace continuous integration and continuous delivery. This enables you to reduce the costs and time associated with moving a feature from development to production, which will be vital once you're operating on a large scale.
6. A lack of governance
Related to the issues of scaling up, a major cause of breakdowns when DevOps solutions are deployed on a company-wide basis is that no one steps up to take overall responsibility for the project. This lack of governance means teams may be working without effective oversight, leading to duplicated efforts or critical issues being overlooked.
Avoid this by assigning ownership of the DevOps project at the earliest stage. As well as managing the day-to-day aspects of the strategy, these individuals should also be tasked with developing an overall roadmap , determining whether the organization is ready to move to large-scale deployment of DevOps, identifying where any bottlenecks lie and ensuring that issues like security are given the attention they demand.