Steps to Adopt DevOps in Your Organization
DevOps works heavily with Agile, so any organization moving towards an automated environment should understand the cultural differences between the previous siloed departments and what will happen when a converged DevOps team is created. Hesitation and apprehension from some team members are generally common due to several myths surrounding the obstacles organizations experience, but many of these hurdles can be overcome by adopting a new lifecycle using best practices and careful planning ahead of time.
Is DevOps Worth the Effort?
Before getting into the steps to move forward with DevOps, organizations need to know if the effort is worth the rewards. Making wrong decisions in corporate culture can be disastrous for employee retention, so it’s understandably important to ensure that the change in software development lifecycles and new procedures benefit the organization for staff and budgets.
In the 2019 “State of DevOps” report, 20% of organizations that included Agile and DevOps in their development lifecycle were elite performers where testing to production deployment took as little as a few hours. For organizations with constant updates to their software, DevOps can save time and money due to faster delivery, fewer bugs, and better vulnerability scans.
Some other benefits of DevOps:
- Improved operations support for development, so fewer configuration or infrastructure bugs are introduced during testing and promotion.
- Better communication between development and operations, so the entire development lifecycle works more seamlessly with fewer disagreements between the two teams.
- Increased reliability and scalability as both teams determine DevOps procedures including customizations to Agile methodologies.
- Cross-skill training giving operations more education on development and developers receive skills on network and server management.
- Faster bug fixes for critical downtime due to collaboration between both teams.
- Increased customer satisfaction and more frequent updates mean new features are added faster.
- Overall improved product quality for internal and external-facing applications.
Agile and the DevOps culture is all about efficiency and speed during development, but these two improvements translate to savings across IT. Fewer bugs means that developers spend less time researching and debugging, and customer satisfaction is maintained when an application runs smoothly.
DevOps Adoption Steps
For organizations starting at the very beginning, the first step is to understand that Agile is a big part of DevOps. Most development teams already use Agile in some way, but Agile is typically new to operations. Agile can be customized with components used and others changed to fit the organization and its personalities. Even after moving to DevOps, its procedures and the development lifecycle can be reviewed and changed until it’s as efficient as possible. The following steps are general high-level concepts that can help get you started.
Bring operations and development together and adopt a team mindset.
Most organizations don’t just spring the idea of a DevOps team on employees unless it’s been discussed already. The most important first step is to bring everyone together and get them onboard with the new culture and process.
In a collaborative way, both teams can come together and develop a vision for the way DevOps will work, responsibilities for each team member, and the tools that will benefit the most. The current delivery process can be assessed and procedures defined that will determine the way code is built, tested, and deployed.
Automation is a big part of DevOps, but efficient procedures require collaboration between staff members. It’s essential that all DevOps team members adopt the mindset and develop the right procedures together to ensure future scalability of the chosen solutions and tools.
Use metrics to determine improvement areas and necessary changes.
Hopefully, you already have metrics in place that can be used to identify areas of improvement. For instance, what is the percentage of rollbacks that must happen due to bugs? What is the response time from an error report to when a fix is deployed? How long does it take for resources to be provisioned for application support? These questions and so many more can help determine the best way to manage DevOps and the development lifecycle. Some other metrics that can be useful are:
- Failure rate: How often is code deployed and must be either remediated quickly or rolled back?
- Average time to recover: When code deployed to production fails, how long does it take to recover from the bug or downtime?
- Average time from development to production: The development lifecycle has several steps. You can break down the average time for each step (e.g. development, testing, deployment) and then calculate the time it takes from the time developers are assigned a sprint to the time it takes for the changes to be deployed to production.
- Deployment time for each step: How long does it take to deploy to each of the steps (e.g. testing, staging, production). This metric can identify bottlenecks in one specific step.
- Deployment frequency: How often are deployments able to keep up with developers and testers? Can you deploy right away or do you need to wait. Again, this metric helps identify bottlenecks.
- Average time to the production repository: How long does it take from development to the production repository? This metric helps identify if there is a bottleneck from “ready for production” to being deployed to production.
Once you have metrics, you can determine goals for DevOps and where the most improvement can be made in the fastest time. By prioritizing goals, you can chip away at costly bottlenecks and find solutions that improve efficiency during the development lifecycle. You may even find that some procedures are working well under the current structure, but DevOps can always help with at least one bottleneck to improve speed.
Design a Plan and Define Requirements
You can follow best practices, but every organization has its own unique requirements in some way. After you have metrics, you can also decide which area of development needs the most work, so you can plan some requirements around your prioritization. There is no “one size fits all” solution, so the planning step is critical to the success of your new DevOps team.
The success of DevOps greatly depends on this step. The procedures must integrate well with the development process but also the overall corporate structure and goals. For instance, an organization with a primary focus on software development might have different goals from an organization that sells products outside of IT but has an internal development team to support tools and website features.
Remember that IT should support customers, and customers are also staff within the organization. Instead of making goals that force users to change, create procedures that facilitate user requirements but work to make the environment faster. For instance, if clients need 5 updates a day, create a plan to facilitate 5 updates without forcing the client to reduce the number of changes requested.
Roll Out the New Team Design in Steps
It’s tempting to design a plan and then make sweeping changes all at once. This can be difficult for both the DevOps team and customers. It can also be difficult for any IT staff that work closely with DevOps, as they also need to make an adjustment to their own procedures. Instead of hitting everyone with huge cultural and procedural changes, it’s best to adopt procedures in steps.
Making it convenient for users and staff isn’t the only reason to adopt slowly. DevOps is a culture of automation, and these tools and configurations must be tested. The entire environment must be tested from testing to deployment to production before all new procedures are trusted and put into practice.
Building DevOps into current deployment processes can be done in steps. For instance, the less risky of testing, staging and production is deployment from development to testing. Continuous integration (CI) tools will automatically build codebase changes and deploy to a testing environment. Any errors to this automation process will not harm production code, so it can be the first step in DevOps adoption.
After all the bugs in CI are tested and remediated, the next step would be to integrate DevOps into the staging environment. Staging usually has a group that tests code prior to deploying it to production, but the staging environment should be a mirror of production. By adding DevOps solutions to staging, it reduces the number of issues that will be seen in production. The reason this step should be second is that it usually affects people outside of development, so it should be done with more care and consideration. Also, it’s the step before production and can be used to identify any potential bugs in production automation.
Implement Testing and Quality Assurance
Rushing changes is never a good idea, but goals and deadlines are often a priority when making changes in an environment. The quality of testing directly affects the quality of the end-product. Although delaying DevOps automation costs money, introducing critical errors into the development lifecycle costs even more money. Ensuring that all automation across the environment is critical for success and also trust in its capabilities.
Testing should be done by DevOps staff, but it can also be a partnership with other staff members who will benefit from it. Just remember to thoroughly test every aspect of automation before signing off and moving it to the production environment.
Adopting DevOps procedures doesn’t have to be difficult. It also doesn’t need to ignore your corporate goals and business requirements. Adopting a new process can be a difficult adjustment, but it can eventually lead to a much more streamlined software development lifecycle that saves organizations time and money.