Not Adopting DevOps? There's Still Plenty Your Company Can Learn From It

    February 1, 2017

    By Steve Mason

    Your company may not fully embrace DevOps, but your IT team can glean some helpful strategies from it nonetheless. We review the advice some business leaders gave on successfully implementing a DevOps mentality in the workplace.

    For a few years now, DevOps has been something of a buzzword in the technical community. The term represents a melding of concepts (some of which are not new), bringing the operations and development staff of technology departments together in order to tackle the entire service lifecycle, from design to production.

    Despite its growing popularity, some companies have not adopted this philosophy and have no plan to do so in the future. But this collaborative and synergistic method of approaching the technological needs of a business can inform even the most traditional, functionally disparate organizations. Just how widespread and diverse the applications of DevOps mentality has become was apparent at last November’s 2016 DevOps Enterprise Summit in San Francisco, where major business leaders expounded on how companies can slowly progress towards lofty DevOps goals.

    Iterative Change

    Employees generally tend to meet change with a certain level of resistance. Your employees may suspect that the changes will only be temporary, or that your goals are too unrealistic to put any serious effort towards achieving them. Regardless of where the ambivalence or opposition to your new initiative is coming from, it’s your job to overcome it through the use of change management strategies.

    A DevOps-inspired approach means altering the way that new ideas are adopted and implemented. In lieu of broad, sweeping changes, enterprises should adopt value-driven ideas incrementally. "One of the biggest reasons transformation efforts fail is we don't walk the talk," said Opal Perry, AllState CIO and VP of the DevOps Enterprise Summit. "We needed a set of tech values that would be a litmus test to help us drive this transformation."

    Make Work Visible

    Companies thrive when they have a good understanding of the capacity and capability of their teams, but it is hard to have a clear picture of what employees are doing when their work isn’t visible. One strategy companies are implementing to understand their technology department’s capabilities is value-stream mapping.

    Adopted by both Starbucks and Hearst Business Media, value-stream mapping (or end-to-end system mapping) is a style of process mapping that allows companies to document, analyze, and improve the entire production process, noting the management and information systems that support each step.

    Hearst Business Media DevOps Program Manager Alexa Alley used her speech at the summit to discuss the benefits of value-stream mapping, emphasizing its ability to "increase performance across the entire system, increase feedback loops and communication, and build a culture that allows for experimentation, continual iteration, and learning.”

    Adopting a Common Language

    In October of 2015, Starbucks hired its first CTO, Gerri Martin-Flickinger, who identified a key issue in their communication. “She noticed there was a need for a common vocabulary," recalled Starbucks VP Courtney Kissler. "One of first things she did was bring a group of people together to help create a common language and definition around our technology capabilities."

    Ensuring that each tech department is using the same terminology streamlines communication and reduces or eliminates time spent reconciling differences in language. According to DevOps Advocate for Sonatype Derek Weeks, “the solution is easy: be deliberate. Have a guide and agree on terminology in the tools you use upfront for new aspects of the pipeline and application.”

    Maintaining a Well-Oiled Machine

    Regardless of whether or not your enterprise has adopted DevOps, many technology departments are turning to similar fail-fast philosophies to ensure their systems are running consistently and efficiently.

    Far too often, developers simply patch over issues without fully understanding the underlying cause. The fail-fast method aims to fully identify issues in systems before they become damaging, consumer-facing errors.

    There is still a better way than the fail-fast method, however. TeamQuest’s Vityl software suite utilizes predictive algorithms to determine the health and risk levels of your most vital systems, both as they stand today and in the future. By offering  granular insights into every part of a company’s infrastructure, developers are able to identify which systems are in need of attention and curb issues before they arise.

    Your IT service is the lifeblood of your business. If you can successfully combine helpful philosophies from every development strategy and powerful operational management tools, you can ensure that your network is healthy and stable for years to come.

    Category: devops